After three years of running this blog, I've realized that I get the: “Is blogging a good side hustle?” question a ton! As M$M has grown and my blogging income has become more substantial (which I never really thought was going to happen), I've had readers, close friends, and even family members want to start blogs too. If some dummy like me can figure this out, they probably can too, right?
Realistically though, there isn't a good black and white answer for whether it's a good side hustle or not. It's kinda complicated.
Yes, blogging can be an awesome side hustle for some people. However, it can also be a really terrible side hustle for other people. It all depends on your goals, personality, and the time you're willing to put in to make the whole blogging thing actually work. I'm going to go through some good, some bad, and then share the approach that I took at the beginning of my blogging career.
5 reasons that blogging is a great side hustle:
Reason #1: There are a lot of different ways to make money
Here are my current blogging-related income streams for Millennial Money Man:
- Ad revenue
- Affiliate income
- Course sales
- Staff writing
- Digital marketing work
- Maaaaaybe a sponsorship every once in a while if I'm feeling frisky
Now obviously, I didn't just start out with 5 or 6 income streams. Each one of those is something that I've built up over the past three years, and some of them were just opportunities that came my way after starting this site.
For example – the digital marketing work came when the jeweler who made my wife's engagement ring started reading this blog, and they wanted me to do the same things (write content, help him rank in Google, manage social media) that I was already doing for this site.
The staff writing came after CNBC featured me the first time two years ago. The organization that I write for saw my feature, and then reached out and asked if I would write for them because they liked my writing style.
So really, those income streams aren't technically blogging, but they came from running a blog.
And then, of course, there are the more obvious ways to make money like ad revenue and affiliate income. That's simply a matter of having ads on your site or promoting other products that you get a portion of the sale.
Last but certainly not least – courses on something you know a lot about are an incredible way to make money with a blog. That's actually where the vast majority of my revenue is coming from right now, and I love it. I don't have to answer to anyone else or worry that an affiliate is going to simply do away with their affiliate program (which happens). The courses are mine, and I can promote them however I want.
Reason #2: Blogging is good for introverts
I'm an introvert that's pretty good at pretending not to be one when I need to. I actually used to be a band director, which meant that I had to stand up in front of 40-50 kids every morning at 6:45 am and entertain/teach them until the bell rang.
I was good at it, but it wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world for me.
That's why I like blogging. It's just me and my computer a lot of the time, which is nice because I really enjoy sitting, thinking, and writing. There's no way I could have ever done that as a teacher.
Reason #3: There are tons of directions you can take with it
I like to view blogging as a platform that you can build from once you're established. You put out your ideas into the world, grow an audience, grow some income streams, and then move on from there.
For me, it looked like building M$M to the point where it is now and then launching my next project (Laptop Empires) to teach people how to make money online with legit businesses.
For some of my blogging friends, it meant building up a personal brand through their blog and becoming authors and speakers.
Then there are a lot of bloggers that build their blog up and just ride the wave of affiliate income and ad revenue.
All of those are really cool options that suit different personality types, which is why the flexibility of blogging is so attractive to people who want to start one.
Reason #4: You can scale to a very high income over time
Fun fact: I actually quit my job to run this site after making $3 in ad revenue. Don't do that, because I'm a fool.
In the 3-4 months after I quit my teaching job, I made a whopping $300 from a small sponsorship deal on the site.
Over time, I was able to scale to the $10,000 – $15,000 per month range through my digital marketing work, staff writing, ad revenue, and affiliate income.
Then in January 2018, we launched the FB Side Hustle course…and did $155,000 of revenue in one month.
You can check out one of my income reports for reference, but basically, I make way more money than I ever imagined I would from a little website.
Am I saying that you'll take that exact path? No.
Has it happened for other bloggers that started out just like me after reading someone's “How to Start a Blog” article? Yeah. I have a lot of friends that make tons of money online from their blogs. It's kinda crazy.
Reason #5: The community aspect is incredible
I joked with my business partner for Laptop Empires the other day on our podcast that I actually have more friends online than I do in real life.
It seems a little weird to say that, but I think it's true. The internet just allows you to meet so many cool people from all over the world.
But what has been even more valuable is the personal finance blogging community that I've become a part of. Just talking to other personal finance bloggers all the time, I've learned even more about handling money and also how to grow my business. I've really enjoyed that aspect of this business so far.
In whatever niche you decide to blog about, you'll meet a lot of people that are super passionate about all of the things you are. Food, dogs, marketing…whatever. All of them have a cool community attached to them.
5 reasons that blogging isn't a great side hustle:
Reason #1: It takes a really long time
So earlier I took you through my story of making $3, then $300, then $10,000, then $150,000. That all took about 3 years, which is ridiculously fast.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that everyone can do exactly what I've done. In fact, the vast majority of bloggers never even get close (for reasons I'll detail below).
