Hope for your financial life and beyond

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?

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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:

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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

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The Ups and Downs of My First Month As a Stay at Home Dad

star wars storm trooper standing with sonEven though I announced in May I was leaving my 17 year career in education to become a stay at home dad, it’s only been one month since the kids have gone back to school and I’ve been truly alone.

Boy, the house is eerily quiet from 8 am to 4 pm when Kim and the kids aren’t here. I don’t know how the dog has done it the past few years being cooped up in the garage when we were all at work. Sometimes I turn on the radio or the TV just to create some background noise.

Despite the quiet, I’m loving my decision to this point. But it hasn’t all been perfect. I’m finding some things challenging that I didn’t expect.

The Downside of Being a Stay at Home Dad

1. No set schedule

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The Delicate Balance of Self Promotion for Peer Recognition

man yelling through a megaphoneGetting noticed.

What a challenge in today’s world. It’s crowded, noisy and self-absorbed to the point where it seems people hardly can rest and breathe let alone take notice of something. Too many people are doing great things in obscurity, never to be noticed or acknowledged.

A vast group of people don’t mind toiling away in the shadows. They like working behind the scenes, being a spoke not the wheel, only having a voice when a specific occasion calls for one. I find no fault in that having been there myself many times.

They may or may not ever get recognized. Perhaps if they stay long enough their contributions will be noted with a wall plaque or a retirement party. That feels good and right to them – no self-promotion of any kind. Only receive recognition that is stirred up by and comes from peers.

Then there are the entrepreneurs…the visionaries…the go-getters who have a message and a purpose to push. In their eyes, the only way to realize the fruition of their dream is to self-promote it. For them to reside in obscurity and let the message slowly unfold over time would be suffocating. It would bring death to their spirit and ultimately their venture.

There is no compulsion to avoid self-promotion with this crowd. In fact, for those choosing to make a living off their “brand of whatever” self-promotion is a necessity. It’s what keeps the bills paid.

So where are you on this continuum?

To Self-Promote Or Not

I bring up this topic for two reasons.

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How to Make a Thousand Dollars in a Month on the Side With a Blog

Enjoy this guest post today from DW, the creator of and writer at GreatPassiveIncomeIdeas.com.

coins coming out of a computerWhen I was younger I used to go online looking for things I could do that would make me rich some day. A lot of the information I would stumble upon usually involved investing, waiting years to see your returns, or taking significant risks in things like real estate or business ventures.

If you’re like me, all of those things are great and all, but not really what I was looking for. I’m a family man with responsibilities and a mortgage to pay off. I simply can’t risk putting my family’s future in jeopardy in pursuit of trying to make more money.

That’s when I discovered something: The very websites I was looking are were the thing I needed to be doing. So I started getting into blogging and found it to be one of the best semi-passive income investments you can make.

Now three years later I’ve finally figured out how to make a thousand dollars in a month on the side without hardly any major risk or expense. And I do it all at night after the kids go to bed or on the weekend’s when I have some free time.

Here’s how you can do it to.

First – Create Your Own Website

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Building Trust With Your Audience: Should a Blogger Care?

word trust spelled in blocksShould a blogger care about building trust with their audience?

I’ll admit to not thinking about this much when I first started Luke1428. The only care of my infancy involved getting my ideas into print. That was stressful enough. Who had time to think about whether or not my audience would trust me.

The deeper I go into this journey though, the more I’m realizing the importance of this issue. Trust is the basis of all relationships. Without it, relationships disintegrate.

Don’t believe me? Then think about the last time someone you trusted and believed in took a misstep.

Your teen who broke curfew.

Your significant other who cheated on you.

The pastor who became involved in an indiscretion.

A co-worker who threw you under the bus to save their own skin.

How did that make you feel? Betrayed? Cheated? Disappointed? Wary going forward?

Whether we like it or not, we are developing a relationship with our audience, whether that is in a business setting, in a non-profit organization, in our families and yes, right here in a blog. And I would suggest that the more trust we engender from others the more potential for success we will have.

Trust Is Built Over Time

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I’ve Scrapped My DISQUS Commenting System To Run A Blog Experiment

Hidden Nuggets Series #47 – “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge…” – Proverbs 18:15

figurine at computer with blank comment cloud

Will you now be more likely to share your thoughts here?

