If You Don’t Like Something in Your Life, Change It

Yearly Wrap Up 2018 - Morocco

I’m writing this post because if I didn’t it would be all too easy to go back on my goals and keep living a life that doesn’t make me completely happy. It’s much easier to keep with the status quo, the hamster wheel I’ve been on for the past six years.

If you live a fairly comfortable life, it’s easy to forget to check in with where you’re at and if it’s actually a life that you’re satisfied with.

This has happened to me. A lot.

I get into my routines, my comfort zone, and I forget to keep working at what I imagined my life to be by 30. Or, when I’m not in the best mindset, I think that it’s too late to change things up because I already made so many wrong decisions in my 20s to make that life possible.

But that kind of thinking is just wrong. With the risk of sounding cheesy AF, it’s never too late to be who you want to be or to build a life that makes you inspired, proactive, and grinning from ear to ear on a daily basis.

When I first started this blog, I had no intention of making it a business. In fact, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had just graduated from college and after a few months of thinking about it, I decided to move to Australia for six months.

Those six months turned into two years of living in Australia, New Zealand, and backpacking through Southeast Asia. Throughout that time of intense growth, I wrote about all of it. On here.

Sydney, Australia

My blog was my outlet to still feel connected to my life back home, to keep a running narrative of a time in my life I knew I’d want to look back on. It was a way to release my introspective creativity while I was pouring pints and pushing the limits of my introverted extroverted nature every night at the bar.

When I arrived back to the US in 2015, I decided to try to work remotely. Again, I didn’t know if I wanted to make my blog a full-time income but I knew I still wanted the freedom to travel whenever I wanted.

I started working shitty jobs for clients on Upwork who underpaid me, barely making rent and enough money for groceries. I was living in Portland, Oregon and miserable – with my work, my relationship, and my lifestyle of 12 hour work days that barely allowed me to make ends meet.

The only thing that truly made me happy during that year and half was my blog. I started going to conferences and learning about different ways people were building up their income. I was inspired, but I still didn’t take the massive action I should’ve back then.

I didn’t take the time to properly learn SEO, deeming it too technical and complicated. I slowly started growing and then plateaued at around 20,000 page views per month.

Instead of throwing myself into figuring out why I stopped growing and how I could improve my monetization strategy, I took on more clients for my marketing consulting business. It was the easier thing to do and I didn’t think too hard about it.

What is Portland Oregon Like? The Surprising Reason Why I Didn't Like Portland, Oregon - USA Travel

After Portland, I moved to Asia for a while. My ex broke up with me in Thailand and he used my blog as one of the main reasons why he didn’t want to be with me anymore. I always put my business and my blog over him, he said. I was a workaholic and didn’t pay him enough attention.

As much as I hate to admit it, that accusation did a number on me. I started resenting my blog for the demise of my relationship. Even though deep down I knew how wrong me and my ex were for each other, it was the easy scapegoat.

Over the next year, I went back to using my blog as a more personal creative outlet instead of thinking of it as a business. I stopped writing as much as I used to because every time I would sit in front of my computer to write, I would think of those words my ex said as I was ugly crying on the floor of our little bungalow in Thailand.

Instead of posting regularly, I used my blog to sporadically write down the roller coaster of emotions I was feeling throughout 2017. I was dealing with pretty severe depression at this time and could barely get through client work, let alone think about an editorial calendar for The Atlas Heart.

I had no mental capacity to focus on my blog the way I needed to.

Lefkes Village in Paros - best time to go to greece - summer

I was thousands of miles away from home, I no longer felt like I had a support system, and after losing a client, I was on the brink of financial ruin. I still remember my lowest moment when I called my mom crying in Greece because all I could afford to buy for food was a one euro croissant. I felt pathetic and a complete failure.

Eventually, I picked myself back up. I landed a new client who would end up being the best client I ever worked with and who inspired me with his own brand of being more proactive and creating the life you want for yourself.

I promised myself that I would never allow myself to fall into financial stress to that extent again (and I haven’t since). I threw myself into more client work to build up my income again and get out of debt.

I also realized at this time that a big part of my depression had to do with feeling like I no longer had a community, so I made it my goal to find a base where I could build one up again.

The nomadic life no longer appealed to me the way it used to. Although I still loved travel, I realized it didn’t give me everything I needed. It was just one part of the life I wanted to build for myself, not all of it.

After that summer in Europe, I moved back to the US for six months. I didn’t realize how much I needed to be home until I landed at SFO and hugged my sister. It was the first time I felt whole in over a year.

Yearly Wrap Up September 2018 - San Francisco

By this point, I was in a better place mentally, but still boomeranging from the hardest year I’d ever been through. I decided to just continue with client work to get by and still save a little, but not spend much extra time on my blog.

