From Hobby Blog to Thriving Business: Our Blogging Story

Just over three years ago, I pushed “publish” on the very first post at Just a Girl and Her Blog. I am positive that my hands were trembling when I did it. I know there was a nervous pit in my stomach. I may have even hyperventilated a little. And actually, the only reason I ended up pushing “publish” in the first place is because I told myself that no one would ever find out about that little blog of mine, let alone read it.

Thank goodness that didn’t work out the way I had planned. 😉

Learn how we turned my little old blog into a thriving, multi-six-figure income! Here's our story...

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Here we are three years later, and not only have people read Just a Girl and Her Blog, but it has become our family’s full time gig, with Donnie and I both working on the blog as our full time jobs– say what?! 

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Though this blog has become our family’s business (which still feels kind of weird for me to say!), starting a business was the farthest thing from my mind when Just a Girl and Her Blog began. I had gone from working part time to staying at home with the Cs full time, and while I loved and cherished being able to spend so much time with them, I had started to feel like I was losing myself a little bit. Everything I did was for the boys, and as much as I love them from the bottom of my heart, I just started feeling like I needed something that I did for me.

I had always liked writing and creating and would organize various areas of my house for fun, so even though I had only read one or two blogs before and didn’t even completely understand what they were, starting one sounded like a good idea.

One night in late December of 2012, Donnie and I went out to dinner for our anniversary, and because we are pretty much the nerdiest couple ever in life, we had planned to discuss our goals for the upcoming year on our anniversary date. I went through and told Donnie about my fitness goals, books I wanted to read for the year, things I wanted to do with the Cs…

…and then I almost lost my nerve.

I almost didn’t tell him my last goal that was written in teeny tiny print on the very bottom of my list. But finally, I oh-so-sheepishly confessed that I thought it might be fun to start a blog. Not one that anyone would actually read, of course, just something I could do in my free time as a creative outlet.

Donnie was, as always, incredibly supportive and even offered to set up the technical side of the blog for me {probably because he knew my computer might end up going through a window if I tried to do it myself 😉 } if I told him what I wanted it to be called. I thought about the name over the next few days, did approximately zero research, and came up with “Just a Girl and Her Blog.” I kind of liked how it played off of the phrase “just a boy and his dog,” and truthfully, I really didn’t know what my focus would be, so a broad name like that one left me with a lot of options.

Donnie got everything set up for me and, armed with some grainy iPhone photos of the Cs’ most recent birthday parties, I set about writing and publishing my first few posts. They were pretty bad, but at least I had started. I had pushed “publish.”

Over the next few weeks I continued to do little projects, take pictures, and post them on the blog. I found out about these things called link parties where bloggers would get together and share their latest posts with one another, and I began joining in. I started finding other blogs to read and began commenting on them and meeting fellow bloggers. I started social media accounts for Just a Girl and Her Blog, being very careful not to actually tell anyone in my real life about them. 🙂

Before I knew it, I had caught the blogging bug. I started researching and learning everything I could about blogging. Eventually I told my family what I had been up to. After that, other people in my “real life” started to find out. I’m sure they thought I was crazy. {They probably still do! 😉 } But I was having fun. My little blog was growing. In March of 2013, my third month blogging, one of my posts– How to Make Pretty Labels in Microsoft Word— started to go a little bit viral. I was getting actual traffic to my blog! I couldn’t believe it!

At about the six month mark, my “tribe” or “mastermind group” formed. At first I thought they had made a mistake when they asked me to join– surely they meant to ask someone else, right?! But if they did make a mistake, I’m so thankful because those girls are still my very best blogging friends, and I have learned SO much from them. Truly, if you are a blogger (or anything else, for that matter), finding “your people” who share your passion and support you through thick and thin is absolutely the best thing you can do.

Donnie was always supportive of the blog and would help me with technical issues and give suggestions when I asked, but he didn’t start to get involved on a consistent basis until I asked him to write a post about the paperless system he was using to keep track of our family files. His post went live in February 2014, when I had been blogging a little more than a year, and it gained traction immediately. Not many people in the home decor space had written about going paperless, so it was newer information within the niche, and people were intrigued.

We had used affiliate links in the post to link to some of the scanners Donnie recommended and also to an eBook about Evernote. One night when I was at Target I got a text from Donnie that went something like this, “Hm. I wonder what happened with Just a Girl and Her Blog today? Oh we just made about $500 in affiliate sales from that eBook I recommended.”


For a blog that was making next to nothing, $500 in one day seemed like a crazy amount to me. I made him email the author of the eBook to make sure something wasn’t wacky with our affiliate link. There wasn’t. It was real. That’s all it took. Donnie had caught the blogging bug too.

Suddenly, we had a bigger vision for this little hobby blog of mine. Donnie started keeping track of our income and publishing income reports on his blog, DonnieLaw. (We have since moved all of the income reports over to my blog, and you can find a list of all of them here.) For a few months, I had been getting a steady stream of emails from people asking me blogging questions, (“Me?” I would always think to myself, “They’re asking me?!”) and Donnie came up with the idea of writing an eBook about everything I had learned my first year of blogging.