I find it frustrating when people make blanket statements about a topic without proof to back up their claim. They present their argument as the gospel truth when, in reality, it is only based on speculation. At the most they have anecdotal evidence to support their claim, not anything that would validate their position.

Truth is, I also do this more often than I should.

Evidence is the best indicator of truth. That’s why it’s so vital in a court of law. Without sufficient indicators that connect the dots, the accused will more than likely walk free. That’s why the prosecutor works diligently to acquire the necessary knowledge to convince the court his arguments are valid.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:15 that “The heart of the prudent [wise] acquires knowledge…” Why? I’m convinced it’s how we make better decisions, produce surety and make us prosperous. As Solomon would later right in Ecclesiastes 7:12, “…the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.”

What does this have to do with a blog commenting system?

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Happy Anniversary! Luke1428 Enters the Terrible Twos

Two year old boy cryingIt’s a happy anniversary announcement today at Luke1428. As of July 3rd, I have now completed two years of writing on this blog. In parenting terms, it’s now time to enter the most challenging of all toddler development stages – the “Terrible Twos.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, the terrible twos are characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and a child’s frequent use of the word “No.” During this time, the 2-year old undergoes some major emotional and intellectual changes that pushes them to become more independent. This obviously creates tension between child and parent as the misbehavior from the child and the frustration of the parent mount.

I have to tell you, the terrible twos don’t have to be a reality. They weren’t for us with any of our four children. So I’m rejecting the notion I’ll be dealing with a recalcitrant toddler as Luke1428 develops this year. Like I did for my biological children this parent has a plan to deal with his two year old blog.

Stay Disciplined to Combat the Mood Changes

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How I Increased My Facebook Reach For Blog Posts By Over 700 Percent

Do you have a Facebook strategy for your blog or business? Is it flopping? If so, don’t feel bad. From my reading, countless others seem to be frustrated their Facebook page reach is decreasing.

the Facebook logo I don’t understand the technicalities of how Facebook’s algorithms determine whether or not an update shows up in a news feed. At the simplest level though, it seems the more I like someone’s content, the more I get fed their life. Those who I choose not to like are eventually filtered out, their status updates never to show again. That’s frustrating when you want to keep up with friends or, like me, are trying to reach them with my blog topics.

I’m a small player on Facebook, having only 210 page likes for this blog and 448 friends connected to my personal page. Honestly I haven’t engaged much there over the years, only becoming interested recently when I started Luke1428. Facebook is the #2 ranked site in the world for traffic, so the potential to reach people is definitely there.

Those who have been using Facebook for promotion know it’s not easy. I noticed last year that not many fans who liked my page were seeing my posts…less than 10 views on some days. Not knowing what to do, I decided to track it for six months as I worked on developing strategies to increase total views per post – the ultimate goal of course being to convert those Facebook views into regular blog visits.

The results for me have been interesting and encouraging. For the 40 blog articles I posted to Facebook from January to March, I averaged 22 views per post. As my strategies began to unfold, I saw an increase to 176 views for my 39 posts from April through June. That’s an increase of 705%.

Here’s how I did it.

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The Crew at Modest Money Is Teaching Us a Big Lesson


Hidden Nuggets Series #38 – “…he who gives, with liberality…” – Romans 12:8

Logo from the personal finance blog Modest MoneyJeremy Biberdorf of ModestMoney.com is killing it. I know Jeremy only by his reputation in the personal finance blogosphere, a few casual emails and comments and the fact that he shares my content via Twitter. I’m thankful for his site though because he’s really helping personal finance bloggers out.

In case you are unaware, Jeremy has put together a Top Finance Blog List on his site. If you run a personal finance blog, you can submit it there and get listed/ranked versus other blogs based on your site’s traffic, social media reach and SEO quality. As of today there are 183 listed.

So why would he do this? I mean there are other well established lists out there at Wisebread and MoneyCrashers that do the same thing. Do we really need another one?

Well the obvious answer is that it helps drive traffic to and enhance his site. OK…I can buy that.

I’ve got a sense though there is a deeper issue here. There is something very generous about what he’s doing, allowing us to create a link on his well-established site. It feels “beyond-the-call-of duty-ish” – something he didn’t have to do, but maybe wanted to in order to help others out.

Whatever his reasoning, I still draw a big lesson from it. In the bigger picture for me, it reinforces the need to give and do so liberally. In my mind and my heart I know this concept. I simply tend to forget it.

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