Alexis Schroeder doesn’t shrink back from a challenge. She paid off all her student loans side hustling, then built up a blog that earned her $80,000 in its second year.
She was very intentional about how she planned her college experience. “I took all of my general education requirements through a local community college and paid out of pocket working overtime at my full-time job. When I went to university, I took out the very minimum in loans,” she says.
During her years as a student, she hustled to pay for her student loans as a dog walker, nanny, babysitter, freelance writer, and did virtual assistant work on top of her blog, FITnancials, which she said earned money from affiliate marketing and ad revenue.
Schroeder didn’t make a lot of money on FITnancials right away. She spent five years treating her blog like a hobby and only made a few hundred dollars every year. Then, the money started rolling in because she made one major change.
“I went from $35,000 to my first year blogging full-time to the year after earning $80,000,” she says. “I no longer share my income earnings for so many reasons, mainly privacy concerns, but the big jump in income came from me treating my blog like an actual business and not a hobby.”
What’s Full-Time Blogging Like?
Schroeder says being a full-time blogger is amazing because her schedule is so flexible. “I choose to wake up every day and dedicate my time to a business that gives me so much joy. I wake up at 6 a.m. to walk my dogs, journal, drink coffee and start working on my business at 8 a.m.,” she says. She does a variety of things, whether it’s writing blog posts, making graphics for Instagram and Pinterest, creating emails to send out for her weekly newsletter and answering emails from readers and brands that want to work with her.
She spends the rest of her time equally divided equally among the following:
- Content creation via blog posts and emails
- Making money with affiliate marketing
- Working with brands on sponsorships
What’s the Secret Sauce?
Looking back, Schroeder knows now there’s a secret to the complexity of being a full-time blogger.
“The secret sauce is treating a blog like an actual business. I don't even solely call myself a blogger, but instead, a small business owner,” Schroeder says. “I think where many people fail is giving up too easily on a blog when they don't see results right away.”
Schroeder says that with any business, there's a growing season where you might not make a lot of money, but you're actively growing your business to see what’s working and what’s not working. And again, that’s where many bloggers fail.
Schroeder says that a blog that makes money has one main goal: It helps the reader add value or improve his or her life. “Bloggers need generosity, integrity, patience, and optimism. Maintaining your integrity as a blogger is essential because people can clearly see who is being genuine and who isn't,” she warns. “Patience is a must because like any business, there is a growing season where you're again, learning what works and what doesn't.”
Schroeder agrees with the old saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” She says that one of the toughest parts about blogging is comparing your business to others (especially when people post income reports). Or when you see someone who started their blog at the same time grow much quicker.
“One of the best lessons I've learned as a blogger is that my growth is unique and unlike anyone else. Everyone's journey is different and it does no good beating yourself down. Focusing on my journey only has been a major motivator."
Along with her biggest lessons, Schroeder honed in on one thing she’ll never do again. “I always thought I had to niche down as much as possible in order to grow my blog, but I also noticed I was losing enjoyment when I did that,” she says. “I personally enjoy reading lifestyle content and veering off into other passions of mine that I believe people might benefit from.”
FITnancials’ Best Advice for College Students
Schroeder is also not without advice for current college students.
“Now that I've graduated and paid off my student loans, I would tell other college students to be intentional with their time before, during, and after college," she says. "This is a time of change and growth where the decisions you make now can hugely impact your future."
She recommends diving into side hustles, learning monetizable skills, learning about personal finance and checking out other ways to get college paid for.
Would she recommend starting a thriving blog?