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How I Accomplished My Goal of Full-Time Blogging

by J. Money on Monday, October 24, 2011

become your dream

This morning I awoke to a killer email from one of my favorite people in the whole world – Miss Jenny Blake: Former 9-5′er at Google, and now publisher of all things AWESOME. She recently launched a new course aptly titled “Make Sh*t Happen,” and it turned out a case study I had helped her out with was getting a lot of positive feedback, thus the reason for the email – to thank me, and to totally make my day! (WOO!) Here’s what one person had to say about it:

All of the case studies have had some idea or thought that caught my attention, but this one I identified with completely. The fears, the path… and hopefully, eventually, the success.

It then got me thinking – maybe YOU guys would get something out of this too? After all, it’s mainly BECAUSE OF YOU GUYS that I am here following my dream of full-time blogging to begin with :) So while it’s long, and definitely in-depth at times, you’ll find the entire discussion we did together down below – unedited and pretty much exactly what comes out of me after a few beers and contemplating life. If you ever need help “keeping it real,” that’s certainly a good way to do it ;)

Here’s the story of how I accomplished my dream of blogging full-time…

Tell us about your goal: What did it involve? What inspired you to go after it?

Oh man, it involved a looooot of saving up and making sure it *was*, indeed, what I truly wanted to do. But the second the seed was planted I couldn’t get it out of my brain!  It was seriously like love at first site… errr…. type?

So as soon as I knew I wanted to go for it, I saved up roughly $40,000 and dove in.  Actually, funny story real quick – the day before I went to give my two weeks notice (I had a “normal” 9-5 making $70k) I got called in and told I was terminated ;)  So all those inklings of “what if” disappeared and I knew at that point that I was 100% on the right path of my life.  The worst thing for me is to wonder if I was making the right choice or not, but when things align like that you can’t help but to take it on full- force and just go for it.  And it’s a good thing too, or else I’d have been left out in the cold w/out a job!

COURAGE: How did you build the courage to actually do it? How did you know it was time?

I kinda cheated in that I planned for it far out ;)  The second I started making money from what I thought could only be a hobby (my blogging), I pushed harder and harder to keep doing better and making more until the end goal of going full-time was in clear view.  It took 3 years total to get to that point, but it wasn’t until year 2 when I realized it was possible.  And as soon as you allow an ounce of possibility to enter your brain, sometimes you just can’t stop until you make it a reality :)  It’s scary, and you second-guess yourself a lot, but there’s nothing like taking big risks out there and SEEING what your potential is like.  The worst thing in the world for me is to have an idea and not act on it — I’d rather fail and dust myself off again.  Most people in this life become complacent and just do enough to get by at work (not all people, but a lot of people), and I was like that once too.  But when you get empowered and realize you can change your course by putting in some extra work – AND that it could be in a field you’re passionate about! – it all starts flowing naturally.  You get on a rhythm and just keep on going until you reach that end point!  Or in this case, the beginning.

VALUES: Why was this goal important to you? What purpose did it serve? What underlying values did it honor?

It was important because it was a dream that meant giving up everything I knew about the working world.  No one in my family starting anything on their own, or built a business or anything, so I grew up thinking a traditional 9-5 was the only way to live in this life.  Which is totally fine, and I completely respect it — this life is DEF not for everyone — but as soon as I realized I could actually CHANGE it and make my own path, I was mesmerized. The idea that I could make money at doing something I actually ENJOYED was incredible.  It took a lot of work to get here, and I’m literally in the middle of a 16-hour day as I type this, BUT I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted my work to actually *matter,* and be something I could stand by and be proud of, and for the first time in my working life I have achieved that :)  I don’t ever want to go back.

SUPPORT: Who held you accountable to your goal? Were friends and family supportive, or did they think you were crazy?

