If My Passion Becomes a Paycheck

posted by Andrea | 09/19/2014
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if my passion becomes a paycheck

The idea for this blog post has actually been on my mind for 3 years now! Since right before Nora was born — which is also right about the time people started telling me I would never be able to keep working as much as I was working AND take care of a child.

In some ways, those people were right. I couldn’t keep doing everything I was doing — but I soon realized that I COULD keep doing everything that was important to me and everything I was passionate about doing.

Then, I started getting similar comments and questions right before Simon was born — people asking if I would still try to “do it all” even after 2 kids.

I would usually respond by saying something like, “We’ll just see how it goes after he’s here and how much time and energy I have.”

It was an easy answer that satisfied their curiosity (no, I wasn’t annoyed by the questions) and gave me plenty of wiggle room in case I felt like I just couldn’t do it all anymore.

Thankfully, I have been able to find time to squeeze it all in (read this post for my latest Work + Life Updates) because I truly do love what I do.

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Yes, there are days when I simply go through the motions — answering emails, taking pictures, drafting blog posts, responding to comments, and doing my various VA work.

There are days I take working from home for granted and secretly envy my friends who “get to” send their kids to daycare a couple days a week and go hang out with grown-ups instead of cleaning up 18,000 crumbs off the kitchen floor after every single (lukewarm) meal I eat.

There are stressful days, overly-busy days, not-enough-sleep days, and days when I question whether it is really possible for me to make this all work…

But even on the busiest, most stressful, didn’t-sleep-at-all-last-night days, I KNOW how perfect this job is for me and how incredibly lucky I am to make money doing the one thing I have more passion, drive, and determination to do than almost anything else.

My family still comes first, but right now, I would be willing to sacrifice A LOT to give myself the luxury of doing what I love and sharing my passion with you.

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However, I also know there might come a time when I can’t make it all work — or when I simply don’t want to make it all work.

I don’t foresee this happening anytime in the near future — don’t worry! However, since I’m often asked (both by readers and other bloggers) how I’ll know when, if ever, it’s time to hang up my keyboard, close down the blog, and move on with my life, I thought I’d share my super simple answer — especially as this is something I’ve regularly thought about over the past 3 years.

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I’ll stop if my passion becomes a paycheck.

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For as long as I can possibly remember, I have loved organization — even as a very small child, my parents can tell you crazy stories of how I would organize my Smarties by color before I would eat them or how my mom could “tell the time by when I cried as a baby” because I was SO scheduled from day one.

Organization and simplification is what I DO, it’s how I choose to LIVE, and it’s also what I LOVE more than almost anything. 

I would do it whether I was paid or not because that’s just how my brain works and it’s how I function best.

It’s my “One Thing and I hope you can feel that passion and energy when you read my posts each day.

That said, if I ever get to the point where the spark has fizzled out and I’m feeling like I’m only working for a paycheck, I will not feel badly about moving on. It would be a very sad day for me, and it would not be a decision I made lightly. But I simply can’t sell out my passion and love for organization just to earn a paycheck. I could find MUCH easier ways to earn a paycheck if that’s all I needed to do.

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So how do I make sure I still feel that passion?

1. For starters, I say “no” to a lot.

I have turned down 3 very lucrative book deals as I have absolutely no desire to write a book right now. That whole process sounds extremely exhausting to me and not something I’d be interested in doing with small children around. This is not to say I would never write a book… but I won’t do it unless it’s something I feel extremely passionate about doing.

I regularly turn down paid product review and giveaway requests that don’t fit with the content of my blog… and I’ve turned down many sponsorship requests for companies whose values, products, or services don’t line up with what I want for my business.

I have said “no” to many sponsored trips, well-paid speaking engagements, blogging conferences, meetings, and more because there is just not enough time in the day to do that plus everything I love doing (and I secretively hate to travel!)

I have passed up all of these things because I know that if I said “yes”, I’d be selling my passion for a paycheck and I won’t be happy in the end.

2. I pick and choose how I invest my time on Social Media. 

Social media is a HUGE money-maker when it comes to the online world. However it’s also a HUGE time-suck.

