A couple of years ago, I had a crazy idea: I was gonna become a dating coach.
Yes, like the movie Hitch. Or if you’re more up to date, the Facebook superstar Matthew Hussey.
I was going to be like them. Use all the extensive knowledge and experience I had, pair it with my sincere desire to help people — and change the world: Now everyone can find love!
My first step would be to start a blog. From there, I would eventually become famous enough to run seminars and do face-to-face coaching — then end up a multimillionaire.
So I did: I registered a free account at blogspot, and proceeded to share my brilliant wisdom with the world via a couple of opinionated blog posts.
And no one stopped by to read it. Except for a few close friends.
No, You’re Not Qualified
Today, it’s painfully obvious to me there was little chance of my dating coach idea succeeding. Aside from the fact that Malaysia / Southeast Asia is extremely challenging due to its mixed demographics, I had absolutely no credibility. Why would someone trust a 26-year-old unmarried Malaysian Chinese guy (who had never been in a relationship for more than two years) rambling about relationships?
(You could make the argument that there are lots of credible-less personalities making big money, but they’re the exception. And I’m not that shameless.)
But interestingly — I really, genuinely believed I was doing the right thing. I sincerely believed that I could influence and teach people about relationships.
You know that look old timers give young people when they share their grandiose visions? Well the me today would have given 2010 Aaron that same look. “Go ahead and give it a try, but I hope you learn something when you fail.”
I had a dream and the foolishness of youth — so I started something. But life has a way of teaching you humility.
You Never Become a Master
The blog you’re reading right now just celebrated its third anniversary. Three years in and about 100 articles later, it’s obviously a lot more successful than my poorly-planned relationship blog.
(Though you can still see the influence of my Dating Guru aspirations — there’s still lots of relationship-themed articles here.)
More than 10,000 people read my articles every month, and I’m starting to get invited to events and product launches. You don’t see paid reviews here, but I receive those offers frequently now too. And I get to go on Radio and TV every once in a while, plus even spoke at a TEDx Salon event recently.
Sounds like the ideal life of a blogger eh?
But in the bigger scheme of things — those are really shitty accomplishments if I compare myself to some of my writing heroes. And how much money have I really made from this blog? It’s loss making. As I’ve written before — if this was purely about making money — I would have made more flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
Despite making lots of “progress” that I could have never imagined — sometimes I feel I’m further from my goals than ever before. Maybe because with every day, I learn more and more.
I learn to question my goals. And I learn how difficult it is to make your dreams come true.
Statistics from My Third Year
Every week, I spend the below (estimated) time on mr-stingy:
- Writing and editing: 8 hours / week
- Reading and research: 12 hours / week
- Social media, promotion and engagement: 6 hours / week
- Total: ~26 hours / week.
Of course, I enjoy doing all the above (believe it or not, I actually love reading a lot more than writing). But sometimes I just feel like lying in bed and watching Despacito covers — instead of waking up early to work on my blog. It’s not easy, but has all that effort been worth it?
Traffic’s still been growing organically, though it’s not phenomenal:
And as I mentioned earlier, mr-stingy LLP is still a loss-making business. If you wanna know how I ended up losing RM 4,876.21 last year on my blog, check out the full financial results here.
Will my audience ever reach 30,000 readers a month? Will I ever make a profit from my blog? I don’t know, but I’ve started to worry about a more important question: why would people want to read my blog anyway?
You’re Actually Not THAT Interesting
Last year, I wrote a grand story about my accomplishments in my second year, how to be a writer, and how I wanted to change your life.
(Guess I’ll always be a slightly-delusional dreamer.)
But I’ve started to realize I don’t have that many interesting things to write about. Or even if I could write about them, I don’t have deep personal experience.
I don’t have a million bucks in the bank and I don’t own 20 properties. I’m not the most confident person, but I’ve also never been depressed. I don’t have any kids, but I haven’t kissed a hundred girls either. I’m not a successful entrepreneur, but also not exactly killing it at my day job. I wasn’t an early investor in Bitcoin.