Everyone thought I was crazy except for my close family and my blog readers.  EVERY time I mentioned quitting or thinking about going full-time I got nothing but positive feedback and support.  No one knew the income I was bringing in or not (though I share all my financials on my blog, due to the nature of it) but the idea that I’d be totally fine in their eyes REALLY gave me ammunition to keep on striving for it.  And even the people that were kinda worried about me, were only that way due to not understanding the business.  I’ve been at this for 6+ months now and I STILL get questions as to what, exactly, it is I “do.” Haha…  But as crazy as our ideas are sometimes, only YOU know what you truly want out of this life, and only YOU have the power of going for it or not.  There are haters all over the place trying to bring us down, but at the end of the day it’s OUR lives, not theirs.  Better to give things a shot than to just wonder all the time…

FEAR/DOUBTS: What were your biggest fears, doubts and insecurities before starting? What barriers (real or imagined) were in your way?

I had two biggest fears:

1)  That I’d run out of money.  I thought I’d be worrying every single day whether I was making enough, but it turned out it’s actually the farthest thing from my mind.  I think because I literally work alllll the time and I’m always concentrating on the project ahead of me, but also because I saved a boat load of money before delving in too.  Mix that with my cutting down of my lifestyle, and the fear has just kept at bay this whole time…. well, only 6 months since I started, but I feel like that’s a good sign ;)

2) The second thing I got worried about was that I’d get lazy or not motivated enough to keep pushing forward.  I can honestly say that it’s probably the farthest thing from the truth now :)  If anything, I work too much!  But you really just don’t know until you actually get out there and TRY it.

As for barriers, yeah, there are a few like not growing fast enough to sustain the business or something happening (like Google shutting down traffic to my sites) that would be pretty scary, but I’m really working hard on diversifying my “products” now so that if one falls through, i have some others to keep me going… that whole “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” type of thing.  I’m trying to set everything up so that I never have to return to the corporate world again.

THE DIP: Was there ever a moment/period of time that you felt you had hit a dip (felt like a failure and/or wanted to quit)?

Nope, not since achieving (or starting?) my goal.  I’ve had some pretty rough days over the course of J. Money 2.0, but never once have I doubted whether I made the right choice.  Cuz even if I “fail” and have to go back to work, I’d still be glad I gave it everything I got before having to concede like that.

Although, maybe you’re asking us about the time BEFORE we went all out?  In that case, I did question myself.  In fact, I questioned it every single day for 1+ years because it was all in theory until the big day came!  And that’ll drive a man bonkers!  The worst for me is just simply “not knowing.”  I’d much rather just find out and see what the results are than to keep going filled with questions.

SUCCESS! How did you feel after accomplishing your goal? What did you learn about yourself in the process? What are you most proud of?

Refreshed!!! And really, just ALIVE!  Time has slowed down sooooo much since going full-time w/ my blogging, and it just completely feels like a new world for me.  Full of possibilities and growth all over.  The great thing about *this* accomplishment is that it continues to give back :)  It wasn’t the end point of anything, but rather the beginning.

Learned about myself: That I hate wondering “what if” (as I’ve mentioned probably a million times already writing this, sorry), and that I can change my path any single day I want.  Going the entrepreneurial route gave me something that I haven’t had since the good ol’ college days, and that is FREEDOM.  Freedom to work on the projects I want, and that are important to me, and freedom to give it all up or change routes any time I damn well feel like it.  I set the schedule, and I set the projects, and if I ever get tired of it I can go back to a “normal” 9-5 and take orders from someone else again :)  Ultimately I learned that we are much more powerful than we think sometimes.

Most proud of:  DOING IT.  Not thinking about it, or working toward it, but actually getting up one day an DOING it.  All the preparation and planning doesn’t mean a thing unless you get out of bed and do it.  And the beauty after that is that you then have a benchmark to compare and track things by!  (if “it” wasn’t a 1-time event, of course).  I talked about quitting my job all the time for the 6 months leading up to it happening.  And I saved, and I planned, and I did everything I thought I needed to do to reach this final result.  But had I not pulled the trigger at that point (or, in my case, my employer pulling it for me), it wouldn’t had mattered cuz I’d still be thinking about how it might “one day” be in theory.

