How I Make Money Online…

by J. Money - [Edit]

word-press funny

Last week we ran our (tri) annual “Ask J. Money Anything Day,” and 50+ questions later my fingers fell off and we called it a day. I answered everything from blogging, to budgeting, to mortgages, retirement, money mistakes, career, and even what the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow is ;)

It was a ton of fun, and if you find yourself bored anytime pop over there and check it out: Ask J$ Anything Day. You might even find the answer to what my 2013 taxes show I made last year!

One of the questions I get asked all the time, of course, is how I make money online from my blogs and projects. It seems hard to believe that you can get paid to drink coffee and goof off all day on the internet (exact words from someone once!), but there’s quite the opportunity online if you’re willing to put in the time and hustle. And also, if you’re *passionate* (I haven’t met anyone successful yet that’s “just in it for the money.” Those people usually burn out before ever making it because there’s 1,001 other ways to make $$ much faster than with a blog! Though it is fun…)

So today I thought I’d answer that question more specifically since I’ve only shared bits and pieces around before. Every year it seems to fluctuate, but you’ll get a good idea of all the different angles you can earn money from being on the web. I literally had no idea of any of this 7 years ago!

Here’s an exact question I was recently asked:

How do you make money? Like literally? Who pays you?

And here’s the short answer: I make money from advertising, coaching, freelancing, side projects, flipping sites, and a number of other ways. The people who literally pay me are companies and networks who advertise with me, along with bloggers and people who I partner with or coach.

Here’s the longer, more specific, answer:

  • Advertising on BudgetsAreSexy.com — This comes in all forms such as those visual ads you see up there at the top and along the sidebar, as well as partnerships, giveaways, affiliate stuff (ie when I promote kick-ass companies I love and use and others sign up too, like with USAA or finance books I recommend), and other type avenues. The thing you won’t see here are crappy “sponsored posts” from random foreign companies… If something is crappy here, it’s because me ;)
  • Advertising on RockstarFinance.com — Same general setup as above, just with less money since the traffic is comparatively smaller
  • Freelance writing – $100-$1,000 per article on money
  • Blog Coaching — $50-$100 for a one hour, one-on-one session of blog help
  • Money Coaching — $50 for a one hour, one-on-one session of money help
  • Advertising Consulting — I help place ads for some people and take a % of those placed
  • Site Buying/Selling/Flipping — I help bloggers buy and sell sites for a small “broker” commission (last week I helped sell 10 of them – yay!)
  • Random one-off projects — This could be anywhere from building my own side projects to helping companies collaborate with finance bloggers. And the income can be as low as $0.00 (or worse, in the negatives! Like when my projects bomb!) or if I’m lucky in the $20,000+ range. Like when I got paid to help a large financial company place dozens of ads across the blogosphere. That project netted me $22,000 for about 28 hours of work – all over a weekend! But of course that rarely happens or else I’d be a millionaire by now…

So my income pretty much comes from a hodgepodge of side hustles :) Remember that I treat my projects as 50% business and 50% pleasure though. If it was all business all the time I’d be making 500% more! Haha… But since that’s boring and I like to have equal parts fun, I’m always dabbling around in order to make a “full” salary. Gone are the days of having my side hustles as *extra* money since I took the plunge into self-employment 3 years back. At the same time, gone is blogging out of pure hobby too now that I support a family of 4 myself.

I'm not a player I just blog a lot

Something else to keep in mind is that the interests and skills of us blogging/building stuff behind the scenes change as time goes on as well. For the better, or the worse. For example, if I answered this same question about my revenue streams a few years ago it would look entirely different

How I made money a few years ago:

  • Advertising on BudgetsAreSexy.com
  • Advertising on Finance Site #2
  • Advertising on Finance Site #3
  • Advertising on Finance Site #4
  • Advertising on Finance Site #5
  • Advertising on Finance Site #6
  • Advertising on Finance Site #7
  • Advertising on Finance Site #8
  • Advertising on Finance Site #9
  • Advertising on Finance Site #10
  • Advertising on Finance Site #11
  • Advertising on Giveaway Website
  • Commission from our Advertising Network
  • Random one-off projects

[Names of websites withheld due to privacy and signed contracts, sorry!]

You don’t see any coaching, freelancing, site flipping, etc. I was all about my financial empire and soaking in that advertising money (while learning a $hit ton about business at the same time). At the peak of this I think I was making $150k a year, but then I started not having fun. I became a “business, man” as Jay-Z likes to say, and strayed far away from the “hobby” part like I’m back to now.

