Two Year Blog Review By Looper Buck Inspire

10/07/10

Dear Buck,

It’s me. I mean you, from the future. I know it’s hard to believe, but you are not crazy. You are about to embark on your blog journey. Congratulations and it’s about time! You’ve been looking for an outlet to express yourself since grade school. Your short stories, email updates, and journal entries were clues, but you were not ready to take action. You finally answer your life long question, “What am I passionate about?” It took you long enough, but hey, better late than never right? I’m not going to spoil your ride. What’s the fun in that? But I do want to highlight some areas that will cause you some grief. Hopefully when you hit these rough patches, you’ll remember this letter and not let it get to you or worse, derail you from lifelong passion.

Money Changes Everything

When you first start, it was all about the writing. But then a weird thing happened. You started keeping up with the blogging Jones. If everyone else was doing it, why shouldn’t you right? Wrong. Your comrades focus a lot of time and energy into monetization. Get your head on straight Buck. This is a nice to have, but it’s never been your main goal. Sadly, you almost quit because you keyed on money as a metric of your progress and success. Remember Adsense, Two Cents, Quit Blogging?

The good news is you will eventually make more than two cents. The bad news is you will not be making six figures. But how many folks really do? Focus on providing excellent content for yourself and more importantly, your audience!

Yakezie Forever?

Soon after, you will join forces with some of the best personal finance bloggers in the business. Led by Sam, the Financial Samurai, you and your fellow Yakezie members barrel through the blogosphere providing personal stories and expert analysis on saving, reducing debt, retirement planning, and generating income. During the six month initiation challenge, the camaraderie and support will be second to none. Not to scare you, but there will even be threats to the network and philosophy of selflessly helping others. There were times it felt like The Avengers fighting off enemies from another world. You cannot escape different mindsets and agendas, even online. They eventually got tired and moved on.

Big G will throw several monkey wrenches to monetization efforts as they constantly tweak their search engine algorithms. Many folks go into survival mode and manage to power through. Finally, the sad reality is not everyone will continue with what they started. Life happens and some of your favorite bloggers during the challenge actually move on with their lives. Don’t be naive in thinking everyone will continue marching along forever. You’re a hopeless romantic, but don’t let it discourage you. The reality is people sometimes move on to greener pastures similar to when we move on to college or return home from a vacation tour group. It’s just the way it is so don’t take it too personal.

Web Metrics

Two years in and your Twitter followers are humming along nicely. However, this type of social media may be the easiest to gain because it is the least intimate. Your friends, connections, subscribers, and circles need some work. Sadly I don’t have an answer, but you need to improve your blog relationships to get beyond having a bunch of acquaintances. Your visitors and pageviews also hit a wall. Hopefully when you improve your relationships and content, your metrics will also improve. Don’t give up even though you feel like you are just treading water. Are you still enjoying yourself? That is the main metric you should follow.

Making The Leap

Besides income, another popular theme you will run into is making the leap from a regular 9 to 5 job into self employment / retirement. For a moment, you will get sucked in too. You seriously need to stop driving yourself crazy with that “everyone is doing it” mentality. The main question you need to ask yourself, “Is your life situation like the others who have made the leap?” Let’s take a quick look.

Jon from Affiliate Help, Gastric Band Hypnotherapy, and Hypnobusters said, “I made the leap a few years ago and quit my job and moved abroad to Morocco so I could live cheaper and spend all my time working on my hypnotherapy websites. My wife was working full time so I had little else to do but work most of the day. 18 months later I returned to England with almost a full time living from my websites. For a few months, I did some part time work to subsidize my income. However eventually I increased my earnings enough to quit and make all my income online.

It felt great, and still does! You need to work hard and work smart, as it is unlikely to happen overnight. It must have taken me about 3 years to get to that point. During those 3 years I had periods of earning little to no cash on my websites. It can be easy to give up. I was literally working 12-16 hours a day at times for very little financial reward. However I kept my faith in myself and what I was doing. I think it also really helped that I could quit my job for 18 months and really concentrate on my online businesses. I think it would have taken a lot longer if I was also working full time. The important thing I believe is to keep going.”

Jon definitely made the right move, but since I am the primary breadwinner and I don’t have a specialized niche like hypnotherapy, this path may not be for me.

Andrea from So Over This and Nuts and Bolts Media made the leap almost a year ago. She had a job she didn’t fully enjoy. For all the details, check out her interview at Untemplater.

Things are moving nicely for Andrea’s design business so she too made the right move. However, I really like my job and am not very creative so this path isn’t for me either.

