The first post I ever wrote for Debts To Riches was Above Average, At Least In Student Loan Debt on July 11, 2017. At the time, I was writing almost entirely for myself and only partially for a vague potential future audience. I had been living my debt free journey online mostly through the Instagram #debtfreecommunity throughout 2017 and found that I couldn’t fully express this process I was going through in just pictures and short quotes.
When I didn’t abandon blogging after the first couple of posts (I’m a dedicated serial quitter), I decided to migrate the site from the WordPress domain to its own debtstoriches.com domain on August 2, 2017 and put a little more effort into writing and engaging with the personal finance community. Don’t worry, I didn’t lose too many stats – I’m pretty sure I was the only one viewing my blog up to that point!
I think one of the reasons that blogging has been so interesting for me is that I have zero experience doing it! I had a very primitive understanding of HTML, but everything else has been this completely new adventure. I started with a basic WordPress template and a few experiences to write about, but everything else I just picked up along the way. I taught myself how to change certain settings or create images just by trial and error and searching for tutorials. I still don’t really know much about SEO, plugins, marketing, branding, or.. anything it feels like.
That’s why I was so shocked to hit 7,000+ page views in August! You mean 4,469 people actually wanted to read something I wrote?! I haven’t even done anything yet! This isn’t one of those blogs that started from ‘How I Paid Off $100,000 in 2 Years By Selling Pet Rocks’ or ’30 Year Old Millionaire With 5 Kids Retires To Travel The World.’ I’m just starting out on my debt free journey, I have no background in personal finance whatsoever, and I still feel like a complete beginner when it comes to so many things. I didn’t really expect this blog to get much attention at all until I was close to paying off my debt, but.. here we are!
Thank you so much to everyone who’s been following along on this random experiment of mine! I’ve had an incredible amount of fun discovering so many new blogs and podcasts, and connecting with people from around the world that are paying off their debt and finding financial independence!
I’ve been reflecting on my first month of blogging, and these are my takeaways if you’re interested in starting your own blog, or connecting more with your audience.
- Have $130,000 in student loan debt. (Just kidding.) I do think there’s always a place for storytellers out in the blogging world though. All of my favorite blogs are the ones that are personal and touch on real day-to-day struggles rather than general how-to guides that could be written by anyone. It’s fun to read the guides too, but most of the time I just want to hear about your life!
- A genuine interest in personal finance, debt, financial independence, or whatever your blog is about. This blog never feels like work to me. I haven’t monetized it, and I didn’t start writing for the search engines and affiliate links. I write as an outlet and a way to motivate myself through this process. When you’re writing because you truly enjoy it and not because you want the traffic, I think that shows in your style.
- A passion for connecting with and encouraging others. I comment on other blogs and interact with everyone on social media because there are some f*cking amazing people out there doing epic things and I love watching them crush their goals. Generic comments and auto-replies have their place, but they don’t build community.
- Connecting has the added advantage of helping you find your tribe. I found out about the Rockstar Finance Directory, which has been my hands down number one source of traffic, when someone posted about it on Instagram! That one post led me to the directory, which led me to so many other amazing personal finance blogs, and then to the forums, and then to the personal finance community on Twitter. If you can believe it, I didn’t even have a Twitter account until a couple of weeks ago..
- Finally, if you’re like me and you don’t have any set direction for your blog or preconceived notions about promotion or material, you can write whatever the f*ck you want. Occasionally that produces interesting content. A few days after I joined the Rockstar Finance Directory, I saw an email from J$: “You’re famous today!” with a link to the Rockstar Finance homepage and my third blog post ever – The F*CK YES Budget: If It’s Not A F*CK YES, It’s EXCESS – front and center as a featured article. COOL! (When your record for page views in a day is 33 – probably largely from yourself testing things out – and suddenly a week later it’s 2,240.. I’m not going to lie, that felt nice.) That article continues to be a favorite, I think because it introduced a new method of budgeting that hadn’t been explored much before. Or maybe it was because I used the word f*ck in the title.. Who knows! I had a second feature on Rockstar Finance this week with my Letters To My Future Self post, sharing the motivational tip of sending yourself encouraging emails into the future. My most recent post – Keeping Up With The Mustachians, a rant about how comparing ourselves to others is always going to be garbage – was just included in a weekly roundup at I Dream of FIRE‘s blog. It always comes down to the content in the end, doesn’t it?
All I have left to say is.. wow. It’s been a ride, that’s for sure! Even if this blog completely crashes and burns, or I never reach the same number of page views again, I’ve had so much fun learning in the last month that it wouldn’t even matter.
Thanks again for reading! It’s been amazing to connect with all of you on this journey of ditching debt and finding freedom.