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Why I Am Not Blogging Full Time

This article was written by in Career and Work. 40 comments.


I do not normally write about blogging here. For me, writing about blogging is like singing a song about the songs one sings rather than singing a song about something inspiring in itself. Nevertheless, this is a blog in which I write about my experiences with money, and blogging has played an increasing role in my finances over the past few years.

After blogging or adding chronological updates to websites since 1994, it wasn’t until January 2005 I received my first check as a result of this writing. Granted I didn’t start Consumerism Commentary until July 2003 and I didn’t add advertising until November 2004, that’s a long time to have a hobby without any consideration of income. In fact, I could stretch my history back to 1989 with my first experience building on-line communities.

Even after that first check in January 2005, income from blogging was slow. I gradually added new projects like the Carnival of Personal Finance, helped form the MoneyBlogNetwork, created pfblogs.org, and offered to host a number of personal finance blogs by other offers for free. January 2007 was the first month in which my income from these activities surpassed my income from my “real” job.

Invariably, one of the most common questions I receive from friends and readers is about leaving my day job. When will I take the plunge by quitting my nine-to-five obligations and dedicating that time to an endeavor that seems to be providing a better payoff? The idea first crossed my mind as a remote possibility in January 2007 and as a serious option in January 2008 when my income from this “hobby” was consistently twice my salary.

The benefits are numerous.

  • I would not be tied to any particular location. Without having to report to an office every day, I would have the freedom to work from home, my girlfriend’s house, a public library, or a hotel in Arizona. Additionally, I could live anywhere in the world with a reliable connection to the internet, saving money on living expenses. If I so desired, I could even take the extreme route and live out of my car.
  • I would be my own boss. Rather than being subject to the whim of a large multinational corporations and the seemingly endless levels of authority between the CEO and myself (currently at six or so), I make the decisions about which projects to pursue and how much time and effort to devote. I’ll still need to answer to the government when it is time to pay taxes, however.
  • I could devote more time to my projects. By leaving my primary job I would have more time on my hands to work with. With more time, I would be able to focus on improving the quality of everything I do now as well as working on new projects.

If those were the only points to consider, I would have quit my job to focus on my writing months ago. Here is the other side to the story.

  • There’s not much of a business plan. A good portion of income from this side business is from advertising. It’s rather short on products that consumers can use other than information. I don’t see this as a sound strategy for the long term. People who study this particular industry believe even in the short term, such as this year, on-line advertising could experience a decline.
  • Income is too reliant upon Google. Even though only a small portion of income comes directly from Google, most other income sources rely on Google indirectly. The search engine delivers visitors who search for certain topics to Consumerism Commentary or other websites I manage. As I experienced first-hand about a year ago, one small change in Google’s algorithms or opinions could ruin the business model. If only regular readers visit Consumerism Commentary, advertising mostly fails.
  • It’s not wise to voluntarily give up five figures of annual income. It’s hard to turn away from a consistent, relatively stable check every two weeks, including low-cost health and disability benefits, a 401(k) matching contribution and discounted stock purchase plan. I also work with interesting people, and it’s nice to spend my time in an environment that is friendly and not too saturated with a sense of urgency. But if even 25% of my total income is stable as long as I perform as expected, I have a foundation to rely on when the other 75% could be inconsistent.

There are straightforward arguments against most of these drawbacks. With more time to devote to my projects after quitting my day job, I could come up with a more diversified business plan. That might include the typical “financial guru” fare like presenting speeches and writing a book. Neither of these excite me for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that I am quite critical of people who are “gurus.” I am more interested in building communities and would like to find more way to accomplish that.

I could also argue that the time I would receive back from my employer could be used to earn more income than I would be giving up by leaving that job, but that’s not a foregone conclusion.

If I am going to take a risk by leaving the corporate world and possibly revealing my identity, it’s better to do so now before I have more obligations and people other than myself who rely on my income. And it is true that I could reenter the traditional workforce if necessary if my plans for self-sufficiency fail. With all this to consider, I will stick with indecision until I decide to make a decision or until my company decides to make that decision for me.

Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published April 6, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kelly

I don’t know what I would do in your shoes either, but I think it’s wonderful that you have the best of both worlds. Maybe when your net worth reaches a certain amount you could consider quitting your day job? If I were in your shoes I would likely stick with the day job, and then I think it’s probably something I’d revisit in 3 or 4 months. That way you don’t have to think about it again until then.

