How to Blog Your Way Out of Corporate (with Eric Rosenberg)
In this episode, Anthony shares the mic with Eric Rosenberg. Escaping corporate life with a side hustle is probably the dream of most people — how is this possible, what options there might be, and how to go about it are probably some of the few questions to answer. Today, Eric shares his personal journey in leaving his position as a senior financial analyst to become a home-based freelance writer.
- Who Eric is and his background
- Earning Cents to Thousands
- The KEY in Freelancing
- Intentionally Leaving His Job
- The Importance of In-Person Relationships
- Freelancing vs Employment
- Getting Full Time in Freelancing
- 00:01 – Anthony introduces Eric
- 00:42 – Eric talks about what he’s up to
- Making 5-figures through freelance writing
- Everything started from his blog, Personal Profitability
- 01:55 – Eric’s background
- Eric had 8 years of hard work
- Earned less than $1 an hour but committed to earning online
- Online income is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme
- Eric has 2 finance degrees and worked as a bank manager
- Left his job and started blogging
- 10 years in corporate America
- Slowly growing the blog
- 08:29 – From earning cents to thousands on a monthly basis
- Sponsored posts and direct relationships with advertisers
- 10:17 – Eric talks about his edge over the competition in landing jobs
- 10:51 – What makes you unique and what makes you stand out
- Key in freelancing
- 12:07 – Become intentional in leaving your job
- 14:07 – Eric highly recommends to check out Darren Rowse – ProBlogger
- 18:05 – Not getting a big traffic but getting a nice offer
- Eric’s first deal
- Embrace your success
- 20:40 – The best way to find opportunities: in-person relationships
- 21:55 – Eric used Upwork in the past
- 23:38 – Freelancing vs Employment
- 24:36 – Giving up the corporate job and building income through freelancing
- It was a slow build
- Eric was a Senior Financial Analyst when he left
- He realized something wasn’t right when he didn’t have time for his daughter anymore
- A big emergency fund is important
- 29:47 – Eric recommends Mastermind Hunt
- 33:58 – Stop doing what holds you back
- 37:03 – The Personal Profitability Boot Camp
- A FREE week-long course you can join at!
- A corporate job isn’t the only thing that pays well.
- You have to be intentional in leaving a job — and it’s not going to be an easy journey.
- There is no overnight success online, just success from hard work.
Link and Resources
- Darren Rowse – ProBlogger – The resource Eric recommends if you want to know more about making money from writing
- Upwork – A platform Eric used when he started
- Mastermind Hunt – Mastermind group that Eric recommends
Call or text 212-401-2990 if you’d like to work with Anthony (or any of our guests).
ANTHONY: Hey guys. Today let’s talk about how Eric escaped corporate life with a side hustle. I know this is something a lot of you sometimes daydream about. Some of you may be more serious than others, maybe actually laying down some plans and learning some online skills, and others, it might be more of a, kind of, wishful thinking, but it is something that folks like to hear about. So I’m here with Eric Rosenberg. Eric, thanks for joining us.
ERIC: Thanks much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
ANTHONY: So Eric’s life story is what we’re here to hear about. Eric, why don’t we start with a, sort of, brief overview of what your life is like now so we can, sort of, set the tone as to, you know, kinda how awesome things are now, and then we’ll work on to how we got there.
ERIC: Yeah, that sounds great. So these days, over the last, since October 2016, so for about the last two years, I’ve been making five figures every month as an online content creator, primarily freelance writing. And that all started from my own blog and podcast and YouTube channel. It’s called Personal Profitability. When I started that, I didn’t realize I was creating a resume for a new career path. And, yes, over the last couple years it’s been an amazing success. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see, like, is this real? Am I dreaming? It’s a really fantastic lifestyle. I control my schedule. I decide, if I really want to, at three in the afternoon, if I’ve been crushing it that day, I can take my little girl, I have a, a daughter who’s almost three, and just go grab ice cream. That’s, to me, that’s like the pinnacle of why self-employment and freelancing is so amazing.
ANTHONY: Thank you for that. That’s like the perfect picture of what I think a lotta folks, sort of, dream for or aspire for. But was it always like that? Right, I mean let’s go back in time a little bit and talk about where you came from and then, sort of, how you got to this point. And let’s roll it all the way back to, I guess, college and what you studied and what you did after graduation leading up, you know, to starting your career.
ERIC: I’d love this. It’s like a Quentin Tarantino movie. We gotta start at the end and then go back to the beginning and figure out how we got there.
