7 Reflections On My First Year Blogging // A Peek Behind The Curtain

Exactly one year ago today, I hit “Publish” on my first post.

My purpose for this blog was simple: I just wanted to write.

I set my expectations low. It would have been okay if no one read the words I wrote. In fact, at first I didn’t share my content in any way. I waited five months before joining any social platforms, and even then I didn’t expect anyone to follow me. I had no idea what was in store for me.

I certainly didn’t expect that strangers would reach out to ask to meet up, or that thousands of people would read what I wrote.

Now an entire year has gone by, rumbling past like a freight train. It was a loud year, a shuddering, clanking whirlwind charging by. In its wake, I am dazed and my ears are ringing.

So in honor of this blog’s first birthday, let’s get into the details. We will touch on the milestones, the crazy days, some stats, and a Q&A.

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Milestones

Most Views

I signed up for Twitter in October. I had never used it before, so I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. One day, a ton of paddle boarders dressed as witches floated past me on my daily walk, and I took a quick snap.

A day later, my phone almost buzzed off of the table. The tweet had been picked up by the news syndicate The Skimm, and on October 30th my baby blog was inundated with people peeking into its crib. Unfortunately, none of them thought it cute enough to stick around, but it was a fun rush to go semi-viral for a day. I am still trying to catch up to that record number of views months later!

Most Viewed Post

7 Reasons You Need to Stop Riding Your Bike To Work

I received a lot of rage clicks for this one, and a lot of people missed that it was satire. However, I think the amount of shares shows that it was appreciated after all. I guess this means I have to keep trying to be funny.

Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:

7 Reasons You Need to Stop Riding Your Bike To Work

How I Spend $108 A Month on Groceries and Eat Like A King

4 Busted Myths About Women and Money

How I Became a Software Engineer Without a CS Degree

Why We Plan To Downsize From 1,000 sq ft 

The Hardest Post To Write

Confessions of a Frugal Fraud

I really didn’t want to write this post. It’s hard to admit that pieces of your life are subsidized by others. However, talking about the bills I don’t have to pay seemed important to the overall context of my frugality. It informs my spending reports, and also my philosophy that you don’t have to do (or pay for) everything alone if you get creative.

Favorite Post I’ve Written

This one is tricky, I think it’s a tie between two posts that pushed my creative boundaries. The first one kicked around in my head for a while, and I eventually wrote it out on paper to try to get it right. It resonated with a lot of people, so I felt pretty proud of the result:

You Flipped the Script

The second was an experiment with humor. Humor is one of those skills I am working to hone; it doesn’t come quite naturally. I’m always impressed when an article teaches me something via humor or by looking at the same old boring topic a new way. I had a lot of fun writing my first tongue-in-cheek post:

How To Make Your Significant Other Hate FIRE

Infographic: A Year In Review

Inspired by The Luxe Strategist’s first year in blogging infographic, I made one too!

 

Features

Every feature comes with its own rush of endorphins. Someone liked my post enough to share it. And now even more people are coming to read it! Having my work picked up by these publications, syndicates, and blogs meant a lot to me.

Rockstar Finance featured me twice.

The Financial Diet

Four Pillar Freedom featured me thrice.

The Money Mix

CampFIRE

Guest Posts

I used to be a lurker. I never commented on any posts or e-mailed anybody in media because I figured that they were flooded with messages all of the time. Cue my surprise when a blogger I admire (Luxe from The Luxe Strategist!) reached out to me for a guest post, and when Gwen from Fiery Millennials agreed to swap posts. Other writers become your teammates when you get off the bleachers and onto the field.

Guest Post for The Luxe Strategist

Guest Post for Fiery Millennials (and she wrote a money diary for me)

Podcasts

I used to think every interview was conducted in-person, with experts flown in to chat for an hour or so. My mind was blown when I realized that many interviews are done over Skype, Zoom, or the phone. This means regular people like me can actually be interviewed for podcasts! Within a month timespan, I was scheduled to be on two podcasts.

