Want to work from home? Find your element.

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

On Tuesday I asked my Facebook followers what work-from-home topics they’d like to see around here. There were some great ideas! There were also a few topics that have already been covered—and instead of rewriting more or less the same posts, I thought it’d be good to republish some. Like this post from last spring, when I shared what fuels me to keep writing this blog. (And if you’ve heard me speak at a conference this past fall or spring, you’ll recognize some of this!)

A number of your questions about blogging and writing as a business has to do with intention. Did I start Simple Mom with the intention of monetizing it? Was my plan from the beginning to get a book published? At what point did I decide to turn it from a hobby to a career? And just how do I do that, too?

I’ve written already how and why Simple Mom was started (at least in general terms; there’s only so much I can say in one post). But today, I’ll go in to a little more detail about the fuel that has kept me going after I started.

Questions related to intention are interesting, because I think it points to something called “the element.” Ken Robinson (one of my favorite modern-day thinkers) wrote an excellent book a few years ago called The Elementdescribing that place where your passions and your skills collide. This, he says, is essential for each of us to find, “not simply because it will make us more fulfilled but because, as the world evolves, the very future of our communities and institutions will depend on it.”

Quite unbeknownst to me, blogging is my current element. I knew I loved to write, but until I started, I didn’t know how much I loved the intersection of writing, encouraging others, graphic design, social media, and entrepreneurialism. These are the things I love to do. And apparently, these are the things I’m also somewhat decent at (all credit to God and his DNA construction there).

This is one of the reasons I think Simple Mom has done fairly well. It also speaks into a few other “truths” about why and how you can blog as a business.

Why “the element” matters

If you’re not in your element, you probably won’t make money doing it. Or you may make some money, but you won’t enjoy the hours and hours of work it takes, and you’ll do it begrudgingly. And honestly, that means it won’t last very long. Who wants to devote the hours it takes to do something you don’t intrinsically love?

“Mind mapping” my summer writing ideas.

1. Blogging is long, hard work…

Blogging is not passive income. I don’t hit “publish,” then sit back and watch the readers flock while I eat popcorn and watch a movie. I have a never-ending to-do list that grows faster than I can check things off. The blog network is always in the back of my mind, percolating.

There are times when I want to throw in the towel because it’s so much work. But at the end of the day, I love it. I’m in my element when I blog. It’s being in my element that keeps me going, because the hard work is not worth the payoff if my goal is only to make money. I do it because I love it.

If you love to blog—or sew baby clothes, or make soap, or knit hats, or whatever—and are also good at it, then perhaps you can make money at it, too. But do it firstly because you love it, not because you’ve heard you can make money at it. You’ll burn out before you see a reasonable profit.

2. …but I’d blog for free if I had to.

A number of you have asked just exactly how much money I bring in. I’m not comfortable sharing hard numbers, but I will tell you that we don’t have gold toilet paper. We also just have one car, buy our clothes at thrift stores, and don’t have cable TV. We live by our monthly budget, and we watch our dollars carefully. But we make enough to live in a way we enjoy.

Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. But I love it so much, I’d blog for free, and it just so happens that I also earn money doing it. I think part of the reason we can now claim the blog as a sizable portion of our income is because of the work I was willing to do when it made zero money.

In the beginning, I made nothing. Simple Mom started in early 2008, and I sold my first sidebar ad that July for something like $40. And it wasn’t until later that year that we noticed it generated income every month, increasing a bit with each turn of the calendar. A year later, we admitted that the blog was a part-time, income-generating blog. But by then, a lot of the foundation was established.

My intention

So this is why the element answers the question about my intention. No, I really didn’t start Simple Mom with the plan of earning a decent income. I started it because I wanted to write, and the platform naturally spoke to my interests.

Sure, I thought it would be nice to earn a few dollars as I did it. I honestly thought that if I could recoup my hosting fees, that would be fine by me. When my numbers went past that, I thought it might be nice if it could fund a “go out for coffee with girlfriends” line item with the budget. When it sailed past that, that’s when Kyle and I started taking it more seriously.

Remember, this was 2008. A few people were earning a living from blogging, but the concept was still rather 2.0. It never occurred to me that little old me—a stay-at-home mom living a simple life abroad—could actually successfully launch a blog network. It was most definitely a happy accident.

But that happy accident wasn’t completely random. It worked well because it completely fueled my element. And it continues to this day. When the hard work never slows, and the to-do list never ends, I go to sleep satisfied, because blogging is my element.

