I want to share my story with you.
The short version is I went from lawyer to financial planner to full time online entrepreneur.
I did this knowing nothing about blogging or running a business. In fact, I always wanted to be a lawyer.
But everything changed when I started a blog. It was the best thing I ever did.
Now I help people design their dream life because I’m so happy to have done it for myself.
It wasn’t easy, but it’s been 100% worth it.
Here’s the long version…
2004 – College
I went to college in 2004 at Wittenberg University.
My ACT score was low, but I wanted to go to law school, so I took my dad’s advice and went to his alma mater, Wittenberg University.
I knew I needed a smaller, liberal arts college to set me for law school.
And it did. College was great, and I did really well.
I majored in political science, with minors in philosophy and theater.
I took out student loans for college. It wasn’t really talked about much with me. My mom set it all up. I didn’t know anything about my debt all throughout college.
We didn’t talk about money much in my family.
When I took the LSAT to get into law school, I scored low, and I only got into one law school I had applied to.
It’s funny. I never doubted my ability to be a good lawyer. I just knew I had to get there, and I’d figure the rest out.
I had one of my favorite professors tell me that “maybe I wasn’t cut out for law school” based on my test score.
Thankfully, I had parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be, so I thought this was laughable. I have always had deep rooted confidence that I can do whatever I want and succeed at it, despite any obstacles.
I got into one law school, so that’s where I went.
2009 – Law School
I went to The University Of Dayton School Of Law for my first year of law school.
I took out student loans and again, I didn’t know much about my debt.
I did so well my first year, that I was in the top 14% of my class.
I decided to transfer to a top-tier law school. I transferred to The Ohio State University Moritz College Of Law.
During law school, I went back and forth between wanting to work for the government and a major law firm.
Ultimately, I decided a law firm fit my hustler personality better.
After law school, I didn’t have a job lined up but I wasn’t really that concerned. I knew I interviewed well and would get a good job eventually. My bigger concern was passing the Ohio bar exam.
For three months straight, I studied.
When the three-day exam came, I got sick that morning. But I went to take the test anyway.
I sat through the exam and made it out alive.
A few months later when the results came out, I found out I passed.
I passed the bar and was officially a lawyer. It was great.
I got a job, just like I had planned.
It was an entry-level attorney job at an amazing firm.
2012 – Lawyering + Student Loan Debt
Working at the first law firm as a staff attorney was okay. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was a start.
I met great people, networked a lot, and had a good time even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing.
At the same time, I started repaying my student loan debt.
I logged in to my accounts to get organized and had a huge surprise.
I was in a ton of student loan debt – $206k to be exact.
I was shocked and pissed. I knew nothing about money, and I had no idea that I had this much debt.
I felt like I did everything right and was really confused at how this could happen.
After the shock wore off, and after my “I’m going to be a rich lawyer” dreams were shattered, I decided to learn about money.
I started listening to podcasts and reading personal finance books on my own for over two years.
I learned a ton.
2014 – Starting A Blog
In 2014, I decided to start a blog about my debt so I could inspire and help other young, professional women with their debt.
I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I didn’t even read blogs.
But for whatever reason, it popped in my head to start a blog. So, that’s what I did.
I actually bought the domain and signed up for my blogging account in 2014, but I didn’t actually start blogging until 2015.
I launched theFinancegirl.com with the idea that I would give simple, digestible financial advice to young professional women. I also knew I wanted to talk about personal development, too.
I immediately started networking with other bloggers because I’m really social and extroverted, so I wanted to connect and make new friends.
I saw that some bloggers were making money blogging – something I didn’t know was possible.
I wanted to make money fast, so I decided to start freelance writing. I didn’t have experience, but I went for it anyways.
And it worked.
I started making $75 per post, then $125 per post, then eventually $300 per post.
Eventually, I made $8k my first year blogging (mostly from freelance writing).
Early 2015 – A New Job + Blog Growth
After three years at my first lawyer job, I got another job working at a new firm in a different niche (business).
It was a promotion, and I was making over six figures with just my base salary. I started putting everything I could toward my student loan debt. I had my blog, my job, and I was making decent money.
I thought I was going to stop blogging, actually (no one really knows this!). I thought my new job would be amazing, and I’d no longer need it or want to do it.
Turns out this wasn’t the case – at all.
After a few months, I ended up hating the job so much that I spun myself into a whole new level of anxiety and depression (not clinical, but just in general – you know what I mean).
It wasn’t just the hours, which were totally consuming and demanding – it was the stress of the work during those hours.
It was horrible.
