Turning a side hustle into self employment

This guest post from Crystal is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Crystal writes about finding the balance between paying the bills, saving for the future, and budgeting for the fun stuff at the aptly-titled Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.

Last time I guest posted here at GRS, it was March 2011 and I still had a day job. And it was a crappy day job. I worked in a customer service cubicle position for a company that seemed to go out of its way to tick its customers off. My 45 hours a week plus commutes earned me $26,500 annually before taxes and benefits when I started in June 2005 and $35,500 by the time I left in July 2011.

You read that correctly — I left. I quit and it felt so good! Here is how I turned my side hustle of blogging into my full time job.

Growing My Blog

I started Budgeting in the Fun Stuff in February 2010. I really just wanted to create an online community of personal finance geeks like me that knew how to have fun too. I've been posting daily at BFS ever since and have grown it into a site that gets more than 15,000 visitors a month. I know that isn't the biggest blog ever, but I am proud of it and am so thankful for all of my supporters.

If you are interested in growing your blog, I highly suggest commenting on other sites in your niche. Most of my readers seem to have found me through comments I have left elsewhere. Also, join a blogging forum that fits your site. I have learned so much from the people I've gotten to know through the Yakezie Network. I also think that guest posting truly helps. Not only do you build up links and your reputation online, but readers will start following you if your guest posts are interesting and fun to read.

Creating a Goal

As my blogging hobby grew, I started receiving emails from advertisers. I sold my first sidebar ad within 2 months. I then earned a Google Page Rank and started receiving even more offers. Within a year, I was bringing in about $850 a month from direct ads. I was very excited but knew I'd need at least 3 times that to quit my full time job.

My husband and I sat down and created a goal in March 2011. Specifically, we decided on my blogging target number — $2500 a month from online income on average for 4 months in a row with no less than $2000 in any given month. In short, I needed to make $10,000 in a 4 month period before I could comfortably quit. At the time, I thought I was about a year away from hitting that number. I had no idea what was about to happen.

J.D.'s note: This is very similar to what I did when trying decide when I would be able to quit my day job to go full-time with Get Rich Slowly.

Starting My Business

In April 2011, Kay Lynn from Bucksome Boomer made a suggestion that has literally changed my life. She knew I enjoyed negotiating with advertisers based on comments I had left in the Yakezie forums. She also knew that she hated it, so she asked if I'd run her advertising for her. We worked out the details and I started nearly immediately. Within a few weeks, I decided to offer my services to others. By the end of May 2011, I had 12 ad clients. I added another 17 in June and it just kept growing by leaps and bounds from there.

Since I make a commission from the deals I close, running the advertising for others meant that my own online income started growing way faster than I ever could have imagined. I also started staff writing like crazy to supplement. I hit $3750 in March thanks to three big ad deals on my own sites. April brought in about $2100 thanks to my new business. Then May brought in about $2050. So I was at $7900 and June came in at more than $5100!!! I was astounded!

Quitting

In July 2011, I hit a wall. I couldn't grow my online business and work my day job anymore. I was putting in about 45 hours a week at my day job (and sneaking in a ton of blogging time). Then I'd come home and put in another 5 hours each week day and full 8-10 hour days on the weekends in order to keep up with my online work — like writing for my own blogs, running my ad business, and writing and editing the posts for my 11 staff writing positions. I was literally working 85 hours a week on a slow week. So I quit.

I gave my notice in early July and walked out a free woman on July 15th, 2011. I was happy. I was excited. And I was scared.

Self Employment has been Kind

I now run the joint advertising emails for more than 80 bloggers with a total of more than 100 sites. I get to help a ton of bloggers like Kay Lynn. Some of my clients just don't enjoy dealing with advertising, some don't have the time, and some want access to more advertising contacts.

I also still staff write for two other sites, continue to post daily at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, and post weekly on How I Make Money Blogging. I pay myself $1650 every two weeks with $500 of that being diverted into an account for taxes when they are due. My best self employment months so far have been October 2011 and December 2011 when I made more than $18,500 and $25,000 respectively! These two months have proven to be outliers, but $8000-$10,000 a month seems to be the norm. We are saving a third of the extra cash for taxes and using the rest to pay off our mortgage early and to invest more for our future.

Moral of the Story

I am living proof that anyone can achieve whatever they want with the right mixture of ability, persistence, time, and luck. And that mixture is different for everyone. For example, I am finally using my college degree in Marketing to help others and fund myself. I am persistent enough to follow through on all of my obligations. I had the time to put in during those 80-100 hour work weeks earlier this year and continue to put in about 50-60 hour weeks now. I was lucky enough to have a key strength pointed out to me by Kay Lynn in April 2011 and followed through.

Maybe someone will need to substitute some time for ability or add in some persistence in place of luck, but I know there is a right mixture for anyone willing to go for it. Good luck!

