Welcome All You Magazine Readers: Q & A With Linsey Knerl

Photo: Linsey Knerl

I’m so excited to be featured in the newest issue of All You Magazine! Many of you have come here to learn more about Wise Bread, my blogging career, or just life as a work-at-home mom in a tight economy. I hope to answer some of your questions here!

Since the article first ran last week, I’ve gotten several emails and even phone calls from other moms looking for a way to help provide for their families, as well. While each situation is different, there are a few questions I can hope to answer to help get you started.

Why would I want to start a blog?

There are two reasons that you may want to consider blogging on your own website:

1. For fun — Many moms find the outlet of writing about their daily lives and their families to be a great way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, connect with a community online that holds similar interests, or to just document those first special moments with a new baby (not all of us are talented scrapbookers).

2. For money — This is the type of blogging I get asked about the most. In reality, it is very difficult to make any kind of substantial income from blogging, alone. My income is made up of a combination of blogging on my own website, blogging for others (like Wise Bread), traditional freelance writing (for magazines and online websites), consulting, and marketing services.

How can I earn a living blogging?

As the article pointed out, it took me almost a full year of dedicated 40-hour a week blogging and research to get to a point where I could earn that first part-time income. I put in several hundred hours of setting up my blog, posting a few dozen well-written posts, researching revenue options, and connecting with other bloggers and companies to begin building my blog traffic. This seemed futile at first — but I was unable to take a job outside the home, and so it was the only income I could make at the time.

You can earn revenue from blogging in a couple of ways:

1. Advertising income — This is income from placing ads directly on your blog. You can sell ads to companies, use affiliate programs, or complete paid posts. All are slow to build, but can continue to bring in a steady revenue after time.

2. Blogging for others — When I first joined Wise Bread, I wasn’t prepared for how successful it was about to become! Within my first year, I went from making just $6 that first month to making a wonderful part-time income from the advertising revenue on my blog posts. I went on to write blog posts for several companies, including American Greetings, an event management company, and a major floral company. Sometimes my name would be published, but most often I was a “ghost writer” — meaning someone else got credit for my work (but I still got paid).

I see ads for blogging jobs all the time, but they all require writing samples. How do I get my foot in the door?

Just like traditional freelance writing, getting into blogging is a kind of two-way sword. You can’t get jobs without published work, but you can’t publish work without a job. Here is what I suggest for improving your odds (and the benefits are lasting):

1. Start your own blog, and update it frequently — Very rarely will major blogging outlets look solely at a personal blog to decide if you have blogging talent, but it is a good way to start. You not only have a chance to put your writing style and skill on display, but you’ll be keeping your creative juices flowing, can refine your writing craft, and will have a chance to learn basic tech skills that you’ll need when blogging (basic HTML, for example).

2. Guest post — Many popular and reputable websites (including Wise Bread) have a guest post policy or program. Some are paid, and many aren’t paid, but they all allow outside writers to contribute a post with full credit to you and most often your own blog! Not only does this help build quality backlinks to your own blog, but it can help get you known as a blogger. Don’t forget — these guest posts can then be used in your portfolio (you know, those pesky writing samples that blog jobs ask for when you apply).

What about article sites like eZine Articles, Helium, and Creative Commons?

These sites are nice to practice writing/blogging, but honestly, I have never made too much money from them (and my exposure was even less notable). Furthermore, when bloggers submit their writing samples for a real blogging job and their entire body of work is housed in these types of sites, it tells me two things:

1. They may or may not be able to write — Article submission sites literally allow most anyone to submit; no writing skills are required. While some sites may outright buy your article (indicating that it is probably up to snuff), there’s no way for a potential hiring company to see this from your writing sample.

2. They haven’t differentiated themselves in the blogging market — Article sites are rarely niche, meaning that they contain millions of topics that all get jumbled up amongst one another. Bloggers who have contributed content to a particular topic site (like guest posting for a pet health blog, for example) have proven that they can make necessary connections within their community and can focus their writing on their own expertise.

When helping to edit guest posts here on Wise Bread, I may or may not take a look at an Ezine article to get an overview of someone’s writing style or to make an initial decision about whether they are a compatible as a guest poster here. I am far more impressed, however, with a blogger who’s taken the time to set up their own blog or write for other blogs. This shows an ability to create and connect — something that’s very important when blogging professionally.

Important Note: While anyone can start a blog and even keep a blog going, not everyone will make a substantial living as a blogger.

As I said, before, much of my income comes from blogging, but an even larger portion comes from traditional freelance writing and marketing/consulting services. All of these were born from blogging, so it’s still very much my declared profession, but to fully realize the kind of income that a family of 6 (and soon to be 7) needs to live on, I needed to diversify my skills and pursue a variety of opportunities.

Additionally, not everyone will be cut out to blog. Perhaps there will be a lack of writing skill, not enough interest in the blogger’s niche expertise, or not enough time available to dedicate to the endeavor. These are all some of the reasons why many bloggers don’t thrive.