In my first, we talked about interview tips, negotiation tactics, pivoting in your career, and overcoming imposter syndrome:

Simple Minded Millennial

On the second program, we delved more into my FI plan, my love for travel, and also some more negotiation advice:

FIRE Drill

Both podcasts were amazing experiences. Being on the shows gave me a greater appreciation for those who podcast regularly. It’s not easy! I would like to get better at interviewing and learn how to project the passion and liveliness that makes listening to someone enjoyable.

7 Reflections Via Questions & Answers

1. Michelle asked, when do you do your writing? 

Some people have schedules. They post religiously on Tuesdays or every Monday and Wednesday.

Here’s a handy chart to show when I posted this year:

Chart of the days when I post in a year

Clearly, I have no schedule at all. As a reader, I didn’t realize bloggers had posting schedules. I would just binge read from the beginning, and then periodically check in every few days to see if there was anything new.

Studies have shown that intermittent reinforcement, or rewards on unpredictable timelines (like in gambling) keep people coming back for more. As a writer, I figure that posting irregularly might have the same effect.

Before you congratulate (or condemn) me for the evil-geniusness of posting intermittently, the truth is that I never wanted a schedule for myself. It would be too much pressure to self-impose deadlines when life is constantly in flux, so I write when I have time (usually during the weekends and on some weeknights) and post whenever it is ready.

2. Mr. Thrifty asked, what motivates you to stay in the game?

I mentioned before how I had a really low bar for success when I started. I win this game if I get the time to write and craft something I can be proud of. When my daily views creep down to nothing or a post completely flops, it doesn’t bother me or make me want to quit.

3. Michelle asked, what were your highs about blogging?

A lot of my highs came in October, when I joined Twitter and people started sharing my posts. People other than my English teachers were reading what I had to say! You can see that my monthly views had a huge uptick as soon as I waded into the world of social media.

On an individual level, getting to write again has been the best part. I get excited to come home from work so I can write. I mull over ideas and then sit on my couch under a blanket and try to get everything down on paper. I rifle through hundreds of photos I’ve taken trying to find ones that will fit. The trips down memory lane are definitely high points.

4. Moriah asked, what parts were difficult that you didn’t expect would be?

One aspect I didn’t expect was simply inner turmoil over how much to spend on this hobby. It is a chicken-and-egg problem.

  • The blog needs to make money to be reinvested in the project
  • I need to invest in the blog first so the blog can make money

I would love to hire a designer for a proper logo, but so far I have done everything myself. It took years for me to even cough up the money for a domain name, let alone a logo design, so I am taking my time with this aspect of blogging.

 

My early designs for the blog

5. Dillon (and Jess) asked, how’d you feel about your name being used in a major media outlet when you’ve mostly been anonymous? And why have you stayed mostly anonymous after the name drop?

I almost feel like this could be its own post.

Essentially, I don’t feel very strongly about my anonymity. It seems that people mainly keep anonymous for two reasons:

  1. They don’t want people in their real life to know about their online persona.
    • They could face consequences in the workplace.
    • Friends and family might react poorly to some personal information.
  2. They don’t want people online to find out who they are in real life.
    • It could compromise their safety– physically, emotionally, or financially.

Both are quite legitimate reasons to remain anonymous. Yet neither is particularly compelling for me. I am grateful to have relationships in my personal life and work life that don’t feel like they would be compromised if people were to learn that I am interested in financial independence.

MarketWatch featured me in a story about 401(k)s, and my full name was in the lede, attached to this blog for the first time. Nothing really happened. It helps that there are enough people with my full name that if you Google me, I still don’t even appear on the first page. (Which is too bad, it used to feature the time I got a hole-in-one during a golf tournament!)

Overall, I think it’s okay to have my name attached to the blog, but I’m not going to go out of my way to parade my real identity.

6. How has blogging impacted your pursuit of FI?

I have always been frugal, so the progression to pursuing FI was easy and natural. However, blogging has changed a couple of things. It pushed me to set a concrete goal, a date by which I aim to be financially independent.

I also have never been a budgeter or paid much attention to the actual numbers, but writing this blog makes me do more careful accounting. Every month I publish expense reports, and after trips, I tally up the total spent. Before, I didn’t know how much things actually cost, or what was an average grocery budget, but through the blog I have much more data.

