There are defining moments that alter the trajectory of our lives. Some people make it for the better while other lay in regret. For Erin Lowry, that defining moment came when she decided to start blogging. Broke Millennial was created in 2013 and throughout the years, Erin has committed to providing her readers insightful, educative, and quality content. The results: in her own words, in 2016, this young blogger and entrepreneur grossed $96,795.22 which included a book deal.
Erin has made and continues to make a name for her brand, Broke Millennial. Her writing is featured on Forbes.com. She’s also been featured in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, NewsWeek, NBC News, MarketWatch, The Chicago Tribune, and many more outlets.
I had the honor of interviewing Erin and I can’t wait to share with you the mindset of this millennial entrepreneur. If you are an aspiring blogger, you will definitely learn from Erin. Erin Lowry is breaking barriers and will not be stopped. Money-Smart Millennials welcomes Broke Millennial in our ‘The Millennial Entrepreneur’ series.
Erin, you studied journalism. So why finance and why millennials?
I fell into it. That’s the best way I can explain it. I had no interest in business in college. But I’ve always been fascinated by money. My first job out of college was in entertainment. I worked as a page on the late show with David Letterman. After that, I ended up in public relations for a little bit. And it was at that time that I started writing about money.
Truthfully, I started Broke Millennial to help people but also because I was creatively not feeling very fulfilled; so it was an opportunity for me to be filling this void. When I found the personal finance blog community, there weren’t that many people at the time who were talking about being a single [specifically single woman] person living in a major city. A lot of people, 4 or 5 years ago when I started were married, some had kids, a lot of them lived in the Mid-West and their financial life looked very different than what my friends and I were experiencing. So, I wanted to target a market that was very different and wasn’t what people were normally catering to at the time.
When you started, was your goal to make it a business?
No. To this day, I barely make any money off the blog itself. I’ve never turned it into an ad revenue generator for a couple of reasons. Editorially, I don’t like seeing sites that I visit, especially if I’m a long time subscriber and they do a complete 180 and all of the sudden, it’s very ad cloggy and they’re trying to pitch me stuff all the time. I just lose interest.
Broke Millennial has served as a stepping stone for other opportunities. It’s a body of work that proves that I can write well, it’s got clips of media work that I’ve done, online content that I’ve produced. I can present that to new potential freelance clients and truthfully, most clients find me through the site.
One thing that I’m curious about and I’m sure a lot of my readers will be, how did you get featured on Forbes and all the major outlets?
Being my true self [and everybody hates that as an answer but that’s the best answer I can give]. If you go back through my site, you don’t see a lot of ‘40 best freezer meals for the weekend’, ‘7 ways to lower your bills’. I just never got into that type of writing; it is great for SEO, but all of my posts have been very storytelling. And I focus primarily on the writing and telling my story or occasionally the story of others. It’s narrative, it’s very different and I focus on writing well.
Did you first submit an article to Forbes?
No, thankfully, they found me. For a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had, I’ve been approached. Forbes specifically reached out to me and asked me if I would write for them as they were building a millennial vertical. Other times, if someone had interviewed me for something, especially if it’s a major outlet, at the end of the conversation I would say: if you have any writing opportunities, I would love to write for you. The worst someone can tell you is ‘no’. If you have an opening, take it.
You are now a full time blogger/writer. Would you ever go back to working a regular 9 to 5?
Once you taste this type of freedom, it’s really hard to go back. I would never say never because you just don’t know. Things could dry up and people would only be talking about Gen Z. You just never know. And hopefully, I could re-brand into that but we’ll see. But to go back to a traditionally employed position, it would be hard to me. Now I can take trips and I can still be working but to go back to a job that restricts me to 10 or 15 vacation days, I don’t know if I can do it.
What’s your advice for millennials out there who want to write or have a blog and who are scared to take the first step? What’s your mindset about failure?
It’s going to happen. You’re not going to succeed at everything that you do. Even with Broke Millennial, there have been times when I failed. There are bloggers who have been doing this half the amount of time that I have and they have way more readers and way more followers than me. I can’t be setting my success metrics against other people. That’s the first step because you might be self-imposing failure because ‘you’re not as good as’ someone else, which is not how it should be.
Failure is good. It teaches you something. It gives you an opportunity to grow and to learn and to figure out what to do next.
In my book Money-Smart Millennials, I encourage millennials to be entrepreneurs. A lot of people think about starting a business but never do. What would you say to them?
There is a term I want to credit an author named Kimberly Palmer for. She said that you should ‘recession-proof your life’ and I love that idea. Eventually, something is going to happen, probably job loss in your career. It’s important that you always have a back-up. And your backup does not have to be something major but at least something that is earning you a little bit of side money. You have to take control of your life and if you have an idea for a business, why not do it. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. There is never going to be a perfect time to start something. It doesn’t have to be blogging, it doesn’t have to be online. Start now.
Thank you Erin.
Broke Millennial hits shelves on May 2. I am very excited for Erin and I wish her the best. Pre-order a copy today and receive an exclusive bonus chapter! Email your proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org!!!