This week I have some huge news to share. I am going full-time online, and we are packing up camp here in Portland to move down to Southern California! Get the entire story of how I got here, why we’re going, and what’s next in this episode of the Personal Profitability Podcast.
Eric Rosenberg: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome back to the Personal Profitability Podcast. I am your host, Eric Rosenberg and today I want to tell you a story. It’s something a little different that I normally do. In this story is a really, really big announcement; probably the biggest announcement I’ve ever had to make to readers of this site. And listeners, sorry, those people who don’t read, I wanna include everybody.
I want to start at the beginning of this story, go way, way back in time. I started my blog…. the first time I ever started the blog was around 2007 that summer, no 2006, sorry, 2006 that summer. I don’t have any notes in front of me I’m just kind of winging this one coz I just wanted to be in conversation with you guys. So I started in 2006 that summer. I was working at a Boy Scout Camp for my 7th summer and that summer my job shifted a little bit. I was the assistant business manager which meant that I was the guy that sat at the office and ran the office for the entire property. We had four camps on the property. And I was kind of the main administrative guy making sure that all the different troops paid their bills, making sure everything work the way it was supposed to.
I was in there a lot of the summer, you know, people come in and out and I help them. But I also have some down time while people are out, scouts doing classes, adults doing whatever adults do at Boy Scout camps, going around checking on their scouts and things. In those down times I had a laptop, I actually had my own laptop with me, and the building had internet; we were very high tech for 2006 having internet at a summer camp. We had high speed internet and all that down time I thought, oh I should do something with my time.
Journey as a Blogger
So I went to this new thing called Blogger, it wasn’t even owned by Google yet, it was just called Blogger. And I started a blog. It was called eric1985.blogspot.com. It doesn’t exist anymore so you don’t have to worry, go in to check on it. It was kind of a personal blog and I wrote my first blog post that summer in 2006.
About halfway through that summer, maybe a little further I realized there’s a lot of great political commentaries and things like that out there on these new blogs. And I wanna get in on that so I started a blog at the time I called, because I knew nothing about online marketing, I don’t think many people knew much about online marketing at that point, I called it EricsPoliticalAndEconomicInsights.blogspot.com. Again that’s one no longer there. And that blog actually I just shut down fully last year and it went through quite a metamorphosis and eventually became something called The Israel Situation. And I shut that down because I wanted to focus on more profitable endeavors.
But that was really the first time I started to blog with the idea of trying to get out there and reach people and do something and maybe make a difference. I was writing primarily about Middle East politics and things and there’s a lot of misinformation, a lot of really incorrect stuff going on out there and misrepresentations. I spent a lot of time in Israel and I wanted to make sure that there was at least one more site telling the truth rather than a bunch of lies about the situation – that’s the name, The Israel Situation.
So I was doing that, I plugged along for a little while. And then in October, I think, it was seven or eight years ago now, you can go back and look on the Personal Profitability blog, that was when I founded, still on Blogger although I think it was owned by Google at this point, what was called Narrow Bridge Adventures. The idea was, there is this song, it’s actually a Jewish song it’s in Hebrew it goes, Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od, that’s the first line, and it means ‘the whole world is a very narrow bridge.’ And the second line goes on to translate to ‘and the most important thing is not be afraid at all.’ So I’m gonna go through it one more time, it’s probably my favorite Jewish song: ‘The whole world is a very narrow bridge and the most important thing is to not be afraid at all.’ That was written by a very famous Rabbi, The Breslover Rebbe, who is actually a relative of mine very distantly. His grandfather and my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather are the same person, a famous Rabbi named Baal Shem Tov.
So this song it’s always resonated with me even before I knew I was related to the guy. It’s my favorite one to sing on a Friday night if I’m at a Rabbi’s house or anywhere else. And I thought, a lot people might look at money as their narrow bridge; something that they’re afraid of, something that’s a crux in their lives and it holds them back from doing what they want, following their dreams and living their dreams.
So I started a blog. It was actually around the time I was working, I just finished working in a bank so, I’m doing the math in my head, it was towards the end of 2007. I think it was October 2007, it was the month. I started my site, NarrowBridgeAdventures.blogspot.com; again no longer there though I think that one, I might forward to Personal Profitability if it still does.
So I started this site about money and personal finance to help people. And eventually I realized Narrow Bridge Adventures was a terrible name for anything so I changed it to Narrow Bridge, just to make it a little shorter. I got my own domain, it was at narrowbridge.net for years and years and years. About a year ago, I changed that name to Personal Profitability and I really re-energized the brand and tell people what it’s about. Coz well, what Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo means a lot to me it does mean a lot to most people out there.
