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My Financial Independence Journey » Blog Update » Thoughts after six months of blogging

Thoughts after six months of blogging

1072482_calendarI can’t believe I made it six months.  That’s a pretty good accomplishment and I thought I’d share some of my observations about being a blogger.

The Evolving Mindset of a this Blogger

When I started this blog at the end of December 2012, I was obsessively writing articles and trying to build up a content base.  Then 2013 hit and the blog launched.  I jumped into the world of blogging head first writing content, commenting like a madman, and trying to build a readership base.  It was a lot of fun.

Life disrupted my plans, as it usually does, by throwing some travel, illnesses, and vacation my way.  Passion faded away, but the work of blogging remained.

Now that I’m at the six month mark, I can pretty safely say that I’m suffering from some blogging burn out.  Not total burn out, but I’m not the white hot flame that I was before.  I suspect that this is natural for most people.  If you are going to do something every day or every week, you should expect that it will turn into a job sooner or later.  Like every job, you have to show up and get the work done regardless of whether it gives you warm fuzzy feelings that day or not.

If I can keep blogging for a few more months I have no doubt that I’ll hit another windfall of passion where I crank out tons of content and do a lot of commenting and networking.  By this point in my life, I know myself well enough to be able to predict the ebbs and flows of my interests.


Main Blogging Tasks

From what I’ve experienced so far, successful blogging consists of three main tasks.

1. Writing content - People come to your blog to read your content.  I’d love to say that super well researched articles drive tons of traffic, but I don’t believe that’s the case.  Having an engaging writing style is probably the most important thing.  You can be completely, painfully, and obviously wrong, but so long as your articles are well written people will love you.

2. Commenting on other blogs - Blogging is a form of social media.  As such you need to get out there and socialize with other bloggers in order to help drive traffic to your site.  This takes way more time than you would think. I used to try to comment on almost every article that I read.  When I started blogging, I commented every morning before heading to the gym and evening when I got back home from work.  Then I started commenting while at work. Do a little work, comment on some blogs – NOTE: This is not a good idea as you’ll easily burn through your working hours commenting on blogs. 

Now, I find that I really need to be more frugal with my time. If it’s going to be a busy day, I just hit mark all as read and move on.  There will always be more blog posts to comment on.  There are just so many blogs within the world of personal finance, that I could easily wind up doing nothing but commenting on them.

3. Replying to comments - Not only do you have to comment on other blogs, but you need to reply to comments on your own blog.  This is how you build up a great community of commenters.  I feel bad because I haven’t had as much time as I would like to do this.  I really do appreciate each and every comment left on my blog.


Supporting Tasks

In addition to the the main tasks above, there are a variety of supporting tasks that you’ll have to address sooner or later in your blogging career.  Some of the ones that I’ve discovered are listed below.

1. Polishing the blog’s layout and design - If any of you remember this blog during it’s first two months then you are probably aware that the theme was terrible.  I’ve since improved the layout, but I’m still not  satisfied with it.  I’d love to outsource designing a new theme to a professional, but unless they’re willing to do the work for $10-$20 (1-2 month’s blogging income), we’re going to be sticking with what we’ve got.

2. Using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) - I post every new blog post to Facebook and Twitter.  I wish that I had more time to really take advantage of social media, but I don’t.

3. Promoting your blog via carnivals - I should be a lot better at this as it’s not that hard.  Basically, just pick your best post of the week and submit.  Best case scenario, you make editor’s choice.  Worst case scenario, you’re just another link among 80 others.

4. Deeper networking with other bloggers - Another area that I wish I had more time to work on.  There are so many great bloggers out there at that I would like to get to know better though email, phone calls, etc.  It’s funny, but if you read enough posts by someone, you can kind of tell if they’re an insufferable douche or a down to earth nice person.

5. Search engine optimization - I’ve totally failed at this.  It’s hard enough for me to write content.  The last thing that I want to do is see if I’ve included the phrase “Dividend growth stocks” enough times to be properly optimized for this version of Google’s search engine.  Actually, I think I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than do SEO.

6. Writing guest posts - Another area that I have dropped the ball in.  I would love to write up guest posts for other sites, but I feel like I barely have time to crank out content for my site.


Upsides of Blogging

1. Meet great people - While the internet seems to be swarming with total douchebags, most of the personal finance bloggers I’ve interacted with are helpful, supportive, and generally nice people.  Yes, there a few self righteous, condescending, holier-than-thou, assholes out there, but surprisingly they are in the minority.  Compare this to say youtube, reddit, or 4chan where you’re far better off remaining a content consumer rather than a producer.

