This post has been on my mind for a very long time. I hope I am able to articulate my thoughts for you in a clear and concise manner because I feel it not only needs to be said but it would be a disservice to new bloggers trying to balance blogging and motherhood to NOT say it.
What am I talking about? Two things…
- This notion that blogging is a get rich quick scheme, sometimes perpetuated by other successful bloggers through income reports that leave out key details on their personal circumstances.
- Bloggers who blog about how to blog don’t have any real experience building a blog outside of the topic of blogging — trust me this one is important!
I have two simple fixes to both issues:
- Transparency in blogging income reports.
- Understanding the personal situation and professional experiences of the person you are following.
I’m going to share a few tips on what I think is important to look for before you follow advice from someone or purchase a product from them.
Why is Blogging so Popular with Moms?
Here are just a few of the awesome reasons why blogging is so popular with moms…
- It provides flexible work options
- Allows us to work from home (with or without kids)
- Grants us the ability to balance work and life better
- Connects us with other like-minded moms
- It’s a creative outlet
- Allows us to share our passions with the world
- Has unlimited income potential (unlike a 9-5 career)
Blogging has been around for more than a decade but it’s really exploded for moms in the last 5 years. I started blogging in July 2013, 7 months after returning to my corporate job from maternity leave. I was pissed off about the laws and policies that impacted working moms in the US so I decided to start a blog to vent about it.
At the time, I had no idea that blogging was something I could turn into a career. When I started 4 years ago, there were barely any tutorials online about how to start a blog. I consider myself to be fairly tech savvy but was totally overwhelmed by domains, DNS records, hosting, cPanels… it was a whole new world!
The lessons I learned about blogging during my first three years when I wasn’t trying to turn a profit were invaluable. I came to find out that the blogging community is (for the most part) extremely friendly and welcoming. Professional working moms, SAHMs, new moms, old moms, all different kinds of moms were starting blogs and building them into real businesses.
I Quit My Corporate Career of 11 Years to Blog Full-Time
I learned a really important lesson fast when I quit my corporate career to blog full-time.
Professional blogging is a lot more work than hobby blogging. Let me clarify what I mean… hobby blogging, which I consider to be blogging without the intent of earning a full-time income, is certainly time-consuming and rewarding. Professional blogging to earn a full-time income and beyond adds on many different layers of complication. A solo blogger is essentially running a blog and a business full-time. It’s like having two full-time jobs, especially in the beginning…complying with legal standards where you live, filing the appropriate paperwork, tracking income, creating legal structures, etc. It’s a lot of work!
This is when I realized there was a lot of false information floating around the internet about how easy it is to start a blog and make thousands of dollars all during nap time!
I spent countless hours studying blog income reports and taking over $10,000 worth of online courses by other bloggers. I am a strong believer in learning from multiple different people. There is no one-size fits all strategy in blogging. I have no problem investing in great products even if they don’t work for me.
Blogging Income Reports Sometimes Report Half-Truths
I realized pretty soon after quitting my corporate career that there was a lot of information missing from a lot of the blogging income reports I was reading.
First of all, I started Redefining Mom three years before I quit my career. At times I wasn’t even a hobby blogger during those three years. I would go months without even logging in or posting anything. I had a very demanding schedule and blogging was not a priority. However, I did manage to build a little bit of a following and I received opportunities to appear on Fox News and speak at the White House.
My point is the day I quit my job I already had a blog set up with a few opportunities that had come my way. I didn’t have the same learning curve as a completely new blogger.
Yet I still found myself glued to my computer for way more than 40 hours in my first few months of blogging full-time. I grew irritated by the constant reports of moms making $10,000-$100,000 a month working during fringe hours when little babies slept.
Something wasn’t right here. I had a solid corporate marketing background, a master’s degree in business, an established blog, I was putting in way more than full-time hours, and I had daycare coverage for 30 hours a week. I wasn’t anywhere near $10,000/month at this point.
Many income reports I was reading sounded like this… “I started a blog six months ago because I needed a creative outlet while at home with my kids. I’m a mom first so I only work when my kids sleep and I’ve built a 6-figure empire, you can too!”
HOLD UP! I’m calling bullshit.
A few days ago, I posted this on Facebook. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one who was skeptical of these types of reports.
Humor my rant. I do find income reports inspiring and I think for the most part people are telling the truth. But we do have to remember one thing. People teach from personal experience in the blogging world. You could buy 100 courses and not find a method that works for you, your voice, and your style.
