Wow! September 2018 marks my 10th anniversary as a professional blogger. 10 years of paying the bills and everything else only from my blogging work. 10 years of highs and lows, of amazing successes and horrible failures, 10 years of growing as a person and learning so much. 10 memorable years that I love and hate at the same time. So many mistakes, so many things I wished I would’ve done differently. And still so much to learn and do. 10 years and I barely managed to scratch the surface.
It feels somewhat strange to celebrate such an important milestone in one’s career – an achievement to say the least – on a blog that is virtually unknown at the moment of writing this article. Nomad Not Mad looks like one of my tens of failed blog projects and, up to a point, it is. But not anymore. Because for my 10th blogging anniversary, I have decided to do things differently: my way. It’s difficult and strange and definitely not as rewarding financially, but why live if you can’t have a small place for yourself? A project that you love? Something that you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the courage to?
Well, now, for my 10th blogging anniversary, I am changing my approach and I’m finally allowing myself the time to focus on a project that’s not built with the sole purpose of making money. Nomad Not Mad is about myself and my family. About everything and nothing. About travel, blogging, personal thoughts and whatever I feel like writing about. It’s exactly what I know I shouldn’t do: mix a million niches and have no particular direction to go. But I don’t care. This blog is mainly for me. For my soul. For the things I want to write and I have no place for in my overly-specialized, made for income blogs. This is me. It took me 10 years to have the courage to do this.
Because, in order to make a living from blogging, unless you’re one of the very few lucky people who manage to strike it big doing something they genuinely love, you have to look at it as a business. Because I am actually nobody in the blogging world – despite being a veteran, ironically – nobody wants to read my thoughts. Nobody wants to read this article about me celebrating my 10th year of blogging.
But you know what? Today I don’t care. With Nomad Not Mad, from now on, I won’t care. I’m not going to write articles based on keyword research, on trends and anything similar. I’m going to let myself go and just write what I feel is right when I decide to do it. I’ve earned myself that, after 10 years of difficult work and frustration and tears of joy and sorrow. This is my gift for me for my anniversary.
How did it all begin?
Unlike many of the big bloggers that everybody follows, when I started blogging, I started with a single goal in mind: to make money. It’s not a shame to admit it as I was still planning to deliver good, useful content. I didn’t start my blogs as passion projects and got lucky, like many good bloggers did. From the moment I wrote my first article, I had a single goal in mind: to make money. That’s the truth!
You see, I was living in a small city in an ex-communist country in Romania. Back in 2008 when I decided to go on my own and become a self employed professional blogger, the minimum wage in Romania was about $200. My first wage at my first real job (working for a huge website – top 300 Alexa back then, around 1,500 today), was $468 (before tax) – and I considered it a good wage. When I decided to quit my job at that huge website and jump head-first into blogging on my own, just one year after starting, my wage had been increased to $850 (before tax) – which was amazing, having in mind that I had only been there for almost 1 year.
I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and websites before that first job I had. But once I did, I knew I’m not made to work hard for somebody else and that I must do this on my own. Become my own boss, do what I want, write about whatever I want and be filthy rich. It was the time when I started reading Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger, John Chow‘s money-making blog and Jerry Schoemaker’s ShoeMoney blog with that iconic $100,000 check from AdSense.
Hell, it was so easy to make $10,000 per month that I would’ve been stupid not to do it! Right? I mean, why not make at least $10k per month instead of $850, working a few hours a week, living the good life in Thailand and partying all day and all night? I was 24 back then and you can imagine how good this felt. Dream life:
Well, of course it didn’t happen like that. My parents were mad at me for quitting a good job, I knew nothing about the technical side of launching a blog (and back in 2008 it was way more difficult – tech-wise – than it is now) and as a result, my dream quickly turned into a nightmare: after my 6 months of blogging, I had only earned $300. I was a failure and everybody wanted to let me know about that. It was stressful and horrible. I was on the brink of calling it quits and start begging my original employee to take me back.
Then, the wonder happened. The traffic started to come in. I started to make money. My 7th month of blogging brought me a bit over $100. By the end of the year, I was earning about $350 per month, which was not only enough to actually scrape it out in Romania, but also encouraging. I was sure I could do this!
As a funny side-note, I started blogging at about the same time as Pat Flynn did. Looking where he is now and where I stand, I feel like crying. He’s the top dog and I’m aeons behind. But you know what? I still achieved so much more than I would’ve by keeping my original job!
Although I didn’t end up scoring $10,000 per month, I actually got there once in my 10 years of blogging and I still have all the time in the world to work on it and make it a habit (although it seems more and more difficult nowadays…) I still managed to earn a lot more than I would’ve possibly earned in my home country Romania, while being able to fund my travels, hobbies, buy a house and a car from my blogging adventure and lead a decent life – nothing spectacular, but nothing to complain about either. And for that, I am extremely thankful!
