Jannese Torres-Rodriguez is a nationally-acclaimed Latina money educator, writer, business coach, and host of Yo Quiero Dinero Podcast. She became an accidental entrepreneur after a job loss led her to create a Latin food blog, Delish D’Lites. Now, she helps her clients and listeners build successful online businesses that allow them to pursue financial independence and freedom. Jannese recently quit her 9-5 job to pursue entrepreneurship at the age of 36. She currently makes over $10,000 in passive income per month with her food blog. She strongly believes that you can’t have seven-figure dreams and a four-figure work ethic.
In this episode of Millennial Wealth Builders, Jannese Torres-Rodriguez shares her journey from side hustler to entrepreneur. She shares how she makes six figures from a blog and other income streams like digital courses and downloads, sponsored content, virtual workshops, and more.
Jannese Torres Rodriguez 0:00
Hi, I'm Jannese Torres Rodriguez and you're listening to Millennial Wealth Builders.
Danielle Desir 0:16
Co hosted by Acquania Escarne, the host of the Purpose of Money. And Danielle Desir, the host of the Thought Card. Millennial Wealth Builder series is where we share the stories of women of color, building wealth.
Acquania Escarne 0:32
But this isn't your ordinary interview based show. Throughout the series you'll be hearing from women who are creatively
Danielle Desir 0:39
Securing the bag.
Acquania Escarne 0:40
Stacking coins. You know what we mean.
Danielle Desir 0:52
Jannese Torres Rodriguez is a nationally acclaimed Latina money educator, writer and host of Yo Quiero Dinero podcast. She became an accidental entrepreneur, after a job loss led her to create a line food blog Delish D'Lites. Now she helps her clients and listeners build successful online businesses that allow them to pursue financial independence and freedom.
In this episode, we talk to Jannese about what money was like for her growing up. How even though she graduated from college with a degree in molecular biology and chemistry, and made over $75,000 in her 20s why she started side hustling. We also talk about her decision she quit her nine to five job to pursue entrepreneurship. And she shares some wonderful advice for content creators and bloggers
Millennial Wealth Builders co hosted by Danielle Desir and Acquania Escarne. A highlights financial opportunities, less known in communities of color. Our hope is that these episodes will empower educate, and also give you new ideas for how you can build wealth in the 21st century. Now this is episode number 11 of the 12 part audio docu series, and we encourage you to check out other episodes in this series, including how to achieve financial freedom, which Jamila Souffrant, also how to invest in mobile homes and build a mobile home investing business. We're Rachel Hernandez as well as how women of color advanced in the workplace with Minda Hearts, and so much more, you can head over to the link in the show notes to go ahead and check out the entire Millennial Wealth Builders archive. Here is Jannese Torres Rodriguez's wealth building story.
Jannese Torres Rodriguez 2:43
Money was something that you had to work very hard for. My father was and still is a consultant. So a lot of his career consisted of traveling, and he would leave on Monday morning and come back on Friday. And he was the primary breadwinner of the household up until I was in high school. My mom didn't even work full time because his schedule was so demanding that she needed to be home to be able to take care of us. And so I thought that in order to make a lot of money, you have to sacrifice time energy, your family, your sanity, your health. That's just what came with building wealth. And it wasn't until much later that I realized that that toxic mentality is how I also showed up in the workplace for a while. I just figured I'm gonna go into a field where I'm going to make a lot of money. And hopefully that is what makes me happy and I kept making more money.