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avatar Baker

This is a problem that I hope I can have in the future! I think it is awesome that you’ve chosen to remain at your day job still. As long as you continue to do what you are doing, you can always quit your job if your situation changes, or even take a break from blogging. Doing both gives you added flexibility and control. Great work!

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avatar Jon

Have you considered affiliate marketing, starting a coaching program, or developing your own information products?

Last year, we stopped selling any sort of advertising on Copyblogger. The income was consistent, but it wasn’t anywhere close to as profitable as using the same ad space to advertise our own information products. It’s been an interesting experiment. I’m hesitant to reveal too many details publicly, but I’d be glad to discuss it privately with you, if you’re interested in pursuing any of those other revenue models.

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avatar FMF

I think you’re wise. You can always make the jump later.

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avatar Enrique S

I don’t think I’d leave my day job, either. If you’re happy with the people and environment that you work in, why leave? I’ve met good, lifelong friends at work, and I can always find something positive to take away, even on a bad day. A day job allows the blogging to be your escape, also.

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avatar Erica Douglass

I think all the people with jobs will tell you to keep your job. But most of the millionaires — especially those who made at least $1 million being self-employed — will tell you to leave.

You know where I stand. If you want help or advice, I’d be happy to. I’ve consulted behind-the-scenes with other PF bloggers to help them establish a safe, non-advertising-related income.

-Erica

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avatar Keith

I think you’re being very wise about the the whole thing. Some would probably ditch the “real” job as soon as their income from blogging caught up with their job earnings. Also, I think people forget about things like insurance. I can’t wait until I face the same choice!
This was an interesting article. Good to get us thinking about these things.

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avatar Dana

End of the day, only you know what kind of a balance (risk/reward) is good for you. The important thing is to have considered it at all. Good job on sharing your thought process.

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avatar Jonathan

I’m with you, Flexo. Working for yourself is different when you have no real durable relationship with most of your customers (advertisers) – they can up and leave at any moment. And as you say – all the foot traffic is from the big G.

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avatar 2million

Its a dilemma – but a good problem to have. You appear able to balance maintaining all the sites and keeping your day job for now. I’m sure at some point you will want to free up time to devote to other priorities – in the meantime I would utilize these income streams to build up savings to make the decision to leap easy at some point in the future.

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avatar Peter

In your shoes I think I would have kept at it, as you have. Why give up that certain income from the day job when you can have both – at least for now? Keep stockpiling cash, saving, and looking toward a future where you can work because you want to, not because you have to.

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avatar Mike

Nothing wrong with waiting – it would take a lot more than a big blog income to get me to quit my job.

My main thought is quality of life – you’ve mentioned very long hours which is fine if you want to do that but it might not be sustainable forever. Maybe cutting back on the blog activities is a thought? Outsourcing some tasks? Obviously these would only apply if you want to reduce your total work time.

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avatar Mrs. Micah

Makes sense to me. Even when I wasn’t working full-time, I was working part-time to have some guaranteed income and doing consulting–not just blogging. I don’t like the stress of worrying how much the blog is going to earn, I’d rather appreciate it and have it be something that helps me reach goals. Plus I’ve seen the face of blogging change dramatically in the last however many years I’ve been doing it (8? 10?) and I expect it to continue to do so.

I could see taking the problogging track if someone wanted to be a writer or motivational speaker in the long run.

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avatar LinearChaos

LOL, you’re thought process is typical of a personal finance blogger. We’re not exactly quick to jump to monetary change, you’ve got a steady paycheck, which means security on the financial front.

Makes complete sense to me as long as you’re finding success in both places.

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avatar Anon

I’ve been a big reader of your blog for quite some time and I think you do fantastic work.

I was in your shoes about 2 years ago and I kept debating if I should quit my 60k/yr job for my online ventures. I’m telling you, you only live once (I know it’s cliche) but why work a dead end job when you can put 100% toward online ventures.

Working at home is amazing, I was able to put 100% toward my online properties and a firm recently bought one for mid six figures. Good changes are always good, you have nothing to lose and as long as you play by Google’s rules, you have nothing to worry about!

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