Hope for your financial life and beyond

Should I Spend 250 Dollars and Change My Blog Name?

Should I change my blog name? That’s the question that has been on my mind for the last six months. It’s not that I’ve grown tired of the name Luke1428. I’m simply wondering if the name itself is holding the growth of my site back.

Luke1428 Logo

Is this a good, bad or neutral blog name?

A site grows as much as the owner stays consistent with posting quality content and is knowledgeable with how to get that content recognized. Building connections with others, understanding SEO and advertising/marketing are all vital to a blog getting recognized. But what about the blog name? Doesn’t it all start with a title that attracts people’s attention?

Luke1428.com was chosen from a list of about 50 titles I had developed. It’s derived from the Biblical book of Luke, chapter 14, verse 28. In that passage, we learn that planning ahead for a task promotes success and reduces the risk of failure. That’s certainly an applicable theme when it comes to any life circumstance, especially personal finance.

However, it wasn’t my first choice.

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How to Write Great Content For Your Blog

ID-10020413The blog world is such a crowded space. How many millions of posts get published every day? Too many it seems. All that content being pumped out sure makes it difficult to get noticed.

No matter how much preparation is done before starting a blog, we all have unrealistic expectations about what those first few months will be like. Nobody (at least in the realm of us common folks) has 2,000 page views the day when that very first post goes live. Building an audience takes time, hustle and more than one publication every three months.

While social media tools like Facebook and Twitter and SEO strategies can assist the blogger in building an audience, the number one way to attract readers who will remain loyal to your blog is to write great content. Produce quality material week in and week out and people will eventually come and then continue to read.

That raises an interesting question though: How does a blogger know if the content they produce is great? How can their content begin to stand out in whatever blog space they write? That’s what this post today will address.

Am I even writing about potentially great stuff?

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A Weekly Roundup: The Snowman Edition

Snowman 1I haven’t done one of these weekly roundups recently, but I had some extra time on my hands Wednesday through Friday due to the extreme weather in Atlanta. In case you missed the news, Atlanta received 2-3 inches of snow on Tuesday. It crippled the interstate system leaving many stranded overnight on the roads. There were even some kids who had to spend a night or two at school because they couldn’t make it home.

I wrote about how it created panic, excitement and pressure in my Wednesday post.

Consequently, we had three days off of school, due to the snow and extremely cold nighttime temperatures which turned all the melting snow into ice.  That allowed me to have some awesome time with the kids and also the wife who worked from home for two days. While Mrs. Luke1428 churned out tax returns, the kids and I played around the house, watched some movies and built the snowman pictured here.

Yes, we used real charcoal for the shirt buttons and Toll House chocolate chips to make the outline of the mouth. A few other added accessories like a white bow tie just above the scarf and voilà…a perfect snowman…Georgia style.

His name is Olaf or Bob depending on which child of mine you are talking with. My kids ask for your help in settling the “snowman-name-dispute” – would you name him Olaf or Bob? Share your vote in the comments section below.

In addition to our snowman construction (and multiple snowball fights), I had a little more time than normal to read this week. Here are some reads I found useful:

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Providing For Your Own Is Always Right

Hidden Nuggets Series #25 – “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – I Timothy 5:8

Let it go

Let it go

I was saddened the other day when I went to visit the site of a personal finance blogger I had begun to read and saw that as of December 31st he had discontinued writing. I wouldn’t say we were close blogging friends or anything but he had commented here and I had commented at his site. Plus we were social on Twitter, so I guess that counts for some connection, right?

He left a really nice closing letter explaining why he was going on an indefinite blogging hiatus. That’s a really nice touch. Nothing says “I don’t care” to your readers like suddenly disappearing into thin air without leaving so much as a whisper as to why.

His reason for stopping – personal issues.

Blogging has become an integral part of my life. I have loved connecting with people online, sharing my story and hearing theirs. Outside of my family and faith, nothing is giving me as much pleasure right now as building this site and being social with people online.

But if I came across some personal issues or my family needed more of me for some reason, I would gladly give it up.

Well…reluctantly…sadly…but gladly.

So I say “Kudos” to my colleague for being responsible and recognizing what held more value.

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How I Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

Have you ever struggled coming up with blog post ideas on a regular basis? Beginners and seasoned professionals alike experience times when ideas are hard to come by. Thus the dreaded writer’s block ensues. When this happens it can be very discouraging and stressful.

blog post ideasI experienced this early in my blogging career. It was as though everyone else had posts to publish day after day and my well had already run dry. I felt my blog was in danger of getting shut down before it even really got started.

So what did I do?

For starters, I didn’t panic. Whenever you start something new it takes the mind some time to adjust to the newness of that thing and begin thinking along those lines. Blogging is no different. Eventually the mind will adapt itself to the concept that you are now a writer and that it needs to be thinking about writing topics.

The second thing that I did was pretty dramatic and literally changed the direction of my blog. From then on, and with a few other things I’ve learned along the way, I’ve had little problem coming up with blog post ideas to write about.

