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Lessons After One Year of Blogging

August 18, 2018


Yes, that’s right, this blog is now just past its 1st Birthday!

For the regular readers, you’ll probably remember how it started.  Back in April last year, after a few refreshing months into early retirement, I decided to give myself a little hobby to work on.

I’d been happily scribbling down plenty of notes and post ideas, thinking “I may do it someday.”  But after procrastinating for a while, I just realised I should jump in and get started.  And here we are.

Now, I’ll let you in on a secret…

I was a bit scared I’d run out of things to say!  But the truth is, there’s now more post ideas outstanding than when I first started!

Anyway, here’s my thoughts after my first year-and-a-bit of writing this blog…

 

Lesson #1 – Writing is super hard!

I know some bloggers make it look incredibly easy and they can effortlessly make us laugh, feel entertained and enlightened all at the same time.  And do it with only a fraction of the words that some waffling bloggers (like me) do.

But it’s true.  Writing is harder than I expected.

First, there’s the discipline to work on it regularly and avoid falling into a never-ending spiral of excuses.

Then there’s getting it to make sense.  It’s like having a conversation with somebody, where you know what you want to say, but you can’t find the words.  And it’s not sounding right, so the other person stares at you blankly or raises an eyebrow!

Same with blogging.  Some things sound great in your head, not so good on paper (screen?).

I now appreciate books and bloggers so much more since being on the other side.  This is a definite skill, and something I’ll continue to work on.

 

Lesson #2 – Everyone is different

What I mean is, everyone’s circumstances are different.  We’re all coming from previous upbringings with different beliefs and attitudes toward spending, investing and debt.

So it goes without saying, that what’s on this blog, will most certainly not suit everyone.  There’s no one-size fits all.  But hopefully it suits some of you!

My ideas are just that, my ideas.  And they’re not written in stone.  I change my mind about certain things if I’m convinced strongly enough by new information.  As learning is a lifelong endeavour, I hope you do the same.

Some readers will just take a few snippets or pieces from this blog, and apply it to suit their own situation.  If it helps in some small way, that’s great!

This blog will never attempt to be all things to all people.

 

Lesson #3 – You never know what’ll happen once you hit publish!

This one is more entertaining than anything.  It’s interesting to watch unfold in real-time, which posts get the most love and which get…less love.

Back at the start, there were a few posts which got slapped around a bit on Reddit.  While I can’t remember which ones, I suspect it was because I had the audacity to suggest something other than 100%-global-index-funds-and-bonds-for-everyone-all-the-time.

The point is, you can’t know in advance what everyone will think of your posts, which is kinda scary but fun at the same time.

Nowadays things are a lot calmer.  For some reason, the dividend growth approach, or my blog in general, is becoming more accepted as maybe not being complete bullshit, which is nice 🙂

The irony is this approach can also be applied with index funds, so there’s not much to argue about.

Going forward, I continue to cross fingers that each post receives more love than not!

 

Lesson #4 – Whatever you’re into, others are too

No matter what kind of crazy, off-centre, questionable things you’re into, the magic of the internet means you’ll find tons of people like you.

So it’s just a case of finding the right people to connect with.  Just like in real life, finding your group of like-minded friends to hang out with, we can do the same with blogs.

I’m grateful that you guys come here to hang out and mingle with others who have similar goals and priorities.  Hopefully you learn a little and have some fun too!

The Financial Independence space in Australia is really gaining traction in the last 6 months or so, which is incredible.  It’s awesome that awareness is rising and hopefully this encourages more people, young and older, to take their finances more seriously.

 

Lesson #5 – Feedback is invaluable

It’s amazing to receive feedback and comments about your writing.

Even negative feedback can be useful!  It makes you think whether you can deliver your message better.  Most times the answer is yes.

Also it pushes you to think from another angle and question your views.

Nice feedback is better of course and I really appreciate all the positive comments here on the blog!  Knowing that you’ve enjoyed a post or got something out of it motivates me to keep writing.

 

Lesson #6 – A blog needs a human

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a lifeless, monotonous, machine-like blog.

You know the ones, the mass media pump out tons of this nonsense daily.  Each article with no real story, no opinion, nothing important to say.  Just un-actionable, meatless articles, complete with click-bait title.