7. Jess asked, What are your long term goals for your blog?

Despite low expectations when I started, I want to invest in this project and make it grow. I have seen what others have done with their platforms. They create real communities, get people talking about important issues, and most of all, inspire and motivate people to change their lives.

I have already been surprised by the number of people reaching out to me and even readers e-mailing in their questions. I have realized that I can have a real impact on people’s lives. If I can make them think, reconsider, or laugh, that is success.

My ‘dream big’ goals would be to be able to earn money from the blog and to use this experience and platform to build enough of an audience to write a book.

What’s Coming Next?

There are a few things I am aiming to achieve in the next year of blogging:

  • Highly detailed ‘cornerstone’ posts with concrete advice.
  • Figure out my “pitch”: how would I describe myself, my blog, and my mission with few words?
  • More Q&A Posts

I can already see huge improvements from the first few posts to my most recent posts, so hopefully as I continue each post is a little better than the last.

What Do You Think?

What would you like to see on the blog in the upcoming year?

Were you surprised by any of my answers?

What happened to your hobby in the last year?

Thank you for being here and reading Financial Mechanic. This blog is made possible because of readers like you!

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Ms FireMum @ A Family on FIRE

Wow! What a year!

Thanks for writing this post. I just started blogging in January and am feeling a bit like you in your early days. I just want to write about my finance journey, I don’t know if I’m adding much value to the world (I hope I am!) and if my only readers are my husband and my dog. But I’m inspired by your journey and I’ll be following your story closely.

I have some questions – personal finance is a heavily saturated niche. So much has been covered, multiple times over. What do you do for idea generation? Have you found coming up with new content challenging, and what are your tips to overcome writers block?

Kim | Thinking of Someday

Congratulations on your first year of blogging and your accomplishments thus far! And I love your “year in review” infographic. It’s interesting that posting randomly has worked well for you. Our first time around with blogging we tried posting weekly and eventually got a little burnt out. Now we post about every other week and it has worked out a lot better.

Jim P.
2 years ago

Really great post! I enjoy your tweets. Congrats on your success!

Mr. CC
Mr. CC
2 years ago

Keep fighting the good fight! ?

Tread Lightly, Retire Early

Hey now, I featured you too! Granted, through your guest post with Luxe, but I feel that counts!

Congratulations on making that first year mark! And so glad we got to meet up in person 🙂

Tread Lightly, Retire Early

Yeah, because Luxe got most of the views on that one ?

APurpleLife
2 years ago

WOOHOO!!! Congratulations on a killer first year!

Adam @ Minafi
2 years ago

Solid first year – congrats! I think your mindset is the healthy way to grow a blog and is paying off. Love the info graphic idea too – might have to steal that for my yearly update. 🙂

Tom Blake
Tom Blake
2 years ago

Congrats on an incredible year 1! 🙂 Looking forward to reading your work over many years to come! Also your Pinterest graphics are fantastic!

Ms Mod
Ms Mod
2 years ago

Congrats on your amazing first year!! I love this recap and can totally see that book in your future (can’t wait to read it). Way to go and looking forward to this next year of reading the great content you create :)!

Michelle FrugalityandFreedom
Michelle FrugalityandFreedom
2 years ago

I really love this recap! Thanks for answering my questions. Intermittent reinforcement, hey? How devious. Well deserved success there.

I’m coming up on one year of travel, so gathering stats for a post on that too, as inspired by this blog journey recap. Related: How do you make your infographics?

PFI
PFI
2 years ago

Congratulations on a year! I enjoyed the format of this roundup. It’s a great balance of numbers and thoughts. I will definitely think about this When I got my year.

Glad you started writing and I look forward to many more years of reading.

route2fi
route2fi
2 years ago

Love your blog, FIMechanic! You produce loads of great content! ? Is your views for your blog page views or session? Obviously it’s really smart to use Twitter a lot!

Greg - Boss Man Jax
2 years ago

Awesome first year – again, congrats! Excellent job laying out the info and stats – enjoyed reading it.

