March 24, 2014

I have been blogging for over a year now, and it’s been quite the ride. I started out as Do or Debt, and realized I didn’t want to be considered doordebt. I later had an epiphany and realized I wanted something more creative and came up with the concept Dear Debt, or writing break up letters to debt.

Initially, I was inspired to start my blog after stalking Kathleen and finally meeting her in person. She had me convinced; I could share my voice and my experience, while writing my way out of debt.

The first six months were pretty rough for me. I couldn’t really find my voice, knew nothing about SEO or any other weird acronyms, was a technology neophyte, and felt paranoid about revealing too much of myself as I was in hardcore job search mode.

Now I finally feel comfortable in my own digital skin. I’ve found my voice and feel part of a community. As I work through blogging, experimenting, and trying to improve, I keep the following in mind:

Don’t Apologize

It’s your blog ,write about what you want. If it’s not about personal finance, or whatever niche you are in, it’s okay. Once again, it’s your blog and people come to read what you have to say. If you decide you need a break from blogging, that’s okay too. If you don’t respond to comments right away, that’s okay, too. The world isn’t going to end.

I see a lot of apologies going around and I don’t think it’s necessary. We don’t need to live in the culture of ‘sorry’. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but I realize that it’s okay and I don’t need to apologize, because I’m not doing anything wrong.

Speak Your Truth

Everyone’s experience is different and that’s why we follow so many different blogs. We can find people we relate to, or people who are living the lives we want. The point is don’t try to be someone else. Be authentic. Be passionate.  Speak your truth, even if it’s hard to say. You are unique and people want to read your stuff because you are different from other people.

Be Honest, but Not Too Honest

I think speaking your truth and being honest is really important. It helps people relate to you and offers insights into your life. If you are a regular reader here, you know some of my posts can be ‘raw’, ‘emotional’, or ‘out there’. While those may be my signature attributes, I also have to be careful. A few weeks ago, in the midst of exhaustion I wrote a post that was a pretty big downer. I wrote it, posted it, then headed straight to work. Then I started to panic and felt really vulnerable. I had shared very personal thoughts about my emotional state of affairs that were probably better kept private. My blog shouldn’t be a diary, or a therapy session. While I am committed to being open, honest, and truthful with my readers, everyone should have boundaries.

Focus on Engagement, Not Analytics

It’s easy to obsess over your analytics and readership. You can spend hours combing over your views, visitors, comments, search terms, and referrals. It can be a vicious cycle; on a good day, you are flying high because your views are up. Conversely, on days where your viewership is low, you may feel low. I’ve recently been on this roller coaster and it’s not sustainable. Your time  would be better spent on improving your blog, creating good content, etc. Analytics are important, but they shouldn’t be tied to your self-esteem or the worth of your blog. Focus your energy on genuine engagement with others. I am happy to say that I have blogging friends in real life, and digital friends that I feel are just as good. You know who you are. I may not be the best, or most popular of bloggers, but I am happy with my engagement and that’s what I am going to focus on. I’m committed to creating a community of support, love, and care to everyone who is fighting their battle with debt. I’m interested in empowering all of us, in debt or not, to live the lives we want, and to be financially sound and secure.

Do you have any other thoughts or tips on blogging? I’d also like to share some of my favorite new (or new to me) blogs.

TrendyCheapo – almost debt free!
DebtDebs – new blogger and working through her debt
Debt Free Martini – with a name like that, how could you not follow? I want a debt free martini.
Stop Worrying About Money – wow, that name is just brilliant for SEO. Adam is also super likable and writes good content.
Marilyn Knows Money – NYC blogger writing about money and career tips. I dig her style!

Melanie

Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

Latest posts by Melanie (see all)

51 responses to “Thoughts on Blogging”

  1. I write for fun and to keep myself accountable, so I try not to be too down on myself when I can’t keep up with the blog for several days. It’s important not to get burned out on blogging.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted…Paycheck by Paycheck: documentary of one single mother raising 3 kids on $9/hourMy Profile

  2. Yeah, I’ve stopped trying to be super concerned about a lot of these things. My life got crazy busy this past week, and as a result my Alexa ranking tanked (was at 80k, now almost back over 100k), I was slow to respond to comments (but I still had many comments!) and everything worked out. I am in the process of wrapping my head around cutting back my posts to twice per week. Having another writing gig just gets to be too much by the end. I’m always scrambling even when I am using my editorial calendar to keep myself organized.

