This is not an April Fool’s Day joke! FinanceSuperhero.com celebrates its first birthday today, April 1, 2017. I can hardly believe that I started blogging one year ago. It has been quite a year of ups and downs, successes and failures, and lessons learned for both me -the author of this site- and you -the reader (at least I hope you’ve learned a few useful things to help you Take Back Control of Life and Money).
I started this site on a whim after finally listening to the encouragement of my wife, Meg, during the last week of March 2016. “Why not?” I figured. I had plenty on my mind about money that I could share with others. Starting a site was really inexpensive, so I had little to lose. And I already had a few adoring fans – I could count on my wife, mom, and a couple others to read my blog!
Since then, working on and building FinanceSuperhero has been a wild ride. At first, I set out to “Restore Order to the World of Finance” but I realized I wasn’t really sure what that even meant. But I kept writing, continued learning, and eventually refined my focus. I wanted to quit and shut down this whole site a few times – and I almost did once or twice – but I’m glad I pushed through the dark times when it felt like nobody was reading.
Today, I am more committed than ever to helping as many people as I can to “Take Back Control of Life and Money” one post at a time. I still don’t have all of the answers, but I now know that I do have the ability to help readers form a game plan to win with money.
The 10 Biggest Blogging Lessons I Learned in Year One
In the one year that FinanceSuperhero has been live, I have learned a lot about blogging. I’ve learned through trial and error, seeking feedback from more seasoned bloggers, and a few helpful guides and courses.
If you’re a newer blogger or a veteran blogger who feels like you’re spinning your wheels, I hope the following lessons I learned will help you.
1. Never be embarrassed to tell others about your blog
Some people prefer the anonymity that blogging allows, and some people are just plain too shy or embarrassed to tell others about their blog. I found myself in the second camp for the first several months after launching this site. Now I tell almost everyone I meet about my blog, share a short elevator pitch, and move on to other conversation unless they express interest.
I spent far too long keeping FinanceSuperhero a secret and trying to be somewhat anonymous about my identity. A certain amount of mystery works and is even charming for some bloggers (like Mr. 1500 at 1500Days), but it’s not for everyone. Your readers want to connect with you, and if you’re going to build a relationship with them, a name and a face are a great start.
2. Other Bloggers Are Your Friends, Not Your Competition
Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but collaboration and helping others has always come naturally to me. But I have seen some bloggers fail because they kept to themselves too much. There are two reasons why I think this is a major mistake.
First, you probably aren’t writing anything that hasn’t already been written. So keeping everything to yourself and never engaging with other bloggers isn’t helping you keep any grand secrets. It just makes you look anti-social.
Second, the internet is a vast, massive frontier. There is more than enough space for everyone. So you should be selflessly promoting the heck out of others’ work even if they don’t do the same for you. People will notice your altruism, and eventually people will help you, too. And if they don’t? You’ll still be a better person.
3. Have Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
When you start blogging, few people will get it. Don’t let them squash your dreams. You should create a list of short-term and long range SMART Goals to help you stay on track. Some of your goals should be attainable, but a few big stretch goals are good, too.
Related: The Power of Setting Financial Goals
4. Writing is Only Half the Battle; Marketing is the Other (and More Important Half)
Here’s a riddle for you:
If a blogger writes the best blog post ever and nobody is around to read it, does it really matter?
Maybe the riddle doesn’t exactly parallel the philosophical though experiment of the tree falling in the woods, but you get the idea: People won’t find your blog on their own. You have to help them find it.
Social media is a blogger’s best friend. Use Twitter to connect with other bloggers, make a Facebook page for your blog, and join as many blogging groups as you can on Facebook using your own personal account.
And please, don’t make the mistake I made for about the first 9 months of this blog’s life. DO NOT NEGLECT PINTEREST. Learn the ropes right away. Create beautiful pinnable images for each of your posts, join group boards, and help others share their content, too.
When I first started using Pinterest, my pins were atrocious (see the image to the right). I probably thought pins like this would appeal to Pinterest users. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t even read the text under the main title on the image to the right. And the color scheme is ridiculous. And you’ve probably seen that stock photo in the background a million times.
Today, my pins have improved greatly. I search far and wide to find unique and relevant images for my pins without violating any copyright laws. All of my pins use complimentary colors, text overlays, and are fully readable (see the pin below). I create my pins using Canva, but you can use PicMonkey, Powerpoint, or any other program that suits you.
With Pinterest, you only have two or three seconds to make a good impression and convince a would-be reader to click your pin and get them to your site. If you have attractive pins and awesome content, you have a good chance at landing a new subscriber. If you pin awesome content to solid group boards – I recommend BoardBooster to help with this – you will gain new readers every day.
5. Your Site’s Appearance is Important
Many bloggers, myself included, tend to focus a lot on content, which is good. Strong content will keep readers coming back for more. But your site’s appearance is just as important – if not more important – as the quality of your content.
Spend time creating a logo. It doesn’t require any fancy skills to create one using Canva. It will likely be the first impression you make upon your readers.
My first logo and tag line were very vanilla.
Several months later, it got a little better.
Today, it has improved even more.
Also, be sure to spend some time working out your navigation menu. If doesn’t make sense to new readers and help them find what they’re looking for they will never come back.
6. Find Your Voice
Every blogger has their own unique voice. Find your own voice as soon as you can and stick to it. Don’t try to emulate other bloggers. Most of us have done it here and there, and it’s not helpful. Be yourself.
7. Give Your Readers What They Need
When a reader visits your site, they are usually looking for one of two things: to be entertained or to find solutions to their problems. If you’re not providing what they need, they’ll move on to find it elsewhere.
For example, if I spend half of a post talking about myself without providing awesome entertainment or a good reason to keep reading until the practical advice payoff point, I’m failing my reader.
8. Write for the Right Audience
On a related note, be sure you are writing to the correct audience. It is important to know to whom you are writing, how they need help, and how your experience and knowledge bridges that gap.
9. Find Your Focus
When you start a blog, it is important to find exactly what you want to write about. This may take a while, but for me, writing became a lot easier once I realized that I want to help people Take Back Control of Life and Money by helping them Save Money, Make Money, Invest Money, and manage all of the complexities of Life and Money.
10. Remember That You’re Always Helping Someone
Even if it seems like nobody is reading, you need to remember that your blog is always helping someone. You never know when you’re making a difference for someone who is reading your blog.
Over the past year, I have had many friends, family, and strangers reach out to share that something I have written helped them win with money. In the first year of this site’s existence, people from over 150 countries on six continents visited and have read articles. The internet is amazing.
You Have What it Takes to Start Your Own Blog
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re not a blogger. I was like you for a long time. I read sites like Financial Samurai, Mr. Money Mustache, Budgets Are Sexy, and a few others and often wondered if I could do it myself. (Then a few months later I was featured on Budgets Are Sexy.)
If you’re not a blogger but think you have something to offer the world, don’t wait to start your blog. Do it right now. It's easy and it only takes 20 minutes. You can choose a domain, set-up hosting with Bluehost, and integrate Word Press and start writing today all for less than the cost of your weekly breakfast at Starbucks.
The Journey Continues
Blogging is one of the most rewarding projects I have taken on so far. Starting this site helped me recapture my love for writing, find purpose, and fill my desire to help people Take Back Control of Life and Money. The journey is just getting started here at FinanceSuperhero, and if you’re still reading, I thank you for being a part of Year One. And if you’re just getting started with your blog or struggling to gain traction, I hope the blogging lessons above resonated with you and helped you realize that YOU CAN DO THIS!