So what did I do with all those sites? I sold them. Yet another perk (and income stream!) of owning websites – you can flip them if they’re decent and producing revenue! And there’s a good shot that some of the blogs you read today have been bought and sold over their lifetime :) Bet you never knew that, huh? (I should note,  however, that not all sites succeed financially online. In fact, *most* of them do not. And I’ve had my fair share of losers too – some of which you’ll see below…)

Here’s a breakdown of those projects I’ve since sold:

projects sold

The last one I sold was the $8k one (breaking even), and fortunately I’ve had way more winners in there than losers :) But as you can see, there’s a healthy market for online real estate just as there is for physical real estate. And although I haven’t completed my dream of trading an online property with a real one one day, haha, overall I’m pretty happy with the way its turned out.

Keep in mind these numbers are only profit from *flipping* the sites/projects too – it doesn’t account for all the revenue you (hopefully) made while the sites were in your possession. I’ve made $5,000 a month on some of those bad boys in their heyday, while other times  -$500.

Here are some previous posts I’ve written while in the process of selling some of these… They’ll give you an interesting look on the different partnerships that can come out of it too – like how I sold these, and then got hired back to continue running them. So even if a site you read has been sold, it doesn’t mean the original blogger isn’t still there sharing all their sexy thoughts :) (Think of J.D. from Get Rich Slowly. He sold years ago for over a million dollars, but continued to write for it for years – without anyone the wiser)

And here’s an interview I just did with Kathleen from ForProfitBlogging.com too if it helps: Pour Your Heart Into the Content And Focus on What You Like. As well as two other great sites to follow for making money online: MicroBlogger.com and SmartPassiveIncome.com.

Speaking of Smart Passive Income…

You think people like me are killing it online? Not even close. That guy (Pat Flynn) literally makes over $80,000 every single month. EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH. And how do I know this? Because he’s such a brilliant teacher that he shares his monthly income reports with everyone so they can all learn too. Similar to our net worth updates, only on crack :) Last month he made $83,903.53 which is more than I have made all year! Haha…

You can see all of these income reports here.

And if you’ve ever wondered what’s in his wallet, here you go:

pat flynn wallet

He was kind enough to snap this for me back when we were doing our Wallet Crashing Series (remember that?) but I ended up putting it on pause until apparently today ;) So enjoy the sneak peek into Pat Flynn’s wallet! Seen for the first time ever here! Haha…

Anyways, that’s how I make money online.

Pretty much through advertising and a bunch of random hustling. The beauty of the online world is that the possibilities to turn something into a business is HUGE if you put in the effort and energy. It’s not always fun or easy (most of us work 10, 12, 16 hour days – even over the weekend!) but if you’re dedicated and *passionate* the odds are greatly in your favor.

And btw, we didn’t even cover any of the OTHER ways to make money online either. I don’t do 75% of the stuff that REALLY pays you well! Like making your own products, eBooks, real books, courses, public speaking, and tons of other smart business plays. I know some who have made $1 million+ on a single course (*ahem* Ramit), while others have gone on to become New York Times best sellers or structure their site with so many income streams it sells for over $3+ Million! (*Ahem* Jim Wang) Again, nothing without hard work or dedication, but the opportunity is def. out there.

I’ll leave you with a list of the 50 most expensive domains in the world to really be impressed. If you scroll to the end you’ll see some sexy finance blogs I’ve included in there for fun too…

Back to hustling we go!

——-
PS: You can get a lot of other stuff besides money too through blogging and online ventures. Non physical stuff like friendships, networks, business partners, and all that jazz, but also interesting things such as: free laptops, beds, gift cards, toys, hotel rooms, flights, lingerie (no joke!), safes, skateboards, and a ton of other stuff I can’t recall at the moment. It really is amazing the stuff that can come out of blogging… Both in personal growth, and in personal wealth :)

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 [email protected] September 10, 2014 at 5:57 am

J
Your site is definitely a lot more fun and not commercial. I’ve stopped reading some blogs when all these pop up ads and sponsored posts were making up most of the content. Keep on hustling

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2 Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com September 10, 2014 at 8:26 am

Agree. I especially hate the pop-ups that a lot of sites are using and the redirect pages that sites like Forbes uses. Next thing we know there will be full page Ads like ESPN does sometimes…

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3 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 8:33 am

I know, it’s getting crazier and crazier out there :( It kills me to even have my own pop up here for my blog post notifications (only shows up once a month), but it’s amazing how well some of that stuff works… Harder to stop something that grows your site/money when you find something I guess… Goes back to that battle of hobby vs business.