More about...Side Hustles

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

155
Leave a Reply

avatar
newest oldest most voted
Deborah+M
Deborah+M

Cool, Crystal! Always wondered what the numbers were in blogging and how people made a living at it. I bet your advertising management subarea turns out to be critically important… it’s like you’ve avoiding having all your eggs in one blog-basket! Congratulations! Maybe we’ll speak again… about marketing MY business!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Yeah, spreading out the risk has been way easier on my mind. Looking forward to meeting again. 🙂

bg
bg

What I really like about your story:
a) the goal setting worked well
b) you were clever enough to say “yes” to the advertising management jobs.

It’s easy to get too stuck on the first idea and miss the really good opportunities that come alongside with it. Congratulations 🙂

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you. 🙂

Jackie
Jackie

Crystal – I’m the spouse of a retired military servicemember and we are still overseas in Germany. There are so many prohibitive rules around DoD sponsorship and home-based businesses that I have nearly given up on teaching my Personal Financial Management course (but not totally ;). The idea of ‘skirting’ the law doesn’t sit well with me and does not set a good example for my kids. On the other hand, web-based businesses are an acceptable alternative but I’m not a blogger. Your level of excitement and stick-to-it attitude have inspired me to think outside the box and get my… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Maybe you could teach your course online then? It is more flexible and legal. 🙂 Good luck and thanks for subscribing to my RSS feed!

elena
elena

Whoa. 2011 was a good year and a great story for us. Congrats on creating a better job that pays more and uses your skills. I liked the practical tips on being part of any community–participate and contribute. I feel like Get Rich Slowly introduces interesting people,ideas and links consistently in ways that make me think and in small enough bites that I don’t feel overwhelmed. Totally worth a daily look for me especially when a story like this comes out. I’m still figuring out my next move. I’m 44, underemployed (laid off from crappy job, working fun job part… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

You are a perfect example of why we are paying off the mortgage as quickly as possible – it gives you more options. I really hope you find the perfect job for you. Good luck.

Thad P
Thad P

Thanks for the inspiring story. I am in the very early stages of growing my blog, but giving each little revenue stream (or side hustle) “a job” has helped me clarify much. That and the discipline of writing daily is making me feel better about myself and, hopefully, improving my blog. Thanks for the tips!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

That discipline you described and feeling better about yourself is exactly how I felt and continue to feel about blogging and my ad business. This has been the one thing in my life that only exists because of my efforts – I can be proud of what I created and continue building. I love that. Good luck to you!

Maggie@SquarePennies

Crystal, that is how I feel about my blog. I can see the results of my efforts and that is a very satisfying feeling! Congrats on all your success and on using your talents so well. I write a post almost every day for SquarePennies and love it. I write for one other site, but hope to write for others as well. Thanks for your inspiring story!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

It’s a great feeling. One of a kind. 🙂

Thad P
Thad P

Thanks for the encouragement! I have also taken to reading, as in books, again. It’s a great source of inspiration for writing.

Jen Deland
Jen Deland

The reminder at the end sounded a little funny, since it is evident that Crystal is a professional writer. On the whole, I prefer to read comments with the junk removed – and junk there will always be on a public forum, I guess. But on the other hand I want my own comments to go up right away, without waiting for moderation! I think you can do both – moderate after the fact, with the risk that some objectionables will be up for awhile before you remove them. I want to blog, but my problem is, I feel I… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

In my experience, the persistence comes naturally when you really want to do something, so maybe blogging isn’t actually what you want to do? Is there a course you want to teach or meetup groups for people in your career? Maybe that would motivate you more. There is nothing worse than starting something and then having to force yourself to follow through because you find out you don’t like it. Good luck!

Sam
Sam

I agree with Crystal (great post btw Crystal) – you shouldn’t have to force yourself to blog. I spent three years building a small group of sites arond topics I was interested in, with the intention of making money with affiliate marketing and Adsense. I did this because I was already working as a freelance writer, writing came very easily to me, I had good SEO knowledge, and I knew I could produce the kind of content people would find useful and enjoyable. But the problem was that I hated writing, and had to literally force myself to pump out… Read more »

Ru
Ru

I like blogging and it would be nice to make money from it, but to be honest, I hate adverts. They’re ugly and distracting and I’m sick of being bombarded by adverts everywhere I go, so for the moment at least I’m keeping my blog advert free. I do have a link to my ebay account in my blog though, and a paypal button for donations if people feel like giving some cash (unlikely, but hey). But good for you for employing yourself in a job you love, Crystal. You have obviously put in a lot of work and hours… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

It’s interesting that you even notice the ads. I have to be specifically looking for sidebar ads to even notice that they are on the blog I’m reading. Well, except for popups, which drive me crazy and I refuse to accept, lol.

Thanks for the kind words too!

