12 Lessons from 12 Months of Create My Independence – Part 1

| November 29, 2012 | 17 Comments

Next Tuesday marks this blog’s official 1st birthday. It’s come a long way with some of my expectations exceeded and some unmet. I’ve learned a ton, met many great people and have become more and more passionate about building something great of my own. Looking back, here are the lessons my first year of blogging have taught me:

1. Working hard for practically no pay, can be fun

My blog was not a money maker over the course of this year. In fact, it was an expense. I wrote just over 100 articles over the year and I would guess that each one took me an average of 2 hours, from start to finish. That’s 200 hours of work, not including any of the time I spent building, tweaking and maintaining my blog, which I could estimate at another 50 hours. If I were to go out and work a part time job for $20 per hour, that same labor would have made me $5,000 over the course of the year. But instead, I was in the red.

BUT, I had a blast. I worked hard at something. I built something from nothing. A piece of the internet exists that didn’t exist before. A community of people include Create My Independence as part of their lives. A new set of friendships have developed for me. A new feeling of accomplishment has come over me. A new motivation from deep inside to build more things and try harder has been born. Those things are worth much more to me than $5,000 and all kinds of value added for an employer and not for me or my future.

2. Building relationships when you’re passionate about something is much easier

After going out to Denver this past September for the 2012 Financial Blogger Conference, I can’t help but compare the conversations, networking and relationship building success I had there to that of my full time job. Although I’m an introvert and am pretty uncomfortable “networking” or going up to complete strangers and talking business with them, it came fairly easy to me during the conference. These people shared my interest in personal finance. They, like me were trying to or had successfully built something out of nothing. They were on a similar mission to me. They were around my age. They were like me.

During the past year, I’ve found that relationship building is much easier and comes more naturally when you and the people you meet are both excited and passionate about what you’re doing. It’s almost a shame how it’s forced so often when it’s uncomfortable and where there isn’t passion. This blog brings out the fun in networking for me.

3. Learning new things is difficult but very achievable

One year ago, I barely knew what a blog was. I knew they existed, but had only read a few of them. It wasn’t until I switched from personal finance books, radio shows and podcasts to reading more and more online that I discovered how fun and exciting blogging can be. The blog, Zen Habits, really was an early inspiration to me. I saw how successful the blog was. I saw how the blog’s author, Leo, had just been writing about his life and about how he had become inspired to change it for the better. I LOVED the idea of changing your life for the better and I LOVED the idea about motivating and inspiring others at the same time through a blog.

I learned it all because I wanted to. I figured out how to do it all. Now today, I’m no programmer, but I could make a blog in my sleep. I know the ways to promote a blog. I know how to get traffic to a blog (although I’m not incredibly successful at doing it yet). I know so much more than I did when I started. Much of which I’ve learned through my relationships with other bloggers. It’s been so much fun to learn.

4. There are people out there who think the way you do

When I started all this blogging stuff, I was a little different when it came to personal finance. I was out of debt, and against debt, I was saving half of my take home pay and I was living about as frugally as I could. People would have thought I was nuts if they had known the details of my day to day life. I was different. Today, my attitude has evolved even more. I’m now excited about building passive income from investments, building a business of my own and achieving financial independence as soon as humanly possible. I’ve become a freak about early retirement and living differently than the norm. I am weird and not like most people I know. In fact, I don’t know anyone in my local area that thinks the way I do.

And then I found the community out there who thinks like me. They have blogs also and love to write about their views, their goals, their achievements and their lives. It’s inspiring and motivating to me that these people exist and they are on a similar mission. I would have never found this if it weren’t for blogging this past year.

5. There are so many opportunities to succeed and accomplish something out there

It seems like the average person settles for the regular gig. Go to work, make money, go home, sleep, do it all over again. It’s okay to do that for a while as you work toward your bigger goals, but is that really the end goal of life until you retire someday? I believe there are TONS of opportunities for all of us. We just have to look for them, get up and take action and work as hard as we can to take advantage of them. My eyes have been opened to the opportunities since I’ve started blogging. I didn’t see many of them before this. It’s quite exciting.

6. There is a direct correlation with how hard you work and how well you do

To be honest, I’d give myself a B in how hard I’ve worked over this past year on my blog. I’ve had some ups and downs. I just didn’t know when I started out how to balance a full time job, a social life and a side project/hobby/gig/passion. At 250 hours over 12 months, that’s over 20 hours a month that I spent on this blog. Broken out by week, that’s about 5 hours per week. Some weeks I spent 10 hours working on this and some weeks I spent zero.

What I have noticed is that the harder I work, the more results I see. Now, I do believe that you should work smart, not hard and that not all work will produce results. But when working smart, more time and effort equals more achievement. There is only one way to publish new content that engages your readers and that’s by spending the time and effort to sit down and write. I am not satisfied with the effort I’ve put in this past year and am committed to cranking it up a notch. Achievement happens by doing, not thinking.

