My blogging career path to quadrupling my full-time CPA salary wasn’t an easy journey but it sure has been a fun one and I’m excited to share with you how I did it!
Those of you that are regular readers and followers of Create and Go will know that you normally hear a lot from my charming business partner, Alex Nerney.
Today, you’re going to hear MY story. My name is Lauren McManus, and I’m the other half of the Create and Go team.
I’m surprised I didn’t think to write this article sooner because honestly, I think many of you will resonate a lot more with my story than with Alex’s.
Alex only very briefly experienced the 9-5 corporate world, because he was a personal trainer for years and figured out very quickly that the 9-5 just wasn’t for him.
I, on the other hand, had about 5 years of it. Like probably many of you, I had a “plan.”
From Corporate Career to Self-Employed Blogging Career
I graduated from UCF with a degree in accounting and started working full-time as an accountant while I got my Masters degree. Then took the next step to study for MONTHS to pass the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams.
I chose Accounting because I was good at it. I also have a type A personality and therefore did well with the numbers and analytics knew that it would make me good money.
Honestly, I was okay with that plan because my hard work was appreciated, I was getting promotions, and I didn’t know any better.
Enter Alex Nerney.
Alex and I met on a Tinder date in Dallas, Texas. In those first few months of dating, I learned that he had sold his first eBook right out of college (crazy, much?) and knew that he wanted to have an online business someday (and sooner rather than later).
We bonded over our love of all things health and fitness, him being a personal trainer and me just coming off my two-year stint as a hardcore vegan.
Long story short, we started one blog that failed before we started our current health and wellness blog, Avocadu.
I worked my accounting job full-time for the first six months after diving into the blogging world and ultimately ended up quitting my job before we were making a dime with our blog.
That was one of the hardest decisions I ever made because I gave up my CPA license, a great job, and a pretty certain future – all for a “chance” that this “blogging thing” might work.
That wasn’t a fun phone call to make to my dad to try to explain.
It was terrifying but I did it anyway because I LOVED working on our blog. This was what people meant when they fed you that bullshit of “Find a job doing something you love.” or “Follow your passions!”
If we had been making any money then, it obviously would have been a much easier decision. But that wasn’t the case.
The blogging road wasn’t always as pretty as it appears now. We had several months of not making any money and spending a whole lot before reached profitability.
I say this to drive the point home that it was not EASY. Once you get the hang of things, it definitely can feel easy at times, but this is NOT a get-rich-quick-for-free scheme.
This is our business, it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and it’s how we put food on our table every night.
On that note, I want to answer a lot of commonly asked questions we get regarding how blogging works, how you can make money blogging, and how much you can make.
Does your blogging career come with a salary?
Yes, sort of. My blogging career comes with a great income, but it’s not a “salary” in the traditional sense.
With blogging income, you have irregular cash flows. Your income will vary every month depending on your blog traffic, how you are monetizing your blog, and other factors.
It also tends to fluctuate with the time of year, depending on what kind of blog that you have. For example, health and wellness search volume on the internet SKYROCKETS in January with the new year and plummets every year during the winter.
One of my favorite ways to illustrate this trend is through the Greek yogurt example. Below is a graph of the Google search trends for Greek yogurt over the last 5 years.
Searches for Greek yogurt (and most other health and fitness topics) shoot up at the beginning of every year and drop dramatically towards the end of every year.
This is something that we prepare for every year. We know that our sales are much higher in the beginning of the year, so we plan for it to have a buffer when they are down at the end of the year.
I make much MORE money (4x+) with my blog but it does differ from the “guaranteed salary” that you get from traditional employment.
Let’s dive a little deeper into that with the next question.
What kind of blogging income do you make and how did that compare to your regular job?
As a full-time accountant, it took me 4 years to double my salary of $30,000 to $67,500, which was what I was making at the time that I quit my job to blog full-time.
As a blogger, it took me a year and a half to go from making $0 to reaching the level I was at when I was an accountant.
During that next year, I doubled, tripled, and then QUADRUPLED my accountant salary.
As of our January 2018 Income Report, I am now making SEVEN TIMES the monthly income that I earned as an accountant.
I had to go look up the numbers to double check that and it blows my mind still because it feels like it was just yesterday that I was sitting in that office looking out the window and wondering if there was more to life.
Now that we have some numbers in place, let’s talk a little more about WHERE this blogging money comes from and how it is earned.
What do bloggers do on a day-to-day basis? What’s the job description?
Blogging is a ‘somewhat’ normal job for us.
We actually tend to work more hours than we did at our previous jobs and we don’t sleep in unless we feel like our bodies really need it. And that has made all of the difference in our path to fast success.
Let me explain.
In a traditional business, you have employees and different departments that specialize in sales, marketing, customer service, IT, etc.
As a blogger, you’re generally a one-man show. You must learn how to do ALL of these jobs.
You can absolutely outsource some of the work, but you will end up doing most of it yourself in the beginning unless you have a lot of capital to invest (which most of us don’t).
When you first start your blog, your day-to-day work will involve the following…
- designing your blog,
- writing articles,x
- building up your social media sites and trying to drive traffic to your blog,
- building your email list
- working on monetizing your blog through methods like affiliate marketing and creating your own products and services
Later on, once you get to the stage that Alex and I are at, there is a lot LESS daily work to be done.