Ru
Ru

I tend to notice all of them, even the ones that aren’t animated. Bizarrely though, I don’t use adblock, in case something I actually want pops up. It has happened a couple of times; I found a site selling cute handcrafted stuff through adverts on a webcomic.

I especially loath targeted adverts, based on other sites I visit or threads I read on forums or whatever. They make me really paranoid. Of course, these are the adverts that are more likely to show me something I actually want to see… in short, I am a bundle of contradictions.

Beth
Beth

lol! I read a lot of international publications so it throws me off to see a Canadian ad on a UK website! It’s pretty obvious who can tell where you live.

Thad P
Thad P

I used to be rabid about no ads, probably among the first to adopt AdBlock. But as I began blogging, I realized that bloggers need the extra income, so I don’t use it on blogs. I do use AdBlock on major news outlets and the like.

Beth
Beth

I’m not a fan of ads either. I read somewhere that “if you’re getting something for free, you’re the product being sold.” I guess ads are a necessary evil for all that free online content we enjoy.

That being said, why are bloggers better than writers who work for larger website? Please don’t think I’m being rude — I’m curious about reader expectations and engagement and I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts on the subject. Some of the bloggers I follow also write for mainstream publications, so it’s an interesting cross over.

Jen Deland
Jen Deland

You might want to visit outbrain.com. They say that they will put relevant links – things that your people might actually be interested in, on your site. I have clicked on some of their links and liked the effect. I have no affiliation with them – just think they are a neat service.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I really enjoy this post! Congrats to Crystal. Like the other commentors, I like seeing the specifics. I also find it interesting that the side hustle (blogging) ended up with a side hustle of its own (managing advertising) One thing I’d like to know about these side hustle stories is how the work/life balance pans out. I’m not talking the fun stuff, but the practical stuff like who does the cooking and the laundry. I’ve toyed with the idea of a side hustle, but there’s just me — so if I put in 60-80 hour weeks, very little is going… Read more »

Holly
Holly

I am curious about this too. It would be great to try, but with a full time job, a family, dogs and a house it is nothing more than a pipe dream for the next 10 years.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

It’s kind of funny that your life is my pipe dream 😉

I think timing is a huge factor. I know now isn’t the right time for me to start a side business, and that’s okay too.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

In regards to me, we already had a biweekly housekeeper, Jacqui. She’s awesome and she’s been taking care of us for about 5 years now since we started working together in the apartment we had before our house. And my husband already did most of the cooking – a habit he started a few years ago when he discovered cooking was fun for him. So when I was working 100 hour weeks, my husband did have to step up but not as much as you would think he needed to – he loaded the dishwasher more and took out the… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Thanks for the response! I always feel a little let down when I read stories about people starting their own businesses only to find out that they had a stay at home spouse who did everything. I wondered how couples who both work managed it all.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Jacqui was our first big splurge in married life – we both just really, really procrastinate when it comes to cleaning, so it just made sense. 🙂

Patricia Wright
Patricia Wright

Very inspiring story Crystal! Really enjoyed reading this guest post.

I’ve followed a similar path with my startup, Rollback.com. It’s very motivating to read about other women in the same boat.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you for the kind words! Congrats on starting your own site!

Drizzt
Drizzt

great story. i wish that my website was as successful as yours.

i think that i do not have an audience as you guys have. do let me know if we have international personal finance people who succeeded in blogging fulltime.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Have you been commenting on other blogs in your niche? It’s the best way to meet others in similar situations and to gain support at the same time. You really help yourself by helping others in this industry.

Samantha
Samantha

Crystal- Great article, I love hearing stories of how blogs started gaining success! I just started blogging and not sure if I want to make anything out of it, but am enjoying getting into the community and reading topics that interest me and finding blogs that I can follow daily! I went from never reading blogs to having about ten I always check on, and want to keep finding more! I feel like the issue with my blog may be that I just write about anything that comes to my mind – do you think this could hurt me since… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Sorry, I am the wrong person to ask. I am all over the place…

brooklynchick
brooklynchick

WOW -that’s amazing! Congratulations! Very happy for you.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you! 🙂

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}

I love this! One of my goals is to eventually make a tidy side income from my blog so that I can pay down my student loans a bit faster. I don’t know that I want to blog full-time, but I do love this story and how you took baby steps to get there!

Very encouraging!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I used to leave nearly the same comment on posts here and at FMF. I am so happy that I can be used an example, lol. And I am totally serious – if I can make something happen, anyone can.

Terry
Terry

Thanks for that informative article.

I’ve never thought much about making money from blogging. I do it to promote products. But, your article gives me some good food for thought. I’ve been contacted by advertisers before but I never pursued it because I didn’t think there was much money involved in it.

