This crazy journey I’ve been on the last 10 years (and yes, you CAN make money blogging!)

My Journey to Making Full-Time Income as a Blogger

In 2005, I started this thing called a “blog” — something that most people in my circle of friends and family had never heard of before. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I had a big dream: I wanted to find a way to earn enough money from home so I can supplement our meager income to allow me to be able to stay home with our baby girl, Kathrynne.

In addition to my big dream, I also had perseverance — something I was going to need in big supply over the next few years. I was very, very determined and that determination drove me not to give up even during the many, many times when I wanted to.

That little blog had a few readers. Then a few dozen. I kept blogging. I kept commenting on other blogs. I kept writing articles for other sites and linking to that blog. I kept networking with other online entrepreneurs.

Over the course of many months, that little blog grew a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more. Pretty soon, I woke up one day and realized that I had a few hundred readers. That idea just blew my mind.

My first blogging header{My first official professionally done website header — added when I switched from Blogspot to Typepad.}

The Income Began With a Little Trickle

I started experimenting with ways to monetize that blog. I researched. I watched what other people were doing. I read many books and blog posts on monetizing a blog. And I just jumped out and began trying things.

Pretty soon, there was a little trickle of income coming in from that blog. When I say “trickle”, I truly mean it. It started with $10 per month, then $20 per month, then $50 per month.

If you would have divided my blogging income by the hours invested in blogging, I was probably making what would amount to a few nickles per hour. However, I was learning, the blog was slowly growing, and I was truly enjoying the process of writing and interacting on a blog.

Speaking at My First Blogging ConferenceSpeaking at my first blogging conference — I was a scared, insecure mess inside and I can see it written all over my face in this picture.

Starting to See the Potential

As time marched on and I kept plugging away, I found other creative ways to add additional income streams — like selling ebooks and then an online course on cutting your grocery bill. I went from making $50 a month to a few hundred dollars per month.

I started to see the potential. And I began to believe that it truly would be possible to earn a part-time income from blogging someday.

My husband and I began talking about adding a niche blog dedicated to frugal living. There was a lot of interest in the topic, it was something I was passionate about and experienced in, and I was pretty sure I could do some specific things to monetize a frugal living blog that I couldn’t do on the blog I currently had.

My Second Blogging ConferenceMy second blogging conference — I was still nervous and scared, but I felt more myself and more whole and I can see it in my face here.

How MoneySavingMom.com Began

It took about a year from the time the initial idea was birthed to when the final product, MoneySavingMom.com actually happened. But in the fall of 2007, I announced the launch of MoneySavingMom.com on the other blog I had.

I still remember the post where I let the world know MoneySavingMom.com was official. I said that I was probably going to blog on MoneySavingMom.com “about 3 times per week”. {Yes, 3 times per week. That still cracks me up!}

The first version of MoneySavingMom.com was on Blogspot. It was an all white background with capital letters at the top of the page that said MONEY SAVING MOM. {Clearly, I was very into bells and whistles. ;)}

I had spent $10 to buy the website URL and that was all I could afford. Later, I paid $25 to have a teen of a mom I knew design a header for me. But those were the very humble beginnings of something that I could have never imagined…
My first radio interviewMy first radio interview — again, this was a completely unnerving experience for shy me. I felt like just going back to my hotel room and crying when it was over because I was sure I had totally bombed it.

Rapid Growth Beyond What I Could Imagine

Since I’d already put in countless hours to build an online platform over the two previous years, knew how to run a blog, and had a pretty good grasp on what topics people were interested, jumping in with MoneySavingMom.com was much easier than it would have been had I been starting from scratch. I also was at the right place, at the right time, because the economy was beginning to tank, coupons were coming into vogue, and the media started to do a lot of coverage of money-saving ideas and frugal living topics.

My initial readers told their friends who told their friends, people found me from random searches and stuck around, and within a few months, MoneySavingMom.com had grown to 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day.

It. was. mind-blowing!

I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew that I needed to continue to produce good content and continue to do all I could to help people save money. I also continued to learn all I could about win-win ways to monetize the blog.

