Weee.

We’re halfway through the year and I’ve managed to publish a grand total of zero blog posts.

*pats self on the back*

It’s not exactly from lack of effort, though. Trust me when I say I’ve been thinking of how to come back to this place almost everyday…and failing.

I draft words in my head and they just happen to not make it here. Totally effective, right?

Well, I actually put my fingers to use and typed up a draft a month ago, but couldn’t bring myself to publish it.

So, what the hell is wrong with me and why have I lost my ability to write on here? And more importantly, what am I doing about it?

That requires a bit of a history lesson.

Where it all Started

When I first started blogging back in May 2013, I had a few goals: connect with the personal finance community, learn from others, and maybe inspire one or two other people through my journey.

As we all know, goals tend to evolve over time as life changes. And that’s exactly what happened here.

Just one year into blogging, I decided it was a good idea to get into freelance writing, like everyone else around me was. I had quit my job to move, and had nothing lined up – what did I have to lose?

Apparently, my passion for writing.

Freelance writing is a totally different beast than simply writing for your own blog. There are layers of expectations and a multitude of guidelines that need to be followed. Some editors want you to write about your personal experiences, but most want you to write for SEO/Google because “that’s what works.”

That’s fine, but I made a huge mistake here: I kept thinking I had to apply what I was learning to my own blog. If I didn’t write about what was trending, or what keywords were popular, or what other people seemed to want to read, I shouldn’t publish anything.

After all, how could I lower my standards for my own blog while writing better pieces for others?

Yeah, like I said, biiiiiiig mistake.

Why?

I didn’t start a blog to appear on the first page of search results. I didn’t start a blog to monetize it. I didn’t start a blog to become internet famous, or to get a book deal.

I started because it was a way to join two things I was passionate about: writing, and personal finance.

But somewhere along the way, I got caught up in the success stories of others. I wanted to follow their narrative. The one with tens of thousands of dollars in income each month, hundreds of thousands of page views, engaged subscribers, pretty editorial calendars, and picture-perfect, active social media accounts.

The problem with all of that? It’s not me. None of it is. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by it, so I kept internalizing it as wow, I must be doing something wrong, because I’m nowhere near that level! I must include awesome pictures with all of my posts, promote them, and post interesting crap on social media!

So subconsciously, I pulled away from it – which meant pulling away from this blog.

Time away gave me some much needed perspective. I finally realized that the simplest answer is to go back to why I started in the first place: to write.

Writing is an Art

Writing – to me – is an art form. It’s one of the truest ways I can channel my creativity (besides making badly photoshopped images).

To say that my creativity had been zapped in the past year would be an understatement.

After shedding all of my freelance writing gigs, I had intended to come back here in full force, but mental blocks had other ideas.

I kept feeling like I wasn’t good enough. My blog, my writing, my voice – none of it was enough. With so many other blogs out there, it felt like the personal finance space was saturated with the same old, same old.

It wasn’t inspiring.

However, I noticed that the few writers who were inspiring me were breaking the so-called rules of blogging and writing for themselves.

Wow. Talk about a revelation.

As bloggers, we’re taught to write for our audience. We should give them value because they’re taking the time out of their day to read our stuff.

I don’t necessarily disagree with that on the whole, but writing for others isn’t what inspires me (and it creates a lot of unneeded pressure). I don’t want to be confined to boundaries when I write, and that’s exactly what blogging had become.

Here’s the Experimental Part

So I’m turning that on its head. I’m not going to write for others; I’m going to write about the ideas I have floating around in my head. One – because I know I’m not the only one thinking about them, two – because I’m inspired to, and three – because it’s time for an experiment without a concrete destination. I just want to enjoy the ride.

And although you can relate almost everything back to money, that more than likely isn’t going to be the focus of this place anymore. My philosophy on finance has evolved so much since starting this blog that it’s almost unbelievable.

That philosophy isn’t fueled by simple statements like “everyone needs to budget!” or “track your spending!” or “stop buying coffee!” (Please kill me if that ever happens.) Those also aren’t ideas that inspire me. Well, coffee fuels inspiration sometimes. ;)

I’m not going to follow an editorial calendar. I’m not going to force myself to write super long detailed posts. I’m not going to limit myself. I’m also not going to turn this into a chore.

Yeah, trying something without really knowing where you’re going is scary. But the alternative is to keep drafting posts in my head, and no one benefits from that.

The truth is, I miss writing, but I’ve been wanting to do something completely different, and fear has kept that from happening.

So I’m going to toss all the old shit aside and pretend like there’s nothing but a blank canvas to fill every time I write here. I might get personal, I might get even more over-analytical (that’s always fun), and I might fail. But doing nothing is failing anyway, right?

If you’re still here tapping your foot, waiting for a more solid explanation, here’s what I can say: I’ve been reading some interesting books on habits, change, behavioral economics, and happiness, all of which have kept me thinking.