Promise the world and deliver nothing must be the strategy.

The lesson is this – a blog without a personality or human feel, is boring.

I know the books and blogs I enjoy the most, are the ones where I feel like I know the writer.  And after a while you can almost guess what they’re going to say.

Maybe I’m strange, but I like an author with a repetitive message.  The core principles of a blog or book’s message shouldn’t change.

And a blogger needs to be human, with flaws and mistakes, sharing with us what they’ve learned.  This makes it a much more genuine, real-life experience.

Also, I like blogs with a balance of articles.  So I’ll try to keep a good array of posts going forward.  I know some of you probably want to read LIC Reviews or dividend posts every week, while others will want more personal stories and some will crave numbers or strategy posts.

To keep it interesting, we’ll just do all of it!

 

Lesson #7 – Readers are the energy of a good blog

No I’m not sucking up.  It’s the truth.

This ties in with Lesson #5.  Without a great bunch of readers who stick around to comment or offer post ideas, the blogger is pretty much lost.

Engaged readers are the ones who keep the discussion going, help create new ideas and let the blogger know whether he’s doing a good job or not.

Blogging before reaching this stage is a lonely existence.  So I thank you for all the feedback, comments and emails, because it helps to (hopefully) make this blog better for everyone.

 

Final Thoughts

This post was perhaps a bit selfish, being more about me than it is about you.  But I found it interesting to look back and see what I’ve learned over this past year or so.

As I said, there’s more ideas now than when I started.  So far it’s been a lot of fun.  And the best part is, we’re just warming up our financial muscles, here at Strong Money!

Remember, before you can build financial strength, you need to warm up and have your strength-building plan in place.

For us, that’s a sensible low-cost lifestyle, which is built on a life philosophy that happiness doesn’t come from uninterrupted consumption, but from far more important things.  Next, is a simple and effective investment strategy to meet our goals.  And finally, the discipline to stay focused and stick with our plan.

We’ll be diving further into these topics and many more over the next year.  Again, thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned!

48 Comments

48 Replies to “Lessons After One Year of Blogging”

  1. I was nodding to myself that whole way through this post – ain’t it all the truth!

    Lesson #4 is the big one for me. When we went from being crazy consumerist debt ridden shallow heaps of people to trying to be a little more frugal, we stumbled over Down To Earth blog ….. and boom – a whole world of encouraging frugal (yet thoroughly normal) people became our new tribe cheering us along.

    Much later on when we became debt free and started looking at all our savings and pondering the concept of investing, I bit the bullet and dived in the deep end of investment self-education (complete with some disasters!) and slowly the teachers and the community emerged. To start with Barefoot Investor and then more and more Australian writers on investing …. then refining it slowly down to the Thornhill message (which in itself is pretty much how my forebears invested too it turns out) .

    These days I just stick to bloggers and vloggers that are actually DOING what they are preaching and have skin in the game. Your one of those Dave and I’m super glad I found your writings here and in other places.

    Everyone needs a tribe of sorts.

    Phil

    1. Thanks Phil, interesting to know you’ve experienced all this too!

      I think one of the best parts of the FI scene is the vast majority of the crowd is really supportive, positive, energetic and passionate people who are happy to welcome newbies and everyone shares their experience and knowledge so openly.

      I love the ‘old fashioned’ attitudes to investing and money management, I never tire of reading about it and the best lessons rarely change. Reading a book by John Bogle at the moment, has a ton of this old fashioned common sense sprinkled through. I enjoy your writing for the same style of messages 🙂

  2. Glad to hear that you had some paranoia starting off,makes me feel better as I have trouble just posting a simple reply!! My attitude likely comes from a long held belief that ‘it’s better to keep one’s mouth shut & have people think you’re a fool than to open it & prove it beyond all doubt’. A response to myself only here by the way.
    Another great post Dave thus showing once again that you are no fool.

    1. Good comment, cheers monk.
      Haha I like that saying! I think it’s generally better to be quiet if you really aren’t contributing to a conversation (being negative for example), but I think it’s only an issue if someone is trying to act like they know everything. If it’s just somewhere genuinely sharing a view and has a little humility about it or at least doesn’t take themselves too seriously, then it’s all good 🙂

  3. Big congrats on 1 year Dave. Stumbling across this website has provided me with a lot of new great ideas that I have already started ti implement. Thanks again Dave and hopefully you keep it going.