ANTHONY: Well I just wanna give the folks, I want them to know what they’re listening for, you know?
ERIC: Absolutely. Yeah, so I’m one of those stories, or if you ever hear, you know, someone had years of hard work and they were an overnight success, that is exactly what happened to me. It was about eight years of hard work where I wasn’t making five figures a month online. I was often making less than a dollar an hour in the beginning. I never really calculated it, but it was easy to see, without a calculator, that I was making very little in the beginning. But it is a longterm commitment. You know, if you’re looking to make money online, there’s lots of different side hustles, and many of them, you can get to a pretty quick success depending on how you focus and your skills and your background and your dedication. But online income is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a hopefully make a living over the longterm plan. So that’s something I like to preface it with, is it wasn’t instant, and it was not overnight. It did take a lotta hard work. Yeah, so going back to the beginning, my background is actually in finance. I have two finance degrees. I got an undergrad degree from the University of Colorado, go Buffs, in finance. And my first job out of college was a bank manager. So I was there, I was doing seven to sevens because, you know, bankers’ hours aren’t what they used to be. And I learned so much in that role as a bank manager. I was approving mortgages, credit card applications, and lines of credit that came into our branch. That’s how that bank worked. And I was also managing customer service and the tellers and the new accounts. So the day-to-day bank stuff that happens in a bank branch all fell on my shoulders. And it was a wonderful experience, but not really the right fit for me at that specific role. So when I decided to leave that company, I’d had this, kinda, light bulb moment go off in my head. I’d been reading some personal finance blogs for probably a couple years at this point, and I’d done a little blogging on the side, I started my first blog in the summer of 2007. So I’d been blogging, and not quite as long as it’s been around, but I’m definitely a dinosaur in blogger years. Yeah, so when I left that job, I was reading these blogs, and a lot of them were written by people who’d gotten into a bunch of debt, and they were trying to get out of debt, and they were sharing their story. And others were just kinda meandering along, figuring out frugality and budgeting and other personal finance topics. And at this point, as we were just getting into the Great Recession, it was October 2008, so actually my blog turns 10 this month, which is mind blowing to me that I have a 10-year-old, but it’s on the internet. My actual kid’s not even three.
ANTHONY: Well, happy birthday for the blog.
ERIC: Thank you, thank you. Yeah, so when I, I was looking at all these sites and I started thinking, well jeez, I’d never had any debt, I graduated from college debt-free, primarily thanks to a big scholarship from working at Boy Scout camp, I had a huge financial wealth of information from getting a finance degree and then from running the bank branch. And I started thinking, well, people shouldn’t be listening to people in debt about their money, they should be listening to me, I’ve never been in debt. So that’s when I started what became Personal Profitability. It was, little did I know, I changed the entire course of my life when I went on to Blogger, that’s where it used to be hosted, it’s now owned by Google, and created that first blog. So things have changed a lot since then, but that’s really the moment where I started the side hustle that became my full-time income.
ANTHONY: So when you were working at the bank, and you said your hours were something like seven to seven, how much time were you spending on your blog during those early years?
ERIC: When I was at the bank I hadn’t started it yet. There was, I was worried there might have been a little conflict of interest there, that is one thing you have to be careful of with side hustles. You know, if you are a lawyer or a doctor, those are probably the two you are most likely to have a contract that says you can’t work on any outside business. You know, if you’re a financial level person or executive or above, just make sure you’re not gonna do anything wrong with your employer when you start a side hustle. As it was, when I left that job was when I really started the side hustle. And from that point, I still, I was enjoying this blogging thing, I was trying to make a few dollars on it, but I never imagined that it would lead to where it is today. It’s one of those things that, the lining up of the stars and just having taken the right actions at the right time. And I, I was trying to make money on it, but I didn’t realize I was going to make what I would eventually make. So I, I kept working, I was in corporate America then for the next 10 years. I was sitting in gray cubicles doing, I’d say, eight to six-ish, I’d say, you know, typical, at least out on the west side of the country. I know you East Coasters work really long hours, especially in finance. So I wasn’t working quite the Wall Street schedule, but I still had pretty long hours, and it was coming home on those evenings and weekends that I was still working on the blog, cranking out blog posts, and it kept growing and growing. I picked up an MBA along the way, also in finance, so doubled down on my finance credentials. In my mind I was headed towards the C-suite at a Fortune 500 company. You know a lotta kids, when you ask what they wanna be when they grow up, they’d love to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and I imagine that’s still a thing. I guess magazines aren’t quite what they were when I was