If you want to work from home, find your element. Perhaps it’s blogging or writing, perhaps it’s crafting, or perhaps it’s something no one’s ever heard of and is waiting for you to take it by storm.

A few helpful places for finding your element:

Head here to read more posts about how I write, how I juggle my weekly schedule with kids, how I make decisions and delegate, and whether I have help (here’s a clue: yes). But in order to understand why our family makes decisions for allocating our time, it’s important to understand that at the foundation, this blog is a family affair, and it’s in my element.

Where do you find yourself in your element? Where’s that intersection of your skills and passion?

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Comments

  1. I am a newish blogger…and want to have fun but do it for “reals” …I can always count on your blog to post relate-able …not beating around the bush kinda advice. Great post!! I am going to also check out the other blogs you mentioned.

    Delighted Momma

  2. I think blogging might be my element too, but it takes time to really tell. One thing is for sure, being a homemaker is NOT my element. And yet, I kind of wish it could be.

    I was certainly in my element when I was playing in bands, writing songs and making records. But I couldn’t make it pay the bills, and all the while I was always writing too.

    Seeking the balance. . . (Might check out your list of resources).

  3. This is awesome, and I love that you’d blog for free! I would, too, and for the first year I wrote in total obscurity. Only recently did I decide to treat my blog as a business, and I’m loving this series.

    BTW, after reading your post last week, I talked to my husband about managing my ads, and he was really happy about it! Thanks so much for that post :)

  4. Tsh, I love, love, love these behind the scenes posts.

    Honestly, I’m finding my element right now. Our family is in the midst of a big shake up (good). Moving, downsizing, quitting my husband’s job so that we can live more in our element each and every day. It’s clear what my husband’s element is and I think I’m fairly certain about mine but I need to flow with life also.

    As my children have grown out of babyhood & preschooler age my job as mother (one of my passions) has changed and I know that somewhere at the intersection of mothering, homemaking, blogging, photography, outdoor adventuring, homeschooling and authentic/intentional/simple living is my element.

    But I feel I have no “edge” in this regard in the blogging world, a world in which I want to be more successful. Well, I have some inkling of an edge or niche but Damien and I have yet to fully realize it and so now we just have to more forward, do the hard work and see how it all plays out.

    Thanks again Tsh for writing this series. I just love knowing the why behind decisions, the story behind the success, the intentions behind the actions. Honestly, it helps me trust you more and feel more connected to what you are writing here and more invested in the network.

    • It’s been fun to watch and converse with you over the past few months, Renee, so I’m excited to see how “it” all unfolds for your family this year. I understand what you mean about the “edge”… it’s hard to find, and it’s hard to even know what it is, really.

      You’re going to do really well. Ask me questions anytime.

    • I’m also excited to learn more about all of your plans and follow your moving adventures Renee!

  5. avatar
    DebbieRN says:

    Tsh,
    I love this post because it holds true for any calling. After raising my kids I went back to nursing school at 50. When I worked in hospice I loved it so much “I would have done it for free.” We all need something to occupy our days. I have the best “Mom” job ever! And you have a wonderful gift! Love your blog.

    • Yes! Absolutely it’s true for any calling. I want this series to be as applicable as possible to as many readers as possible, not just those who blog. Thanks for your kind words.

  6. I love this post! I had never heard of the element concept, but I love it – finding where your passion AND skills are. Sometimes we get caught up so much in one side of that, and if that’s the case, it will be tough to make a go of anything. I know you were talking about this in reference to blogging, but I’m only 4 years out of college working in my chosen career that has nothing at all to do with blogging. More and more I have been realizing that while I do a good job at it and make a great income, I just don’t enjoy it. I chose something based on only my skills (and factors like job stability and income potential) and pretty much ignored my passion. I’d just never thought of it in those terms, exactly.

  7. I recently hit this epiphany too! I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve wandered through so many types of writing and genres. About 2 months ago I started writing my Disney blog just for myself, for fun – and in two short months it’s become my primary writing project! All because I finally stumbled into my element. And I’m having the time of my life doing it!

  8. Very interesting series! Thank you for sharing all this process stuff with us. I’m always curious about how to make blogging into a business, because I’m loving it so much, even though I’m really quite new to it. I owned a business for 10 years, before my youngest was born, and I’d love to be able to generate even a small income from blogging. I guess I would like to learn more about the technical part of that, if you have anything to share about that. How exactly do you sell ad space, for example? Did you use one of the ad programs, like AdSense, or is it individual ads you choose to accept? I’m fascinated with the social media marketing and the real connection with readers that is available to writers now.