    People read my blog. That’s all that matters. Could it be more? Absolutely! But I like where I am because I don’t really get “hate”, and I enjoy the PF community 🙂
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted…Volunteering For A Cause.My Profile

    • Oh yeah. And I’m from Canada (and the eastern side at that), so we already apologize like crazy. I’m so over it 🙂
      Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted…Volunteering For A Cause.My Profile

      • deardebt says:

        I don’t even follow my Alexa ranking. At all. I didn’t even know what that was until like 6 months ago. I’ve heard PageRank is really what people want to see. But who knows? It’s good your comments are still high. I’ve been slow to respond to mine as well, but you have to have balance and priorities. I think it’s awesome you are writing for Gail’s blog, but can also give yourself a break. As I said, the world isn’t going to end if you cut back a little.

  3. Debby says:

    I’m blogging because I like exploring and expanding my (writing-) voice. I’m consistent in my writing, but not in my content, and the latter depends on my mood, how I feel, and basically the directions life is pushing me into. I always feel like my blog is more ‘personal’ than it is ‘finance’ – and other than helping myself, I hope to help others to explore the things I’m trying along the way.
    it’s important to remind yourself every now and then why you do it. But I do dig this quote by Andre Putman a lot: “my only concern was tho interest at least ten persons, and I would have accomplished something which would carry me for all my life.”
    If even 1 life was touched by documenting mine, that’d be a tremendous gift.
    Debby recently posted…Day 160 – Sunday, Goal Day.My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      I love your daily posts! You have just the right amount of personal, storytelling, experience, and finance. I love it! That quote is beautiful and something to keep in mind — even the smallest impact, carries a great weight.

  4. Great post, Melanie! I do feel guilty on occasion for not being around much and for prioritising other things over my blog whereas so many of you are so dedicated to your blogs and your work. But then I remind myself it’s totally okay, I will blog when I feel like it and if I am not around much then be it. These days I mostly write on my blog to keep myself accountable and keep paying off my debt. Once my debt has been paid off, I will most likely either stop writing completely or will continue writing occasionally to keep track of my saving goals.
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…2014 Goals – Q1 ReviewMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      But we still love you when you come around 🙂 If your blog is a hobby, it’s a hobby. If it’s a business, that’s ok too. Just figure out what works best for you. I love your updates and hope you keep writing!

  5. Seriously I can’t speak enough on how important your points are. It took me 3 YEARS to find my unique voice for my blog re-launch. Mostly because I felt uncomfortable being transparent. But I’m weird and goofy and now I embrace it!

    Thanks for adding me to this list! Can’t wait to check out some of the other bloggers.
    Taylor Gordon recently posted…What does two creative minds + thrift + DIY equal?My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Glad it wasn’t just me that had a rough start. It’s hard to get into a groove when there are so many established voices and you aren’t sure how you fit in. I am a goofball too, with a total serious side, so I’m an odd combo, haha. Congrats on the re-launch and I look forward to reading more.

  6. Thank you so much for the mention and your kind words. This is a kind of post that you probably will need to link/refer back to in your future articles because it really talks about a side of blogging that people don’t really see or talk about. I am so honored to be one of the blogs that you follow. Your honesty is what I love about your blog and I’m sure continued success will always be on your side.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…Five Awesome Side Effects While Paying Off DebtMy Profile

  7. I have been blogging for over a year and have no idea what a SEO is and I need help to make my blog look more professional but that costs money and I don’t have any of that.

