I am often asked how I started blogging. Well, it’s not a short story, but it is an interesting one… some even say inspiring. I mean, who gives up their life, moves out of the country and decides to blog for a living? Crazy people. Or at least that’s what many of my family and friends thought. Here is the story.
Once upon a time…
I was working in the corporate world, on the upper East Coast, getting up at 6 am, dragging myself to the dreaded cubicle to work for a boss that was… let’s call her “difficult,” and rarely making it home in time for dinner. You may know what I’m talking about. I was miserable… but I thought I was “paying my dues” and I had big plans to work my way up the corporate ladder, finish my doctorate, etc. In all honesty, I thought my life would be largely spent in an office, hopefully with a view, looking forward to 2 weeks vacation every year. You know, for some, that’s not a bad life at all- for me, it was torture. Did I mention I was in a seriously bad relationship, unhealthy, and just miserable overall?
It was a combination of reaching an extreme level of misery, followed by some inspirational words from a wise man, that ultimately changed my life.
In 2005, I had hit a new level of unhappiness, and I reached a point where I decided I was going to make changes- and I did. I got rid of everything I owned. I quit a bad and scary relationship. I quit my job. I moved to Puerto Vallarta to avoid going back into that relationship.
I was happy… except with work. I was bartending and taking on freelance marketing for local businesses. After nearly a year, I made a total of $1300…. for the YEAR. Ouch.
Then it happened- the moment that everything changed….
One day, I was leaving a particularly “challenging” client. I had just witnessed her scream at some customers, viciously tear into our own project, and even slam a door amidst her tantrum.
As I walked home, I had this HUGE realization… I had changed so much in my life, but I was still in the same job misery.
I stopped right there, in the middle of the famous, cobblestoned Olas Altas street in Old Town. I can still picture my high heeled sandals, on those cobblestones as I stared down, oblivious to the cars going around me, probably thinking I was crazy. I found myself having an internal rant in my head about all the things I didn’t want:
- I didn’t want to work with rude, obnoxious and temperamental people anymore.
- I didn’t want to have to chase down my paychecks from cheap clients.
- I didn’t want to work my tail off for $1300 a year.
- I didn’t want to work on someone else’s schedule and have to wake up early or work through lunch.
- I didn’t want…. I didn’t want… I didn’t want… the list went on and on.
Then I realized… this was the best gift I had ever given myself: to know what I didn’t want, so I could turn it around and ask myself a magic question….
“What do I really want?“
I stood in the street, on those cobblestones, for nearly an hour… listing all the things I wanted… listing my dream life desires….
- I wanted to be my own boss
- I wanted a flexible schedule & I wanted to be able to sleep until noon if I felt like it
- I wanted to travel the world
- I wanted the opportunity to make endless amounts of money
- I wanted to buy my mom a house if she wanted
- I wanted to have the money to help my family, friends and people in need
- I wanted peace of mind, relaxation time and an easy life full of joyful experiences…..and the list went on, and on, and on….
An hour later, still standing in the street. This truly was a movie moment, where I was oblivious to the world around me. I didn’t care about the bar full of people, the cars driving around me, the tourists walking by….who all probably thought I was out of my head.
I realized I had just experience a life changing moment and I promised myself then and there, that I would never again, accept any type of work that didn’t allow me to have all the things in my life that I wanted. Even if it meant turning down a fortune, (and I have now) I would not sacrifice that promise to myself.
Then, I took action….
I went back to my apartment, I sat down and I thought, “What kind of work would let me have all of the things that I want?” It didn’t take me long to think… internet. “There must be something on the internet. I mean, years ago, I made some money for college, selling exotic seeds as a side thing… let’s see what new opportunities there are now….”
Little did I know that I would sit at my computer and not get up for the next 6 months…
Searching the web, I came across a few bloggers making “some” money online blogging and an article by Joel Comm (Hi Joel! ) on making money with Google ads (he was making $50 a day then, millionaire now.) Before I finished reading the article, I instinctively knew I wanted to tie blogging with ads, and that this would work for me.
“Trial and error” became my teacher, and it turned out to be the best lessons of my life.
At this time, WordPress was primitive and there was no such thing as a blogging course to learn from. I used WordPress when it would work, linking to self-coded, basic html pages that I needed to be “stable.” I did the best I could and created my first blog… a travel blog & city guide focused on Puerto Vallarta.
I began working like a fiend. My boyfriend at the time, would beg me to leave my computer… to just go for dinner or for a walk. I refused. I insisted I wasn’t leaving my computer until I figured this out. I didn’t socialize, I didn’t leave my apartment. I worked, I tested, and I set goals.
My first goals with blogging….
My first goal was to make $33 a day. This was enough to cover my rent and basic necessities. It took me a few months to reach that goal. Then I raised my goal to $66 a day. Then $99. Then I doubled that. Doubled again. And again.
(33 is now my favorite number. It’s sacred to me, magical even.)
Most days, I worked 24 hours straight and after a few months, my wrists were bruised from my palm up my forearms. I don’t mean slight-tint bruising… I mean full on dark purple, black and blue, all the way up my forearms- bruised and agonizingly painful.
Did I stop? No. I took Advil throughout the day, and I wrapped my wrists in ace bandages and kept going. I worked 18 to 24 hours a day (occasionally longer) for 6 months straight, until my wrists became so bad, I could not move them, and I was living on Advil. One day, my boyfriend had to start helping me hold a glass of water just to drink.
By this time, I am making several thousand dollars a month and I am, “in the zone.” The idea that I had hurt my wrists so badly, I could not lift a glass, let alone type and work… well that scared me.
This led me to a miraculous strategy that I have used in my work every single day….
I thought back to my “Cobblestone Day” and asked myself what I wanted: I wanted my wrists to heal and never to have to work this hard again. I never wanted to work so hard that I was hurting myself… not only my wrists, but lack of sleep, lack of eating, and being on the Advil diet just wasn’t healthy.
My second magic question…
From that day on, I made it a habit to ask myself, “How can I automate this?” & that became my 2nd magic question.
Since that day, I constantly ask myself these two questions.
“What do I really want?” and “How can I automate this?”
Where I ended up….
It took me 2 years to hit 6 figures a year. It took about another year to hit 7 figures.
Today, I am living an exceptional life that is beyond what I designed in my head that day on Olas Altas street; I work for myself, doing what I love, helping others and sleeping until noon if I choose to. I can now easily go 3 or more without working and I put my health first. My income potential is literally limitless.
In 2010, I took a one year hiatus that turned into 5 years, traveling the world and only updating my travel blog, Spoiled Traveler, using my iPhone. I’ve had experiences I would never have had from an office. More importantly, I’ve had the money and flexibility to help friends and family when they needed, and the freedom to help others on a level I never thought possible. My blogs have received over 100 million views and beyond anything else, I am grateful that those readers keep me inspired to continue to add value to their lives.