#79 | How I went from $18k/year to $750k/year

I have a constant feeling that I’m going to wake up and it’s all been a dream.

Because I’ll admit, it doesn’t sound real, does it?

“I started a hobby blog a few years ago and now I’m making $60k per month.”

I would have called bullshit on that one for sure.

Add on “Working part-time from home with no employees

And I’d be like… ‘Whatever, Trevor.”

But, unless I wake up soon and it has actually been a dream…

This is what’s happened to me.

A couple of weeks ago I shared what my day-to-day looks like.

I had a few requests to share the journey to this point,

So here it is, for those that want to know what the journey from $18K per year to $750K per year (in four years) looked like for me…

This isn’t a true rags-to-riches story.

There was always food on the table growing up, and I had two lovely parents who had full-time jobs working for the government.

It’s also not one of those ‘failed every subject at school’ stories.

I’ll admit I didn’t work hard at school. I was a bit of a dickhead.

I spent a lot of time standing outside in the corridor after drawing on the table, distracting other kids or answering back to the teacher.

But then the night before every exam, I’d read the revision guide from front to back, memorise all the facts and then get straight As.

I was one of those nobheads.

At 18, I had no idea what to do with my life (probably because my dream job as a content creator didn’t exist yet!)

I went to university in London to study psychology because I was interested in people and how their brains worked.

Again, I didn’t do much work. But writing colour-coded notes on a sheet of paper and staring at it on the bus on the way to the exams was enough to get the info to stick in my brain for three hours and then out onto the paper so I could then forget it again.

(It was mostly just remembering names and dates of studies.)

After that, I spent some time travelling, living abroad, dicking around and working in a ton of different jobs, none of which I liked.

You name it, I did it. From giving massages to selling insurance.

The degree didn’t help me to find work at all.

If there’s one thing I’ll say to my kids, it’s don’t go to university.

Unless you have a clear career path that requires it, it’s a waste of money.

Learning SEO

At age 23, I got a job as a ‘Web Search Analyst’ and my career in SEO began.

SEO in 2008 was a whole lot of fun.

It involved mostly stuffing keywords into paragraphs of nonsense text and emailing small businesses to say “I’ve linked to you, please link back to me or I will remove the link.”

I continued working as an in-house SEO and social media manager for various travel companies for the next 12 years.

But one problem that I had, was that they always wanted me to manage a team, and I hated that.

I loved SEO, but hated being an SEO Manager

I love keyword research, creating content and analysing data.

I didn’t love working with other people.

I felt like the shit filter between my manager and my team, with both sides talking shit about each other and me stuck in the middle, without the people skills to sort it out.

I wanted to be in my deep work zone, creating great content, not having a meeting with Barry about him being late again. I didn’t care what time Barry arrived at the office.

My lowest point

In 2012 I got fired from my job because I kept leaving at 5.30pm (the time I got paid until) to go home to my dogs who spent all day by themselves in the yard.

My boss expected me to work in the evenings (for free). But I didn’t do that because I spent every night smoking weed to numb myself from the shit day I’d had.

So I was jobless, with zero savings, and a mortgage to pay on my own.

In the six weeks it took me to secure another job, I started a blog in the personal finance niche.

Honestly, I only did it to stop myself from smoking weed in the daytime as well as at night.

Of course, six weeks isn’t anywhere near long enough to see any results. But I didn’t know that. I’d never worked on a brand-new website before.

When I got another job, I stopped the working on the blog.

I can’t imagine how much a ten-year-old personal finance website could be worth now if only I’d stuck at it!

Lesson = Don’t quit too soon.

I never progressed in my career

With 12 years experience in SEO, and a baby and a toddler to care for, I was stressed as hell working from 8 am until 5.30 pm three days per week… and taking home $1,500 per month.


The most I ever made from being employed (before I had kids) was $37,500 per year.

(This was £30k, but I always use USD as it’s easier for most to understand.)

I started a travel blog

Travelling has always been a huge passion of mine and so in 2019, when my kids were four and two and caring for them got a little easier, I started a travel blog.

I worked on it for a couple of hours every night to produce one or two articles each week.

Six months in, it was making a dollar a day from Ezoic. I was thrilled!

My fun hobby was paying for a meal out once per month. I was so happy and couldn’t have asked for anything more.

The traffic quickly began to ramp up and by month 8 it had 30k sessions per month and I could apply for Mediavine.

