How I Built A Blog While Working And In College

Written by: Alexis Schroeder

Publish Date: January 1, 2023

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission for purchases made through these links, at no cost to you.

Back in 2013, I started a hobby blog after losing a bunch of weight. I used this blog to document my weight loss journey. 

I never started this blog to make money and never treated it like a business until 2016.

I thought about quitting this blog several times.

I essentially worked for free for a long time and the process wasn’t easy. This is why a lot of bloggers quit and don’t go on to become full-time bloggers. Most people give up early on in the blogging process once they realize it’s not a get rich quick scheme.

If you want to build a profitable blog (for real) and are in it for the long haul – keep reading!

1. What made you want to go full-time on Fitnancials?

Before I decided to treat my blog like a business, I would spend a few hours here and there every month uploading articles, sharing posts, that’s it.

I didn’t focus on email marketing, sales, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, or even developing a relationship with my audience.

Despite not seeing any success or making any real money off my blog, I knew Fitnancials could turn into something really special.

In the fall of 2016, I decided to quit my stressful nannying job and went all in on side hustles and working for myself.

I was a Rover dog walker for several people in Austin, Texas, and a date night babysitter as well. I even did freelancing projects here and there for personal finance websites. 

I was living off roughly $1,000 a month until my blog started making a full-time income.

Though I was living on so little, I was a million times happier than before.

This inspired me to start sharing side hustles on my blog, and now it’s one of my favorite things to talk about here, besides business and career strategies.

Start a blog today for just $2.95/month with my step-by-step tutorial here. It’s easy, painless, and takes less than 20 minutes to start a blog of your own. With my Bluehost discount, you get a discount from $7.99/month to $2.95/month.

2. How many hours per week were you working on your blog?

In 2016, I worked on my blog whenever I could outside of my jobs and school.

Some weeks I worked a ton (20 hours) and other weeks, I worked less depending on how much work and school I had going on.

I picked up side hustles when I first started treating my blog like a business because I needed to pay for business expenses, such as hiring website designers, graphic designers, photographers, and things of that nature. 

Now, I work roughly 40 hours per week, sometimes less if I am traveling or family is in town. When I work, my productivity is high, and I get work done. I have a to-do list in Trello that tells me exactly what needs to get done. 

I’ve also found ways to save the most time with my business by using schedulers, stock photography, hiring people for freelance work, and purchasing templates I can use for Pinterest and social media. 

I know there are bloggers out there who share that they’re always busy and working 100+ hours a week – I did not ever want to be like that.

Though I love what I do, I also love spending time with my family, friends, and dogs, cycling, and reading at least two books a week. 

While you’re here, check out my post: 10 Ways To Save Major Time When Blogging

3. How did you make money in the beginning?

I made very little in the beginning – nothing even worth mentioning. What I did make came from ads and spammy sponsored posts that were do paid dofollow links (big no-no – I ended up deleting all of these).

I faced a huge obstacle because to make my blog what I wanted it to be, I had to invest in my blog (and more importantly, my business). And let’s face it – it’s hard to spend money when you aren’t making any yet.

I didn’t want to spend a dollar on my business, which meant things were going to move way slower than necessary. I had this scarce mentality and had no idea what I was doing. I made things way harder on myself than it had to be. 

It turns out; blogging isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

That’s when I decided to enroll in Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, which turned my page views from a stagnant low number to over six figures a month. This helped with page views and ad revenue, but I still didn’t have a solid strategy for selling.

Naturally, I enrolled in Six Figure Blogger next, which taught me how to create digital products, create eBooks, eCourses, high-converting sales pages, and email marketing. My mind exploded because I learned that blogging is just marketing. 

I also started reading every book imaginable about blogging, business, and marketing. To save some money, I reserved books at the library. 

I took on several side hustles and started saving up for things like Convertkit (email marketing), Leadpages (landing pages), and stock photography (I still use the same stock photography as I did once I first started, which is Ivory Mix). I find it to be the highest quality for the lowest cost. Ivory Mix even has free photos if you’re not quite ready for the membership plan yet. 

Are you not sure where to start on creating a profitable blog? I recommend checking out this course roadmap to figure out where you should get started first!

4. What’s your #1 tip for someone who wants to build a profitable blog while working full-time?

Do things the right way from the beginning instead of doing what I did. I was scattered and all over the place and was afraid to invest any money into my business. 

Once I finally got ahold of things and led with strategy, my business boomed. 

Maximize your use of time by taking one course and one course only at one time. Implement everything the teacher teaches you in the course. There are so many people out there who take courses and don’t implement what’s taught.

How do I know? Because I was one of them. I took passive action by just reading what was in the course instead of taking action and doing what’s taught. 

