What I’ve Learned from One Year of Writing a Personal Finance Blog

I launched this blog exactly one year ago.

I published my first two posts in August 2020 and then sat back and waited for a call from Bloomberg. I’m still waiting. I’m sure they are just busy getting my signing bonus approved.

Figured I’d share what I’ve learned while I wait:

  1. No one cares that you have a blog. A few friends reached out in the first month to say the website looked good, but other than that, I still have best friends and family members who have never even mentioned it to me. And I self-promote shamelessly.
  2. Even less people will actually read your blog than the few who care about it. I think my mom, fiancé, and one friend are the only people I know in real life who have read every one of my posts (thanks, guys!). God help them for being so patient with my terrible grammar, run-on sentences, and self-indulgent writing style.
  3. Points 1 and 2 above are exactly as they should be. My initial writing was complete shit. It still is now, but it was back then, too. (Shout out to Mitch Hedberg for that joke, RIP). I basically word vomited on my make-believe audience about esoteric topics and half-formed ideas to the tune of 1,500 words per post. It’s getting better, I think… I hope. Low expectations are the key to happiness.
  4. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. As with anything in life, the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it. Not true if you give up after 3 months, half-ass it, or aren’t passionate about it. I love having a craft that I can now hone for years to come. I like having a place I can work on my ideas. Writing something I am proud of is a big confidence booster and feels productive/enjoyable at the same time.
  5. Stories and anecdotes are more entertaining than facts and how-to guides. Stories will make your content more memorable, and cause your readers to feel better about the time they spent. Here’s where I discovered that.
  6. Cut to the chase. Online writing has, unfortunately, been inundated with SEO tactics to trick you into staying on a webpage for an unnecessarily long time to feed you more ads. This is why recipe pages online will tell you all about how they are going to tell you all about how to pickle onions right after they tell you all about where onions come from. People don’t have time for that. Get to the point or go publish a book.
  7. Writing out my ideas has helped me communicate more effectively. That’s great that you understand a complex topic or have something interesting to say, but making someone else understand or care about it is hard. The best stories and ideas often look easy on paper, but that’s because you are reading the 8th iteration of them. Everybody writes. Be they emails at work, a note in a birthday card, or letters to my Homeowner’s Association demanding that they allow me to keep free-range chickens in the common areas. Therefore, everybody can benefit from getting better at writing.
  8. I’ve learned a lot more about things I thought I knew well. If you think you know about a topic, write 1,000 coherent and persuasive words about it. You might reconsider.
  9. Communities are awesome. After posting my 40th article, someone at All-Star Money from The Motley Fool decided I had something worth sharing with their incredible personal finance community. More people visited my blog that day than the previous 10 months combined. I used this as fuel to sharpen my pencil (keyboard) and put more effort into my content. I also doubled-down on community-related outreach like reading other blogs, commenting, and encouraging other writers.
  10. Doors will open. If you continue to show up, improve, and provide value, someone will notice and reward you for it. Packy McCormick explains this better than I could in his post, The Great Online Game. By having this blog as a passion project and a virtual business card, I was able to find a company that now pays me to write freelance articles for them on the weekends.

I am still in awe that all of this is possible. Thanks, Internet.

I could write a whole different post about what I’ve learned by having a personal finance Instagram account. And I probably will.

Until then.

More reading:

You Don’t Need to Invest in AI to Invest in AI

Not using artificial intelligence tools in life will be like not using a calculator in math class. Sure you can do it, but almost no one will because it will be impractical and put you at a disadvantage to everyone else. Here’s how you can invest in the AI revolution. (6 min read)

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

Thinking about the world in a different way is almost impossible, especially as we get older. Four lessons on finance and life from a culture very different than your own. (5 min read)

10 thoughts

  1. Keep swimming indeed! We’re on pretty similar blog timelines (one year for me was in June). Plus, both of our most recent posts included Mitch Hedberg references!

    Awesome to hear about the freelance gig as well. Keep up the great work!

    1. Congrats my friend! Did you find many of these things to be true for you as well? Anything you’d add? Sometimes I do wonder how similar my experience has been.

      1. Absolutely–almost all of them. I haven’t told anyone in my close circle that I’ve been secretly blogging about personal finance (NERD!), but otherwise have experienced these across the board. What it’s really good for is learning about new topics, as you mentioned. I’ll start out with a question and have a vague answer to it, but doing a little bit of research uncovers a lot of nuggets I was previously unaware of.

        The community is awesome and I’ve been aided by some link sharing myself, along with a couple lucky Google hits that keep that traffic flowing fairly steadily (I don’t know anything about, nor try to optimize SEO other than what the Yoast SEO plug-in tells me on WordPress.

        I like challenging myself to a minimum of three posts per month–which doesn’t sound like much, but has of course meant that I am guaranteed for a post on the last day of the month to meet my arbitrary quota haha. With a full-time job and non-blogging hobbies, it isn’t always easy to sit down and hammer out a post, even if there’s a topic I’ve looked forward to writing about.

        Looking forward to what’s ahead!

      2. It is absolutely fascinating that you haven’t told anyone in your close circle about your blog. You’re like a personal finance Batman! I am right there with you on the full time job plus other obligations and interests though. Your passion comes through in your writing which I am sure makes it a bit more enjoyable to carve out time for this.

        Keep up the excellent work, my friend!

  2. Hi Kevin,

    Came here via Ben from “A Wealth of Common Sense.”

    Loved your authentic sharing and also your recent one about “Stay Skeptical of Personal Finance Gurus”

    Took me almost seven years to make it to All-Star Money, and your post just made me a bit nostalgic reflecting on my own journey.

    Keep up the amazing work, and I wish you all the best!

    – Aaron from Malaysia –

    1. Thank you, Aaron! Appreciate you taking a moment to say this. I am humbled by your dedication and hope in 7 or 8 years I am leaving similar reflections on some other content creator’s product!

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