Part 2 to come….

Bloggers, what would your top lessons be from the time and effort you’ve spent blogging? Outside of money, how have you developed and grown from it?

Non-bloggers, what hobby/project/side gig/passion have you pursued that has changed you, motivated you or helped you grow? What have you learned from it?

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Category: Doing What You Love, Learning New Things

Comments (17)

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  1. krantcents says:

    For me, blogging is all about the connections and interaction with other people. On a subjective level, I think I gotten a lot of intangibles out of blogging.

  2. Christian L. says:

    Kraig,
    My personal finance habits have always been healthy, but I got more aggressive with my savings. I realized how fortunate I was to finish college with no debt at all. So I took advantage of that and saved even more. When I was in college I started a Roth IRA. Once I was capable, I started a 401(k). I learned how important the latter was when I stared managing Smart Military Money.

    I’ve grown more responsible with my money. Don’t get me wrong, I still make mistakes. I also love to have fun and it’s not always cheap. But overall, I’m wise beyond my years.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. Andrea says:

    Congrats on making it to your blogiversary! A lot of blogs never make it this far. :)

    I’m almost to the 2 year mark for my current blog and I think what I’ve learned is best summed up by the REO Speedwagon song “Roll With the Changes.” People start blogging (or resume blogging in my case) for a lot of different reasons, but inevitably your goals and motivations change over time. Instead of clinging to something because it was the original plan, always be open to trying something different – but don’t forget why you started in the first place.

    If it’s not fun anymore, make it fun again. When blogging becomes a hassle you’re more likely to give up.

    Know what you want to get out of your blog and what it will take to get there.

    For every post you write, read at least 10. Never stop learning from your peers or seeing the value in what others have to say.

    Most important, don’t stop! Like anything else, blogging has ups and downs, but if you ride out the “blah” moments things will always get better.

    • Andrea,
      Thanks for the kind words. You were one of my early mentors and the reason I jumped on the social media bandwagon (side note* I’m almost at 500 followers on Twitter now).

      Congrats on approaching the 2 year mark on blogging.

      I agree with your advice on never stopping. It has been an up and down year and I feel good ending the year on an up note. Again, thanks for being a friend and a mentor this past year. I’m glad you are seeing success with your new site design and construction business!

      Andrea rocks everyone. Go talk to her if you want/need help with a blog or a site!

    • “For every post you write, read at least 10. Never stop learning from your peers or seeing the value in what others have to say.”

      YES. This. I read a ton of PF blogs every and I’m constantly amazed by how hard everyone works on their projects, from appearance to content to community-building. I’m new this part of the blogging world and I’m so inspired each day by all of you!

      • Lyn,
        Like you, I’m constantly amazed at how hard bloggers work at their blog to make it something great. On one hand, it intimidates me because the bar is set pretty high for me, but on the other hand, it motivates me to do my best as well.

        Hope you stop by again and I’ll check out your blog as well!

  4. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom says:

    FINCON was incredible wasn’t it? I wouldn’t count myself an introvert but I was nervous to “network” with strangers. Little did I know how easy and fun it would be.

    I’ve really enjoyed my blog lately. I love it when I feel inspired to write something and to just send it out there. It’s especially awesome to see people sharing it with their circle of friends.

    Wishing you another great year!
    Mandy

  5. Happy birthday! Yes it can be fun but it also needs persistence and it is useful to have more than one writer who can step in from time to time. Maria does most of the writing on TMP – I hand;e a lot of the technical stuff and occasionally write and check blogs when she is away (as at the moment).

    Maria should be at FinCon 13 and good luck for your second year!

  6. Happy soon to be blogiversary! I feel like the best thing that came out of blogging for me like you is being embraced by the PF community and realizing there were others just like we you liked to talk about money and live frugally!

  7. Congrats on 1 year! Great milestone and I’ve enjoyed watching you grow. For me I was surprised with how much I enjoyed the whole writing process. I started blogging as marketing method for my business, but now I enjoy writing more than coaching. Now, I just need to refine my craft and become a better communicator and grammer checker :-)

    • Hey Brent,
      Thanks for stopping by and for being a regular reader. It’s because of people like you that I’m positive about doing this and continuing into this next year. Blogging sure is a good way to market your business, isn’t it? If only I had a business to market, it would come in handy!

  8. Sara says:

    Congrats on the 1 year – that flew by!

    For me and my non-blogging hobby/passion,(ballroom dance) I just hit my 2 year mark! I’ve come along way and I learned a lot(with the help from my dance instructor) in order to achieve great things and improve without plateauing, you must map out your goals for each month & year. Even some times break it down by the week. For me it was hours spent practicing, taking lessons, taking group classes, watching myself back on video, working with professional coaches and sacrificing other things in my life(other hobbies, friends, $ resources)

    Can’t wait for the next year, bigger and better goals!

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