And along the years, my blog traffic started to grow a little bit. I started to get some more followers. I joined this group called the Yakezie and that group, led by a guy named Sam at Financial Samurai – great website, highly recommended. It was really a game changer for me. Coz it took me from a point where I realized, you know I can make $10 every once in awhile doing a sponsored post on my site to well I can maybe make three hundred, four hundred, five hundred dollars a month or more.
And that was really transformative from my view of how my sites could work. Being a part of such a great community, all of our sites started to really grow. We all sent each other traffic and link to each other in the time that Google was okay with…it wasn’t really a link network but we were a network that was linking to each other so, I’ll get to more on that later.
But we really helped each other grow and being a part of that community helped my site grow from a thousand visits a month to 2,000 to 3,000 to 5,000. It got up over 10,000 views a month for a little while. Before there was a big smackdown by Google called Panda and Penguin and those really took ultimately probably about two thirds of my traffic that I was getting went away.
But I never was discouraged, well I was a little discouraged but I just kept going through it. And partially because of my connections through all these people I knew at the Yakezie, when the first Financial Blogger Conference came around, it wasn’t called FinCon yet, this guy named PT, his site is PT Money, a very good friend, I highly recommend his site as well, so he decided, ” I’m gonna put together a financial blogger conference.” There’s all these big blogger conferences but wasn’t one specific for the finance community. And PT decided, “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it in Chicago. And whoever wants to come will come.”
And a whole bunch of people from that Yakezie network were going. And I’ve never met anyone in person from the online communities but I felt like I was getting to be friends with some people. We interacted a lot. We emailed lot. We read each other’s posts. We get to know each other. And I thought you know, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna go. I’m gonna just go out in a whim and take a trip to Chicago. And I shared a room with a guy named Shane, his website is Beating Broke, he became a very good friend, still a good friend. And I highly recommend his site though it’s a little less active than it was back then. We shared a room and cut my expenses down a little bit. I didn’t know what travel hacking was yet so I actually paid for my plane ticket to Chicago and split the hotel room 50/50.
I’ve met all these people and there were all these huge people there from the finance blogging community. I remember seeing this guy there I recognized named JD Roth. His site was called Get Rich Slowly, now he has a new site called Money Boss. I was like really intimidated seeing JD. I’m like, oh man this guy is making like probably at least a million dollars a year on his blog. That’s huge. Little did I know he was making quite a bit more than that I believe. He’s never publicly shared all those numbers. But also, little did I know that a few years later he would be a guy who lived less than a mile from me and would become another one of my good friends on the online community.
I could just go on and tell you stories of people like this again and again. I met this guy named Pat Flynn who had this site and everyone was like,’oh yeah I’ve heard of you, Pat Flynn, you’re doing some cool stuff over at Smart Passive Income (that’s his site).’ His site has just exploded from there. He’s become one of the biggest names in not just personal finance, entrepreneurship and online marketing education. He’s maybe the top. He’s probably my blogging hero. He was in an episode just last year that I recorded at the most recent FinCon.
And just stories and stories and all these people that I got to meet and got to know but it was a lot more than just building community. At the same time, I was learning how to turn what was something paying for my beer money into something that paid for my mortgage and my rent. I was just blown away. How can I do this? I’m working a full time job, sometimes 50 even 60 hours a week, not often 60 but always over 40 and maybe 45 for sure. So I was working really hard but still on the side, evenings, weekends and maybe even on a lunch break I was able to hammer out a blog post or two. Back then I wrote a lot shorter and more often. Now I’m writing a lot bigger beefier blog posts less often coz I think they’re more useful and valuable. But back then I could hammer out a blog post in a half hour or so and post it. If you go way back into the archives you’ll find lots of crappy blog posts. I deleted hundreds of them but there’s still a lot of bad one out there.
Again my income kept building steadily and I really started keeping track. If you go, you’re gonna hear some clicks as I’m actually pulling this page up, if you go to personalprofitability.com/online-income-tracker, which probably make that an easier link but it’ll be on the show notes for this episode. So I have this online income tracker and I started really keeping track of my online income in February 2012 when I brought in $739 in revenue. And in the year since, that year, January is not included because I wasn’t tracking it yet, but I brought in $9,287 in revenue. Then the next year in 2013, I brought in $13,834 in revenue. And then in 2014 I brought in $22,839 in revenue. 2015 I haven’t updated the page yet but I can tell you that I had brought in just about $40,000. That was a huge milestone. In my head I thought, wow $40,000! That’s what a lot of families live on every year. That’s a serious amount of money.
