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 Began

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

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

The first version of 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 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, 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 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

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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Why I Did a Happy Dance at Dollar Tree + My Amazon Order

My Dollar Tree Shopping Score

I ran into Dollar Tree with the kids last week to pick up a few things for Jesse’s birthday (yes, we’ re all extravagant like that! ;))

I hadn’t been in that Dollar Tree yet since we’d moved and decided to peruse the aisles to see what they had available. Imagine my absolutely delight when I rounded the corner of one aisle and saw an end cap completely stocked with Nature’s Own bread for $1 per loaf!

My family loves this bread for sandwich bread and it made me feel so very much at home to discover that Dollar Tree in TN carries Nature’s Own bread just like our Dollar Trees in Kansas did.

Our freezer is now well-stocked with sandwich bread for the next few weeks! It’s often the little things that can make a new city feel like home.

I also picked up a spray bottle for some homemade cleaner I wanted to make, some sandwich bags that were marked down to $0.50, and some brown rice.

Also pictured: my coconut flour that I ordered from Amazon using some of my Swagbucks credit. I’m excited to try it out in some new recipes.

Have any of you used Coconut Flour before? Have any recipe recommendations or tips on how to use it?

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What are your favorite WAHM/home business resources?

I want my next book to be really rich with resources on making money from home and running your own business successfully. I have compiled a list of many different resources I love, but I’m sure I’m missing some fantastic other resources.

So I thought I’d pose the question to you all to give your input: What are your favorite books, podcasts, sites, or blogs related to working from home, being a working mom, or having your own business?

Share them in the comments or email me at crystal @ I can’t wait to check out the resources that you share!

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I don’t do this often, but I’m wholeheartedly endorsing this…

Update: Because of a server crash that resulted in some of you being unable to access the sales page or purchase the Bundle, this sale has been extended until 3 p.m. EST today (September 16, 2014). There will be no late sales after that so I hope you’re able to get in on this deal!

The past few days, I’ve talked about the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle and told you about some of the resources and why I think it would be beneficial for your family.

Today is the very last day that you can purchase this deal. After midnight tonight, this special collection of ebooks, ecourses, and resources will never be available again as a package deal. So this is your last opportunity to get over $1,000 worth of resources for the low, low price of $29.97!

Some of you have been hesitant about purchasing and you’ve emailed in or commented with questions. It makes me so happy that you are carefully considering your purchasing and not just jumping in and buying something because it seems like a good deal.

I am here to help you spend your money in the wisest manner possible. I turn down many opportunities on a daily basis to promote things because I only want to promote the best of the best here.

If you are not in a financial place to purchase the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, will you do me a huge favor and just skip this post? The last thing I want to do is to encourage you to buy something that you can’t afford.

Why I’m Endorsing the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

For the rest of you, though, I want you to carefully consider whether purchasing the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is a good deal for you. And I want to share 9 reasons why I can rubber-stamp this deal and stand behind it:

1. It Will Teach You How to Cut Your Grocery Bill While Eating Healthfully

Most people think that feeding your family healthfully is going to mean you have to majorly increase your grocery bill. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With resources like the Making Organic Food Affordable ebook and the Grocery Savings Made Simple: A Real Mom’s Guide course, you’ll learn practical ways to feed your family well — without breaking the bank!

Value: Both of these resources by themselves are regularly priced at more than the cost of the entire bundle. So even if these are the only two books you read, it will have been worth buying the bundle. Plus, the tricks and tips you learn for saving money on wholesome food will likely end up paying for the bundle in savings over and over again!

2. It Will Give You Step-by-Step Help to Transform Your Family’s Health

Do you want to help your family eat better and feel better but you’re just overwhelmed by all of the information out there? The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle not only comes with hands-on help ebooks like the 7 Day Real Food Challenge, 22 Days to a Fresh Start, and Let’s Do This! Getting Ahead in Your Real Food Kitchen, and Kids Eat Real Food, but it also comes with a “Getting Started” Guide to help you identify the most valuable resources for your specific health priorities.

Value: These 4 resources mentioned are (again!) worth more separately than you’ll pay for the entire course. And the money you could potentially save on doctor’s visits and medication could be substantial. But not only that, think of the gift you’ll be giving your family by helping them live healthier lives!

3. It Will Clear Up Your Confusion Over Essential Oils

There are a lot of confusing and conflicting viewpoints about essential oils out there with different people telling you different brands are superior to others or the only safe ones to use. Going through the Essential Oils & Natural Health course will educate you on why essential oils work and how to use them. Best of all, the course is done from a completely non-biased perspective when it comes to essential oil brands.

