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.
95 thoughts on “Why My Blog Is A Hobby – Not A Business”
Thanks for writing this! I also just blog as a hobby. Sure I like it when a lot of people read/comment on one of my posts, but the goal for my blog was never to make money! I love your personal stories! Keep hobby writing 🙂
Exactly – I have to say I care more about the comments than I do about the specific number of views 🙂
Completely agree with most of your points, that’s exactly how I’m running my blog right now. An the biggest thing I’ve noticed is, i GET to talk about, or share my honest opinions, i don’t HAVE to do anything with the thought that someone may not like it.
Which could lead to less views, and thus less money. Making money from blogging i think would be great, but right now, I’m much more focused on building relationships, and a community of great people!
The community online is seriously the very best part of blogging.
Love the blog and the decision! I always enjoy reading Frugal Friday because it usually gives me so many ideas for things. I think that garden herb idea I had probably was fed subconsciously in part by your love of gardening!
Yeah, the SEO thing is kind of stressful. That part I’m definitely flailing on, haha.
Easier just to ignore SEO altogether like me 😉 Loved your herb garden post!
Love your blog! I have recently started mine and I am trying not to even check page visitors. I want to see how blogging consistently during a long time feels and when that is a life routine I´ll consider doing social media or some other channels. As your say, if it is a hobby it cannot add the same kind of pressure as your full-time job, it needs to be fun!
Love your reasoning and your motivation! I am not always sure that where I am is where I can make the biggest impact for sustainability, but I am absolutely sure that I will keep working for a sustainable future when we become financially independent!
I’m very impressed with your consistency, even more so now that I read you’re blogging as a hobby rather than a side hustle. Good job!
That’s great you focus on sustainability and affordable housing at your job. Housing costs are so high in some US cities and can be a real challenge for a family or individual’s budget. I think it’d be very fulfilling work to help in that regard in your local area. Best wishes for you all around (family, blog, job, etc.).
Funny. That’s almost exactly what we did during nap time on Friday too. Hubby – video games and me – blog/read!
I’m impressed that you can write many of your posts on your phone.
Nap time Saturday was just straight up reading. We had a great time on our trip over the last couple weeks, but we had very little do-nothing down time. After nap, it was archery practice for him, and a run/gym time for me 🙂
You are a humble blogger, with a noble cause. You should be a role model for all bloggers. I think people are lured to blogging by the tales of Mr. Money Mustache and blog to riches stories. I admire you Angela, and look up to you as a source of motivation and inspiration. Keep doing what you are doing.
Well thanks for those comments ☺️ That doesn’t mean I can’t be drawn to the stories of the big money bloggers, but so far I’ve been able to drag myself away and keep thing blog as I want it to be – and that’s solidly in the hobby category.
I write in my About Me section that I wanted to use my blog as a way to escape the requirements of the writing I had to do in my last job–seriously pared down emails or easy-to-read recaps. I want to try different forms of writing and on different topics. While I wouldn’t mind eventually making some money from my blog, I don’t have a clear niche yet and it’s just for fun for now. Thanks for sharing your views!
Blogging is SO very different from the writing I do at work, which is nice. And also maybe part of the reason why I so reject worrying about proofreading 😉
Haha that end conversation sounds just like the ones we have. I’m for sure a lifestyle working mom blog than a corporate woman blog, I love that I can talk about several of my interests and definitely skip blogging when other things come up. However much time we get to put into our hobby blogs, It’s a fun outlet to talk about our passions! Love reading yours 🙂
As a mom, I think it’s hard not to include some of daily life in your blog. At least I do, because my kid and my family is such a huge part of my life.
Hah I passed today’s test 😉
I am NOWHERE near those views so I guess it’s a good thing that blogging is a fun hobby for me as well 😂 The personal stories are what I like reading (and obviously writing) best anyway. There are never too many of those.
Ahem, yeah, test… 🙈
Yeah, it’s hard to come up with an entirely new take on how to do your finances, so it’s the personal stories that make blogs really interesting to read.
