I started my personal finance blog, Bargaineering, at a perfect time in my life. I just started my first full time job out of college, I was in a long distance
relationship, and I had a ton of time on my hands. I had very few responsibilities, very few demands on my time, and I was able to start the business with very little
I was able to work during the day and then work on my business at night. After work, I would go to the gym, come home, eat, and have the rest of the night to work on anything I wanted. I had a solid three to four hours a night to work on it. And I did.
Then, slowly but surely, responsibilities began to creep into my life. My job became more demanding, sometimes requiring business trips that spanned several days. My girlfriend moved in, after she spent a year working in another state. Three to four hours became more like one or two, which is still a lot, but I had to become smarter with my time.
I think that most people looking to build a business in their time after work, and on weekends, find that in order to succeed you need to really focus your mind and
spend that time wisely. Nights and weekends are precious moments and whether you’re spending it with your family or spending it on a business, it shouldn’t be wasted.
Every week, I would have a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish and ordered them in terms of priority. Then, before I started working each night, I highlighted the
tasks I hoped to complete that night. I wrote blog posts, I emailed and IM’s other bloggers to network, I reviewed my analytics and my affiliate accounts, and
sometimes I took on “capital” projects like updating my theme, hacking around with some plugins, or things of that nature.
It took me six months before Bargaineering generated enough revenue from Google Adsense to warrant a check. It would take another three for the second check! It
would be almost another year before it cracked revenue of $1,000 a month and that was only after discovering affiliate marketing.
Most of the growth came from networking with other bloggers, talking to reporters, and good old fashioned hustling . A blog’s popularity is measured by its readership and the only way to get more readers is to go out and find them.
In the years since, people have often asked me what’s the one thing I did that helped the most when it came to gaining readership. I have to tell them that you
need to covet and “care for” the readers you have and then work with other bloggers and influencers that will let you talk to their readers. This means you always have to be on top of your game, producing fantastic content, content that others will want to share with their readers.
My list of tasks only grew as I discovered more ways to monetize. I needed to find new programs to join, negotiate better deals with managers, research competitors and find weaknesses to exploit, and build a system internally that would help me track performance and see where I could improve. All of this was on top of writing blog posts, networking with bloggers, and all the other tasks I was already doing.
Eventually, the time demands of the business, coupled with the income, demanded that I pursue it full time. The revenue exceeded my salary by a wide margin and I was spending half the time (and it was the worst time too… you are not as sharp in the final four hours as you are in the first eight!), so I took the plunge.
The decision to take your side hustle and make it your full time job has two considerations. It needs to make sense financially and there needs to be a demand on
your time. As mentioned earlier, the revenue was there even if it didn’t feel as stable or secure. The work was certainly there and I was already delaying tasks I
knew needed to get done. With a blog, you can always put something else off and the only thing that suffers is your growth trajectory. It’s a hidden cost, which makes it even more dangerous.
The one factor that shouldn’t impact your decision is your full time job. I know folks who are in jobs they hate and look to their side gig as the salvation.
That’s dangerous because it may take years, as it did for me, before your side gig earns enough to be your full time job. In the meanwhile, your work performance will likely suffer and you might find yourself out of a job.
Lastly, leaving the relative comfort and reliability of a full time job can be very scary. Being an entrepreneur sounds sexy on paper but it can be very lonely in
reality. You get to keep everything you earn but you’re also responsible for getting business.
You can network with other business people and share war stories but ultimately you’re in a boardroom of one. Make sure you have a good support structure
in place before making that plunge, it’ll be helpful for those days you get super stressed out!