Hope for your financial life and beyond

Audience Alert: An Evolution Occurring at Luke1428

Six months ago, I shared about going back to work to take on an administrative pastor role at my church. I was already the youth pastor there (still am), so I didn’t know how the time commitment for the new role would impact other areas of my life. I wasn’t sure I’d have the time or desire to keep writing for this blog.

evolutionI emailed quite a few bloggers to share the news and ask for their advice on what to do. Should I keep writing at my current frequency, scale back or consider selling the site? I really was at a loss as to what to do.

Amidst the great responses I received came a noteworthy piece of advice from a very experienced and successful blogger. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Think about whether you want to hold on to the blog as a means of expression and connection. Even if you have to scale back it may be worth it to keep it.”

The meaning I took from his statement was this, “Hey, you never know where a blog can lead or how it may evolve.”

Since then I’ve thought a lot about that statement in relation to my writing, my career and my goals in life. What I’ve discovered is going to cause a minor evolution at Luke1428.

[Read more…]

Personal Update: A Stay At Home Dad Goes Back to Work

Some things you simply don’t see coming.

That passing car in your blind spot.

The identity thief who messes with your life.

A certain reality star/business man being a leading candidate for President.

binocularsEighteen months ago I decided to quit my job in education. The reason was so that I could stay at home and manage our household. In addition to my home duties I’d continue to grow this blog and venture into freelance writing, both of which have happened to varying degrees in 2015.

With my freed up time, I was able to accept a part-time youth pastor position at our church in September of 2014. Having been around teens all through my years in education, this seemed a good fit for a way in which I could give my time and energy to the church.

Now, after a year of interaction with the group, my team of leaders and I are seeing great enthusiasm from the young people for the program we’ve put in place. It’s exciting to see them engaged with each other and growing in their faith.

This past summer when we took our high school youth to summer camp, I developed a distinct feeling inside that I could (and should) be more involved and engaged with our church. What happened when I returned and talked with our pastor was nothing short of extraordinary…and completely unexpected.

I Didn’t See This Coming…Ever

[Read more…]

5 Important Life Lessons From My Freelance Writing

Yes, you could take that headline as an announcement. I’ve officially entered the world of personal finance freelance writing. Is anyone out there looking to hire?

writing in a notepad My blogging journey to this point has been an interesting one. As long time readers here know, last summer I quit my job in education to become a stay at home dad. It was a big step but one that I don’t regret. The added time has allowed me to better manage our family activities and devote myself more to blogging.

The results in our family life have been tremendous.

Less stress. More downtime. More kid time. More moments for enriching activities.

Additionally, the extra time devoted to blogging is causing Luke1428 to take off. I already have more page views than I did all of last year. It really is amazing what some additional time, effort and connection building can do.

As great as that is, I’ve felt I could still do more with my time. So I was intrigued when contacted several months ago about writing for a new website. I’d never done that for money before and thought it would be a good experience if only for me to understand the world of freelance writing.

It’s been quite the experience.

Life Lessons Realized From Freelancing

To date I’ve written seven articles for SafeBee.com, a website devoted to making the world a safer place. I’ve really enjoyed it but writing for someone else is not like writing for your own blog. However, it’s reminding me of some valuable lessons that can be applied to any life situation. Here are my initial thoughts about what I’m dealing with:

[Read more…]

Finding Inspiration and Overcoming Mental Obstacles

You can find me today guest posting about my blogging journey and finding inspiration at ThePlutusAwards.com.

ideaEveryone has a different journey that led them to start blogging. I’ve found many personal finance blogs were born because the owner had come through or was still wading neck deep through a financial hardship. The blog became their outlet to share their story and/or maintain accountability as they worked through the financial struggles.

I think that’s admirable and greatly needed. We want to hear compelling stories about people who have paid off $100,000 in debt and are now killing it financially. It’s inspiring and offers hope to the millions of readers who haven’t quite reached that level of success but desire to do so.

But what if you don’t have a story like that? Where does one find the inspiration to not only start a blog but also…

Click here to continue reading…

This Is the Best Reason Every Blogger Needs a Reader Survey

Someone I’ve been listening to quite a bit recently is Michael Hyatt. Michael is one of the leading voices in helping individuals and companies understand principles about leadership, social media and growing their platform. A few months ago I listened to a podcast where Michael detailed his own experience with a reader survey.

reader survey He described in detail about what a valuable tool they had become for him. He felt strongly that every person with a platform (blogger, business website, social media outlets, etc.) should do one.

Well, I’m obviously a blogger and I certainly fit into the “every” category so I decided to give it a shot. I really wasn’t expecting much with my small audience but figured it might be worth the effort.

What I found after conducting a three-week reader survey astonished me. It changed the perception I had towards my audience and made me reconsider what I’m sharing with them.

And if you choose to do one, there will be one question you HAVE to ask your readers. It blew me away and is the absolute best reason, in my opinion, every blogger needs a reader survey.

Here’s what I learned from and about my readers.

Reader Survey Demographic Information

[Read more…]

Sharing the Results of a 4-Month Blog Commenting System Experiment

Today I’m guest posting over at the Yakezie network about my four-month blog commenting system experiment.

