What I Learned in three years blogging about personal finance

This past Saturday marked three years since I started this blog. It’s Debt Roundup’s third anniversary, but it feels much longer than that. It’s probably because I’ve been blogging for eleven years, just not on here. Either way, I’m really happy to reach this mark and even more excited about what the next year will bring. Each year has been better and better on here, so who knows what will happen. I’m just glad to be along for the ride. I hope you are as well!

I can honest say that blogging isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It takes a lot of effort to keep a blog going. I have three staff writers who pump out articles each month. I couldn’t do a lot of things without them. The time commitment alone for running a blog is tiring. Just ask any blogger who has been at it for more than a few months. We are the best people to ask before you jump into blogging yourself. We can give you a true rundown of what we do, how we do it, and why. These are all important aspects of blogging. ┬áToday, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned while blogging about personal finance for the past three years. It’s been quite a bit, but I want share it all.

What I’ve Learned in the Past Three Years Blogging

This site started out of the desire for me to share my story. I had just paid off my last credit card (four years of debt repayment) and I wanted to let the world know it. What better way than put it on the internet? I figured I could share my journey to get out of debt and hopefully inspire someone else to do it. I’m no one special, but I do have passion for goals and getting things done. This is why my debt had to go. $50,000 worth of credit card debt later, this site was born.

Before we begin, you must know that you can’t make money from blogging or even learn anything unless you start a blog. Take a moment to read over my free guide to help you start a blog today.

Money is a Sensitive Subject

Talking about personal finance can get you loved or hated, sometimes even both! I have some posts that really riled up the crowd and then others that people loved. I don’t mind dropping some controversy here and there to get my point across (this is an example), but I try to stay away from politics and religion. I don’t want to get into that on this blog because there are so many opinions.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that some people are really attached to their money and they way they handle it. You can show them they are doing something incorrectly, which is resulting in them losing money, but they don’t care. You can only bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

This site is here for knowledge and to show that a normal person can make a huge change in their finances. I was a massive spender, but then changed my ways and I’m saving more than I ever have. My wife and I have grown our net worth into positive territory and it feels good. It feels really good!

I try to provide people with ways to make a change and some people will grab on and others will complain. I have a thick skin, so I’m OK with it, but I’ve learned there are so many emotions behind our money decisions. It’s not even funny!

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New

Over the past three years, I have been introduced to many different ideas surrounding money. I have also been introduced to a number of cool and not-so-cool services to help with money. When I first started this blog, I was hesitant to jump into a new service or try a new idea. I wanted to fix my money situation on its own, but I was doing it all wrong. I was trying to play a game of finance with myself. I was never going to win.

There are so many people out there who have tried this and that and can give honest feedback. I would have never tried and fell in love with Betterment had it not been for another personal finance blogger. Same thing with Digit and Personal Capital. These services have changed my financial life and I couldn’t be happier. I’m more in the game now and try out different things as they come. I feel I can provide this same information to others as they search for help.

I just ask you to think about what someone else is saying, analyze their points, but make your own conclusions. Don’t be afraid to try something new and always be willing to jump in with both feet if the opportunity knocks.

The Key to a Successful Blog is Networking

I ran the first few months on my blog as I was trying to tweak and make the site something I enjoyed. I had a lot of stories to tell, but wasn’t sure how to get them out there. I joined Twitter and Facebook. I started following other personal finance bloggers. Low and behold, they started following me back.

There are a lot of ways to start and grow a blog, but if you want to be successful, you need to network with your fellow bloggers. While it doesn’t really matter if you don’t network with those in your niche, it’s important to just speak to other bloggers. They can give you advice and give you access to their connections. It’s how you network before the creation of LinkedIn.

Debt Roundup didn’t start seeing traffic until I took the time to get to know the other bloggers in my niche (personal finance) and read their stuff. I shared their articles on my social media profiles. I commented on their posts and interacted with them. This was a key for this site. Without those connections, Debt Roundup would be nothing today. For that, I thank all of the personal finance bloggers out there. See you at FinCon!

Never, ever neglect the networking aspect of blogging. Yes, some niches aren’t as nice to each other or reach out as much, but do yourself a favor and talk to others around you. Get to know them, email them on a regular basis. You never know who they know and that’s what’s important. You build your network and soon you can get access to your network’s network. It’s a power little pyramid scheme with no selling!

Don’t Neglect the Tech Side of Blogging

As I’ve been playing with this blogging thing for eleven years, I have some experience. Hell, I coded my first website from scratch when I built my e-commerce company. While I did end up shutting that down, the knowledge I gained from that was invaluable. I can never take that back, no matter what happened with the business.