2. Fantastic way to educate yourself - I’ve learned so much about investing using blogging as an excuse research topics and companies and interacting with other bloggers.  It is unlikely that I would have opened a margin account to support put option selling if I hadn’t been blogging.  And my knowledge of value investing and dividend growth stocks has increased substantially as well.


Downsides of Blogging

1. Time consuming - Holy crap, does blogging take a lot of  time.  Writing content, researching content, editing content, commenting, replying to comments, and everything else just sucks up tons of my time.  I work a pretty demanding day job and have a variety of non-blogging interests so I really feel the time crunch.  If I could only learn to live without sleep.

2. Little monetary reward - Unless you sell out and start filling your blog with affiliate links and sponsored posts, there isn’t a lot of monetary reward to blogging for most people.  I pull in about $10 a month from Adsense.  Nothing from Amazon.  This covers hosting, the domain name, and buys me a beer at the end of the month.

It’s possible that over time my blog will become more and more successful and the amount of income will increase.  But I do wonder if the income will ever equate to anything greater than glorified beer money.  Even $100 a month isn’t worth the amount of time that I put into blogging (~20 hours a week) – that’s still below minimum wage.

The knowledge that I’ve gained from blogging is a far better reward than the pittance that I’ve gotten from advertisers.

MORAL OF THE STORY:  If you want to make a living blogging, you had better plan on being a sell out or have an amazingly engaging writing style.


Personal Finance Tropes That Annoy Me

Part of what I do as a personal finance blogger is to read other personal finance blogs.  In fact, I read a lot of blogs.  Far more blogs than I would ever read if I wasn’t in the blogging game myself.  Below are some of the common blogging tropes that just get under my skin for various reasons.

1. “Retired” people who are still working - I know that you’ve got a book or a blog to sell, or maybe a eco-sustainable lifestyle to promote, but at least be honest with your readers.  Working full or part time in either entrepreneurial endeavors or at a corporate job is nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Aggressive mortgage payoffs - If you have an interest rate of around 3% or so (entirely possible after a refi or two), there is no way that aggressively paying off your mortgage is a good idea.  While it may provide you with some psychological solace, it’s mathematically dumb.

3. Minimalism as the gateway to happiness and fulfillment - Less is not more.

4. Raffles - Do you really have to bribe people to like, share, and promote your blog content?


This post has gone on for entirely too many words.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll talk a bit about the future of the blog.


Readers:  I’d love to hear your opinions.  Are you a blogger?  Have you suffered with similar blog/life/work balance issues?  How did you deal with them?

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33 Responses to "Thoughts after six months of blogging"

  1. Hi MFIJ,

    Wow you’re being very open about your blogging experience! I learned a lot reading your post. I just started out a few weeks ago, and for the moment I haven’t hit that wall yet. It does take up a lot of time, and I’m still trying to find a good writing rythm to balance work-life-blog out. We’ll see how that goes…

    P.S. Don’t worry about it being too long a post because I read it entirely without thinking ‘This is a long post’!

    1. MFIJ says:

      I just discovered your site. It looks like it will be pretty solid in the future. Keep up the good work. It’s always great to have more dividend investors out there to exchange ideas with and learn from.

    2. Gregg says:


      Thanks for all of your posts. I enjoy your information and hope that you get the fire burning again.

      1. MFIJ says:

        Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve got a bunch of ideas for posts in my head, but I just need the time to write them down. So I’m definitely going to keep on blogging, but probably at a slower pace over the next few months.

  2. Michelle says:

    I love blogging. I have made some awesome online friends :)

    1. MFIJ says:

      Bloggers (at least the personal finance ones) are surprisingly cooler than the population as a whole.

  3. I have hit a little wall and I am around 9 months now. It takes so much time. There are the ups and downs, but that is life. Nice work on hitting the 6 month mark.

    1. MFIJ says:

      Blogging is a way bigger time commitment than I ever anticipated. I had a good idea how long it would take to write articles, but everything else actually seems to take even longer.

  4. Mike says:

    Love the honesty! Personal Finance Tropes That Annoy Me section is perfect!

    this is one of a handful of blogs I visit
    20something, Dividend Mantra, Financial Integrator, Mustache,

    I always liked your style and respect your view points.

    keep up the good work

  5. E.M. says:

    Congrats on making it to six months! It’s only been about a month for me and already I am having a bit of writer’s block. It’s hard, if not impossible, to find a topic no one else has written on, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record. Commenting and reading other blogs is definitely the most time consuming, but I love getting to know everyone in the process. I am working on waking up earlier to work on blog related things so that when I get home from work I can focus on “me” time.