My First BookMy first book: basically an exercise in how to do everything wrong! I learned so much, and wished I could have done it all over again because there would be so much I would change!

Fulfilling My Dream — And Making So Many Mistakes

Within a few months, I was making $800 to $1200 from MoneySavingMom.com. And the income just kept increasing. By the end of the first year, I was making the equivalent of a full-time income from blogging.

All of a sudden, I woke up and realized that not only was I living my dream, it was a LOT more work than I could have ever imagined — especially as the blog continued to grow!

The Story Behind MoneySavingMom.com

The past almost 10 years have been a journey… one riddled with many ups and downs. I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve let people down. I’ve sometimes posted things before taking time to really think through what I’d written.

I’ve been arrogant. I’ve said and written hurtful things. I’ve taken on too much and stretched myself to thin. Many times, I’ve had my priorities out of whack and given my family the leftovers instead of my best.

Through it all, I’ve grown, matured, been humbled, had to ask forgiveness, and learned a great deal about my own limits. I’ve gone from a very black and white person who thought she had everything figured out and thought she should share her very legalistic, dogmatic views with everyone, to discovering this beautiful thing called “grace” and realizing that there are very few hills worth dying on.

My First TV Interview

My first TV interview — I was a complete nervous wreck. Literally shaking from head to toe!

I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve faced a lot of fears. I’ve done things I never thought I was humanly capable of. I’ve confronted many of my deep-seeded insecurities head on. And I’ve had many opportunities to work through my long-held tendencies to be a people-pleaser.

Scared of the Scrutiny

You see, as the blog took off and became something more than a little mommy blog, I struggled a lot. Part of me was so excited about the growth and the possibilities. The other part of me wanted nothing more than to just run away from it all and go back to being a stay-at-home mom.

As a normally private person, I hated having my life scrutinized by people I didn’t know. I was scared to come out and talk much about the business side of my life — the meetings, the responsibilities, the opportunities — because I knew some people wouldn’t be happy and would criticize the fact that I was making a good income, was running a thriving business, and was no longer just the frugal stay-at-home mom blogger struggling to make ends meet that I had been when I started blogging.

My Second Book

Growing Into My Own Skin

I love being a wife and mom, I love managing my home well, I love saving money, and I love freezer cooking. I am also a business woman who loves marketing, entrepreneurial ventures, and learning everything I can about strategy and monetization.

It took me awhile to be brave enough to say that I am both out loud. But once I did, it has freed me up to make decisions that were best for our family and the business — like bringing on more help, not always making everything from scratch, and eliminating some frugal practices that were not giving enough return on my investment of time in the season of life I am in.

Knowing who I am and embracing that has been so freeing for me. Yes, I still regularly get emails and comments from people who think I shouldn’t be living my life the way I am, but for the most part, this community has rallied around our family. And you have no idea how much you bless us.

allume-conference-smilebooth-0154My 4th(?) blogging conference: This time, I went with the sole desire to pour into others and look for other people to bless. Guess what? I completely forgot about my usual insecurities and ended up having a blast!

I Would Have Never Imagined This Life

As I look back over the past 10 years, I could never have imagined what my life would look like today. I would never have pictured myself running a business with multiple team members, speaking at events around the country, working with brands, consulting, doing national media interviews, or writing a book that hit the New York Times bestseller’s list.

Nor would I have pictured that this blog would be the catalyst for our family to get in a much better position financially so that were no longer living on a beans and rice budget, could pay cash for a house and a rental house, and can give generously to the needs in our community and around the world.

I also would have never pictured that, through the income from this blog and business, we’d be able to make the choice to move from Kansas to Tennessee, to slow down and simplify our lives, and get the opportunity to work together as a family from home.

So grateful I get to do life with this man!I’m so thankful for the opportunity to get to work together with my husband and best friend! While we have our disagreements and struggles, we are a definite team. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him encouraging me, supporting me, and being my biggest cheerleader.

THANK YOU For Being a Big Part of This Journey

You all have been a big part of this journey. Without you reading here, this blog would never have grown like it has nor would the doors of opportunity have opened up like they have. I am forever humbly grateful for each of you.