I could literally have a full-time job keeping up with all the various social media profiles, posting 20+ times a day to keep Facebook loving me, following and commenting and liking and posting and tweeting and pinning and instagraming, etc. etc.

There was a short period of time when I first started my blog that I tried REALLY hard to be ever-present on social media… but it wore me out faster than I realized. I hated it and it was so overwhelming for me.

So now, I stick to Facebook and Facebook alone. I love using Facebook to interact with readers and friends. I love sharing my posts, my thoughts, cute pictures of my kids, links to other resources I’ve found helpful, and anything else I think my Facebook followers might enjoy and benefit from.

I set my Facebook posts to automatically publish to Twitter, but I can’t tell you the last time I’ve ever actually used Twitter.

I have a Pinterest and Google+ account simply so people who want to follow me can do so — but it’s been over a year since I logged into Pinterest and I don’t think I’ve ever posted one thing to Google+.

This is not because I’m lazy or because I don’t realize the effects social media can have on growing an online business. I get it — believe me, I do. However, I also know that it wouldn’t take long for my passion to dwindle if I put so much emphasis on social media promotion instead of simply writing content I’m passionate about here on my blog.

3. I’ve tried to think of my blog as a “personal outlet” more than a “business”.

Yes, it really is a business, but there’s a lot that goes into my business besides just my blog.

My blog is the most personal part of my business (and my favorite part) so for me, it’s been important to view the blogging part of my business as simply a “personal outlet” to share my life and my intense passion for simplifying and organizing with whoever wants to read it.

If I make money doing that, great. If not, I have other sources of income — and Dave still carries the benefits for our family.

I don’t get hung up on SEO (search engine optimization) or spend any amount of time crafting my posts or images so Google will love me more than other organizing and simplifying blogs.  I just write about what I want to write about in the best way I know how to write.

Don’t get me wrong, I still put a considerable amount of time and effort into my blog posts each week (an average posts takes between 1-4 hours to pull together) but I do it because I love it — not because I’m trying to get a certain click-through rate, improve my Google Page Rank, or set a recored for the number of Facebook shares.

4. I don’t check my stats or push blog subscriptions. 

Yes, I know my blog stats — but that’s only because almost every sponsor and advertiser requests that information. However, if it wasn’t for those people asking me for my stats, I wouldn’t even know what they were. I never look at them, I never check my email subscriptions or facebook “likes”, and never push subscriptions or offer bonuses for those who subscribe.

If you want to read my posts, great… read them. If you want them coming to your inbox, then subscribe. If not, feel free to just casually drop in a few times a year to see what I’ve been up to 🙂

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do these things (it’s actually really smart) it’s just not how I want to run my blog.

If I start micro-managing every last detail, I get sucked into all the busywork and forget the big picture of “simplifying and organizing life”. That’s what I’m passionate about and that’s what I’m here to do — whether I have 20 people reading every day or 20,000.

 5. I almost never seek out advertisers or sponsors.

I did this in the beginning — just to get my name out there — but it’s not something I do anymore because it’s not something I particularly enjoy doing.

I’ve decided that at the current time, it’s better for me and for my blog to use Ad Networks for the majority of my ads and only accept private ads and sponsorships if they find me (so long as they fit with my style, mission, values, etc.)

I realize many bloggers probably think I’m crazy right now (don’t worry, I totally understand!) however, I’ve noticed that sometimes, I’m actually more desirable to companies because I don’t throw myself at them or pad my stats to get them interested in me.

6. I do everything myself.

Aside from a handful of guests posts, every word you’ve ever read on my blog, on my Facebook page, from Twitter, or in an email for the last 4+ years has come directly from my finger tips.

I have never hired anyone to do anything for me besides the very technical behind-the-scene website creation and maintenance (and of course, Dave edits my posts for free!)

I take the pictures, I write the words, I work directly with the sponsors, I update the sidebar, I place the ads, I answer every email and every comment — and that’s how I like it (at least for now). Yes, I could probably grow and expand if I were willing to hire more help, but I don’t really want to grow and expand because that doesn’t seem as simple for me — and simple is what I want right now.