I didn’t know I had a limit to my hustle until I took this job. Think Wolf Of Wall Street but for law firms.
I found out pretty quickly law firm life was not for me. They owned my soul.
It was not a great time in my life. I felt trapped in a career I hated, with a ton of student loan debt.
Because I was really liking finance and blogging so much, I looked for ways to break into the finance industry, and decided on becoming a financial planner.
I thought helping people manage money would be a great alternative to law.
I also wanted the expertise for my blog. If I was going to be a finance blogger, I wanted to know the technical side of what I was talking about.
I started building up my blog income and freelance writing clients.
I started writing for The Huffington Post, Forbes, and some other big sites. Writing for these sites was really cool.
I also started learning the basics of affiliate marketing from the strategy I learned in Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing.
Because I knew I wanted to quit law, I was thinking about ways to make more money. I was still committed to paying off my debt, and I knew quitting law for financial planning would mean a huge pay cut.
The idea I had was to work as a financial planner and grow my blog income on the side to supplement the cut in salary. Then, use that money to repay my student loan debt.
Summer 2015 – Quitting Law + Becoming A Financial Planner
I quit my career as a lawyer in June 2015, and I started working as a financial planner. I started over in this new career as an entry level hire, making half what I made as an attorney.
Financially, it was tough.
But mentally, it was totally worth it.
I was happier. Much happier.
The financial planning firm I got in with was great. It was a fee only registered investment advisory firm that had over $1B in assets under management.
I got to learn from the best advisors in the industry at this firm.
Because of the pay cut, I downsized and moved into what I like to refer to as a jail. It was an older apartment that looked like a prison from the outside.
Here’s a look…
It was really hard for me to move into such a crappy place, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I was starting over and the sacrifices were worth it.
I continued to grow my blog during this time.
My firm knew about my blog and it had to approve all my blog posts through their compliance department. This was hard for both of us – me and the firm – because of the time commitment and their need to be over-involved in my blog due to the Securities And Exchange Commission regulations.
Fall 2015 – FinCon + Winning A Blogging Award
That year, I attended FinCon – a financial planning conference for bloggers.
I was super excited and nervous to go. As soon as I got there, it was immediately better than I expected in so many ways.
I met all my “online friends.”
The best part was feeling soooo understood. There is nothing better than feeling like you’re a part of a community of the right people. The people who get you and understand you.
Not only that, but I won an award for Best New Personal Finance Blog.
It was awesome.
2016 – Passing The CFP Exam + Quitting Freelance Writing
At the same time my blog was growing, I was growing in my career, too.
I took the certified financial planner exam to become a CFP in the spring of 2016.
I failed the first time I took the exam, which totally sucked.
It was so hard to hear people say things like “but you passed the bar exam – how did this happen?”
I pushed forward though and sat for the exam again in the summer of 2016. This time, I passed the test.
After the test was over, I felt relieved. I was done with the formal education and test taking that I needed.
This meant I could finally focus on my blog more without distractions.
I made the decision to quit freelance writing. I even quit writing for Forbes.
I realized if I wanted to really make more money blogging, I had to go all in on my own blog instead of helping other people build theirs (which is basically what freelance writing is).
That year – my second year blogging – I made about $30k blogging. This included freelance writing, display advertising, and affiliate marketing.
It was pretty awesome for me to see that I was actually creating a solid income online while working full time when I knew absolutely nothing about how to do it just two years prior.
I went to FinCon in the fall of 2016, and it was amazing. I love reconnecting with my favorite people who just “get it.”
2017 – Starting YouTube Channel + Six Figure Blogger
In 2017, I continued to grow my blog.
I was featured in CNBC, which was really cool. I was so grateful for the experience.
I decided to start a YouTube channel because I found that I personally connected with people so much more if I saw them on video. I also felt like video was becoming increasingly popular for bloggers, so I thought it was a good fit for me.
I researched a bunch of stuff, got the right YouTube equipment and started my channel.
I spent a lot of time on YouTube learning the ins and outs of using the platform. This led to be stumbling upon Create and Go.
I emailed Lauren, one of the co-founder’s of Create and Go, and asked her if she thought someone making $3k-ish per month would still be a good fit for the Six Figure Blogger course they advertised. She said yes. So, I took a chance and bought Six Figure Blogger.
I went through the course, and my eyes were opened to an entirely new blogging world.
Finally, a course that told me exactly how to create a monetization strategy for my blog.
There was so much value in the course. I slowly started to implement everything I learned, which took months.
I started by improving my affiliate marketing strategy to be more advanced and focused on email marketing. Then, I started writing my first digital product to sell on my blog – an eBook.
