3 Frugal Bloggers Turned Millionaires Overnight

Have you ever pictured yourself starting out something as a hobby and later finding yourself in a millionaire status thanks to that hobby?

After starting my personal finance (PF) blog, Frugal Asian Finance, I found that there are a lot of PF bloggers who started their blogs as a hobby and then ended up selling them for a seven-figure amount.

Part of me was fascinated by the power of the internet and the profits blogging can bring.

I have never heard of any journalists becoming a millionaire thanks to their articles.

Journalists are trained to write, communicate, and publish professionally. Many of them stay in school for years to enter journalism.

I don’t know of any schools that offer a major or a degree called Personal Finance Blogging.

In the beginning, part of me was puzzled as to why they would sell their well-performing blogs (their brain child and a money-making machine) for a lump sum amount.

If you have a goose that can bear golden eggs, would you want to keep the goose instead of selling it for a fixed amount of money?

I later found the answers from the bloggers themselves. Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar did mention that it had become too much work for him to handle given the traffic the site got.

I guess it does get too burdensome at one point. I’m sure those bloggers have their reason. Maybe I’ll understand it more if I’m in their shoe one day.

For now, my blog is my baby. I’m nurturing it with my brain power and care every day. Also, I just started my blog six months ago and haven’t monetized it yet (meaning I’m in the red), so I doubt if anyone wants to buy it.

Without further delay, below are the three personal finance bloggers who turned millionaires over night that I know of.

(By overnight, I mean they signed a deal with the buyer in a short period of time. The hard work they put into their blogs actually took years to bear fruit.)

1. Jim Wang – $3 million

Jim started bargaineering.com to document this learning about personal finance. Jim started the blog out of boredom since he was living away from his then girlfriend (now wife). He began documenting how he tried to figure out his 401(k) on a WordPress blog.

Five years later, he sold his blog to Bankrate for $3 million in 2010. Jim attributed the success of his blog to two factors. First, the timing was right. Jim started the blog about a year before blogging became a phenomenon with the help of blogging technology (i.e. free WordPress).

Second, Jim stressed the importance of hard work. He spent a lot of time writing posts, networking with other bloggers, and building a relationship with his readers. Sincerity is also key to his writing.

Jim now runs the Wallet Hacks, a great personal finance blog that offers how-to guides on various topics such as Airbnb guest hacks and pizza hacks.

Like: I like that Jim is an Asian American blogger who has made it big in the blogging world. It’s inspiring to see someone I can relate and look up to in the blogger community.

2. J.D. Roth – Undisclosed seven-figure sum

J.D. Roth started Get Rich Slowly on April 15, 2006 and made very little money from his blog back then: a couple of pennies a day.

The few pennies gradually turned into dollars and then tens of thousands of dollars. In November 2007, J.D. made $5,000 from his blog a month. He eventually quit his job to become a full-time blogger.

Together with the increasing blog income, offers to buy his blog also started to pour in. J.D. brushed them aside until one day when a tragic incident that happened to his friend caused J.D. to evaluate the priorities in his life.

He was burned out and felt that he had said everything he had to say about personal finance. He wanted to switch gear and start a new journey. He tried to find a seller who would commit to continue growing his blog instead of adding ads all over it and letting it die a slow death.

After a lot of soul-searching and negotiation, J.D. sold Get Rich Slowly to QuinStreet Inc. in early 2009 for an undisclosed seven-figure amount.

He now runs his new blog Money Boss, where he continues to document his personal finance journey.

Update 10/15/2017: J.D. Roth has bought his site back. He’s once again the official owner of Get Rich Slowly.

Like: I like how J.D. Roth has overcome his financial, marriage, and weight struggles to be a self-made millionaire that inspires others to get out of debt.

3. Trent Hamm – Undisclosed seven-figure sum

Trent grew up in an average family in rural Illinois. His dad worked at a factory, and his mom was a homemaker. His parents also took care of many other children as well as his mom’s two younger siblings. Money was always tight for the family.

Trent later went to Iowa State University and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Despite having a good job, Trent and his wife accumulated over $20,000 in credit card debt and other loans. They had no savings. And Trent was often away from home on business trips.

Realizing that he wasn’t passionate about a job that took his time away from his family, Trent started The Simple Dollar in 2006 to document the drastic measures he and his wife took to pay off the debt.

In 2008, Trent quit his job when his blog was making enough income to cover his family’s expenses. He sold the blog to Cut Media for an undisclosed seven-figure amount in 2011.

Like: I like Trent’s posts before and right after he sold the site. Those posts address the day-to-day topics such as reducing grocery bills and inexpensive work lunches. They are detailed and relatable.

Conclusion

Those are the three millionaire personal finance bloggers that I know of. I’m sure there are a lot of them out there doing amazing work every day.