a kid, when we were kids. I always wanted to be on the cover of Fortune. I thought that would be way cooler than being on the cover of any sports magazine. So, again, that’s what I kept working at. But, at the same time, in parallel, my blog was a side hustle. And I kept working at it and working at it. And where, I had a few moments that I think of as hockey stick growth moments. You know, if you picture a hockey stick laying down on the ground, it’s like, you have your slow steady growth and then it pops up. So one major first hockey stick growth moment was actually from reading other personal finance blogs. And one blog that I came across had joined this network of bloggers called the Yakezie, which is actually, it’s still around, it’s not as active as it used to be, but that was a group of about a hundred personal finance bloggers, which, at this point, was probably, I dunno, half the personal finance bloggers out there, or maybe a third. It was a good chunk of the online finance blogging community. And we had a forum where we taught each other the things we were learning along the way. And some of those things included advertising. That’s where my income went from, you know, a nickel or two from AdSense clicks every once in a while to starting… Yes, yes, AdSense, which is still out there, it still works great for some businesses, very much not a get rich quick thing unless you have a ton of traffic, which, I had a bit of traffic but not, you know, millions of visits. So it was actually sponsored posts and direct relationships with advertisers that started to grow my income to the point that it was, it started becoming eye opening that, whoa, this might actually be something. I remember the first time I got a $10 ad, and I was so excited ’cause I could go buy a beer with what I made on the internet that day. It was like, whoa this is so cool.
ANTHONY: That’s awesome, Eric. Let’s roll it back just a little bit, ’cause I feel like the story’s about to really take off, and I just wanna make sure I cover some points that I know my, my listeners are gonna be curious about. So I wanna sort of walk, or to paint a picture of a day in your life at your corporate job, so that we can really understand what kind of balance was required to do this on the side. And you didn’t, as you mentioned, it might be different than how things are in New York or even just how things are now 10 years, however many years later, right. So you mentioned hours were closer to, like, eight to six. Then, did you work weekends at all, do you know?
ERIC: Rarely, I was on occasion, so I was most, most of the time in here my title was either Financial Analyst, Senior Financial Analyst, Senior Treasury Analyst. For a while I was Senior General Accountant, which I always laugh about because I didn’t have an accounting degree, they just kinda, they were like, well, you’re really doing accounting about 60% of the time anyways, we’ll just call you an accountant, which actually ended up becoming really valuable for where I am now. All these different experiences I had along the way have been so helpful. And one reason for that is, you know, in what I do as a freelance writer, if I’m, you know, see a job out there on a job board or if I’m discussing a potential, you know, match up with a client, the people I’m often competing against for those gigs have journalism degrees. So they can write really, really well, but they don’t have that depth of knowledge on finance that I do. And most people who go get two finance degrees, they stick with that track of going to the C-suite. So I’m not really competing against many people who have the specific experience and credentials that I do. So that is one thing that, you have to think about what makes you unique and what helps you stand out, especially if you wanna go the freelance track for side hustling, which I think is, maybe the best cubicle escape plan we have today is the freelance world.
ANTHONY: So you mentioned something really interesting, how you’re combining your background in finance with your writing skills. And that’s a very common theme that I’m seeing pretty much everywhere. Some people call it stacking talents, where you develop skills so that, you know, you’re not necessarily world-class, but you’re maybe the top quintile or top 20% of the world in, in those areas, which is not that hard to do, the more, if you actually sit down and think about it. And if you can combine two or three or, you know, a few of those complementary skills, you can be really valuable depending on how you stack it together.
ERIC: If you know how to use a comma, so if you know how to use a comma correctly, you’re a better writer than probably 95% of Americans. So adding those skills up was very helpful. And, again, I keep bringing it up because part of it was intentional, but part of it was discovery by accident. That might be part of why it took me eight years to get to that overnight success point. So you listening here, that might help you get a shortcut. So you’ll definitely… If you want to leave that cubicle, if you wanna get out there and do your own thing, you have to be intentional about it. There was no point anyone came up to me and said, “Eric, I give you permission “to start a finance blog,” or, you know, “Eric, “you should go find your first freelance client.” Those things didn’t happen. No one is going to come up to you and say, “Here’s your day one.” You have to do it yourself. You have to decide, this is what I’m gonna do, and get to work on it. And you have to do the work. It’s not always easy. In your life, you probably realize, the things you put the most into are what you get the most out of, and the easy things probably don’t give you those huge benefits. So it does take hard work, but if you stick with it, it was a great payoff for me.