(And thanks Charles! Glad you’re still enjoying the site :))

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4 Mr. Frugalwoods September 10, 2014 at 7:15 am

Mmmm. Tasty diversification and building a brand.

+10 to needing to enjoy it. From what I can tell there is a long period of grinding it out before you catch traction. Even then, no guarantee of success.

How many hours a week do you typically spend on the J. Money empire?

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5 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 8:36 am

I typically spend 65-70 hours/week.

Which tells you a) I’m a workaholic and need to get better, and b) I don’t make nearly enough as you would think for that amount of time spent on something :)

So thank GOODNESS it’s fun for me!

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6 Kirsten September 10, 2014 at 8:21 am

Darn that sneaky Mrs Frugalwoods who has beat me to every site this morning. I want to know how many hours you spend too. I’d love to start seeing correlation between people’s online income and the hours they spend

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7 Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com September 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

$22k in 28 hours? Sign me up. How do I become little J$? I have the name after all… Also what Kirsten posted above, I’d love to see that correlation as well. Frugalwoods hustles to comment!

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8 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life September 10, 2014 at 8:35 am

I’ve done most of these except the site flipping. That’s something I really know NOTHING about, I wouldn’t even know where I would begin or how I would have the mental capacity to run that in addition to my site and all my other projects.

I love that blogging has so many ways to diversify income streams in and of themselves.

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9 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

I fell into it just by buying and trying to sell my own sites. You tend to learn a lot that way :) And since I just go with the flow with a lot of this stuff, it only takes time when a blogger emails me wanting to sell or buy a site – otherwise I don’t work on it. Kinda fun setup (though you can’t control the $$ you make just by waiting for people to come to you, of course)

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10 Brian @ Debt Discipline September 10, 2014 at 8:41 am

J$ keeping it real since 2008! Thanks for the insight. Really just seems like you need to stick with it. After a year blogging I’ve started to see ad income pick up.

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11 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

Exactly. Time is definitely on your side with growing a blog/brand, just as it is with saving and investing :)

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12 debs @ debt debs September 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks for sharing your views. Trying to assimilate what everyone says about this topic can be a challenge in itself. I’m still finding my way and soaking things up. I don’t think you’re in the minority that FT bloggers work long hours. I can easily see doing this once I am free of my FT job which won’t be anytime soon. It’s just that much harder now to do everything you want to do but I’ve seen many be successful at this too!

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13 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

It’s def. tough when you’ve got a 9-5 and then kids and a social life, etc, etc. That’s why you really have to enjoy it and want it bad enough! Hustling is not for the lazy :)

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14 Derek Olsen September 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

This is all VERY sexy.

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15 Natalie @ Financegirl September 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

Great tips, Jay. And love that PSI photo, too! One of my fave podcasts for sure.

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16 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I haven’t actually listened to it yet but I here it’s amazing! He’s such a nice guy too – always friendly and down to Earth in person :)

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17 Aldo @ milliondollarninja September 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

You’re a hustler, baby. I just want you to know. Everywhere you’ve been and where you’re ’bout to go! Good job J$

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18 Louise @ Good Financial Choices September 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

A great insight, thanks for sharing the gory details – I’m always fascinated how people make money online, and how ‘passive’ the income is in reality.

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19 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Haha yeah. It’s never truly passive as people like to think/wish :)

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20 Prudence Debtfree September 10, 2014 at 11:41 am

I either get encouraged or intimidated by posts about making money online. This one intimidated me – and that’s my fault, not yours. I have been writing a free blog for over two years now, and I’d like to try monetizing it. It’s moving from Blogger.com to WordPress now. I work full time though (home sick today), and can’t see devoting more than 15 hours per week to it. Hopefully, there’s room for part-time workers in the online, money-making world : )

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21 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Of course there is! In those cases you just have to shift your time differently :) If making money is now more important to you, you have to use some of those hours towards doing so. It’ll still take a while to get it flowing in (hardly a way to speed that up) but once you get the groundwork going you’ll start to see some success. And if one thing doesn’t work, move right on to another. I’m always testing (and failing) with stuff. It’s annoying, but it’s a part of the game.

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22 Romeo Jeremiah September 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

Haha,

Whatever, Jay. We all know that you’ve sold this site for $1,000,000+…years ago. :-)

Thanks for the inspiration to keep going!

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23 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

That would be one helluva net worth update! Haha….