    1. Thanks Jason! Will definitely keep it going, far too many ideas/topics still left completely unmentioned. As long as people like you keep reading it, I’ll keep writing 🙂

  4. Not a bad list of takeaways after a year of blogging.
    My FI/Re blog is new, but I’ve been blogging on my personal blog for 11 years now. I was nodding as I was reading your post.
    I’d add that comments make a blogger’s heart sing. It’s great to get feedback and it makes coming back to the keyboard to write the next post easier and easier if you know people are enjoying your posts.

    1. Very true Frogdancer, without the comments or feedback there’s really no way of knowing whether it’s worth it or not 🙂

  5. Congratulations on your 1st birthday. Love reading your new posts and also reading over past posts . The dividend approach makes so much sense after reading your blog. Long may they continue. (For selfish reasons) ????

  6. Congratulations!

    I know from experience how hard it is to keep a blog running, I’m pretty sure 80 – 90% fail before their first year so that alone is something to be proud of. And the fact it’s such a great, informative blog is too!

    Looking forward to many more years of Strong Money Australia.

    1. That statistic sounds about right, probably lots of reasons for that. I appreciate the encouragement!

  7. I fully agree with your statement about a low cost lifestyle and that happiness isn’t a product of uninterrupted consumption.Greed is corrosive.
    Your blogs are so readable and make real sense. I’m an LIC devotee so franked dividends are my default position

  8. Dave,

    Big congratulations!

    I have been following for a few months, but have gone back and read most posts. I am relatively new to the whole investing game so I find the journey and lessons learned incredibly informative and helpful.

    Despite being from I think quite a different background and circumstance, the broad principles which are at your core resonate with me entirely; watch your spending, maximise saving and invest for the long term with a dividend focus. I am a total Thornhill convert. (Probably my favourite post and have since read his book) I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on my own circumstances – happy to provide info for a case study if it is of interest. I only seek FI, not RE – I love my job but just want to work and retire on my terms.

    Following the virtues of simplicity and patience doesn’t mean everything is not considered deeply.

    Well done and keep it up!

    1. Glad to hear it’s reasonating with you SJ. Happy to consider a case study, just get in touch through my contact page (bare in mind I have a bit of a case study backlog at the moment so may not be super quick in getting back to you) 🙂

      Well said, I actually think by keeping things simple it allows you the energy to think more deeply about it.

  9. Keep up the great work Dave. Your blog is my favourite new find this year. Straight talking and clearly laid out concepts. In fact, you totally changed my perception and understanding of the benefits of investing in listed investment companies back in March. They have now become my main focus for generating long-term cashflow. Cheers

  10. Happy First Birthday 🙂
    I have found your blog to be incredibly well written, well researched and informative.
    I am wondering when you will start writing the book 😉
    I have 3 sons around your age and have directed all of them to the blog.
    Great work Dave.

    1. Thank you Caroline, and for recommending your sons visit also!
      Haha there’s no book plans. But maybe if I start getting a lot of bad yet valuable feedback that the blog is too messy and it’s hard to find the good stuff…later once everything’s been covered, if there is genuine demand for an organised but lengthy summary then I can look into it.

  11. Hey Dave, congrats on a year of blogging! I’m really surprised it’s only a year – you already seem like a veteran of the Aussie investment blogging world, with some great insights and well laid out logic.

    Glad to hear you’re just starting to flex your muscles – look forward to seeing what the next few years bring!

    Cheers, Frankie

    1. Cheers Frankie, I’m looking forward to it too.
      Haha a veteran, hardly! Still very much a beginner in many aspects. Thanks though 😉

  12. Thanks for sharing this advice – I started my own blog not too long ago and I’ll be checking back on this page every now and then for advice and motivation. It’s useful having this list because it may help me avoid some of the issues or mistakes that happen with launching a new blog and maintaining it!