But all the while, I always tried to avoid doing anything that might blend my blogging with my day jobs. The one time that I did that, you know I told people what I was doing…you know I didn’t ever really hide it but the one place that I was that I really did tell a lot of people about it. It was probably one of the shortest places I worked. I think that it is a coincidence, I don’t think it was related. But when I got my latest job I thought, you know I’m just gonna keep my blogging on the down low not really tell anybody about it at work. I mention it to a couple of people over the year and a half since I’ve been there. I just kept on tracking and that income grew, yeah it’s $40,000. Like, wow! But I have a finance degree, I have an MBA, I have been on my career path for, rounding up a little bit, about 10 years since I graduated from college and I’ve been working in ultimately corporate finance after a short stint in banking.
I’ve been very successful, I’ve done well, I’ve gotten raises and promotions. My salary is just about exactly double what it was ten years ago when I got my first job at a big phone company in Denver. It’s a lot of money when your salary doubles from what was then a livable wage to now what puts me in, including my online income…. I was looking…one time I was curious as what constitutes middle class and upper class and it puts me right on the edge of not being middle class anymore. I was making so much between my day job and my online job, which really did become a job. But then I started thinking, all along there was this little thing in the back of my head, like I wonder if I left that full time job and I really put a full time effort into this online thing, how much money could I make? What could I do? The sky’s the limit, right?
So when I was working at a big internet company in Denver, I always had this feeling I needed to change something and do something different than… back then, it was about two years ago, I decided this is the time I need to leave Denver. I’ve been in Denver for about 25 years. That’s a big part of my identity. At the time, my Twitter name was Denver Eric. That’s who I was at FinCon, I was Denver Eric. I wasn’t just Eric. That was such a part me and I realized I’ve grown so much in Colorado in living there.
But if I really want to figure out more of who I am and what I’m gonna do in the world, I need to spread my wings and get out of the nest a little bit. Other than a semester abroad, lived more than about an hour away from home. I went to college in Boulder, about an hour from where my parents live in Denver.
I decided I’m just going for it. And fortunately I was dating a wonderful woman, who is now my wife, who is on board with me. We packed up home and set up camp in Portland, Oregon. We’ve been here about two years. It’s been an amazing adventure. I’ve loved nearly every minute of it. I started that one job here. I told you that I was let go from, you can find story back in the blog, I’ll try to find that and put a link on the show notes – the story about how I both moved to Oregon and how I lost my job.
I had month off, it was about a year and a half ago in between jobs that I really just focused on my online income. I had a what I called a Pat Flynn moment, coz he was laid off from his job and that’s how he started his online business. I thought, maybe this is my Pat Flynn moment. Maybe it’s my time to go big or go home, as they say. I’m gonna really focus on this online income. And in that month off, I doubled my online income but it never went back down even when I got the new job.
When I got the new job it was actually, I felt like it was kind of a sign I was supposed to take it. Because it was just about two hours after I got let go from my last job, I got home and got an email on LinkedIn from a recruiter telling me about this new opportunity. And it turned out that that job paid more, had better hours, and was going to be closer to home. Well you can’t really beat that, right? So I thought, this is the job. I’m gonna take it.
It actually runs with another, it’s a religious story. There’s a story about this guy who has lived in an area, there was gonna be a big flood coming, like a biblical kind of flood. And it was all over the news and they said, ‘everyone evacuate.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no. God will save me. I’ll just wait it out.’ And the water started to rise and it got to be ankle deep and a bus came by. And they said, ‘ Everyone’s gotta go, the whole place is gonna flood and you’re gonna die if you stay.’ He said, ‘No, no. God will save me.’ And the bus left. And the water kept going up and up and it got up to waist-high and a rowboat came by. They’re like, ‘this is probably the last person who’s gonna be able to come save you. Will you hop in this boat? We’ll get out of here and save you.’ He said, ‘No, no, no. God will save me.’ And the water kept rising and rising, it was up to his neck. A helicopter came over and said, ‘ We’ll lower you a rope. Come up with us.’ He said, No, no, no. God will save me.’ And then he drowned after that. He got up to the pearly white gates and God said to him, ‘ How did you die? How did you get here?’ He said, ‘I don’t know how I got here. I was praying the whole time that you would save me. I thought that’s what you would do.’ And God said, ‘Well I sent you a news report, I sent you a bus, I sent you a boat. I even sent you a helicopter. You couldn’t take a hint?’
