This is a guest post by Eric Rosenberg, a full-time freelancer and blogger at Personal Profitability. Eric writes about personal finance and entrepreneurship at InvestmentZen, his own blog, and other sites around the web.
On October 7, 2008, I published the first post at “Narrow Bridge Adventures,” a blog that would ultimately become Personal Profitability. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was starting down the path of a new side hustle that would completely change my life.
I Had No Idea What I Was Starting
On that fateful day, I had no idea I was writing the first words of a whole new lifestyle. It didn’t start as a focus on a new career. I started my blog as a side hustle to help people learn about money while hopefully earning a few bucks along the way.
When I finished business school and earned a finance degree in 2007, my first job was as a bank branch manager. I added a world of personal finance and banking knowledge to my finance background in a short period of time. I decided that working in the bank wasn’t the right fit for me, and around the same time decided to share what I learned while approving mortgages and new bank accounts online.
A short while in I started earning money through sponsored posts (that used to be a big thing before Google Panda and Penguin came along) and advertising. I joined a community of other personal finance bloggers, The Yakezie, and learned about growing my readership and earning more through my blog.
It Opened New Doors
In 2011, I discovered the Financial Bloggers Conference, later renamed FinCon. At FinCon I learned how to turn my blog into a business. I didn’t just look at it as a hobby, I began to see it as an income source.
Eventually, I earned enough through my blog to cover my bar tabs every month. Then I reached a point I was covering my rent. But things really started to pick up when I started writing for other blogs and websites.
Thanks to the relationships I built at FinCon, I became a freelance writer for several websites and publications. I have always been a do-it-yourself website developer and designer, and I began to take on clients to help other people build and move their websites. That’s when my income really jumped.
Repeat What Works
I found that freelancing was making much more than my own website, but without my own site, I wouldn’t have the freelance work. I didn’t know it at the time, but by starting my blog in 2008 I was also building my new resume.
This entire time, I had been working in corporate finance and earned a decent income. I worked my way up to Senior Financial Analyst and had a great income, but at the end of 2015, I looked back and saw that I earned $40,000 from my blog. I was blown away! Even with a family to support, I saw a path to turning my blogging hobby into a full-time gig. I started to save up for the big day when I might be able to turn my passion into a career.
In February 2016 I turned in my notice and on April 8, I walked out the door of corporate America and into the adventure of online entrepreneurship. As a full-time freelancer, I knew I had to hustle but could control my schedule, work how and when I choose, and make a difference for millions of people around the world who read my personal finance articles. A dream come true!
The 80/20 Rule Took Me to New Levels
When I quit my job, my wife and I decided to move to Southern California to be closer to my family. Moving from Portland to Southern California means higher expenses. I call the expensive housing here “the sunshine tax.” At the same time, I was able to get good health insurance through Obamacare, but it still cost a lot more than I was paying under the plan at my old Fortune 500 job.
I was barely breaking even, but I saw a good future if I stuck to it and followed what was working. I was stressed and working long hours, and when I looked at my accounting reports a clear message came to me. I was spending about 80% of my time on website development and support, but only about 10% of my income came from that source. About 85% of my income was coming from freelance writing, and that took up about 20% of my time. The remaining 5% came from my own blog, which took a backseat to my freelancing business.
I decided to shut down my website business to focus on writing full time. And it worked! My hours began to fall while my income more than doubled. I broke through $10,000 per month in October and haven’t looked back!
It All Started as a Side Hustle
I didn’t become a six-figure freelancer overnight. It all started as a side hustle. I wrote my first blog post in the summer of 2006. Little did I realize I was putting on the training wheels for a new career.
Now I have the freedom to work where and when I want. I spend time with my family in the afternoon. I spent a week working and touring in London. I wrote articles while my daughter was napping in Austin. Most of the time, however, I’m working from the comfort of my own home.
You never know what a side hustle will bring. Sometimes you invest and don’t see big success. Other projects take off and earn a bundle. I didn’t set out to become a freelancer, but by following new opportunities and hustling every day, I’ve been able to reach new income levels that looked a long way off in my old day job. Giving a side hustle a shot is always worth a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be starting on a journey to a six-figure income and the freedom of being your own boss. But it won’t happen on its own. It’s time to get started.