    I’m eager to read more of your inside perspectives!

    • Thanks for the questions. I have an idea mulling over in my head that might help give you some answers — I’ll reveal it next week.

  9. Great post!

  10. This is a great series, Tsh! I too love blogging and wouldn’t mind making a small living from it, but don’t want to make it “full time” until the kids are all in school in a couple of years. Right now I still have preschoolers, but I do make a bit of coffee and fabric money blogging, and building a great community!

  11. Tsh,

    I am LOVING this series. Thank you so much for giving us a peek behind the Simple Mom curtain. ;)

    And thanks for sharing TheMogulMom.com with readers!

    Heather

  12. I think every post I’ve read on your blog has made you so human to me. I read so many blogs but non of them are quite as transparent (is this the right word?) as yours. Your a person, just like me, and you like your privacy, just like me, and you have struggles, just like me. You really are amazing Tsh and I love your book and I love your blog. I really hope you never stop. You truly are an inspiration and an influence on my entire life. Thank you for being you.

  13. i’m in my element singing or practicing pilates. i’m so lucky i get to teach both!

  14. Such an inspiration and encouragement, as always! Thank you, my dear.

  15. Tsh, thanks for this. “Do it for free.” This is it. Right now I’m honestly assessing what I can sustain in terms of writing (definitely my element) + loving those who live with me + maintaining a healthy margin. Ach, the margin! We move on a regular basis. Next week, in fact. And again at the end of the summer. It’s an adventure, right? :-)

    I know that LIFE as I want to live it will require major boundary-setting + adjustment with each chapter of our story. And also contentment – -which is a challenge. I’m hugely encouraged by what you share here — especially your behind-the-curtain life. (Thanks for having boundaries with your sharing, too!)

  16. I echo everybody’s comments; I am loving these behind-the-scenes posts, Tsh! It’s really encouraging to read about how your small, faltering first steps turned into the passionate work that you do today.

    I’m also beginning to find my element, I think. I’m not yet sure whether it is going to intersect well with blogging, but I’m trying that out. I’ve realized that writing simple, honest, and hopefully concise poems about motherhood is what I want to be doing with my creativity. I’m hoping to figure out a way to find other moms who connect with these mixtures of feelings — elation, worry, suffocation, insecurity, peace. I’m intimidated, even a little terrified, by the social aspects of blogging, and yet I also long for connection and discussion and encouragement.

    I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series! Thank you for your openness!

  17. How interesting. I’m going to have to pick up that book. I’ve been blogging and working online in one form or fashion since 2006. I make a good income, but I find myself trying to force myself to do things I don’t really love to do… it lasts about 30 days, and then I find myself full into my blog(s) again. I always come back to them… no matter what else I try. I love blogging, and writing, and helping people out. It may be time for me to take a look from a different angle at my business, and that angle may be “my element”. Thanks for another thought provoking post Tsh.

  18. avatar
    Meredith says:

    This is how I feel about teaching…. I’d definitely do it for free. Financially speaking, I have to work right now, but what a wonderful job to have:) It’s hard at times, but the reward of watching my students grow makes it all worth it. Being a mother has made me a better teacher, too:)

  19. Thank you a zillion times over for sharing some ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpses of your process. I can totally relate to the ‘element’ concept and I look forward to reading more about it. This is specifically what keeps me going–it is a far deeper reality than how much income might come from my site/concept/blogging. However, I’ve been worried that ‘taking it seriously’ might kill some of the strength of that. Might you speak at some point about how you’ve maintained your ‘first love’ here on SimpleMom while moving forward in the business-arena? How have you stayed true to that first clear-hearted message while monetizing your blog?

    I too am impassioned about communicating the deepest messages I believe I’ve been given through the school of hard knocks on my blog and in my coaching business–however, I don’t have the luxury of just letting it percolate forever.

    • “Might you speak at some point about how you’ve maintained your ‘first love’ here on SimpleMom while moving forward in the business-arena? How have you stayed true to that first clear-hearted message while monetizing your blog?”

      Excellent question, Elise. I’ll do my best to address this at some point!