As long-time followers know, I started this blog using the third-party commenting system DISQUS to manage all reader comments. In response to an article written by Sam (of Yakezie and Financial Samurai) I discontinued using DISQUS in favor of the standard WordPress commenting system. I did so to conduct a four-month experiment to see how or if it would improve my reader engagement. My experiment is now over and my post at Yakezie today shares what I found.

Click the following link to read my post at Yakezie: “My 4-Month Experiment Not Using a Comment System – Was It Effective?”

[Read more…]

Blogging Mistakes I Made That You Can Avoid

I’ve been at this blogging gig for over two years now and boy, have I produced my share of small and whopping blogging mistakes. They weren’t all in the beginning either. I just made another one last month that has really got me frustrated.

blogging mistakesNone of these have or will cause me long-term damage. Most have just created more work for me. Some happened out of ignorance and some because I just wasn’t thinking.

The worst part is that all could have been avoided if I’d read more or asked for help. As I shared Monday, I’ve had a real problem with asking for help and am slowly learning to overcome it.

Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Here is a list of blogging mistakes I’ve committed that you should avoid. If you are looking at starting a successful blog to make money or just to have fun, don’t fall into these traps.

Not understanding keywords

[Read more…]

I Need Help But Don’t Want to Ask

i need help“I can do it myself.” It’s a familiar refrain I often recite in my head. Even though it may seem obvious to everyone around me that I need help, I choose not to seek it. For some reason, my human nature resists reaching out and asking for assistance.

Why is that? What keeps me from admitting I need help? Why can’t I see the circumstances for what they are and then choose to rely on others to help me power through them?

Logically I should always ask for help when I need it. It would make my life run with greater efficiency and reduce much of the stress I place on myself. However, I’ve come to know this…I’m often an illogical person. I can rationalize away the greatest problem and convince myself I can handle it.

Sadly that’s a recipe for a stagnant life.

Why I Don’t Seek Help

From my life, I can quickly identify six reasons why I’ve refused to ask for help. What could you add to this list?

[Read more…]

Moments Like This Make Blogging Worth It

What drives a blogger to write?

map of the PhilippinesIn my 2+ years of blogging myself and after reading countless other blogs during that time, I’ve concluded there are three reasons why someone would start a blog:

  1. To make money
  1. To make a difference
  1. To share details about their life

In broad terms that pretty much covers it. However, it’s not an either or proposition. A blogger could narrow their focus to one of these tasks or accomplish all three at once. It simply depends upon that person’s goals and objectives.

I’m going out on a limb to say in the field in which I write (personal finance), the overwhelming majority of bloggers would concede reason #2 has to be a part of what drives them. How can I say that? Because I’ve read their blogs and personally talked with them and this issue always comes up.

We are – somewhere deep down in our nature – desiring to see the things we talk about help other people with their finances.

So we do what we can to reach as many people as possible. And the other day I got a message from an unexpected source that made me realize – really for the first time – that what I’m doing is worth it.

You’re Writing From Where?

[Read more…]

An Audacious Goal Recap: What Bloggers Learned From Writing For 31 Days

writing on paperAfter hearing Jeff Goins speak at FinCon in September I became inspired to push myself as a writer. So I embarked on a challenge for the month of October where I would write 500 words a day for 31 straight days. This isn’t unique to me as there are similar writing challenges being promoted around the web at certain times of the year. But I thought I’d give it a go to see what I could learn and accomplish.

I encouraged some of my blogging friends to join me. To my surprise 19 signed on. So 20 of us set out to encourage one another and see how much we could write in October. Here is how it went and here is what we learned.

What I Learned From Writing For 31 Days

I successfully completed the challenge, writing 500 words a day for 31 straight days. The fewest words I wrote was 501 (think that was when I was sick) and the latest in the day I finished a writing assignment was 11:30 p.m. (almost missed that day).

This challenge drove home several points for me:

[Read more…]

Pushing Through An Identity Crisis: 31 Straight Days of Writing

Have you ever dealt with an identity crisis, not sure of who you really are?

identity crisisDo you wear multiple hats and thus stumble for the right words when people ask, “So, what do you do?”

Did this ever lead to an impasse where you weren’t quite sure how to present yourself?

I’ve been there in every form and fashion since I started writing on this blog over two years ago. At the beginning I still was teaching high school and always felt the blog writing was an add-on to any conversation. When people would ask me “What do you do?” I’d respond by saying I was a teacher and then somewhat sheepishly add how I was writing a personal finance blog on the side.

The first part about teaching people could relate to and was met with the typical follow up questions one might expect when inquiring about someone’s career. The add-on about blogging produced nothing. The statement crash landed.

The experience continued earlier this summer when I began to lead with “I’m now a stay at home dad.” Same results.

It’s hard to convince yourself you are something when nobody sees you that way. All people could see in me was teacher or stay at home dad. They didn’t see personal finance writer.

I’ve come to realize that wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. You are who you say you are. People will follow your lead and respond accordingly.

Identity Crisis: Turn Pro In Your Mind

[Read more…]