So that was kind of how I took that LinkedIn message. I was let go from a job, two hours later I get a job offer that’s closer to home, better salary, and better hours, I should probably take it, right? So I did. That was almost exactly a year ago and a half ago to a couple of weeks ago.
The Big Announcement
And a couple of weeks ago, actually over the last few months it’s been eating away at me, more and more. I’ve made $40,000 online last year. One time in one month I was able to double that. I really wonder when I should just go for it and go online full time. When I looked at my revenue from last year, it was very lumpy there was one month that I made less than a thousand dollars. But then there were months that I made $5,000 which still would put me below what I make from my full time day job. For that $5,000 a month, I do very well there as I mentioned before, not quite six figures but a very good salary.
It just been bothering me. I think, what if, what if, what if. I always thought back to that one month. What if I hadn’t taken that job and I had just gone for it? And just said, this is it I’m going full time online. But I didn’t. Coz it’s a really scary decision. One of the scariest thing you could possibly do in your life is walk away from a security blanket. A job where people like me where I’m paid well, I have health insurance. Even if I didn’t make a cent online it would cover the mortgage of our house and everything we need and then some; plus lots of savings. I think we saved about $25,000 last year across our different retirement and savings accounts.
But you know, it still just ate away at me and ate away at me. Over the last few months things had gotten more stressful and more stressful, worst and worst and the hours had gotten harder. And I was having a hard time struggling, dealing with the stress. I started to have some health issues related to stress. I thought you know, I’m working so hard at work and then I come home and I work hard all weekend and at night. And I have a new baby, joined us three months ago, and I wanna be a good husband. I wanna be there for my family and I wanna be able to travel.
It felt like something had to give. A decision had to be made about what was going to give, what was I gonna to change. That is where I’m at about a week ago. We’re like, something’s had to change and what is that thing that’s gotta change. I sat down with my wife and I talked to my parents and made a really really big decision.
You guys are about to hear this big news before even probably some of my friends are hearing it. Are you ready? Brace yourself. We decided rather than do a couple of little changes we’re tearing off the whole band aid at once. I gave notice that I am leaving my full time job, my last day… this episode is going live on a Thursday. If you’re listening to it the day it goes live, tomorrow is my last day in the office. Then I offered to have a wind down period so I’ll spend one more month working remote and then come for that last week again in the office, the first week in April and then I’m done. And then my entire livelihood for myself and my family is coming from this website and my freelance work online and that is my business. That is my big announcement.
The Big Move
But we’re not stopping there because obviously just changing your career at once isn’t enough, we decided that while Portland has been wonderful, we’ve loved all of the time here and all of the bike rides and the beer, our daughter was born here and all the friends we’ve made here, we’ve decided we’re going to pack up shop and move south not just for the winter but permanently. We’re gonna move down to California. We’re gonna be closer to my wife’s family which we’re both really excited about. A lot of people have really bad relationships with their in-laws which is a total bummer. But I’m in a lucky place where I really love my in-laws. I have great mother-in-law and father-in-law and sister-in-law and brother-in-law and little nephew. And they live in Southern California so we are going to pack up and moved down to be closer to them. We’re gonna be somewhere in between the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles area. If you live down there, I’ll probably have some finance meetups maybe we’ll together some time.
That’s the story. That’s the news. So what have I been doing? How have I been preparing? The moment that I decided with my wife, it was really the two of us who sat down and made this decision together. It was one of the scariest decisions I have ever made in my life. When I called my boss, my boss is in an office in the East Coast, to give him the big news, it was definitely in the top 5 scariest moments in my life, if not the top 2, the other being when I almost died from meningitis in college. Short of almost dying, this was really the scariest thing I’ve ever done and the scariest thing I’ve ever chosen to do. And that’s coming from someone who was a rock climbing instructor, I jumped off 80-foot cliffs, I mean not without a rope. I have jumped off 80-foot cliffs, I have flown a plane by myself, I have snorkeled, I have been in deep water, I have been out all over the world and I’ve been to dangerous places, I have been to a country where people weren’t so friendly to Americans or Jewish people, where Israel wasn’t on a map. I was holding a passport that had a bunch of Israeli stamps on it.
I’ve done a lot of things people might consider scary and this was definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I said, this is it. I’m going for it. You know worse case, I realized it doesn’t have to be that scary. I can always go get another job if it doesn’t work out. But what’s scarier than walking away from my job was the thought that I could spend the next 50 years-ish, 40 years, 30 years going to some job in an office and sitting in a cubicle or hopefully I get promoted and have an office, but going in to work for someone else for 8 to 10 hours a day, five days a week for most of the rest of my life, that was scarier.