  20. I love this post! I’ve known a few friends who wanted to blog to get rich quick, and it just doesn’t work. Right now, I blog because I love it. It’s hard work, and I have an ever growing to-do list too! I’ve discovered that writing is my element and passion, and I would LOVE to make it my job someday! Your story is so inspiring to me Tsh, thank you so much for sharing :) I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts in this series!

  21. I thank you for your posts, each and everyone of them. Your blogs are a joy to read, and I learn from them and feel a little more relaxed after reading them, and realize that I can achieve my goals to, but not without hard work!

  22. avatar
    Caroline says:

    Thank you for the post and relating the concept of being in your “element”, it goes beyond just finding your passion or finding what you are good at. I have always wanted to have a project of my own, a business of my own, and have tried several things with some success, but always stopped, because it stopped being as fun or interesting to me. I think I have finally figured it out and something that I have been doing for a few months for free is now starting to demand more attention. I have just set up an LLC and am in the process of legalizing everything and I am loving it! I have finally figured out how to make my interest in helping others, saving money, teaching and eating well all work together in a business model! (I’m not talking about blogging either, so your intention for this post to reach all aspects worked!) It won’t make big bucks, but that’s not the point, I just want a project of my “own” if that makes sense. It helps my family spend time together and serve our community, which is awesome! I am checking out some of the resources, I appreciate it and am loving this series! Sorry this comment was a novel! :)

  23. I love this post! This is exactly how I feel about blogging and this is the first year that I can actually say I am making some PT income. I have done it for free and would still do it and I think that is SO key. I feel so fortunate to be doing something I love. Thank you for saying it so well.

  24. I believe my element changes (or I have a couple). Over the years, I’ve figured out what I’m good at and what makes me happy. Like I know I enjoy working with middle schoolers, so I volunteer with them. I’m happy when I’m skiing so I commit my winters to the mountains. And I love talking about beer and homebrewing so that is what I blog about.

  25. Thank you for this post. It answered the questions that I was going to ask last week!

    There are several reasons that I started my blog but among those, “it would be nice to earn a few dollars as I did it” certainly went through my head and dreamed that it may turn into something more substantial. After reading this post, perhaps, I would stay at the “a few dollars” range, if any! As I don’t know how good/interesting my writing is. I don’t know how much I would love it. And a part of what I am good at will be left behind with just blogging, I think. So, perhaps, for now, I really am playing at the computer when I blog. :)

    I am looking forward to your post next week. Even just a few dollars would be nice.

  26. This is a great post. I would be curious if anyone started a blog as a way to improve and sharpen their writing ability. Everyone I meet that writes a blog says “I’ve always been a writer, so blogging comes naturally.” For someone who is not a ‘natural’ writer, the thought of writing a blog intrigues me. I have some really interesting ideas in my head, but I get nervous about starting a blog, because I have never considered myself a writer.

    • I’m one of those “I’ve always been a writer” types (as well as blogging, I also write and edit professionally), but here’s my perspective: Writing is a skill that you can certainly develop. The BEST way to develop that skill is just to write, whether it’s a journal, blog, or whatever platform you’re comfortable with. Start your blog, and consider it YOUR space to express yourself however you want. For now, don’t worry about being the next great literary voice. Just write. If you want your blog to “go pro” you can always hire a copywriter/editor to help you. You’d be amazed at how much you’ll learn from a good editor :)

    • Hi RE,

      You might like the free website 750words.com as a way to get started writing, but without publishing your writing to others. I came across it at the beginning of the year, and love it. It’s basically just an online notepad, but with goals and rewards for things like a certain number of days writing in a row, etc. It makes it easier to motivate yourself.

      I don’t know about you, but personally I find it hard not to censor myself and get stuck before I even begin if I know there’s an unseen audience out there. I would love to blog one day, but for now I’m honing my writing craft and really enjoying getting my thoughts out of my brain and on to virtual paper.

      My husband also uses it (more than I do!) for his business ideas and just to declutter his brain. Enjoy!

      • Thanks Anna! I will definitely look into that. It would be nice to have some accountability when a topic comes into my head. I totally agree about the self-censoring challenge. The thought of “What if my future boss/old friend/family member reads this?” always stops me from writing what I really think.

  27. You’ve described how I feel about blogging perfectly – in my element. I feel like this is what I am supposed to be doing – it’s the “intersection of my passion and skills.” (What a great phrase!) I plan on writing a book someday about my experiences in being a mid-life, first-time mom through adoption, but I don’t want to spend that much time away from my 3 year old right now. Blogging (while it IS a lot of work) helps me to feel like I’ve “published” something each time I post. It’s a great feeling.

