Blogging as a Career

Over the years, many readers have asked about my career and blogging. So, I figured I’d write a post answering the most frequently asked questions (including moving to New York, boyfriends and break-ups)…

Why did you first move to New York?
I moved from Michigan to New York almost eleven years ago. After graduating from the University of Michigan, I stayed in Ann Arbor for six months and worked three jobs to save up enough money to move to New York. My first gig here was a full-time unpaid internship with Cosmopolitan Magazine for three months, to help get my foot in the door. I also tutored every day after work and on weekends to make money. I was super broke and had butterflies in my stomach, but was thrilled to finally be in the city.

How broke?
I was almost literally pinching pennies. Every day I’d order a $1.50 bagel with cream cheese for lunch, and I always really wanted to add tomatoes, but for an extra sixty cents, I simply couldn’t afford it. Every night I would walk home from work, since I didn’t want to splurge on the $2 bus fare. My first apartment was a small one-bedroom sublet in midtown which I shared with a guy friend, and he slept in the bedroom and I slept with a blanket on the old sofa in the living room. Now and again we had cockroaches and, even on the hottest days, we never turned on the air conditioner because we couldn’t pay extra on the utility bill. I cannot begin to tell you how much spaghetti I ate for dinner that year, just because it was the cheapest dish I could think of! Now whenever we have spaghetti, it takes me right back.

It was a drag to be so broke, but at the same time, it was exciting. I felt like I was paying my dues. If you ask pretty much anyone who lives in New York, they’ll regale you with terrible apartment stories, crazy roommate sagas, a history of scrimping and saving when they first arrived. It’s a rite of passage.

What was your first job?
Growing up I had a million jobs at restaurants, coffee shops, babysitting, shoveling snowy driveways, etc….but after my first few months in New York, I landed a full-time real job as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster (book publishing) for a year.

And then I decided to go to law school.

Law school?
Law school was a big departure. But back when I was graduating from college, I randomly took the LSAT, and when I did well on it, I figured I’d just apply to schools, and when I got in, I figured I might as well send in the deposit. One thing came after another, and it was a bit of a snowball effect. I figured I’d try it for a year. So I applied for student loans and started at NYU School of Law in 2002.

How did it go?
That year was really miserable. Part of it was personal—my college boyfriend and I had broken up, and I was pretty devastated; I lived in a tiny ground-floor dorm that looked out onto crowded Broadway, so I had to keep the blinds closed all day, and there was a hot-dog stand right outside my window, so the whole place smelled like boiled meat. Part of it was law school, itself—I missed working in books and magazines. I felt like I didn’t fit in with the other students and felt lame. I called my mom like 50 times a day. I sobbed on my dad’s shoulder when I went home for Thanksgiving. After finishing the first year, I decided to leave law school. That was actually an easy decision, despite knowing I’d have to somehow repay all the loans (a whopping $54,000 for just one year, zoinks!)

How did you pay back the loans?
As soon as I left law school, I felt flooded with relief. I knew I had made the right decision, even though it was a much, much less secure career path. To help repay the loans, I tutored and taught the LSAT for Kaplan on evenings and weekends, which was actually an awesome job. I made friends with some of the students, since many were my age. During the day, I got a full-time job with a small editorial/advertising firm. It was GREAT to work for a small company because I got a ton of work thrown at me and was just expected to figure it out. The atmosphere was intense, but I loved being trusted to get the work done, and the job gave me confidence that I could do anything. I rose up the ranks quickly (as you can in a small company), and also learned a lot about business, since the owner of the company was an incredible negotiator; I watched her approach big, intimidating brands and basically say, “We are worth this huge price; you should sign with us right away and you will never look back,” and people basically did. She showed me by example that you can ask for the moon and, if you really believe in yourself, actually get it.

What did you do at the company?
My position was an editor, and, over the four years I was there, we worked on some amazing projects. My favorite was launching a magazine called Bene, which was about how to live like an Italian (think: mozzarella, thick sweaters, mama’s boys). It was a dream project and I was asked to take the helm. I worked like a million hours a day, and my boyfriend at the time thought I was the biggest type-A stress case (which I was), but overall I loved it.