    1. MFIJ says:

      Almost every topic has been written on. That is an inescapable truth of blogging. What I do, for better or worse, is try to find ways to expand or contradict something. I have an investment style that isn’t the stock “invest in index funds,” I don’t think owning real estate is the best idea in the world (at least where I live), I don’t worship the Roth IRA, etc. I think of my blog as more of an exploration of personal finance – I’m not selling a lifestyle, I’m not selling a book, I’m not selling affiliate links. I’m just using my blog as an excuse to think about whatever interests me at the time.

  6. Congrats on the 6 month mark. I’m about a month behind you and am feeling the same effects. It can be extremely time consuming and difficult, but it’s worth it to me because I’m learning so much in the process. I love the trope section, especially #4. I personally hate giveaways and quickly skip over any post about them.

    1. MFIJ says:

      Thanks. Just keep at it. Most of life rewards people who plug along and get the job done over time. I’m going to be going down to two posts per week for a few months due to life and work. But in the long run, I don’t think it will matter for the blog.

  7. Pauline says:

    Congratulations! I have just hired a VA and before outsourced a ton of gigs on Fiverr, it is really neat to find cheap freelancers. The last one did a server migration for $5!

    1. MFIJ says:

      I would love to hire a VA. But I’m not pulling in anywhere near enough money to warrant hiring anyone right now.

  8. Well, you’ll just absolutely love my Blog! It has to do with paying off not just one mortgage, but three! Oh, and in an agressive manner, no less. ;-)

    “2. Aggressive mortgage payoffs – If you have an interest rate of around 3% or so (entirely possible after a refi or two), there is no way that aggressively paying off your mortgage is a good idea. While it may provide you with some psychological solace, it’s mathematically dumb.”

    This is a tired argument. It’s like looking at one facet of a gemstone while ignoring the rest of the facets that really make it glitter.

    Reduced risk, personal psychology, tranquility, de-leveraging, etc. are other facets that may not be mathematical in nature (exception being de-leveraging), but may add up to a smart move when viewed as a whole.

    While we may disagree on this matter, I still enjoy your blog and comments you post on others. Keep up the good work!

  9. Dan Mac says:

    Congrats on reaching the 6 month mark! I think everyone goes through phases where they get burnt out and don’t want to do much work on thier sites. I know I certainly have gone through phases like that in the year that my site has been going.

    One thing that has helped with me is when I start to get burnt out I pretty much just do the bare minimum which is posting a couple articles on my site a week and no promotion. Then there are times when I get very motivated and you’ll see me commenting, twittering, guest posting all over the place along with probably some more in depth better articles on my site.

    Keep up the good work and I don’t think you’ll regret sticking with it! Also, couldn’t agree more with you on aggresive mortgage payoffs! Why would I want to pay off my mortgage that has a rate lower than the average rate of inflation? Just doesn’t make sense!

    1. MFIJ says:

      I’m shifting to a bare minimum approach for the next few months. I’m going to do 2 posts per week and prioritize replying to comments on my own blog over commenting on other blogs.

  10. I hit periods of burnout myself, even now the summer weather really takes a lot of my motivation to stay inside and write away. Not forcing yourself to write based on a self-imposed schedule helps. Just write when you feel it, don’t try and force it for the sake of having a fresh post up.

    I’m totally with you on writing guest posts. I honestly don’t know how people do it. Coming up with enough good posts for my own site is a struggle enough some times!

    1. MFIJ says:

      The summer is a big reason why I’ll be downshifting to 2 posts per week. I want to enjoy my weekends exploring the area. I’ve got all winter to sit at home and stare at a computer.

  11. Less IS more for some people.

    It’s just not your thing, and you have to remember that.

    That’s what annoys me the most about people who rail against people who say that it’s not their thing. Say it’s not your thing, but don’t say it’s stupid and ridiculous.

    It’s equally as dumb as saying that aggressive debt repayment and aggressive wealth accumulation is stupid. No it isn’t, it is just different for people who can either do it or not do it.

    By the way, it’s only been 6 months. I’ve been doing this for 6 years, you go through ups and downs, but if you try to do everything perfectly (comment, network, talk, email, post, promote), you will definitely give up.

    Go slower, do it at your own pace.

    1. MFIJ says:

      Blogging for six years is amazing. I hope that I can make it that long. I’m going to be slowing down to two posts per week in order to focus more on replying to comments and giving myself enough free time to enjoy the summer. You’re right, I don’t think that most normal people can do everything perfectly. I’d love to know how the people who do seem to do all the blogging tasks perfectly pull it off.