If you're going to start a blog, you better be ready to press the publish button on a post a few times a week for a year without seeing a dime.
Now, if that sounds crappy to you…you're not crazy. The point of starting a side hustle for some people is to get quick wins and actually make money in the short term.
In one of our recent podcasts for Laptop Empires, we actually discussed side hustles that are better than others for making money faster. Check it out:
Reason #2: A lot of bloggers quit
That's the sad reality. Most people stop writing for their blog long before they actually make any money. That's not to say that they were guaranteed to be successful if they had just kept going, but quitting is a common occurrence in the blogging world.
It takes time to learn the ins and outs of blogging. A lot of it. You essentially have to learn how to run a small digital marketing agency (because you're marketing yourself) and spin a ton of plates at once.
The truth is that a lot of newer bloggers quit too soon to learn all of those necessary skills.
What I've seen from bloggers that stop is that they either:
A) Find a faster way to make money that they're more passionate about.
B) Life gets in the way with their job, marriage, or kids and they decide that they can't focus on blogging the way they thought they could when they started their sites.
On a positive note, I've actually seen a lot of people start their blogs and then get a new job opportunity or start a different business and crush it. Blogging has a weird way of helping you figure out what you actually want to do with your life sometimes.
Last note on this: blogging is a cheap bet.
Let's say you sign up for a blog and spend $65 or so on hosting (maybe less depending on which host you go with). That's an insanely low cost of entry to start a business.
Before I started blogging, I actually wanted to start a swimming pool company! To get all of the equipment I needed, I would have likely had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to get everything off the ground.
I spent about $65 on hosting three years ago, and now make way more money than I would have with a swimming pool company, have better margins/lower overhead and avoided the debt.
Again…blogging is a cheap bet. It's certainly not a guaranteed money maker though if you don't put the time in to learn the skills needed (audience building, copywriting, sales funnels, email marketing, etc.) to make it all work.
Reason #3: You can waste money if you don't know what you're doing
So many bloggers waste time (and money) worrying about stuff that doesn't matter.
Namely – how their website looks.
After new bloggers buy their hosting package and get their site up, they start worrying about a lot of things that really don't help too much in the beginning.
The first version of Millennial Money Man looked like hot garbage. The second and third versions looked like hot garbage too.
The only reason that I changed it to the beautiful website design that you're currently seeing is that I was making money a few years in and could do it without breaking the bank.
If you do want to start a blog and not waste money, take my free (yes, actually free) blogging course below. Nearly 4,000 people have taken it so far, and I've helped them avoid making a lot of bad decisions haha.
The Free M$M Blogging Course
You'll learn how to start and run a successful and profitable blog!
Reason #4: It's easy to get discouraged
Here's the reality: Some people read my income reports and get inspired, and some people read them and get discouraged.
I think both are natural reactions. I remember reading income reports from people like Patt Flynn, Michelle Shroeder-Gardner, and John Lee Dumas and feeling crazy inspired.
But there were also times where I looked at those income reports and felt like they were impossible to achieve. I know that some people feel the same about mine.
It wasn't that long ago that I was making $3,500 per month as a teacher…so it's not lost on me that the numbers are ridiculous-looking.
Here's a secret though (and please don't tell anyone)…
You'll always compare yourself to other people, even if you choose a different side hustle idea.
That's human nature. Whether you start a blog or not, you're going to have to get over the fact that some people in your field will be ahead of you because they started way before you. Take that for what it's worth.
Reason #5: There's an opportunity cost to blogging
If you put all of your time into blogging and aren't making money yet, there's a good chance that you could be doing something else instead and making money in the short term.
That's why I'm such a big fan of the hybrid approach like what I did. Actually, most ultra-successful bloggers that I know did something similar with their blogging journey.
You can still find ways to make money while you grow your personal brand (AKA platform like I mentioned earlier). For me, it was digital marketing work. For some other people, it's something more conventional like flipping furniture, secret shopping, or buying and selling items on eBay.
If you want to start a blog and stick with it, you should probably start a second, smaller side hustle that satisfies the “quick win” itch.
That might mean writing one blog post per week instead of two, and then using the time you would have spent writing to do your fast money side hustle.
I can guarantee you this – there are a bunch of great ways to make money on the side that don't take a ton of time (here's a list). You just have to decide what works best for you.
Final thoughts: Is a blog a good side hustle?
If you're really just wanting to make quick money and don't feel like building a brand over time – no. Stay away from blogging. You should choose something that will give you faster wins.
If you're willing to put the time in over the long-haul and build a personal platform, then heck yeah. Blogging could be a great side hustle for you.
In my opinion, a bit of both is the sweet spot.