When did you start your blog?
Five years ago, I broke up with that same boyfriend and needed a distraction from feeling sad (read: eating potato chips and watching TV). (Funny that now that I’m writing this bio, breakups seem to be at the crux of all my positive life decisions! When a door closes, a window opens, right?) To distract myself, I decided to start a blog. None of my friends had one, and I only read a few—Design*Sponge mostly. Blogging as a career didn’t really exist; never did I imagine Cup of Jo would be anything more than a fun hobby. So I worked on it at night and on weekends. I got really into it and would stay up til 2am working on it. (Here’s my first post!:)

When did your blog start making money?
As I said here, shifting from blogging-as-a-hobby to blogging-as-a-career was a very slow transition and one that I had never anticipated. After a year or so, I started featuring a few ads on my blog to earn some pocket money. And after a couple years, I quit my job to focus on freelance magazine writing (Glamour, New York Magazine) and grow my blog, so it became about half my income. But only about a year ago did I finally realize that my blog had officially become my full-time job—both financially and time-wise. And I was happy and surprised. (Also here’s my work/life balance post, if you’d like to know more.)

What are your favorite parts of blogging?
* Having a close relationship with my beloved readers. Starting the Motherhood Mondays column took the relationship to a new level (do you agree?:), because we started discussing marriage, breastfeeding, depression, infertility, everything. Having these conversations has been an incredible, eye-opening, heartwarming experience.
* I LOVE LOVE LOVE when readers stop us in the street because it’s so awesome to meet readers in person. Blogging can feel isolating sometimes, since you work on a laptop at home, so it’s amazing to meet people. (And everyone is always so nice and cute!:)
* Writing about a bunch of different topics. If we do a bedroom makeover or I read a fascinating parenting book or I’m itching to write a guide to NYC, I can just do it. That’s great, since when you work for a magazine, your “beat” tends to be much more limited. And the great thing is, if I start feeling in a rut, I can just shake things up. It’s a real gift to have editorial control.
* Working with photographers, designers and illustrators. Now and again, I’ve worked with super talented people, like Jamie Beck, Jenny Komenda and Gemma Correll. It’s been such a pleasure and honor. I’d love to do more collaborations in the future.
* Alex being awesome. Alex helps a lot with my blog, not so much in the nitty gritty, but just overarching conversations about ideas, worries, etc. He jokes that I’m the CEO, but he’s the chief strategist, director of communications, personal chef, mailroom guy, and psychotherapist for Cup of Jo. :) And he’s written a couple posts, including 8 confessions of a new dad and his side of the birth story.

What are your least favorite parts of blogging?
Obviously, I feel super lucky to have the job I do, and any negative aspects are absolutely worth it. But I think it’s important sometimes to talk about negative parts of your job, so that other people don’t assume your job is perfect and thus feel bad about their jobs. (It’s like when you’re secretly psyched to read that food critics often get food poisoning:) So here are a few things that can be a drag…

* Negative comments. You know that punched-in-the-gut feeling you get when someone criticizes you? Well, if you have a big blog, you get negative comments pretty much every day, so you have that feeling at some point every day. Sometimes the comments are just from someone cranky (and then this mantra applies), but often they’re from smart readers and thus are really constructive and helpful for growth. I take negative comments seriously and try to learn from them. Criticism helps you grow, as both a blogger and person, and of course I welcome honest comments from my readers. Like I said, though, negative comments can be very tough to read. I’ve always been sensitive to criticism, and I’ll admit, I’ve called my mom in tears more than once. It can feel very personal when you’re writing about yourself and your life.
* Feeling isolated. While working from home, it’s easy to feel lonely without co-workers, especially when you’re working on the laptop on your bed, ha! It’s often fun and social to have a team around you…and sometimes I just want to gossip about The Bachelor the next morning! It’s also tough to never have a sounding board—even just a co-worker to ask, is this idea good or totally crazy?
* Working on vacations/Christmas/weekends/etc. Since I started Cup of Jo five years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a vacation where I didn’t spend some time working—including our honeymoon. Blogging never stops, and running your own business never stops. Since I don’t have anyone else working with me who can take over in my absence, I always have to take time to check in (to upload guest posts, to answer timely advertising questions, etc.). After all, my advertisers are depending on being able to communicate with me, and I owe it to them to have my traffic stay the same even when we’re out of town. I don’t really mind it, though, since I feel lucky to be blogging overall.

