It’s been over a month since I’ve last posted, and writing has been sparse even before that. If you have been keeping up with Budget For Wealth, you may have been wondering why.
Even before the birth of my daughter, my life was pulled in many different directions. It’s been tough balancing family life, working full-time, and developing my business ideas. Because of that, I have been working diligently to lighten the load on my shoulders and regain focus on what is really important in my life.
A month ago, I attended FinCon12 in Denver. It’s a conference for financial bloggers put on by Phil Taylor of PT Money. Over the course of four days, I attended a bunch of sessions where successful bloggers shared information and the stories of how they became successful. Needless to say, I learned a lot from the speakers and the people I met.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m still new to the blogging world, or because I was unprepared, but I had a huge problem at FinCon. The problem was that every single blogger or sponsor I met was asking me the same question. It wasn’t that the same question was annoying me. It was because I didn’t know how to answer it.
The question was,
What is your blog about?
Simple enough right?
When I started this blog, I thought I had a clear picture of what I wanted it to be. However, as I started writing and diving deeper into the blogging world, I started to learn “how to blog.” I started conforming to the “successful” blogging model and changed how I wrote and what I wrote about. I focused on time consuming tasks like social media and finding images to attach to my posts; things that add absolutely no value to the reader and produced zero results for the blog. But I did them because the experts said that they were vital to obtaining readership – the most important part of blogging. What’s the point of writing if no one is going to read?
So, instead of spending my valuable free time writing about topics people need to know about, I spent a lot of time optimizing the website, working on SEO, and wasting time chatting with people on Twitter and Facebook who weren’t even reading the blog. As I spent more efforts on these tasks, I became more disenchanted with the whole process. More time was passing between posts, and I was less inclined to write.
When I was asked at FinCon what my blog was about, my answer kept changing. The answer evolved because I realized that I quickly needed to define what I was doing. But my answer evolved primarily because of three lessons I learned at the conference. Taking a look at these lessons, I’ve failed every single one of them.
Lessons Learned At FinCon12
- Start with why. I didn’t have a good reason why I started this blog. I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it, but I didn’t have a clear understanding why.
- Be yourself. I started this blog with a particular vision of where I wanted it to end up. However, following “expert opinion” changed my blog to be just like every other blog.
- Provide value. Do people care what I’m writing about? Probably not too much at this point. Most of the things I’ve been writing about can be found on Investopedia or everywhere else on the internet. That doesn’t mean that I won’t stop writing about topics that are mainstream, but I don’t think I am currently providing information that is making your life better.
Over the last year, a lot of my attitudes about money and life have changed. By the end of this year alone, my wife and I will have paid off over $50,000 in debt. We were able to do this and still invest in our 401k/457 plans at work, max out our Roth IRAs, and pay for a mortgage, taxes, etc, on a house in an “affluent suburban community” (the choice of housing was based on a variety of factors and can be debated later). Our goal is to be debt free (except for the mortgage right now), reduce our unnecessary expenses without making spartan cuts in our lifestyle, and beef up our savings and investments.
In the short term, being financially independent will give me the freedom to work less at a status quo “day job,” give me more time to work on my entrepreneurial endeavors, and most importantly, allow me to spend more time with my daughter. In the long run, I hope to “retire” early to do what I please. I know that sounds vague, but being free from a typical career path that we think we have to follow opens up many opportunities.
Why haven’t I been writing about how I was able to pay off $50,000 of debt in one year? I don’t know, but I should – and I will.
So, even though I was extremely motivated about writing after leaving FinCon, I had to take some time to reflect on what was important to me. Now that I have a better grasp of my priorities and have identified some goals I want to accomplish, I can start working on helping others again.