There is no method that can guarantee you $10k months and I challenge you to think hard about how much time it REALLY takes to build a business. By time I don’t mean did it take a month or a year. By time I mean, how much time is the person working? Do they have little kids with them? Do they have a full time job?
I also challenge you to think critically. If someone says they are making $10k a month after 6 months and only working during fringe hours when their kids sleep… something is amiss. I’m not saying it’s impossible but I am saying the VAST majority of people cannot replicate that under those circumstances.
Think critically and ask questions before spending your hard earned money.
Frankly, I welcome any questions about how I got to where I am before anyone purchases anything from me.
This is no get rich quick scheme it takes a lot of work but has a huge potential to change your life too.
Can I just say, WOW! This post went nuts! Over 50 likes and several women chimed in and agreed. You can read the whole conversation here.
What to Look for in a Blogging Income Report
I am not saying it’s impossible to build a 6-figure business in six months. I’m saying it’s near impossible to do it from scratch by only working 2-3 hours a day. And, if you were the freakish exception to this, it’s misleading to tell other people they can do it too. If you told me you put in 40 hours a week and had a lot of help in other areas in your life, I would believe it.
#1 Total time spent blogging
I put this one at number one because it grinds on me the most. I hear the statement, “I only work when my kids nap” way too much for it not to raise a few questions.
In the blogging world, working includes…
- Time spent on Facebook
- Creating videos, going live on Facebook
- Creating graphics
- Time spent on Pinterest
…the list goes on and on. When someone tells you that they work only during nap time, pay attention to their other activity online. As they say, truth is not in your words but in your actions.
Let’s keep it real. I’m all for SAHMs building successful businesses but I don’t want to mislead women who really can’t work when their kids are awake by putting unrealistic expectations out there.
Being glued to your computer or phone when your children play is not the same thing as only working during nap time. Same when it comes to plunking them in front of the TV. Let me be clear, I am not judging anyone for working when their kids are awake. When my daughter is home you can catch me on my phone and computer. I also use the TV to finish up work from time to time. The difference is I’m not telling people I built an empire during nap time because it’s not true.
#2 Backend blog/business help
My husband is supportive of my business but he doesn’t do a single thing to help me inside of my business. My sister is supportive of my business too but she also doesn’t help me.
Do you see where I am going with this? I can tell you that having someone take over the technical, financial, or strategy side of blogging is a HUGE time saver. As they say, two brains are better than one. Two brains can also grow a business faster than one.
Proper disclosure of free or paid help received is imperative to being transparent.
On a side note, if your significant other is not on board with your business, I have a post that might help: How To Convince Your Spouse Starting an Online Business Makes Sense
#3 Help around the house/nanny services
Oh, this one is my favorite! If I turned around in my chair right now, I’d have a full view of my living room and it would make me mad. It’s messy. We don’t have a playroom so my daughter comes home from school and leaves my living room looking like a tornado hit it.
We have a cleaner that comes once a month. It saves me time when it comes to deep cleaning but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t have to clean on a daily basis. My husband has picked up a lot of the daily cleaning responsibilities to help such as nightly dishes and half of the laundry pile.
One time I heard a blogger who presents herself as a SAHM but makes multiple 6-figures say she has a weekly cleaner and a nanny who comes in several days a week. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly the same as working during nap time to me.
I am overly sensitive to women thinking I’m picking on SAHMs. (You can read about why here). So I want to be clear… I applaud you for running a business and raising kids. Did you hire a cleaner and a nanny? AMAZING! Seriously, freakin’ amazing! That’s called recognizing your limitations and building a village around you to help. I, for one, certainly appreciate a woman who is finding a way to balance both a business empire and being a mom. Please just be honest about how you’re doing it especially if you are monetizing your business by helping other women do the same.
#4 Cash vs. accrual accounting
Since my MBA is in Finance, this one personally rubs me the wrong way.
Cash accounting is when you count money at the time it comes in or leaves your bank account.
Accrual accounting is when you count the money you’ve earned before it’s paid to you.
This can make a huge difference in a person’s monthly income reports.
For example, I’ve been part of huge affiliate launches where the payout is delayed by three months. I’ve seen bloggers report on a cash basis the month before but are so eager to show their spike in income the next month they switch to accrual the next month.
This artificially inflates their income and is misleading. I would also not be surprised to learn that income is double counted. Meaning one month it’s included as accrued and the month where it actually comes into their bank account it is again counted on a cash basis.
See how easy it can be to skew numbers? Do you remember the housing crisis in 2008 and the bailout of major banks? Skewing numbers is a real thing…
#5 Are they actually turning a profit?