I focused more on doing things that made me happy again. I spent time with friends, started dating 5x a week (yeah it was too much), and finally felt like myself again for the first time in a long time.

That next summer, after six months of feeling strong and happy, I decided to move to Europe for a few months to try out living in Lisbon, Portugal – a place that has a good expat community and seemed like it might be a good fit for a base.

Realistically, I already thought of San Francisco, or at least California, as home, but I felt the need to be 100% sure of that fact before I made a commitment. It was also hard to quiet my wanderlust spirit after spending the last five years always having my next trip planned at all times.

Again, during that summer I didn’t sit down with myself and get real with my goals. I continued with my client work and wrote a blog post maybe twice a month. The thought of finding a home, a base to live out of, was my main focus and I didn’t take my other long term goals as seriously as I should have.

June - Yearly Wrap Up Post 2018 - Porto, Portugal

I knew within a couple of weeks of landing in Portugal that it wasn’t a country I wanted to live in long term. California was calling me back to its shores, as it always has no matter where I go in the world.

I moved back to San Francisco in September of 2018 and finally vowed to get serious about my future, my career, and what I wanted that to look like.

I decided to only take on high-quality clients and work on my blog on the side, I also committed to finally diving into SEO extensively to see if I could make waves with my blog traffic and get out of my two year slump of being stuck at 15-20K page views a month.

The universe worked in my favor and I found a client based in San Francisco within a couple of weeks of moving to the city who was willing to pay me a decent amount to be their marketing manager.

For the next eight months, I slowly lost sight of my blog goals and got sucked up into working for this client (as well as my other clients) for close to 40 hours a week. I was making six figures for the first time in my life, but none of that money was coming from my blog.

Wrap Up: January 2019 | San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts

Two aspects that I was grateful for during this time were:

A) Making enough to not be stressed financially after moving to the most expensive city in the world.

B) Being able to see my new SEO strategy work wonders for this client’s blog. I was able to more than triple their blog traffic within a six-month timeframe. I realized I finally had the tools to do the same for my own blog.

I think both of these things were important because it confirmed that San Francisco was where I wanted to live and that my blog building skills actually do work. However, working 40 hours a week helping other people build up their businesses didn’t leave a ton of time left over for my own.

When that contract ended with my big client, I had two options. I could either start looking for more clients or I could start transitioning to working on my blog full time and let the six-figure income go (for right now).

I might be crazy, but I’ve decided to go with the latter.

I’ve been blogging for over six years. I’ve dedicated so much of my life to this little piece of the internet. That’s a lot of time to be working on something and to still be dissatisfied with where it’s at, especially in terms of how I’ve monetized it.

Wrap Up: May 2018 | The Atlas Heart

So, I’ve decided to make a big shift in my lifestyle and current work. I’ve decided to give myself an ultimatum, to make this my ‘make or break’ year for my blog.

I want to be making a livable income from my blog by the end of August 2020, or I’m going to let my blog go as a potential business and probably end up working at a tech company in San Francisco. 

My first goal is to be making $5K per month within the next six months from just my blog. And, realistically, I believe I can get to $10K per month in mostly passive income within two years.

I plan to keep working for my favorite client part time, but I’m closing the doors to my marketing consulting business otherwise right now.

I just gave notice at my apartment in San Francisco yesterday, and I’ve decided to move down to Mexico for a couple of months starting in September to ease the financial transition of building up my blog income. I also plan to hire a part-time writer to help me get out more SEO-optimized content on a regular basis.

My goal is to create a sustainable, scalable, and mostly passive income from my blog that will allow me to live where I want (San Francisco) and chase after even bigger dreams that I have for my life and my career, such as writing my first book and maybe even creating a course around how I created a six-figure blog (if all goes well!).

I’m tired of letting my blog fall to the wayside and to keep saying that I want something for my life and not actually doing it. So, I’m finally putting my dream of full-time blogging first, maybe for the first time in my life.

And it feels damn good.

I’m also working on letting go of the regret I have for not making these big moves for myself sooner.

Everyone’s journey is different and all of those experiences I went through above have given me my unique perspective on this blog and life in general. I wouldn’t take those back for the world because I’ve learned so much from them.

I plan to write up monthly blog income reports starting at the end of August to keep myself accountable and to hopefully inspire others to chase their scary big dreams too.

If I fail, that’s on me and I’ll own it.

But, the best thing I could give myself at this point in my life is to at least try and chase this crazy big goal because it is one that has been on the back burner for years.

I’m finally ready to see it through, wherever it might lead me.

Wish me luck!

xx

Mimi

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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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