I think your “How I Make Money Blogging” blog is very useful too!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Promoting products from a blog is a great way to monetize too! In fact, it is an excellent way to create a passive income source, which I am severely lacking right now. Every dollar I make takes at least a little time to earn…I’ve been meaning to write the “How I Make Money Blogging” ebook to go along with the site I created for that specific purpose, lol, but I’ve run out of motivation and time for it, hahaha. Glad you like the site though! I’m not as bossy as I am in my most recent post there, lol. That… Read more »

Terry
Terry

Crystal,

I like your idea for writing the “How I Make Money Blogging” ebook, but I think that it would be even better to publish it as a paperback. My experience is that your book will generate more interest and sell vastly more copies as a paperback.

In my new book “Carve Out Your Niche,” I describe how to, relatively easily, write, self-publish, and promote your book. It may be alot easier than you think.

I’d be glad to send you a complimentary copy of my book. Just drop me a note through my blog.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

You are the second person to tell me to try to publish a paperback version, so I am listening. Thank you. 🙂 Now to get the darn thing written…

Don
Don

As a reader of “Budgeting in the Fun Stuff” from her beginnings, I have to say that she has the perfect combination of skills to succeed!

Smart, opportunistic, and driven to the point that I thought she was cloning herself, she is the perfect online entrepreneur.

The nice thing about Crystal is that she lays it all out on her site. No smoke an mirrors, just the path that she follows and the pure numbers that go along with it.

Great job Crystal, and we are all still routing for you!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thanks Don!!! It really has been an amazing ride for all of us, hasn’t it? I can’t believe we all pretty much started at the same time and have grown so much! Thank you for all of your support over the last couple of years!

Melissa
Melissa

Thanks for sharing your story, Crystal! You are an inspiration to many of us.

What I like best is that you were willing to work hard to change your situation. Too often people gripe about their day job, but they aren’t willing to put in the hard work that is required to change their situation. Kudos to you for taking action and improving your life dramatically.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Oh, I griped and did nothing for at least 4 years…I was that person. The trick was to find something that I could throw myself into that didn’t feel like work. That is the only reason this worked out so well. 🙂

By the way, how about you? Your growing online endeavors and the services you offer are going to grow into something amazing – you can mark my words. 🙂

APB News
APB News

Congratulations! I know how exciting it is to make that switch to freelancing full time. I spent a year doing an office job and writing before I was comfortable with making the leap. Now, my gross income is 50% higher than it was back then and my quality of life is immeasurably better. I do need to work on generating more residual income like you are doing though. I think that will be one key to my next big jump in income.

Daisy

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

It was weird for me really. I don’t know why, but it has taken months for it to really sink in that this is my day job now. Very odd feeling and now I just hope I never screw anything up ever.

Good luck on your next jump!

Kraig Mathias
Kraig Mathias

Hi Crystal, Great post. Question, you mentioned having a marketing degree but do you have a background in writing at all? I love the idea of a blog and want to share all of my thoughts, opinions, etc, but I have a hard time writing and coming up with topics and don’t have a lot of experience in it. I’m an operations manager professionally and also have a business education. You rocked this online business thing though. The advertising opportunity and success sounds exciting. I started a blog almost two months ago at http://www.youngcheapliving.com, similar to Get Rich Slowly in… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Nope, I have no writing background. I was (and am) a bookworm though. I always loved reading – Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and Fear Street were my early addictions. Now I read mystery series, things that make me think like The Hunger Games, fantasies, and finished The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo last November. That reminds me that I really need to start the second book… Anyway, no. I’ve written stuff my whole life, but don’t have a background in it at all. I just read alot. 🙂 As far as coming up with topics, I just write… Read more »

Kraig Mathias
Kraig Mathias

You inspired me to think more personal for post ideas and I immediately posted something more personal! Thanks again!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Sorry to hear about your mom. Good luck!

Isela
Isela

Crystal,

Your post came in the right time for me!

I am blogger who turned financial writer.
I write for two mwell known magazines in Mexico, and I was wondering how I can turn that into a full time profession and move on from my ever demading day job (that I have been hating lately).

I am currently preparing a plan to transition, and your post showed me how what I need to add to that plan.

That´s the reason why I love GRS, I can always find someone and something interesting here.

Muchas gracias desde Mexico!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

De nada desde Tejas! Buena suerte! 🙂

And that is pretty much all I can remember from living in Argentina for more than two years, haha. Anyone that completely masters a second language (or multiples) gets my full respect.

Isela
Isela

Come on! You live in Texas ? I live in the border with Texas, just across from El Paso.

This is really weird!