You just pissed off a whole bunch of bloggers by saying you have 25k page views and it’s “just a hobby” 😉
Love it! You’re reasons are very legit and it’s where you want to be right now. You make great points about just getting a weekend job if you want to make extra money – it’ll pay better than blogging for sure.
But the location independence thing is enticing and that’s what I have my eye on as well. It’s an alluring prospect. I’ve covered my initial hosting costs as of now and a tad more, but I have a loooong way to go to get to where you are as far as audience.
I’m not one of those super-driven bloggers. The ones who never stop promoting on the socials and write posts to specifically cater to SEO algorithms. That just seems lifeless and no fun. My last post was titled “I Did It Mom!”, and when I saved it the Yoast SEO plugin kept warning me “bad title, too short”, and it was colored red for all SEO check boxes.
I simply don’t care. I write what I want to write. It’s kinda nice
Hahaha oops. And I haven’t QUITE made that threshold in a month yet, but I wanted to include that information in this post to make it clear that my choice not to focus on monetization wasn’t due to lack of views and that I was deluding myself about what I wanted. I don’t even have Yoast active when I write posts, so who knows how much red it would throw my way 😉
My blog is mostly a hobby – my only goal in Year 2 has been to make enough money to cover the cost of running it, which I have. Honestly, I have big long-term goals and dreams to help a lot of people, but I’m not the kind of person who thinks it’ll be easy to make a million dollars a year at this. Heck, I would have made more working the same number of hours part-time at a minimum wage job! I have zero desire to “blog about blogging”, and I happen to hate advertising. I’m also trying to do this in a sustainable way. I have to balance more than full-time work, three kids (and everything that entails), the site, and other hobbies and passions.
Yeah I can definitely see the draw of at least covering the cost so it’s a net zero hobby. And helping people is certainly a top priority of mine as well!
I have to chime in that even with Liz doing this “part time”, she rocks it harder than most that do it full time.
I think the majority of bloggers who do it as a hobby have so much more passion for it than those who do it for pure profit. That passion results in incredible content and a true love of what you do.
Passion sure makes for the ones I love to read!
That’s cool. Just enjoy blogging. It’s a fun hobby that will help control your finance. That’s already a lot of benefit. Your blog is a lot more laid back because it’s a hobby for you. That’s good. Some blogs are too focused on making money. I hope to be more balance, but it’s hard when money is involve. 🙂
25k pageviews per month is really good. Nice job.
Exactly – I would treat the blog very differently if income was on the line, and I really don’t have the time in my life for that at this time. Obviously I have no beef with you making money off your blog, since yours is the one that inspired me to start mine in the first place 😉 And as a SAHD at this point, it makes a ton of sense to hustle and see what you can make out of the blog while the kiddo is at school (and to give your wife more peace of mind for when she finally quits her job).
YES! I talked about something similar recently. I really want to try and connect the communities I love (FI and homeschooling), and I enjoy writing and learning more about some of the behind-the-scenes things. But when I look at the blogs I really value, they are not the *super* high money earners (Root of Good and Go Curry Cracker are two of my all-time-favs) – Justin from RoG just posted his monthly income report and the blog was somewhere around $2500, and about $1K the month before. And that’s after 5 years of blogging. But these are the ones that I LOVE reading. So that’s what I want to emulate. And that’s not ever going to come close to my regular income from my “real” job. So I’m doing it for fun, and to share my experiences and connect my communities… and if it earns some $ in the future, great. But I am never going to be a $50k/month blogger!!
Nothing wrong with being a $50k/mo blogger though either! Just not the direction I want to take my blog in at this point. It’s just too easy to get sucked in and chasing the money/views if you aren’t intentional about what you want from blogging.