ANTHONY: Your story is also very illustrative. A point that I think a lotta people need to wrap their head around, and that is that you cannot plan, necessarily, every step of your success. I’m pretty sure when you started your blog, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure when you started all this, you didn’t know where it was going. I mean, sounds like you started with AdSense, you realized that might not be the right way to actually ever make any money realistically, and then you pivoted to, you know, directly-sourced sponsored ads, and then you added to that freelance work. I mean, did you have that all mapped out from the beginning or did that, were those opportunities that kept coming up because you kept doing stuff?
ERIC: It was definitely the latter. It was seeing the opportunities arise and saying yes. You’re just saying yes. And tackling opportunities when they show up in front of you is the best way to find any success.
ANTHONY: Would you also agree that those opportunities would never have shown up in front of you unless you were just doing? You were doing your blog, you were just, you were just out there hustling, yeah?
ERIC: Oh yeah, yeah. If I hadn’t, I didn’t realize it at the time when I started that blog, I dunno if I said this at the beginning, but I was writing a new resume for a new career path that, if you’d asked most people back in 2008 if professional blogging was going to be a thing, most people would laugh at you. I remember reading the book ProBlogger by Darren Rowse, who I’ve now gotten to know over the years because of this. It’s another perk of being a blogger is you get to meet your blogger heroes. So Darren is an amazing guy.
ANTHONY: That’s funny, I just found a writer through a job post on ProBlogger.
ERIC: That is how I found some of my early clients, the ProBlogger job board. And I learned so much reading his site. If you wanna make money through any content creation online, particularly written, go read every old post on that site. You know, some of the stuff isn’t quite as relevant as it used to be, but you will learn so much along the way just by taking the time to read and absorb what others are doing and, is what’s leading to their success. Even if you can only apply 10% of it to your own business, that 10% might be the pivot point for you to hit your hockey stick moment. Yeah, so for me, that first hockey stick moment, as I’d mentioned, was the Yakezie. That’s where I learned more about how to make money online. And I saw, from the Yakezie, it was actually in the forum there, someone posted that this guy named Philip Taylor from a site called PT Money was creating the first ever financial bloggers conference, and it was going to be in Chicago. I was in my early 20s at this point. I was making enough online to pay for all my bar tabs every month, which, in my early 20s, I was a big nightclubber, a couple nights a week, you know thatkinda music. So paying all my bar tabs was not a small feat for my websites. But it was working, and it was going well. And when I saw this conference, I thought, am I gonna hop on a plane and go hang out with 200 people I’ve never met before in person? And, I mean, who knew what were a bunch of bloggers going to be like? And I said, if I make enough money from my website to pay for the trip, not only can I write off the trip on my taxes, which is, you know, a little finance win, but that’s when I’m gonna go. And I did hit that point, and I’m so glad I did ’cause that was the real life change moment for me, was when I went to the very first conference that became FinCon. I was actually just there last week. We had our eighth FinCon in Orlando. So FinCon has been, by far, my number one place that let my business grow and reach the point it is today. It was those in-person relationships. It’s funny, I was worried that I was gonna be hanging out with a bunch of nerds. And, I mean, I’m a nerd myself but, I know there’s a scale of nerdiness, I’ve fallen on, like, the Star Wars, Star Trek nerd level but never have gone to, like, Comic-Con nerd level. And when I showed up to the first FinCon, the very first opening keynote ever at FinCon was J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly, and he had someone come out and start speaking Klingon, which, I was like, oh my, am I at the wrong place, at least it’s only a few days. And it turned out that that talk, which was about storytelling, was incredible. And all of the people I met at that conference were incredible, including people like Pat Flynn, if you know Smart Passive Income, he did his first ever keynote at that conference. And I remember when I talked and he’s like, “What, you’ve heard of me?” And now, you know, he probably gets stopped going down the street, not quite as much as Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt, but, if you’re, he’s like the, the equivalent for the, for the online income world.
ANTHONY: Was he wearing his backpack at that first one?
