My journey into the background noise began purely by accident. I was 27 and “living the dream”. I was in graduate school while working full-time and got another degree I didn’t even care, just married and in the middle of a quarterly crisis. I felt like my life was on autopilot and I just ticked the boxes on the “things adults do” list.
I stomped off at a company where I was the only engineer in my department feeling so out of place, uninspired and undervalued. I went to work every day hoping that would be the day they fired me. Let me just warn you, manifestation is definitely a real thing.
I was fired – and it turned out to be for the best for me
I went to work on a snowy morning in January 2014, got laid off, and then drove home in that blizzard. I didn’t realize it then, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
About six months before I was fired, I started a food blog called Delish D’Lites. I’ve always been passionate about food and cooking, and toyed with the idea of quitting my job to go to cooking school. But after a little more self-reflection, I realized something at that moment: I had just been given the time (and the luxury of a three-month severance package) to really figure out what I wanted to do with my life – and go from one stressful career to the next, Is not it?
My moment of the lightbulb
I wanted a life that wasn’t just about showing up in a certain place to get a paycheck. I wanted the freedom to live and work anywhere. I wanted to make passive income and make money while I slept. I wanted to be protected from layoffs in the future through multiple sources of income.
It sounded too good to be true, but six years and more than $ 165,000 in incidental expenses later, I can definitely say the layoff was life changing.
In those three months before I got a new job (I still work full time), I learned deeply how to make money online, especially as a blogger. I was inspired by food blogs like The Pioneer Woman and Skinnytaste and decided to do an introduction to the food blogging class at a local cooking school. Later that day, I started my plan.
I’ve devoured YouTube videos and blog articles on how to blog, style photos, optimize SEO, and even branded social media. My first year was all about building, but in 2015 I made my first profits from advertising income. A whooping cough $ 2,295! It was the first time I’ve made money without getting a job. I was hooked.
I have built multiple streams of income
In 2017, I continued to refine my content, optimize it for SEO, and add sponsored blog posts and affiliate marketing to my revenue streams. This year I made $ 10,598. In 2018, I made $ 21,860. In 2019, I added teaching Zumba to my income streams and made $ 46,033 from my sideline jobs.
In 2020, as a personal finance educator and podcaster, I created more streams of income. I started doing financial coaching, side hustle coaching, lectures, educational workshops, social media influencing, and a digital class, and I made $ 86,517 while working 9-5. Since my side hustle saga began, I’ve made over $ 167,000 from my part-time jobs.
My sideline helped me pay off my student loan debt
My main motivation for the side business was the ability to accelerate my debt payments, savings and investment goals. I had $ 39,000 total in student loans when I decided to use my extra income to expedite the repayment.
In October 2018, I set myself the goal of being debt free by the age of 35. Instead of paying the minimum payment ($ 450), I started paying $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 monthly on my loans. I had a clear goal of using my sideline to achieve financial independence, and the first step in my journey was to be debt free. I made my final payment on February 26, 2020 and immediately rerouted the extra extra income to maximize my 401 (k) job and IRA for the first time in my adult life.
How to start a digital sideline
Thanks to social media, you don’t even need a technical background to create a website or digital product to sell. Sites like Etsy and Podia offer sophisticated platforms for selling digital content and built-in user interfaces. You can use social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to promote and validate your service or product-based business.
Additionally, there are tons of inexpensive digital businesses that you can start that don’t require you to sell anything. My food blog generates revenue by hosting ads and affiliate links. In November 2020, my blog alone earned over $ 14,000 in advertising revenue. Even if you don’t want to sell a physical or digital product, by simply creating a website with lots of traffic you can build a passive stream of income that makes money 365 days a year.
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