Nothing wrong with that at all – I read a few and they give some good info – but the ones that have been super impactful in my life, esp. in terms of chasing FI, and homeschooling so we can travel more, spend more time together, etc. – have been the smaller ones. I just connect more with that and it’s what I wanted to do when I started mine 🙂
Why I don’t feel there is ever a true saturation point when it comes to new blogs – everyone has their own story to tell 🙂
Oh hi Kate 🙂
What very kind words! And those kind of words are mostly why I keep the blog going. The FIRE community is incredible.
The $1000-2500/month is nice too, of course, but making connections, meeting new people (online and real life), and passing on some knowledge I’ve picked up along the way is worth at least as much.
Love it! I haven’t attempted to monetize my blog yet, but I’ve been thinking about posting a few links here and there like you do to help cover the costs at some point. I’m not really interested in posting ads all over either. I’m enjoying the blogging community so much and even writing (on some nights 😂) more than I thought!
I think making finance more personal is the best as then people can relate to what you’re doing and decisions you’re making. The blogs that do more of that are my favorites 🙂
Yeah, I feel like an occasional affiliate link is a good way to at least cover the cost of blog hosting without making it too much of a focus. Laid back is the way I have it now and the way I want to keep it so it doesn’t feel like a job 🙂
I can totally agree with this idea. I wouldn’t mind a thousand dollars a month (this would actually increase my income by half), but I would first like to get do that I have it covering the cost of hosting and maybe a professional header or something like that at some point. I see the blogs with all the adds and they just drive me crazy with the flashy and come buy me stuff. This post is an awesome reminder that we get to choose what we put out in the world. I hadn’t really thought about there being other ways to monetize, so I love this.
Glad this post resonated with you! And yeah, even just having hosting covered is awesome, because then it’s a net neutral hobby 🙂
i don’t even know how to use most of those promotional tools. i just like putting stories and opinions out there. i think i’ve only written posts at work so far, in between chemical analyses. a friend blogger told me about pinterest and said just create an account……. and there was more but not for me.
Yeah, Pinterest is something I’m dabbling in but as I’m not looking for income, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay for any of the scheduling tools to go along with it.
I just took a month off social media and came to the same conclusions you did. I’m glad to hear you had a great trip!
Stepping away even for a short while definitely allows you to be more objective.
I had the same approach when I started my blog too(and we both started last July) . I viewed it more as a hobby where I wanted to share my stories of how I dealt with my finances that would help readers understand that we can overcome these mistakes by acknowledging them and to do something about it. Lately, I’ve been aiming to get some income from it by doing some affiliated marketing with companies I personally use but I still mainly view as something fun to do and interacting with like-minded people like you.
Oh, I do have the occasional affiliate link in there, like I’ve said, but it adds up to just a few hundred dollars all told. Nothing to write home about, and nothing to pressure me either 😉
I really love this post. I can’t stand super SEO-focused blogs (e.g. every other post is “7 ways to _____”). Glad to see that other people are doing this as a hobby as well. Keep doing you!
Thank you! Part of why I haven’t done anything with SEO yet is because I don’t want it to impact the way I write – I just want to say what I want to say 🙂
When I started my blog I wasn’t sure which path I wanted to take it, hobby or business? I’m so glad that I’ve focused on trading it like a hobby. So I feel zero guilt for skipping the Monday post, as we were still roofing. And yeah, all my roadtrips have kept me away from Pinterest more than normal, but that’s just fine.
I love your lifestyle approach, since only reading about money gets a bit repetitive.
Has your feelings on monetizing your blog changed at all since starting your mini retirement? I could see there now being a greater draw to have it produce even a little bit of income now.
Yeah, I’ve been feeling less of a push to monetize since I’m not in a job I dislike. When I was working full time, I think I was looking for an escape. All that being said, I do plan on applying for Mediavine when I qualify.
Oh interesting that NOT working has you less concerned about monetizing. But that does make sense. I’m not looking for an escape from my job, so that probably colors my view quite a bit.
I started writing about marriage and life because all the money talk was getting repetitive. But I also feel like (in my case) I’m trying to run away from the responsibility of running a blog as a business. It’s hard and to be honest…there’s a lot of deception of numbers and showing off – you know my payout from Bluehost is $80 per head? Crazy!