  28. Great post! I so needed to hear this as we just launched my site. I’ve been blogging as a hobby for our family for almost three years. While doing so, I discovered my absolute love of writing, and it just so happens that I’m half decent at it. I’ve had many friends/family urging me to start Intentional By Grace for a while, but it’s only recently that God really seemed to open the doors for it to happen. Reading this was a lot of affirmation for me. Do it because I love it first and if I happen to make money along the way, then wonderful. If not, at least I’m doing something I’m incredibly passionate about and maybe helping others walk in a manner worthy of their calling too. :) Thanks for this post!

    • This sounds like me! I have been blogging for family since 2007 and I discovered my love for writing there too. I would never have dreamed I loved to write if it had not been for that! I just started my blog in February!

  29. I’m still working on discovering my “element”. I’ve tried many things and have felt like a failure when I realized I didn’t enjoy any of them. Then I read Mandi’s book, “How to have your cake and eat it too”, and was so encouraged by her thoughts! She says business ideas that don’t work are not seen as a failure, but as a growing process. So, for right now, I will continue to blog and enjoy the journey!

  30. Thank you so much for doing this as a series. It’s very enlightening and inspirational. I appreciate you being so transparent!

  31. avatar
    Angela Atkins says:

    Another great book on this topic is “Chazown” by Craig Groeschel. I’ve been working through it and it is helping me sort through me–looking at my core values, spiritual gifts, and experiences to see how they intersect.

  32. Thank you!!! I’ve been inspired! I previously was a working mom thriving in a career in software sales. Since the birth of my last child, I have found myself discovering how to be content as a “@ home” mom. I just launched http://www.heartandhaven.com to write about my journey – to document my shortcomings, growth, and new things to learn about this new direction God has for my life focusing on being a wife and mom.

  33. Just wanted to add another thank you for this series – I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of it!

  34. Thank you for sharing! I’m also a stay-at-home (schooling) mom and have found my element in blogging. I love everything about it! The writing, the networking, the design. Love it! For the last 4 years I’d done it for free but this year I’m working towards earning an income from blogging. Right now I’m learning all I can and trying to apply what I’ve learned. Thanks for being an online mentor for moms like me.

  35. I love how you explain this, as being in your element. There are times when I feel I am in that “element” I need to figure out how to get there more often! And then how to make money with it, lol!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    bernice

  36. This is how I feel, I love it…such a great outlet for my writing and energy!!! Thank you, thank you! (I’ll still waiting for income, LOL) soooo….I am blogging for free! LOL Great post…looking forward to your posts about your writing. Have a great weekend.

  37. I didn’t figure out my element until I was in my early 40’s! I am amazed at how much I love to paint and the more I do it the more I love it. I hope you all discern your element early on :)

  38. Thank you for giving us the inside scoop as to how and why you started Simple Mom. I think you’re absolutely brilliant and I love reading your posts! I’ve got a simple little blog and while I don’t ever intend to make money blogging I do attend to improve my blog posts and writing. Sometimes I do get frustrated not knowing where my blog fits into the world. That’s okay though- I just have to keep trying even when I’m frustrated.

    :-)

  39. I would have blogged for free but it is because (like you) I love it. I am also in my element. It was so nice to sit and talk to you at Blissdom that last day with our “tribes” but right now reading this it is so nice to see you and are we are both where we want to be. *clapping*

    • The other day, my daughter asked me if I’ve had any trolls on my blog lately. I asked her where she heard of a troll. She said, “From that blogging book you gave me, of course!” Thought you’d like that. :)

  40. Thanks, Tsh, for this great post. I love the topic as I think so many of us can get something out of your advice and wisdom. I need to work on my hubby getting on board with my blogging (this is relatively new to me/us). “The Element” is right on about doing what you’re passionate about. As a SAHM of three kids, I’ve gone back and forth about what my next career would be since I’ve left my old job in the dust after having kids. It’s forced me to find what I really love which is such a blessing.
    I love that I’ve stumbled upon your blog as it’s full of great stuff-thank you!!
    Sarah

  41. Thanks for the inspiration!
    I know what ‘my element’ is, I know what I want our life to look like in, let’s say, 5 years, I know that we both want to work from home and I know what our business should become. The problem is: I don’t know how to get started. I mean, I have skills, I have a plan, I have a vision, I just feel like we’re ‘trapped’ in our current life of both working outside the home and needing that income. If I want to justify us working from home, we need income. And taking that very important first step is scaring me!
    I always wonder how people were able to ‘just’ quit their jobs and create their business from home without loss of income?