5. How long did it take you to reach $10,000+ Per month?

The game changer in taking my business from part-time income to $10,000+ per month was sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and ad revenue in that order.

I knew if I wanted to take my blogging income to the next level, I’d have to create my product.

And after getting emails all the time about how I make $3,000+ a month with sponsored posts, I knew a course on sponsored posts would be a great idea.

My first course came out last year in partnership with my sister, called Making Sense of Sponsored Posts.

Over 600 students have taken my course so far and have landed major brand sponsorships, charged 3x what they’d usually charge, and worked with brands multiple times.

I was terrified about launching my first huge product. What would people think of it? Was there enough content? It’s scary putting yourself out there like that. I put my fears to rest after the launch day. 

As I mentioned earlier, creating my digital product from what I learned in Six Figure Blogger helped tremendously.

6. Do you think it’s still possible to start a profitable blog in 2019? 

There’s a saying that the best time to start a blog was five years ago. The second best time to start a blog is today. No idea who said it – but it’s awesome and makes a great point.

Starting a blog today is a lot easier than starting a blog when I did because now we have a ton of technology and tools available.

Not only that, there is a course for every single blogging and business topic out there.

There are unlimited Facebook groups for blogging as a business.

I don’t think Fiverr, or Upwork was even a thing when I started. Now, there’s so much available. I have a tech guy making sure my blog is running smoothly. I can hire a website designer to create my dream website. I use social media templates designed by a graphic designer to save me time.

There’s so much available that wasn’t around years ago. 

7. What’s your best time management tip for juggling a full-time job while growing a profitable blog?

In my case, I was juggling multiple side hustles while trying to grow my blog. I could’ve done things a lot better and planned my time out more wisely.

I worked on my blog any free moment I had, instead of planning out my blogging schedule as if it was a legit business. 

Instead of working on your blog any spare moment, I recommend creating a blogging schedule and sticking to it, as you would with your regular job.

Plan the results you want to complete in certain areas.

For example, instead of just writing “do blogging work,” you could write “complete two blog posts, send out one email about a new blog post to my email list, and create 3 Pinterest pins”. 

8. What would you do differently if you had just started blogging? 

I would do three things differently if I had just started blogging today.

Instead of trying to learn from 10 different people about blogging, I would’ve chosen 1 “teacher” at a time. 

Learning about how to grow a blogging business can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of courses and books out there on building a profitable blog.

When I first started taking my blog seriously, I was learning from 10+ different people. I wanted to learn everything at once. 

Don’t do this. 

I recommend learning from 1 teacher, implementing everything they’ve taught you, and then moving on to the next teacher.

I would have started my email list from Day 1.

Social media platforms are constantly changing every day, which means your traffic can disappear at any moment. 

With your email list, you have complete control. Even better, you can create genuine, trusting relationships with your readers via email. 

I currently use Convertkit, and 100% recommend it. The software is user-friendly, easy to use, and the customer support is excellent. My only complaint is that it’s expensive, but it’s worth paying the price.

You can try out a free trial of Convertkit here.

I would’ve said yes more.

I’ve said no to interviews that could’ve been amazing for me and my business. A live NYC news network wanted to do a live feature with me and I said no because of fear. Now, I wish I would’ve said yes. 

Now, I say yes to almost all interviews. This includes a recent piece Forbes did on me and my blog, Fitnancials. Here’s the Forbes article.

9. What are you currently working on?

1. My site is about to go through a significant branding + redesign with Lennox Creative.

2. Revamping articles on my site. I recently deleted over 600+ articles on my website. 

3. Deleting all posts related to health and weight loss. I am 100% focused on personal finance and entrepreneurship.

4. I recently enrolled in Stupid Simple SEO and have already seen dramatic results in my organic traffic.

I love Pinterest, but I also realize I can’t put all of my eggs in one basket. Working on SEO on my site takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it. In just 1 year, I’ve gone from only 25% of my traffic coming from Google to over 50%.

This is INSANE and so amazing. I’ve also noticed my affiliate income increasing and I think it’s because traffic from Google is more targeted (since people are landing on my blog from actively looking up a keyword), unlike Pinterest where people are just stumbling on my blog. 

If you want to increase your traffic and make more money on your blog, sign up for this free SEO training filled with a ton of amazing info from the same person I learned SEO from! 

Best side hustles (making $1,000+/month)

  • Sell printables on Etsy – Selling printables is the #1 side hustle to make money. This can be done on your own schedule and turn into passive income! You can earn over $10,000 a year selling printables.
  • Sell dog treats – Make $1,000+ selling dog treats from the comfort of your home. Be your own boss and make your own schedule.
  • Proofreading – Earn $20+ an hour proofreading from home. Great for people who enjoy editing and working from a computer.

What to read next: How I Made $80,000 My Second Year Blogging Full-Time

What questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments!

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