To me, beautiful writing is all about authenticity. When I look at my writing heroes (whom I so desperately want to be like), they’re brilliant at stringing words together in wonderful ways. But they’re also interesting people who’ve done amazing things with their lives. And here I am — jack of a few trades, master of none. Nothing dramatic, just moderation.
But apart from the authenticity, I’ve also started to realize how shallow my knowledge is. Maybe not Trump-Reality-TV shallow, but most of my knowledge comes from reading online articles. Sometimes from not very good sources. I know I need to read more. Books. Deeply.
And from my limited sessions drinking from the pool of knowledge so far, I’ve learned this to be true: The more you learn about something, the more you realize you don’t know.
Seven years ago, when I started writing my failed relationship blog, I knew I had all the answers. Three years ago, when I started this blog, I thought I could one day be as good as my writing heroes. Today, I realize this is going to be a never-ending road of difficult learning, where I’ll never become as smart as I want.
I can only say thank you — for still being here and reading my stuff even though I’m no expert.
What’s Next for a Weary Blogger?
I started with a delusional dream, and over the past three years of mr-stingy — I’ve learned some important lessons. I’ve learned humility too. No, I don’t think I can change the world anymore, nor do I deserve to. Maybe if I can help just one person, that would be enough.
A couple of weeks ago, I received some criticism when I shared my investment portfolio in an online interview. And it was interesting for me, because I never said anyone should invest like I do. But I guess some people still like telling other people what they should do.
You may have noticed it in some of my recent work, but I don’t really like to dispense advice anymore. Because really, who am I to give advice? (I totally understand now, why it’s sometimes so frustrating to talk to wise people. Because they really want you to figure things out for yourself — not just give directions.)
I’d rather share experiences and thoughts, saying “this is what works for me — you could try it to see if it works for you?”
– – –
I wish I could say my writing lights up the world and makes me come alive. But every morning when I force myself to wake up early and spill my guts on paper — I look at that pile of shitty words and hate myself.
“Is this the type of writing from someone who goes on Radio and TV?” A little part of me dies.
If you care, it will hurt. You will hurt.
And then I edit and rewrite. Try to find the balance between writing something worthwhile, and being too self-judgmental to start.
Sometimes, a rough gem emerges from the dirt. And sometimes people like it when I hit “Publish.” But at the end, the only way I can keep myself going is by telling myself I did everything in my power to write well. That I practiced my craft to the absolute best of my abilities.
Then even if my life is spent polishing dirty rocks; only to discover most of the hundreds I produce are actually dull stones, and only have one or two sparkling gems — that would be okay.
I know I can’t be the sun anymore. Maybe not even a star. But I know I can polish things until they could possibly reflect a little bit of sunlight.
Today, I will practice my craft again. I will try to live a worthy life. I will polish. And maybe this blog will live on for another year.
– – –
p.s. Thank you for supporting me by being here. It means the world to me.
Pictures from Pexels, Unsplash and Pexels.
I can relate to everything you said in this piece.It’s almost like you read my mind and transcribed it here!!I blog too but only read articles and I am always like I should do much more…..anyways I loved this read lots of love all the way from Kenya!!
Thank you so much Minnie. Appreciate you dropping by. Much love and respect from Malaysia!
I read your article about how to win the heng dai games in wedding and got intrigued by your writing style. I wanted to read more and here I am. You’ve gained a new fan! Keep writing 🙂
Thanks Vivian — really appreciate it ya! Do let me know if you have any suggestions.
Hi Aaron, I found your blog to be so genuine, you shared about real life, be it ups or downs.
Keep exploring and be yourself.
Recently, I bumped into one of your Facebook positing about Malay auntie with her special son, to be honest, I’m full of tears after reading your sharing, “stay positive and tabahkan hati” has touched me alot.
I’m sure you will be getting better and better, even the blogger from kopiandproperty Charles also strongly recommend about your blog.
Thanks for your blog, I like it, please keep writing. Cheers bro.
Thank you Shuner, appreciate it very much! Do let me know if you have any further feedback or suggestions!
Hey there mr stingy!