I love material that challenges my beliefs and systems, and I want to share those thoughts and knowledge. So you’ll see a bit of that, along with ‘lifestyle-y’ types of posts, and whatever else I feel like throwing in.

This is my little corner of the internet, and it’s time I own it. Point being: I don’t want to write something I wouldn’t enjoy reading (or writing!).

Small side note — I don’t regret any of the choices I made as they got me to where I am today. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had, because I realized what it was I truly wanted from those experiences.

Similarly, just because something isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong. The problem arises when there are one or two ‘standards’ for success which everyone measures themselves against, causing them to forget that there are other, better standards out there for them. Because success doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, nor should it.

 

 

10 Comments

  1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Lifw July 18, 2017 at 1:04 AM

    I wondered where you had gone!

    I empathize with your experience. It’s hard to remember that writing for the love of ideas and the art itself, instead of the SEO life, is perfectly valid too. It just seems less valid when you’re trading the glamorous seeming Sense of Cents style life for less than hundreds of thousands of page views. :)

    In the end I always decide what you’ve done – I write for me. That’s why I love it and that’s why the words flow.

    Welcome back.

    Reply
    1. Erin July 22, 2017 at 7:26 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad I’m not alone there. It definitely seems like you’re doing something ‘wrong’ if you’re not monetizing (making your blog a business), but at the end of the day, what’s worse is not doing what’s right for you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stats that you forget the reason for writing in the first place!

      Reply
  2. Andrew July 18, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Glad to see you’re rebooting the blog. I can’t believe you started in May 2013…I started around the same exact time. I always wondered how freelance writers dealt with so much writing. While I didn’t do that, I do get into the whole blogging universe and know what you mean about trying to write for the readers or in a way to attract more traffic. I will be totally honest and say there are times I’m a little envious of blogs making great income and think I should strive for that. But honestly I don’t have the time to figure all that stuff out and decided to just write what’s on my mind and what interests me. So what are you doing now if you’re not freelancing…if you don’t mind me asking?

    Reply
    1. Erin July 19, 2017 at 2:56 PM

      Thanks for still being here, Andrew! It’s seriously crazy to think about how long it’s been since we’ve started. =) As silly and simple as it sounds, the solution is always simpler than we think – we have to do what’s right for us. I’ve learned a lot from helping other bloggers, but I don’t have the energy to implement all of those systems on here. So many people underestimate what blogging involves, and if you’re only interested in the writing, then hey, that’s what you should focus on!

      I think I’ll be doing a future post on this, but thanks to the wonderful clients I work with, I’ve had the opportunity to learn the art of video editing. So that’s usually what my days consist of now, aside from other VA tasks! It’s a different form of creativity that I’m still stumbling through, haha.

      Reply
  3. Met July 22, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    Erin, this post is fabulous. This is my first time to your blog after listening to all the seasons of Financial Conversation. I’m at the point where I am looking at beginning freelance writing as well, but I have very similar values to you regarding my blog.

    This post serves as a cautionary tale for me at the beginning of my journey. Also, I enjoyed listening to you, so I’m looking forward to reading whatever you want to write about. Just a real person on the other end here, no SEO or PPC to worry about.

    Reply
    1. Erin July 22, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      Hi Met! Thanks so much for being a listener (and now reader!). It can be really tough to balance freelance writing and blogging. I know I’m not the only one who started neglecting blogging in favor of paid gigs. It’s difficult to rationalize blogging for free when ‘real work’ should take precedence. It’s also a bit ironic since I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t started blogging.

      It would have been easier for me to blog had I realized I wanted it to remain a creative outlet. Instead, the lines blurred and I figured my blog should be an extension of my freelance writing. So as long as you keep that in mind, I think you’ll be fine.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Chonce Maddox July 24, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    Love this Erin and I’m excited to see where you’ll take the blog! Feeling like you have the freedom to be creative is so important but creativity can’t just be summoned and I really liked how you touched on that. I also think that while some people come to blogs looking for what they can learn/gain from you, the best types of readers (who stick around long term) just want to hear from you and your authentic self :)

    Reply
    1. Erin July 24, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      Thanks Chonce! Your comment made me think of another point – I tend to gravitate toward personal blogs because I think there’s something even more valuable to be learned from first-hand experiences. There’s also a lot more inspiration to be had!

      Reply
  5. Done by Forty July 31, 2017 at 11:43 PM

    Erin! So happy to see a new post from you.

    I agree with so much of what you wrote, about writing itself, to personal finance and how homogeneous a lot of the writing is, and what kinds of goals we should have for ourselves.

    Anyway, excited to hear from you. And welcome back to the blogroll (which is really just my own reading list.)

    Reply
    1. Erin August 1, 2017 at 12:55 AM

      Thanks! Yeah…the more removed from it I became, the more I realized how much of an echo chamber it was getting to be. I like having some perspective when I write, so time away was for the better (I think). But I’m glad to be back and reconnecting with awesome people like yourself!

      Reply

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