Suzi Whitford - The Penny Hoarder

For more than two years, I worked for Fortune 100 companies like Walt Disney World and General Electric. Deep down, however, I knew the corporate world wasn’t my style.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs: My dad started his software company when he was 25, my mother started her own restaurant in her 30s and my brother moved to New York to start his business.

Despite studying industrial engineering and climbing the corporate ladder, I knew I would break free at some point. The conference calls, the meetings, the emails, the networking events -- it all came to a halt when I gave birth to my first daughter.

My husband and I agreed I would put my engineering degree and $75,000-per-year salary on the backburner to become a stay-at-home mom. Once my daughter started school, I planned to return to work. In the meantime, my husband could support us with his engineering salary and the money we saved up.

Fast-forward 11 months, and I became pregnant again -- and as our family expanded, so did our expenses. I desperately looked for a way to make money while continuing to stay home with my little ones, because I didn’t want to have to go back to work while they were still so young.

What Home-Based Business Has Low Startup Costs?

During my daughters’ naps and after they went to bed, I mostly scrolled through Facebook and Pinterest on my computer. Instead, I wanted to use that time productively -- and make money.

I thought about trying a direct-sales position with Norwex or Usborne Books, but I didn't like the idea of having so much inventory in my home. Also, the initial costs of starting a direct-sales business can range from $125 (Usborne Books) to $2,570 (Cabi clothes). I’m sure there are some cheaper direct-sales business, but these are the ones I knew about.

Instead, I chose to become a lifestyle blogger because all I needed was a computer, time and a hosting package. I already had all the tools, so I could jump in immediately.

My hosting package, which included a free domain name (these can cost up to $15), only cost me $47 per year, bringing my initial overhead to less than $4 per month. Now that my blog has grown, I pay for other services, but this package was all I needed to start blogging.

We Cut Our Budget While I Started My Blog

To make it possible for me to continue to stay home with two children, we had to save money.

We cut down on eating out, I bought only the essentials, we started shopping at Aldi (which I love!) and we began using Personal Capital to monitor our expenses. It’s an amazing free app with beautiful charts and graphs -- any engineer’s dream!

But the biggest, most immediate benefit from starting a blog was that I no longer spent time browsing Amazon or shopping at Target.

Before I started blogging, I easily spent $100 to $200 a month at Target or Hobby Lobby on random items for craft projects I never started or clothes I didn't really need. Once I started, I no longer needed to shop for unnecessary items to fulfill a craving or feel satisfied. My new hobby was actually helping me save money!

How I Went From $0 to $6,000 per Month

I was a teaching assistant for a programming class in college, but I had no idea how I could repurpose those skills in motherhood. Blogging was a natural fit for my technical skills, and now I make money teaching others how to set up and run a blog and how to manage their time wisely.

I started my lifestyle blog in August 2015, and after learning the ins and outs for five months, I launched my teaching blog on Jan. 18, 2016, three weeks before the birth of my second daughter. I still occasionally post to my first blog, but I concentrate most of my efforts on my new site.

By March, my email list had more than 1,000 subscribers. I wanted to make money with my blog, but I didn’t want to have ads on my site. I knew I had to find another way.

The beauty of it is, my readers told me exactly what they wanted. As they asked specific questions and shared their challenges, I came up with the idea to create my first product, an ebook. I spent all of May creating “Blog by Number,” which launched in June 2016. This $17.99 ebook has earned me $4,992 so far.

When I realized many of my readers wanted more than just an ebook with text and images, I put together an in-depth, step-by-step course with instructional videos. I priced it at $47, and it has grossed $3,703 in less than two months!  

I document my earnings in income reports each month. Roughly half my income comes from my ebook and course, while the other half comes from affiliate sales, where I promote a company’s products or services and receive a commission if someone buys them.

It took me six months to build a strong following before I made over $1,000 a month consistently. Then, over the summer of 2016, my income exploded.

I made $1,007 in June, $1,700 in July, $4,030 in August, $4,800 in September and more than $6,000 in October. And I did this all with a newborn baby and a toddler!

The money isn’t the only benefit. Before becoming a blogger, I had no idea there were so many active communities for moms on Facebook. I joined a few and immediately made friends. Connecting with other moms and growing a business has definitely helped me become a happier and more fulfilled mom.

I also found other bloggers in my niche and started commenting on their blogs. Eventually, we became friends and now hold weekly mastermind calls to help each other grow.

What the Future Holds for My Blog

Blogging is a great flexible, mommy-friendly way to make money from home. It’s not a get-rich-quick venture, but putting in the time and effort has helped me earn thousands per month. Some mom bloggers even make between $2,000 and $63,000 every month!

I’m excited for what the future holds for my blog and business, which I intend to grow while I raise my little ones. I plan to launch a time management course in 2017 and I’m collaborating with other bloggers on ebooks and courses.

My ultimate goal is to replicate my old corporate salary and earn $75,000 a year from my blog. Before the end of 2017, I expect my blog to consistently bring in more than $10K per month. I’m looking forward to making it happen!

Your Turn: Have you tried blogging as a business? What were your biggest challenges?

Suzi Whitford is a mom, wife, former engineer and blogger. She loves helping moms be less overwhelmed, more productive and run successful blogs while raising a family. Find her at www.startablogbynumber.com.