It just blows my mind how something can start out simply as a hobby can turn into such a massive business and a deal that can set someone financially free for the rest of their lives.

Do I want to be one of them? For sure.

But aside from money and dreams, I like that I can write passionately about what’s on my mind every single day – frugality – and feel pretty good about sharing it.

Related:

Blogging As A Side Business

Why I Started Blogging

6 Unexpected Benefits Of Personal Finance Blogging

5 Downsides Of Personal Finance Blogging

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28 thoughts on “3 Frugal Bloggers Turned Millionaires Overnight”

  • I had the same dream of becoming a millionaire from blogging too and I was also seduced the the potential of the internet. However, after blogging for a while, reality set in. Making money from blogging is not as easy as it seems and Internet is now flooded with PF blogs everywhere.

    It’s not that I am not ambitious or motivated, I still am motivated, but not by the potential to be a millionaire from my blog. I am now putting more emphasis on education rather than the monetary reward.

    The reason why I want to blog was because it was my passion to share. If I put too much emphasis on monetizing my blog, then I will be working for money, again. Hence, I only have two cheesy google ads on the side bar of my blog and nothing else.

    If I do make money from my blog, then it’s great. Otherwise, I will continue to write as long as I am still passionate to share my knowledge. It’s better to work on your passion and not getting paid than to work for money.

  • While I do hope to make an income on the blog one day, I really just want to help people. I do enjoy sharing PF info we’ve learned and experienced, but that’s not the sole focus of my blog. And keeping my focus on helping people keeps me from getting caught up in the money side (most times 😬) . Would I enjoy being a millionaire? Of course. But I feel called to help ppl more than the money.

  • These were really interesting to read about. Get Rich Slowly was the first personal finance blog that I read. It taught be a lot of the basics of finances and really started my love of the topic. I like how they all started with the purpose of helping people, not making money.

  • I just recently started blogging and knew absolutely nothing about it. The fact that I could potentially make money while doing it was very appealing to me. It still is, but after just a few weeks, I realize that in order to make money you do have to spend a lot of time on your blog, not just on writing good post but on social media, SEO set up… For the few successful bloggers out there, how many are not at all?

  • I’ve followed Trent since 2007; I like his style of writing and as a fellow Midwesterner I can relate to a lot of what he talks about on his blog. I like how he structured his buy-out, with him still contributing on a regular basis. It leaves him with both an initial lump sum as well as a salary, if I remember correctly. Overall it was an awesome deal for him and it hasn’t compromised the integrity of the site to a great degree.

    I’d of course love to have an opportunity like that come to me, but like a lot of bloggers I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it because I do genuinely like to write, and I also want to share our journey. As we start down the path of owning and paying off a home early I’m sure I’ll write a bit more about that as well. We haven’t shared a ton of personal details on our current financial situation, and I’ve not really approached the topic with the wife yet, so we’ll see if it ever shows up on the blog or not.

    • I think it’s a great idea to check with our spouse before we get into detail about our personal life. I used to ask Mr. FAF whenever I wrote something a bit sensitive or personal, but he never objected to anything. I don’t ask him anymore because I think I know the answer @_@

  • Holy Spirit! I didn’t know any of that! I thought…maybe like $13k? $20k tops. That’s crazy! I always thought it was the person behind the blog who gave the blog life but I’ve heard of all those blogs still so they must have hired some good takeovers. Hats off to all those guys!! 👏👏

  • This is crazy! For me, the blogs that I like to read are the really personal ones. The ones that are very much about the original blogger and just wouldn’t work if someone else took over. But, for people who no longer want to blog and can sell their blogs for a good price…more power to them!

  • Wow, what fascinating stories! I’ve heard JD Roth’s story in the past, but not Jim and Trent’s. Pretty amazing how the hard work to build a website (focusing on helping others!) could result in a sale of significant magnitude.

  • I learned from one of Sam’s posts on Financial Samurai how much money some of these bloggers have made by selling their blogs. There are probably only a small percentage of blogs that have the potential to be bought out for 7 figures. Also, you’re right that it would take serious thought to see if it’s worth selling because you would be killing the golden goose.

    • I know! It’s a lot of hard work. Sometimes I wish I had started blogging earlier too. You never know what could have come out of it. But when I look at the layout of my old blogs and what I wrote, I’m kinda happy that I didn’t really publish all of my posts until recently hehe.

  • WOW!!! Thanks for sharing, I’ve heard of the Simple Dollar and it was one of the first PF blogs I’ve ever read, just goes to show the power of Personal Development and perseverance can transform the mundane to spectacular. IMHO Personal Finance is just it, although they’re a dime a dozen, it’s “personal” and it’s really unique to every situation, and if we can hit that nerve and build a following, the sky’s the limit; besides there are a billion folks going online every year, all we need are a few hundred thousand of them 🙂 thanks again MsFAF for sharing and Cheers all….keep on Hustling

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