    I average 200 hits per day but most of those are spammers selling fake designer shoes and purses and a Miley Cyrus sex video. I have a few dedicated readers but I am not sure if I will continue or just give up because it is so much work.
    jane savers @ solving the money puzzle recently posted…My Tax Audit Ended With Me Owing MoneyMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      No worries, I didn’t either until not too long ago. It’s search engine optimization, or having certain key words help people get to your content. I would say think about what gives you energy — if it’s not blogging, maybe move on. I thought about quitting at 6 mo, but it turns out I just needed a break and a new direction. Figure out what you want and we’ll support you!

  8. Great post! I am also using my blog to help me keep acountable and motivated. I consider purchases more now and I think, “Remember, you have to share on your blog that you bought this. Will people think it’s worth it or is it a splurge/unnecessary item?” Sometimes I’m still guilty of a “splurge” item, see my post tomorrow for an expample, but I’m still spending way way less than before and doing better all the time.
    Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      PF blogs are a great way to stay accountable and connected to a larger group of people who are going through similar struggles. I look forward to seeing your post tomorrow!

  9. anna says:

    Great tips, Melanie – I’m pretty guilty of apologizing or worrying about what people will think (must be some deep-seated Catholic guilts ;)), but slowly but surely overcoming that. I completely agree about being honest but not too honest, as well, and have experienced the vulnerable feeling. It’s all a learning process, but I think you did a great job on pointing out these tips!
    anna recently posted…March Madness – half-marathon, honeymoon, and new jobMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      It seems totally normal to apologize and worry — it’s not just bloggers either, so I’m not making a blanket statement. We live in a ‘sorry’ culture where we feel like we have to apologize for everything. Myself included, and especially as a female. So glad you are back my dear!

  10. Great post! I’m guilty of apologizing if I’m out of the loop too long for some reason. Kind of funny because really this is just a glorified hobby. I don’t apologize to everyone if I can’t play a game of beach volleyball. 🙂 Noted.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…A Budget Traveler In Iceland: Part OneMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      It’s an inclination I think a lot of us have, but it’s not really necessary. We’ll still be waiting for you when you come back, you know? Glad you are back from the land of fire and ice!

  11. I loved reading your thoughts on blogging Melanie! At first, I found myself really relating to your blog, mainly because we owed similar amounts of debt, (although mine was a combo of consumer as well) but the more I got to “know” you, the more I could see how unapologetically “you” you really are and you know that’s something I can root for! 😉 Keep up the great work friend, you know your blog is easily one of my favorite reads!
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…Wedding Update – We have a Venue!My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Aww, thanks dear! Sometimes I feel like some people don’t get me, so I’m glad you do! I really relate to you as well, for so many more reasons than our similar debt sentence. You do you so well and are such a brave, unique girl.

  12. When I was paying off my mortgage, I blogged to hold myself accountable. It was a daily reminder to stay the course. The blogged ended up helping me and others. Total win-win.
    Mortgage Free Mike recently posted…9 Things People Don’t Understand About FreelancersMy Profile

  13. I actually try to avoid looking at Google Analytics unless I absolutely have to. Like you said, it can be a vicious cycle and I don’t want my mood to be impacted by how much traffic I’m getting, nor do I want to compare myself to other blogs that publicly share their stats. I check it if an advertiser is looking for information but I really don’t check it ever besides that.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…12 Tips for Beginner CouponersMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Yeah I started going down that road the other day when I was reading someone else’s blog post about their stats. I checked mine and then I immediately felt worse and it wasn’t a good feeling. No more of that! You are right — it’s only important when people need it, but just keep trying to improve it and not always focus on the numbers.

  14. deardebt says:

    Agreed! I didn’t even know you could make money off of blogging, so I’ve always been in it for fun, creativity, and to keep myself accountable. I think I could work on having more valuable content that is personal, and not just personal 🙂

  15. I definitely allow myself to feel guilty when I don’t respond to comments quickly or share as much as I’d like :/
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Survival Job Spotlight: Actress EntrepreneursMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Same! But I’m working on it. It’ll still be there and I’m sure people aren’t just sitting around and waiting for a response — email, different story, but probably not comments.

  16. I try to give solid advice to people on the quest to FI, and want to acquire a rental property. it can be easy, or it can be a nightmare.

