As of tomorrow, I’ll have been publishing blog posts for six months. It’s been a bit of a ride, and there have definitely been ups and downs. Plenty of times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, many instances where I have thought about just not posting.
But yet I have persisted, and maintained a consistent schedule of posting three times a week, every week. After six months of writing and promoting Married with Money, I’ve come to learn and understand things about blogging that I hadn’t necessarily expected.
Here are six things I’ve learned from blogging for the past six months:
1. It’s a lot less writing than I thought it’d be
When someone thinks about starting a blog, they probably envision a lot of writing. It’s true – writing is what makes a blog a blog. But the writing itself is a surprisingly small amount of the time invested in actually running it.
There’s so much more to running a blog than I thought. Tons of editing, LOTS of research, endless amounts of reading. On the technical side it can be easy to get consumed into perfecting your design. I haven’t spent as much time on this as I’d like, but even small stuff like fixing a CSS error can take time to figure out.
Marketing and promotion is also a very time-consuming process if you want it to be. You can get lost in social media promotion, analytics, and just generally promoting your blog throughout the internet.
I like those things also, but I do find it more challenging. The writing itself is easy for me – the other things make it more challenging. Thankfully, I’m always up to a challenge, and I enjoy learning, and eventually mastering, everything I do.
2. Coming up with ideas all the time is exhausting (and difficult!)
Some of the blogs I read have posts scheduled out for the next 3 months. Three months!! At three posts a week. To me that’s a nearly impossible task.
While the writing part of blogging comes easy, I actually struggle on a daily basis on the ideation process. Many times I write a post on a Tuesday to be posted on Wednesday. I just don’t have a huge backlog of ideas.
Coming up with a solid, engaging, well-thought-out idea is tough. I get some ideas from other blogs I read, and my encounters in my daily life, but not everything makes for a good post.
Even if it would be an interesting subject, it’s tough for me to write about something without adding my own personal spin on it. That narrows the potential topics down pretty quickly.
I started a finance blog in 2008 called My Two Cents (UGH what a great name that was). My first blog that I’d tried to start back in 2008 failed. Part of the reason was I quickly ran out of ideas. I didn’t have many unique, noteworthy life experiences as it pertains to money.
3. The community of finance bloggers is way cooler than I thought
Community is a hugely important thing for me. I started running web sites when I was like 14 years old (NERD ALERT!!). My first web site was a fan site for a video game (Command and Conquer series) and my love for building communities grew from there. (I was writing HTML in Notepad back then. So yeah, pretty damn nerdy.)
At the height of my fan site days, I ran a very successful Call of Duty site. In an interview with Gamespy (RIP), Grant Collier, the Founder and President of Infinity Ward (developers of CoD), touted my web site as their official outlet to the community.
They didn’t have their own forums online, so my forums were declared their official home. My relationship with Infinity Ward lead to me being sent to E3 with my dad and a friend, all-expenses paid – and it exploded the popularity of my web site.
In just a few months I built a community of about 10,000 Call of Duty fans who contributed over 145,000 posts in that short time.
Community building is what I love, and I was super excited to connect with other personal finance bloggers over the last 6 months. It makes everything so much more enjoyable, and everyone is genuine, respectful, and honest.
To all the other bloggers out there who are reading: you guys rock.
4. I care a lot less about traffic than I do making an impact
Back in 2008 when I had my first blog, I cared a LOT about traffic. To me, traffic was what indicated that I was successful. It’s what I used as a benchmark in my previous web sites, as well.
I didn’t promote my blog well, and thus did not get much traffic. It led to me abandoning the project after just two months. To me, little traffic meant little reason to continue writing.
Now, though, I care much more about making a positive impact in people’s lives. I love getting emails and notes from people who have found my blog somehow and have changed their approach to handling money because of this blog.
When old friends reach out and ask for advice, and tell me they’re starting to take control of their financial situation after reading my blog, it’s a great feeling.
I don’t need to reach tens or hundreds of thousands of people a month to feel like this blog is successful. Knowing I’ve positively impacted even a handful of people is much more rewarding to me than faceless visitors.
The big thing for me now that keeps me going is knowing that what I write about and share is helping other people.
5. It can easily be all-consuming
When people say they are full-time bloggers, I get it. I’ve got a 40-hour-a-week job and spend another 2-3 hours on the blog each night, plus a good chunk of the weekends. Things take a LOT of time, and it’s easy to let it consume every minute of the day.
The biggest offender of time suck is social media. It’s so easy to get distracted and enveloped in social media, particularly Twitter.
And the thing is, even my ~20-30 hours a week is light. I could easily spend 12 hours a day working on the blog. Posts need to be written, social media posts need to be scheduled, and finding other posts to share involves plenty of time actually reading other blogs, finding the things that would resonate with my readers, and sharing them.
There are a ton of technical things to dig into, and lots of things I have on my ‘someday’ list that still aren’t done.
I have a few absolutely epic projects I want to pick up related to the blog, and they’ll take months of preparation, research, and development.
Thankfully Kristin’s been extremely supportive of me spending nights and weekends blogging. I still make time for us, of course; that’s the most important thing to me.
But even then it’s sometimes easy to simply lose track of time and before you know it, it’s 9pm on a Saturday – bedtime! (HAH, I only half joke…)
6. More people are excited about my blog than I thought
While I don’t think many people realize it, I’m a text-book extroverted introvert.
I rarely start up a conversation myself, and I pretty much never bring up my blog. So when we’re with people and someone else mentions that I have a blog, I get bashful. Naturally.
And I still don’t fully know why. Everyone who’s already read it has good things to say. They’re all supportive, and people share my Facebook posts with their friends and family.
I don’t know why, but I thought that nobody in my real life would really care about the blog.
But time after time when it gets brought up, people are really excited by it or at least excited by the idea of it. Just the other day, someone at work was talking to 5-6 people around her about my blog…that was kind of weird, but also very cool.
Thinking about it some more, I think it makes a bit of sense.
We’re all trying to get through our lives and have a positive relationship with others and with our money.
For some people, it’s exciting to hear about someone they know writing about a subject they’re at least semi-interested in.
It’s fascinating to me and I never really expected people to talk about my blog to others. I expected me to write, them to read, and that’s that.
But there’s so much more to blogging, and I love it.
It’s been a great experience so far. Here’s to the next six months and beyond.