Has Toby changed your work approach?
Having a baby forces you (in a good way) to take time off. Whereas I used to take on a million side projects, I don’t anymore. And I love that we have hours built in every evening to go to the playground, sing, play the bongos, make jokes, ride bikes. Apparently the average toddler laughs 400 times a day, and those throaty giggles are totally contagious. Alex is also really laid-back and talented at relaxing (ha), so that has been good for me. He has taught me to stop more often and smell the roses.

Any advice for growing a blog?
People will like reading your blog—and you’ll enjoy writing it—if you’re true to yourself and your posts come from the heart. When you write a post, imagine your mom or best friend reading it. Does it sound like your voice? Does the topic fascinate or inspire you? Is the post clear, enticing and visual? Do you have a point of view that’s different from other bloggers? Write about what you love. I think everyone has an amazing blog inside them, or a story to tell, and I really encourage people to go for it. If you’re starting out, best of luck!

Do you have any tips about starting a magazine career?
I did an interview about my magazine work which might answer some questions. I also love the websites Media Bistro and Ed2010. They have great advice about pitching stories and interviewing; plus, they have job and internship listings. There are obviously many different paths to success, and I would recommend staying very open to opportunities (even low-paying or no-paying ones, at first) and doing all you can to get your foot in the door. Good luck!

What is the biggest misconception about bloggers?
When it’s done right, blogging should look easy—just how magazine articles and books should look easy and fun. But it doesn’t mean that it is easy. I wrote about the behind-the-scenes of running a bigger blog in this interview. There’s so much back-end work, including negotiating with advertisers, redesigning your site, working closely with lawyers when developing contracts, hiring contributors and graphic designers, building a presence on social media, answering hundreds and hundreds of reader emails every day, doing guest posts and interviews, the list goes on. Funnily enough, after a while, the actual writing-of-the-posts feels like only a small part of your daily work (even though that’s obviously the best part!:).

How do you earn money and handle advertising?
For the past six years, I’ve sold most of the ads myself. I’ve worked primarily with small brands, such as etsy shops and jewelry designers. I love working with small business owners and supporting female entrepreneurs.

Now I’ve also decided to work with an ad network that handles banner ads for bloggers. It’s a big step, but I’m excited to free up more time to focus on editorial posts. Starting now, I’ll also be doing a few sponsored posts per month, which I typically sell directly to brands myself. For years, I didn’t accept sponsored posts, but now I’ve seen that they work really well with brands you actually love (such as Pinhole Press and The Honest Company). And I’ll mark them very clearly with text at the top or bottom of the post. So, it will be very clear when something is sponsored; I hope you guys will enjoy the posts, which will help keep Cup of Jo running smoothly.

What do you think about the future of blogging?
I always tell Alex that I’m riding the wave. Blogs probably won’t be around forever (although of course I hope they will!) and you never know how quickly the industry will change. After all, when I started five years ago, I never thought blogging could be a job, and now it is, and maybe it won’t be in the future. There’s definitely not much job security. But I’m grateful to be doing it now, and hope to keep blogging for as long as possible.

If you have read this far, bravo, haha! Thank you so much, and I hope this answered most of your questions (and probably way more:) If you have any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I want to reiterate how much I love blogging and how much I love my readers. Thank you again (so much) for everything. Love, Joanna

  1. It’s so refreshing to hear that everything didn’t just ‘work out’ in the beginning for you. There’s nothing worse than looking for inspiration from successful people, and they just seem to have kept falling into good luck.

    Congrats on your blog now!


  2. Hi and thanks for writing this post! The Author Wendy Plumb guided me towards your blog – I will be ever grateful for the advice you have posted. Today it has been really helpful. I’ll take my time and have a good read over the next couple of days. Would love you to take a look at my start up, if you have the time or the desire. Any feedback would be fantastic. Have a fabulous day. Janice

  3. I love how you right, so very casual and upbeat. A joy to read this!

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  12. I read this post one year ago and found it amazing. Now I just reread it and am incredibly inspired once more. Thanks Joanna for sharing your experiences with us! XO Franzi.

