In 2010, Kyle Taylor was drowning in $50,000 worth of student loans and credit card debt.
Six years later, Taylor’s life looked a whole lot different: The 30-year-old was not only debt-free, but the founder and CEO of his own media company, bringing in nearly $20 million a year in revenue.
The secret to his turnaround? Perseverance — and a healthy appetite for side hustles.
Back in college, Taylor started working full-time on a series of political campaigns. But due to the predictable nature of political campaign positions — win or lose, campaigns end after the election — every job came with with an expiration date, he explained to Farnoosh Torabi on an episode of her “So Money” podcast. Not to mention, it wasn’t great pay to start.
Between racking up student loan debt and using credit cards to supplement his measly campaign paychecks, Taylor found himself falling deeper and deeper into debt. So he started seeking out alternative ways to make money, holding positions such as movie preview auditor, where he’d attend movies and earn cash for counting the number of previews shown.
He quickly discovered a hidden talent: Finding unusual ways to bring in extra income.
“[Movie preview auditor] was one of those jobs that some people always ask and like, ‘How the heck do you find these?'” Taylor told “So Money.” “It gave me the idea. It would be fun to write about it as a way to hold myself accountable and as a way to sort of track my debt payoff. It was not a business, it was a hobby.”
So he started a blog called The Penny Hoarder as a way to track his progress and share his stories and expertise. For the first couple of years, it was pretty much just a personal project, but Taylor stuck with it and things began to pick up. As the blog gained traction, readers started sending positive feedback. A reporter from Oprah.com reached out for an interview, providing even more exposure. It was then that Taylor realised his little blog could be a big business.
“I realised that I wasn’t blogging consistently at that time, and I realised if I was going to grow it, I was going to need to start blogging every day and I was going to really need to start treating it like not just a full-time job, but as a business,” he explains.
He’d only made between $10,000 and $15,000 from the blog so far, but he was determined to see how far it could go.
“I thought, if I could work on this Monday through Thursday and then work a three-day weekend on all these side gigs and try to make enough money to survive, I could sort of make two full-time jobs out of it.” he says. “That’s what I did. I quit campaigns, I quit school, and took a risk on this being a full-time job.”
The risk paid off. To monetise the blog, Taylor started doing sponsored posts, later branching out into Google AdSense and affiliate revenue, and the latter now makes up 95% of the site’s income.
The Penny Hoarder is now the flagship property of his company Taylor Media, which employs around 50 people, garners 14 million unique readers per month, has more than four million Facebook followers, and now generates $20 million in annual sales. No longer just a personal project, the site covers myriad personal finance topics, from budgeting tips to ways to generate additional income.