    1. That’s great beatingthebears, glad it’s helpful for you! It can be a bit overwhelming with a new blog on which direction to take it and dealing with feedback – all we can do is learn as we go, keep at it and try to improve 🙂

  13. Dave I love your blog. Like Scott above, I’ve changed my whole investing approach due to your LIC articles. Thanks for your down to earth and accessible writing style. Please keep at it! Cheers Leonie

  14. Congratulations on one year in!

    I’ve never seen the sense in knocking an author around just because they don’t agree with the author’s opinion. Everyone has different opinions and different methods. This “Mine is the best way” mentality on the internet is getting too intense.

    In regards to your example, I was massively on board with the global index funds and a little bit of bonds. Then I started reading this blog and thought “ok, that sounds good too.” So now I have both LICs and index funds. Why just shoot another opinion down when you can use it as well and see for yourself?

    1. I appreciate the comment Luke – I think the same way. If I read a blog/book/news article/whatever that isn’t for me, I just close it and move on, even if I think it’s rubbish.

      What a waste of time to get involved in ‘comment wars’ to win an argument. Debate is one thing, but most of the time it’s just slamming others lol. Most likely it’s a psychology thing – people wanting to feel superior by putting others down, the old bully at school thing, and because it’s online there’s no consequences.

      You sum it up well, it pays to be open minded and learn from each other, then we can adopt for ourselves whichever things make the most sense to us 🙂

  15. Congrats on your First Birthday!
    I’m really glad you realised that blogging was hard but you kept doing it anyway. I love reading your posts and have learnt a lot in just a year.
    I look forward to many more to come – so keep up the great work (please :))

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Miss B!
      Will try to keep stringing words together in a way that makes sense 😉

  16. Great reading and good to see the community is growing. Question for you Dave and/or other readers – what app do you use to track your financials? Looks like Mint is great but US only. Is there an app anyone recommends that does more than budgeting i.e. net wealth?

    1. Hi Ferris. I don’t use any apps to track my financials. Mint looks good as you say but only for US. Haven’t tried any here as they don’t seem to look as good, or as simple, or they’re a paid product.

      I just keep it simple with the old spreadsheet 🙂

    2. I found ShareSight recently – for stocks only. The basic version is free and includes up to 10 holdings in one portfolio. Other paid options with greater capabilities. It seems quite neat, shows dividend and capital gains tracking and produces reports such as an annual tax statement.

      It has a desktop/browser version and an app.

      1. Yes I second Sharesight – it’s quite easy to use and although not perfect, does the job well.

        1. Looks like combo of sharesight and pocketbook then for me. I currently use pocketbook and have an excel sheet currently pulling google finance feeds but was hoping for a onestop shop for my total financial position. If anyone does it differently love to hear more…

  17. very good work and not surprised. what you write about is quality and back up with facts.
    2 questions:
    – how many readers do you have if you don t mind me asking
    – where do you see most readers coming from or referred from?

    1. Thanks Grogounet 🙂

      I’m not sure how many exact readers there are, but pageviews this month has averaged 1100 per day, which seems to creep upwards each month – must be going to max out soon!
      And a very large percentage are from Australia, as you might imagine since this blog is very locally focused. I don’t expect to get many readers from elsewhere for this reason.

  18. Hi Dave

    Congrats on the first year anniversary! I can’t remember how I stumble on this but, I am really glad I did and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience and journey with us.
    Hope to continue reading your blog (quietly) for many years to come and learning as always.

  19. Congratulations on your blog’s 1st Birthday.
    I have just found it a week ago and It has been an eye-opener. Trying to catch up with all the information presented.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences which teach us how to get to the so dreamed of Finance Independence.
    Great work!

  20. Congratulations Dave on the 1 year blog anniversary!!

    Since only discovering your blog just over a month ago and been binge reading everything ever since! As many others have mentioned, your posts and information are all incredibly informative and really easy to relate too and understand! Plus there is a great community and like-minded people that are following and on the same journey!

    Thank you for sharing everything and we are all looking forward to reading many more future posts 🙂

    1. Cheers mate, I appreciate the kind feedback 🙂

      Haha and thanks for binge reading the blog! It’s great to have you here as part of the community – we’re lucky to have such a great group of people spurring each other on!

  21. Happy belated blogoversary, Dave! (There’s always that one friend that forgets. This year, I’m she). Best part – “A blog needs a human”. Definitely.

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