ADVICE: What advice would you give to future make sh*t happeners? What would you say to those who are afraid to start or afraid to fail? What advice would you give to others in pursuit of a similar goal to yours?

To just do it.  (I sound like a broken record! Haha…) Seriously though, you just never  know what potential you’re holding back until you get out there and give it a shot!  Yeah it’s smart to plan a bit and make sure you’re not doing something really really stupid in life, but at the end of the day it all comes down to making the decision to go for it or to just keep on thinking about it.  And I’m not gonna lie and say it’s an easy choice to make – it’s not.  But the only way people become great is by challenging ourselves and forcing ourselves to grow.  Anyone can sit back and let life happen to them – 90% of the population is doing that now.  But if you want something GREATER than yourself, and something you can be proud of and smile about every day, you’ll have to get up and start changing the way you do things.  And it all starts by taking a step.  It could be a big one, or it could be a small one, but if you don’t put yourself out there and start going for it, you’ll never really know your potential.  It’s cheesy as hell, I know, but it doesn’t change the fact it’s true.  The worst thing someone can do is not fully embrace their potential – so please don’t let that happen to you!

Advice to others with goals of blogging full-time:  I’ll keep this one simple:  IMMERSE yourself into the community.  Read all the blogs in your niche, comment all over the place, follow people on twitter, connect on facebook, do a butt ton of guest posts, and really just ask questions and try and follow what the successful people are doing.  You’ll have to pick up on SEO and monetization and all that kinda stuff too (the boring parts, I like to say), but it’s really about surrounding yourself w/ those who are living out their dreams already and in the position you one day hope to be.  Once you build some rapport with one or two of them, ask them if they could mentor you.  80% of the things I’ve learned (and most of the important stuff) came from others explaining it to me.  I still had to put their advice into motion and figure it out in my own time, but they were the ones who guided me and kept me motivated.  If you can find a good person to ask questions to or ping ideas off of, you’ll reach your goals much more faster.

SPECIFIC TIPS: What specific tips do you have related to your goal that someone pursuing that same goal could benefit from? Are there any tools or resources you recommend?

  1. Always be yourself.  You’re gonna get jealous of the others, and always compare YOUR blog to the big guys out there, but if you HAVE TO stay true to yourself and blog/write/talk about whatever it is that’s interesting to YOU.  That’s why people come to your stuff every day – to hear what YOU have to say, not for summaries on others ;)
  2. Be passionate.  Do it cuz you love it, and not to make money/friends/etc.  Of course, if you’re gonna try and go full-time you DO have to make money, haha, but that shouldn’t be the reason for the goal.  Love what you do, and do it well.
  3. Watch what others are doing.  Don’t copy them as I mentioned in #1, but def. read their stuff and see what they’re up to – esp the bloggers who are full-time like you want to be.  And even better, ASK THEM for tips or advice or any questions you have on this stuff!  Most of what I originally learned came from talking with them and picking their brain.  And everyone likes sharing what they know :)
  4. Comment/network/share/give back to everyone in your niche.  Help others when they come to you, and always share the love and be *nice* to everyone.  There’s plenty of money/link juice to go around – don’t hoard your ideas/tips.
  5. BE YOURSELF.

Resources:

  1. There are a ton of “professional blogging” tips out there, but I tend to stick with DailyBlogTips.com (my fave), and sometimes ProBlogger.net.
  2. Other than those, it’s really about checking out other successful bloggers in your niche, or in general, and just poking around and asking them questions. It really is the best way to learn and grow.

I hope this helps some of you!!  Feel free to reach out to me anytime too if you’d like: j {at} budgets are sexy {dot} com. And if you’re looking for that kick in the pants to help YOU get started w/ your dreams too, consider signing up to Jenny’s next class. (The program helps people set a vision for their goal, build a support network, work through the dips that surely come up, and learn how to celebrate and expand the moment once they reach success.)  Have a blessed day everyone :)

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(Photo by Phillie Casablanca)


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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria Nedeva October 24, 2011 at 6:33 am

Interesting! Thoughts are chasing each other around my head – I suppose this is the day for it since I don’t believe in co-incidence (started before I read your post). Loads to learn, J, but the joy of it!