There’s a reason why Bluehost gets so much press! I wonder if it is worth it to them to pay out that much – it must, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. And I hear you about running away from treating it like a business. I have too much other stuff going on in my life, and it wouldn’t be fair to try and squeeze in another “thing” in my life to that degree. Definitely more work than a lot of bloggers make it seem 😉
It’s more work than what people advertise, I probably spend…you know I probably spend 40 hours on this a week if you include everything that goes into it. Good thing the community’s chill and that part of it is enjoyable.
I don’t spend that much, but 20+ hours a week is certainly accurate, and definitely more than I realized before I stepped away from it a bit for a couple of weeks of vacation. I don’t expect any really successful / active blogger spends less than that, to be honest. And yes, the community is a lot of fun for sure!
I can totally relate about keeping the blog as a hobby for an outlet to discuss all things personal finance and lifestyle related to finance!
I really should look at how to do some things better though, as I don’t think I’ve cracked even 1K views in a month…
As long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing though, you don’t *have* to get more page views. It just depends on how many hours you want into it, and what your actual goals are for the blog.
I love your view on this. I especially relate to the ability to skip posting if needed; I’ve definitely had this happen a time or two and it’s so nice to just give myself the freedom to do that.
I’m certainly not at a place to monetize right now, and I really appreciate that because while it would be nice to make some extra money, I also love the freedom of being able to do whatever the hell I want with my blog and the feeling that it truly is a hobby and I’m doing it because I’m passionate about it without pressure to make money. Also I have REALLY been aware lately that I don’t have nearly the amount of time to commit to the improvements, changes, and optimization I’d have to make to really make money from my blog. It would just add stress at this point. I’m so grateful for this PF community and for hobby blogging 🙂
Exactly right on the added stress to get (and keep) a blog “successful” enough for real monetization. Like you, I do not have the time to devote to it that way. That and being able to write whatever I please is pretty dang important to me too 🙂
Hey Angela. I had to comment because I had a little bit of a chuckle relating to your interaction with your husband. It’s about identical to mine. He enjoys his video games and when I find time I enjoy reading and writing.
Much like you, I set my blog up as a hobby – something that I could do in the midst of finding a new job. It took my mind away from reality. I was excited about sharing with anyone that wanted to learn about PF. Now even though I experiment with monetization, blogging isn’t my new 9-5 nor do I want it to be. It’s a place where I can feel productive and have a sense of accomplishment.
My husband doesn’t play video games all that often (our tv was broken for most of a year), but he certainly doesn’t understand my love of blogging 😉 Even if I do ever monetize to a degree, I don’t ever want it to replace my 9-5 (or 8-2, as it is).
I appreciate the insight. We all have different goals. I’m a bit of a nomad and also get bored of the 9-5 very easily, so that is why I have thought it would be nice to write full time.
For now it’s just a hobby though; I’m coming up on 3 months into this blog. Time will tell, I guess. 🙂
Like I said, I have nothing against bloggers who DO want to make a career out of their site. I just know that isn’t what I want from mine, and I have to keep the hours I spend on it in check for that reason 🙂
That is totally fair, there is so much pressure to have a ‘successful’ blog, with that success always being associated with income. If it makes you happy and that is your goal, than that is success in of itself 😊
Right – I think there a lot of other ways to have a successful blog without it being associated with dollars earned.
It sounds like you know exactly who you are, what your priorities are and are living the life you want. Nice!
I have two other comments and one question: 1. your kid is adorable and 2. that pizza look A M A Z I N G! 3. Do you really write most of your posts on your phone??
1. He is totally the cutest 2. My mom requested the recipe after she tried it the first time because she said it was the best pizza crust she’d ever eaten 3. Yes I do – it’s actually really rare for me to do otherwise 🙂
The main reason I’m not a more successful blogger is video games. And books. And Netlfix. And hiking trails. And a bicycle. And 3 kids. And so much fun stuff in real life.