Ways to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

Expand Your Horizon

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Give Me Your Guest Post Yearning to Breathe Free

ID-100223483A belated “Welcome to 2014” from Luke1428! And for you Chinese zodiac fans out there, welcome to “the year of the horse.” I trust your holidays were filled with many blessings and you are looking forward to the upcoming new year.

I’m sure by now you have read countless posts about New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any this year? Perhaps the better question is, have you already broken some of them?

I’ll be honest with you…I haven’t made any yet. That feels weird for me because I’m all about setting and pursuing big goals. I had a whole host of them I worked towards and discussed all of last year on this blog.

Despite my lack-of-resolution status, I have determined that 2014 will be a year of letting go for me.

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Knowing When to Give Yourself a Blogging Break

tied up handIs blogging wearing you down? I know for me there have been various times during the past year where it felt like a drag. I’ve seen this sentiment expressed elsewhere on blogs, so I am fairly certain it’s a common phenomenon.

If you are like me and feel a sense of commitment in keeping to a predefined schedule, you probably just suck it up and write through the tough days. A couple of times this year when I did this though, I felt my writing quality suffered.

If your main income is derived from blogging you don’t have much choice. You essentially have to keep working through the doldrums.

Whatever your situation, it’s a sickening feeling to be tied to something that you can’t (or choose not to) take a break from.

For 2014, I’m going to work on giving myself some freedom to take writing breaks from my blog if I feel the need. Nothing too extended – just skipping a post here or there. I think the benefit to me will be staying fresh and not forcing myself to produce writing that is sub-par.

Are there optimal times to take a break from your blog? I think you should at least consider it on these occasions:

Around Holidays

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My 8 Step Method for Writing a Blog Post

How do you put together a blog post? I had no clue how to answer that question when I first started blogging. I just started writing without much thought to methodology. After several frustrating months, I realized the need to come up with a procedure for writing a blog post.

I needed to be able to see an idea through from inception to publish date. So today I’m going to outline the process I developed for writing a blog post that has helped me avoid some frustration along the way.

8 Steps to Writing a Blog Post

From start to finish this is what I do:

Step 1: The Listing of Ideas

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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

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10 Reasons People Don’t Tweet Your Post

(Disclaimer: This is the longest post I’ve ever written at Luke1428 – over 2700 words including this disclaimer. It’s been in my mind for awhile and a recent article at my blog prompted its posting. Let me dispel any notion at the start that I am upset at someone for not tweeting my posts. I love the community that is growing here and the readers I’ve encountered. You have added so much to this site that I am grateful  for the interactions and any Twitter love I receive from you. This post was born out of my first year blogging experience and is mostly designed to help up and coming bloggers understand the psychology of Twitter users and to not become frustrated when it seems no one notices or shares their work. With that said, I hope you enjoy this article and if you don’t have time to read my epic now, bookmark it for later consumption. Thanks!)

twitter-bird-white-on-blueWhen I first started blogging over a year ago, the question that serves as this post’s title gnawed at my brain every time I would put a new article on my site. Compared to where Luke1428 is now, I was getting pretty much no traffic in those early days. As I heard my blogger friend Shannon from The Heavy Purse say once on her site, “Only the crickets were reading.” Now that’s funny! But a few months in, I could see from the site statistics that people were viewing my posts. And more specifically people I knew that had Twitter accounts were leaving remarks in the post comment section.

So why wasn’t I getting any Twitter love? I mean, the Twitter share tab is right there at the end of the post. If you cared enough to read (and especially if you left a comment) why not tweet it out to all your followers? Seems like the courteous thing to do, right? Needless to say, I was very confused as a newbie blogger.

Last Tuesday, I wrote a post entitled “Freedom: It’s Why Budgets Rock!” that generated a lot of buzz on my site and at the various social networks. I responded to 15 comments, received 7 Shares and 9 Likes on Facebook and had an astounding 29 Tweets (only three of which were generated by me). So 26 other people felt that article deserved to be shared on Twitter, making it the most tweeted post I’ve ever had.

(I know those statistics are chicken feed for some of you but I was pumped!)

(Shameless plug update: Since I wrote this, another post “Is the Effort to Get Rich Worth It?” has received 37 tweets. Go figure.)

What made these posts stand out more than others? Believe me, I’m still trying to digest that because whatever it was, I need to do more of that. I have my theories and will share some ideas about tweeting shortly.

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Will You Still Love Me If I Blog For Money?

blog for moneyIt’s a tad bit presumptuous of a post title, don’t you think? I’m taking a gigantic leap in assuming my readers love and appreciate the content they get at Luke1428. Furthermore, that they would continue to tune in day after day if there was an inexplicable directional shift in my blog philosophy – like if I chose to blog for money?

As it stands now, Luke1428 is growing. June and July have seen the best viewership to date in the little over a year the site has been up and running. Why risk ruining a good thing now?

Because I believe this space can be better. Maybe even awesome!

But let me ease any apprehension you might be having right from the start. I could never blog for money only. It’s not in my DNA.

Why I’m Here

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