So side hustling for me was very much a an exercise in frustration about the lack of enthusiasm I had about my career. And so side hustling provided a creative outlet for me to do something other than this soul sucking career that I had signed myself up to do. So my food blog Delish Delights was never meant to be a business. And I think it's because I didn't actually know I was creating a business. I think a lot of side hustlers are guilty of this. We're just like, you know, creating these things, and not really, we don't have a plan for them. But after getting laid off about six months after starting my blog, I realized that I had a desire to not go back to work. I told my husband I'm like I got fired. And like this is cool. This is okay, I could do this forever, potentially. But I didn't have the structure in place to be able to do that for a long period of time. But that was the catalyst for me wanting to learn how I could turn this into a business. So after getting laid off, I took a course in food blogging, I spent a lot of time on Google and YouTube, religious teaching myself how you actually monetize an online brand, like a blog. And after two years, I was able to monetize it, but during that time, I already had this idea that I was going to do this. And that's definitely what kept me going. And it's also because I just love doing it. I'm a foodie at heart. I love cooking. So it was it never felt like work. To me, it just felt like something that I would do for free. And so I think that's a key message that I want to give to side hustlers. Just like, if you wouldn't do this for free, you definitely shouldn't try to monetize it, because otherwise, you might just be setting yourself up for another career of doing something you hate, just because of the money.
I had the inkling that this was something that I wanted to do around 2018, I was introduced to the concept of financial independence. And the fire movement talks a lot about entrepreneurship and how you can create passive income sources on the internet that can allow you to retire early and become work optional. So once I found out about that, and I realized that I already had something that was creating around that time, I was making like maybe two to $3,000 a month. So that was the plan. At that point, I had to scale this up to a place where it could replace my full time income, which I was making over six figures at this point I was making over $100,000. So that was the first indicator that I had set for myself, like once you've gotten to this point, you can quit, then it was a matter of also talking to my husband about what the plan would look like for retirement for me for healthcare, because I don't have any entrepreneurs in my family. So I didn't have anybody to ask these questions to, but I knew at least that I could get health insurance through him because he still has a nine to five, and their options for retirement when it comes to being an entrepreneur. So once I had those major things in place, I also met with a CFP to make sure that my financial picture in general was solid. So did I have a robust enough emergency fund ,was I out of debt that was going to keep me in, you know, stress mode, making this transition. And so luckily, I had paid off my debt at that point, I got rid of my student loans, and I had my full emergency fund, I bolted up even more. And I also was contributing the max that I could to my retirement accounts at work before I made the leap. I had gotten the blessing of my friends and family, which I think is a big part of you know, that psychological piece, I was ready to make the leap.
Ironically enough, now that my blog earns over $10,000 a month, I don't actually have to blog anymore, which is wild to a lot of people, they don't understand the concept of like this, creating a passive income source that requires a lot of upfront effort. So for many years, I was consistently blogging once a week at minimum. And I actually stopped around the end of 2020. And I haven't blogged since and my, it just really just does its own thing at this point. So that's the power of especially blogging as a passive income source. Once you have enough traffic, and it's consistent, that's when you can literally just walk away and kind of let it do its thing. Now I do do regular maintenance on the website, I update old posts, I might reshoot a really old recipe that you know, doesn't have the best pictures, I might restructure some of the formatting. But it really is just like a self run machine at this point. And so the thing that I don't think a lot of people understand about blogging is that upfront work that needs to happen, how to actually get traffic to a place where you can create this level of income. It's a science, search engine optimization is a really key principle in creating digital content, whether you're talking about you know, blogs, or social media or whatever, but understanding how to drive traffic to your website is key. That's what I really started honing in on around 2016. And that's what changed the game. For me. That's how I went from not making any money to then being able to consistently monetize. But that's not the only way that bloggers can monetize. I also do sponsored content. So I'd get hired by companies to create recipes with their products. And while organically weaving in their messaging to my stuff. I would also get hired to do like brand partnerships, and also affiliate marketing.
So there's a lot of different ways that you can monetize a blog. I know people that create digital courses that sell products that connect ecommerce stores. There's so many ways of making money on the internet. It's really limited by your imagination. Yeah, so I think entrepreneurship in general kind of sparked this overall, like, wow, I don't know anything about money, you know, these thoughts start to show up for me. And I realized that I was learning about a lot of this stuff from social media, but I didn't hear any of these conversations happening in my own circles. So I became the person who people saw doing stuff like side hustling, like investing and I was always talking about money and my friends would be like, Can you teach me this stuff? And so I think that's how It started for me and just realizing that these are not conversations we're having in the Latin x community. And as an engineer, I think I'm also programmed to find solutions to problems. Because that's kind of how we're trained. And so I identifying the fact that this niche existed, and it wasn't being served is what really inspired me to insert myself into the conversation.