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2 Nicole October 24, 2011 at 10:07 am

I remember reading about when you were laid off and all the emotions that came with the big change in your life, but you’re totally rockin’ this full-time blogging thing. Congrats!

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3 PKamp3 October 24, 2011 at 10:08 am

I respect it – congrats on grabbing your dreams by the reigns (from a guy with a tongue in cheek site title)! You definitely did it right – although, looking back, it’s pretty screwed up that you were laid off at the same time as you were contemplating quitting… crazy timing!

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4 Barb@A Life in Balance October 24, 2011 at 10:57 am

Someone tweeted this, and I decided to check it out. Boy am I glad that I did! Congratulations on grabbing your dream, and holding on, and staying committed and on track. So many of your points struck home with me.

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5 Kelly October 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

Loved reading your advice and story. I’ve followed along of course, but love reading your advice in one place like this. :)

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6 Million Mile Secrets October 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Very inspiring!

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7 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving October 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm

That really is a motivating piece, no matter you’re getting so much positive feedback. :-)

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8 Hank October 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Great article and recap for those of us who have been following along with you on your adventure all along. You make me want to go out and quit my day job….or, maybe I should just try and get fired so I can collect unemployment while I try to live out my dream like you. Thanks, J!

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9 J. Money October 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

@Maria Nedeva – The joy of it indeed! And we all continue to learn and GROW too – one step at a time ;) Lovely seeing you here this morning.
@Nicole – Thanks so much Nicole! It was def. a run down memory lane answering some of these :) And each month a little changes and I figure out more of what works, and what doesn’t. Hopefully we’re all doing that whether we work for ourselves, or not.
@PKamp3 – Haha, crazy indeed ;) That’s when you know you’re onto something though, right? When the world keeps pushing you towards a certain path?
@Barb@A Life in Balance – Awww thanks Barb! So glad you stopped by and said hi too – I’m glad you enjoyed it so much :) Feel free to holler anytime, I love spilling my knowledge/mistakes! Haha…
@Kelly – Yeah, me too! Finally have 1 main post w/ all the thoughts down ;) Glad you liked it my conference buddy – when are we gonna see each other next?
@Million Mile Secrets – Thanks bro! Means a lot coming from you.
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Thanks Jen :) I’m glad you’re doing more of those “Tell me how to spend my money” posts – they’re awesome! Such a great idea, keep ‘em going my friend.
@Hank – Hah! If you’re collecting unemployment, it means you’re NOT living out the dream cuz your income is too low ;) Unless you cheat and aren’t reporting anything – which I highly disadvise. I can help you in the getting fired department though! Haha…

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10 Corey @ 20's Finances October 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Thanks for the inspiration! I’m not sure my goal is to blog full time, but we’ll see how well my site takes off in the next year and then maybe I will have a better idea of what I want to do with it.

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11 retirebyforty October 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

J$, this is one of my favorite post here along with the I quit post.
I would love to go full time and I’m planning & saving like crazy too.
Budgets are $exy is doing so great, I think you completely made the right decision.

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12 BBF @ Blue BIrd Finance October 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm

What a great read! Truly, this is not for all people. It takes somebody that is extremely intrinsically motivated.

Good for you, J$. Your story is an inspiration.

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13 Jen @ Master the Art of Saving October 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Thanks, I saw you voted. :-) I’m actually throwing up #3 tomorrow—I’m really loving these.

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14 bogofdebt October 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I have to agree–this is one of my favorite posts ever! Thanks for a) posting it and b) blogging in general!

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15 Martin October 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I got to here our story in person and now it’s cool to read more details about it. It’s funny how life works sometimes eh? I started my blog one day because I was upset that I didn’t get a shift at work and then I realized that I should NEVER wait for someone else to hand me a shift. I need to get out there and get my money on my own.

There’s nothing better than getting paid to help others.