Saludos…

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

My abuelita, my step-dad’s mom, lived in El Paso for most of her life, so I probably walked right into your city a few times during our visits, lol. But yeah, I live in Houston. Saludos! 🙂

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

Wonderful story. It’s great that Crystal has successfully migrated into the land of the self employed and is making more money than working for somebody else. However… as a self-employed person I’d like to read more articles about people who are doing this and are not bloggers. Who quit their job and opened an auto mechanic shop, or started making cheese, or became a boat builder, or bought a food truck, or became a professional poker player, or turned their carpentry skills into a furniture making business? The reason I ask for this is that I think there is a… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I think I’d be classified somewhere in between – my blogs make about a fourth to an eigth of my overall income in any given month. The ad business makes the vast majority. I do think that everyone needs to find a job they love, but by no means is that blogging for everybody. I know a ton of people who love their jobs and they aren’t self employed. The key is simply to be happy and be able to provide for yourself and your future all at the same time. As a side note, I always wanted to be… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

So your main income is from selling ad space on behalf of busy bloggers? That’s actually a nice service business idea. What’s the limit for growth?

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

As of right now, time is my only limitation and I am getting help this year so that won’t be an issue anymore either. I will evaluate my business/time relationship at the end of this year and see if I need to set limits then. 🙂

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

Maybe I am bananas, and keep in mind I know nothing about your industry, but if the ads make you more money, why not focus 100% on them?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Just saying! Break a leg 🙂

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I first wrote this post in November. Since then I have given up staff writing since my ad business was taking so much time to grow. But I hope never to give up blogging since it keeps me connected to people…

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

NIce! Congrats.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I suspect it’s because people want low risk ways to make more money — not special equipment or a huge amount of capital. If you fail at blogging or writing ebooks, it’s not a financial disaster like having a store go under or investing your savings in a business that never takes off.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Good point! My husband and I invested $15,000 in a game store about 4 years ago and the manager ran it into the ground. That truly sucked.

Blogging cost me about $75 up front with hosting and a domain name. My expenses have increased a bunch since then since I outsource my social media, buy sites, etc (you can see all of my expenses at How I Make Money Blogging), but it still is around 15% or less of my overall income. I love low overhead.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

@ Elizabeth: Right, but in self-employment one side does not fit all. Self-employment should be about doing what you love and making money with it, otherwise it’s just a drudgery like any other (except that you keep all the profits). Writing requires not just talent for writing and the ability to find the right niche, but also the desire to become a public figure, for example. Jacob from ERE recently quit his blog and went to work in some sort of investment research because he was fed up with the PR side of being a blogger—he prefers to work with… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

@ El Nerdo — I agree with you about not everyone being able to write! Everyone has different strengths, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just think we hear blogging and writing more often because it’s seen as accessible (i.e. not a lot of start up costs.) I’ve worked for quite a few self-employed people during my life, and what they’ve been able to do is amazing. I almost forgot that Crystal was a blogger because this wasn’t one of those “you can make easy money blogging or writing” type of pieces. For me, the take home message was… Read more »

Buck Inspire
Buck Inspire

Hi Crystal,

Inspiring post and been a fan from near the beginning! Amazing to see you skyrocket. Dreams do come true. Love your moral of the story. Right mixture of ability, persistence, time, and luck. Continued success!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you Buck! It has been awesome to watch my fellow Yakezie members like you grow too!

Jeff
Jeff

Great story! Seems to me, that of the ingredients you hint at, they fall somewhere near this order in terms of their impact on your success:

1) Initiative to try
2) Hard work
3) Dedication
4) Creativity
5) A good idea
6) Your college education
7) Luck

So many people have that order all goofed up. And of course, I could be completely wrong…I would love to hear your take on what was most important, Crystal.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

From that list, I would actually only say that these qualities were really needed and in this order: 1) Initiative to try 2) A good idea 3) Luck 4) Hard work 5) Dedication 6) Creativity Creativity helps with blogging but it wasn’t absolutely necessary for my success. And the college education was nice for the beginning resume, but overall, pretty useless in my case. I’ve always been able to sell what I believed in – even before college. For some careers, a college education is absolutely necessary, so please don’t think I am dissing it. I just found a job… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff

Glad that “initiative to try” still led the list. 🙂 That’s the step that holds up most folks. Nice work!

Carla
Carla

Speaking from personal experience, I agree with the order of your list. I had the first two, but I definitely didn’t have the third.

Vanessa
Vanessa

Financial support from either a spouse/SO who will carry you while you make the transition, or if you are single you’ll need to have a lot of savings as a safety net.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I’ll second that! Most people I’ve seen start side businesses have the financial/emotional/household support of a significant other. I’d have more free time if I had help with the chores and I didn’t have to date!

I’m also very risk-adverse. I couldn’t quite my job to start my own business — that’s too scary for me — but I don’t have the hours necessary to transition. That’s okay. It just means the timing isn’t right for me.