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24 Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com September 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Good stuff. You’re a great role model to those starting out. Especially in terms of the idea that the content of your site, and what you write, is the only thing that will make you stand out and allow you to EVER make any money from it. I see so many blogs fail that try to make money before they have the content and authority they need.

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25 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

For sure. The only downside to being so “personality-infused” on stuff like this is it makes it a bit tougher to sell if the originator is so engrained in it all. So there’s definitely two sides to the coin here :)

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26 Noonan September 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Great post with many helpful details packed in for newer bloggers like me! Your passion permeates everything you write!

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27 Michelle September 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Wow that’s awesome that you were able to sell your websites for so much cash. I’m trying to diversify my income streams more. It’s hard and it’s been slow though. I need more time! :)

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28 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

And here’s a secret: you only need *more* as time goes on, haha… The bigger/more popular you or your empire gets, the more you spend on maintenance and staying on top of email and communications. But if you’re smarter than me, you’d hire a great team around you to help with the growth :)

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29 Will ~ First Quarter Finance September 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Thanks, Jay! This post is getting pinned in my browser so I can use it as a daily reference for how to kick a**.

So much info to be gleaned I better get started clicking through the links!!!

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30 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

If you buy me beer at fincon you can pick my brain all you want too ;) A helluva deal over my $100 consulting rate!

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31 Jacob September 10, 2014 at 5:45 pm

^ J$, this is happening. Me and you :)

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32 [email protected] September 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Way to go, Jay. There is much for me to learn :).

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33 Kayla @ Red Debted Stepchild September 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

It’s interesting to see where you came from and where you are now with your priorities and making money online. Right now mine is primarily from freelance writing, but I can see already it will be hard to keep up with forever (at least on this large scale). I’m ok with it for a while, but at some point I’ll have to diversify if I plan to keep my online income up and growing. :)

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34 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:28 pm

All depends on what you’re going for really :) When the main goal is $$$ the tasks shift. But when it’s fun-fun-fun-oh-yeah-money-is-good-too then it shifts a different way. And no right answer really. Sometimes I go back and forth with it myself – it’s always changing.

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35 Allen @ TheyDailyCent.com September 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Good stuff J$! Most of my online income work has been in the ecommerce field (I’ve been doing ecommerce since 2005ish). Just sold my last ecom store a few months ago and am taking a break (future post coming on this one).

If you’re willing to hustle and think outside the spreadsheet cells (geeky pun) then the money will be there for you. The internet is evolving on a daily basis and with ingenuity and some elbow grease (or mental grease) you can make some nice PT or FT income.

Keep on truck, er, bloggin! :D

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36 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Yeah man! Congrats. I haven’t ventured into ecommerce yet but I’m really interested in it. Especially if it entails dealing with coins – my new passion :) (http://cointhrill.com)

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37 Brooke @ PFTwins September 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Awesome article! As a new blogger, seeing your growth and diversification is awesome.

Right now my main focus is on writing content. I’m not focused on monetizing, but if I mention Republic Wireless, then it feels like a wasted opportunity *not* to set up an affiliate program that I can then link to. Even if I have only been blogging for 2-3 months! But I don’t want it to appear like I’m in for money, I’m not! That’s what my full-time job is for.

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38 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Agree 100%. Nothing wrong at all with linking so you can get paid – you were going to do it anyways (for free!). That’s the exact mentality to have in my books, especially as starting out. It’s when you go down the path of writing stuff based on what pays even if it’s a $hit product that tends to skew things for the worse. At least in my opinion.

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39 B Simple September 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Great stufff. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward seeing you next week at FinCon. I will buy you a beer or dinner. I will even give you a tour of New Orleans to pick your brain for an hour or so. See you next week.

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40 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hah – thanks! Oddly enough I’m already doing a tour’ish type thing w/ a financial company there, but you can still buy me a beer at any of the events and ask me as many questions as you’d like :)

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41 Sean September 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Holy smokes! Thanks for sharing, it’s always great to see how others make their money, and it’s good to see not all your eggs are in one basket. That’s the way to do it! Now, to actually sit down and get to work without getting sidetracked…

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42 Done by Forty September 11, 2014 at 2:18 am

I love how transparent you are with this stuff, J Money. I think it’s great that you’re helping so many bloggers. Like the saying goes, you can’t light another’s candle without brightening your own…or something. I’m bad with sayings.

