Sam Holstein

How Quitting Professional Blogging Radically Improved My Life

How Quitting Professional Blogging Radically Improved My Life

Running my own passive income online business was my fondest dream for my entire life. I mean my entire life — I remember being in second grade, organizing binders full of business ideas and fantasizing about becoming a millionaire CEO one day. (Yes, I was an insufferable child).

Since I grew up when the iPad came out, I tried my hand at app development for a few years. But my passion was never for software. It was, above all, for the written word. So as soon as I was old enough to know what passive income blogging businesses were, I knew what I had to do.

And I made a pretty good go of it. I wrote 500+ blog articles, convinced thousands of people to sign up for my mailing list, made thousands of dollars a month on Medium, produced and sold online courses, and lived on my blogging income for several years. I know many people out there would give their right arm to experience the success I enjoyed.

But the dream wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Professional Blogging Kept Me Poor

It was cool to live off of passive income and not be beholden to keeping bosses, coworkers, or even particular customers happy. I had to keep my thousands of readers happy en masse, of course, but that’s not the same as having the entirety of your income in the hands of a small number of other people.

But the trade-off was definitely reduced income. For the same amount of time and energy I put into working as a blogger, I could have made many orders of magnitude doing the same work for someone else. And now that I work in a different industry, I do. I work the same amount as ever, and my income has risen dramatically.

I pathologically avoided traditional employment because the idea of having to keep individual people (like bosses or clients) felt to me like the embodiment of Rosseau’s chains. But you know what? I was a fool. I feared that making professional commitments would enslave me, but in fact, it freed me, because now I have the economic resources to spend my life in ways I’ve only dreamed of for the decade-plus years I was a solopreneur.

Passive income gurus like to poo-poo on trading your hours for dollars. But the fact of the matter is most people can make far more dollars trading their hours directly. Like, get real: Trading 40 hours a week for $4000 a month is a better deal than trading 40 hours a week to build a passive income machine that earns $500 a month for 24 months, which are the numbers most people are working with.

Another reality check: the more you trade your hours for dollars, the more you build marketable skills that enable you to build a passive income machine later. I’ve learned more about sales and building an operational business in the last six months than in the preceding five years of being a solopreneur because I’ve learned from the professionals around me.

Blogging Wasn’t the Dream Job Gurus Promised

The pitch “Write what you want and make a living” sounds great on paper, but it isn’t really like that. Think about it — does anyone really dream of writing How to Turn Your iPhone Screen Black and White? Don’t misunderstand me — I greatly enjoyed writing that piece and many others — but my childhood dream was to write books like the nonfiction works of C.S. Lewis, not self-help columns about modern tech.

The reality is, to experience any level of success in blogging, you need to bend what you want to write to fit the medium (pun intended). You need to treat it like a job.

That’s not a bad thing. But the insane level of hype around blogging on the internet makes it sound like pro blogging is this fantasy job where you can write whatever you want and become a millionaire, when in reality, you need to produce a product the market wants, just like in any other line of business.

But I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. And unsurprisingly, after a few years, blogging began to feel empty for me. Day after day of writing self-help articles that were no great works of art sucked my creative spirit, leaving me with no energy for other writing projects I valued more. And worst of all, I couldn’t understand why — wasn’t this the dream? I lived full-time on my work. Shouldn’t I be feeling good?

I recall telling 

Ayodeji Awosika

 that I would do whatever it took to become a blogger who made six figures. Less than six months later, I dropped out of the game. It wasn’t because I couldn’t make six figures, but because I realized what it took to make six figures as a blogger would leave me hollow. That isn’t true for everyone, but it was true for me.

Keeping a blog is a useful tool for becoming a widely respected writer. But because of the hype surrounding full-time blogging, I confused the tool for the dream itself.

What I Wish I’d Done Instead

I would have still kept the blog all those years. I’m still working my way back to it. But I wish I’d also worked a day job. I had more than enough time to do both. The reason I wish I’d done this is that success in both would have fed each other:

  1. Coworkers and professional contacts would have read and shared my articles with each other, enhancing my network and connecting me to opportunities.
  2. My day job would have provided great topical inspiration.
  3. I could have used money from my day job to hire freelancers on Fiverr to do parts of my blogging work that I found tedious and soul-sucking.

In Conclusion

There’s a ton of content across the internet about how being a full-time blogger is a passive income guru’s wet dream. But there aren’t a lot of people talking about the downsides, like the ones I experienced:

In hindsight, quitting professional blogging was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Today, I earn more than I ever did as a blogger. More importantly, I’ve learned more about myself and the world around me than I ever could as a solopreneur. I wish I’d done it sooner.