Creating a product, running a blog, posting YouTube videos, and maintaining a life outside my blog and career became a juggling act. But it was one that was worth it for me because I saw the income potential.
Fall 2017 – The Worst Time Of My Life + FinCon
In October 2017, I thought I was going out of town for the weekend to get engaged.
Instead, the guy said he couldn’t get engaged and left abruptly. I never talked to him again.
It was the worst.
I was a mess. I didn’t know I could be devastated like that.
Even though I had no clue how I was going to do it, I was determined not to let it ruin me.
I still went to FinCon just two weeks later, although it was somewhat of a blur.
Since FinCon was in Dallas that year, I connected with Lauren and Alex from Create and Go. We had dinner near the conference, and they got come meet all the awesome FinCon people.
Alex kept asking how I was implementing SFB and how my first eBook was coming along.
It made me realize I was taking way too long on my first product. But I didn’t really change anything. I was too wrapped up in managing my life at the time.
January 2018 – Making $45K Blogging + My First eBook
Let me start out by saying 2018 is seriously the best year of my life to date.
I made $45k blogging in 2017, and I published How I Made $45K Blogging In 1 Year While Working Full Time.
The book took five months to create, which is totally nuts. It should’ve been done in a few weeks, but at the time, I didn’t realize I was going about it all wrong.
About at the same time, I started noticing my day job as a financial planner wasn’t going as great as I’d hoped.
My firm started not liking that I had a side hustle. Their position was that you can only be committed to one thing at a time, so I needed to choose. They didn’t tell me I had to quit blogging, but they made it clear it wasn’t a long-term option to do both.
I didn’t agree with this thinking at all. I didn’t make enough to live and pay off my student loan debt, and I didn’t see any problem with blogging on the side.
After my first eBook took so long, I decided to make serious changes in my life.
I decided to start taking my business super seriously. I decided to quit cooking, quit working out, quit going out as much as I had been… basically quit messing around and go ALL IN on my biz.
And so I did.
February 2018 – The Best Time Of My Life + Marketing
I dove head first into personal development during this time, and it totally paid off.
I went to therapy, read books, and listened to podcasts.
One podcast turned out to change my life. It’s called The Life Coach School podcast.
I listened to over 200 episodes in a matter of weeks.
My life instantly was better. My mindset improved, my happiness improved, my productivity improved.
Truly, I can’t put into words the type of growth I experienced during the first quarter of 2018. It was amazing.
If you ask people in my life, they’ll tell you – I am happier now than I was before the breakup. This is called post-traumatic growth, I’ve learned.
Because I completely changed my life and became this new and improved version of myself, everything improved in my life.
My work, my blog, my relationships with friends – everything was just better.
This lead to creating 2 more eBooks in 3 weeks total this time.
- Budget Spreadsheet Bundle (budget templates)
- Dream Year: How To Achieve Your #1 Goal This Year And Feel Good Doing It (goal setting book)
I hustled so hard, made huge sacrifices, and was 100% committed and focused on my business.
After finishing The Life Coach School podcast, I started listening to the I Love Marketing podcast from the very beginning and it resulted in a huge shift in my business.
I finally started to understand marketing and how to run a business.
I had a photoshoot for my blog and started refocusing my blog toward my new theme – “design your dream life.”
I started connecting more with my readers (mostly in my Facebook Community) and it was truly amazing. I finally felt like I was serving my audience how they wanted to be served.
I decided to go to Traffic and Conversion Summit with Lauren from Create and Go to improve my business strategies even more.
And that changed everything.
March 2018 – T+C Summit + The Decision
I flew to San Diego for the 2018 Traffic and Conversion Summit, and I met Lauren there.
I was also going to sign a new lease to renew my apartment in Columbus while I was there (I was just waiting for them to send it over to me via email).
I talked to Lauren and other entrepreneurs about my job, side hustling, my student loan debt, and my living situation.
They unanimously said I should absolutely not renew my lease. They said I needed to work on my business full time and should leave Ohio.
I was immediately concerned about my decision to renew my lease. I felt it in my heart like these people were right. They had the results in their lives that I wanted in mine. I knew they knew what they were talking about.
I’m a big believer in getting around people doing what you want to be doing and taking advice from people who have the results in their life that you want in yours.
So, I made the decision in California – while at the conference – that I was going to quit my job asap, blog full time, and move out of Ohio.
This was a huge decision that I didn’t take lightly, but I knew I needed to make it while out of town so that my mind wasn’t in my environment where I was most comfortable (following your dreams is not comfortable!).
