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I had 2 questions to figure out in my first 6 months of blogging. 1. Do I like the process of blogging? 2. Do other people enjoy my blog? Some people try to figure out SEO, build a huge twitter following, improve their Alexa numbers (just learned what that was last week!), or earn tons of money with affiliates, ads or products. I’m just trying to figure out if I enjoy blogging. And if other people seem to enjoy spending time in this space. But I learned a few other things along the way. Almost nothing, mind you, about SEO or twitter. I have no idea how to add key words to my post, I’m just trying to get the words out in an honest, helpful and coherent way. But I learned things. So first I will share the things I have learned. Then for those who geek-out over numbers and charts, I will add all of those at the end so you can contrast and compare til your hearts content.

Unexpected lessons:

1. Blogging is a LOT of Work

Every single aspect takes 2-5x longer than seems reasonable. Right now I put in about 20-30 hours a week, and am doing about 30% of what I could/should be doing. If you ever read about how blogging is a fast and easy way to make money, they are just trying to sell you Bluehost. I think there are 20 really good reasons to blog, and one day I might write that post. But if you are looking for a way to make $1000 by Christmas, this isn’t it. After 6 months of part time to almost full time work, I have made $0 dollars. Impressive isn’t it? Actually I have spent about $500-$700. Although, admittedly I have made zero attempts to monetize this site. Remember the 2 questions? If I can make money wasn’t one of the questions.

2. Community is Magic

I believe transformation and progress happens in community. When we hear people’s stories and they hear ours. That is magic. Blogging transitioned me from a consumer of information to part of a community. So I am trying to create that community here for you. Every Monday I send out an email to my community, so we can catch up, share a resource like my new PDF, and you can easily email me. See, there is a bit of risk in delivering the emails because they might get lost beings I use my personal email address as the reply vs. a “do not reply.” But I want it to be as easy as possible for you to reach out. To email a question or say hi. I know we are better when we run the race together.

Remember in the early 90’s when we talked on the phone? Those were nice days. Actually talking to people. I want to go old school with MMA. And do something radical like try talking to people again. Maybe we start by reading and commenting. Maybe we email. Maybe we do Facebook live. Maybe we do a reader group Skype chat or book club.  A while back I sent out a Skype invite to my email list (you should really be on my email list!), and I got to chat with Britt. Later she edited my PDF and gave me great feedback. We chatted on the phone about it. Crazy right? Real people talking on the phone. She was the very first person in the blogging world I told about my son passing away, and how I was struggling to gather together the right words. So when I posted about that Monday, I waited for Britt to comment. I really wanted to know what she thought of it. That is community.

I started hosting Skype chats for bloggers. We all gather on a video call and share stories, ideas, and a little piece of life together. 40 minutes once a month. There is a saying, “A rising tide raises all boats.” But community is magic. I think community can raise the tide. (email me if you blog and want on the evite list! [email protected]

There are a hundred sites out there with great tips and tricks. I want to share those tips with you. I also know if you dig in as part of this community, you will end up with so much more.

If you ever thought it was odd that so many bloggers comment, this is why. It’s not that there are only 20 bloggers reading my blog. =) But they get the power in community. It’s starts in comments and spreads from there. And it makes us all better. It will cost you about 1 minute after you read something, and I often add some questions just to make it easier to jump into the conversation.  That 1 minute investment of time will pay you back 10x over.

3. I’m ready for a professional pivot

When people ask what you do, do you actually want to talk about it? By a rough count, I have had 13 jobs. 1 of those I had some interest in talking about. My work was always a means to make money and pay the bills.

I’m ready to have work that I am passionate about. To know it’s making a difference and I’m building something. Work I don’t mind being part of my identity, because I care so much about the work outside of the paycheck. For a few years I worked as a youth pastor. And I loved it for 4 reasons. Teaching, public speaking, mentoring and community. Those things were amazing. It was sharing stories and sharing life with people. I doubt I would ever work for a church again, but you can’t waste good. And all the things I loved about that job, are the same things I love about blogging. I’m a better writer, speaker and listener because of that time invested.

We are about to wrap up our year off. There have been a lot of conversations and time pondering what our next step will be. There might be a 100 better ways to make money; faster ways for sure. But are there any I actually want to talk about or introduce myself as at a party? Growing up poor can shape the way you look at things. And one thing I struggle with is not working for an hourly wage. In a poor family, you need to make sure you get paid for every hour you put in. Professional growth doesn’t pay the bills. No matter how much I logically disagree with that now, and how big a fan I am of creating passive income that requires an upfront investment of time, this still creates a weird dissonance I struggle with. But I can’t shake this thing being built here.

So for the two questions.

Do I enjoy it?

I’ll admit I get bored quickly. I love learning, growing and new challenges. I’m basically unemployable. After I master something, my silly employer wants me to just do that job for a few years. And I am itching to learn the next thing. Well, I’m not sure I will ever learn, let alone master, everything with blogging. There are hundreds of possibilities. Bored? Ha, overwhelmed… perhaps.

I feel like this is right in my wheel house. I’m learning, writing, doing more public speaking, building community, and helping others in their business. It’s everything I have loved in paid or volunteer work. I’m growing too. The words are coming easier. My thoughts organize themselves a bit better. I’m learning to speak not just with authority but with vulnerability. To tell my stories in a way that inspires and instructs. And I am building community. Friendships. With readers, and with bloggers.

We are creating that rising tide.

And all the boats will be lifted.

Do others enjoy this blog?

Maybe? I hope so? A few people? Ok, so I only really figured out the 1st question in the last 6 months. But that is a solid start.

 

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Hum, I wonder which two months we were on our road trip??? Long travel in a pop up camper is not great for my blogging!

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I literally have no idea what creates Google search traffic. Over the summer I started to get a few each day. It picked up a bit in August. Then something happen Sept 27th. What, you might ask? I have no clue. But if it wants to happen again, I would be down with that. Maybe Google just realized I am here. But I went from about 10 a day to 20-50 over the last month. At least it’s going in the right direction.

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I have no idea what this means. Does Alexa think I started blogging in October? I think lower numbers are better. Not encouraging.

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So I just found this screen today, and was slightly devastated. The other screen that showed my page views counted them much higher. Oh well. Can you guess which 5 posts were featured on Rockstar Finance? =)

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I basically ignored my email list and mail chimp for 4.5 months and had 30 subscribers, including myself and my graphic designer, Holly. Then I changed the color of the subscribe button from gray to red. That alone helped people find it. Now I actually write emails. Like old school letter that people sent to each other before email became 90% work and advertisements. So if you signed up early on and unsubscribed because the emails sucked SO much, I get it. But they are a little better now, if you want to try again. =) And if you have hung around this whole time, you are my hero. I still can’t figure out how to create an auto-respond to let you know you have subscribed. Sorry about that. I know it’s weird. But your first email will show up Monday.

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I am new to Twitter. I joined for the first time ever in May. Yeah, May 2016. I have no idea what I am doing. But I like it.

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I want to do some more things with Facebook. I think it is an amazing platform for community. I might try some Facebook live. Some people have smart phones. I have a stupid phone. So posting photos and whatnot is a hassle. My sweet mama might gift me her old phone as a Christmas present, which would help. You know you are a late adapter if you are a millennial and your mom has a MUCH better cell phone than you.

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Fodder for discussion:

Do you generally take the time to comment after you read something?

Have you struggles with investing so much time in a project without a clear financial reward?

Did you have Halloween burn out? Falling on a Monday felt like we had 4 straight days of festivities at our house!