Today, I become a truly full-time blogger. I have been preparing for this day for eight months (and dreaming of it for several years). Now that it has arrived, I am both excited and petrified, but I am confident that anything without risk is not worth doing.
How I Got Here
When I launched Money Under 30 in mid-2006, this blog was purely a hobby. I was trying to get a handle on my finances and I always enjoyed writing and fiddling with Websites. Around that same time, I left a marketing job in publishing to work for an online marketing firm where I learned a truckload about blogging and search engine optimization. Just four months later, however, the publishing company recruited me back as a textbook sales representative.
Living alone, over a hundred miles away from my wife (we weren’t married yet), and traveling frequently, I had plenty of time to continue building Money Under 30. As the site grew, so did the income I earned from advertising partners. For the first few months, the income was nothing more than a curiosity. Soon, it grew to a small monthly amount that was perfect for making extra debt payments. About a year ago, however, I began earning more from my blogging business than I did at work.
Now, as many bloggers (especially financial bloggers) will tell you, earning more from your blog than from a job isn’t enough to justify going full-time. Blogging income is volatile and unpredictable. Advertisers and traffic come and go, and they can take the blogger’s paycheck with them. I’ve seen this first-hand. During last winter’s credit crisis, many advertisers suddenly pulled out of the blog market and my income dipped considerably.
Considering all the risks of leaving the workplace and becoming a blogger, I realized a few things. Before becoming a full-time blogger, I needed:
- A solid emergency fund to protect myself against slow months or lost income.
- Comfortably more monthly income than expenses. (Again, as a cushion).
- Health insurance!
I took care of the emergency fund and living below my means a while ago (they’re key financial moves for anybody), but health insurance was the kicker. Going without health insurance was not an option. Although I’m healthy and rarely visit the doctor or get prescriptions, I knew it would just take one illness or accident to bankrupt me.
In late 2008, my girlfriend and I became engaged and we made the decision to live in Maine (where her career is based) rather than Massachusetts, where I was working. This wasn’t easy. We’re both from Massachusetts, but I went to college and she attended law school in Maine. We liked Maine. The state’s slogan is “the way life should be”, and we agreed. There are fewer people and cars. There’s the breathtaking coastline, tranquil lakes, and lush mountain forests. Maine seems to have it all; except jobs. Finding a job in Maine in my area of experience—publishing and marketing—was, and still is, a near-impossible task.
But of course, I had blogging. I just needed health insurance until we got married and I could go on hers. So, in January, I packed up my Massachusetts career and took a job working for a great locally-owned coffee shop that gave employees great health insurance. I had hoped it would be a great trial run for blogging “full-time”. Problem was, working on your feet for almost 40 hours a week doesn’t leave you much energy for working another 30 or 40 on a blog. I had health insurance, but I was still a very part-time blogger.
Fast forward eight months, and (as some readers may have realized) we were married two weeks ago. I left the coffee shop around the same time. Now, after a week on an Aruban honeymoon and a week unpacking wedding gifts and settling into our home as husband and wife, we’re both back to work. For me, for the first time, it means working as a full-time blogger.
The time is right to give this a try and follow others in this space like the bloggers behind Personal Finance Advice, Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, and more. (Are you a full-time personal finance blogger? Let me know and I’ll add you here…I’m not sure who else is full-time and curious to connect with others who have taken the leap!)
Where I’m Going
I have big aspirations. I started this blog because I am passionate about educating twentysometings about financial issues so that others can avoid many of the mistakes I made in my early twenties. Despite all the great financial blogs, books, and other media out there, last year’s credit crisis proves that we, as a society, are still financially ignorant. I believe that much of this has to do with an almost total lack of financial literacy education in our schools and even colleges. Forget learning calculus; we need to learn how to balance a checkbook and read a credit card statement!
In the next year, I plan to make Money Under 30 a comprehensive educational site that will provide readers of all ages with the necessary tools to master personal finance basics. In addition, I hope to continue doing print, radio, and television interviews and other speaking engagements to talk about the importance of personal financial literacy amongst younger generations.
Longer term, I will also be working on a new non-profit Website that provides the most basic, easy-to-understand personal finance lessons possible. Ultimately, I hope to develop a company that can take these vital messages into schools, colleges, and even corporations to spread financial literacy across the world.
That said, I’m still treating blogging full-time as an experiment. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to take this chance, but I realize that it’s just that—a chance. It may not work out. I’m prepared to reevaluate my career and find work that is both satisfying and in-demand here in Maine, where my wife and I have chosen to live. Though you might be surprised to hear this from a personal finance blogger—it’s not all about money. Becoming a full-time blogger, giving up a salary, and taking on risk may not be the best move for my finances. But I’m optimistic that this decision is the best one overall, and I can’t wait to see what it will bring.
One Last Note
Now that I’m full-time, I will have a lot more time to write content for Money Under 30. Where I probably spent 10 hours a week on this site in the past, I’ll be spending 50 or so a week on it now. What’s missing? What do you want to read more about? Do you have financial questions you want addressed on the site? Please leave a comment or send me a note or a tweet!