So, that’s what I did. I decided to quit being a financial planner and run my business full time.
I also asked my cousin if I could move in with her for a couple months until I build my business more. That way, it wouldn’t be so much change all at once – quitting, full time business, and moving out of state.
She agreed, which was great.
April 2018 – Quitting + Moving In With My Cousin
With the decision made to quit my job, I got to work on my first blogging course. I knew that I’d need to have three courses out by the end of summer.
I got super serious about my blog on a whole new level. I was getting up at 4AM to work on my course before work. I was also working on it during lunch in my car.
Within six weeks, I created my first course – Design Your Dream Life Academy.
It was awesome. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – even in the anonymous surveys.
More than anything, I was so happy to have put value into the world that people are benefiting from. It’s incredible to help so many people in this way.
I was hustling so hard for something I wanted so bad. I felt like my hard work was finally paying off.
I made $5k in 5 days from my launch (woo!).
I knew my commitment was to grow my business, and that clarity combined with a plan was everything.
I put in my notice at my job and finished working there a month later. Quitting was scary, but not as scary as quitting law.
Thankfully, my financial planning firm was super supportive. I really appreciated that.
I was on the So Money podcast around this time, too. It’s always a treat to do podcast interviews, and I’m super thankful to be invited to do them.
Two weeks later, I put everything I owned in storage and moved in with my cousin a few miles away.
I cut my expenses a ton. Signed up for health insurance. And I started blogging full time.
It was freaking awesome.
May 2018 – Becoming An Online Entrepreneur, A New Opportunity, Celebrating Success
I hit the ground running and loved working as an online entrepreneur.
I also had a super cool thing happen.
I couldn’t stop thinking about The Life Coach School. I wanted to be trained by Brooke so I could hone in on my personal development skills and learn how to coach people (I have always seen my career go down the path similar to Tony Robbins).
The problem was that her coaching problem was $18,000.
Since I’m committed to getting out of student loan debt, I couldn’t justify the price to myself. But I knew in my heart I had to take this program.
So, I pitched her ideas of how I could work for her to earn my way into the course.
At first she said no.
Then, she said yes.
Brooke offered to have me work for her in exchange for getting into her coaching program.
Obviously, I accepted.
So, that’s what I’m doing.
I’m working for my dream coach and it’s amazing.
My blog is doing great, too.
Everything I implemented with Six Figure Blogger and that I learned through my marketing podcasts was starting to pay off in really big ways.
I finally hit six figure blogger status by making over $8,333 per month. In fact, I had a few months where I made over $14k per month. It’s been surreal. My latest income goals are to get up to $30k per month.
To celebrate being the first success story from Six Figure Blogger, Alex and Lauren took me to Fort Lauderdale because those are the kind of people they are – super generous and amazing.
While we were there, we connected with Michelle Schroeder (Making Sense of Cents) and her husband, Wes Gardner. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be around other bloggers and have them as friends.
It was a blogger vacay for the books. Super fun.
The rest of the summer will be spent in product creation mode, which is the hardest part of growing a business, for sure.
And it’s worth it.
I also had a fantastic interview on the She Did It Her Way podcast that I’ve received SO much positive feedback from (more than any interview I’ve ever done!).
After diving headfirst into all this online marketing stuff, I have become obsessed with some great marketers, including Frank Kern, Dean Jackson, Joe Polish, and Russell Brunson.
I read two books by Russell Brunson that have been complete game changers in my business. He’s the best. The books are:
- Dot Com Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online
- Expert Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Creating a Mass Movement of People Who Will Pay for Your Advice
I just released my second course, Blog With A Full Time Job. It is my baby. Everything I know about blogging went into this course, and I’m so happy to be able to offer it to my readers.
Overall, summer has been amazing, even though I’m working harder than ever before.
I love my business, and I’m so grateful this is my life.
At the end of the summer, I’m moving to… Chicago!? (The location has changed more than once, so stay tuned…)
The life coach training starts at the end of August, which I am SUPER excited about. Beyond words excited.
I’ll also be finished creating my courses, so product creation mode will be over. THANK. GOD.
Come September, I’ll be finished creating all my digital products, and I’ll have completed coach training.
It will definitely be another chapter that I’m super excited for.
I can’t wait to take my business to the next level.
I want to start a podcast, build my YouTube channel, and get trained to speak in the next year. I also plan to create a physical journal before the end of the year.
And that is it… for now! That’s my story. It’s ongoing and ever-evolving.
Thanks for listening. 🙂
I’d love to hear from you! You can email me here.
And if you want to join my email community, you can join here…