hiya! tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of our first ever post here (titled “hiya“), and as the tradition goes, we’re going to reflect a little about our first year of blogging here at our next life, as well as take a big look forward… and share some totally goofy facts about ourselves. but most of all, we want your feedback! we’d love to hear from you about how we can keep improving in year #2. so please chime in in the comments!
to celebrate the day, here’s more of us than we’ve ever shown before, from canyonlands national park, during last summer’s trip to moab, utah. (moab is crazy awesome, but maybe don’t go in the summer. soooooo hot.)
looking back at year one
as gretchen rubin likes to say, “the days are long, but the years are short.” that’s how this blog feels to us — both like we’ve been at it for so many days, and like we just snapped our fingers and got to the end of the first year. this is post number 121, so we’ve certainly written plenty — about 120,000 words total, divided into almost exactly 10 posts a month. according to google, the average mystery novel is about 60,000 words, so we’ve cranked out two of those. (that makes me feel good about the goal of being an author after we retire! at least we know i can stick to a writing habit and get words down!) it took us a little time to figure out that two, sometimes three, posts a week feels right for us, but we always knew this wasn’t going to be a blog with new content every day and short posts, since i have a much easier time writing 1500 words on a subject than 300 words. know thyself. ;-) and it definitely took a while to figure out exactly the right voice for the blog, but we purposely try to make our posts encouraging and filled with positivity — that’s what we’re about in actual life, especially now that we’ve stopped complaining about work — but still share the real us, not some sugar-coated, curated version.
the two best things about blogging here have been 1. how doing so has made us take a closer look at our habits, and as a result motivated us to level up our savings and goal-setting, and 2. connecting with so many of you, and feeling all the love in this community! we never would have imagined that starting a blog in the personal finance/financial independence space would lead to so many more interactions than we’d ever seen in our previous blogs (we’ll talk about those, too, when we retire and can unmask ourselves!). this is just an incredibly generous space, and we’re so grateful to all of you who have commented here or connected with us on twitter — it makes it all so worth it.
it probably makes sense that if you blog consistently for a year, you’re going to learn a few things. here are some of our top lessons gleaned from the past 364 days:
- write inspired. all of our posts with the most interactions and shares are the ones we wrote when super inspired, not the ones we cranked out because of our self-imposed deadlines. the best ones of all happened when i was can’t-sit-still excited about what i was writing about.
- be open to inspiration from any source. the inspiration for our best posts hasn’t come from the pf community at all, but from random books, tv shows, conversations with strangers, and travel moments… lots and lots of travel moments. stay open to all of it.
- respond to everyone. i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again: getting into awesome conversations in the comments is the best part of blogging. if you blog and you don’t respond thoughtfully to people’s comments, you’re missing out. plus, it’s only fair to respond after people have taken the time to comment. we feel like plenty of our ideas for posts have come from things people wrote in comments here.
- don’t worry about the conventional wisdom if it takes away the fun. there are lots of “blog rules,” and we follow very few of them. we don’t fill our posts with pictures. we don’t put a trademark on our photos (even though they are our photos, never stock). we don’t post super often, compared to some. we write way too many words. has not doing those things hurt our traffic? maybe. but the way we’re doing it feels right to us, and that keeps it feeling fun, not like a chore.
- keep it real. from the beginning, we’ve done our best to make this an honest chronicle of our path to early retirement, and best of all, we’ve found that some of our best posts have come from sharing our challenges. but they’ve also come from sharing our high five moments. we want to keep sharing the whole journey, good and bad.
- treat others like real people. they could become real friends! it sounds weird to say, because of course we’re all real people, but there are so many of us in pf blogland who never reveal our faces or the personal details of our lives, and it’s easy to think of others as faceless automatons. and yet, over the course of the year, we’ve come to see some of those faceless folks as real friends. just last weekend, as soon as i heard the news of the alaska earthquake, i thought, “i hope maggie and her family are okay!” someone i’ve never met, don’t know what she looks like, and yet i was genuinely concerned. this stuff is real, yo.
to make us a little more real, here are some ridiculous fun facts about us that we’ve never shared before, some of which belong fully on a fill-the-bucket list (more to come on that front next week!).
ms. onl: sometimes i snort when i laugh. i can recite every word to clueless. i’m constantly searching for the perfect gluten-free donut (or kale smoothie — you know, same thing). i have an amazing knack for making derp face in photos. and nothing makes me geek out harder than military aircraft (which is ironic because i don’t, you know, like war).
mr. onl: gets just as excited about eating someplace fancy (like that time we went to per se — in the baller days) as someplace low-brow (like kfc, or some rib shack by the side of the road). has done the high brow kind of skiing (heliskiing) and the low brow kind (ski bumming), and loves them both.
we can’t believe how much our voice has evolved since starting the blog, and we’re excited to see how much more we grow as writers in the next year. we have a bunch of ideas for content we want to write, and questions we want to put out there. but we’d love you to weigh in! we’re floored on a regular basis by how many of you take the time to comment, and that has given us some great feedback. but we know there are lots of you who read the blog and never comment (and that’s cool, too! we’re glad you’re here!). for commenters and lurkers alike, we’d love to know what keeps you coming back here, and what you’d like to see more or less of. we’re going to keep writing in a way that is authentic to us, but we have a list of potential topics that has more than 100 ideas on it, and giving us some feedback would help us pick which of those ideas would be of greatest interest to all of you. so feel free to share anything and everything you think we can do to keep evolving and adding value to the personal finance blogosphere. tell us in the comments, or if you want to leave feedback anonymously, we set up a survey here. it’s 10 short questions, and we are super grateful to anyone who takes the time to click over there.
we’ve got some longer term ideas for evolving the blog, but some of those are probably a bit farther off, since work limits how much time we can devote… for now. once we quit in two year or less, all bets are off! i’m also attending #fincon16 in san diego this summer, so i’m sure i’ll come back from that with a bajillion ideas. hope to see lots of you there!
most of all, thank you!
while we can’t remember exactly what inspired us to start this blog, or what we thought we’d get out of it, we can without a doubt say that we never thought it would all be so much fun! that’s thanks to all of you who read the blog, leave super thoughtful comments or connect with us on twitter. this has quickly become our number one hobby, and the thing we’re most eager to spend time on when we’re not working (or :::cough, cough::: sometimes while working). we can’t imagine not writing for another year or two or ten if it stays fun like it is now. you guys rock! xoxo
Categories: we've learned