Hope for your financial life and beyond

Revisiting Why I’m Here at the 200th Post: The Luke1428 Value Proposition

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.

Next Post: 5 Common Rental Real Estate Mistakes You Will Make

Prior Post: Stealing From Your Employer

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Comments

  1. Brian, this was a very helpful post for me to read at this point in my blogging. I just wrote my 100th post just now and I’m into my 7th month of blogging.

    I’ve hit numerous road blocks already and I was so close to quitting just last month, but something pulled me through and I’ve been doing pretty good past two week. Like you, I blog part-time and I don’t know if I can write my value proposition like you. It was so clear in the beginning, but somehow I think I lost focus.

    Reading your value proposition, I’m making a schedule to write mine. Thanks for this post.

    • It’s easy to drift if you don’t have a plan. I started out completely writing about Bible verses only…then swung to only writing about personal finance topics. Now I have a good balance of doing both which is where I want to be. I think a value proposition will bring focus to what you really want your blog to be about. Good luck!

  2. Congrats on 200 posts! Your posts never fail to get me thinking about my faith and my financials.

  3. Stapler Confessions says:

    Congratulations on your 200th post! As a newer blogger, going through a layoff and a big career transition as a result, it’s reassuring to read that the start is difficult for other people too. Here and I thought I was just being manic or anxious, but I think it’s normal “I don’t know how this is going to end up” jitters.

  4. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Brian, I think you’re doing great. Love the posts here, you do a great job of balancing the faith messages with real life. Huge congrats on hitting the 200th post mark – so glad you’re here!

    • I’m realizing more it doesn’t have to be an either or scenario. Faith and real life are both part of my life. I would be doing an injustice to this blog if I didn’t share both aspects. It’s just who I am. I’m humbled that you enjoy my work and appreciate your support Laurie.

  5. Holly Johnson says:

    Congrats on hitting the 200 post mark. My mom was the only one who read my first 20 posts. Ha! I have nothing to suggest for you. You’re obviously doing great =)

  6. Charles@Gettingarichlife says:

    Congrats on 200 posts, I hope I can make it to where you’re at. I’ve always liked the positive tone of your blog.

  7. Congrats on 200 posts! That’s a pretty big deal. I have been blogging for well over 3 years on Add Vodka and I still don’t have anything written down like you do as far as a value proposition.

  8. Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    Congrats on #200. I certainly enjoy your perspective. I grew up in a very religious household and don’t agree with everything I was taught as a child, but I do think there are tremendous financial lessons to be had in the Good Book, and I think you do a great job in sharing those. I really should consider a value proposition. I think I started for myself and my struggle to get my financial house in order, but it’s grown into much more than that.

    • I think there will be a tendency to float along as a blogger and get sidetracked if you don’t have a value proposition to guide you. A blogger needs to know why they exist…what’s the purpose. It’s been a positive exercise for me, one that I will revisit at least once a year as this site continues to evolve.

  9. Wow, this is a great description of your blog – its purpose, what you can expect to find while reading, and it holds the same tone as your posts. Peaceful, inquisitive, wise. I do think you go into the abstract more often than other blogs, and I love posts that make me think. You challenge beliefs and thoughts and try to think outside the box. This makes for a great foundation to base posts off of, as you mentioned. Something to think about over the week, thanks for the challenge!

  10. Fit is the New Poor says:

    Congrats on all of your success both past and future. I’m like you in the beginning- confused at exactly where to start. Your value proposition has given me a lot to think about as I work on making mine reflect the content quality I want to put out.

    • I remember just starting out…it is a challenge. Even though I expressed some regret about not publicizing my site more in the beginning, it was a valuable time for me to just write. There is so much to get caught up in with running a blog that it’s easy to let the writing suffer. I would encourage you to produce quality content first…that’s the highest priority. Then network. It just takes time. If you can make it to 6 months, you have a good chance of succeeding long term. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

      • Fit is the New Poor says:

        Thank you for that insightful advice. It’s really encouraging to hear from bloggers who started at the beginning.