Frugal Rules said, “I took the leap about six months ago. I left my job to help expand the business my wife had started about two years previous. It is a lot of hard work and can definitely be long hours, but it is worth the time and effort. It’s been a very rewarding experience so far and we love working together running our business.”

Looks like Frugal Rules is doing well as a husband and wife team, but Mrs. Buck and I may be more in tune for working for someone else. Besides, not sure if I can be attached to the Mrs. 24/7 as we may drive each other crazy, haha! 🙂

Joe from Retire By 40 stuck to his theme and actually retired early! “I quit this summer and it’s going well so far. Check out my 3 months update. We haven’t changed our lifestyle much because we were already frugal previously. The kid is getting harder to handle though as you know.”

I’m happy for Joe as his old engineering job was actually taking a toll on his physical and mental health. Like I said before, I really enjoy my job and since I don’t have rental properties and other income streams like Joe, this path may not be for me as well.

Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff had a plan and left her job. She’s turned into a blogging superstar and even has her own ebook, How I Make Money Blogging. For all the details, take a listen to her interview at Buck Inspire.

Crystal’s old paycheck was replaced quite well (and then some) with her online ventures. I don’t have that luxury so I will be continuing on my path.

Sam from Financial Samurai and the founder of Yakezie is the hardest one to figure out. He had a pretty sizable paycheck, was not getting physically ill from his job, but wanted more from his life. More power to you Sam! I wonder if he would have made the same move if he had kids. He also has an ebook, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye which he personally used to leap from his old job into retirement.

Like Joe, a fraction of his income was replaced by his other income streams and he seems to be enjoying ramen noodles and traveling the world. I don’t have other income streams and with extra financial responsibilities, it’s hard to pull the plug on my paycheck.

Final Thoughts

Buck, you are one step closer to living a fulfilled life within your means because you finally found your passion in blogging. Don’t get distracted by other people’s goals and stay true to your own priorities. However, don’t forget to re-evaluate your journey, in case your plan needs course correction, and celebrate your achievements along the way. Blogging is a way to express yourself and share ideas which you never had before. It is a valuable tool to improve and possibly help others with similar issues. If additional income, statistics, and opportunities come, that’s icing on the cake. But at the end of the day, don’t give up on your lifelong passion because you were waiting for certain things to happen.

For those of you eavesdropping, where are you with your blogs? Where do you want it to be and how will you take it there?

Stay Inspired!
Buck

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41 Responses

  1. Wonderful post Buck! It really is easy to get caught up with the Blogging Jones yeah? All we can do is focus on what WE can do.

    Ironically, part of the reason why I wanted to spend more time at home and have a flexible schedule is to make room for children. So I can spend more time with them, and not be in the office for so much of the day.

    Who knows what the future will hold. But, if we just continue to try, I’m sure we’ll do more than we could have ever imagined!

    Best,

    Sam

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Focus on what WE can do. Love it! Wow, I had no clue you were making way for children. I thought you were totally in love with the free wheeling, traveling lifestyle, sans kids. You’re absolutely right. The key is to try!

  2. krantcents says:

    I started blogging as an opportunity to express myself and spread the PF gospel according to me. I never realized there are many others doing the same thing nor did I realize I could earn money from it. I think you should always review or reflect on your journey (decisions), but compare the accomplishments or failures aginst your own criteria. There are always people who do better than you and many more who do worse. Last, enjoy the ride because money is not a motivator.

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    Great post! That was epic. I’m not at the same dream I started out to achieve, but the dream changed and it’s still good. Blogging and social media are a continual learning experience. Always something new to be found.

    Lee

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Thanks Lee! Chasing dreams that happen to change is a good thing in my book. Don’t stop! Not only social media, but you could apply “continual learning experience” to life in general. Exciting stuff!

  4. Moneycone says:

    Very nice summary Buck! I have been a little out of touch with Yakezie and I was wondering what my fellow Yakezie friends were doing. Very nice summary!

    More power to all of them!

  5. Andrea says:

    Loved this post! I think every blogger in every niche underestimates the journey they’ll experience if they remain dedicated to writing and sharing online. I think very few of us start out wanting to quit our jobs or write full time; it seems like the ones that do tend to burn out within a few months. But the ones who start because they truly enjoy writing and want to have some kind of impact on the world end up facing that choice eventually.

    Self-employment is definitely not for everyone. If I had been happy with my career choice, there’s no way I would have quit and started a business. In my case, though, I deliberately chose a field other than the one I knew I would truly enjoy because I didn’t want to work in the “traditional” IT or design jobs that were out there. It took 7 years in a career I hated before I figured out that I could basically create my own!

