In 2004, when I found out that I was pregnant with our first child, I began searching high and low for something — anything! — I could do from home to earn enough money so I could be a stay-at-home mom. That had long been my dream and I was so determined to do so.
After many different tries and mistakes, I finally landed upon this thing called blogging. I started a few blogs in the next two years — learning a lot as I went! Because there was so much interest in me writing about saving money on groceries, I started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007.
I didn’t have money to invest in blog design, so I started with what I could afford and set up myself: a free blog on Blogger.com with a white background. I didn’t know how to design a header, so I just had plain text at the top that said “Money Saving Mom”.
After a few months, I had been making some money off of affiliate advertising and sidebar ads — enough to invest a little money in sprucing up the blog. So I hired someone to design a header for the blog for $25.
And here’s what it looked like…
Yes, it wasn’t pretty. At all.
But that “ugly” blog that cost me almost nothing to start grew and grew until I finally had to move to Typepad and then to WordPress.
I had no idea that that little blog would be such a catalyst for so many things — meeting so many amazing bloggers and readers, making a full-time income from blogging, having speaking opportunities, getting book deals, the opportunity to give generously, the ability to move to Nashville and work with my husband in business, the opportunity to provide jobs for people on my team…
I don’t share this with you to gloat; I share this with you to encourage you.
Don’t let the lack of money to pay for a very professional website or expensive office hold you back. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes keep you from beginning somewhere. Don’t wait until you have everything figured out to jump in and start working on your dreams and ideas.
Just start… even if it’s not as nice and professional as you’d like it to be.
Experiment… even when you fail and make mistakes.
Jump out of your comfort zone… even if not everyone thinks your idea will work.
Some day, you might look back and shake your head at how little you knew, how much you’ve learned, and how far you’ve come… but you never would get to witness all that progress if you don’t take the first step.
P.S. If you’re thinking of starting a blog, be sure to read my comprehensive post on How to Start a Blog & Make Money Blogging.
I love to share what I am reading, listening to and learning with my friends. Would a blog be a good place for that. And is it “legal” to share notes, etc. from what I am listened to and watched? For example, the Stress-Free Homemaking videos I would love to share with my friends, but not sure what is okay to share and not to share.
Karen S says
I’m so blessed, been reading from your start! 🙂
Crystal Paine says
Aw, thank you for being such a long-time reader!
Oh my goodness you don’t know how your post inspired me. My blog is new and yes VERY ugly. I plod away every day trying to learn as I go. I’m so happy for you and for the success you’ve had and wish you much more in the future.
Hilariously enough, the picture isn’t loading on my computer, so all I see is a big, blank space. 😉
Now I am trying to remember what Biblical Womanhood and Mom of Littles looked like, too! I know I am not the only reader that hopes you’ll “re-launch” one of those blogs one day!
God bless you.
Crystal Paine says
Haha! You can see it here: https://www.facebook.com/MoneySavingMom/photos/a.475550193226.258436.129449563226/10152932088928227/?type=1&theater
Amy @ DebtGal says
Thanks so much for sharing this! I started reading your blog about a year ago, so it’s fun to get to see the early years. 🙂 Thanks also for the encouragement for those of us who are new and could use some inspiration.
I remember reading your blog back in late 2007. I loved reading about your deals and looking for my own. In 2008 I started my blog, so I could share my deals. I spent many a Sunday linking up my deals on your linky. I’ve maintained my full-time job and blogging really is just a hobby for me, but I enjoy the creative outlet it provides.
Jenetta Penner says
Ha… they ALL looked like that. I started mine in 2008 and it looked pretty much as good as yours.
Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says
How fun to see a screenshot of your blog in the early years! I jumped into blogging head first and there is so much to learn. I’ve been at it a little over a year now and the learning never ends! Even after just one year, I look back at my first posts and cringe. Lol! There’s no better way to learn than just doing!
Oh! The good ole days! Awesome!
I didn’t realize I have been a reader for that long! The funny part is that I joined Vocalpoint from that post! LOL
Crystal Paine says
I reading from other bloggers, I read how important it is to not compare your beginning in blogging to someone else’s end. Maybe it was you, Crystal, or maybe it was Ruth Soukup? This is something that I know, but it is so hard to implement at times. This is what your transparency does for me, it helps me see your beginning, which is such a great reminder that everyone starts at the beginning. Thanks for reminding us of this!
The Frugal Exerciser says
I’m writing an e-book to start selling my own product on my blog. It is based upon the workouts I give to clients who are dealing with knee issues. Your blog has inspired me to move out of my comfort zone. I was so nervous about writing an e-book but it is not too hard. With my husband editing it and getting help with graphics on Fiverr, I’m doing something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing 3 years ago.
Arissara Christopher says
Very good post! I has been follow you since 2008,( I saw the green bar and good looking one). I stared follow you but never leave much comments in your post and then I decided to start my own blog, just last month but I feel like blog is take away too much time from my family and have a lot of work in order to get a penny. I’m ready to give up! 🙁
As I plan for my new website, I am already thinking about having to start over with ugly. HAHA!!!
I finally paid someone to do my blog design and header for my blog. It was $200 and it makes me happy every time I look at it.
Now to save up the money to get the new website pretty. I’ll do it…might take a bit but it will happen!!
I’ve been a reader since those days!
I have a random question and you can skip this if I’m overstepping, but I’ve always been curious why you didn’t go to college? You’re very smart, and with Jesse having a law degree you’re clearly not against higher education.