We were even able to start traveling a bit, visiting countries like Peru, Costa Rica, Portugal, and Indonesia – all while still working on our blog!
The photo above was from our first travel trip as full-time bloggers to Nicaragua. I look naked, but I promise I’m not.
We spend most of our days writing new articles, answering customer service inquiries (which we have recently hired virtual assistants to take care of), and researching ways to grow our traffic and revenue.
We already have a few successful products created, so that frees up a LOT of our time.
The upside to blogging is that you can control your income. We work long hours because we see almost an immediate return on that investment of our time.
It’s ultimately YOUR business, so you can decide how often you want to work and when you want to work.
Okay, we’ve had a lot of positive talk about the upsides of blogging. Let’s bring it back down to earth to talk about some of the blogging mistakes we’ve made.
What are the biggest mistakes you made in your blogging career?
By far the BIGGEST blogging mistake that we made was what led to the ultimate failure of our first blog.
As new bloggers, we got overly eager about making money as soon as possible and decided to create a product before we had much traffic to our blog or even knew who our target audience was.
We see this time and time again from our new bloggers taking our Launch Your Blog Course.
We get it. You need to make some money because you feel the pain of what you’re spending to get started.
But trying to run before you can walk will only lead to a LOT of wasted time and money.
You see, the problem wasn’t that we created a “bad” product. We ended up recycling the material from the first failed product to create another product that WAS successful!
The product was great. The PROBLEM was that it was a bad match for our audience.
We didn’t know who our target audience was, so we targeted everyone.
Because our product wasn’t targeted, our marketing was all wrong, and we made one lousy sale off the entire process.
This is why we created our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course, which focuses on driving traffic to new blogs and starting with affiliate marketing first, before creating your own digital products and services.
The PROCESS that you take in your blogging career will be the difference between fast success and a time and money sinkhole of failures.
Let’s talk a little more about that process.
How can I become a full-time blogger?
It’s incredibly important to have the right expectations on your road to becoming a full-time blogger.
These are the steps that we recommend for fast success and the ones that we personally took our blogging journey:
- Start your blog
- Begin driving traffic to your blog
- Start monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing FIRST
- Eventually, create your own products and services once you have an audience
It’s SO important to take these steps IN THAT ORDER to avoid wasted time and money.
There are probably a million other questions you have at this point, like “What should I blog about?” and “How do I know what products I should create?”
Let’s address that next.
Any tips for going from hobby blogger to actually making money blogging?
I’m not positive on this statistic, but I think it goes something like this:
99% of small businesses fail. And guess what? A blogging career is no different.
Most bloggers end up in the “hobby” stage and never learn how to make money blogging or at least make a REAL income from it.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to GET HELP!
There is a lot of free information available on the internet, but most of it is fragmented and second-rate at best. This is because the real professionals withhold their best information and advice for their paying customers.
Invest some money in blogging courses, because it will get you where you want to be 10x faster.
And guys, I’m NOT just saying that because we sell blogging courses. This is part of the PROCESS that I talked about above.
Alex and I reached success so quickly because we too bought courses! We invested close to $15,000 in different software and courses to try to make money blogging.
I’m not saying you should expect to spend even CLOSE to that. At the time, we didn’t really identify with the term “blogger” yet, so we, unfortunately, spent a lot of money on courses that weren’t really a good fit for us.
But I can’t stress the importance of getting help enough. It’s so important that we STILL buy courses today.
Anytime we want to learn how to get better at something like SEO traffic, Facebook advertising, etc., we do some research and find the best course to take.
It would take us 10x the amount of time to find free answers – only to get us half of the results. It’s just not worth it.
If you’re interested in looking at the courses that we offer, they are listed below (in the order of the PROCESS that we discussed above):
- Launch Your Blog – Start your blog
- Make Money Blogging for Beginners – Begin driving traffic to your blog and start monetizing your blog with affiliate marketing FIRST
- Pinterest Traffic Avalanche – How to SCALE your traffic your blog with Pinterest
- Six-Figure Blogger – Eventually create your own products and services once you have an audience
And if you HAVEN’T started your first blog yet…
How do you start a successful blog?
You can get started creating a successful blog in just 10 minutes using our step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog.
If you’re not sure about what to blog about, know that there are all kinds of successful blogs in various niches. We have a few resources below should help you get started:
- Free 7-Day eCourse on How to Start a Blog
- 3 Steps to Finding Your Blog Niche
- How to Come Up with a Great Blog Name in 30 Minutes or Less
- 101 Fun and Popular Blog Topics You Can Actually Make Money From
How do you make money blogging?
You can make money blogging in a variety of ways, but we definitely recommend some methods over others.
For example, we discourage new bloggers to monetize using ads in the beginning because it will generally net you less than 50 cents a day for a while. It’s a waste of time and can make your blog look a little tacky.
As we stated above in the section on blogging mistakes…
We recommend starting out with affiliate marketing FIRST to learn more about your target audience, what they are most interested in, and how to sell to them. Only after you have a handle on that do we recommend scaling your income by creating your own digital products and services.
I hope you enjoyed this article on how I started my blogging career! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions!
Co-Founder, Create and Go