ERIC: It didn’t exist yet. It was pre-backpack. But I love that backpack. For those of you who don’t know, he has a backpack that says, hi, my name is, like one of those stickers, and he wrote Pat on it with a Sharpie. And it’s one of the most noticeable things, I’ve seen it at several conferences, yeah. And Pat’s a great guy. But when I met him and I started going to these early FinCons, I thought, I’m gonna do what he’s doing. I’m gonna build a amazing blog and have millions of visitors and make, you know, six figures every month from affiliates, and that’s my plan, that’s what’s gonna happen. But, unfortunately, Google had different plans for me than I had. I never got that big traffic. But I did have something else happen. And that, a company actually came up to me, it was the second or third FinCon, and they said, “Well, “you know, we’ve noticed you at the conference.” I had gotten to a point where I was running a little speaking event so I was trying to get onstage and get more recognition at the conference just ’cause, you know, building your personal brand, you never know what’s gonna happen, but it’s never a bad thing. And a company said, “Oh, you know, we like “what you’re writing, we.” I was credentialed, I had the MBA at this point. “Would you write for our site? “We’ll pay you.” And I was like, heck yeah, if you pay me, I’ll write whatever you want. That sounds awesome. And I was able to make more in a week writing a couple articles than my website was making on its own between, you know, the ads and the affiliate stuff. And one thing I always like to point out to people, if you find something in your business that’s working, even if it’s not what you want to be working or what you expected to be working, embrace your success, because, if you embrace that success and keep repeating, you will see more success in that area, and that might lead to a point that it can subsidize what you want to work. Or maybe you just forget about the part that you thought was going to work and just keep running on that success. And for me that success was freelancing. So the freelance revenue at this point kept growing and growing and growing every year. And my website did grow a little bit with it. But it was never keeping pace with the freelancing. And it’s funny because, you know, I don’t have the biggest finance blog out there. I’d be happy if it were. But Personal Profitability, it’s a good site, it’s not huge, but that is where a lot of my clients were finding me. So even though I wasn’t making a lot of money directly through Personal Profitability, I was reaching great audiences and helping people, which I feel good about, and I was finding new clients from there, or more, they were finding me through there. So that Personal Profitability blog, and then, eventually, podcast and YouTube channel, those became kind of a lead generation tool for the other side of my business, for the freelancing. And now they’re actually even helping me do some more paid public speaking. So I’m able to build new parts onto my business that originally I wasn’t expecting to do at all. Who would have known that typing behind a computer, you know, by yourself in a room eight years ago would lead to an opportunity to get on a stage and get paid for it to tell your story? I never expected that, but now that’s starting to happen. So, again, you have to really embrace those, those successes. And, as I was doing that, I learned that, in the freelance world, particularly finance writing, the best way to find new opportunities is in-person relationships. And you’d think, oh, of course, you know, there’s great job boards like the ProBlogger board, and there’s those big marketplace sites like Upwork or Freelancer.com, but, for me, in-person relationships led to higher income per article because I was able to sit down with someone and say, you know, here’s my credentials, I have the MBA, I have the finance degree, I was approving mortgages. Are you looking for a mortgage writer? I’m probably the most qualified of most people who would be applying for a mortgage writing job. Most people haven’t been an approver before. So just building those relationships and getting to really understand what your target clients want and how you can provide a better value than any of your competitors, or even just a better value than most of your competitors. As a professional, if you’ve been sitting in a cubicle, you have skills. You have a lot you can offer.
ANTHONY: So have you ever sought out freelancing work on Elance, Upwork, or whatever they’re called now? Or has it always been, you know, leads coming from your blog, YouTube, and personal relationships?
ERIC: Yes, I’ve gotten stuff from the whole gamut. The majority was personal relationships, but early on, I didn’t have a lot of those and I didn’t have a huge portfolio of freelance work. It was more relying on what I’d been writing at Personal Profitability. So early on, it was the ProBlogger job board. I used to use oDesk a bit. Now that’s part of Upwork. Back then, there were two websites that merged to become what’s now Upwork. So I’ve got some gigs there. But the hard part about those marketplaces is you might be competing with someone in India or Philippines who’s very happy to work for $4 an hour because that is a great middle class income there. But living in Southern California or Manhattan, in $4 an hour, you’ll be living outside is a nice way to put it. I did have to find ways to find those higher paying clients that could value and afford what I was offering. So, over the years, I shifted more from writing for smaller blogs, you know, other, even peers in the industry, to writing now for large investment banks and insurance companies and other big brands. Like, just this, as I mentioned, I was at FinCon last week, I was sitting down with credit card issuers, nationwide credit unions, some really big websites that you’ve probably heard of, because that’s now who I’m able to work with. But, you know, that didn’t happen on day one. It took years of building a reputation and showing that I have the right credentials and the right skills to give their audience what they’re looking for. So, eventually, at the end of the day, they wanna make money off of it. So if I’m writing something and it doesn’t bring in search traffic or it doesn’t bring in new customers, or I do a bad job, in freelancing it’s really easy to let someone go, you just don’t give them a new assignment. Unlike a day job, where getting fired is a, kind of a big deal, you know, freelancing, letting someone go is, you can ghost somebody. You can’t ghost an employee. You can’t just, I mean I guess you could in the movie Office Space, they kinda did that with Milton, but for most of us, it’s a lot more than a red stapler. It’s the, that’s the breaking point. So you have to really always give topnotch results if you wanna succeed in the freelance world.