  13. joanna, the first time I went to paris I emailed you for advice on “how to dress like a french girl” – as I had rented an apartment for a month and was feeling out of place. To my utter delight you ACTUALLY emailed me back! You were so sweet and helpful and I was completely star-struck; so I wanted to thank you again for always being totally down-to-earth, especially in your role as a “celebrity” ! Yours was the first blog I ever (ever, ever) read and its been a true pleasure to watch it grow!

    xo, KP

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  23. Joanna,

    It was great hearing about your background a little more!

    I do have one questions…is a blog something that I should add to my professional resume? How would it look and what information would it include?


  24. Hi Jo!

    I´m a “hobby blogger” from Brazil, who decided to start a blog because I became a widow (at 35!) and I wanted to tell my story and my husb´s to two adorable little ones that we had. The car accident came just before a carrer change (I work to the government now – thanks God! Cause I have 2 kids to feed!) and a moving to a new city 300 milles away from both families. So… I assumed the blog will be useful to keep in touch with my family.

    For my surprise, lots of people started reading it, sending me their best wishes, caring about me and the kids. Lots of “young widows” send me e-mails to exchange experiences and little tips on “how to survive”. It´s bitter-sweeter…

    On the process, I got to know Valerie Koop (now Johnson) and hers incredible sensitive blog “be in the moment”. She is great! She is sweet! She became a great friend even thoug we have never met. How cool is the internet?

    By the way, I found your blog (that I can´t stop reading for 4 days!) through Valerie´s. She mencioned you.

    Today, more than 3 years later, I still took the blog as a hobby… but I´m over happy when I see 2000 access in one day! I don´t know if this is a ridiculous low number for you, but for me this is huge and I´m so gratefull.

    Well, the main point is: I love your blog! It´s great and inspiring! Keep doing the amazing work, girl! You rock!

    Kisses and blessings (my “signature” for my friends and readers).
    from Brazil

  25. Thank you for an honest story line behind a career journey. Very helpful and interesting read. I am an honest person and get easily deterred by people who fail to mention their struggles in their careers. Thank you for making the rest of us feel more ‘normal’.

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  27. >Funny that now that I’m writing this bio, breakups seem to be at the crux of all my positive life decisions!

    I should break up more often.

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  30. This was very fascinating & insightful; I seriously aspire to be you. I love writing and the fact that you blog, write freelance for magazines, and worked in a publishing company is incredible. Thank you for taking the time to write out these tips and your journey!

  31. I recently found your blog and I’m so sorry I didn’t find it sooner. I’m catching up quick though! Staying up late reading! You are fantastic! Love this blog.

  32. Thank you so much for sharing your life. I recently started by own blog and, although it’s very much still in its infancy, I love doing it. I feel it’s important for us women to support our endeavors because we all have unique voices. You have inspired me to do what I have wanted to do for a long time: write.

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  34. Dear Jo,

    Very informative and well written indeed.Appreciate that you included the negatives as well. Definitely an honest one.


  35. Thanks for the tips, Jo! I have made a resolution to carve out a blog writing career and am researching the bejeezes out of it. I appreciate the insight!

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  40. This post was absolutely marvelous… I read through the entire thing and then forwarded it along to my mom and sister for weekly inspiration.. Thank you for your honesty and for taking the time to share your journey to success with your appreciative readers… Your perseverance, passion and hard work clearly come through in all that you do.. Congratulations and thank you!

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  43. Joanna, I LOVE this post! It’s always so refreshing to read about how people started out before becoming successful, and your story is wonderful. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this! You are an inspiration, for sure.

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  46. wow your super amazing and i tell you what your bass told you “you can ask for the moon and, if you really believe in yourself, actually get it.” is completely correct.

