This post is about me and my second-year experience in blogging.
Last year, I started by telling you that blogging made me lose money.
This year — it’s more complicated than that. Because if I had been in it for the money, I could have probably made a good profit. As it stands, I’ll likely make a loss by the end of 2016.
(If you’re really interested, I’ll release mr-stingy LLP‘s full financial results in January 2017 for the period of July 2015 – December 2016. We can talk more about finance, tax filing, and annual declarations then. Access the full financial results here.)
James Altucher once wrote that it takes about two years in a new venture — before you figure out how to make money. It’s somehow come true for me. Just that I haven’t put any focus on selling yet.
But this blog was always more than about making money. In more ways than one, it’s changed my life.
How to Become a Writer
Sometimes people ask me, “How do you find material to write about?” And I answer: “There’s so much to write about; but there’s not enough time.” Because if you look properly, there’s always interesting people and things to explore. There are always new angles that haven’t been written about before.
It wasn’t always this way, but to me — writing is now a way of seeing the world. Every moment is potential inspiration. Sometimes the writing’s good, and a lot of times it sucks, but at the back of my mind is always: “Could I write something about that?”
But not only does a writer look at life a certain way, he/she must also dare to put words on a piece of paper.
Some of you out there want to be writers, but don’t know how. Maybe you feel like an impostor: “Who the hell would want to read my writing anyway?”
So here’s my advice: just start writing as much as you can. Whether it’s in your private notebook, diary or blog doesn’t matter. Just keep working that writing muscle; writing about whatever you have in your heart. And someday, when you have enough courage — show it to the world.
I’ve always felt like an impostor too. And it’s taken me two years to warm up to the idea; to feel more comfortable calling myself a writer. It came with a serious side effect though:
Writing contributed towards me quitting my day job.
I Didn’t Quit My Job to Be a Full-time Writer But…
For better or for worse, a lot of people are fascinated by the idea of firing their boss and quitting their job. I think it’s because people have an innate desire to be free, and a job usually feels like handcuffs.
I used to have a pretty cool day job. It paid well, plus I had great bosses and colleagues. But the further I went in my previous career, the more I felt that it wasn’t something I wanted to do long term. It didn’t feel like the end goal was aligned with my personal one: to help people grow.
That’s why I write: to help people learn useful things — so they can improve their lives.
I’m not saying that I would have stuck to the same job for the rest of my life if I never started writing. But starting my own blog; the things it taught me; and how it shaped my character — all these helped me make my decision. It helped give me courage to make that leap of faith.
I make a lot less money now; but I feel my life is more in line. Everything’s more congruent: my day job, and my character; my side hustle, and my hobbies.
Some would call it happiness.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
– Gandhi –
“But Do You Make Real Money?”
Nah, blogging is just hobby money right now. If you’re interested, check out mr-stingy’s financial results in January 2017.
Highlights From My Second Year
Instead, my second year of blogging was all about trying to grow my audience. Which depends on two factors:
- How well I write
- How well I market myself
Mark Manson once wrote regarding blogging:
“You will live and die by the quality of your writing.”
I’m not sure what you think of my writing (so please tell me via comments/email/social media), but if you believe people who I ask — I’m slowly improving. And developing a style of my own.
In terms of marketing, what worked for me was trying to get on as many large, reputable sites as possible. I had some success here.
Over the past one year, mr-stingy’s been published in all of the following: Business Insider, The Good Men Project, iMoney, SAYS, The (now defunct) Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online and Vulcan Post. And had articles show up in two print newspapers: The Star and the New Straits Times.
I also now have a column at The Huffington Post, which is a dream come true.
And I just got interviewed by a radio station recently; three days into my third year of blogging. Officially that doesn’t count, but the invite for the BFM interview came a couple of weeks before that — so I’m celebrating too 😉
To do all that though, I spend the below (estimated) time every week:
- Writing and editing: 10 hours / week
- Reading and research: 9 hours / week
- Social media, promotion and engagement: 7 hours / week
- Total: ~26 hours / week.
(Quitting my previous job really helped here, as I used to have much less time. I probably spent about 16 hours / week on mr-stingy, during my previous job.)
And ended up with the below growth:
(Not uber explosive, but I’m still very grateful)
How Do You Know If It’ll Become More Than a Hobby?
You don’t. You just give it a try, and see what happens.
And you give yourself time. Some say at least five years.
“Anything worth doing takes years of time.”
– Jon Westenberg –
To Find Focus, You Have to Try and Fail
Here’s my final bit of sharing, in case any of you want to start something.
We already know it takes time for your new venture to gain momentum and make money. But what matters during this time is to constantly test, look for feedback and improve.
Sometimes I write about things that mean the world to me. So I pour all my emotions out, share my most private stories, and try to end it with a Bang while delivering an important lesson.
“This is guaranteed to go viral!” I say, as I hit Publish.
But nobody gives a shit.
It sucks, but please don’t get discouraged by your efforts that fail. Don’t take it personally. Instead, learn from it, and do better next time. Try something else and see what happens.
What does your market really want?
How can you refine your product to better serve them?
– – –
Over the past year, I’ve been reminded that people want to be inspired and have their hearts touched. But they also want practical, actionable information. Knowledge that will help them in their daily lives.
The most popular articles here have always been the practical ones. Things that people find immediately useful.
So moving forward, my focus is going to be this: the intersections between time, money and relationships. Because there are a million other websites out there that talk about saving and investing — and they’re smarter than me. And there are fifty million articles out there that teach you how to become a better lover.
I’ve never been a good source of original ideas. But learning from multiple intelligent sources, sharpening that information into practical advice, and writing it so that a teenager with attention-deficit can follow — that’s how I feel I can really help.
How do you find love if you don’t have much money? How do you balance earning money with personal interests? How do you find happiness before your time on earth is up?
I’ll try to answer those kinds of questions as we go along.
So thank you for coming along the ride so far. And hold on tight.
My second year of blogging changed my life. I’ll try make it change it yours too.
Pic from Pexels.