ANTHONY: Let’s talk about how you were able to build up your side hustle income to the point, and this is the part that I think a lotta folks like to hear about, I mean who doesn’t love a good quitting their job story, can you tell us about how you got to the point where you were able to, to give up the corporate yoke, I guess we would call it, I dunno?
ERIC: Yes, yes. So if you, actually, if you go to personalprofitability.com, you can follow along with this part. I have income reports that I’ve been doing publicly since the beginning of 2012. So you can see I was definitely not always making six figures online. It was a slow build. And in 2015, by the end of the year, I’d done $40,000 in revenue online. It was actually like 39,000 and change. But, as a financial analyst, I used to round to the nearest 10 million, hundred million. It’s like, what’s a thousand dollars, right? So I did 40,000 in revenue online in 2015. And now, at this point I was living in Portland, Oregon. I was living in the part of town that was kinda like Portlandia on purpose, it was fun. But when I was looking at all my numbers, I started to think, wow, if I make $40,000 a year doing this 10 to 20 hours a week on the side, imagine what would happen if I did this full-time. And at the same time, my wife, we had a baby girl, she was just about six months old, my wife was a stay-at-home mom, we were in a good position there, and I, I was a senior financial analyst at a big payments company, so I was doing really well on my day job. Even up to a few months before, I was still like, I dunno if I’d ever really quit my job. The freelancing thing’s fun but it’s, there’s a lotta risk to it. But then I was looking and thinking, well the average person in Portland makes $40,000 a year. There has to be a way that I could make this work. And it was at the, towards the beginning of 2016, that next year, I think it was in February, there was one day when I was doing the accounting stuff. I had a big high stress accounting close, and it had felt, for a little while, like things were getting more stressful at work, not less. And one morning, I had to leave to work before my daughter was awake because I had a meeting on East Coast time, so I was out of the house early. And it was a really long day, and I didn’t get home until after she was asleep for the night. So I had a whole day I didn’t get to see my child. I was like, this isn’t right. There’s something wrong here. So I was getting towards a breaking point. And it was, it finally came in, I think it was March that year, I gave my notice. I said I’m ready, I’m gonna do this full-time, I’m gonna take the risk. They actually asked me, I gave two weeks notice, they asked if I’d stick around an extra month, and I was in a position that I could do that, obviously, going out on my own, and I didn’t wanna burn any bridges. I wanted to keep good relationships because, you know, that freelancing thing might not have worked out the way I’d planned. So I stuck around for about six weeks. And, you know, like any good, responsible dad with a stay-at-home mom wife and a six year old, I quit my job, sold my house, and moved to the most expensive part of the country. I also had a potential escape plan. Most people that have those long days don’t have a backup plan. And if you have, even if you don’t plan to ever leave your job, at one time in my career I was let go from a job, and that day I actually seriously considered might be my day one for full-time freelancing, but I wasn’t quite there yet, but also, when I left that office on my last day, I didn’t worry that much because I knew, while I wasn’t making enough online every month to live on at that point, I had good savings. A big emergency fund is important no matter what your job is. If you’re a freelancer, you should have a double emergency fund of what anyone else does. So if you have a regular steady day job, I recommend three to six months as a good emergency fund when you’re looking at your monthly expenses, because, eventually, hopefully within that three months, you could find a new job. As a freelancer, the economy going up and down affects you a lot more than regular employees. Work can dry up. You know, hopefully you don’t have a public meltdown on Twitter or something and lose all your clients. But whatever is happening, there’s so much more risk. It’s definitely worth having at least six to 12 months. And when I quit my job, I did have that, plus I sold my house in Portland and moved into a rental in Southern California, so I actually had like four to five years of expenses saved up, which is not typical. I was planning to not touch any of that ’cause it was the down payment for a future house. And when I did finally leave my job, I think I needed to pull out one month about $1,500 from savings just to make sure I was covering all the bills. But, otherwise, I was making enough to pay for everything as I went, which was my goal when I left. I said I wanna have a plan that I could hit the ground running and just start living on this like it was a new job, except, instead of getting one paycheck from one employer, I was getting about a dozen smaller paychecks that added up to a good one.
