Two years ago, I started this blog of mine. Technically, July 10th was my second blogiversary, but as that day landed on a Wednesday this year, I published my normal Wednesday roundup post and waited to share this post until today. It’s still my blog’s “birthday week,” I suppose, and clearly I prefer to stick to a posting schedule.
I first started reading debt payoff and then financial independence blogs seven years before that, but it wasn’t until maybe six months before I set up this site that I considered actually writing my own blog.
This blog has grown in size and importance in my life in ways I didn’t expect since then. I certainly hoped for the accountability that comes from sharing online, but this past year has been much, much more than just accountability.
Since I wrote about my year mark of blogging, the friendships I’ve made have grown deeper. I’ve met so many wonderful people in this community (and had a number of them stay in my home). I now count people I’ve met online as some of my closest friends. Absolutely something I never would have imagined earlier on in this journey.
I expected that blogging could be fun and something that could keep me on track with my finances, but even a year ago I didn’t realize how deeply it would get into my bones. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself “a writer.” I grew up with an author for a mother and always excelled in English classes, but it’s a label that I never saw for myself.
I wasn’t someone who wrote a LiveJournal back in the day, and I only ever wrote a handful of times in various diaries. “A writer” is something I never really aspired to be. I enjoyed writing papers for school, but again, it was never an identifier for me. Two years into blogging though, I know it absolutely to be true: I am a writer.
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Blogging about women, money, and the environment
This second year of blogging has been all about finding my voice and my niche. I set out to write about financial independence and sustainability, but becoming a driver for women’s personal finance snuck up on me.
I initially landed myself on that topic with my Women of Financial Independence post back in January 2018 when I’d been blogging for just six months and I didn’t realize what an impact it would make immediately and over time.
Women’s personal finance
Fast forward eighteen months, and that part has grown in leaps and bounds. My Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group has over seven thousand very active members in it, and I’m chatting with them via Facebook Live once a week.
I have 42 weeks of my Wednesday roundup series under my belt, and each month my reach grows with it. Someone asked recently why I write these every Wednesday, and I told them that I absolutely love seeing referrals go out to other bloggers. And there are few things that make my day more than when someone tells me they found a new favorite blog through that series.
Imposter syndrome and self doubt
Writing my Women of FI post back as a new blogger, I struggled with some serious self doubt as its reach grew. Who was I to be a leader in women’s personal finance? I was just learning what I was doing online in the first place and suddenly I was being looked to as someone who could converse about women specific issues around money.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel like I was the one to talk about the topic. There were so many women who were so much better versed than I was, and I wanted to pass the mic. I don’t often find myself in a place of self doubt and full of imposter syndrome feelings, but they were there in spades.
Now, I confidently tell people that piece of my blog. It feels just as much a part of me now as talking about money and the planet. It was a slow burn to get myself to that confidence, but I feel like I can now talk well about what it means to be a champion of women and money. And I’ve learned and grown so much by going through that process.
So thank you, to the wonderful women who support me, amplify this space, and teach me what it’s like to be a leader here. I would tell someone else in my shoes to own it, and it’s finally sinking in as advice to be taken myself.
Blogging about money has clearly been a central tenant for this blog since I first started writing. Two years in, I feel like I have learned a LOT about personal finance. Both general but also specific to me. Getting your money right takes a lot of mindset work and figuring out what works best for you. Writing down my thoughts has absolutely clarified this for me.
In the last year, I’ve also gone to my first financial independence retreat and attended more meetups (including one for my women’s personal finance group as well as ones at my house). And I’ll be headed to FinCon for the very first time in September.
I tell people in real life that I’m going to a conference for money nerds and they keep getting confused that it’s not work required travel. I’m so excited though, and I can’t wait to see everyone there. This is the year where it really feels like these are “my people,” and spending a few days hanging out all together sounds like a ridiculous amount of fun. The money stuff is great, but the community part of being around people who get you is the best.
Sustainability and zero waste
My first year of blogging, I didn’t write as much about sustainability as I’d meant to. Of course, most of my writing has an undercurrent of these things, but I didn’t write many focused posts explicitly about this topic. That all changed when Budget Epicurean pitched the idea of a zero waste guest post for my site.
She wrote an absolutely fabulous post on her journey to zero waste, and she lit a fire under me to re focus on this topic in my writing. I live the sustainability thing every day, and I want to share what I know.
I’m now writing pretty regularly on this topic (I have a tab up top that will take you to everything environment/zero waste), and I love the intersection of financial independence and sustainability. Slowly but surely, this seems to be getting a larger platform, as it should. The topics naturally blend together, but too often the money piece dominates the conversation and suddenly the sustainability piece falls off.
I come to frugality from sustainability, and I’m sharing that conversation here. I’ve found myself to be somewhat of an expert in this space, and my goal is to leverage that to encourage others to make changes in their lives (like replacing their toilets).
