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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?

Over the years, I’ve received many requests from folks for help on how to start a blog and how to make money blogging.

That’s why I put together this comprehensive guide on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links. It includes step-by-step help on how to set up your blog, get started, and make money from blogging.

Go here to learn how to make money blogging and get started today!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Thank you for writing this post! I have been following you for a little while and I love your tips and what you stand for. My husband and I are working hard to live a simple, debt free life and we are really close! We were just able to by our first home (unfortunately not cash- but my goal is to pay down that mortgage, our only debt, ASAP!) and I have finally worked up the courage to start my own blog about decorating and our home life. People like you, and all of the other amazing bloggers I follow have really inspired me, so thank you so much for being such a great role model!

    • Liz says:

      You should leave the name of your blog below! As a person who is just casually scrolling through, I read your comment and thought that you remind me of myself, and that I’d like to check out your blog. Is that blogger-tabboo? To leave your own blog as a link under your comment?

  • Tasha says:

    I remember the early days of your blog. Your blog was the first blog I bookmarked and began reading regularly. It must be very rewarding to see all the hard work come to fruition and your dream realized.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story! The blogging world is a wonderful, scary, exciting place and it is so inspiring to hear how others have been able to navigate through and keep their heads above water.

  • Cheryl says:

    I began following your blog in the fall of 2007 having no idea at the time that it was so new…..a friend of mine knew your sister (who I later got to know) and recommended your blog… of the first blogs I started following….and still continue to follow. I’ve learned (and am still learning) like you, that I don’t have it all figured out and that not all hills are worth dying on :). Sometimes those lessons are difficult and painful, but I’m so thankful for God’s grace!!! Thanks for your encouraging words and honesty!!!! Both are great qualities that are often lacking in our culture!

  • Thank you for writing this! I’ve been blogging for two years and this morning I will be writing out my plan for my first professionally designed website. I’m excited and nervous and often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing! I have about 350 subscribers and each day I learn something new about how to serve my readers. I appreciate your story and the encouragement 🙂

  • Never feel bad for being successful. You are doing something right and that is something to be proud of! Also, advice on living the frugal lifestyle means a LOT more from someone who has been there (and you definitely have!) but isn’t anymore. Good for you!

  • Crystal – is it so weird that I teared up reading this post? Yes, yes it is. But it happened. 🙂 I have literally been here from the beginning and have watched you grow and change into the beautiful wife and mom that you are today. Your ministry of a blog has been such a blessing to my life. When I started reading, I was a single woman looking for ways to get out of debt and live frugally. And I’m now a wife and mom to a preschooler with one on the way and a full-time (debt-free) blogger! Thanks for inspiring me and being a dear friend on the other side of the screen all these years!

  • Reading this made me smile so big. I feel like I’ve virtually walked along with you for many years. Some of these same thoughts have gone through my mind lately. The Lord used the blog to build a business that my husband and I never saw coming. He is blessing our socks off and we are FINALLY finding deliverance from the debt that has been hanging over our heads for so long. HE is good and provides just what we need – physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally – at the perfect time. I’m a better person today than I was 10 years ago. Thank goodness! 🙂

  • Sarah Brooks says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. This is my fourth year blogging (I just bought my $10 domain). Thanks for demonstrating that hard work and perseverance can pay off. A few months ago you shared my review of “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode” on your Facebook page. I received over 2,000 views on that post, the most I’ve ever had. It was such an encouragement for this “little” blogger to keep going and not give up. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • You’re such a blessing, sweet friend. May God continue to bless you so you can bless others.


  • Sarah Fuller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing a look at your journey in blogging. It is so comforting to know that continuing to plug away and keep learning and experimenting can really pay off in the long run. I am two years in and really needed to hear this. I appreciate you and your talent.

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for the truth in your line “I gave my family leftovers instead of my best”.

    That was a real eye opening statement for me. I hope it will stick with me and remind me to always give my family my best, my 100%.