Matt @ The Working At Home Man

Hi FI Mechanic,
Great first year summary!
It’s definitely a good insight when your answering the questions of readers (opposed to writing what you think people want to see).
How are the page views going? Are they tracking with the amount of articles that you have written?
I’m looking forward to seeing the article next year – 7 Reflections On My First Two Years Blogging!
Keep up the good work,
Matt

Abigail @ipickuppennies.net
Abigail @ipickuppennies.net
2 years ago

Happy blogoversary! Sounds like you’ve learned a lot this past year. I’m off to read the frugal fraud confessions now. I missed that one the first time around.

Diana
2 years ago

Happy one year. I’m impressed with what you’ve accomplished. Keep rocking!

Mr D
2 years ago

Congratulations on the first anniversary. Your efforts are showing in your results.

Tawcan
2 years ago

Congrats on your first year. Many blogs diseapper after 6 months so making it to the year mark is a great milestone. Here’s to many years to come.

Financial Pilgrimage
2 years ago

Happy blogiversary! Your results are amazing for a first year blogger. You clearly have a message that people want to hear about. I look forward to following your continued success!

Ariel Scheirer
Ariel Scheirer
2 years ago

Congratulations on a great first year! I’m most intrigued by your lack of schedule for writing. I’m interested if there is a particular impetus for when you write. That is, even though you don’t have a publishing schedule, do you find there is something that causes you to write/publish on a given day.

Ms Zi You
2 years ago

Congrats on the anniversary – I love your blog and unique take. Not to mention I was eagerly watching to see what happened when your anonymity cloak was dropped, it’s great to see the positive (or lack of negative) reaction.

fixitlady
2 years ago

I think this is my new favourite post! It has lots of content and great graphics. Brilliant!

millionairedojo
2 years ago

Congrats on the year! I noticed your blog a while ago and was intrigued by your unique posts and writing style! You stand out for sure (in a good way)! Will be staying tuned over this next year and perhaps we’ll both figure out the monetization part.

Mr. Fate
2 years ago

First, congrats on what is clearly an extremely successful first year of your blog! Second, thanks so much for sharing your insights. As a new blogger, it’s great to hear your thoughts and detail of the initial year – very helpful and informative. Here’s to an even better 2nd year and I’ll be sure to follow you!

Mark
2 years ago

Well 49 comments nice. That in itself proves the success of your blog. I too finished my 1st yr, but I am no longer doing mine to make money. I do it just for the fun. Congrats on your first year

The Smart FI
2 years ago

I’m a little late to the party but its never to late to say congratulations for such a great rookie year of blogging. With your trajectory, the sky is the limit.

Derek @ The Money Family

congrats on the first year success!

Shin
2 years ago

Hi, I’m Shin 🙂 These blogging reports from the FIRE community are so fun to read as a noob blogger! Haha. You and A Purple Life are making me seriously getting Twitter – I’m also just using blogs and YouTube as my marketing strategy, but recently I’ve seen the importance to diversify ex) like how my friends don’t read the newsletters I send to their inbox LOL, but responding right away on social media.

I also have a question on the native WP comment system if you don’t mind. I think comments are important to build a community, but I often get frustrated by the WP native system where if I tick the ‘notify me of new comments via email’, I not only receive a reply for my own comment (which is the only thing I wish), but also receive several other comments that come after me (which are not replies to mine). Is there a possible way to fix this? Thanks a lot in advance!

Shin
2 years ago

Oh sure thanks for your reply! 🙂

Rob @FinanceAbilities
2 years ago

Congratulations on completing your first year blogging! I’ve been blogging since March, so I can identify with all the work that goes into getting a blog going and building it up.
Sounds like you’ve made tremendous progress this past year, keep up the great work! It’s good to see that you are still so excited about blogging and looking forward to the future of your blog. You give me motivation to meet that same 1 year milestone myself.
I’m looking forward to reading your articles in your 2nd year! Congrats.

Jaimee Grante
1 year ago

I love that you didn’t have a schedule and that you have worked on logos and design yourself. I am just staring out and i was thinking a schedule was a must but it doesn’t feel natural to me. I am also trying everything myself in terms of design. My writing needs lots of improvement but I figured starting was they way to get better. Thanks for being my 2nd Facebook friend 🙂 and publishing this post. Super inspiring ❤️

Becky
1 year ago

Well done on such an exciting first year. Your writing style is really compelling and I can see why you’re getting featured. Here’s to going full time with it ?