  11. Congrats on post #200! That’s an incredible accomplishment. While it always seems like if you would have done xyz before starting your site or from day one that your site would be further along, it also can cause procrastination and you may only be on post 20 at this point from waiting so long to get started. I think you took the right approach with focusing on writing and not burning out, which is the real goal at the beginning.

    I must say I never wrote out what my value proposition is on my site. I really need to do this and I really enjoyed reading yours. I think you have a great perspective and one that I as a Christian certainly enjoy and wish I saw more of (including my own writing!).

    • I mainly wish I had promoted more and made more connections early on. I didn’t realize that was important. I couldn’t have had all the xyz’s in place mostly because I knew so little about blogging (and still do in many areas). It’s true that if I had waited to learn blogging basics I may never had started.

  12. Shelly Bass Reed says:

    Thank you for explaining the thought behind the name Luke1428. I do enjoy reading the blogs. You caught my eye, of course, on Facebook and I gave it a read. The content is relevant to me because I can relate to the female perspective in “Mrs.” Luke1428 and the spender in you. (it’s a bonus to know your family personally!) With each blog I am able to walk away with something that challenges me as a married Christian woman. Thank You! Keep the blogs coming! Congrats on 200!

  13. Congratulations on your 200th post, Brian! What an achievement! We started about the same time. My first post was June 17, 2012. And like you – the only person who read was my Mom … when she had the time. 🙂 It was crickets for many months but slowly I started connecting with people and it’s been so much fun. I love your value proposition. It rings very true to you and what you deliver here. Being of service to others is very important to me too. It’s something that I’ve really noticed in the PF world – people genuinely want to help others. Here’s to many more wonderful posts, Brian!

    • Before I began, I wasn’t anticipating how the PF community reaches out to and helps one another. My thought was that I would be met with many a criticism and therefore wouldn’t enjoy the interaction. I was greatly wrong on both accounts. I appreciate your continued support and insight here!

  14. Good stuff Brian! This is an inspiration for me think think about my own value proposition. One of the things I try to keep in mind is the simple mantra of “be helpful”. There’s only so far that writing what I want to write will take me. If I want to really be valuable, I need to write articles that will help people in some way. Congrats on the 200th post by the way! Pretty cool to make it that far. Looks like I’m at 159 as of today, so still a ways to go before I reach your level. Time to get back to work!

    • It’s been a valuable exercise for me to crystallize on paper what I already knew in my mind. And you can never go wrong with reaching out to others. I think that’s where much of our joy is found in life – in helping.

  15. As a representation of the non-religious sector of PF blogging (with the occasional cursing on my own blog), I love your message to readers. You always have great perspectives not only on life, but also on personal finance, and you weave the two together brilliantly. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for the feedback Tonya. My reference to language wasn’t meant as a shot at you or anyone else…just noting a difference. 🙂 I appreciate your support and interaction here and respect what you are doing at Budget and the Beach.

  16. Monasez (@Monasez) says:

    I enjoy your blog and think you have some awesome content. I always wondered what the name of your site meant. Congrats on your 200th post and keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Mona! The naming of my site was one of those questionable decisions in the planning stages I still wrestle with. There is a fabulous message behind it, but it’s not a very intuitive name for a personal finance blog. At some level, it’s probably held my growth back a bit.

  17. FI Pilgrim says:

    Brian, your value proposition doesn’t surprise me in the least. I think you do a great job of being transparent and purposeful in your writing, and your value proposition is evident, even before you wrote it out! I know it’s a valuable exercise though, and I hope it helps you in making this blog even better. Congrats on 200, and good luck on the next 200!

    • Thanks FI…I’ve caught myself drifting in focus several times in the last year+. Hopefully, this will help me stay on track to what I think is important. Appreciate you coming by to read and give me feedback.

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