  • Jennifer says:

    I still remember being a stay at home mom with my husband making 19000 a year. I stopped a complete stranger at target with a coupon binder and asked her more desperately than I like to admit now, how she did it. She pointed me to this blog. That was about 2008. It has blessed and completely changed our home! We are also not in that season of life but pass on what we’ve learned to others who are. I’ve said it before, but you’ll never know the impact of your faithfulness to do the work God has called you to do.

  • Joyce Ibitoye says:

    I am thinking very seriously about blogging. So I started to research and came across your article in Pinterest. I am so glad I did as it was such a blessing to me to read about what it has cost you to get so far. Thank you and well done for writing this, persevering through tough times and your honesty.

    I hope you keep growing stronger in every area of your life

  • Camille says:

    This is so inspiring to read. I have been blogging for about 6 months and I have to remind myself daily to stay motivated and inspired –keep working towards the bigger picture. It is so awesome to read about someone else’s journey and know in the end it is worth it.

    Thanks again,

  • Stephanie says:

    Wow I cant tell you enough how much I loved reading this post. I’m just starting out on my own internet journey and I am so excited and so scared but this was a really good read for me today. Exactly what I needed.

  • Ashleigh says:

    this post has totally inspired me to keep on keeping on! I just started a blog to keep myself busy and to bring in an extra income for my family eventually. I have found so much joy out of writing and I hope to go as far as you one day!

  • Victoria says:

    Thank you for all the wonderful advice. I’m a new blogger and this was really helpful.

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Crystal. I started my blog this past January and as a full time attorney, wife, and mom of a one and three year old, it’s difficult to pump out quality content while managing a family and truly trying to give them my best. God has truly rewarded you, so don’t mind the naysayers because “Haters gonna Hate.” Cheers to you and to your success story!

  • Crystal says:

    Love, love, love your blog! I have read you for years. You inspire me! Thank you for always being so honest. So happy for you!

  • Hannah Iway says:

    I just found your blog now as I was researching for some blogging tips. Thank you for the info above. My blog is new, just one month and sometimes I am not sure if I’m doing it right, whether my blog is just too personal or helpful for others.

  • April says:

    I have been hoping you would write this very article. Thank you! This gives me a lot of hope. My blog has been a very gradual journey, and I still have a long way to go. For now, I am constantly turning away money-making blog opportunities because I don’t know how to make time for them. Soon I’m going to embrace this and steam ahead because goodness knows I love blogging. OH!!! If you don’t read the rest of the comment read this part: That first book that you wish were different—-Don’t let perfectionism get in your way!!! That book helped me a TON. I LOVED IT! Use less laundry detergent. No one else has ever suggested anything so simple. And starting a budget with just grocery budgeting! These were great tips for us! Thank you!

  • Cathy says:

    I do have a very small blog and write sporadically. I’ve always loved writing and would love to make money doing what I love. I come back to your website to read your blogging tips (and everything else too) but specifically the blogging posts and wonder if I have what it takes to do this. I’ve always been one to give up easily when things don’t progress the way I think they should or become too difficult. I second guess myself, wondering if people would be interested in reading what I’ve posted and so very afraid of confrontation and possibly offending someone.

  • Casey Hardin says:

    Thank you so much for posting this article. I have a dream to make a living from blogging and I have a long way to go, but reading your story has been so encouraging!! I wish you all the best and am totally inspired by your journey. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Many congrats on your success Crystal. Watching you grow over the last few years has been inspiring and as a new blogger it motivates me to keep going. Your blog is a gem and has been so useful to me for years now. Thanks for all that you do!

  • This is a wonderful post – I’ve been to your site a couple of times before but it’s nice to read more about how your blog came to be, and where it will be going in the future! Congratulations on following and realizing your dream 🙂

  • I love your honesty! Congratulations on your success. I love stumbling upon your website every few days!

  • Erin Nichols says:

    Thank you for sharing! What an inspiring story! It gives me hope thatmy dream of writing for a living may not be just a dream. I appreciate the reality of your post, the trickle, the fear of scrutiny. It resonates with me. Congratulations on your success! You seem like a hard working, much deserving person!