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  50. this post is truly amazing! i had no idea about your beginnings in NYC and it’s super humbling to hear that you had the same challenges that i am still facing these days. i have to add that i’m one of those readers that stopped you on the street! stone street about 1.5 years ago. keep on keeping on…and for as long as you do, we’ll all be here for the ride! xox, val

  51. Thank You for writing this post – there is a lot of info here to digest and I am sure I will be back to read again, and possibly ask questions :)

    Just wanted to write and let you know it is awesome that you will take the time to help us bloggers that are just getting started!

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  52. You are truly inspiring Joanna. Thank you for your honesty, humility and awesomeness.

    xo em

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  54. i know you get this a lot but i absolutely love how honest you really are!! i know being honest online can be controversial and not to mention nerve wrecking but the way you deliver your ideas is not pushy at all! i love it. and i love that you truly consider the types of people reading your blog and have that honesty that things don’t always go well. anyways thanks for the post. i just love to hear what you say!!! and good luck! hope blogging sticks around for some time!!

  55. Wow, Jo, I read through your a few of your earliest posts and there was a lot of spam and “thank you, this was useful information” comments. I’ve had next to no comments so far, and hope to keep it that way if I were to choose between weird spam and that! I’m glad things picked up the way they did!

  56. thank you for taking the time to write this post. i am very new to blogging, but am loving it. the behind the scenes is so much more than i thought it would be. i love hearing your advice. thank you.

  57. Thank you so much for sharing your life experience with blogging. I’m relatively new to the whole blogging thing and it’s so hard to find successful bloggers who will share their real life blogging experience (and all that wonderful ‘behind the scene’s stuff), so thank you!

  58. Wow. What a read. And what a timely read – I’ve been thinking about changing my employement, my direction, this week. Maybe it’s time to just do it.

  59. Hi Jo

    What a fascinating read! I’ve recently started my blog up again as a way to document a journey – my husband and I are embarking on an adventure across Europe, and the road tripping across America!

    I love clicking on your travel links and have definitely noted some of your travel tips.

    Thanks so much!

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  61. Amazing post! I’d always wondered how blogging as a career was possible! Congrats on all your hard work!

  62. I really love it when you open up like this. I’m at the penny-pinching stage in San Francisco, and with a recovering broken foot, limping for miles instead of taking the bus is quite the challenge, but there are just so many advantages to the city that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m glad things have worked out for you because I can see that someone else has survived.

  63. While scrolling down to leave this post I saw countless others comment in a way almost exactly similar to how I planned to comment. You are touching so many people through your blog, and inspiring countless others. Certainly me. I have “favorite-ed” this post as I’ve thought about how to handle advertisements for my blog someday in the future, if it ever got there. [my blog is two months old so there’s a ways to go before that becomes something that warrants serious thought!] I would be honored and so appreciative if you could comment once more about ads, specifically on how they began for you. Were you approached about the possibility? Did you seek advertisers out? If you were able to comment about this to me personally I would so appreciate it – if not then perhaps you can save the question for a future FYI session. I provided a link to my blog below if you are able to answer my questions. Thanks for the helpful words and inspiration.

  64. Love, love, love this post! This post really hits home for me. I’m 24 and I’ve just hit a crossroad in my life. I have just decided that I am DONE with my job. I decided to take the leap of faith and quit to finally finish school and take a HUGE pay cut to go into business with my dad and really help make it grow. The only problem I have us this self doubt I have. I feel like a big crybaby for not sticking it out at work. Like so what if I hate my job, most people do but they deal with it and get a long with their lives but I just can’t. After reading this you’ve helped me realize I’d rather have to eat spaghetti every day and be happy with my life than make money and stay miserable. Thank you, thank you a million times THANK YOU!

  65. I rarely ever leave comments. But I just had to on this particular post. I even read some of the comments from your readers:). What comments I read rang very true, from your genuiness, your excellent ideas, your your true appreciation for what it is that you do is very heartwarming and commendable! I look forwarded to reading your blog every day and I feel like you bring a special light to your readers:). You have a lot to teach and I hope that you can continue to shed light for many years to come!