    Understanding what it takes is key. With 24 renters, and a full time job, I do not have time for a bad tenant.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted…Why Avoid Tenants with Credit Scores Below 600?My Profile

  17. Peter says:

    I wrestled with this all the time. Sometimes, I catch myself writing too much about my personal life and felt that I should have held back a little, but I found those post to be really helpful in connecting with my readers. I think once in a while is okay. You don’t want that to become a theme of your blog, but once in a while is harmless.
    Peter recently posted…My Profitable Side Gig revealed: I don’t know why I’m doing this.My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Yeah, I have a pretty personal feel to my blog, but I don’t want it to be my diary. I want to be relatable, with good content, not just emotional regurgitation.

  18. Awesome tips, Melanie. I’ve been guilty too of focusing too much on analytics, but then learned not to care. If we’re helping people and helping ourselves, then we’re good. 🙂
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…How to Pay off Debt : Beating the Broke MindsetMy Profile

  19. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something crazy in a post, posted it, then wondered what in the world I’m doing. HA!

    But I do agree with you that we should all write what we want. Otherwise, it’s too boring, What’s the worst that could happen?
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…I’ve Got Spring Fever, Do You?My Profile

  20. Athena says:

    I also agree with being honest but not too honest. This is actually something I’m working on as well. I want to share everything all the time, all over the internet and I’m trying to cut back. I share because I want people to know they are not the only ones who go through something but sometimes keeping a secret is nice too.

  21. I really enjoy reading blogs from different bloggers, I really learned a lot from them and sometimes I can relate to their posts. So, keep it up guys and hats off to you!
    Marie @ GradMoneyMatters recently posted…Are You Feeling Work Burnout?My Profile

  22. Jim says:

    Great post, especially the friendships you can make via blogging and writing what compels you, not what searches well in Google. Thanks for sharing!!
    Jim recently posted…Meet The Government Sponsored Retirement Account-MyRAMy Profile

  23. Most starters perhaps tend to be apologetic about saying what they feel and expressing their thoughts. I believe that is normal until you realize that there is really nothing to be sorry for when everything actually boils down to good intention.
    Jen @Sprout Wealth recently posted…3 Simple Ways to Start Making Extra Money NowMy Profile

  24. I love the lessons you have learned. Each year that I blog, I learn more and more. It’s coming up on four years for me this year, and I still haven’t figured it all out.
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…Save Money and the Environment By Buying Second HandMy Profile

  25. Great pointers Melanie. I’m still working on every one of these, and as time progresses, I begin to become more comfortable about writing in my voice, worrying less about offending people while still being honest and polite. It definitely takes some time to get used to, but the community of PF bloggers is awesome, and I really never imagined the interactions with people online would be as rewarding as they are.
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…recognize your opportunities. then seize them.My Profile

  26. I’ve learned a lot of the same blogging “lessons”. When I first started getting a little bit of media attention I panicked that I might have written something that would offend someone (co-workers, friends, family etc.) Now I write a little more cautiously, just in case someone from my “real life” comes across my blog.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…But I Was Budgeting So Well…My Profile

  27. Marvin says:

    A great point on focusing on analytics. I’m guilty of this and you are right that rollercoaster isn’t worth the ride. I’ve actually had to block google analytics from my chrome browser because I’ve obsessed about it so much.
    Marvin recently posted…JNJ Stock Dividend AnalysisMy Profile

  28. DEBt DEBs says:

    Oh.my.dog… I just saw this and that you mentioned my liddle blog!!! Thank you so much… and I’m sorry (nope not gonna say that) for not seeing this sooner.

    Actually, funny point which speaks directly to this post (which is awesome BTW, and I really needed to see it today), I was cleaning out my inbox because I had a lot of unread messages and it was getting on my nerves (ha! I had been practicing ” If you don’t respond to comments right away, that’s okay, too. The world isn’t going to end.”)

    Thanks again, Melanie… and I’m working on my Dear Debt letter. 😉
    DEBt DEBs recently posted…Booze BudgetMy Profile

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