A few months ago, as my husband and I were busy gathering all our paperwork for our 2011 tax returns, I nearly had a panic attack. The numbers just weren’t adding up. While our monthly income had exceeded our expenditures for every month but one in 2011, we were facing a two-headed monster that I was sure would derail my freelance career and our efforts to live with minimal debt:

  1. Growing children. Everyone says that babies are expensive, but preschoolers – with monthly school tuition, dance class, and swim lesson fees – are even pricier. I knew that with every day, my adorable 10-month-old son was becoming more and more of a financial liability (sorry baby!), just like his older sister.
  2. A slowing workload. Last July, one of my freelance contractors sent me a massive project that single-handedly saved our annual budget. Thanks to that project, I made more money in one month than I had in the entire year up to that point. I knew I couldn’t count on a windfall like that again in 2012; in fact, that contractor had specifically told me the chances of another project of that size was slim to none.

With those factors in mind, I set out searching for new ways to make money and support my family. What happened next is something I can only describe as a miracle.

The Prayer

It began in church on the third Sunday of the year. I’d spent the past week crunching numbers, and knew that something had to change or I’d be heading back into the office – where I’d sworn I’d never return – by the start of summer. “Please, God,” I found myself praying, “provide for us.” I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was indeed listening to my pleas; I was shocked, however, by the speed at which he answered them.

When the kids and I got home from church (my husband was working yet another weekend shift), I found an email in my inbox from one of my girlfriends. She’d sent along a link to one of our favorite personal finance blogs, Get Rich Slowly. Knowing I often didn’t get a chance to read on the weekends, she pointed me to a specific guest post she thought I’d enjoy.

I did enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much I did something I’d never done before: I emailed the post’s author.

The Answer

Her name is Crystal, and if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know who she is. She’s the voice behind Budgeting In The Fun Stuff, and she is an online money making machine (my words, not hers). In the post on GRS, Crystal had described how she’d taken her passion and turned it into an income-generating side hustle. She also mentioned how busy she was with all her newfound business.

That’s where my email came in. I must have rewritten that email a dozen times before hitting the send button. In it, I told Crystal in no uncertain terms that I wanted to help her – reduce her workload – in whatever way possible. She responded almost instantly (this is what I call serendipity), and before the day was over, I had a new job writing personal finance articles for her sites.

Since then, Crystal and her partner in online awesomeness, Jesse, have referred me to other personal finance bloggers, who have referred me to other bloggers, who have referred me to other bloggers… you get the idea. In just a few short months, I’ve managed to do something I never thought I’d be able to – blog for income – and not only meet the monthly income goals I set for myself nearly a year and a half ago when I left my job as a TV news producer, but exceed them.

The Income

My father – a CPA, CFP, and CFO who is my personal finance idol – would cringe to see me put my actual earnings online, but I’m going to do it anyway. Why? Two reasons: first, I’m a blogger and it makes for a good read; second, putting something down on pen and paper (or in this case, a computer screen) tends to make it more real, and – in my case, makes me feel more accountable.

So, here is my income summary from last month:

Making Online Income:

  • $600 earned, through working as a staff writer for four different websites
  • $148 earned, through articles written through non-staff writing positions
  • $120 earned in residual income from advertisements from my personal (family-oriented) website

In addition to the $868 I made through blogging, the company that had told me not to expect a huge project in 2012 ended up sending me a project worth $4200, bringing my total monthly income up to an astounding $5068. Now, I don’t expect to repeat this feat month in and month out; in fact, my monthly income goals are a mere $1200, meaning the extra $3900 I made last month will go to our emergency fund. If I’ve learned anything about freelancing or blogging for income, it’s that contractors and projects come and go – but it’s shown me what’s possible simply by taking a chance on yourself, and on someone else’s ability to have faith in a complete stranger.

Readers, what’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken to make extra money?