I’ve been blogging for most of a year and have written well over 100 blog posts, and I have no plans to quit any time soon. However, I also have no grand plans of turning this blog of mine into a full fledged business, or even a side hustle. I’ve come close to the 25,000 views per month required for the bigger advertisers, but I have no ads on this blog.
While I could make a small amount of money at this point if I did include some advertisements, and I don’t begrudge anyone who does, it isn’t the direction I want for my blog at this point. Having a few advertisements on a blog you consider a side hustle makes sense, and I have no problem scrolling past them on the blogs I do read. Of course, it’s a little different if the page is covered with ads every other paragraph, but bloggers should get paid for the value they provide if they choose to go that route.
On the other hand, I have a number of reasons why I haven’t gone that route for my blog, the biggest reason being that I want this to continue to be a hobby of mine and not a second job or side hustle. I previously had a pretty awesome side hustle as a park ranger, and the hourly income was pretty decent, but I quit that job a year and a half ago to reclaim that time for my family.
If all I was looking for was a way to make more income, I would have just stuck with the laid back weekend job that I had – or I wouldn’t have cut my hours at my career job by 20%. Granted, both jobs required me to physically be present to work those hours, but the time would be spent either way, and at a much higher hourly wage than the typical blogger commands.
But what about location independence?
Location independence is something I really would love – to a degree – and blogging could get me there with a lot more hours invested and a lot more months blogging and a focus on income creation. As I talked a bit about on the two podcasts I was on, we would really love some day to be able to travel for a month or more at a time, and location independence would make that totally possible.
However, I also don’t want to quit my job, and I don’t want blogging to replace my career by any means. I feel passionately about sustainable living and the creation of affordable housing, and it will be something I will continue to do even once we are financially independent, because it is very important to me. The environment and social equity is where I hope to make my big impact in the world, and my job is where I will make the greatest impact.
Then why bother to blog at all?
The best part about blogging as a hobby is that it allows me to have an outlet for another part of life that I’m passionate about – personal finance and the creation of real control over your life, which is what financial independence is really all about.
I want to talk about money, I want to teach others to control their finances, and I want to make it clear that women in particular have really good sense when it comes to money. None of these reasons for blogging mean that I can’t make any money from writing about them (and I have made a few small affiliate commissions through credit card and Ebates referrals as well as a few dollars through Amazon). But because income is not a driver of this blog, I have a lot more freedom than if it was a priority of mine.
The freedom of hobby blogging
If I want to write about gardening, my toddler’s birthday, or my wedding anniversary, I can, because each post doesn’t need to do amazingly well with SEO or be something completely specific to my “niche” of personal finance. Millennial Boss said it nicely that my blog is more of a lifestyle blog than most personal finance ones, and I would have to agree with her.
While I do keep up on monthly financial updates and write quite a bit about our spending habits, I also write about our lives, because finances don’t exist in a vacuum. As a hobby, this blog is an outlet to write about our day to day experiences, just like I would keep friends up to date in real life. And because I have no pressure to draw in more income with each post, there are no topics that feel off limits, only what I do and don’t want to write about.
As I revealed previously, I write most of my posts on my phone and do no real proofreading or editing of posts before they go live. Again, because I’m not intent on blogging as a business, it’s okay if something isn’t perfect when I hit publish (and Erin will always let me know when I have a mistake – thanks editor friend!). I’m a serious Type A person by nature, but the hours I can devote to blogging are limited, so it has been a really good experience to learn to relax and just go with the flow a bit more than I’m used to.
In theory, hobby blogging also means I can skip posting days in life gets to busy, but that Type A personality hasn’t let me falter there yet, hugely thanks to my Friday Frugal Five posts that are quick to write even on vacation. Still, the knowledge that I can skip a post relieves the pressure of feeling like I absolutely need to write if I don’t feel like it.
Numbers growth is a double edged sword
Six months in to blogging, I had yet to break 8,000 views in a month, but things took off quite a bit in the months that followed thanks to my Women of FI post, my first Rockstar Finance feature, and Pinterest. In seeing “huge” numbers all of a sudden, and seeing my first month to break 20,000 views, I got a little obsessive over the numbers. I started stressing over how to keep growing my views week to week, and spent more time on blogging related endeavors than I really had time for. I even considered a Tailwind subscription because I could see how Pinterest had the ability to really take off.
Life got too busy in April and May though, and I simply didn’t have the time to devote to my blog that I had in the previous months. But I still wrote, and I still immersed myself in the online personal finance community that I love. And I was able to remind myself that this blog isn’t about just growing numbers, but to keep it as a fun hobby and a place to stay accountable with my finances.
Even without income connected to page views, I fell into the trap of wanting to be “better” based solely on growth and was in danger of losing the reason behind this blog in the first place. So with the two week vacation we just returned from, I spent very little time online and didn’t stress about the numbers in the meantime. And you know what? We had an awesome vacation, and I didn’t miss out on the trip by worrying about being online, and this blog is still here now that I have some more time to devote to it.
And I’d still call it a fun hobby, as is clear by this exchange with my husband while I was writing this post during nap time:
Husband: Are you just going to read? I’m going to play some video games.
Me: Oh, I’m writing my post for tomorrow. And then back to my book if I have time.
Husband: You and I have very different ideas of fun.
Yeah, I’d say it still qualifies as a fun hobby. Now back to my book.