One year ago, I took my first shaky steps into the world of blogging.
I was pretty nervous. What if people thought my writing was shit? What if people thought I was shit?
I spent forever needlessly messing around with my website and first articles before finally sucking it up and getting it out there.
Of course, it was totally fine. I was being a wuss. Who doesn’t love finance made easy?!
Despite everything lacking some serious polish, I reckoned I was on to a good thing.
Here we are one year later (definitely on to a good thing) and I’ve learned a huge amount about the art of blogging and trying to make it big in the world of social media.
Appeal to more people by niching down
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the way you appeal to more people is by narrowing the scope of your website. When I started my blog I tried to write about all kinds of personal finance topics, and I was attempting to appeal to everyone from poor students to rich professionals to young mums.
Needless to say, this wasn’t particularly successful. People would come to my website and not know who I was even trying to talk to, understandably leaving pretty underwhelmed.
It took me a few months to realise that having a defined target audience was so important. I want to reach a hundred people who are really really interested, not a thousand who are pretty meh.
These days I write primarily about helping young Kiwis grow wealth. I still mention other useful stuff like saving money, but if you’re a young person (or any person) who wants to know how to grow their wealth, then MFYK is the place for you.
Give great service, and your readers will advertise for you
These days hardly anyone has any time to make sure their customers feel valued and appreciated. Not because they don’t care – it’s just that it’s one of a billion things to do.
I get a lot of amazing emails from my readers, and always take a lot of time to give great answers and point my readers in the right direction. At first glance, this might not seem like the best use of time – why spend 30 minutes crafting a masterpiece novel for a reader when I could be spending quality time with my Excel spreadsheets? – but it’s absolutely essential.
My goal is not to have millions of kinda-fans. But hundreds or thousands of true fans. The kind of people that rave about MFYK to their friends without me begging them for shoutouts on Twitter.
Heaps of my new readers now find me via someone who’s recommended me, which is awesome, and I know that part of that is thanks to everyone actually getting a reply when they write to me with their money issues, instead of some automated ‘Thanks!’ response.
You don’t need to be on every social media site straight away…
Most people seem to find me via Google searches (probably searching something like “Who’s that super cool finance guy?”) but it wasn’t always that way. When I first started out, I was an actual and literal Internet nobody.
I had way too many social media accounts that I didn’t manage effectively. Nobody wanted to see those three same damn articles endlessly clogging up their Facebook feed, especially when I hadn’t even bothered to write a funny caption. My Twitter was in a similar state, and I don’t even want to think about my Instagram.
However, I got my shit sorted. these days if you search “Index funds NZ” I’m one of the top results.
… But Twitter is a great way to make contacts
The social network I use the most for my website is definitely Twitter. I use it not so much to drive traffic but to make contact with people in the industry.
I’ve found a really good (albeit slightly spammy) way to get MFYK out there is to look at someone who writes in my industry and just follow everyone who follows them. Genuinely a great way to meet people and make contacts – it’s led to MFYK making media appearances with RadioNZ and Newshub, for example.
One thing that ain’t so great – negative feedback
One of the first things I posted out to the wide world was an article about investing on Stuff.co.nz.
Just picture it – fresh-faced, innocent Ryan, enthusiastically posting his (in hindsight, pretty bad) first ever article.
It got slammed.
It really sucked to read the comments since it was my first ever article and it was disheartening that everyone seemed to think I was already shit at it. To be fair, a lot of it was valid criticism and nobody was even mean about it. My writing wasn’t very good and I’d overly dumbed-down the content.
Anyway, I didn’t let it get to me (much, *sniffs back a tear at the memory*) and I tried to take the feedback on board. I know now that you can’t please everyone – gotta be about that niche life – and it’s not the end of the world if something isn’t received well. You’ll always be getting better.
Perfectionism = procrastination
Before promoting my blog for the first time, I ummed and ahhed about dumb stuff like what kind of font my title should be in, or what was the best picture for an article.
What I was really doing was putting off promoting my website because I was shit scared.
It was something I’d wanted to do for so long, but actually getting to the point where I felt I was ready to put it out there was surprisingly difficult.
Like everyone always says – the best way to learn to swim is to get shoved in the deep end. I had to just suck it up, ignore the nagging voice saying “Am I good enough for this?” and do it.
What’s blogging really like?
Blogging is hard work, but it’s fun and rewarding.
Typically I spend about 15 hours a week on my website; doing everything from writing articles, managing social media, answering emails, improving my website, researching etc. I typically do a couple of hours after work on a weeknight and then some more on the weekend.
It’s meant I’ve had to give up other things I enjoy, like sports (though I think being in more than one basketball team was probably excessive anyway). It doesn’t really matter to me now, though, because it’s a much better use of my time to be working on something I care about.
I’m so into everything I write about, and I get such a kick out of helping other people see their way clearly. It’s awesome.
Blogging also improves other skills. I’m a much better writer now (also thanks to my amazing editor since I still get ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ mixed up) and I know heaps more about marketing and website design etc than I did a year ago.
Blogging can be an awesome side hustle, too. We’ve all seen people who gave up their jobs to write travel blogs and spend their days at the beach or write about fashion and get flown around the world to see shows. It’s really cool that your passion has the potential to become your job – something I hope to do someday too.
So those are my thoughts on what I’ve learned in my first year of blogging?
Is it something you’ve ever thought about doing? Hit me up in the comments!