Inflection points in year two of blogging
I hit my first year of blogging without a single mention in the mainstream media. Since first being featured (anonymously) in New York Magazine’s The Cut last November, I’ve been in a number of articles including Business Insider and MarketWatch.
After that, I found myself recording with ChooseFI, one of the biggest podcasts in the financial independence space, thanks to a referral to them from Military Dollar. Much like career networking, it often comes down to who you know and who is willing to speak up for you. Clearly, the relationships are most important to me, but I’ve appreciated that those connections have also meant that I’ve been able to expand my message of this blog because of it.
Blogging, and growing your influence, takes time. A lot more time than most “start your own blog” posts like to make it sound. Of course, a few can make it out of the blocks quickly, but that is absolutely not the norm. I wrote for sixteen months before a much larger blogger passed my name on to the journalist who wrote that first article about my story.
And it was that same journalist who wrote the New York Times article last month that ended up in the print edition of the Sunday Times. Seeing my name there was completely surreal, but the best part again was watching so many people land on my site and then head out to other blogs written by women thanks to my Women of FI list.
I am just a single voice in this community, and I want everyone to know that there are so many incredible voices that are worth following along with. My story may resonate with some, but I know the more you can see and relate to someone’s story, the more likely you are to make changes in your life.
And feeling that there is a whole community that surrounds you? Suddenly it doesn’t feel like you’re doing something totally countercultural and there’s no longer a reason to need to hide or excuse it away. We’re changing things in real ways online, and I can feel it.
There is always room for a new voice and a new blog
There is always room for a new voice and a new blog. The internet is huge. We are closing in on eight billion people on this planet. Almost half a billion of them speak English as their first language (and many many more are fluent). And yet, when I started this blog, I had the feeling that this personal finance space was already full. There were so many other voices already filling the community, certainly there wasn’t a need for mine.
Two years later, I know this absolutely not to be true. There is always room for a new voice and a new blog. This corner of the Internet is still so small and there is always reason for a new story to be shared. We all come from different backgrounds and different experiences and that diversity is what makes this community grow.
Perhaps we don’t need another blog post on the 4% rule. But maybe we do. If that post isn’t just the numbers but the how and the why, then yes, we absolutely need it shared. Numbers can be dry, but personal finance and money is anything but “just the numbers.” We are human, and it’s those stories that stick with us and shape our future.
Where do I go from here?
Above all, this blog will continue to be about my story and my journey with my family along our path to financial independence while treading lightly, living mindfully, and intentionally bringing more light and love into this world. Just like yours, I believe my story matters, and I intend to continue writing it out here.
With that, though, I am coming around to the concept that to be all those things that are important to me, this blog can also be something bigger than just sharing my story. It can be grown to be something that makes a bit of money. And with that revenue, I can continue to grow what’s important to me.
I’m having so much fun with the Facebook Lives in the Women’s Personal Finance Facebook group. I’m considering adding some to my Facebook page since it is open to everyone. And perhaps migrating those videos to YouTube to continue to grow my reach. (But I still have zero interest in editing said videos)
Growing income to grow my impact
And then there is Pinterest and search engine optimization and ways to grow this blog in size. As much as I’ll admit, it is fun to watch the numbers grow, my goal is to reach out and touch as many lives as I can.
It makes my day, my week, my month when I get an email or a comment from someone sharing how my words have completely changed their money story. Or the outpouring of people who shared with me that they had switched out their toilets after listening to me passionately talk about them on ChooseFI.
So finally I’m starting to listen to the people in my life that there may be really good reasons to look to growing income with this blog. Because I still don’t really want to do much on the back end as far as technology grows. I don’t have the extra time to spend here with my already very full life. But if I had the monetary means, I could employ someone else, change their life immediately, and grow the back end piece and grow a better blog in turn.
And then, just maybe, while growing my reach and my impact, I could fill a Donor Advised Fund, something that seemed like a long off dream with just my day job income. I never begrudge a fellow blogger the opportunity to be paid for their hard work and long hours to produce something that’s free for me to consume. So why do I hold myself back?
This is yet to be the announcement that things are changing on this blog. I still don’t have any ads on here, though that day may come. I will continue to include the small affiliate link (usually to Airbnb or an Amazon item) as it makes sense with my normal posting. But if I can do what I’ve always been doing and at the same time leverage that financially? Perhaps that just makes sense. Time will only tell.
To my readers
And above all, thank you to my readers, my friends, and my community. You are what makes this blog worth it. Thank you for following along with my journey as I share my struggles and triumphs of this one precious life I’ve been given.
When we start blogging, we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter if we are just writing to ourselves. But it absolutely does. Once you’ve been writing for a few months, you realize there’s a reason why you decided to publish your words publicly. And shouting into the void is a whole lot less fun than you would have imagined.
This isn’t my diary. It is a blog, shared with the world. And so thank you for reading my words on my little corner of the internet. I am so glad you are here, and I am so glad you are taking this journey along with me. Here’s to the next two years.