    • We did this, but we did have loss of income for awhile (a couple years). The number one recommendation I can make is to build up your business the best you can ON THE SIDE—invest your evenings, your early mornings, your weekends on it, so that you can get it to a place where you’d feel comfortable “just” quitting and jumping in. Also, we were able to take loans from family members (who were supportive of what we were trying to achieve), which helped a lot. It was still scary, but absolutely, hands-down worth it!

  42. I’m a little late entering the discussion, but am really enjoying this series. I am a relatively new blogger and I find all this back information fascinating — a sign that I am in my element, perhaps?
    I have heard of Ken Robinson’s book, but not yet read it. He touches on this subject in his TED talks. My favourite is this one (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html) from 2006.

  43. Thanks for this inspiring article, Tsh. My mom sent me the link and I’ve now found several posts of yours that I’ve enjoyed reading. I’m recently laid off and hoping to “find my element!”
    Regina

  44. avatar
    cherisse brown says:

    I want to invent a artbox for children and start my own business

  45. I remember, Tsh, when you started Simple Mom back in 2008 and I remember being so impressed with how quickly it took off! It was obvious from the start that your gifts and writing ability were connecting with so many of us. Yours has absolutely been one of the blogs that has always provided inspiration for me (and I’m sure so many others). As I have navigated this blogging thing myself, I have very often thought, Hmmm…I wonder how Simple Mom has done that.

    I completely agree with you that you’ve got to blog about something you enjoy, otherwise, it’s going to be difficult to keep it going (spoken from a serial blog starter…and blog quitter!). Oh, and “blogging is long, hard work” is so accurate. Long and hard. But so rewarding when you find your sweet spot!

  46. avatar
    Danny Hurley says:

    I really like the sound of the “Element” as I read it out loud. It gives a comforting feeling. But there are also times when our skills does not collide with our passion right? I mean, as for my case, being a writer, to get paid, I don’t only write topics that is out of my passion. I write even if it doesn’t interest me. With this comes the challenge. I hope you get what I mean. But all in all, I enjoyed reading your post. It encourages people to find ways on how they can earn money working at home. Thanks for sharing!

  47. I’m a former minister turned at-home dad. I’ve wanted to write for some time. A month ago, with my new flexibility of schedule/need for stimulation, I launched my blog, Lead Yo Fam, to encourage dads to step up to take the spiritual lead in their families. It only took a few days to learn there is a real need with very few resources. I was also surprised to find that writing is my element, and I love to blog. Writing whatever you want is way different than struggling to complete forever long seminary papers.

    My career aspirations are now focused on writing and speaking full-time by the time my kids are in school. I really appreciate any advice I can get from experienced bloggers about how to get started and build a solid audience.

  48. Thanks for the advice Tsh. I’m a former minister turned at-home.

    About a month ago I started my blog, Lead Yo Fam, aimed at helping men be the spiritual leaders of their homes. It only took a few days to learn their is a huge need and very few resources.

    I was also pleasantly surprised to find writing in my element. I can’ get enough. My career aspirations have quickly shifted to writing and speaking full-time by the time my kids are in school.

    I’ll take any advice I can get from experienced writers about how to get started.

  49. Tsh, I loved this. I have been reading your blog since almost the beginning! Each time you write about blogging as a business or working from home, etc, I just read casually because it didn’t apply to me. But now it does!!! I just started a blog in February. And although it is very new and I’m not sure I will ever even make coffee money off of it, I started because I needed to write. So, yes, I would blog for free. But I am trying to learn how to monetize it to make a little, though. :) Thanks!

  50. My element is what I post about. And I do do it for free. I have done other work from home business that I was kinda good at but were not my element. I decided this time, that if I was going to publish anything online it would only be what I truly loved. NOt just that but it had to fit in with my life. Sure I can make time to write while the kids nap. But more importantly I wanted to write about a topic that I normally think about and read about on my spare time. The same goes with my fitness career. I teach aerobics mainly because I want to work out and I would be at the gym anyway. So my teaching and getting paid for it doesn’t take anything away from my life. It ONLY adds to it. That is my intention. To add to my purpose.

