Being in debt sucks.
The feeling of having so much of your paycheck to debt payments is stressful and depressing.
This is how I felt in 2011, when I graduated law school. Fast forward to today when my debt has allowed me to find a career I love and make money blogging (and I’ve paid off over $100k in debt along the way).
I never thought any of this was possible.
My $206,000 Debt Story
I graduated law school in 2011 with $206,000 of student loan debt. The interest rates were between 6.5%-8%.
I had no idea I had this much debt until I started looking into repaying it in December 2011.
I was in shock.
I had a decent job at a law firm, so I thought I was going to make a lot of money and be pretty rich anyways. Turns out that after taxes and my student loan payment, I didn’t have much at all.
I was really irritated and frustrated with the amount of debt I had. I felt like someone should’ve told me what it really meant, or I should’ve had a class on it, or something – anything. I literally knew nothing about money whatsoever.
Out of my frustration, I randomly decided I wanted to start a blog about money to chronicle my journey and help other young professional women like me, who also knew nothing about money.
I Started A Blog To Talk About Money
My thought process for starting a blog was that if I made it this far in life, doing everything everyone said I should, and wound up with $206,000 of student loan debt, surely there were other people out there in similar situations that I could help. I wanted to write about my story and help other people talk about their financial messes and how to avoid them in the future.
I wanted people to know that it’s their responsibility to become financially literate, whether they liked money or not. Specifically, I wanted the young, professional woman to know.
The thing about money is that it’s not really about whether you’re interested or you like it. You need it to survive and certainly to thrive, and therefore, you need to know how to manage it yourself.
Shockingly, I don’t know why I decided a blog would be a good way to do this. I didn’t read blogs at all. I knew nothing about blogging. I didn’t have a friend who was a blogger, or anything like that. It just popped in my head that I could learn about money and share what I learned with the world through a blog. So, that’s what I did.
- Take Launch Your Blog to learn how to launch a profitable blog now.
I Discovered Blogging As A Business
It wasn’t long into starting my blog that I discovered I could make some extra money blogging.
The idea seemed crazy to me at first, but since I’m an optimist, I thought that if so many others could do it, I could, too. Plus, I loved blogging, so why not make money from something I enjoyed on my own time?
I started learning what I could about blogging. I read blogging books. I listened to online marketing and sales podcasts.
I realized that I needed to “invest” in blogging to make money, so I actually started freelance writing and babysitting more so that I had extra money to invest in my blog in hopes of making money from what I learned. (Side note, I had no experience freelance writing when I started and still was able to make a lot of money doing it.) I couldn’t really afford to invest in my blog without these extra side hustles because I was nervous the reward wouldn’t be worth it – I wasn’t sure I could make money blogging, but I knew I had to try.
- Related: How To Start Freelance Writing
I went all in.
Turns out that I could make money blogging… and I did!
How I Make Money Blogging
At first, I made money from ads and affiliate marketing on my blog. I wasn’t earning enough, though, so this is when I started freelance writing to make more money and fund my blog expenses and investments.
Over the course of a year, I grew my blog to the point where I didn’t need freelance writing anymore. So, I quit doing that and focused solely on monetizing through ads, affiliates, and digital products (coming soon!).
There are so many ways to make money blogging beyond how I do it, though. Here are the most common ways to make money blogging:
- Display advertising
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate marketing (learn how here)
- Selling digital/physical products (e.g.: ebooks, courses, etc.)
- Freelance writing/Virtual Assistant work (not really blogging, but kind of) (learn how to start freelance writing and how to become a VA)
Bloggers tend to make money blogging in a variety of ways, often combining many of the options above.
I took Six Figure Blogger (a blogging course specifically for how to monetize your blog) and have since completely changed my monetization strategy. Going forward, I plan to create and sell digital products on my site.
One of the great things about making money blogging is that there’s many different ways to do it. I am very busy and have a lot going on, so using affiliate marketing and digital products makes the most sense because it’s potentially more passive than something like sponsorships or freelance writing and VA work.
All this making money blogging was happening for me while I was still an attorney, which I was growing to hate over time and knew I needed to change.
I Quit My Job, Changed Careers, and Use My Blog Income To Repay My Student Loans
After blogging for a little over a year, I was realizing how much I loved personal finance. I also loved blogging.
Meanwhile, I was realizing how much I hated practicing law.