While the income from this blog has been a blessing, the community I’ve found in you all has been priceless. You’ve supported our family through thick and thin. You’ve loved us. You’ve prayed for us. You’ve cheered us on. You’ve forgiven me when I’ve made mistakes. And you’ve been incredibly loyal.

My three precious kiddosMy three precious kiddos. There are days when they make me want to pull my hair out (!), but I love them to pieces and am so thankful for the privilege of being their mom!

Looking Ahead to the Future

I don’t know what the next 10 years of my life will hold. Right now, I’m just focusing on living one day at a time! But I do know that I want to live each day that I’m given to the best of my ability. And as long as I’m given the privilege of blogging here, I want to use this platform to make the most impact I can and encourage and bless as many people as possible.

Blogging has broken me. Blogging has healed me. And, more than anything, blogging has taught me that perseverance pays off.

So no matter where you are in life right now, I want to encourage you: Keep on. Press forward. Keep learning. Keep experimenting. Keep holding onto hope. And most importantly: don’t give up! The best is yet to come!

Thinking Of Starting a Blog?

Um, so this post was actually supposed to be a short post with some links for those who were interested in making money blogging. Instead, it turned into one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. Oops. Brevity is not my strong point, if you can’t tell! :)

Anyway, over the years, I’ve received many requests from folks for help on how to start a blog and how to make money blogging. I’ve written on this in past years, but I wanted to let you know that I recently put together a comprehensive page on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links. I encourage you to check it out here if you’re interested in how to make money blogging.

For those who already have established blogs and are looking for some encouragement and inspiration to take them to the next level, my good friend, Ruth, has opened up enrollment for her brand-new course called the Elite Blog Academy.

This course will guide you through the process of creating a successful blog and show you, step by step, exactly how to grow a loyal following, generate a sustainable income, and transform your passion into a profitable business. Find out more details here. If you’re interested in purchasing, you can get $50 off by using coupon code IBLOG at checkout. Note: Course enrollment is only open for a limited time.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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Work-At-Home Opportunity: Paid Blogging Internship

Paid Blogging Opportunity

Blogelina currently has a work-at-home opportunity available that might be a great fit for someone who is good with blogging and social media. Here are the details of the position:

Here at Blogelina, we’re excited to be adding to our team!  We’re looking for a couple of motivated, organized, social people to work with us in maintaining the Blogelina blog and social media platforms.

Our internship positions will start on a trial basis at 4 hours/wk. – for 1 month.  At the end of the month, there could be potential to increase your hours if you would like to!  Our internship compensation is $10/hr.

The Tasks We’re Looking For Help With Are:

Uploading Posts To Blogelina
Adding To & Organizing Our Pinterest Account
Recycling Old Posts to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
Organizing Online Events
Editing Images To Make Them More Social Media-Friendly

Think you’re a good fit or know someone who is? Go apply for this opportunity here.

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Income-Earning Opportunity: Become a Mystery Shopper with MSI Services/TrendSource

msi

Looking for a way to earn some extra income? Mystery shopping might be a great option for you!

When we were first married, I did a lot of mystery shopping. And while it was sometimes tedious work, there were also many fun opportunities — like beauty shops, expensive restaurants that we would have never been able to afford to eat at otherwise, fast food restaurants, and more!

There are many different reputable mystery shopping companies out there that you can apply to work with. One such company is MSI Services/TrendSource and they are recruiting right now, specifically for grocery store mystery shop projects. Here’s what they emailed me about this opportunity:

MSI Services/TrendSource is recruiting Independent Field Agents to participate in Unrevealed Mystery Shop Projects at local grocery stores. An Independent Field Agent is an independent contractor who is paid to anonymously complete an evaluation and inspection of a local business based on specific criteria.

Independent Field Agents pose as regular customers while performing their evaluation. After the project is complete, Independent Field Agents submit their collected data through an online evaluation form.

A typical evaluation looks for the following information:

  • Counting the number of associates in each department.
  • Evaluating whether associates actively engage with customers.
  • Reporting how associates engage with customers.
  • Reporting how associates respond to specific questions.

ready

Becoming a mystery shopper is a great way to get reimbursed for your groceries. MSI Services/TrendSource pays agents twice monthly for their projects. Independent Field Agents spend approximately 30 minutes on-site.