I don’t want an empire — although I am very grateful there are other “empire blogs” that have hired me to work for them 🙂 I just want my small slice of the internet to be 100% ME.

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To some, this might seem like a VERY lazy and unprofessional “business plan”. I totally understand that; I would even agree with parts of that statement.

However, to me, it’s actually a pretty strategic plan that I’m hoping will prevent burnout and keep me passionate about my blog and my business for a long LONG time.

And I think we will all benefit from that… right? 🙂

For the record, I have absolutely nothing against working strictly for a paycheck. Dave and I have both had jobs like that before, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of for doing what you need to do to provide for your family.

The point I’m trying to make is that there would be MANY much easier, less stressful, less “working 24/7” ways for me to make a decent paycheck if that’s all I was interested in.

If I was only running my blog for the paycheck, it would not be worth the amount of time, energy, and effort I put into it each week. However, since it is something I’m very passionate about and love doing — it’s 100% worth it.

I just need to keep that passion alive!

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42 comments

  1. Carrie

    09/23/2014

    Good for you!! I love this!

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  2. deborah

    09/22/2014

    This post was fun to read for me for a variety of reasons!

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that thinks of things they’d like to blog about, but then the actual post doesn’t happen for a long time. 🙂

    I don’t love all the social media promoting either. I do some of it, but pretty hit and miss.

    I’d love to make an income from my blog, but I love a lot of other things about my blog. There are days I feel like maybe I’m wasting my time, but my blog has blessed me in a lot of ways and I’v e made a few online friends from it.

    I really, really relate to your points, even though my blog is not the business yours is. Thanks! So enjoyed reading this.

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  3. Alison @SassyMomChicago

    09/21/2014

    This is such a refreshing point of view and a relief. Some days I dread writing a post thinking about all the social media that needs to be done to promote it. Social media has truly taken the passion out of blogging. After reading this it gives me motivation to NOT worry about that stuff and just write like I intended when I started 5 years ago. Thank you for that!!

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  4. Marva

    09/21/2014

    Ahhhhh, so refreshing!

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  5. Karen

    09/21/2014

    I had to stop reading some of the other blogs I used to read all the time because they started lacking the personal touch and authenticity. This is why I love your blog.

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  6. Brandi Clevinger

    09/20/2014

    I am so, so relieved to read this from you! I see a lot of blogging groups where the bloggers seem to be killing themselves in getting a certain number of clicks, etc for paid sponsorships, etc. I just don’t get it. I don’t want to do that. And since I always look to you and your blog for guidance, I thought, I don’t think Andrea does this, so I’m not going to kill myself doing it either. I’m so glad I was right in this thinking.

    I absolutely do not think you are being lazy in the least bit. I think you are staying true to your roots and keeping it simple. And I like that everything comes from you and you’re not trying to push content on your readers. It makes me a more loyal reader.

    You’re amazing! Please do not put down your keyboard yet! Haha Thanks again!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Brandi! I appreciate your kind words of encouragement and hopefully, I will not be putting down the keyboard anytime soon 🙂

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  7. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    09/20/2014

    I love the heart of this post, Andrea! I have a blog because I have a passion for writing and for encouraging others. I would love to be able to make some money blogging, but I never want that to be the reason behind my blog. I put little value in the numbers, but rather focus on writing from the heart. If the readers (and the money) are meant to come, they will. If not, then I will find another outlet for my passion. I never want my passion to become my paycheck, either. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. Deb

    09/19/2014

    I love your blog and that you have not lost sight of the point of blogging in the first place, which is working from HOME. A lot of the bloggers seem to be always be at one conference or another or representing some company and don’t seem to ever be home, maybe that is why their houses look perfect. 😉 I read your blog EVERY day and love that it is really you. I also love that your priorities line up financially, etc. so you don’t have to compromise because you have planned and made wise decisions. It is kind of annoying when bloggers whine about traveling or book deadlines, etc. and it was their choice to do all that in the first place. Keep up the good work!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Deb — and you know what, I’ve actually never thought about that before… the fact that the main reason I’m blogging is because it allows me to work from HOME so why should I feel bad saying no to all the travel requests!