I had been listening to podcasts for years. And I really wanted to find women of color who were talking about this. But every time I searched on Apple podcasts or Spotify, you know, the same people come up, you're hearing like, Dave Ramsey, Suzy Orman, Jean Chatzky, and it's like, okay, but like, Where's the Latinos? Where's the black women? Where are the women of color who are talking about this? Because I know we're starting businesses. I know we're investing. I know, we care about money, because money impacts us all. So why aren't we having the conversation and this is really the the spark that lit the flame.
I think having the faith that I could turn this into a full time business helps you to just show up in a different way, you start really getting serious about things like your pricing, right? Because your pricing is now going to determine how much food is on the table. And when it's still a side hustle, I feel like we can tend to just see that as like play money. Like we don't have to take things as seriously, we don't have to ask for as much. So giving myself permission to really live into what it is to be a business owner before taking the leap to entrepreneurship was something that I decided to do at the beginning of this year, I said, I'm not going to pay myself through my W2 paycheck, I'm going to pretend like that money doesn't exist. And I'm going to start paying myself through my business. And if I can see that that's sustainable, then I know I've already created the the, you know, the runway, if you will, for me to be able to now take this leap confidently, knowing that I'm the one that's paying my bills, like this paycheck that I'm earning doesn't even matter. So I think like doing those test runs, is is something that I would definitely advise, so that you get into the rhythm of paying yourself and just putting, you know, food on the table. Um, along with that, you know, I think there's a lot of psychological stuff that you have to deal with when you're deciding to make the leap.
For me as the first person in my family to not only get a college degree, but a master's degree, I had to wrestle with this idea that I might be disappointing my family by choosing this alternate path that nobody imagined for me. And that takes a lot of mental work that takes therapy that takes you know, finding a community of people, I really had to find like other Latino entrepreneurs that I could lean on when I'm making this transition, because my family wasn't going to understand. No, I told my dad, hey, I want to quit my job. And he's just like, but why, like you're making money with your side hustle and your job, so just do both of them. Meanwhile, I'm like, Dad, I'm like, I gained, like 20 pounds, I can't sleep. I'm working like 17 18 19 hours a day, seven days a week. This is not sustainable. Like, I know, we're all about the hustle and the grind. But I'm also not trying to be a person or have my life. Right. So having those conversations and having that level of transparency, especially with my family was a big part of it. And you know, my mom, she was just like, Are you sure? Like, are you sure you can do this, and I have to start showing her the numbers, I really have to start showing her mom, I'm making double in my business right now than what I am getting paid at work. Like imagine what I could do if I had all this extra free time to just focus in on what I actually want to do. And and that was what convinced them ultimately, like this was going to be a good decision. Because you can't argue with the numbers.
They are blown away. They're my father the other day, I was visiting them because they're in New Jersey, and I'm in Florida, and he's just like, I don't even recognize you anymore. I don't even know like who you are, who is this person that I'm talking to because I couldn't even imagine what you're accomplishing, you know, and it's just exceeding your own expectations is one thing, but like seeing your family light up when they like I almost feel like I gave them permission to also start questioning the status quo. Like my mom is now just like, you know what, I don't think I'm gonna wait five years to retire. I'm not about this life anymore. And she's like, I'm, I feel like I'm giving them permission to just dream bigger by doing this. And that is so satisfying. Because at the end of the day, like you never know who you're inspiring. And sometimes, like just moving in authenticity with what you want, can can give people the confidence also do the same thing.