ANTHONY: And does that bring us full circle to where we started off, to your wonderful, the wonderful life you described in the beginning where, if you’re crushing it in the morning, it’s up to you, you can take the afternoon off and hang out with your daughter?
ERIC: Well it wasn’t quite there yet, but I was getting close. And, though some of those really stressful days, I’ve been in mastermind groups for a long time, I’m a huge fan. If you are looking to do a side hustle and turn it into a business, I actually have a platform that I launched last week, which is a side hustle to my side hustle. It’s called Mastermind Hunt, and that is a place to go find mastermind groups to help you succeed and build your businesses. And I was, I’ve always been in them, and they’ve always been really encouraging. And whenever I’ve had any big doubts or problems or questions or issues with clients, I could confidentially go to my masterminds and get their support. And it was actually one of the guys from the mastermind group that I’m in, that we’re all online entrepreneur dads, and I’d said, one day I’d finished all my stuff, and I was stressed out, and I took my daughter for ice cream at three, and he said, “You might have had a stressful day, “but look what you just did. “And that’s what, you know, 200 million people “in this country might dream of doing everyday, “and that’s what you were able to do.” So anytime I’m light on motivation, which, that can happen, it happens to all of us, even in the freelance world, I always come back to I could take my daughter for ice cream. So for me it’s that. Everybody has something that’s their thing. I mean, maybe your thing is being able to go on a bike ride at lunch time, maybe it’s an afternoon hike on a weekday when the trails are empty, for me it’s ice cream. So find whatever your ice cream is, if you’re looking to build your side hustle business. So, so that, that was always a big part of it. But when I left the job, I was making about 15 to 20% of my revenue from doing WordPress website development. It was a skill I picked up along the way, building all my own websites. So I started doing some for small and mid sized businesses, some other bloggers, other freelancers. And then the writing was making up the rest. And I actually remember a pivotal moment. It was a, you know, hazy California afternoon. We had the marine layer, I was living kinda by the beach so it was cloudy out. And I was sitting there looking at my QuickBooks at my kitchen table on my laptop, which was my workspace for the first year and change after I quit my job, and that’s something I don’t recommend. Don’t make your kitchen table your office. It’s not good for your back or your brain. But I was looking at my QuickBooks, and I saw 76% of my revenue was coming from writing and about 15% from the website work. And then I started to really think about it, ’cause I had been working these longer and longer hours trying to get that success I expected, you know, I figured going from 20 hours a week to 40, I should at least double my online income, and I was struggling to have it grow at the same rate as the hours I was putting in. And then I realized, well, about 20% of my time is going into writing articles, and that’s 76% of my income. I dunno if you can see where I’m going here. It was almost 80%. And the almost 20% of my income was coming from website work that was taking, probably, 80% of my time and the source of over 90% of my stress. And if you know Pareto’s principle, or the 80-20 rule, it pretty much smacked me in the face at that moment. I was like, whoa, this is exactly what Tim Ferriss was talking about in The 4-Hour Workweek and all the other people who have written about it. So I did something that was a little risky. I chopped off my website work, which, again, you can go back and see in the income report where that happened. I was making, say, two to 3,000 a month there, which was enough to cover my high California rent and a little bit more. But I thought, you know, I just have to get rid of this because it’s draining me, and it’s making it so much harder to get the really good stuff done, which was the writing. And I did enjoy building websites, I still do it from time to time for myself ’cause I think it’s fun, and I’ll take on a very occasional client, usually someone local that I know here in Ventura, but the other, when I quit that, it was a big risk moment again, but it led to another hockey stick. It was over about the next three months from there, I roughly tripled my income from around $4,000 a month to over 10,000 a month. So that was really the breakthrough moment where I hit my biggest success, was when I stopped doing the thing that was holding me back, even though I was making money for it. So, again, embracing what’s working, getting rid of what’s not working, even though it wasn’t what I expected to be working and not working. It was the writing that was working, and I just dove in headfirst and haven’t looked back, and it’s been amazing.