    After 4 years of blogging, I’ve only traveled over night for 3 nights — one of which was before kids. Aside from a monthly meet-up with other local bloggers, I pretty much never leave my house for my job (maybe that’s another reason I like it so much!)

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  9. Debby

    09/19/2014

    Great post once again. I love your blog. I would follow yours and another one daily and on a regular basis. However, the other one is on a hiatus right now and I feel for them because I think they got very big very fast and overwhelmed themselves and their family life. Hopefully they will come back when the have some time to breathe and maybe have a better perspective and attitude toward it like you. thanks for all you share. Love it. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    let me guess the other blog… Young House Love?
    Yeah, totally bummed for them too 🙁

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    Debby Reply:

    Yep that’s it. I miss them already. Hopefully they just need some time off and they will come back in a month. They had some MAJOR stuff going on in a very short period of time AND a new baby. Whew! I find both of your blogs so real. So no pressure, but don’t leave me!!!! It’s been almost two years since I found your blog and I rarely miss a day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well I’m not planning to go leave you any time soon 🙂

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  10. Barrie

    09/19/2014

    I have to say- thank you for this post. I am a blogger new to the monetizing side of it- and frankly, the more I look at other blogs, the more I am disconcerted with some of the directions many of them go that makes them more like “factory blogs” than unique outlets with something to offer the reader.
    I love your blog and it has been one of the only ones that I subscribe to regularly. I think because you do keep it unique and the lack of ads gives you more professional viability.

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    Brenda Reply:

    I agree. I have found a few blogs that I enjoy reading but then after a while all they are doing is sponsored posts. I am not interested in reading about how awesome some random products is just because you were given it for free. I mean all the posts this one blog did was product reviews. It became annoying to not “trust” the authenticity of the blog anymore. Andrea keeps her product reviews honest and sincere. I believe that I could go to her house and see her using the stuff everyday.

    This blog is one of 2 that I check everyday. And Andrea is sure to have an interesting post everyday! And my 3 year-old sons loves Nora.

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  11. Debbie W.

    09/19/2014

    I love your blog too! And I really enjoyed this post today. I find myself thinking all the time about things that you say as I go about trying to keep my own life simple and balanced. Thanks for taking the time to share your talents!

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  12. Hannah

    09/19/2014

    Love your outlook on blogging, Andrea. You are authentic and down to earth and it is refreshing! I wish I lived in Michigan instead of Wisconsin because I think we would be besties based on your practical nature and the fact that you are the organizing queen. 🙂 Stay classy, lady; your blog is obviously loved by so many and we are happy that you are happy!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Hannah. Yeah, I guess Wisconsin is a little too far for daily hang-outs. However, Dave’s sister (and several other extended relatives) live in WI 🙂

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    Selena Reply:

    I have to chime in as a fellow Wisconsinite. Andrea, I think your Midwest voice really shines through, and I always connect with that. I’ve lived briefly in the East, and in the Southwest, and had a hard time relating to the attitudes generally shared by those in other parts of the country. I am always surprised at how similar we are, and think our Midwestern upbringings must play a big role! Glad you are keeping it small and keeping it real! I’ll keep reading 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! Thanks Selena!
    The good old Mid West — gotta’ love it!

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  13. Kelly in Oregon

    09/19/2014

    I love your business plan 🙂

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  14. rose

    09/19/2014

    Some ladies are not going to like this, but, “Why would anyone ask such a goofy question???? I enjoy/love reading your posts every morning before work, I can’t seem to start my day at the office unless I check out what you’ve go to say….Do I think, “When is this going to end????”…..No! I read it daily and enjoy it….I’ve got way too many other things going on in my life than to throw that question on my plate….Just saying…..