  66. I loved reading this post! I was surprised by how much I didn’t know about you after having read your blog for so long, you have such a cool story! Thanks for sharing, Joanna :)

  67. thanks so much for sharing- you’ve had a great career- I often think about law but I think I might be like you- I think I need space and law would be very conformist- though I do admire lawyers who work with families or for justice. I would love to blog full time but I think it’s only a few who can. I always love reading your blog and I guess that’s the reason you’re so successful!

  68. Great Post! I can certainly relate (especially to the NYC apartment stories!)

    Question: If you sign up for Federated can you still sell your own ads?

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly <-only including so hopefully you can email me the answer!

  69. Question: Do you have any tips for getting into editing, like your job at Simon and Schuster? I have this feeling like I would be really, really good at editorial work for a publishing company, since I have almost an unerring eye for grammar and syntax. Simon and Schuster is also my dream publishing house– if I were ever to write a book, it would be my first choice. How does one become a book editor?

  70. Hi Joanna, what a wonderfully post and blog! I am enjoying since a little while now your amazing stories and post… I am now living in Irvine, CA and miss the “city-life”; everyday your posts are a refreshing break in my routine and I fell like the “city spirit” is just a few click away!! Great blog, and I wish you a long blogging life ahead!! Vero.

  71. Hi Joanna, what a wonderfully post and blog! I am enjoying since a little while now your amazing stories and post… I am now living in Irvine, CA and miss the “city-life”; everyday your posts are a refreshing break in my routine and I fell like the “city spirit” is just a few click away!! Great blog, and I wish you a long blogging life ahead!! Vero.

  72. Hi Joanna, what a wonderfully post and blog! I am enjoying since a little while now your amazing stories and post… I am now living in Irvine, CA and miss the “city-life”; everyday your posts are a refreshing break in my routine and I fell like the “city spirit” is just a few click away!! Great blog, and I wish you a long blogging life ahead!! Vero.

  73. Reading about your past experiences and seeing what you’ve done in those five years is amazing! It gives a hope, even for me, the beginning blogger, that one day I can have similar career! Thank you a lot!

  74. i, as well, daily look forward to reading your posts. your comment about writing from the heart is probably the biggest reason why i anticipate what you have to share. this post again exploits that …

    thanks for being a “friend” … we all are grateful for your blogging voice!


  75. I hope the future of blogging remains the same for the most part.
    But everything has to change eventually.
    I would really miss yours posts if blogging become obsolete…….. :(

    Such a fan, ashley

  76. Great post. Your posts are always relevant to what is going on in my life and I am thrilled that you can blog for a living. Good luck to you!

  77. Joanna,
    Every time I sit and blog Ive wondered how you manage it all. It’s nice to hear a well rounded account of what it really takes. So happy for your progress with career, love and family! You deserve all the best! You bring so much happiness to so many people!

  78. Joanna,
    Every time I sit and blog Ive wondered how you manage it all. It’s nice to hear a well rounded account of what it really takes. So happy for your progress with career, love and family! You deserve all the best! You bring so much happiness to so many people!

  79. I recently started my own blog and I was so nervous. Then I read your post about writing to my mom and my best friend and it really resonated. Your blog has always been one of my very favorite, and was one of my inspirations to start mine.

  80. Anonymous says...

    Hello, I’m Maria and I from to Spain, Sevilla and Vigo.
    I want to say that you are wonderful!
    I have to children, 20 and four month and This is the best things of the world.
    I was living in NYC the last september and I love it but is very hard too. It is An awkward If you do no have money.
    When you travel to Spain?

    Un saludo,

  81. Thanks for this post, J. I’ve been reading since 2008 and have been so curious about many of the questions you answered here. ;)

  82. Anonymous says...

    Great post! And re: people stopping you on the street – I work for BHLDN and I remember you came down for an event one time and I saw you walk past and I was like, OMGITSJOANNAHOLYCRAP!!!! It was like spotting a celebrity ;)

  83. Love this! I started laughing at the part about NYU law–my husband went there, was never quite sure why, but ended up doing the full three years! And is not a lawyer now. Alas, the allure of the law school path for liberal arts majors can be strong…

  84. You so deserve a raise. Remember to give yourself one.
    love your blog and have and always will.

  85. Such an interesting read!Thank you for sharing all this;)

  86. Well done, Joanna!

    I’ve been following you for four of those five years and you always serve as a source of inspiration. Thank you for that. :)

  87. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this amazing story! As a girl who hopes to have a career much like yours, it was truly inspiring to read.

