I started this blog in the fall of 2008. At the time, there were already hundreds of personal finance blogs out there, but I didn’t care. I wanted to add my voice to the Internet and I wanted to write about money, so I just dove right in. Some months I posted just once or twice, some months I posted a dozen times. I had no schedule, not editorial calendar, no social media accounts. It was a simpler time.
Over the years, my blog has grown a little bit. I’m now on a self-hosted WordPress site (thanks Andrea!). I’m on various forms of social media. I went to FINCON12. I make a small amount of money from my blog. In other words, things are a little different than they used to be.
But I’ve managed to keep blogging’s place in my life in perspective, despite the temptations that are out there: blogging is a hobby, I do it because it makes me happy, and if it ever ceases to make me happy, I’ll stop. I’ve seen a number of bloggers over the years get really bogged down by numbers and stats and the chasing of advertising dollars – and many have ultimately quit blogging because the pressure got to be too much. This is a shame, at least to me: I firmly believe that the more voices that are out there in the personal finance community, the better. It always sucks to see a blogger quit, but it especially sucks when she quits because she feels she doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of “quality” (which usually means that she doesn’t get as many pageviews a day as she feels she “should”).
I’ve had the topic for this post rolling around in my head for weeks, but in light of recent events, it seems especially appropriate to discuss this now. The following are my tips for staying sane in a world – blogging – that can quickly become insane if you let it:
- Post only when you actually have something to say; don’t post for the sake of posting
- Blog about something that confers a secondary benefit on your life, beyond the blog itself. This is why personal finance blogging is perfect for me – I get to write, which is fun, but blogging about money also keeps me financially accountable. It’s a win-win.
- Only engage in forms of social media that you actually enjoy using
- Don’t accept advertisements for products that run contrary to the message and content of your blog
- Don’t use obsess over your numbers unless you’re genuinely interested in tracking numbers. To me, this makes blogging way less fun – I don’t even use Analytics
- Don’t monitor your pageviews
- Establish actual relationships with other bloggers – don’t just become “friends” with other bloggers because you think they can help you grow your blog
- Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers – you never know how “successful” or “big” someone’s blog actually is…or what the blogger has had to sacrifice to build her blog
Of course, if your goal is to make money from your blog, you should ignore absolutely everything on the list above And, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with making money from your blog, or to have building an income-generating blog as a goal on your horizon. But turning a blog into a business comes with the stress, competitiveness, and disappointments that starting any other business entails. Bloggers who make real money from their sites are doing a lot more than just writing. Evaluate what you want from your blog, and think about what you’re willing to give up to build a big (or even big-ish) blog. And remember, there is absolutely nothing wrong with blogging just for fun.
In fact, I’d recommend it.