So I guess I’m blogging as a hobby, but the hobby happens to spit out a fair compensation for my efforts. If only life were so financially rewarding in general!
I’ll agree with you on the books, hiking trails, one kid, and other fun real life stuff. Not so much on video games or biking, tbh, as I would much rather run instead 🙂
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I’m wrestling with this very issue now. I started a website to offer an unbiased place where I could refer physicians in training to learn more about personal finance and investing. I saw the business potential but didn’t actively pursue it. I had a family and a job the took higher priority. That is still the case. In the meantime other bloggers filled the void. There are over 50 physician finance bloggers now and several of them make large amounts of money. I see some conflicts of interest arising though.
I am FI and don’t need more money. I now have over 35K pageviews per month and could start to monetize. It adds some work and stress and possibly conflicts of interest. Do I want to do that? Am I being a sucker when I don’t capture some of the revenue I’m generating? I’m still thinking this through but your post gives me courage to perhaps take a less common approach and stay true to my mission.
It sounds like you’re struggling with some of the same things I am. Once you get close to / surpass the Mediavine page views minimum, it gets a lot more tempting to place a couple ads on your site. I know myself though, and my type A personality would get likely get sucked in to an unhealthy amount at that point. So for now, no ads 🙂
I’m with you. I have 2 blogs, one personal and the FI one, and I don’t want to monetise either. I like the uncluttered look.
Uncluttered, and no pressure 🙂
I agree with you on the purpose of the blog. I feel that having a blog will enable one to get to know the purpose of life more through constant interaction with FI viewers and bloggers. The feeling of treating the blog as a hobby rather than a machine to generate money, is totally relaxing and fulfilling.
The interaction with the community is the #1 reason I blog, to be sure.
Your blog has to fit with what you want from it and I completely relate to that. I too love having a lifestyle blog and having the chance to write about varied things.
By the way I only just got round to listening to the Fire Drill podcast that you were on- you were great, came across so coherent and expressed yourself so well!
Thank you so much! It was a really fun episode to record 🙂
And having more of a lifestyle blog versus straight personal finance is definitely something I enjoy.
You’ve got it figured out, Angela! It’s funny how jazzed we get when those miniscule payments arrive from affiliates. Like we won the lottery or something. When to your point, we could much more easily go out and work at a PT job somewhere for 100 times “blogger income” money. Unless you’re Making Sense of Cents or whomever.
I’m still looking to strike the right balance. I figure if I can swing a few bucks here and there, those dollars can go to good causes, but I don’t want to turn the site into a floating billboard either.
And finally – I am very impressed you can post articles from your phone. I’ve tried that a couple times and my thumbs just frustrate the hell out of me. 🙂
Floating billboard – ha that sounds about right for some sites. Asking myself if I want a second job (the answer is always no) helps to remind me to keep the hours and focus I put into this blog at a more reasonable level.
And I have smaller hands, so that helps with the phone thing I think 😉
Congrats for knowing what you want out of life!
I was especially moved by “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.”
Good luck! It’s my first time on your blog and I thought I’d pit stop and say hi.
That you! And yes, that’s where my life work is for sure. Though this blog is rapidly becoming something I care quite a bit about as well 🙂
I think that whenever non-bloggers complain/comment about how every PF blogger is doing it for money and we are all getting rich off of it, this post and the slew of comments afterward needs to be screenshot and posted. So many of us are making little to no money (yay for just covering costs!) and are in it to help others and/or ourselves.
Proud of you and what you do!
I should just start posting this link any time I see one of those comments 😂 But yeah, I won’t argue about covering costs anyway. And at definitely and AND not OR – for the two of us at least. It still should be a frugal hobby, right? 😉
Great explanation and inspirational how you have made your blog so successful by being authentic. Congratulations and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.
Thank you! Glad to have you along for the ride 🙂
Loved your writing style! Such a good read!
Thank you so much!