With my blog income increasing, and my dissatisfaction in my career growing, I decided to quit my job as an attorney and start a career as a financial planner. (You can read more about my career change here.)
I didn’t make this decision lightly. I talked to a lot of attorneys and did my own research to eventually come to the decision that a career in law wasn’t going to make me happy.
Since I’m all about decision-making and designing a life I love, I knew I had to quit.
Quitting law was the best thing for me, even though I was going to take a 50% pay cut.
To make up for the income loss, I cut my expenses (one example is that I live in a really crappy apartment), and I focus on increasing my blog income to make up the difference in lost income.
My new career as a financial planner provides me with fulfilling work and work-life balance so that I have time to blog outside of my job. It’s a win-win for me.
A Look At My Debt and Blog Income In Numbers
To take a specific look at how my blog income has help me change careers and pay off my debt, here’s a look at my annual blog income so far:
- In 2015, I made $5k blogging while working as an attorney.
- In 2016, I made $30k blogging while working as a financial planner.
- In 2017, the verdict is still out! Although, I already know I will make more money blogging than I did in 2016.
Right now, I take at least $1,500 of blog income every month to pay my student loan payment. Without this blog money, I would have to go on an income-driven repayment plan, and I would have no chance of getting out of debt with my current salary alone. I use my entire salary to live, despite cutting expenses. It’s my blogging income (after expenses and taxes), that I use to make my monthly student loan payment.
My student loans are decreasing, and the more money blogging that I make, the faster I see my debt go down. Last month, for example, I paid $2,700 onto my loans.
I’ve paid off over $100k in student loans so far. I did this while working full time, switching careers, and taking a 50% pay cut.
My goal is to increase my blog income, specifically using the strategy I just learned from Six Figure Blogger and repay my student loan debt as soon as possible.
Many people ask how I manage to work full time and make money blogging. I have a YouTube video on this, where I talk about my schedule. You can check it out here.
Can You Make Money Blogging To Pay Off Your Debt?
If you are wondering if you can make money blogging to pay off debt, I want to give you a few things to consider before you make your decision.
First, I know that it seems impossible to make money online blogging. That’s what I thought when I first started. But it is possible. I’m proof of it. And there are many other bloggers all doing this, too. So, know that it is possible for you.
Second, ask yourself if you really want to make money blogging. Blogging takes commitment. It takes time. You really need to love it to put in the right amount of energy to actually make money blogging.
Third, if you want to start a blog specifically for making money to pay off your debt, I do not recommend taking the route I did. You can do it much faster. If I were doing it over and I had the specific goal of making money blogging to pay down my debt, here’s what I would do:
- First, I would make about $1,000 from some random side job to have money to use to start a blog the right way (if it were me, I probably would babysit or use a tax refund). This is important because there are certain blog costs associated with starting a good blog that can actually make money.
- Second, I would start a blog (use my how to start a blog tutorial).
- Third, I would take a beginner blog course to get my blog set up properly for specifically making money (I recommend Launch Your Blog).
- Fourth, I would grow my blog to get traffic and traction. I highly recommend taking Pinterest Traffic Avalanche to learn how to increase your traffic exponentially on your blog.
- Fifth, I would create a very specific monetization strategy. This is sooo important. I did not do this and that’s why it took me so much longer to make money blogging than it should have. Take a course specifically on monetizing, I recommend Six Figure Blogger for digital products and Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing for affiliate marketing. Then, put the course into action. You’ll learn everything you need to know about monetizing from this course.
- Finally, I would focus solely on blogging for at least six months, giving myself a specific schedule before or after work and on the weekends. I would give up extra down time just to focus on my blog and make sure I prioritize it over other things.
This plan would lead me to figure out how to make money blogging quickly, and after a good 6 months, I would expect to be making a steady income. After a year, I would expect to make more than I’m currently even making.
So, it is possible to make money blogging and figure it out yourself, but the more you’re able to commit and invest in yourself, the quicker it will be. It’s not really a matter of can you make money blogging, it’s a matter of can you stick with blogging long enough to figure out how to make money blogging. These tips above are the best I have for monetizing quickly (much quicker than I did).
A Final Note!
So, that’s my story on how my blog is giving me the income I need to repay my student loan debt. It’s been really awesome and I never saw it coming.
If you are in debt and want to start a blog to make money, check out The Ultimate Guide To Blogging, where I list all my best blogging posts.
Cheers to making money blogging! 🙂