I shot down the idea immediately.

“There are so many people who know so much more about this whole blogging thing than I do! I am hardly qualified to write about blogging!” I would tell him. But he was persistent. This is the same man who came to me in college and told me, “I’m going to ask you out on a date. And if you say no, I’m just going to keep asking you and asking you until you say yes, so you might as well just say yes right now.” So I knew that once set his mind to something, he wasn’t going to let it go until it happened! 😉

I went away to a hotel for a weekend and started pounding out what would become the first version of the eBook Building a Framework. I continued to work on it over the next few months, and on June 10th, 2014, my 30th birthday, we launched our very first product. We went with a “pay what you want” pricing model, partly because I wanted anyone who wanted to start a blog to have access to the information and partly because I was scared to death that people would hate it and the fact that they could pay what they wanted might soften the blow. 🙂

We had no idea what to expect from that first launch. I thought my parents would buy it and maybe my sister, neither of whom were interested in blogging, but they have always been my biggest cheerleaders so maybe they would take pity on me and buy a copy. Much to my amazement, we sold hundreds of copies on the first day. I was blown away. It was the best birthday ever.

Within a few weeks I started getting emails from people thanking me for writing Framework, and telling me the stories of how they had started and grown their blog with help from my book. I was totally floored. And I became a woman on a mission. I started to see how I and how others could change their lives through this whole blogging thing. It could be a total game changer for families like ours and like so many of my readers’.

I continued to learn every single bit of information I could get my hands on about blogging and online business. Donnie and I continued to plan and strategize. We took courses through and learned a ton. At the beginning of 2015, Donnie won a contest that got us into a mastermind group led by Fizzle business coaches Corbett, Chase, and Barrett, who are all brilliant entrepreneurs. Being mentored in that group was a definite pivot point for us and for our business, and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

Near the end of January 2015, Donnie got laid off from his job in the oil and gas industry and suddenly, before we were ready, we were full time bloggers. 

With the help of the Fizzle guys and the other members of our mastermind group, we were able to prioritize and really hone in on what we needed to do to make our business grow. January also happens to be my best month of the year traffic-wise because of organizing posts, so we got a nice boost there as well, which helped.

We had released our second product, Simplify, an eBook of printables, in early January and Donnie started working on an eBook based on his paperless strategies, both of which would help us bring in a more consistent income. The Paperless Home launched in April of 2015, and once again, we were completely floored by our readers’ support!

We went from being scared to death that we weren’t going to be able to pull off this whole full-time blogging thing to almost utter disbelief that we were actually getting to be able to do our dream jobs, all while being home with the Cs and spending tons of time with them. We felt (and still feel!) like the most fortunate people alive!

One other thing we did near the beginning of 2015 was start a Facebook group for people who had purchased our eBook for bloggers, Building a Framework. I was nervous about how it would go, but it truly has become one of the best, most supportive groups of bloggers I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone is always ready and willing to share their knowledge, and I have learned so much from the other people in the group.

As we were getting ready to relaunch Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook in June 2015, I mentioned to the Facebook group that if any of them wanted to write a post about the eBook within the first few days it was going to launch, I would share their posts on social media and include them in a roundup on my blog.

I thought maybe a handful of people would take me up on it. Well, launch day came, and over the launch period, more than 40 amazing bloggers wrote posts about Framework. I sat there reading them with tears streaming down my face because of all that these girls had done and accomplished. The fact that Framework had even played a teeny tiny role in all if it left me completely in awe. I had never felt so humbled or so excited in all my life.

Three years ago, I never ever would have imagined that my little secret blog would end up changing my life and my family’s life and having an impact on others’ lives as well. More than even allowing Donnie and I to support our family, blogging has given and taught me so much.

I was the girl who was afraid of everything.

I was afraid to call the utility company to discuss a bill because I thought they would yell at me, so I would have Donnie do it. I never thought that I would be capable of starting, let alone successfully running, my own business. I thought other people who were smarter, bolder, and more talented than me could do that. But not me. I was too shy, too scared, didn’t know enough, right?


Blogging has shown me that so much is possible. Donnie and I didn’t come into this whole blogging thing with any prior knowledge. We just jumped in with two feet and learned as we went. If you’ve been playing around with the idea of starting a blog or a shop or any kind of venture, I encourage you to jump in and go for it. Yes, it takes a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of learning. But the rewards are great.

If you need a little help getting started, we’d love to help you along your way. This blog is full of articles we’ve written based on the most common questions we get from bloggers and bloggers-to-be– they may be some of the same questions that you’ve been asking! If you’re just getting started with blogging, we recommend starting with our “How to Start a Blog” post, which walks you through the process step by step.

And if you want more help along your blogging journey than what can be covered in blog format, I truly poured my heart and soul into our book Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook — I literally wrote down everything I know about blogging! Become part of our Facebook community– it truly is the best there is!

Let this be the day that you say yes. Take that first step. It really could change your life.

Not sure where to start? Check out these popular posts:

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.