Have been wandering through your articles over the past couple of years- never doubt your eloquence and ability to write! Everytime I read one of your articles, I end up doing a whole lot of research into things and self-reflection. Your blog has a good clear read on topics that (especially young clueless people like me) are both interesting and important… Keep on with the great work!
Thank you so much Nita,
Appreciate your kind words very much!
This piece struck a chord with me, as I constantly feel this way as a writer by trade. I even wrote about that feeling prior to discovering your blog, and it’s surprisingly similar to yours (no plagiarising I swear). I feel better knowing that other people feel the same.
You’re a great writer, and you’re being modest, but your traffic is pretty damn good, especially for the written medium.
You have a new fan, and I hope you keep writing.
Thanks a lot Stuart,
Great looking website you have there. Keep writing, take care and all the best yeah!
Keep it up bro. Keep on writing and publishing the articles. I was deep into the finance pit hole that i actually was inspired by desperation to seek help. From one article to the next and i bump into your blog. Thanks for your candor and the dream to help and empower others and in the end empower yourself. You are making a difference bro, maybe not in the literal world, but in individual worlds, you are a sun that shines through the cracks. So, as Zig Ziglar once said, “whatever is worth doing, is worth doing poorly until we can do it well.”
Keep writing and i’ll keep reading. Hope is in such a demand these days.
Thank you very much Joshua,
Hope you are doing well and making progress in whatever you’re doing. All the best!
keep on writing. you are doing great actually. just ignore negative people. they are not worth your time. 😉
Thank you Aimi, really appreciate that kind comment!
I am new to Malaysian soil. It is your writing skills that grabbed my attention particularly on buying a second hand car (although I do not own one yet). I began reading your articles there onwards. The writing that you do takes great deal of time for research and thought and I am certain fellow members know this already. There may be many bloggers around but yours is what I admire the most. Please continue the good work.
Thank you so much Ram. Much appreciated!
Keep writing Aaron.
Thank you Nana for being so kind!
The first ever post I read was your clearing your education debt. Stuck here ever since.
You never know how you impact your surroundings with the small “unqualified” tips. Keep sharing your thoughts and takes on things. It could well be the fuse, the much needed striking pin, for some.
All the best, Aaron. And thanks!
PS. Paid off my loan in November 2016.
Thanks a lot JC! Congrats to you and all the best ahead!
I am a supporter of your work who excited about your new post every time . Read some of your article more than once . Introduce your blog to people around me too . Thank you for your hard work , I believe it certainly help someone out there , well at lest me .
Thank you so much Gulisy! I owe a huge of debt to gratitude to you for sharing! Please let me know if there’s ever anything I can do for you.
I loved reading your articles and still do. I am new to Malaysia and I should say your articles helped me figure quite a lot as there isn’t any other blog in the peninsula I could find as good as yours.
I must say I am impressed of the writing skills you possess at this age and the subjects, thoughts you share are testimony to the level of passion at what you do. Please… keep on writing.
Thank you Ram — you’re too kind!
Reading your post here was a humbling experience by itself. Thank you for being you! Keep your head up high coz’ there are people like me who anticipate your next article. Your work has been splendid, keep it rollin’
Thank you Mugilan. It is humbling to read such kind words from people like you.
Though I started reading your blog for less than a year, I still enjoy reading your articles.
It may not be as “technical” or full of “advice” as other finance blogs/any blog, but sometimes its nice to read something about the real life – we have downs but still keep going.
p/s: I actually came across one of your article one or two years back. Not sure how I stumble upon your blog again this year and I recognized this blog, so I decided to add into my reading list. Guess its just I find benefit from reading it. 🙂
Thank you peachcaffeine! Appreciate your kind words, and please let me know if there’s anything you want me to write about? All the best!
I think many people following you for one big reason. You’ve been there, the place where they’re going right now. I’m going there as well with full of worries. I just need someone to tell me what to watch out for and not telling me ” It’s part of journey of your life; It’s your life so you have to figure it out yourself” etc. Btw congrats on your 3rd year anniversary and thank you for a great post. Looking forward to hear more personal experiences from you!^^
Thanks for the kind words Mugunathan. Do let me know if there’s anything I can write about that will further help you!