Since getting my hands on a coding book, I have been hooked. While I’m not developer and don’t pretend to be one, the technical aspects of blogging intrigue me. I built this website by myself, minus the logo. I tweaked themes to go the way I wanted them to and used plugins to manipulate other aspects of the blog. I like getting my hands dirty. It’s been great for me considering there are technical challenges to blogging that many don’t realize.

With the advancement of WordPress (the platform I recommend to any blogger), it’s become so much easier for someone to get started. All you need is a hosting plan, a domain, and you can have you own self-hosted blog in the matter of minutes. Seriously, just minutes (check out my free beginner’s guide).

Though it only takes minutes to get the site started, there are a number of other aspects which people don’t realize. Plugins don’t always play nice with themes. You always need to backup your work.

When it’s time for updates to go around, many bloggers don’t backup their sites before hitting the easy update button. This is a no-no and can lead to disaster if you’re not careful.

Over the past three years, I have seen a need from many bloggers in the personal finance space, but also many outside of it. I started helping other bloggers with their technical issues and it’s grown over the years. Last years, I relaunched my business, iMark Interactive, as a way to fill this void. Over the past year, I have created services to help out those who aren’t technically inclined. I offer monthly blog maintenance and support, but also many other aspects of blogging that can help someone get a new feature installed, migrate a site to a new host, create and install a new blog from scratch, and many other things.

The business is growing rapidly and I couldn’t have done it without this blog and my passion for helping others.

Shameless plug: If you need technical assistance with your blog/site, please contact me. I’d be happy to help!

If You Want to Make Money, Diversify!

Truth be told, there is money to be made in blogging. It’s not quick and easy money, but there is money to be made. I started making money about four months into this blog. It wasn’t much, but it was something. My income from this blog and the opportunities it provided has grown substantially over the years. The main reason this is the case is due to diversification.

Never put all of your eggs in one basket. This is good for many aspects in life, including investing!

When you’re making money from a blog, then you need to diversify your revenue streams. Don’t ever just rely on one thing. That can go away in a heartbeat and you’d be done. I like to diversify with direct ads, advertising networks, affiliate programs, email newsletters, and freelance services.

Don’t be afraid to use your blog as a great resume. I’ve landed a number of good freelance writing gigs because of Debt Roundup. I wouldn’t be writing on other sites if it weren’t for this blog. I consider that part of my income strategy. Use your blog to your advantage. Same reason why I started a blog management and technical services business. My blog gave me the opportunity to show others what I can do.

If you want to earn money blogging, make sure you spend time to develop multiple revenue streams. You’ll thank yourself later down the road.

While there are many other aspects of blogging I have learned since starting Debt Roundup, this post has gotten a little long for my taste. With that, I will bid you farewell and I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day. Make sure to take some time to check out my other awesome articles and the resources and tools I have found and used over the years.

If you’re a blogger, what is one thing you learned since you started blogging?

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9 Comments

  1. Three years! Good job Grayson. Nice learning there. For me, what I learn is that in blogging on personal finance, audience is a big factor and plays a big role as to how I put an angle in my story/post. Congrats!

  2. Thank you for sharing these lessons learned. I’m still in the early days of my blog so I really enjoy hearing what has worked well for more established bloggers. I know how important networking is, in particular, but it is something that is hard for me personally. Based on your advice though I can see that it is something I really need to work on if I want to build a credible blog.

  3. Congrats on all your success! I’ve learned to step outside my comfort zone a bit to try various writing styles. I’ve also learned that bloggers need help with this sites, and I’ve been able to help several given my experience as a technical SEO.

  4. Congrats on your blogging anniversary! I have learned a ton in my blogging time too and some of it has been thanks to you. Thanks for sharing your lessons with us! I hope we cross paths at FinCon!

  5. Congratulations on your three-year anniversary! I have been blogging for five years and started my own blog last year, but I went into technical issue of the site and the design part of it. I finally restarted my blog this month, which it was technically new. I would say Personal Finance wasn’t something new but it was new to me since I will be writing and focusing on this niche. Blogging isn’t easy, yes, especially when someone who started just now would learn twice much than most bloggers out there. This is a very helpful post to me since not only this is my first time visiting your blog but I also learned something from this post.

    Cheers!

  6. My PF blog is gonna be a year old this autumn, so very very young. My Romanian blog is almost 9 years old though and this helped me learn a lot of stuff indeed. Things I am now trying to apply to my new ‘baby’.

    Congratulations for your 3 years and the blog.I really enjoy reading it and it’s one of the first I visit every time I have some spare minutes to read.

  7. Budgeting is a useful activity that we should do and follow it. Managing business is about using all of your skills to manage that business for success. Which means you can also benefit from all those personal lessens you have developed over the years like budgeting. In business, many a times you will find that your expenses outweigh revenue, at that time, you can think about small business finances.