  51. avatar
    Felmer Austin says:

    I so appreciate everything at simplemom. Your UI is very light and friendly which are evident in your posts as well so we can easily connect to one another. How long have you started this site? I wish to find my element too just like you.

    -Felmer

  52. Tsh, I love you even more for your use of unbeknownst in this post. :)

  53. I started my blog two years ago as a means to document my son’s milestones, but the more I wrote (and the more I read other blogs), I began to enjoy writing in a more “bloggy” style vs. journaling style. Like you, I would keep doing this even if I didn’t see a single cent come in. Blogging has given me a way to write down my thoughts on parenting, on my son, and discuss them with other parents around the web.

    I’ve launched a few side gigs in the past, and it’s dead on what you said about the importance of finding your element. The three side gigs were activities that I was doing solely for the purpose of making money, so that when it didn’t, it was easier for me to give up rather than try to find new ways to change things around. Even though I was good at all three, there was little motivation other than monetary. Whereas with my blog, I actually get a kick out of the process, and if I get a few more views here and some more followers there, those are nice additions to the already awesome feeling I have just from writing. So I absolutely see the difference between my past ventures and blogging and just how important it is to be good *and* to enjoy doing it.

  54. You are so right about finding your element and the amount of work involved in blogging. Thanks for the resources, i.e. books you listed, they sound helpful and inspiring.

  55. I so, so, so agree. You have to do it because you love it first, or you’ll never be happy and you won’t put the required effort and TLC into that it needs–that makes it so dynamic.

    Blogging is my element too–but even beyond that, administrative work is a gift God has given me, and so I help other bloggers as well. I also help other bloggers learn to blog because God has gifted me with the ability to teach and attention to detail. I LOVE doing all of these things and it’s most definitely my element. :)

  56. Thank you for this post! I have been blogging for free since 2010! Just sure how to monetize or of working full time if I can:(

  57. I’d also recommend the book Strengths Finder – it helped me understand who I was and focus on the next steps in my life. (http://imaginationsoup.net/2012/04/how-did-you-go-from-teaching-to-writing/)

    • Strengthsfinder is a great book! I loved Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado, too, especially because the newer version contains a self-study guide at the back.

  58. Some call it “Element”, others called it the place where both your passion and your talent meet. Either way, it’s the sweet spot. Loved this! Thanks so much.

  59. I love this post Tsh and agree with everything you’ve said here. When moms ask me about making money online and they need money *now*, I suggest virtual assistant work or writing for pay, not blogging – it’s a slow burn.

    I do think there is a third “element” with blogging success however: timing. Some ideas are just ripe, and when a great blogger (such as yourself) comes along with talent and a topic that is on the consciousness of many, they’ll have far more success than if the timing/synchronicity is off.

  60. This makes so much sense! And I really resonate with the idea of “finding your element.” As a person with many interests, it seems like different seasons of life bring forward different “elements” as well. Right now writing about natural health and food is something that fits with my family life and is something I feel passionate about. And once I got started, I’ve been ignited with so many ideas! Whether I make any money or not, I am having a blast doing it! :) AND I have to agree with you that it is MUCH more work than I thought it would ever be. That’s why it’s so important to love the topic.

  61. Working from home has been on my heart for awhile- but I homeschool and already teach college part-time (when there is work)- it is just that living in CA is so much pressure on my husband that I would like to help more…

  62. Thanks for this great post! I agree that when you have a business (big or small,) it has to be something you love to do if you want to stick with it.

    For me, my element right now is teaching piano. I love kids and have music skills, so this is a great combination for me right now as a stay-at-home mom.

  63. I, too, enjoy getting a peek behind your blog. The point about blogging being hard work & creating a never-ending to-do list seems spot on to me, and I’ve only been blogging for about 8 months. I think too often blogging is sold as, “Start a blog! Anybody can do it.” In reality, it’s not for everybody- it’s a lot of work & dedication, and can be difficult to make money from.

  64. I love that you say ‘blogging is my current element’. I have always told people that a career doesn’t have to consist of one job and one direction. You can have two part time paid jobs and an unpaid job, etc. As one evolves so does their experience, interest and subsequent passion. Follow as many interests as you like…you will always end up on the same path eventually and be much better off for the journey.
    To have passion or find your element you must be able to access your feelings. That is you must be able to get in touch with your feelings. Something many people can’t do in these busy days. Sometimes you need to ‘make’ freedom (free time, emotional sabbaticals, etc) to let feelings drive you. Do this and eventually you will marry some or all of your interests into your element….which may change as you grow stronger and wiser. Such an interesting subject. Thanks!