  12. [...] My Financial Independence Journey: Thoughts after six months of blogging [...]

  13. From January to April I put in probably 40 hours a week blogging; building connection, commenting like a crazy person, “reading” 100 blogs a day, and of course writing posts. And I too have felt the burnout, which is the main reason I’ve gone from 3 heartfelt posts/week to 1 (if I have the energy). It takes a toll on you for sure.

    When I started I wrote down ideas for about 50 posts. Then my focus started changing, and it became harder to find a topic that I was passionate about. I don’t want to write garbage posts about “how to save $5″ and I don’t want to write posts that no one will remember in a week, like a “carnival” (I hate those). I do like supporting other bloggers when possible, but I mainly do that by sharing posts on Twitter.

    Keep it up, dude. You’re doing great. Even $100/month is still good. The real money comes at about the year mark (or at least that’s what they tell me).

    1. MFIJ says:

      It looks like you and I have similar experiences of starting out of the gate full force and then slowing down. I had something like 30 posts written when I started blogging and a bunch of ideas listed out as well. And then I started reading blogs and commenting at all hours of the day, which consumed all of my personal time and even ate into my work time.

      I’ve heard the same thing that you have to be in it for a year or so to start making money. But so long as my blogging income covers my hosting I’m cool. I’ve learned a ton about investing in the last six months, simply because I’ve used this blog as a vehicle to force myself to learn more.

  14. SarahN says:

    I’ve been blogging 6 months, and have too much queued content – this is from someone who was reluctant to create a blog (and was just commenting on all the blogs I liked). So I suppose I come at this from somewhere different. I also didn’t put myself in a niche (though I did discuss the idea). It’s definitely work – to write, comment, photograph, reply etc, but I really enjoy it. The only thing I dislike is rants :p But hey, that’s cause my focus is largely to be a positive light in the blogosphere – no one needs another Debby Downer (that being said, not everything is love and butterflies, I list things I don’t prefer/like too). Anyhow, I see from your replies you’re scaling back, you’ve got to do what’s right for you… Anyhow, just my 2c worth, being at the same ‘age’ in blogging as you.

    1. MFIJ says:

      I thought about not having a niche, but then I realized that would be so random as to probably never attract a consistent reader base. Maybe I’d talk about investing, or travel, or I’d post a recipe, or I’d ramble on about something scientific. Probably would be more fun to right, but it would be a very strange blog indeed.

      1. SarahN says:

        It’s tough, but I think if you write well, and you read in the fields you post on, then you’ll collect readers. Some blogs are about knowing the writer, rather than specifically being interested in their content. If you already have a good readership, slipping in some of your suggestions might be a welcome change (for you and your readers!)

  15. Integrator says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the last 6 mths. I too am keeping myself to 2 posts a week. My blog has turned into something a little bit different for me. Its now a way for me to keep track of my 5 year dividend goal. I imagine once I hit that mark, I will likely scale the blog back, if not kill it entirely because it would have served its purpose by then.
    Monetization is tough. You may want to consider writing some published articles to supplement the income in the meantime. Thats helped me keep focus even though blog income is currently low.

    1. MFIJ says:

      I imagine that if I hit financial independence that my blog will change as well. Maybe I’ll scale it back to a pure investing blog in a few months/years if I ever run out of more general personal finance article ideas. I’m just going to see what life gives me the time to do.

  16. Twofer says:

    Reading this you sound very angry and frustrated honestly. Aren’t you “selling out” by having ads on your site?

    What works for others doesn’t have to work for you.

    1. MFIJ says:

      I’m probably a little bit frustrated. I love how much I’ve learned about investing from blogging, but I wish that I had more time to make the blog as good as I want it to be. Everything is a trade off and if I want to be able to enjoy life outside of work and that means blogging less aggressively. I also read a lot of blogs and can’t understand how some are so popular when they offer so little useful information.

      I don’t think I’m selling out by having ads because the ads don’t affect the content. I have no idea what ads you’re seeing because Google pulls them up based on your search history. I don’t write articles around affiliate links. There are no long posts about how you should get this or that credit card. I refuse to end every other post with a glowing endorsement of Personal Capital or the huge commission offering financial product of the month. And if I ever get around to doing book reviews you’ll see that just because I add a link to the book, doesn’t mean that I think highly of it.

      I don’t even have an eBook to sell. I wouldn’t mind writing an eBook, but that would have to wait for me to become much more knowledgeable about investing and actually have the time to write it. So it will probably never happen.

  17. [...] Thoughts after six months of blogging My FI Journey – Congrats on 6 months! Not a lot of bloggers make it to this point [...]

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