I didn’t anticipate this journey. Three years ago writing on a blog wasn’t just the last thing on my mind – the thought didn’t even reside in my mind. Blogging was a foreign land I knew nothing about.
Yet, here I am today, almost 18 months and over 143,000 written words into this endeavor, publishing my 200th post. In that time span, there have been many personal finance blogs that have pumped out more content on their sites than I have on mine. I’m not jealous of that fact but rather feel exceptionally pleased with my progress, considering I’ve been doing this part time.
I still have a lengthy road ahead though to become an awesome blogger. That’s my goal. I consider today’s post a valuable step in that direction.
Humble and Clueless Beginnings
My first post, “It’s All His” rolled off the presses on July 3rd, 2012. Of course no one read it, outside of family. Nor did anyone read the next one, or the next one, or the next…you get the picture. I didn’t care. A transformation had occurred in my life and I was dying to share it.
My only concern in those early days was writing. I didn’t worry myself with blog goals or objectives. At the time, it made sense to only focus on the writing because I wasn’t sure how long I would stay in the game. I’d been told most bloggers burn out in six months or less, so I didn’t want to pour time and energy into theme construction, networking, site monetization or all the other tasks bloggers perform to become successful.
In retrospect, that feels like a mistake. It would have proved more productive had I developed the purpose for my blog, outlined my objectives and promoted my site’s value. Most likely, this site would be further along now had I accomplished those tasks at the start. But, as we know, the start is a confusing place to be, fraught with scary feelings and questionable decisions.
Correcting the Oversight
I first heard the term “value proposition” while reading this post from Sam about the uniqueness of the Yakezie network and Yakezie.com. A value proposition is more than an “About” page or the story behind why you started blogging. We all have that information on our site. The proposition takes it a step further by explaining what makes your site special. Have you ever thought about that? I certainly hadn’t before reading that article.
With all the sites on the web, why should someone care enough to read your content? A value proposition outlines what makes your site beneficial, perhaps even unique. It informs readers of your core beliefs that serve as the foundation for every post. The proposition also focuses you on turning out quality content. Once in place, you shouldn’t write anything that doesn’t connect in some way with your value proposition.
In essence, it’s an expanded blog mission statement designed to tell people why they should read you.
So, today I’m fixing something that should have been done in the beginning – writing about the value you can find at Luke1428. And I’d like to say “Thank you” to Sam for challenging me to think about this.
The Luke1428 Value Proposition
Balancing faith with functional advice. My faith challenges me every day. It was through my daily Bible reading that I became convicted about my personal money management. That conviction led me to catalog all the verses in the Bible I could discover that spoke on a money related theme. That exercise surprised me in the scope and detailed nature of the passages I located. It dawned on me like never before that God cares deeply about my attitude toward money and how I handle the resources he has put under my care.
You will find my faith woven into many articles here like my Hidden Nuggets Series. It also serves as the branding for the blog itself. The site’s name comes from a New Testament passage (Luke 14:28) where Jesus is describing a man who is attempting to build a tower. The man’s friends end up mocking him because he couldn’t finish due to his lack of planning. That’s not a place I want to be at the end of my life. I believe avoiding that scenario is possible when I balance my faith with practical, everyday money applications.
So Luke1428 has religious underpinnings but it’s not all Sunday School stories and “Praise Jesus!” posts. There’s real knowledge to be gained here and work to be done if you and I are going to engage in activities that lead to victory with our money. So that’s why I also share practical ideas – like my experiences with family budgets, savings plans, poor spending habits, kids and money, investing in stocks or my adventures in rental real estate.
Passion to serve others. This site is not about me or about making money. You may see a few ads over the course of time but I’m not here to become famous or get rich blogging. My wife and I have worked hard, planned well and been blessed with some good fortune along the way. This blog doesn’t need to produce a dime for us to live on. I like that feeling and how it relieves pressure on me to compromise for the sake of a dollar.
Ask those who have known me longest and they would say I’ve always had a passion to serve and help others. That’s what drives me each time I sit down to write.
