How I Accidentally Became A Six-Figure Blogger

Ok, “accidentally” isn’t exactly correct…

…but I can tell you that when I signed up for more than a decade ago, I wasn’t thinking, “great, here’s to my first million dollars!”

I truly had no idea what I was doing at the beginning. I was spinning my wheel forrrrr sureee.

Fast forward to today, and I’m running a six-figure blogging business while I work part time and enjoy lots and lots of time with my family. 

I’m sharing this with you because I think there’s a lot of power in female entrepreneurs revealing their success. I remember the first time I heard an Austin influencer tell me she was making six figures a year, I was like, “oh, wait! If she can do it, I totally can too!” 

It’s weird, but we almost need that “permission” to reach our next level. 

So if you’re thinking of starting that side hustle or passion project in this new year, I hope this gives you a little nudge. 

The backstory

I know I’ve shared this story in other places on the blog, but here’s it is in case you’re new here. 

I started a little free Blogger account in college. It was 2012 and I was a senior year of college, getting ready to graduate with my degree in Violin Performance, live in downtown Chicago, and take on the world! 

My college experience was awesome. It wasn’t weird for me to hear the refrain that college is “the best four years of your life.” It’s kind of drilled into you, through media, graduation cards, or just random parents who think they’re saying something kind of endearing. 

But the thing is, every time I heard that, I was like, naaaah, that can’t be right! I know that there’s so much life to live and I feel SO excited for my next post-college chapter, no matter how scary it will be. 

So I did what pretty much everyone did with their interests in 2012: I started a blog about it.  Helllooooo! (Longest title ever…) 

I blogged for my family and my closest friends to read. I would write a lot, and then not publish something for an entire year. Because that’s what you get to do with hobbies. The website would grow a bit and then kind of fizzle, over and over.

Around 2016, after I graduated from grad school and was almost finished paying off my student loans, I felt that same urge to do something creative. 

This time, though, I wanted to do it with purpose. I wanted to blog again, because I knew I had always loved it. But this time, I wanted to do it with the intention to really, truly grow it into something significant.

^ One of my first blog posts once I officially launched the new version of my blog!

My biggest hobby and passion was getting to know the Austin food scene, and I saw a lot of instagrammers and bloggers in Austin getting invited to cool media events, restaurant openings, and seasonal parties. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be soooo cool to reach the level where I’m invited into a restaurant to eat…for FREE?”  

So I re-started my blog, this time with a niche focus on Austin and the Austin restaurant scene, and I made it my focus and intention to grow this thing and gain a reputation for having a worthwhile opinion.

And I’m not going to lie…I worked SO hard. I mean, I was spending hours a day engaging on social media, taking online courses to improve my photography skills, and learning as much as I could about social media growth and SEO and website development, all while running my full-time violin business of teaching and gigging, which was my bread and butter.

It didn’t take long for brands to start reaching out to my blog with freebies. One of my first partnerships was with a small jewelry company who sent me 2 pieces of jewelry (totalling about $45) for which I traded three (THREE!!!) instagram posts. Lol. 

I bought a DSLR camera, joined a local Austin food blogger alliance, and met a lot of people in the industry. I learned how to create a media kit and negotiate with brands and I started an LLC and hired an accountant. I was barely making a penny when I invested $2,000 I didn’t really have and redesigned my website (and then rebranded again a few years later…). 

It has been…a grind. But after those first few years, I reached some sort of flow. I’m living my dream! I get to visit restaurants and write to hundreds of thousands of readers across three websites, and I’ve partnered with (no joke) some of my DREAM brands on blog and instagram partnerships.

I don’t feel like I’m working as hard any more, but I’m making more and more every year. I think that’s how a lot of entrepreneurial jobs go.

I’m sharing this with you because I think there’s a lot of power in female entrepreneurs revealing their success

I had some significant life changes in 2020 (oh, didn’t we all…) that forced me to completely close my violin business with no warning.

That catalyst, paired with the realization that there are plenty of six-figure female entrepreneurs out there, was really what fueled me to turn this into my full-time job. I mean, there are plenty of nitty gritty practical things in there, but I never would have felt motivated to do it without knowing it was even possible in the first place.

Ok, let’s say you’re saying you’re reading this and you have NO desire to be a blogger, but you’re starting to think that maybe you have a six-figure business idea that you could just start this year.