My Failures in 10 years of blogging
Boy, I had a ton of these! If I am to look back, I made so many mistakes and I have so many failures that I actually have all the reasons to wonder how come I’m still doing this. But somehow, I am. And here are some of my biggest failures over the past 10 years:
– I launched over 100 blogs, out of which over 50 made me ZERO money. Most of the ones that generated some income actually brought in pocket change.
– I launched over 100 blogs! I am a single person, doing everything by myself: content creation, social media, SEO, everything. I was insane to believe that a single person can do this.
– I missed out on all the money making opportunities: I always wanted to play it right and by the book and not try to cheat the system. The small 5-page niche sites that could make you rich? I didn’t do that! The spammy link building to skyrocket the ranks of your websites? I didn’t do that. The “viral article” type of blogs that brought ton of visitors from social media? I didn’t do it! (Actually, this is something I tried to do and launched my viral blog a couple of months before everything was killed by Facebook).
– I never trusted affiliate income. Probably the biggest mistake and the reason why I’m stuck earning so much lower than most people who started when I did. Even after randomly scoring big with an Amazon Affiliate article on one of my blogs and getting, from a single article, about $700 per month, each month, for about 7 straight months, I still said that cpm advertising is better than affiliate marketing.
– I was never able to focus on a single project. I always had these “great” ideas that turned out to be duds simply because – as I mentioned before – a person can’t single-handedly manage so many blogs, no matter how good the ideas are.
– I never took any chances and always played the lowest risk game that I could. I was reluctant to hire content writers because they might deliver poor content and I might end up losing money. I always refused to spend some money in order to make more and reinvest profits. It still breaks my heart to spend money of various important stuff when it comes to building a blog, which is strange and stupid after all these years.
My biggest wins in 10 years of blogging
– I managed to do this for 10 years straight. This is the biggest win of them all and I pray to God I’ll be able to do it for as long as possible.
– I’ve had a single month where one of my blogs got 5 million visitors. It happened because a series of articles became viral and everything else fell in place perfectly.
– I’ve had a single month (so far, I still hope for more!) when I’ve earned a bit over $10,000. That was when I said “I made it!” (Unfortunately, that happened 5 years ago and I haven’t been even close since then…)
– I sold a blog for five figures – somewhere close to the middle between four and six figures. It’s the blog that brought me the wins above and I sold it for way less than what it was worth back then. I consider this both a win and a loss, because I haven’t managed to build something as good as that blog, even though I obviously tried.
– I managed to stick to a schedule and slowly reduce my work time. I am now working about 4-5 hours per day (most of the days of the week, though) and I am enjoying the extra time I can spend with my family.
– I learned a lot and grew as a person, understanding that there’s no shortcut to success: just hard work, sweat and tears (and a bit of luck).
What I’ve learned after being a professional blogger for 10 years
Looking back at the moment when I decided to quit my job and do things on my own, I realize that I was driven forward by the “4 hour workweek” dream that many people fall for. I strongly believed that I would need no more than a few months to start making five figures a month and I couldn’t believe my eyes each day, checking my AdSense earnings.
Sure, there are people who manage to strike it big and do so very fast. Many bloggers who have started roughly at the same time as I did or even after me are doing much better that myself. But even more didn’t manage to get to where I am now and even more have completely failed.
The most important lesson that I have learned in my first 10 years of blogging is that you have to be persistent. Keep going no matter what and don’t expect results to come over night.
Another important lesson to know is that you have to keep an open mind and try new things – new strategies, new programs, new approaches – without fully believing the “gurus” out there. Remember that many of the people who sell courses to teach you how to make money online make more money from the said courses than their blogs or businesses. Yes, they are great marketers and some actually teach you good stuff – but there’s nothing you can’t find online, for free.
Blogging full time is frustrating at times, it’s stressful, it’s difficult and requires you to learn to do things you never thought you’d have to do in order to stay afloat and make it another day. Blogging is not a “get rich quick” scheme and it’s getting more and more difficult nowadays to build a good site for scratch – one that will be there 10 years from now.
And even though blogging is not about taking your laptop to the beach to write while watching the waves and enjoying a cocktail (really, all that sand will kill your laptop!), but mostly lonely, hard work in a small room – it’s really worth it.
You are your own boss, you choose what to do (even though you don’t necessarily do what you like), you choose your own hours, you choose how to spend your time and, if you play your cards right, you earn a lot more than you would if you were employed. You also have the freedom to travel, to see the world, to work from anywhere – which is again something that should be considerd a huge bonus.
Would I do things differently if I were to start over? Definitely! I even dream about being able to travel back in time and do things differently or simply try new things at the right time… but that’s not possible. And despite all the errors that I made, despite all my failures (and the list keeps growing!) I wouldn’t see me doing anything else.
Sure, the world is changing, the technology is changing and 10 years from now blogs might be obsolete as newspapers today… but I sure hope that’s not the case because I love blogging!