Kraig Mathias
Kraig Mathias

Interesting take Elizabeth. I hope that doesn’t cause me to not win, being single and all.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Does having a spouse who works too make almost everything easier? Yes. And I am lucky enough that my husband has always been supportive. But I didn’t quit my day job until my side hustle income was already large enough to replace what I was making before. Even if I had been single, I would think that I would have waited until I knew I could support myself before letting go of my stable day job. It just took months of being very, very sleepy. 🙂

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

@Kraig — Actually, I think being single can have its advantages too when you’re starting a side business or a full time business. I don’t think we hear those stories very often. @Crystal — It’s the transition that worries me the most! I really admire all the work you put in. I’m not sure I could do it on my own. My full time job is pretty demanding, and I know what my life looks like on weeks where I’m putting in extra hours. (Cleaning and cooking are a challenge, let alone exercising and socializing.) I just feel I’d be… Read more »

Bella
Bella

Reading both of your comments you hit on a common theme – and I think it’s that right now the most important thing for you is to find someone to share your life with – that making a milion is secondary – I just wanted to say that that’s great that you know that about yourself – and that you are making consious decisions about what’s important to you. So many people get to the middle of their life and can’t figure out why they don’t have someone (cause it wasn’t a priority at the time) or why they’re not… Read more »

Jai Catalano
Jai Catalano

I love to read this story and it never gets old. It is very inspirational to up and comers.

Jai

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thanks Jai!

Kristina
Kristina

I can’t begin to tell you how inspiring this post is for people like me who are just starting to blog and wondering exactly where to go from here. Great job, Crystal!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

My first piece of advice for all bloggers starting out is do not think about the money. For the first few months, find something you love about blogging and latch onto it and that’s it. I loved the interaction, and that drove me. The money comes in as a blog grows, and that will only happen if you can keep yourself motivated to keep writing and commenting even while it makes no money at all. Good luck!

Squeezer
Squeezer

Way to go! I hope that as time progresses my blog will gain in popularity and I’ll have a respectable side income coming in.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Good luck!

SB @ One Cent At A Time
SB @ One Cent At A Time

I know Crystal for quiet some time now, being part of yakezie group. She is an amazing lady. Crystal although I haven’t gone for your service, I may want to avail that in future, keep your doors open pls.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Awww, thank you! Don’t worry, I don’t see my doors closing anytime soon, lol.

John @ Married (with Debt)
John @ Married (with Debt)

Being new to the Yakezie Challenge, I can already say that it is helping out immensely, even though it’s been less than two weeks.

BFS is truly a success story to aspire to. Thanks for being so open and willing to help others. Goes to show that almost no one makes it in this business alone, and those that take the time to help those newer than them are rewarded well over in good karma.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I love that about our online world – what comes around, goes around – good and bad.

Brian
Brian

It’s amazing how many people attempt to blog with one hidden agenda – money. Thank you for allowing there to be space between making money and finding satisfaction in what you do. I looked around your blog and gotta admit, i’m impressed. You’re a great writer and i’m glad to see you keeping it real. 80 – 100 hours per week. Sounds like it was worth it. How can one manage all this if they have a family? Not sure if you do, but it must be full of trials and tribulations. Thank you for your post today. -Brian

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Glad you took a look around and thanks so much for the “great writer” comment! I only work 50-60 hour weeks regularly now…the 80 hour ones are way more spread out. I have family, just no kids. I have my husband, our close friends, our family, and our two dogs. I’m 29 and still haven’t felt that urge to reproduce, but we’ll see. If we have a kid, I’m assuming my husband and I will raise it together and I will have to get my parts done when I am the least exhausted…I think my husband will probably have to… Read more »

skeptic
skeptic

great story. I especially like how you started handling advertising for other blogs, being open to a change in direction based on the new specific skills that you learned while pursuing your dream.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

That was definitely the turning point. I was just so lucky that Kay Lynn was so open about not liking that part. If someone hadn’t mentioned it, I would have just assumed everyone enjoyed the haggling as much as I do…

James
James

Great story, Crystal. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s exciting to read about someone who succeeds in ‘going out on their own’, and it’s always great to find more great blogs to read!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thanks for tuning in!

Carla
Carla

Congratulations on your success! I had a blog for 2.5 years (starting in 2008) and managed to earn about $7.00 after working almost day and night on it and the related web store.

I sometimes get skeptical when people are still on the “make a living blogging kick”, but you’re proof that it can still be done.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. 🙁

Carla
Carla

Awwww, thanks; its all good though. 🙂

A company owner
A company owner

I guess I am the only one that stopped enjoying the article after the admission that you snuck in “tons of blogging time” at your employer’s expense. Have you ever considered reimbursing your former employer for all of the money you stole or do you feel that it was owed to you because of the low salary they paid you?

A regular reader
A regular reader

For some reason I missed that part the first time I read it. I completely agree with yo. Some of us are actually working full-time and putting in hours at home into the night without even thinking about robbing our employers.