ANTHONY: That’s a great example of longterm thinking. I mean, it’s probably, it was probably very scary to give up that money in the short term.
ERIC: Oh yeah, that first couple months when I, when I sent an email, I remember writing the email to all my, I had some recurring clients that were monthly maintenance and support, so if anything went wrong on their website, I’d be there to help, when I emailed them to say I’m not gonna take your money every month anymore, and I was just walking away from cash that I knew I was going to get.
ANTHONY: Recurring cash too, at that.
ERIC: So I guess I, if you have a finance background, it was like I just chopped off my MRR. And, but that led to, you know, such a better result. It even surprised me, and I was obviously elated the first time I had over $10,000 in a month.
ANTHONY: That must have felt outstanding.
ERIC: Yeah, that was that moment where I was… That was the first time I said eight years of hard work and I’m an overnight success. It was that point. And it actually happened that it was the month that I went to FinCon in San Diego, which was about a five-hour train ride from where I lived. So it was nice to welcome all the FinConers to my home state. And that was also the month that I hit 10,000 for the first time. So the people and the organization and the networking that led, helped, really helped me understand and get to this success was also where I got to celebrate it for the first time.
ANTHONY: That’s a nice cap. It’s almost like a storybook ending where you’re, you’re with your peers and the folks who helped get you here, the moment where you hit your greatest triumph. That’s pretty cool.
ERIC: Yeah, I couldn’t have written this story better if I’d tried. It was, but, as you heard, there were a lot of mistakes along the way, a lot of discovery moments along the way. You have to be very, we’re all really hard on ourselves all the time but you have to sometimes look at, you know, here’s my strengths, here’s what I’m good at, you do have to give yourself a kick in the butt sometimes. There’s definitely days that I roll out of bed and the last thing I wanna do is write an article, but that’s what I have to do now. So whether I like it or not, I have to write. So, but, then I think about, you know, I could be sitting in a gray cubicle, and I, I just feel so lucky everyday.
ANTHONY: Or in traffic, but yeah, for sure.
ERIC: Yes. You know my commute these days is, it might seem a little rough. I have to walk out my bedroom and turn left twice to get to my home office.
ANTHONY: You gotta chop that down man.
ERIC: Well, I don’t know if I’d want an office off my bedroom.
ANTHONY: Yeah, that’s true.
ERIC: I’d probably be a much worse workaholic than I am today. But it’s actually kinda fun, my, my car battery has died a couple times because I drive it so little.
ANTHONY: Tell us a little bit about what you’re working on now. You mentioned to me your Personal Profitability Bootcamp. Can you share a little bit about that with us and why, why it will be great for our listeners to jump on there?
ERIC: Yes, definitely. So the Personal Profitability Bootcamp was an idea that came about when I saw all these different people who were asking me kinda similar questions about getting their personal finances in order and then getting started on a, you know, personal profitability path, you know, building a business, whether it’s a little side hustle. I’ve seen people, if you live in New York, you can, I know upcycling is a big thing, that’s a great side hustle. If you’re in the corporate world, whether you’re dealing with finance like I was or something else, you know, maybe marketing, there’s lots of great opportunities to freelance. And you never know what your opportunity’s going to be, but whatever it is, it’s important to have your money, your own personal finances in order first and use that as the launch pad to build your new side hustle. And that’s what Personal Profitability Bootcamp is all about. It’s a free week-long course, you can just sign up at personalprofitability.com/bootcamp. You’ll get an email from me once a day for a week with a link to a video. They’re about 10 minutes long. And that is all designed to get you on your path to the personal profitability, and it’s free. So that’s my gift to you guys.
ANTHONY: Awesome, and I totally agree, you need to get your personal house, at least your very basics in order, before you go out and ICO a coin or start this or do that. I mean you really have to have those basics all lined up.
ERIC: Yes, totally.
ANTHONY: Hey, Eric, thank you for your time. I think, I think I’ve covered everything I wanted to ask, and, and got, I’ve squeezed that awesome story out of you. So thank you for sharing again.
ERIC: Well thank you again so much for having me. It’s been my pleasure to be here and connect with all of you.
ANTHONY: And don’t forget, like Eric just talked about, you can go to personalprofitability.com/bootcamp, and make sure you sign up for that free email course to get your, your personal affairs, you know, the basics lined up in order. Otherwise, that’s all we have for today. Make sure to hit subscribe or go to anthonyspark.com to join our email list for regular updates and discounts. Talk to you again later. Take care.