Value: The Essential Oils course is a value of $95! And you get it + all of the other resources in this bundle for just $29.97! That’s definitely what I call a deal!

4. It Will Help You Sleep Better

Okay, so I can’t completely guarantee this one, but it’s been true for me! One of the bonuses you get with the purchase of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is a choice of a free 2-oz liquid herbal formula from Trilight Health. I chose the Peace Treaty and I have quickly decided this stuff really, really works. In fact, if you need to get up really early for some reason, don’t take it before bed, because it truly knocks you out. :)

I experimented with taking it and not taking it the past week and can tell a significant difference in how well and how deeply I sleep when I take it as compared to when I don’t. Your results may differ from mine, but for me, I think this stuff rocks!

Value: You do have to pay shipping — which is around $3-5 per order — but getting a bottle of this herbal formula for just a few dollar was very worth it to me. I likely would have never tried it and discovered how well it worked had it not come as a bonus with the bundle!

Peace Treaty

5. It Will Inspire You to Lose Weight & Stick With Your Fitness Goals

Do you wish you could find a way to stick with exercise goals and actually lose those persistent pounds? The  Fit2B course in this bundle might be a great help to you! It contains 5 lessons with 5 videos outlining 5 days of different routines containing 5 exercises done 5 times for 5 sets! And best of all, you can do these lessons in 10-15 minutes!

Plus, you’ll get a free 4-month subscription to Stay-At-Home Yoga. While I’m not much of a yoga person, I checked this online fitness program out and was impressed with it. I especially loved how mom-friendly it was and that she offers really quick workouts for busy days.

Value: This course and the subscription are regularly priced at more than the cost of the entire bundle! Plus, you won’t have to pay for a gym membership or any fancy workout equipment.

6. It Will Save You Money on Gifts For Others

One of my very favorite things about the Healthy Living Bundle is that you are allowed to gift any resources or bonuses you don’t plan on using or reading. Yes, you read that right! So if you only are interested in 10 of the ebooks, 2 of the courses, and 2 of the bonuses, you can give all the others away!

You could use these as gifts for a friend’s birthday or Christmas. You could split them up as gifts for multiple friends. Or, you could just share them as a way to bless someone who is interested in healthy living.

The bonuses would especially make great gifts! I loved the Made On Lotion gift set and it would make a really fun and unique gift for a friend who loves all-natural things. Shipping is only a few dollars and it’s well worth it for these high-quality products!

Value: If you used three of the bonuses/ebooks as gifts for friends for upcoming occasions, that could pay for the cost of the bundle itself — because you wouldn’t need to spend any money on gifts for those three occasions!

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

A picture of some of the bonuses I got from the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

7. It Will Give You New Recipes for Special Diets & Allergies in Your Family

If you have a child or another family member who is gluten-free, diary-free, Paleo, or diabetic, this bundle is a goldmine of great resources and help! If you need recipes, encouragement, or inspiration for how to cook, bake, freezer cook, and menu plan when you have allergies, you’ll find a plethora of help in the ebooks like: 31 Days of Gluten Free Meals, Allergy-Free Cooking, Allergy Friendly Comfort Food, Gluten Free 30 Day Meal Plan, and Grain-Free Meal Plans Freezer Cooking Guide.

Value: Not only will you no longer have to scratch your head and throw up your hands in despair wondering what you’re going to cook or bake, but you’ll no longer feel so alone. These ebooks will come alongside you and help you to feel like you can do this! You can find recipes to cook and meals to make — even with strict diet restrictions!

8. It Will Challenge You to Think Outside the Box

One thing I loved about this bundle was that it felt like I was getting a college education on health and wellness! As I read through many of the resources, I learned many new things, was exposed to new ideas, and was challenged to reconsider what I believe about health.

I feel like there’s so much value in constantly learned and growing as a person. I don’t ever want to become stagnant. I want to challenge my mind and my beliefs and always be willing to try new things if it seems like it might work well.

Value: You can get educated on a wealth of health and wellness ideas — from the comfort of your own home on your own time table — with the resources in this bundle. Even if you decide to keep living like you currently are and don’t change much as a result of learning from these resources, exposing yourself to other mindsets and philosophies is always a valuable thing.

9. It Is a Risk-Free Purchase With a Money-Back Guarantee!

If you are still sitting on the fence right now wondering whether or not you should take the plunge and buy the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, here’s why you should: it’s a risk-free purchase.