Crystal Paine says
Great question: When I graduated, I was so busy with working (waitressing, teaching violin, working as a mother’s helper and a tutoring) as well as serving in our church and running a newsletter for young girls, that the thought of setting much of that aside to go to college just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. While I’m not against higher education and think it’s a great option for many people, I’ve never regretted my decision not to go to college… in fact, Jesse feels like it’s actually benefited me in running a business because I think so far outside the box. 🙂
Miriam B says
I have been blogging pretty consistently for almost a year now. I am only getting about 10 page views each day, but I am pretty excited about that because it used to average just 0-3 views per day. I am growing really slowly, but since blogging is something I thoroughly enjoy, I plan to stick with it for the long haul.
Thanks for sharing that. It’s wonderful to see how your blog has grown and changed. I just recently started a blog, and find your journey inspiring. I’m now blogging at EverydayMindfulLiving.com (with a large words-only banner as a header). 🙂
Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels says
Thank you for sharing your story and how it all started! Beginning is always difficult, but the good thing is we can always learn from out mistakes as well as our success. You have done AMAZING job 🙂
Love this! I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for several years now, but I’m really scared to take the plunge and put myself out there! I always wonder how bloggers do it, and if they ever feel like their privacy is at stake. Thanks for the post, I have a lot to think and pray about!
Phallin Marie @ Cottage Homestead says
YAY!! As I mentioned on Facebook I’ve been a follower of yours from the very beginning and even advertised my then diaper business on your blog. 🙂 You have been so encouraging through the years and today I now have a full time business making and selling soap on Etsy. Thank you for all that you do!!
I’ve been reading since the beginning and didn’t know to miss the bells and whistles, most blogs were plain jane then 🙂 but the content kept me coming back!
Thank you so much for posting this! I dream of starting a blog but not sure that I will ever get there but this post is so encouraging, thank you!!
Shelli Mader says
Thanks for the encouragement. I want to make a full-time income blogging so that I can continue to stay home with my kids too. I don’t post on my blog often because I don’t like the way I designed it, but don’t have the money for a pro to do it. Thanks for the advice. I am going to take the plunge, start writing more, pray and see what happens. 🙂
Melissa Kaiserman says
I’ve been a reader ever since that header! I remember being so amazed by all there was to learn about getting deals.
On a side note, I was looking back at the 2008 archives and had to smile at this tip in a guest post about selling on Etsy: “Networking on MySpace and other internet sites”
Thanks Crystal for being open and honest about blogging 🙂 I love hearing your words of encouragement. I have been following your blog for almost 5 years and have loved your insight in so many ways!
Thanks for all you do, it means so much to all of us readers!
I finally began doing “A NEW THING” with the Lord and started my own blog last month! Excited about how God might use it for His glory!
Many Many Blessings!
I remember that! Also, these days it seems like everybody and their brother has a blog. How is it possible for *everyone* to make money off it? I have a blog pretty much for just posting book reviews on but I have never made money off it, don’t want to and don’t plan to try. However, also in 2007, I began freelance writing when my husband lost his job and we had a one-year-old. I was working full time then but we needed the money… now eight years later, my husband is in a good position, we have three kids and I quit my job. I’ve been home for almost 4 years now and am self-employed as a copywriter and ghostwriter. I enjoy it because it keeps my mind active and it gives me something to keep my resume current should the need arise. It’s a great conversation starter too! I earned $16,000 last year. While that’s not exactly enough to hire my own staff, it is enough for me to fully fund my Roth IRA, put $2,000 into each kid’s 529 college savings fund and to pay for their swimming lessons.
I think the point you make about blogs is a really important one. The internet climate is much more saturated than when Crystal started. Although not impossible, it is important for people to have realistic expectations.
I’ve been a reader from the very beginning and I have to say I never noticed the unpolishedness! I was just so incredibly grateful for the information!
Thank you so much for sharing this, so fun to see. I despise my blog’s appearance right now. Any changes I have to do myself at the present time.
And this reminds me to be taking occasional screen shots of my site so I have something to look back on with amusement 🙂
You can find some snapshots of your blog here(waybackmachine works for those blogs visible to search engines) :
So fun to see what your blog used to look like! I have wondered.
It’s nice to be reminded that even professional bloggers whom I really admire started off just like me–trying to figure out what in the world we’re doing! I began following your blog in 2008 right after I got married. It was a great help to me as I began to figure out how best to steward our funds in the grocery budget. I learned so many things that have helped me through the years. Fun to see your old blog again!
The important thing is that you started! I took the plunge last month and started mine, and I just kind of hit the ground running. It’s definitely not the prettiest, but with the limited funds and resources that we have, it works for now! You’re an inspiration to us bloggers who think we’ll never get anywhere. =)
Ha! What a fun trip down memory lane! Is that link to Supermarket Savings 101 the link to the audio files about grocery store savings and couponing? I remember sitting in my apartment listening to them intently and writing down notes, links, etc. I thought I had hit the jackpot!
Crystal Paine says
I know! When my husband sent me the picture of it (he found it recently online), it brought a flood of memories back! And yes, that’s Supermarket Savings 101 on the sidebar — the course that I wrote *before* MSM that really sparked the idea of this blog in the first place. I kind of would be scared to find a copy and listen to it now! 🙂
It may not have been “polished” the way you’d present it now, but it was great! I grew up with a couponing mom but I really learned a lot. And just think how ahead of your time you were–podcasts didn’t take off for another 7 or so years! Good stuff!