“Behind every great fortune is an equally great crime.”

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I already responded…I wasn’t stealing. The policy was to fill in time with whatever until the next set of tickets arrived. I worked for a car dealership software company in forms and customer service…business had been very slow for two-three years and that was expected by the company thanks to the economy. That is why there were only 5 of us in the entire department.

A company owner
A company owner

Then you should not state that you “snuck in tons of blogging time.” Why sneak if your employer was aware of how you were spending your time?

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

See my response below #104…I don’t know why it popped up further down. I was just trying to be humorous.

Brian
Brian

Welcome to the world. When you pay for us to create unpleasant customer service experiences we lose our allegiance to the job. Our country has lost it’s devotion to service and the customer and therefor a big company gets what it deserves.

We should find what makes us happy however we can. If the company can’t inspire it’s own employees, it’s not the workers fault.

A company owner
A company owner

Brian….that is a pretty scary philosophy to adopt about “the company getting what it deserves.” I hope you don’t apply this to other areas if your life. It is a very self serving attitude to justify one’ behaviour based on another entity “getting what they deserve.”

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I worded that incorrectly trying to be humorous. I worked in a job with waves of work – we got handed tickets and when we were done, we waited around for more. Some employees read (like I did before blogging), some studied, some chatted (like I used to), some worked on their fantasy football teams, and I blogged. When we were handed our next stack, we took care of them before doing whatever we did in the free time. So no, I will not be reimbursing my company since I only blogged after all of my work was done. Sorry… Read more »

Bella
Bella

I’m so glad you elaborated on that – it too struck a nerve with me as to being a little unethical, but it sounds like your employer didn’t expect you to be working full time – just there in case there was work – like the college kids who work the smoothie shop and study when the customers get low. I’m so glad that you weren’t actually sneaking in blogging at work!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Yes, exactly. 🙂 Some days did get super busy and I worked all 8 hours. But most days, we had 3-5 hours of work and were able to do anything quiet while we sat around waiting.

Invest It Wisely
Invest It Wisely

I think your growth has been great, Crystal, and it’s so cool that you have found a niche that you love and that you’re really good at, as well! I am continually inspired by your success.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you!

Invest It Wisely
Invest It Wisely

Looks like I made it in. Thanks guys, I really do appreciate that! Not every busy site has the time to free the false positives.

Brian
Brian

Hi Crystal, great story.

I really enjoy the business side of things and do a lot of sponsorship/marketing type activities in my day job. Our blog is still in it’s infancy, and I was wondering how you first started getting ad’s for your blog? Did you approach prospective companies? How did you know who to talk to? Did companies email you first?

Very interested in hearing more about your experience – I’ve added your blog to my Reader list!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

They came to me and keep coming. So far, I have not had to track advertisers down yet. Thanks for subscribing!

Dr Dean
Dr Dean

Great job Crystal, you got it going. Your energy is amazing!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thanks Dr Dean!!! Will I be seeing you again in Denver? 🙂

Richard
Richard

Awesome story! I took up blogging a bit over a year ago as a hobby that can also earn some side income. I started writing about learning about online income and financial services as this was an area I was really interested in. It took a while that first year to see any significant returns, but I focused on writing daily and just enjoying the process. Also, I ventured into a very high competition area for online income, but I focused on enjoying it as a hobby, which I think helps a lot with staying persistent. It’s definitely not the… Read more »

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Wow, glad to see persistence paid off for you too! I wish I could make $500 a month or more from more passive sources like affiliate marketing…I need to look into that more. And congrats at having a day job you enjoy!

Richard
Richard

Thanks Crystal,
Even affiliate income isn’t entirely passive as it still takes time to research the product and write a well thought out post. I blogged for about a year before I saw any real returns, but once a post or two starts to take off, I find that the income appears to grow exponentially with your blog.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

@Beth #98, I don’t understand the question, sorry. I don’t think bloggers in general are any better (or worse) than writers for larger publications. But those larger publications sell ad space too, so hence my confusion. As far as paying for free content, that is dead on in my case at least. My ad business takes up 50-60 hours a week so I only blog as my hobby again. I would be much less inclined to post regularly and have something up every day if I wasn’t making anything at all. Money isn’t everything and I love writing even without… Read more »

Beth
Beth

Hi Crystal — thanks for the response, but my question was for Thad and wasn’t a reflection on you in any way. (Hence the confusion!) I was curious as to why he allowed ads on blogs (now that he’s a blogger) but blocked them on mainstream news websites. The implication here that he feels bloggers are worth supporting but other sources of content aren’t.

I’m not judging — I’m just curious about how audiences identify with bloggers versus larger news/lifestyle websites.