I hope to make my mark on the blogging world tomorrow when I launch my first premium guide. I hope to be a full-time like you in the near future.

Keep it up.

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16 Briana @ 20 and Engaged October 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

You continue to be an inspiration to me J. Thanks for being a great mentor without even knowing it!

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17 J. Money October 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm

@Corey @ 20′s Finances – It can be applied to any dreams, my friend :) That’s the beauty of it all — if you REALLY want something you can go out and work your tail off to accomplish it!
@retirebyforty – Thanks so much! I was a bit hesitant to add it up, but Jenny told me people would appreciate it so figured I’d give it a shot… took me 3 hours to write it all out anyways, might as well use it here too! Haha… thanks for always leaving such positive comments too, means a lot. Can’t wait for YOUR turn next! :)
@BBF @ Blue BIrd Finance – Thanks BBF :) Clicking over to your site as soon as I post these comments up. Like the name so far!
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Great! I think it’s an excellent way to spice things up and get your readers involved – I might have to give it a shot too ;) Linking back to your brilliance, of course.
@bogofdebt – Woohoo! So glad you’re digging it! And even more so that I listened to people and posted it here ;) I don’t know why we get so nervous sometimes putting “real” stuff out there — they’re usually the best pieces.
@Martin – And I hope to HELP YOU go full-time too, sir. And to promote your new books/etc :) You’ve certainly got the heart and head for going full-time, I don’t think you’re too far away from it my friend!
@Briana @ 20 and Engaged – Awwww, I did NOT know that, you’re right! Silly girl :) Glad we’ve gotten to hang out in person recently – we’re on a record! Haha… and if you’re going to Blog World out your way too, then we’ll really be on fire!

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18 Dannielle@Odd Cents October 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Love it! Love it! Love it! We might be different races, sexes, ages, live in different places and speak different languages, but we have the same dreams and fears. When I was reading, I was thinking “Geez, that’s exactly how I feel!” Sometimes the best tutorial about blogging, is hearing a true story from an accomplished blogger. Thank-you!

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19 Karen Bryan October 25, 2011 at 6:38 am

I worked part time on my travel/site blog, Europe a la Carte, for 7 years until I gave up my day job in Spring 2009 to become a full time online publisher. This year I decided to start a personal finance/lifestyle blog, Help Me To Save, as personal finance is my other big interest and I don’t believe that you can rely on one site/blog to earn a living.

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20 J. Money October 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

@Dannielle@Odd Cents – Awwww thank you!!! I love that – “We might be different races, sexes, ages, live in different places and speak different languages, but we have the same dreams and fears.” And even more so that you stopped by to say hello :) It’s people like YOU who inspire ME to keep going!
@Karen Bryan – You’re very smart too — it’s VERY good to have a portfolio of income streams and projects to keep you going just in case one explodes. Congrats on becoming a full time online publisher! Way to hustle :)

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21 J. Money October 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm

:)

that ounce of possibility one was my favorite too actually. and oddly enough while I was drinking ounces of beer! haha… thanks for the kind words!

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22 Dannielle@Odd Cents October 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

you’re welcome :)

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23 J. Money October 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm

;)

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24 Amber, Blonde & Balanced November 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

J — I’d love for you to do a “day in the life of J. Money” post so we could get a gimpse as to what’s it’s like to be a full-time blogger! Obvi, you’re not writing posts all day — you’re doing TONS of other stuff. I’d love to read about it! Plus, I’d love to see what your schedule is like. :)

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25 J. Money November 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Haha, well are you then ready to be BORED to death? ;) I’ll think about it… maybe I’ll write it up on an interesting day so it looks all glamorous like.

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26 Tony November 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

What a great blog! I am enjoying everything, and I’m on the same kick you are. The side hustle post is fantastic; all those jobs = a great passion and work ethic. Congrats to you on the full time blog! I am inspired…

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27 J. Money November 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Thanks man! We just keep going at it and crossing off those goals! :) Hope yours are going well too – thanks for stopping by.

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