That’s right! There’s a 100% money-back guarantee on it for up to a YEAR! So if you purchase it and then decide it’s not as helpful as you’d hoped or that it’s not worth the price you paid, you can get a full refund — no questions asked.

So what are you waiting for? Click below to purchase your Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle while there’s still time!

P.S. Remember, this offer ends at midnight TONIGHT! This is your last chance to get in on this great deal. After tonight, this bundle will never be available again. So hurry and get it while you can!

(Note: The link in this post is my referral link. Read my disclosure policy here.)

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What I de-cluttered in 30 minutes this week (12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge)


For September’s 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge, we’re focusing on clearing out clutter. I committed to spend 30 minutes to an hour every week de-cluttering at my house.

Decluttering Project

I decided to tackle the office. First up, I shredded this pile of papers that had been waiting by the shredder to shred.

Decluttering Project

After doing the shredding, I realized that the shredder desperately needed to be cleaned out.

Decluttering Project

So, I proceeded to try to dump it out into a bag… and promptly made a mess in the process. By the time the mess was cleaned up and I’d vacuumed the floor, my 30 minutes were up!

Did you do any de-cluttering this past week? If so, how’d it go for you?

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Gretchen’s $55 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan

photo 1

Health Food Store

3 lb bag Apples – $2.49

1 Cucumber – $0.59

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $0.99

4 Oranges – $0.69 each

Total with tax ($0.46): $6.89

photo 2

Items a part of the Mega Sale (Buy 5, Get $5 off instantly):

3 Pampers Wipes – $0.99 each, used 3 $0.50/1 printable - $0.49 each after coupons

2 Kotex Pads – $1.99 each, used $2/2 e-coupon - $0.99 each after coupon

1 Kotex Tampons – $1.99, used $1/1 e-coupon - $0.99 after coupon

1 Herbal Essence Bodywash – $1.99, used $1/1 printable - $0.99 after coupon

2 Gillette Shaving Cream – $0.99 each, used 2 $0.50/1 printable - $0.49 each after coupons

2 Barilla Spaghetti Sauce – $1.49 each, used 2 $0.75/1 printable - $0.74 each after coupons

2 Wheat Thins – $1.49 each, used $0.75/2 coupon from the 8/10 SmartSource insert – $1.11 each after coupon

1 Casa Fiesta Taco Shells – $0.49

1 Honey Nut Chex – $2.79 (I try to get cereal for under $1.50/box but my husband asked me to buy this so I splurged for him.) :)

Other Deals

3 Barilla Pasta – $1 each, used $1/3 printable - $0.67 each after coupon

2 bags Candy (1 Skittles & 1 Starburst) – $1.50 each, used $1/2 coupon from the 9/7 RedPlum insert – $1 each after coupon (I was looking for a fun reward for my Awana girls this week and was happy when I saw the sale on these!)

1 Kroger Tortilla Chips – $1.25

1 pint Half & Half – $1.39

1 Jimmy Dean Delights Frozen Meal – $2.50, used Free e-coupon (no longer available) – Free after coupon

3 Totinos Pizza – $1.34 each (I usually make my own pizzas and freeze them for my husband’s lunches, but since we just moved and are still in the process of unpacking, I haven’t had time to stock our freezer up with pizzas yet. So I bought these to hold him over.) :)

1 Dillons Eggs – $0.99

1 Kroger Cheddar Cheese (16 oz) – $3.34

1 pkg Tyson Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – Marked down to $5.41

1 bag Frozen Peas – $1

1 Kroger Cottage Cheese – $1.25

1 Kroger Sour Cream – $1.25

1 Kroger Frozen Orange Juice – $1.59

4 cans Kroger Beans – $0.50 each

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup – $1.50

1 Romaine Lettuce – $0.99

1 Cantaloupe – $0.99

1.45 lbs Bananas @ $0.59/lb – $0.86

1 Private Selection Whole Wheat Buns – $2

Total before coupons and sales: $98.82

Total with tax after coupons and sales: $48.90

Total for both stores: $55.79

Menu Plan for This Week


Cereal x 2, Toast, Scrambled Eggs & Orange Juice x 2, Baked Oatmeal


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Leftovers x 2, Tossed Salad


Tacos, Sautéed Zucchini, Fruit

Chili, Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins, Fruit

Pizza Joes, Tossed Salad

Hamburgers, Homemade French Fries, Steamed Broccoli

Mexican Chicken Chili, Chips

Chicken and Veggies with Cream of Mushroom Soup, 30 Minute Rolls, Oranges

Dinner with family

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