  65. Like you, blogging is the current vehicle for my element, my passion, my reason to delight in my days and to look forward to getting up every single day with joy.

    I think that it is so easy to completely miss that there even is a crucial intersection of skills and passion. I think we often gravitate towards jobs at which we excel, but in which we are still miserable. Sometimes we can discern our gifts for ourselves, but often we need a guide, a coach, who can help us discover that buried treasure.

    Out of complete frustration with my life I hired a coach last year and have never regretted the time or money I spent. I worked incredibly hard, and was rewarded by learning so much about myself and why I was unhappy in every job I had ever had, and I was able to head down a much healthier, joyful path.

    Two things I have learned in the past year helped me tremendously in figuring out my talents:

    First-What is it that you just can’t not do? Note-This may be a behavior that has annoyed your family to no end. :-)
    For me, it was helping others by readily offering resources and information to help build stronger and more satisfying relationships.

    Second-What is it, that when you do it, brings forth tears of joy? (I wish I could remember where I read that. It is so very powerful!)
    For me, it is watching someone take a piece of information I share and use it to give themselves hope, make a difficult relationship just a little easier, find a job that suits them much better, etc.

  66. Well, I think I’m still considering this question. What is my element? I may have to take a gander and read that book. I have a lot of interests, but none of them seem like “it.” I love to paint, knit, write about oddities in life and educate my kids at home. I am also an artist, and I love them all – BUT which one is the one that’s my element?

    I’ve also been considering doing some sort of graphic design, cause I really love working with photoshop and illustrator for print design, but again…should I pursue it? I don’t want to start down the path and years later find myself burned out because it wasn’t life giving and/or didn’t fit the rhythm of my life.

    So I’m searching, considering and thinking about it. If you read my blogpost below, you’ll see I’m about to have a baby, so I don’t see the decision being made anytime soon! haha Maybe by Christmas I’ll have more direction! :)

    lana*w

  67. Well, I found three elements my planet is tuning around: raising my three children, blogging, and cooking!

  68. Tsh,
    If you are still taking questions about working from home/blogging: I am wondering how to hire a virtual assistant? Any advice?
    Thanks,
    Nicole

  69. Blogging is really one of the best ways to earn money online. Like you said, it’s not easy to maintain a blog though. And writing should be something that you love to do or passionate about, or else you’ll be burned-out. By the way, how many months will it take before you could actually earn from your blog, and what are the ways to monetize it? I really do enjoy reading your entry. Thanks for sharing it! It’s truly inspiring.

  70. Thank you so much for this. As a young wife I try to plan ahead. I’m a new blogger who is just managing to bring her family around to healthier more eco-friendly living. My MIL (who lives with us) has a hard time understanding why I would want to stay home when I have the opportunity to work and why our budget doesn’t include cable. It is nice to have a reminder that I can financially help my family while being at home even if I won’t be bringing in as much money as I currently do while working. Now I just need to get on a daily rhythm and I’ll be set :)

  71. Love this post… love this blog! I just came across it from Jenni’s blog “Story of My Life.” I will definitely be following this one from now on too.
    I feel totally in my element when I’m with people I love… simple I know, but thats it!
    Also, my husband and I would love to start a family, so I’m hoping that I will transition into finding my true element with motherhood!
    Happy Wednesday! btw, It took me a few tries to spell “definitely” so now I’m memorizing that one. :) haha

  72. What questions did you ask or do you ask your self with the mission of your blog? How do you stay on track and not get distracted with latest trends/fashions that don’t match your mission statement?

  73. I think working from home is the best thing anyone can do! Especially a mom! If anyone needs help or wants to work from home I encourage you to try it! My husband and I both work from home and we have 3 baby boys! Our website is http://www.perlapedraza.com or you can add me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/perlapedraza. God bless you all so much and hope you find what your looking for!

    Perla Pedraza
    678) 608-6349

  74. When you want to work from home and you can match that desire with a passion for what you are doing, there is nothing like it. The expression follow your passion comes to mind. If you find your element, you’ll find your passion and your work day will seem like a play day.

  75. I also work from home and one of the things I am also doing is blogging. Blogging is also a good way to promote your business.

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