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43 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Haha… Thanks man. It’s kinda weird putting some of this stuff out there, but I’m always glad I did afterwards cuz it’s stuff I’d love to read myself from people. Glad you got something out of it :)

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44 Dee @ Color Me Frugal September 11, 2014 at 7:37 am

I am so glad that you post stuff like this because it’s really an inspiration to me! Proof that with a LOT of hard work you can get there!

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45 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Yes! You most definitely can if you make it a priority and hustle hustle hustle :) Just takes a $hit ton of work, haha…

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46 Laurie @wellkeptwallet September 11, 2014 at 8:37 am

Thanks so much for this, J$ I’m finally increasing my freelance stuff, and the income adds up quick!

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47 [email protected] September 11, 2014 at 8:51 am

Great job on all of your income streams! I think a lot of people wonder how anyone can make money online…because it just makes no sense unless you have experience with it. Most of them don’t realize that the money is coming from all directions most of the time.

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48 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm

I didn’t even know blogs made money until like 4 months into it! haha… even though I saw ads everywhere and what not – just never registered until I was on the other end and was thinking about it business-wise.

But you’re right on the “other things” outside of the blog too. There’s SOOOO many different avenues you could take it once you’re up and running, as you know. All about figuring out what you’re good at (and enjoy) and then trying to work the system.

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49 John @ Frugal Rules September 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Very cool J! Very cool to see all the diversification, which really doesn’t surprise me one bit. :) Like you say, there is opportunity out there…you just need to be willing to put in the work and enjoy it. The money can be good, but there are many other things that come out of it as well, as you hit on, that I appreciate just as much if not more. I think I’ve done most of these, or are planning on doing them with the site flipping being the exception. Lol at the drinking coffee all day and goofing off on the internet comment. My Mom still thinks I just turn on my computer and money starts rolling in. If it were only that easy!

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50 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Haha yeah, moms are funny like that.

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51 Even Steven September 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm

It’s crazy how much things change online from one week to the next. Your change from year to year shows the importance of having things coming from every direction.

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52 Steve September 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Great stuff J Money! Always learnin’ something new when I come over here – didn’t even know about Microblogger – thanks for the link!!

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53 Dividend Mantra September 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

J,

Thanks for sharing. Many of us out here hustlin appreciate it!

Even now that I’ve moved over to online endeavors on a full-time basis, I still don’t really know much about this. I know how to write, and I really enjoy it. And I think that speaks to your first point about having a passion for it. Because for the first couple of years I barely made anything at all.

Keep on rockin, bro.

Best wishes!

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54 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:20 pm

You’d be PERFECT for freelance writing. Probably make way more than what you do on your blog :) Cuz you get paid directly every time you finish an article! And you’d be able to command a much higher price than if you were starting out (because your $hit is good).

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55 [email protected] September 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Come on – all us bloggers do is eat bon bons all day!! ;) Jk thanks for sharing. Diversification is awesome and the way I like to do things too!

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56 jbiggs September 12, 2014 at 12:37 am

Thanks J $. This has inspired me to start blogging. I’ve always enjoyed writing and am have done quite well with it in the past. I just opened my website and have ran websites before so I do have some tech skills as well. My wife and I have 15k in credit card debt [was 16k just 2 months ago] I have just begun to live frugally and man up. I have been on a virtual spending fast for the last two months.

thanks
jbiggs

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57 J. Money September 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Good for you! Spending fasts certainly speed things up for sure :) And good luck on the new blog too – hope you get a lot of joy out of it!

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58 Michelle September 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Thank you very much for sharing and where I can buy that t-shirt?

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59 J. Money September 14, 2014 at 8:27 am

I got it at Raygun:
http://raygunsite.com/products/blog-alot

Looks like you can get it cheaper here too, but not sure of the quality:
http://www.theshirtdudes.com/blog-a-lot.html

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60 Michelle September 14, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Thanks for the t-shirt information! I can’t wait to get one.

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61 Tawcan September 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for sharing the information, it’s very interesting to see how people are making money through blogging.

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62 30 Something Dude September 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I’ve been blogging for a while under various guises and my current blog is a lot of fun but I do wish I could generate more income from it. A certain amount of luck is needed. Sometimes the opportunity arises when your knee deep doing the hard work. When I’ve tried to focus on money I haven’t made any, but when I’ve upped my content and thought more about providing value I started to get a few more subscribes and advertisers asking me to post paid for articles. So my advice would be to ‘truck on’ with the content – perseverance will meet opportunity.

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63 J. Money September 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Agreed! Content and passion have to come first or the odds of the rest happening is slim to none. You’ve got to really enjoy it to stick around for the long haul and make anything decent off it.

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