Are you interested in applying for this opportunity? Head over to MSI Services/TrendSource to learn more and apply to become an Independent Field Agent today!

{Note: This post was underwritten by TrendSource. Read our disclosure policy here.}

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What are your most creative income-earning ideas?

One of the parts of my next book that I’m especially excited about is that I’ll not just be sharing how to start earning some additional income, but will be giving you a plethora of ideas of businesses you could start or ways to earn additional income.

I have put together a long list of ideas that I’ll be sharing in the book, but I’m positively certain that you all have some great ideas I’ve not thought of or wouldn’t come up with on my own.

So, I’d love to hear: What are your most creative income-earning ideas? I’d love to hear your input of things you’ve done successfully, know others who have done successfully, or just think would be a brilliant idea for someone to do. I’m especially looking for ideas that don’t require a significant amount of money to start.

Share your ideas in the comments or email them to me (crystal @ moneysavingmom.com). Thanks so much!

Note: Comments left on this post or emailed in may be published in the book. If you’d prefer that we don’t publish your comment or email or that it’s anonymous, please mention this in your comment or email.

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PSST!! Sign up to earn money promoting our Crazy, Can’t Miss Sale next week!

Grocery University Sale

I’ve got some pretty exciting news to share with you all tonight. My team and I have been working hard on a project for a number of months and we can finally let the cat out of the bag!

One of my goals as a blogger is to offer really practical tools and tactics to help you cut your grocery bill. Which is why I’m thrilled to let you know that we are now offering the Grocery University course by Carrie Isaac.

Carrie is a long-time friend of mine (her husband is actually my brother-in-law’s cousin!) and she’s been a true inspiration to me in so many areas — especially in the area of keeping your grocery budget low!

A few years ago, Carrie produced Grocery University and has since sold thousands of copies of this course and inspired countless people to cut their grocery budgets! When I found out that Carrie was planning to discontinue selling Grocery University because her plate was too full, I approached her and asked if we could buy the rights to the course.

We’re so excited to have the opportunity to now sell this course as part of the MoneySavingMom.com product line. We’ve spent the last few months updating and tweaking the course handbook a bit to match our branding, but the information is still the same valuable information Carrie put together in 2010. You can read all about Grocery University here.

Sign Up For Our Affiliate Program & Earn 50% Of All Sales!

If you’re a blogger or someone who loves to share deals with others via email or social media, we’d LOVE to have you on board as one of our affiliates. You can earn 50% commissions on all sales made through your referral link.

But that’s not all!

We’re re-launching Grocery University next Tuesday (August 19, 2014) with a crazy, can’t miss, one-day-only sale. We expect that this sale will be a HUGE success for our affiliates and — just to make things even more exciting — we’ll be offering 60% commissions on all affiliate sales made on August 19, 2014.

Go here to sign up for the Grocery University affiliate program (it’s free). After you sign up, you’ll have access to your referral link and graphics and everything you’ll need to promote Grocery University to your readers and friends.

And then get ready to promote this sale and (hopefully!) earn some great affiliate income.

P.S. If you’re new to affiliate marketing, be sure to read this post on what affiliate marketing is and 5 ways to maximize your success with affiliate marketing. You can also download my free ebook on How to Make Money Blogging.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at my blogging processes

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 5.36.54 PM

I was honored to be interviewed by iBlog Magazine recently about blogging, online marketing, and what I’ve learned from this crazy and wild adventure I’ve been on as a blogger for the past almost 10 years.

In this interview, I share a behind-the-scenes look at some of my blogging processes, how I’ve grown my team (and some key advice for those of you who are thinking of hiring a virtual assistant), my Pinterest strategy and how much time I invest in it on a daily basis, the platform I’m currently experiencing with, plus a number of lessons I’ve learned the hard way as a blogger.

If you are a blogger, an online entrepreneur, or just want to know more about the behind-the-scenes of MoneySavingMom.com, I think you’ll enjoy watching this interview. Head over here to view it.

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