    It’s so important for people to examine their skills and be honest about their motivations/abilities before they consider self-employment. A friend of mine desperately wants to quit her job, and she is making money online, but her product isn’t one that can sustain her long-term. She really has no ideas about what else she could do to earn money, so in her case I have advised her strongly against quitting until she comes up with a more solid plan. And a backup plan. And a backup plan for the backup plan.

    I feel incredibly fortunate to spend every day doing something I love. But it’s very possible to do that while working for someone else. I admire the bloggers who stay true to themselves and do what’s best for them and their families, regardless of whether that means taking the leap or staying firmly planted where they are.

  6. Hey Bucky.

    I think it’s great you’re so introspective with your ambitions. My site is still quite young but I try not to hold unrealistic expectations of where my own writing journey may eventually lead because right now I have an outlet for creative expression, and that keeps me meaningfully satisfied and pushing forward.

    However, I love hearing the personal stories of those who courageously struck out on their own, persevered through the rough patches, and determinedly made it work. It takes a lot of passion and endurance, and they are all amazing role models.

  7. Reflection is important to find out how you are doing. This was a creative way to convey your findings!

  8. Thanks for including me in your wonderful post Buck! Reflection is a key ingredient to growth, as well as being realistic, in my opinion. I know that being self-employed is not for everyone, heck I still question my sanity at times. That said, the benefits outweigh the minuses for us so it was a no brainer. By the way, you’d think working with your spouse would drive you both nuts. That can be a realistic issue, but does not have to be. With my wife and I we have enough of our own responsibilities that we tend to stay out of each others hair.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      You’re welcome John and thank you for contributing to my post! I’m glad being self-employed is working out for you. If the benefits outweigh the minuses you would be a fool not to give it a try. As for working with wife? Maybe one day when I mellow out more, haha!

  9. Hunter says:

    Very nicely written Buck. I don’t think there’s anything quite like having a family to provide real clarity about the future and one’s obligations to dependents. I think I can feel that clarity in your writing.

    Financially Consumed is limping along, but I have no real goals for this right now, and all my metrics reflect the clif that I dropped off a year ago.

    Bike Lane Living is progressing. We’ve now posted 300 articles and we’re approaching 10,000 visits per month. Monetizing has proven difficult, but as you point out, perhaps that goal is misguided. Having an accountability partner is powerful motivation, it has really kept me going. I think a single partner is better than a group of 5 or 6. Creative decisions are easier with smaller partners.

    For now, I’m charging ahead on a financial planning business model. However, my website will feature a blog. I think any business / organization that is serious about forming connections with their audience needs to reach out this way. I don’t expect the blog to make money, but it will be an important element in a successful business.

    I can’t wait to see this movie!

    Hope you are doing really well.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Thanks Hunter! Very observant and I do agree that being a father now does give me extra clarity! Sorry to hear about Financially Consumed limping along, but I feel your true passion is in Bike Lane Living and that’s what you’re doing so good for you. Good Luck with your new biz and corresponding blog. I agree a blog is very important for businesses. I’m doing well. Hope you’re doing well in your new neighborhood!

  10. This is so good, Buck – you were obviously itching to write this post. I have not made ‘the leap’ and am not sure that I would like to: like you, I am the main earner (John has been freelancing for over a decade now) and this will increase the level of uncertainty to a degree that I cannot tolerate. Also, the thought of retirement make me uneasy – I associate it with aging and whilst there is not much wrong with this (it is natural) I don’t think we should succumb. Still am working to a programme of financial independence in five years time though :).

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Thanks Maria! Was it that obvious? Very observant, I was tossing these ideas back and forth for some time. Sam issued a 5000 word per week blog challenge that set me in motion. Don’t think I associated retirement with aging, but now that you mentioned it… Good luck with your five year financial independence program. I’m sure you’ll get there!

  11. Fascinating walk across the blogosphere with you. It’s easy to get caught up in “herd mentality”. Yet, each of us must figure out our own path. Blogging is great, so is making money 🙂 That said, to make a decent living from blogging is not an easy path.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Thanks Barb! I’ve been trying to find my own path for years. It’s been quite a process. I finally see making money from blogging is quite difficult. Guess we are all gluttons for punishment? How has your blog journey been?

  12. I have definitely been enjoying life since I made my leap as well. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been definitely worth it every step of the way!

  13. Pauline says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, hopefully it will save others some time and mistakes. I am only five months in and still figuring out a lot of things. My goal was to at least offset blogging costs and I have reached it quickly, now it is just to have fun writing and if the occasion arises here and there to make a little $. I want blogging to be fun for now.

  14. 101 Centavos says:

    Well written, Buck. Two years seems like two decades in blog-years.

  15. Greetings, I’m only one year here. I have a lot to learn from you.

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