  88. Anonymous says...

    Oh, my god, this is the most amazing revelation! It is so interesting to hear you history and see how you have progressed and struggled and went through so many bleak, yet courageous, changes (and break-ups). I love your blog and admire you so much. Well-done! I didn’t even know you had done a year in law school. You are amazing. Thank-you for sharing this. It is so encouraging that you you, too, had a hard time and yet made it!

  89. Thank you for this post! Your blog is a daily read of mine and I’ve learned a lot from it since I began reading. I hope you know how inspiring you are!

  90. Since I don’t live on the East Coast anymore, I probably won’t be bumping into you on the street anytime soon. I just wanted to say what I would if I did, I adore you, I adore your voice and I want to be your friend!

  91. Truly inspiring for me who just started blogging. I know I can’t get reach by blogging but at least I have something to do in spare time.

  92. wow! thank you so much for sharing so much insight. for someone is who is trying to grow their own blog, this was incredibly inspiring! thank-you!!!


  93. This was a really nice post – great insights into how you made the transition – thanks for sharing.

  94. You are very brave and i admire the fact that you made blogging a career. Good luck!

  95. Thanks for your post about making blogging as a career. I have been blogging for 9 months and I appreciated your honesty about blogging. I am amazed at your 33,000 followers. Love the variety of content on your blog.

    Linda Davidson

    PS: Wish I was at BlogHer this weekend.

  96. your career so far sounds like every small town girl’s dream come true! at least mine, anyway!

    my life hasn’t turned out like that AT ALL, but it’s good too.

    the one problem with your philosophy about writing like you’re writing to your best friend is that we all think we’re your best friends! but it’s nice to know that if i ever saw you you wouldn’t be embarrassed if i wanted to say hi (which i totally would).

  97. Thanks for this! I have read your blog for a long time now and really admire your honesty and fearlessness in choosing to write about some of the tougher topics… Yours was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own! I’m still working on finding my voice, but it’s been a fun journey. Keep up the amazing work you do, it really does inspire others!

  98. This is such an awesome story, thank you for sharing (its such a big deal for someone to share their story with the world)!! This is why I will always be your fan!!

  99. I’ve been blogging as a hobby about my life in Spain for the past five years, and recently quit my job as a school teacher to focus on making it profitable. Excellent advice for someone who kinda knows what she’s doing and needed a little kick in the pants to get it done!

  100. Great post, really useful information, as I’m quite new in the blogosphere.
    Thank you for sharing!

  101. This is such a great post Joanna – so good to read about all of the things you tried out before finding your way doing what you’re doing.

    I worked in publishing in Edinburgh and London and am now back in Edinburgh and trying to publish books in my spare time. It’s sometimes hard to want to keep working after a full day in an office so reading things like this reminds me why I want to find my own way.

    We were actually in NY in June and I saw you and Toby in Washington Square Park but didn’t want to bother you – wish I had said hi now! It was actually the day before we went to City Hall to get married ( – it was the middle of a heatwave but it was incredible!

  102. Anonymous says...

    This was a really interesting reading – thanks. One of the things I do love about your Blog and I have been reading it now for about 3 years – is that you have not changed. Your blog has stayed true. Even though you now do make money from it you haven’t changed your style, or integrity. I kind of get annoyed by Bloggers that change due to their success – I can understand it but it takes away the joy you had in reading it in the first place. A Cup o Jo is a lovely daily read and thank you so much for all your hard work, humour, great taste, warmth, generosity, and honesty. India x

  103. being from the other side of the globe and always wanting to live in NYC it is a “cup of fresh air” following your blog Jo so thank you for sharing your story and always keeping up to date with what is the latest and greatest in NYC and your travel around. Not to mention the motherhood mondays!
    loved loved loved reading your story!
    Nat xoxoxo
    sydney Australia

  104. Really loved this post – thank you. Just started blogging this summer with no “plan” except that I felt it was the right thing to do right now for me personally. This was really good reading right now. :)

  105. How funny that you posted this today! I have recently been developing an art blog for toddlers/preschoolers and thought “man this is hard, I wonder how she does it at A Cup of Jo!?”
    Thanks for your hard work!