Even if you want a different kind of business, or you don’t want to write on a site but you just want to do the influencer side of it, I’m telling you confidently here: you should still start a website. It’s your piece of real estate on the internet. It will be there even if a social media platform falters. You can totally be huge on tiktok or instagram and have a website to back it up. 

Or, you might be a bit old school like me and interested in starting a blog. If it brings you joy, go for it! 

Whatever you’re feeling motivated to start and build, a really good website is key. 

If you have something to say and want to start your own website…

You can totally start a Wix or Squarespace website. It will be so easy, and you can get your first professional-looking page published in about 30 minutes. 

However…if you’re in it for the long haul, you want to make lots and lots of money, and you’re smart and driven and willing to learn a few new skills, here’s what I recommend:

01) Buy a really good domain name is the place for this. It’s not very expensive, and you might want to even scoop up 2 or 3 of them if you’re unsure of what you want and you see a few good ones. 

For instance, if you’re interested in starting a really fun side hustle business where you make custom charcuterie boards for baby showers and birthday parties in Austin, and you’re not sure if your business name will be Jane’s Cheese Boards or Jane’s Charcuterie, go ahead and snag both and (assuming they’re both available.) 

If your dream URL isn’t available, you could always get a .org or .info or .world account. Those aren’t quite as good for search engine traffic, but if you’re committed to a name, go ahead and snag it before someone else on the World Wide Web gets to it first! 

02) Get Excellent Website Hosting

You can’t just buy a domain name and launch a site. You have to have a website hosting service. Places like Squarespace and  Wix bundle the domain price and hosting service into one bill, which is why you pay such a premium for those sites.

(Insider tip: even with both things bundled together, the prices are WAY inflated on Wix and Squarespace and you’ll be paying a premium for the ease of use. Plus you miss out on a lot of other wonderful things you get from using wordpress, like third-party integration, excellent SEO potential, the potential to put certain ads on your site, and more.)

Really good website hosting is where you do NOT want to skimp. A lot of online articles recommend Bluehost, and I honestly think that’s because they have a really good affiliate program and so people love to recommend it and then get a kick back. 

I used Bluehost for the first several years, and it was…underwhelming. Customer support was a joke, and the inexpensive prices are low for a reason. My site was soooo slow, and in order to get a better hosting deal the prices shot up so fast that I thought, “hmm, maybe I should shop around a bit.” 

After talking with a few other professional bloggers who I respect, I landed on WPEngine and I haven’t looked back!

People rave about their excellent customer care, and I’m not joking you: it is SO good! I’ve had the most frustrating and scary things happen to my websites (sometimes where I’m thinking OMG DID I JUST LOSE 7 YEARS OF WORK?” and I’ll get on to the online chat box on WPEngine and a specialist has everything fixed on my site in a few minutes. They’re little website wizards. 

Oh, and my website speed and SEO improved drastically when I switched over to WPEngine. I’ve paid plenty of money to both Bluehost and WPEngine, and I can tell you wholeheartedly: go with WPEngine!! 

03) Use A Page Builder

Once your site is up, you have to make it look a certain way…and that can cost thousands and thousands of dollars if you leave it to a website builder…or you can just use a drag-and-drop page builder! No coding knowledge required. 🙂

It took me way too long to find out about page builders, so I’m going to shout it from the mountaintops so you can know as soon as possible: page builders are 100% worth the cost!! 

They’re essentially these plug-ins where you can drag and drop any modules onto website pages to create a certain look. So, if you want one of those cool Squarespace-looking websites, but you also want a legit site with a really sturdy engine, try a page builder. 

I’ve used a few of them, and my final choice is Beaver Builder. I pay an annual fee to use their services, and it’s one of my favorite things to pay every year because of how fun and easy it makes building blog pages and posts.  

I could write 40 more articles about starting and building a business as a blogger, and so I’m going to leave it at that. The website is one of the biggest (and most important!) components at the beginning, and so I wanted to get this post up at the beginning of this year so you could have it for reference. 

And finally, a little pep talk: if you have this desire to build something, start a brand, create a side hustle, or just follow the breadcrumbs of a hobby you think you might be interested in, start the website! It is so much fun, and you really don’t have a lot to lose with it. 

And who knows? Maybe it will turn into your own six-figure side hustle. 🙂 

PS: if you’re a brand and you’re interested in partnering with So Much Life this year, click here for info! I’d love to hear from you!

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6 months ago

Would you recommend someone start a blog on a popular or niche topic or something they’re passionate about, but the market is saturated (like food)?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x