There is a huge difference between revenue and profit. Revenue is the top line number you bring in before expenses. Profit is what’s left after expenses and taxes. If you’re running a business, the number you need to be concerned with is profit.
Some income reports completely leave off expenses and it’s misleading. How do I know how much they spent on things such as outside help and ads to make the revenue number?
On the other hand, I’ve seen income reports that claim over $30,000 in revenue for a single month and have under $2,000 in expenses with no reference to outside help and/or ad spend. I frankly find this highly skeptical. What about large costs for automation tools and coaching that may not bill every month? However, back to point number two, if they have free help from family, this is a bit more realistic.
I’m always one to admit when I am wrong and I definitely tend to leave taxes out of the income equation as well. Taxes can vary widely based on location and personal circumstances. I love taxes (I’m sort of a nerd like that) and I couldn’t possibly cover everything there is to say about this topic here. This is more of an FYI. If a blogger is making $30,000 a month, it’s pretty safe to say their tax liability is somewhere in the 20-35% range.
#7 Did they already have a following?
One thing I heard loud and clear when I posted my rant is that a lot of people make claims about how easy it is to build an audience without proper disclosures.
For example, let’s say someone started a podcast and it took off super fast. Now they have a course to teach other people how to build a podcast. If they fail to mention that they actually had 20,000 email subscribers because of their highly successful blog before starting their podcast, they’re not being very transparent.
As my mom likes to say, if something smells wrong it’s probably because something is wrong.
This doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good place to start when you’re trying to decipher if someone is being transparent in their income reports or not.
What No One Tells You About Blogging and Motherhood
I’m not telling you all of this to discourage you from blogging. I’m telling you this because I want you to go into it with two eyes open. I am a realist and prefer to hear the whole truth, even if it’s not as pretty as hearing half the truth.
Blogging is an amazing way for moms to find a blend between work and family but it’s not always easy. I would personally never go back to an office again. I was maxed out when I worked in corporate and felt like the balance was always in favor of work and never my family.
I don’t tend to sugar coat things in real life so why should I sugar coat anything for my readers? I feel it’s my responsibility to pose these questions for you to consider because my business is built around helping moms build their blogs into businesses. I want you to trust me so I am being real and honest with you.
When I quit corporate for good in August 2016, I was putting in 40-60 hours a week blogging and 30 hours were covered with childcare. As of September 2017, I am currently pregnant with #2 and #1 is in Kindergarten. I have about 4 hours a day to work and do everything else I need to get done with no kids around and I’m often not feeling too great. This will change once #2 is born. Right now my plan is to hire a part-time Nanny.
In relation to my income, when I put in 40-60 hours a week I was in building mode. I now make between $5,000-$10,000 a month and work about 20 hours a week. I am not expecting to grow beyond $10,000 a month until I can invest more time on a daily basis again. My expenses have been high this year due to investments in a few coaching programs. I expect to bring my expenses and tax liability down to about 35-45% of my revenue in the coming months making my profit anywhere between $3,000-$6,500 on a monthly basis.
You can build a successful blog/online business and be a mom. The key is going into it with clear expectations. You’re going to encounter many outlandish success stories, comparison traps, and shiny new objects. These can quickly discourage new bloggers.
My message to you is simple… move at your own pace, keep your head down, and don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
But, I Need Help Starting a Blog, Where Should I Go?
In the beginning of this post, I mentioned there is a bit of a backlash on people who blog about how to make money blogging. A few months ago, I did an impromptu Facebook Live in my group about this topic. Since we are nearing the 3,000-word mark in this post (holy shiz!!) I decided to share the video with you. It’s only 12 minutes and I feel it gives an accurate picture of my background and why I feel qualified to help moms build businesses online.
The moral of the story here is this… understanding someone’s personal and professional background is imperative for making decisions on where to spend your money.
The name of the game here is transparency. If you don’t feel like someone is being transparent with you online, I would encourage you to NOT spend your money with them.
Trust me when I say this…. for every non-transparent blogger, there are 10 more transparent and honest bloggers.
Don’t let a few dishonest people ruin the awesomeness of blogging for you!
Think critically about who you follow, take advice from, and spend your money with and you’ll be fine.
So what do you think? Do you think there is a transparency issue in the “how to make money blogging” space? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below. I’d also love to have you in the Redefining Mom Facebook community where we openly talk about these issues and work together to form a community of like-minded, hard-working, and honest moms building empires on our own terms!
Blogging and Business Resources
If you feel like I’m someone you can trust after this monstrosity of a post, I do have a few resources which can help you get started or grow your blog into a business.
My Favorite Blogging & Business Resources <– all of which I use myself!