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Last year, after we’d left our jobs and travelled the world for a whole year, I decided to start a blog.
I had been getting an earful from my parents about what idiots we were for not buying a house. And I could see that many of my friends, Millennials and Gen-Y’ers who had followed the “tried and true” Boomer advice of buying a house in Toronto were up to their eyeballs in debt and stressed out of their minds.
And having seen first hand the Boomer dream turn into a nightmare, my clueless co-workers working themselves to death at a stressful and unstable job, I realized how many people were trapped in these “lives of quiet desperation”. I knew exactly where they were coming from. After all, I had been working the same stressful job and wondering “is this it? Is this TPS report the last thing I’ll remember before I die?”
Luckily, after achieving financial independence, I was able to get off the hamster wheel and overhaul my life.
But it didn’t matter how many times I told friends and family about how much FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) has changed my life, they quickly dismiss it and continue complaining about their stressful jobs, lack of fulfilment, and record-levels of debt.
So the idea of starting a blog to capture not just everything we learned on our way to financial independence, but also new discoveries from our world travels really appealed to me. Even if we couldn’t change our friends and family’s opinions about FIRE, at least we’d meet some like-minded friends along the way.
As it turns out, we didn’t just meet a “few” like-minded people. Since the birth of this blog 1 year ago, we’ve had 243,000 unique readers stop by, and 1.63 Million page views!
Which is insane when I think about it, because I almost quit before I even wrote my first word.
Something that people don’t know about writers is our crippling insecurity. We tend to agonize over every word and question everything we write ALL THE TIME. No matter how many articles or books we publish, that insecurity is always there, following us around like a creepy stalker, whispering, “This is it. This is the time they’re going to find out you’re a fraud.” I can’t tell you how many times my finger hovered over the delete button on articles I spent hours working on, because I was sure “it wasn’t good enough.”
Luckily, Wanderer, my better half and eternal optimist, reminded me of the real reason I wanted to start a blog wasn’t to produce flawless articles. It was to do what I love.
Without selling out. Without caring about success or failure. Without needing approval. Because FI gives us that freedom. The freedom to be my authentic self. Warts, freckles, and all.
And so one year ago, I bit my lip, squeezed my eyes shut, and hit publish on our first article.
Since then, Wanderer and I have collectively written 170 posts, over 140,000 words and along with the community on this blog, generated 6000 comments.
Since an average Young Adult novel is around 70,000 words, that’s 2 full novels we’ve written in just 1 year! Thus providing that small, incremental efforts over time produces BIG results.
So, on the anniversary of the Millennial Revolution, I’d like to share with you what I learned from 1 year of blogging:
Stick to a Schedule
This might be the best or worst part of blogging, depending on your personality.
If you enjoy writing, sticking to blogging schedule will ROCK, but if you don’t, it will SUCK, and likely you will bail the second anything remotely interesting is playing on Netflix.
Love it or hate it, sticking to a schedule is vital to your blog’s success. It sets up the expectations that you’re a serious blogger, and lets readers know there’s a regular scheduled program they can come back to. Plus, it lets you come up with fun names for publishing days of the week. Like Mayhem Mondays. Wealthy Wednesdays…or FreakingOutBecauseIHaveNoIdeaWhatToWriteSoI’mHidingUnderMyBedStuffingMyFaceWithCheeseFridays
Let Out The Crazy
Try this. Go to your best friend or significant other and start talking like a) a politician, b) a robot, or c) a data wonk
See how long it takes for them to slowly back away from you, and ask whether you need to take your crazy pills from a safe distance.
This is because humans are the best bullshit detectors there are. We don’t like fakeness and we are very good at detecting people who are pretending to be something they’re not.
People connect with other people. Living, breathing, authentic people. So don’t be afraid to let out the cray cray. By being yourself, you end up putting people at ease because they know you’re human, not a cyborg.
Unless, you’re really REALLY boring. In that case, don’t be yourself. Be a unicorn.
Laugh At Your Own Insanity
Humans are naturally competitive creatures. We are constantly comparing and one-upping each other on a daily basis. That’s why we like other people we can relate to. People who are down to earth and not with their ass firmly planted high up on an untouchable pedestal.
That’s why you will be more likeable as a blogger if you can learn to laugh at yourself from time to time and not take yourself too seriously. No one is perfect, and no one is better than anyone else. We are all full of flaws and insecurities. That’s what makes us human. Expose those flaws and have a laugh at your own expense. This helps people realize that, like them, you are not perfect and relate to you better.
Plus, people who are perfect all the time are creepy…and kind of make you want to pry their face off with a crowbar to see where all their wires are hidden. Or…is that just me?
Anyway, what were we talking about? Something about insanity?
Social Media, Social Media, Social Media
As Millennials, we constantly get flak for our obsession with social media.
But what the Boomers don’t know is that Social Media is the number one tool for getting our brand out there. Through Social Media, I’ve meet other wonderful bloggers like J.Money, Financial Samurai, JLCollins, MadFientist, RootofGood, and GoCurryCracker, many of whom have posted my articles, written guest posts, or asked me to guest post on their blogs. This kind of exposure is priceless, and that’s not even mentioning the friendships I’ve made along the way. Especially since no one ever succeeds in a vacuum. You NEED to learn and grow from interacting from other bloggers.
So get out there, get on social media, and get to know your fellow bloggers by reading and commenting on their posts. Who knows? Maybe one of the cool kids will feature you, thereby making you cool by association. Just remember that joining the cool kids at FI Club comes with rules. To quote the GodFather of FI, JLCollins:
Rule #1 of FI Club. You Do Not Talk about FI Club.
Rule #2? See Rule #1.
Teflon Up Your Skin
Elbert Hubbard once said “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”
In order to have a successful blog, you HAVE to step outside your comfort zone. You’re going to get haters. You’re going to get critics. If you’re going to create anything, you HAVE to grow an impenetrable skin.
If you crumble or hide every time the critics come out, blogging is not for you.
Your love of writing and connecting with the FI community MUST be greater than your fear of the haters. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose steam and give up.
That’s not to say you should always ignore critics and never listen to feedback. It just means you need to be selective. Basically, I like to follow the advice from author Brene Brown:
If you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.
What she is saying here is that by creating anything, we are opening ourselves up to ridicule. It takes a ton of courage to forgo comfort, step into the arena, create something and be vulnerable. And if our critics don’t have the courage to create something themselves, step into the arena with us, and be ridiculed, then their opinions don’t matter.
So there you have it. I’m not an expert blogger by any means, but this year of blogging, interacting with readers, and learning from other bloggers has taught me a lot. And I don’t regret it for a second.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog but were too afraid to, ask yourself these questions:
1) Do I like to Write?
2) Can I stick to a blogging schedule?
3) Do I have a thick skin?
4) Do I like interacting with commenters?
5) Will I continue blogging even if the blog doesn’t make money?
6) Do I have something useful to teach others?
If you answered “yes” to most of these, then blogging is for you! And if you do decide to take a plunge, feel free to use our web-host Bluehost. We’ve been with them for multiple website over about 2 years and they’ve been great, so check them out! This is an affiliate link, but again we never recommend products unless we use them ourselves.
If not, no biggy. Continue spending your time on the things you love instead.
So yeah, that’s our first year of blogging. To all the readers out there who stuck with us despite (or perhaps because of) the crazy, thank you all for joining us on our crazy adventure. We couldn’t have done it without you.