Thad P
Thad P

You know, I’m not sure I have thought through why I still block ads on large mainstream media sites. I certainly remember it started years ago when popups and Flash ads caused irritations and ate system resources (Flash). Other than that, I think my reasoning is that blogs tend to have much less traffic than the CNNs or MSNBC or USAToday or whatever and thus need the revenue. Thanks for asking…I have a blog post coming soon about thinking through the actions we take. Your question will help make that better!

Mike
Mike

That guest post was another example of your great creative marketing Crystal. I learned more about blogging in that one article than I did after hours of research. Plus, I now have a resource if I decide to take my blog beyond my currently small network. Thanks!

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I am so glad my quick advice in this post may help! I couldn’t delve too deep or I’d be completely off subject, but I wanted to give a few pointers at least, lol. Thanks for the comment!

Julie Gaudet
Julie Gaudet

This is a great and very inspirational story. I love the fact that you set out a plan, made choices, and took action! Fantastic. Although we are still establishing ourselves at Gals Dig It, I hope to emulate your success on as quick a timeline as you’ve had! Great job.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Good luck! Enjoy those first happy feelings while growing!

Ellen
Ellen

Crystal – this was a fantastic post! I’ve had some idea of how you achieved your success, but this summarized it all nicely for me.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Me too, lol. I had to go back through my records to find out exactly how everything happened…it has been a crazy 2 years!

LaTisha @YoungAdultFinances
LaTisha @YoungAdultFinances

Crystal it was so exciting to watch this as it happened. Your success has always pushed me to do my best. Here’s to 2012 and the expansion of your blogging empire! 🙂

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you!!! And thanks for being so supportive this whole time. 🙂

retirebyforty
retirebyforty

Great job Crystal! You are doing so well in self employment and are using your talent to do the job that you love.
$2500/m for 4 months is a very good goal. My goal is quite a bit more achievable at 1k/m. 🙂

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

That is very attainable – I will continue trying to help as much as possible. 🙂

Leslie
Leslie

You are blessed to be able to go through something as devastating as divorce and still be friends. That is incredibly rare & admirable. I live in a big house, but sill purge on a regular basis so that my life remains as simple as possible & not filled with stuff. Start with one room at a time one month at a time. Any new aquisitions have to have a real purpose. Best of luck.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

I’m assuming this was meant for a different post as I am not divorced. 🙂

Leslie
Leslie

Hi Crystal, I am very impressed with your progress and success. One of my best friends and I started a blog site in September 2011 and we are struggling to get the site traffic and of course the money. We will be reviewing your site and endeavor to follow in your footsteps. I hope our paths cross again.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

It’s only been 4-ish months, right? It takes time to develop an audience. I hope this might help – http://howimakemoneyblogging.com/my-advice-to-new-bloggers/

Long
Long

Hi Crystal,

Thanks for such an inspiring post. I am a new blogger myself and am trying to use it as a launch pad for starting my own business. I can really identify with your other blog where you mention making four cents in the first two months.

I really liked how you saw an opportunity (advertising management) and used it as a means to gain more income. It really proves that you’re a great business person, rather than just a blogger.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you for the kind comment! Good luck with your new blog and business!

Suba
Suba

Crystal is always a great inspiration!! I am one of those readers who still remember her blogger blog. It has been amazing watching her grow.

For folks who are wishing they would make some money off their blogging ventures, you should contacting Crystal. Now. 🙂

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

LOL, I barely remember my Blogger blog…I should have taken pictures. 🙂

I really think you are amazing Suba. I cannot wait to hang out with you this weekend! Thank you for all of your support since the very beginning and for being an absolutely awesome blogging buddy!!!

Jo@simplybeingmum

Crystal this is such a great story – I can hear the enthusiasm, motivation and also how hard you’ve worked through your words. I have a small blog (I really don’t know what the numbers mean though) I am getting about 400 views a day. Taking that next step just seems a mile off. I’ve had a couple of ad agencies contact me, but I’m not there yet in my head or on my blog! I’m going to go across to yours and subscribe.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thanks for taking a look around and I’ve already seen one of your comments. 🙂 I hope my enthusiasm holds up over the next years since this is the first job I’ve ever truly enjoyed.

Hunter - Financially Consumed
Hunter - Financially Consumed

I love your work Crystal and constantly inspired by your success.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you Hunter!!! Positive feedback always kicks butt. 🙂

Matt
Matt

You have been an inspiration, plus an amazing person to work with over the last 6 months. I appreciate your work ethic and your commitment to your clients.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger

Thank you Matt!

lineargirl
lineargirl

“(A)nyone can achieve whatever they want with the right mixture of ability, persistence, time, and luck.” Thanks for expressing this so succintly. If we could find a way to make this sentence be permanently attached to the “follow your dream” sentiment we would have many more happy and successful dreamers. Congratulations.

Kathryn C
Kathryn C

This is amazing Crystal, amazing!! What a great story. I loved reading this.
Kathryn

shares