So what do I recommend to the many who have written in about their current financial struggles and their desires to help out their families by contributing to the family income — perhaps by blogging? I say, “Go for it!” But remember, it may take more time than you have to meet financial obligations and keep things afloat in dire circumstances. It may be something you build while pursuing more cash-ready endeavors.

My family is not unfamiliar with the struggles of job loss, illness, and raising a family. I’ve written about these trials here on Wise Bread, and I’ve helped see my family through a number of financial setbacks by working hard to help earn more money. Past jobs that I’ve taken while raising young children include waiting tables, managing a fast-food restaurant, working in a dermatology clinic, acting as an account executive to a subrogation firm, and numerous “temp” jobs (one of them involved stuffing envelopes for days on end). Whatever was needed to help keep us afloat, I did — as did my husband. No work was beneath us, and I didn’t worry that a few hours away from my children was going to somehow leave them impaired (we homeschool and I work from home now — the perfect combination — but it wasn’t always this way). We did what we had to for tummies to be fed and a house to be warm.

I encourage parents everywhere who have come here — whether as a result of my article, or not — to take away some feeling that they are not alone. This economy can be disheartening. I know: my husband has two degrees and has not been able to find work in his field for years. But we have come together as a family to create a new business — one built on blogging, but flexible enough to take us through whatever online trends may come.

I wish you all the best in whatever you pursue! I hope you find some of my other articles useful, and I encourage you to contact me with questions or comments.

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Guest's picture

I read the All You article with interest. I am curious what your old budget looked like, when you lived on your husband's $17,000 salary. Even living frugally how were you living on $17,000 a year for a family of 6? My mortgage alone costs nearly that. Would love to hear how you did it!

Guest's picture

Hi Linsey,

Like so many others, I saw you in All Your Magazine. I am so happy for you that you found success blogging. I must say that you are an inspiration to me. For quite a while now, I've been interested beefing up my blog so that I can earn money, some of which I'd like to donate to charity and hopefully help others. I've been discouraged about it lately but after hearing your story I think I am really going to pursue it. Thanks for the inspiration! I know it's hard work, but you've shown that it can pay off.

By the way, families.com is looking for bloggers. Perhaps this could be another avenue of revenue for you. Check it out at: http://about.families.com/become-a-blogger

Please stop by blog, Blessings from Above, http://blessingsfromabove2.blogspot.com to contect with me when you have time.


Linsey Knerl's picture

I visited your blog and signed up as a subscriber.  I wish you all the best!

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl's picture

While we got by on that, it certainly wasn't fun (or a goal I would set for the future.)  Our situation was certainly unique, and we were able to get by on so little by doing a few of the following:

  • Wood stove for heating the house - Our home had no furnace, so my husband spent much of his time (when he wasn't applying for jobs) cutting wood each day.  We went through a lot of wood to heat our two story home, so this was almost a full-time job for him!  This saved us on heating costs.
  • Our transportation/gasoline costs were $0.  Because we were working from home, we didn't have the hour each-way commute that others in our community had.  We had a car that we purchased from a friend for $300, and when we needed to take everyone out (to church or a family event), we carpooled with my parents (who lived right next door.)
  • We had no rent/mortgage.  We lived in a house that I grew up in and that my grandmother owned.  It was part of a family farm property but needed a lot of work.  We were able to live there in exchange for making improvements to the property (updated electricity, plumbing, etc.)  This also kept my husband very busy!  We have since moved into a home that we are purchasing on a land lease arrangement.
  • We purchased a high-dectible health insurance plan.  This was very affordable, and since we were both in good health, kept our medical costs under $1500 a year.
  • We shared large purchases.  We lived next door to my parents and were close to members of our church with similar interests.  We were able to buy chicks, share eggs and milk, and go together on larger purchases (like a food dehydrator, hay for our cows, tractor parts, etc.)
  • We have 3 boys.  This means everything was handed down (shoes, coats, hats, etc).  We almost never had to buy anything new for 2 of our kids!
  • We grew a large garden and raised our own chickens and cows.  This required an investment of time and money, but the quality of food we got in return was well worth the cost/effort!  We now have 50 laying hens, and if we ever wondered what we would eat, we would have eggs!  (Quiche, omelets, etc.)
  • We qualified for some assistance programs in our area.  We did accept this help when we needed it most, and were grateful that it was available!  With community grants for energy upgrades and some programs through our local services office, we were able to get through the toughest of months until better days came.  As a taxpayer, it was good to know that those same services that we were paying into for years could help us in our time of need, and I don't regret it, at all.  I suggest that you ask around to see what may be available to you, if you find yourself out of work or underemployed for a lengthy amount of time.  Community programs will differ by state, and even county!

I also should point out that the cost of living for our area is very low.  You can rent whole houses with 3 bedrooms for under $500 a month.  Part of our decision to live so remotely was based on the fact that we could earn less and have a higher standard of living.

Thanks for the comments!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

OMG, i'm really impressed, i dont know if i will capable to start  something like you did, it was very hard, i'm thinking because i'm good doing scrapbook maybe i will try it first, God bless you and your husband, you are a good example for everybody