  106. I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I just started a blog this summer and I am beyond in love with it. As a college student and finance intern, it’s my outlet but I haven’t quite figured out if I just want to post about hunting for fashion bargains or expand or what! I’ve been a fan of yours since I first read your articles for Glamour and will always be a fan. You’s absolutely wonderful.

    Diana of eohs

  107. Jo says...

    This post is so timely. Thank you for sharing this part of your work. I am currently working on a project that revolves around this same topic – what do you do and why? ( So often we can romanticize what other’s do so I appreciate that you call out that what you do is hard work. This is all very insightful.

  108. This is really lovely to read. Like others have said I’m picky about blogs but have read this one for a long time. How did you grow your readership?

  109. I work from home too and really love how other women spend their day, especially mothers. Working from home can be isolating and figuring out the work/motherhood role challenging. It sounds like you’ve found a great balance. Still working on that part myself.

  110. This post is very inspiring, thank you so much for being truely honest!

  111. You’re so great! This post really made me want to share tomatoes with you.

  112. Thank you so so so much for writing that all. I had no idea you went to law school! As someone who doesn’t know what career they essentially want to do – it’s reassuring to read about your background. Amazing post!

  113. Thanks for posting all this info! As a non-professional blogger, I appreciate the insight. I would love to someday ‘write’ for a living, and blogging allows me to practice my skills and keep the dream alive. Thanks for sharing your story!

  114. This post has been incredibly inspiring for me. As a fairly new blogger (I started last November), it can be daunting to see what others have accomplished and what I want to accomplish. Posts like these from bloggers I really respect (and you are at the top of that list!) is so great for me.

    Thank you!

  115. shilpi says...

    Excellent post! I also taught for Kaplan — GRE/GMAT — for ten (!) years as I was building up my journalism resume until I found myself in a stable journalism job. Kaplan is a pretty awesome part-time gig and I kind of want to write a book about all the ways working at Kaplan helped me survive and taught me both random (grammar!) and invaluable (be careful what you say when you know someone is listening) skills.

  116. A fantastic read. I have had a blog for a few years but only recently have I really gotten into the groove of things, have a regular readership, though small but it’s a readership nonetheless. And it is great to hear how the people we look up to stared out..and that they in fact did start out struggling just like us. thank you

  117. Thanks so much. That was super interesting and helpful.


  118. Fascinating to see how far you’ve come in the blogging and writing world in a relatively short time – thank you!

  119. I LOVE this – I work in digital media, and often buy for our advertising clients with Federated – they are awesome, and to see my clients ads on amazing blogs like this make me feel like we are doing something right :-) Keep up the amazing work – you are such an inspiration to so many people, myself (obviously)included


  120. Carrie says...

    Joanna, you rock! I was in NYC last weekend and so secretly hoping that I’d see you on the streets, haha. Here’s to a long life for the blogging industry (or A Cup of Jo, at least) :)

  121. I always joke with my husband about if there is the dream job, your blog is the answer to that if possible, maybe it was not easy but I get a path. I hope one day to find mine and get away from the office, my boss and these terrible times. Thank you very much for your honesty!

  122. Really interesting post, loved it!

  123. You’re the best, Joanna! This was great to read — it felt like a secret peek behind-the-scenes. I really appreciate that, learning about the back stage.

  124. thank you so much for this, Joanna. My best friend and I are in the midst of launching our blog and you touched on a lot things we are struggling with/anticipating struggling with. keep on inspiring!

  125. Anonymous says...

    Love this! I just really hope you don’t sell yourself short, and that people will continue to hear your smart, feminist, liberal voice undernealth the ads for Cool Whip. :(

  126. Joanna,

    Thank you so much for this insightful post. I made it all the way to the bottom! ;) I just recently started a blog myself and absolutely love it. It’s exciting to think that maybe someday I could do it as a job and not a hobby…although it’s a pretty fun hobby! Thanks again!