(They have since increased the requirement to 50k)

Starting to make money online

My first payment from Mediavine was $140. That was HUGE to me!

It meant that the last food shop of each month could go on my bank card rather than my credit card.

I still had no idea what I was doing, but I spent every spare moment listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos to learn more about blogging.

I remember listening to this video by Jon Dykstra while I was cleaning the kitchen. He revealed how he made $38k per month from blogging.

Until then, I had NO IDEA that making so much money was possible with a blog.

My eyes were open. And I was hungry for a better life.

I’m forever grateful to Jon for making that video, and to everyone who has made public income reports since. The whole reason I share my numbers (and this journey) is to inspire others to know what’s possible.


When the kids were four and two, I decided to increase my working days from 3 to 4.

I started freelancing. I figured this would be the best way to up my skills relevant to blogging, while getting paid.

I offered all kinds of services – Link building, SEO audits, content writing and keyword research.

I mostly enjoyed writing, and doing this offered me a real insight into the processes of bloggers who were way ahead of me on that path.

It was cool to see how differently people did their briefs for writers.

One of my regular gigs was for a large recipe site.

Every recipe had EIGHT people working on it.

Keyword research, ideation, cooking and testing, cooking and photography, writing, editing and publishing were each done by different people.

This was eye-opening!

I 100% recommend freelancing as a way to gradually transition from being an employee to running your own site full-time. I learned a lot from this.

The pandemic

I’d just had a taste of making real money online when the pandemic hit and my travel blog lost 95% of its traffic overnight.

My day job (which was also in the travel industry) cut my hours from 3 days per week to 2, and gave everyone a 20% pay cut on top of that.

Also, I now had the responsibility of homeschooling a five-year-old and a three-year-old.

We made it work though.

I got to spend all day playing with the kids while my husband worked from 7 am until 3 pm. It was hard, but we had so much fun!

At 3pm, he took over, and I worked until 10 pm.

I did 2 days in my day job (from home), 2 days on my blog and 2 days freelancing.

I didn’t know if travel would ever be the same again, but I knew that people would always need food. So in March 2020, I started a vegan website.

In September 2020, I was making much more per hour from freelancing than from my day job, so I quit.

I never did go back to the office. I was much happier working from the tiny desk I set up in the closet next to my bed.

my workspace (email 79)

I worked on the travel site and the vegan site side-by-side, and hired some writers to help me.

I was still doing freelance writing, because my clients paid me more than I was paying my writers.

Eventually, though, I realised that trading time for money wasn’t the way to go, and I started working full-time on my two websites.

Making silly money

In March 2021, restrictions lifted and traffic started to come black to my travel blog.

It reached 100k sessions/month and I joined AdThrive (now called Raptive).

My first paycheck was $3,792 – This was life-changing money for me.

I started another website in the gaming niche.

Then in June 2021, I sold my 15-month-old vegan website for $150,000.

I haven’t done anything with that money. It’s in the bank, where it will stay until I eventually buy my dream home.


I’ve since started a few more sites, but my focus these days is the travel blog.

I’ve also moved out of the closet and I now have a home office with a view of the sea!

We don’t have the dream home yet, but I’m looking for it.

Here’s how much profit my blogs have made over the years…

  • 2019 – pretty much nothing (I didn’t track it)
  • 2020 – $4,000
  • 2021 – $132,000
  • 2022 – $509,000
  • 2023 is on track to beat that. Look out for my November income report next week.

I keep things really lean and operate my business at around 95% profit margins.

Could I make a lot more if I spent $50k per month on employees? Absolutely.

Do I want to? Hell no!

I work with a handful of long-term freelancers, but they get on with it with little to no help from me.

I get to work by myself, wearing jogging pants, under a blanket, with a view of the sea.

And that, is worth more than money to me.

Key takeaways

  1. Expect to make no money in year one
  2. Expect to make very little money in year two
  3. Freelancing is a fantastic bridge between employment and being a full-time blogger
  4. Be prepared to spend all of your free time either working or learning for a few years
  5. It’s a long game, but SO worth it

Look out for my monthly income report next week where I’ll dive deep into my income sources.

Then the following week I’ll be getting back to practical SEO tips, so be sure to stick around for that.

If you got this far, thanks!

Much love,


– P.S.

Some links you may find helpful…