I realized I’m not built for that and it’s a great path for a lot of people I’m not trying to be down on it. And the last ten years have been great. I’ve made a lot of money, I’ve saved a ton for retirement, it’s allowed me to get to a point where I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful family and I’ve been traveling the world. But it’s time to take that leap and take that next step for me.
Personal Profitability community, I’m bringing you along with me to see how it goes. I’m going to be very transparent and open about everything I’m doing. I’ve been saying a lot of ‘us’ because this one was not as prepared as many of my podcasts I’m just kinda wanting to share with you and bring you into the biggest decision I might have made in life besides getting married and having a kid.
That’s the story. We’re doing it. I’d love to tell you what’s gonna happen next but I haven’t been there yet. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. In the last couple of weeks since I did give the big news to my boss I have picked up a couple of new freelance clients. That was the first thing I did. I put my name out there. I let people know I’m going full time. In the FinCon community I let people know, actually I haven’t even written this yet on my personal Facebook page yet. To the thousand or so friends out there they might hear it first on the podcast rather than my Facebook. We wanna tell people more personally especially our close friends. We haven’t put it out there on Facebook yet but I’m telling you guys because you have been my biggest supporters. I would not be here in this position without the Personal Profitability blog and community and the FinCon community that I’ve connected to since then. I’m actually going to conference for the first time this year. I’m gonna be at Podcast Movement in Chicago the week after July 4th. So if you’re gonna be at FinCon or Podcast Movement definitely find me there. I’ll be there.
And otherwise, I’m looking forward to having the freedom to travel the world. I always talk with my wife saying, hey maybe we should go to Thailand for a month there, London for a month. Because vacation days don’t matter anymore. I have my laptop. It’s sitting right here about a foot to my left, the microphone’s plug into. Anywhere that laptop is, I can be. I can do my job. I can work. I’m looking at going to Aspen for a week with family. We’re taking a couple of week trips with my family, to Tampa, to Little Rock.
And I don’t have to worry about vacation days now. I just have to worry about getting the time into work and building up that income and building that business. And as I do that I’m gonna work on other scalable income as well because as you know freelancing is more of a time for money trade or service for money trade.
And with more scalable things like writing books, and building podcasts, advertising. I’ve never had an ad on the podcast yet, that’s something I’m looking into figuring out how to do and monetize this podcast. It is not free to produce. It’s actually the most expensive thing I’ve produced as a brand. So I wanna monetize that, I wanna build up my email list, build more products, things that might really help you and improve your life and let you follow the same path that I have taken if you choose if that sounds good for you.
But really my number one focus and goal for everybody in the Personal Profitability community is first, make that first dollar on the side and then grow it. Coz you never know what will happen from there. The hardest part is really making that first dollar. If I had never made that first dollar, then I wouldn’t be where I am today.
And that’s really all I have to share for you. It’s been about half hour so I’m going to say, thank you everyone so much for listening and being a big part of this journey with me. Really, every single one of you, I see the stats, I know how many people are listening, I know how many people read my posts. If you’ve been there along the journey with me or if you’re brand new, welcome and thank you. It would mean the world to me, the best thing that you could do if you wanna help me succeed, share this podcast with a friend, if you find it useful share the blog with a friend, sign up for the email list, tell all your friends about it. It would be hugely helpful to me. If you use iTunes to listen to podcast streaming, if you don’t that’s the number one place people find podcasts. If you just take ten, fifteen seconds go on and click. Give it a review. Hopefully I have earned a five star review and a good rating from you. But however you feel please do give an honest review.
If there’s anything you think I can do better, anything you wanna learn, anything that I can help you with, always do really send me an email. I really do read all of them. I don’t always answer everything the same day, I do my best to try but I get a lot of emails as a blogger. But I do read everything the same day and try to respond as quickly as I can. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can just go to Personal Profitability, click the little hamburger icon, click the contact form, it all gets to me.
That’s the story of the day. I’m gonna lift up my beer as I always say personal finance should be personal it shouldn’t be stuffy or bad. It should be something that we should relax and enjoy. Not a narrow bridge that we’re afraid of but a challenge we’re going to conquer. So I’m raising my beer and sing cheers to all of you for this next step in my journey. I’m so excited to have you here along with me. So until next time, thanks for listening and stay profitable.