    Love your blog!!!!!!!!! Hope it keeps going on forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    don’t worry Rose, I’m positive the questions were not meant to be invasive or rude. In fact, many of the questions were simply in conversations with other bloggers (who have quit or were thinking about quitting). Others were just with local family and friends who were legitimately wondering if I was planning to stop blogging after the babies.

    It’s all just good discussion (and hey, a good topic for another blog post!).

    That said, I’m glad you’re reading each day regardless 🙂

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  15. Sherry

    09/19/2014

    Your blog is my favourite because not only are they your words but I don’t have to wade through tons of advertising to find the content. I also love your Facebook page! I am at the point where I can tell hubby, “You won’t believe what Nora said today”, and he know’s exactly who I am talking about! Kind of creepy on your end I’m sure. However, we are in the season of life where our children are grown but not old enough for children of their own so we don’t have any little ones around. We miss that.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well, Nora does have some pretty good stories so I’m glad she’s enlightening your day 🙂

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  16. Jen

    09/19/2014

    Sounds like YOU need a VA-or a ghost writer! I’m qualified for both if you ever wanna chat! 🙂 It’s refreshing that you KNOW what you want and you DO it without compromise! Kudos to you! Have a beautiful weekend!

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  17. Starla

    09/19/2014

    I get this! I really, really do. I’ve come to the same conclusions with my small business. I love that I can do it all myself and stay personal. I love that I can do what I love and still be ALL THERE as a wife and mother to my boys. And then sometimes I begin to wonder if I’m doing the right thing, or doing it the right way. It certainly isn’t the popular way! But then I remember that there isn’t only one right way. And this way is working for us and we’re ok with staying small. So why not like it and make the most of it!

    Thank you for your encouraging post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Starla. I like how you said that there is not one “right way”. That’s so true!
    I’ve gotten a lot of pressure to grow and expand — and it IS tempting. But I just don’t think I’d like doing it as much!

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  18. Shambray

    09/19/2014

    You are amazing to me! I am so glad I found your blog a few months ago. I can relate to you in so many ways. I am so glad that you are passionate about it because you have a gift and I love you sharing it!

    PS I can totally relate to the organization thing. I was the same way as it kid and it is so funny because my daughter is a little mini me when it comes to that.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Shambray — from one organized baby to another 🙂

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  19. Kim

    09/19/2014

    Sorry — that should read “go against a societal norm”… 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — got it! I did read your comment a couple of times (a bit confused) before I realized what you were trying to say 🙂

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  20. Kim

    09/19/2014

    I enjoyed this post. It reinforces to me that sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to go with a societal “norm” when doing something, for which I can see a better way. Thanks for writing about this. Have a great day.
    Cheers
    Kim, Brisbane, Australia.

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  21. Pamela

    09/19/2014

    “Empire blogs” overwhelm me. I’m glad yours is not one! Hands down yours is my favorite blog out there. I’m so glad you’re content being YOU; that’s what (who!) we all love!

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    Andrea Reply:

    The empire blogs kind of overwhelm me too — but at the same time, it’s pretty amazing that one person (or a small group of people) could make a huge business from the internet!

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  22. Debbie

    09/19/2014

    i have to say you are doing it right! Your blog is personal but also helpful and informative. I enjoy reading through it without the annoying pop ups ads on the bottom of the screen. Keep blogging and keep that passion going!

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  23. jenny

    09/19/2014

    That is the main reason I love your blog. You are the only one who does the work. It is all genuine and honest. I have posted this before but I’ll say it again, your are my favorite blog and i do check it every day. And I am glad you love it, for me thats many more blog posts to read.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jenny 🙂

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    Siobhan Reply:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself Jenny. Actually, Andrea I just started reading your posts in the evening on Facebook and my husband asked me who is this lady you’re always reading about lol. I’m drawn to your posts because they are authentic and I can relate to so much of what you say. Thanks again & enjoy your weekend 🙂

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    Barb Reply:

    Ditto, Jenny! My favorite blog post…..and I’m in my 70’s!

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  24. LoriB

    09/19/2014

    Love your perspective!

    [Reply]