A language and thought safe zone. The very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” What a wonderful privilege our country has given us to express ourselves – within the confines of law – in ways we so choose. And oh, how we’ve learned to express ourselves – coming up with some pretty colorful and dynamic language expressions that spill forth in our verbal and written words.
I don’t personally get offended when people swear on their blog, attack people’s character or discuss lewd and suggestive material. They clearly have that choice and it’s not my call to judge them. You just won’t find those things here though because:
a) my faith challenges me to avoid communicating in that way,
b) some people are turned off by that type of content and I want to attract as many people as possible, and
c) my own kids (and other kids I know) read this blog.
Exercising the mind. On this site, you will find loads of practical advice in the posts and in the comments section to apply in your life right away. I thrive on providing that because those nuts and bolts helped pull me away from my overspending habits to lead a more disciplined and focused life.
Some topics take longer to apply because they cover deep-thinking issues. In my personal life, that’s part of who I am – very introspective. Some topics so lock me up at times, I get stalled in making a decision.
It energizes me to tackle abstract concepts. I appreciate the mental struggle in discovering the many angles to a particular situation or topic. So you will find discussions here on topics such as faith, courage, work ethic, fear, motivation, discipline, and vices. I’ll share some of my own experiences about difficult issues in relationships, the formulation of goals, and the need for patience and perseverance. (I’m usually grappling with these topics when I share them so perhaps we can help each other through the struggle.)
Incidentally, if you are truly looking to understand and know me – the person inside – you’ll find the essence of my being in posts like these.
Building connections through communication. The most rewarding part of writing and reading blogs is the opportunity to communicate and connect with others. For me, that’s the lifeblood of a good blog. Blogs whose writers don’t engage the readers enough are difficult to enjoy. I want to be where the community is, interacting and learning.
So, I’ll respond to you if you leave a comment. Have a question? Shoot me an email and I’ll get back with you. It’s my commitment to have an interactive blog where readers hear and learn from me but also from one another. Your comment will get a response from me, guaranteed.
Ever growing resources. Out of my posts are coming some valuable documents that you can find under the “Resources” tab at the top of the page.
One which I’ve already mentioned is my collection of verses from the Bible that have a money related theme. That project took me a year to accomplish. It’s one of the most exhaustive lists I’ve been able to find on the web.
Second, is the .pdf related to developing goals. You are probably familiar with the goal-setting acronym SMART. But what about a goal-setting SPLASH plan? I often am asked by people how to determine what areas of their life to set goals in. A SPLASH plan answers that question. I wrote about why I love SPLASH plans here and you can download the forms for the plan here. I’ve used it in my own life to great success.
Look for more resources to be available as my site continues to grow.
Hope For Your Financial Life and Beyond
This site has developed into a passion and I don’t plan on going anywhere soon. I’m humbled each day by the support and encouragement that is offered by those who read. It’s for you that Luke1428 exists and why it will continue. My desire is that you would find hope and peace for your financial life but also in other areas where you may be seeking answers.
To my blogging friends, I’ll leave you with the same challenge I took away from Sam. Come up with your own value proposition. I know it sounds like the type of post that may not garner many eyeballs on the day it’s published. Doesn’t matter. It’s an exercise in becoming a better blogger and understanding what makes your site tick.
Don’t feel as though it has to be something elaborate either. It could simply be a list of bullet points. And just because you write one doesn’t mean it won’t change. This is my first attempt at a value proposition. Even now at the end of the post I’m not sure it completely or accurately describes all that’s important about this site or is inspiring enough to make people want to keep reading me. I guess time will tell on both accounts. I fully intend to revisit and tweak it over time as my blog and vision evolve.
In closing, I’d like to ask for some constructive feedback so I can better understand how I’m perceived. I’d love to know what you think my strengths are. What is it you feel I add to the personal finance blog community? Are there any things I could do better? What frustrates you about my blog?
As I said, comments are the lifeblood of a blog, so don’t be shy to leave one below even if you perceive it to be negative. Having dealt with criticism while serving in many positions of leadership, I’ve developed a pretty thick skin. You won’t hurt my feelings by pointing out something you think I could improve on. If you rather not comment in public, you can always hit me up via email through my contact form.
Thanks for reading.
Prior Post: Stealing From Your Employer