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How My Blog Went From a Hobby to a Job

As I mentioned yesterday, there are several topics to not discuss in polite company: money, politics, and your stance on wood finishes. Since I have already, at various points, touched on the other two, why not go three for three and talk about finances?

I’ve held a job, self-employed or otherwise, since I was sixteen. I have been an amusement park ride-operator, a handy(wo)man, a telephone surveyor, a face painter, a babysitter, a record store clerk, a muralist, a bookseller, a web designer, a stationer, and a blogger. Most of those overlapped. For instance, I worked at the bookstore while also face painting for the village events in Oak Park, the combination of which somehow led to my being awarded Employee of the Year for Downtown Oak Park! I didn’t even know that was a possibility, but I gave a brief, awkward acceptance speech at the end of a TIF meeting, and was presented with a plaque. (It used to hang in our apartment bathroom, because that’s a pretty funny thing to see when you visit the loo.)

I’m sure you can tell from my résumé of odd jobs (literally) that I have been raking it in!

Brandon and I were married in 2004. I started my stationery shop in 2005, and I began offering web design in 2006. Making it Lovely began in 2007, and I had intended for it to be a complement to the shop and design business, but mostly just a fun place to chronicle what we were doing as we moved into our first house together. Over time, the blog became successful, and I was able to earn some advertising revenue. Each year, the balance of our finances changed a little (2008 took a hit from doing the National Stationery Show — ouch), but Brandon’s job was always the anchor.

PieCharts1

He and I had dreamed of the day he would be able to quit. Steadily, each year, we grew a little closer. Then, in January 2012, we were pushed over the cliff when he lost his job. We weren’t ready to make that leap, and we scrambled for a while. Slowly though, I began to find my footing with the blog and its potential to support us, and in September 2012, I wrote about our decision for Brandon to stay home and watch the kids while I worked full-time on the blog.

Though our income is now fully funded by Making it Lovely, I have tried to diversify the sources as much as possible. Keep reading for a breakdown of how this blog supported us in 2012.
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Now We Are Six

The blog, that is. Here’s a look at what I’ve shared over the last six years here on Making it Lovely.

2007

Making it Lovely: 2007

2008

Making it Lovely: 2008

2009

Making it Lovely: 2009

2010

Making it Lovely: 2010

2011

Making it Lovely: 2011

2012

Making it Lovely: 2012

Thank you all for following along, whether you’re brand new here or have been reading since the beginning. I’m fortunate to have such lovely readers — truly.

Breadwinning

I’m the sole provider for our family now. Officially.

I posted a single political link out of a dozen cute and fluffy links in last Friday’s Honor Roll, and it got people all riled up. One person was so incensed that she tried to insult me personally, calling me out for enjoying my “fancy shopping trips” while Brandon was collecting unemployment. That’s not true, but I hadn’t realized the misconception I may have been fostering by not providing an update sooner. It’s hard stuff to write about and I’d been putting it off, but no longer. Here’s what’s going on with us.

Brandon and I met in 1999, when we each worked full-time at Barbara’s Bookstore in Oak Park (making just over $6/hour in the beginning — go us!). We began dating in 2001, moved in together a while after that, and were married in May of 2004. Just before we were married, Brandon left the bookstore for a job in printing that paid more. He was there until he lost his job in January.

I left the bookstore in late 2004. I had already been working a second job which was to continue for a little longer, and I took a seasonal retail job at the first west elm store. When that was over, I decided to pursue my dream of owning a stationery business and I started Pink Loves Brown. I also took on freelance web design projects as Smart & Lovely while the stationery business took off. I started this blog in 2007, and I realized that the blog would eclipse the stationery shop a couple of years into it. The money I made from advertising was a nice bonus at first, and eventually it became enough to call the blog “a job” with a straight face.

Brandon liked the work that he was doing (managing prepress), but the environment was a bad one. We’d always hoped that he could quit eventually, but it helped support our family and provided health insurance. When he unexpectedly lost his job earlier this year, he was on unemployment for a few months while he looked for work. As I took on more projects though, it became clear that we could make it work if he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. In July, he stopped collecting unemployment. We got rid of COBRA and bought our own health insurance (which was difficult and expensive). It’s scary to be the sole supporter since I have such a non-traditional job, but it’s working right now. If we need to reevaluate in the future, we will.

I make money in advertising and sponsored posts here on Making it Lovely, and I also write for Babble, Better Homes and Gardens, and Glidden. I’m saying yes to a lot more work than I would have before and I’m working a lot, but we’re doing well. Last year was the first year in which I earned more than my husband. This year I’ve been doing even better, and I hope to eventually be able to replace his lost income.

It wasn’t under ideal circumstances, but it seems I’ve managed to cross another item off of my Lovely Life List. A big one.

Life List Item: Make Enough Money to Support My Family

Thank you, everybody, for all of your support over the years. Especially recently. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you, and I’m humbled by you and grateful.

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