Danielle Desir 14:49
What advice would you give to bloggers and content creators about growing their platform
Jannese Torres Rodriguez 14:56
I initially struggled with how I was going to show up in the person No finance space. And I think that's a result of this expectation that so many of us is like women of color have like we need to be corporate friendly, or we need to code switch in order to be in an environment where we don't necessarily feel like we belong. And so I think initially, when I decided to start my podcast, I thought I had to show up that way, I thought I had to show up as like the corporate version of Jannese, right, like the investopedia version of Jannese. And it wasn't until I said, You know what, this doesn't feel authentic. And I'm not excited to show up like this, but I would be excited to show up, like, I'm going to brunch with my girlfriends, and we're going to talk about money, you know, with no holds barred. That's when I really started to feel like, this was something different. And that's when I started to show up authentically, so showing up as yourself, especially as a content creator, it's like, you must, because who are you going to be if it's not you, right? If people can see through the Bs, people can see when you're just trying to like, you know, package yourself in this perfect box, versus showing the struggle showing the realness showing what makes you different, that's what people actually connect with.
In order to actually grow your income as a business owner, you have to get very clear on how what you have to offer can help people and then be able to communicate that. Because when it comes down to it, when people spend money on anything, it's an emotional purchase, if you're able to connect on the emotional level with somebody and show them how working with you or buying whatever it is that you sell can have some sort of transformational impact on them. That's when you start to see the return on investment. And I think it's also important to diversify your income streams. When I was just blogging, I was just making a certain amount of money. But when I gave myself permission to not only have this one identity, but also try something else, that's when things started to really take off. And I think it's important to give ourselves permission to evolve as business owners what I was doing in 2013 is not what I'm doing now. And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. It's I think it's so important as a business owner, like if you're not creating passive income, and you have to show up every dollar that you earn, you have literally created another nine to five hamster wheel for yourself. So if you take nothing else away from that, as you're scaling your business, you must incorporate some sort of passive income, or you're going to be on the hamster wheel forever.
I think a lot of us want success, whatever version of success that is, but we're too scared to put in the work because the work feels scary. The work, the investment, the time, the energy, the risk of failure. That's where things stop for a lot of us. And I knew that you know, me as an introvert, doing what I do now, doesn't make any sense. Even my brain sometimes I'm like, I'm literally getting hired to do speaking engagements where, you know, I was a frickin teenager. And I would literally, like break out into hives from, from the anxiety of have a go up and like talk in front of an audience. So this fear kept me behind the scenes for a very long time. And I think that's also why I became a food blogger, because I'm like, nobody cares about my face. They just care about my recipes. And even as a podcaster, too, I'm like, nobody cares about my face, I just got to show up and talk on a mic and nobody will ever see me. But it wasn't until I gave myself permission to go beyond that, that things started to really happened for me. So I think when I think about that, quote, it's really just like that work ethic is not going to be able to replace any number of courses that you buy any number of books that you read any amount of advice that somebody gives you, you have to start implementing the stuff that you're learning, because learning it is not enough. And that goes down to the same thing with money too, right? Like you can read till the cows come home about how to start investing, but if you never start then you actually never accomplish anything. So at some point, we're done with the learning. Let's get to work.
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Millennial Wealth Builders is a 3x grant-funded audio docuseries that highlights how Women of Color are building wealth. You can support the production of this 12-part series and The Thought Card Podcast by buying me a coffee (a one-time gesture). Your support is greatly appreciated.
How To Make Money As A Food Blogger
In this episode we discuss:
- What was money like growing up
- Why Jannese started side hustling although she graduated with a degree in molecular biology and chemistry and was making $75,000 a year in her 20s
- How she knew she was ready to walk away from her 9-to-5 job as an engineering manager at a Fortune 50
- Why she started Yo Quiero Dinero Podcast
- How she shows up authentically as a content creator
- Tips for making money as food blogger
- What you need to make consistent income as a blogger
Connect With Jannese Torres-Rodriguez:
Website: Yo Quiero Dinero (personal finance podcast for Latinas)
Website: Delish D’Lites (Latin food blog)