I have spent over a decade making money online. It hasn't always been an easy road. In fact, the past 5 years have been the toughest time in my life. But I wouldn't change a thing.
This is my story… about how losing everything led me to everything I ever wanted… and how I am using the lemons life gave me to make lemonade.
How Losing a Million Dollar Business Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me
In my 30s, I had a successful career in online advertising, making a six-figure income, working with Fortune 500 clients. The price I paid for my cushy job? Long hours at the office. I worked 9-10 hours a day Monday through Friday — plus my commute.
I liked my work. It was challenging and fun. I got to work at some of the biggest ad agencies including CKS in Silicon Valley, Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, and Razorfish and Deutsch in Los Angeles. I have experience in almost every major vertical: apparel, automotive, financial services, beauty, retail, pharmaceuticals, tech, telecoms, media & entertainment, and consumer packaged goods (CPG). My clients included many of the biggest companies in the world including Apple, Disney, Target, Sony, Old Navy, L'Oreal, Nestle, just to name a few.
But deep down, I always wanted to start my own business and be my own boss.
When I finally gave birth to my first child at age 39, I looked into my little girl’s eyes and felt more love for another human that I ever knew was possible. (Yes, I love my husband, but if you're a mom, you know — there's nothing like the love you feel for your kids.)
At that moment I knew I had to figure out a way to support our family without having to leave my little girl for 50 hours a week.
I ended up starting a food blog the year my daughter was born, which I then grew into a million dollar blog network.
You may be asking yourself, what’s a blog network? I'll explain that…
I'll also tell you the story of how I built a home-based business that turned into a nightmare, and then led me to a path toward ultimate freedom. Not just for me… but for the majority of women and mothers out there who are looking for the same thing.
In this blog post, I will share how losing a million dollar business was literally the best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, also the most painful thing that ever happened to me, but what do they say about how diamonds are created? Intense pressure.
It led me to find the secrets that I will share with you: how to find the best side hustle, one that lets you work from anywhere, whenever you want, and can also save you a lot of money on your taxes.
Starting a Side Hustle on Maternity Leave
During my maternity leave in 2007, I started a side hustle on my coffee table, hoping that I could eventually replace my income from my corporate advertising job and stay home with my little girl.
I was dreading going back to work 10 hours a day. My side hustle was a little food blog I called Cheeseslave.
My husband supported us that first year. I blogged full-time, getting up in the mornings at 3 or 4 am before my daughter woke. And I still only made around $5,000 the whole year.
I had no idea how to blog, and had to learn everything on my own.
I wanted to collaborate with other food bloggers in my space, to help each other grow. So I started a “blog network” with a few of my blogger friends. I reached out to potential advertisers to see if they would pay us to do giveaways and sponsored posts.
Five Years and Over One Million Dollars Later…
Five years later, the little blog network I founded had mushroomed to almost 1,000 blogs. In 2013, we made over one million dollars in revenue. (I didn't keep all that money. I paid most of it out to our hundreds of bloggers and our staff of 10 people.)
And then it all fell apart. Literally overnight.
It’s a long story but suffice it to say, I had some haters. We had a couple former contractors I had to let go. They just didn't have the skills we needed as the company grew.
This happens in start-ups… the company's needs change rapidly, and the people you hired last year don't fill the needs anymore. The people I had to fire started trash talking me online in an attempt to get revenge.
We also had competitors trying to steal our bloggers. Ultimately, they succeeded, and all of our top bloggers quit overnight. Without the bloggers, we had no inventory for the advertising. We were dead in the water.
We went from grossing $100,000 a month in revenue to $10,000 a month. We had to let go of all of our contractors, break the lease on our office space.
The company choked over the next few months… until it finally died. (If you're interested, you can read the whole story with all the gory details here.)
A Blessing In Disguise
Truth is… it turned out to be a blessing.
I started on this journey so I could spend more time with my daughter, Kate. She was 6 years old the year the company crashed… and I was spending 60 hours a week at the office, managing a team of 10 people. She was being raised by the nanny.
You see… even though I owned my own business and we were making good money, I had very little freedom. I was working all the time. I was trapped.
When the company crashed and we lost everything, it was the most difficult time in my life, but looking back, I’m so grateful that it happened.
I learned so many lessons… but to name a few…
- Confidence – I found out that I can build a business to over $1 million per year. They say the first million dollars is the hardest. Now I know that if I did it once, I can do it again.
- Fearlessness – What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I went through the worst time of my life and came out on the other side. Now I fear nothing. And that's a great place to be.
- Character – I was hurt by some people who were selfish and short-sighted. I decided right then that I would never do that to anyone. In fact, the experience fueled in me an even bigger desire to help other people become successful.
- Determination – I became absolutely determined to find a better way to do business. The blog network model didn't work for me — for many reasons. But I knew there had to be a better way.
How My Failure Led Me to Find the Best Business Model
After my business crashed, I had to find a way to start over…
I had found out the hard way that a “brick and mortar” business was a trap. I realized that in order to create time freedom and location freedom, I needed a business I could do online, from home, in my pajamas. Because that was the only way I could be home with my kids.
I spent over a decade making money online, so I knew I could do it. I just needed to find the best way…
Did I mention that the same year my business crashed (2014), I was pregnant with our second child? (Talk about stress! Try being 9 months pregnant with no income, and all your credit cards maxed out.)
I needed a business that would scale to be able to support me and my family… but one that didn't take me away from them.
The 5 Ways to Make Money Online
When I was running the blog network, I helped a number of bloggers become six-figure earners. In the process, I saw that there are 5 ways to make money online (not listed in any order of preference):
- Advertising (on a blog or YouTube channel)
- Selling digital content (ebooks, membership sites, online classes)
- Selling physical products (Amazon reselling, Etsy store, your own shopping cart)
- Affiliate marketing (selling products for commission)
- Direct sales (network marketing or MLM)
(I should note that there is a 6th way to make money online — consulting. But I don't count that because you can't do it and get passive income.)
How to Choose a Business That Scales
I have made money online doing all of these things… and I still make money from advertising and affiliate marketing to this day.
I plan to continue making money from advertising, affiliate marketing, and I just launched a digital product, my new course, Online Marketing Simplified. I'm a big believer in doing a variety of things because multiple revenue streams are better than just one.
That said, you also need to know where you should double down. I wanted to figure out where I should focus my efforts. I wanted to find a way to scale a big business grossing over $1 million per year — because hey, I did it before, why not do it again?
I needed a business that would give me the freedom I wanted — without all the hassles.
I wanted a business that didn't require:
- An office lease or storefront
- A warehouse
- A bookkeeper
Of the 5 ways to make money online that I listed above, only one of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Want to know what it is?
Stay tuned for my next post and I'll tell you…
Or you can click the link below and get instant access to watch my free webinar where I go into a lot more detail:
How to Choose the Best Side Hustle