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Odd Job Update: Blogging

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If you haven’t heard, I said goodbye to SAHD FIRE and Hello to Gig FIRE. I have 2 reasons for doing this. One, I want to spend my time a little more productively. My son is getting older and more independent now. He’s at school from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. That’s a lot of idle time for me. This is the most free time I have had since I became a SAHD. I need something to do. Two, I want to raise $30,000 to build a beach cabin in Thailand. My family has a small piece of land near Hua Hin beach. The beach is just okay, but the seafood is delicious and very affordable. My dad wants to live there during the burning season. It’s way too smoky in Chiang Mai from February to mid-April. I’ve always wanted to live in a beach town as well.

Anyway, I’ll try various ways to make money and write an update occasionally. Today, I’ll write about my long-time odd job – blogging.

Blogging

I started blogging in 2010. Wow, it’s been 13 years! In a few years, I’ll be a blogger longer than I was an engineer. That’s nuts. Blogging completely transformed my life for the better. I was at a low point, and blogging lifted me out of that funk. It gave me a purpose by letting me focus on improving my life instead of blaming circumstances for my problems. Blogging helped turn negative energy into creativity.

Back in 2010, the FIRE movement and blogging were both growing. It was a great time to start a blog. Also, I wanted to make a little money on the side. I wanted to leave my engineering career and I was willing to try anything. Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time. Retire by 40 grew tremendously over the first few years and it gave me the confidence to retire early. By 2012, our net worth met the 4% SWR rule, but I probably wouldn’t have quit engineering if I didn’t have any side income. The blogging income enables us to delay withdrawal and invest.

Blogging Income

I was very fortunate to start blogging when I did. The tide was rising and it lifted all boats in 2010. The first year was the only year I lost money. After that, blogging generated a nice income.

Here is a chart of my blogging income over the years.

It’s unbelievable. Blogging generated over $400,000 of income for me over the last 13 years. I never thought it’d make that much when I started. I just wanted a little income to help pay the bills. I’m extremely grateful for all the readers over the years. Of course, many bloggers were more successful. A few were able to leverage their blogs into books, consulting gigs, YouTube, and various other businesses. It’s a great stepping stone. I wasn’t creative or hungry enough to grow the business. It remains a blog and I’ll continue as long as I can. That’s the extent of my ambition. After all, I want to enjoy my relaxing semi-retirement. I don’t want to work too much.

SAHD’s rating

Here is my rating for the blogging as a SAHD side gig. It worked out very well for me, but that’s due to a lot of luck and perseverance. I started at the right time and I kept at it. Your mileage may vary. Most blogs don’t last very long because they couldn’t get enough traction.

Flexibility – Blogging is very flexible. I used to blog at night when I was an engineer. Back then, I could stay up late… I used to publish 3 posts per week and spent a ton of time writing and researching. When I started, I spent over 20 hours per week on this side gig. Now, I spend about 5-10 hours per week on it. Another great thing about blogging is that I could do it from anywhere. I spent 6 months away from home in 2022 and was able to keep the blog going.

Money – My blogging income has been great over the years. The first year was rough, though. I didn’t make much money until the 2nd year. Most people quit early because they don’t see the result of their hard work. It takes a lot of patience to work 20+ hours per week for no income. Unfortunately, I think blogging is dying. The tide is going out and even established bloggers are making less money these days. It’s way harder to generate income from blogging now than when I started.  

Potential – Blogging still has good potential. You can leverage a blog into many other businesses. If you’re industrious, you can make it work. Blogging is a stepping stone now. You don’t want to focus on just blogging. That’s a dead end, IMO. My blogging income is decreasing every year and I don’t think it’ll come back.

Fun – I still enjoy blogging. It’s fun to research a topic and write about it. Blogging gives me a chance to focus my mind. That’s a good thing.

X factor – Blogging has many benefits. I blog about FIRE and it motivates me to improve our finances. We are doing so much better than when I first started. It also gave me a bridge to full retirement. I have an LLC and I’ve been contributing to my individual 401k. If I keep blogging until 2028, I can shut down the business and withdraw from my 401k penalty-free. I’ll be old enough to use the rule of 55. It’s a great way to access some of my retirement funds early.

Overall – Blogging worked out extremely well for me. I was in the right place at the right time and I benefited hugely from starting a blog in 2010. The income is decreasing, but it is still much better than any other odd jobs I’ve tried. I plan to keep blogging until 2028. After that, I’ll re-evaluate the situation and figure out what to do next.

In conclusion, I think blogging isn’t a good side gig anymore. It’s too hard to gain traction and the advertising income is trending down. However, it’s a good stepping stone. You can use a blog to catapult your entrepreneurial spirit into other businesses. That’s worth your time.

Alright, that’s it for this update. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you’re interested in starting a blog, here is my guide. How to start a blog and why you should.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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