As the name of this blog implies, the focus around here is using your finances wisely to – to be redundant – “Financial Highway.” But what about when the idea of making money becomes an obsession, an addiction, something that goes beyond the range of normal and becomes unhealthy, even dangerous?
Been there, done that.
When my daughter was just a few months old, I came upon an idea I thought would surely be a can’t-miss money maker. The best part? The only real investment my idea required was my time. But all too soon, my plan for making money started ruining my friendships and, nearly, the very family it was designed to support.
My Money Making Plan
Until I became a mother, I had no idea about the lucrative world of mommy blogs. I started reading sites like My Charming Kids when I was pregnant, and soon found my Google Reader swamped with posts from dozens upon dozens of other parenting sites. It took me nearly a year of reading those other mommy blogs, however, to realize that I had what it took to start a site of my own. After all, I knew enough HTML and JavaScript to make a site functional; I was a professional writer, too; and, most important of all, I was a mother, rife with stories of my daughter pooping in the bathtub and learning how to walk.
So, in July of 2009 – when my daughter was 10 months old – I launched my website. My ultimate goal was to earn enough income off the site in order to quit my day job. At first, though, I focused on writing quality posts – the benchmark for making money with a mommy blog – but soon started to focus on establishing my brand as well. Before long, I was spending 20 to 30 hours a week connecting with other bloggers, sending out feelers to advertisers, and working with companies to sponsor product reviews and giveaways. Factor in my full-time job, and I was spending up to 80 hours a week away from my daughter, the person whom the blog was supposed to be about and ultimately benefit by giving me the freedom to quit the rat race and stay home with her.
Where I Went Wrong
At first, I didn’t see a problem with burning the candle at both ends. After all, didn’t you need to approach a new project with passion and dedication if you wanted to see it succeed? When friends started calling me out on my addiction – for that’s what it had become – asking why I was cancelling play dates and girls’ nights and family cookouts in order to work on my blog, I failed to take heed. It wasn’t until my husband remarked that, for a woman who was writing about the ins and outs of motherhood, I was surprisingly absent from much of my daughter’s life, that I finally took notice.
It took me nearly a year and a half to realize that, in addition to making money, my website was also making me insane.At its peak, my blog was earning me more than $1,000 a month in advertising revenue, plus an additional $300-$400 a month in complimentary goods and services through reviews and giveaways. It was lucrative, to say the least, but it was also becoming a problem.
I was addicted to making money, and I didn’t know how to stop.
Taking A Step Back
My realization that my money maker had become an unhealthy addiction coincided with me and my husband’s first child-free getaway since becoming parents. At my husband’s insistence, I didn’t take our laptop with me on the trip; instead, I completely disconnected from the world around me, including my blog, its readers, and its sponsors.
And do you know what? The world didn’t end.
When I returned home, my site hadn’t crashed. My readers hadn’t flocked to sunnier shores. My advertisers hadn’t cut ties. Everything was, more or less, exactly as I’d left it. What’s more, I felt more stable, more connected to my life than I had in many, many months.
Inspired by this new-found sense of freedom, I took a giant leap; I sold my holding in a group website geared toward working mothers. By that time, I was leaving my full-time job (not because of the blog, but for other reasons), and didn’t feel as passionate about the project as I should have. And you know what? The world didn’t end then, either.
Using baby steps, I gradually stepped further and further away from my blog. First, I stopped posting multiple times a day; then, I stopped forcing myself to post every day. I weaned myself from doing reviews and giveaways – they were more trouble than they were worth – and eventually stopped actively trying to solicit ads. The result was that my blog was far less of a money maker than it had been in its hey day, but that was all right with me; my peace of mind more than made up for the lack of income.
Today, I only post on my blog once a week; it has truly become an afterthought in my life, rather than the all-consuming addiction it once was. I still get a little money from advertisers. It’s not enough to pay my mortgage, as it once was, but it’s enough to take the family out to dinner once or twice a month. I may not be making money like I once was, but I’m happier than ever.

Reader, have you ever become addicted to something that should have been a positive – like making money? How did you save yourself?

Libby Balke
Libby Balke