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’m super new at blogging, and love reading how others started. 10 years! WOW that is a long time and a lot of experience. Great job! 🙂

  • Karla P. says:

    You provide some needed encouragement (I just started a blog a few days ago). I enjoy and appreciate your humble attitude.

  • ALICIA says:

    Amazing journey! I hope to be like you – start out slowly, create good content, and eventually my goal is to be able to pay all my “basic” (reoccurring bills) from my blog alone. I’m always looking for new ways to make it happen. Thanks for sharing! – Alicia @

  • Chhavi says:

    Really inspiring. I started my blog and have a few readers. This is the best article I read today, totally made my day. Pinned.

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! I am just beginning in the blogging world and it is quite refreshing to hear that we all come from the same humble beginnings.

  • Kanika says:

    Very inspiring. I started blogging few months back and this is going to help me to keep on writing no matter what the output you get. Following you and saving your post.

  • I really appreciate this article. My goal with blogging is to share what I know about being thrifty and getting out of debt with other young women who go through the same struggles that I do. My goal isn’t to make it my full time job, but it would be nice to make some side money off of it. It’s only been two weeks, and there is so much to learn!

    This post has been encouraging to me and reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect. Making mistakes and owning them is part of the process.

  • I really appreciate this article. My goal with blogging is to share what I know about being thrifty and getting out of debt with other young women who go through the same struggles that I do. My goal isn’t to make it my full time job, but it would be nice to make some side money off of it. It’s only been two weeks, and there is so much to learn!

    This post has been encouraging to me and reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect. Making mistakes and owning them is part of the process.

  • Mom2MomEd says:

    This is such an encouraging post. We are in early days, but already seeing growth and potential–hugely motivating, right? I like your comment at the beginning of the post about perseverance. It’s so necessary! So many people quit things right before they would have really taken off. ~ Malea @

  • John says:

    This post ha really blessed me! I am just starting out myself and hoping to learn from those that have been there. Thank you for this post! One day I hope to be a blessing like this to someone else,

  • bee says:

    thanks for sharing your story so honestly. There are so many blogs that talk about how you can start making a income in 3 months etc, it so refreshing to hear your journey with such candour, especially the lessons you learned about who you are as a person.

  • I love this story and how honest you were. Blogging is definitely a journey and you experience both good and bad. Thank you for writing it!

  • Christine says:

    I loved your story and would love to follow you. I have been wanting to start a blog for sometime now. It all seems Greek to me. By filling in my email am I now subscribed?

  • Heather says:

    Such honesty! Really appreciate that. I want to launch out as well as blogging is something I have considered for a while. This shows the struggles and the triumphs and gives encouragement in spite of. Thank you

  • Alejandra says:

    I loved reading this blog, thanks for sharing your path of grow your blog, a blog doesn’t grow in one day, there’s still a lot to learn for me yet, reading your blog today has been like a attending a “how to blog course”!

  • I just love this so much, Crystal. I’ve only been blogging for 3 years and I feel like I’ve lived 3 lifetimes with all of the choices that need to be made, the person it’s changing me into (I think for the better), and the priorities I need to stick to… I can relate to the hard things you mentioned here, and hoping for my first conference soon, but to learn how to write from a heart that just loves and wants to serve people. Thank you for persevering, such an important practice in patience and character. Much love to you, and big virtual hugs.

  • Jasmin says:

    You are truly and inspiration!!! I’m just starting and very nervous but feel passionate about blogging and can only hope to be where you are someday !!! Thanks for sharing your story !!

  • This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thanks so much for your story! 🙂


  • Julie says:

    Oh, Crystal, I am so excited about your story! I started blogging and this helps me a lot. Pinned.


  • Frances says:

    I’ve just discovered you and your website and honestly love your sincere authenticity and refreshing honesty. Thanks for sharing your story – you are such an inspiration xx

  • Renee Cook says:

    Love hearing your story and journey. It’s encouraging to stick with it as I currently fit somewhere in your “starting to see potential” paragraph 🙂 Also, I am just learning how to be comfortable with the shared passions of raising my family AND running an online business. So much to learn over here, so, thank you for sharing!

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