My good friend J. Money is here with us today, sharing his Entrepreneur Success Story and how he went from hobby blogger to a six-figure income blogger. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Hello hello, this is J. Money, blogger extraordinaire at BudgetsAreSexy, a personal finance blog that won’t put you to sleep, and RockstarFinance, a place that shares the best financial articles online. I’ve been self-employed for over 4 years now as a blogger, and I love talking about money, beer, collecting coins, business, and my two new beautiful boys.
Why did you want to own your own business?
The funny thing is I didn’t even realize I had a business until someone told me I was making money from my sites, and therefore I had a business 🙂 So the reality is I never really meant to/wanted to own my own business, I just happened to naturally fall into it after following my heart and passion for blogging. I still consider my sites as 50% pleasure and 50% business (though now with a growing family I do actually pay attention to the business side).
When did you start the business?
I started my main blog, BudgetsAreSexy.com, almost exactly 7 years ago in Feb of 2008. I started the blog at the peak of the market crash and when I had bought a house with no money down and didn’t know what I was doing (I literally bought it on a whim within 48 hours of seeing it – when I was supposed to be finding an apartment to rent).
What training/experience did you have in your business field before you started?
Absolutely none. In fact, I didn’t even know what a blog was, or that you could even make any money from running one! I still find it rather amazing that I can make enough money to support a family of four simply by sharing my thoughts on a topic that I was ordinarily doing for free anyway. It’s like getting paid to play football or go on walks! We do it ‘cuz we love it, so the fact that money gets thrown your way is just icing on the cake.
(I should note it’s not as easy as I accidentally just made it out to be – I spend 40-60 hours a week growing my blog and it’s taken me 7 years to get here, but at the end of the day I am getting paid for writing my thoughts out on money. That’s the part that amazes me.)
What challenges did you face when starting up your business?
The biggest challenge was and always is, time. You’re never caught up and you never get to all the mind-blowing ideas that we just KNOW are going to wow the world 😉 You have more time when you’re doing it in place of your normal 9-5, but even then shockingly it’s not enough. So the time of transition from working a 9-5 and moving to your own business is probably the hardest as you have to balance both and start making enough $$ where you can gradually shift over without taking a big hit.
I’d never advise to anyone to quit their day job and start a business from scratch the next day – you have to start putting it into the real world and hustling your a** off as many hours as you can so that when it’s time to hit go you’re already comfortable and know what you’re getting into (and how much money you can *realistically* make since you’re already making it anyways!). But as hard as it may feel in the beginning, the beauty is you’re also at the peak of your passion which helps you push through the tough times and make it to the finish line. 🙂
How long did you have to run the business before you saw a profit?
I think I made my first dollar (accidentally) around month #3, and then my first $100 around month #6. From there it kept gradually going up and depending on my strategy/interests at the time it could turn into $1,000 a month, or as high as $5,000 a month (I used to own a portfolio of blogs and cross-marketed everything). The cool thing about online businesses is that any month your sites/profit can completely explode and make you love it forever, while the very next could it completely implode and give you a fraction of what you previously made. At least that’s been my experience over the years… Then again, I don’t focus on the business part as much as I should so it could be skewed. (But it’s definitely not stable, that’s for sure).
How did the business start-up affect your marriage/family?
When it was a complete hobby it didn’t affect us in the least. As I started spending an equal amount of time on it as I was my 9-5 (so, 40 hours there and 30-40 on the blogs) my mood and quality time spent with my wife were certainly less than desirable. It was at that point my wife told me I needed to choose one and give up the other before I burn out, and since the blog stuff was taking off like a rocket I knew it had to be my 9-5 (and coincidentally enough, the day I went to turn in my two weeks notice I got laid off ;)). Then we entered a whole new phase of making sure working for myself was the smart thing to do (it was) and we were back to being all roses again.
There are days that are definitely harder on my now family of four when things explode either for the good or the bad, but probably not more so than working a normal job really. I think the hardest thing as a business owner is just *shutting off* the stream of ideas and tasks you want to knock off when you’re supposed to be spending time with your family. It takes everything in me to focus solely on my boys when we’re together, but I still catch myself daydreaming 🙁 (Or, work-dreaming?)
What’s the best thing entrepreneurship has done for you?
It opened up my eyes to a whole other world out there I hadn’t the slightest clue of previously. I knew there were business owners and people who were self-employed “living the dream”, but I just thought that was a dream for others and not non-entrepreneurs like me. Again, I never thought of myself, or even had a desire really, to go build something of my own. Looking back of course I now realize it was one of the best things that ever happened to my life – it completely changed the trajectory of my career AND my view on how the world works and my own happiness – but had I not started blogging I doubt I’d be typing anything to you right now 🙂 Which is a good reason to always try stuff out that you find interesting as you never know what it could lead to!
What lessons have you learned about entrepreneurship along the way?
That as much as business and making $$ is fun, there’s more to life than hustling 24/7. I used to have pride in my 60-80 hour weeks knowing I was working harder than almost everyone I knew, but once I had kids I realized there’s something that’s a little more important than what you do every day – your LIFE. I gave it all up to chase my dream of blogging full-time when I realized it was an option, so I’ve had to learn to scale it back and be more efficient with my time so I can be there for my friends and family. I still have a ways to go, but I’m now at least headed in the right direction.
What advice do you have for those considering entrepreneurship?
To just go out there and START TRYING, but not give up the day job yet until you’ve proven that your business can (and is) making money. It’s also important to give it enough time to make sure it’s something you actually ENJOY doing too. There’s no half-assing in running businesses – you gotta be all in, all the time, so it better be something you’re passionate about. And if that means going back to the drawing board as well as your 9-5 for a while, so be it. There’s no shame at all working a “normal” job – the shame is in resigning yourself to being miserable for the rest of your life no matter how you’re employed.
Note: This is part of a series called Entrepreneur Success Stories, which features people who took a chance on starting their own business. If you have an Entrepreneur Success story, I would love to hear about it. Please visit the contact page to let me know the details.