The Cold Hard Truth On Being a Personal Finance Blogger

Last updated on August 15, 2019 | Written by
personal finance bloggers

Think back to when you started your blogging journey, and how many articles you read from so called “gurus” who tried to inspire you through their post on how you can become a great blogger, earn the big bucks, do it passively, and build an online empire.

All sounds good, but now that you’ve been blogging for a few months, years or whatever, how do you feel? I bet you that words such as exhausting, tired, redundant, overwhelming, and long hours come to mind – and these are just some of the more milder words that come to you.

I’m certain that if you re-read some of those articles today that talk about how easy it is to blog, and all you have to do is follow a few simple steps to earn a significant side income, you’d probably be skeptical.

Looking back now at your blogging journey, you can agree with me on this: Being a blogger and blogging is anything but easy.

You’ve been building an your online business, and you’ve experienced for yourself how tough it is. Those who talk website stats, their earnings for the month (or year), flashing paychecks, and testimonials are not telling you the whole story.

It’s easy to throw up a few numbers, take some pictures of checks from successful ad campaigns and talk a lot of their greatness, but nobody shares the path they took to get there, and their journey along the way.

Nobody talks about things like:

  • How many hours they spend weekly or monthly on their blog(s)?
  • What they did to reach out to potential advertisers to reel them in to advertise on their blog?
  • How much money they invested along the way, in design, coding, virtual assistants or staff writers?

Nobody talks about those things, yet those things are more important than the actual numbers them selves.

Personally speaking, I’ve never talked about my online income, so I never really cared to share my journey on how I got there. My income is my private thing, and doesn’t define me of who I am at the end of the day. Secondly,my online income is only a quarter of my income as a whole, so whether I earn this amount or that amount online – it doesn’t matter, simply because my income as a whole is well diversified.

When I first started a wise blogger (who also happens to be a good friend today) said to me: “Only talk in percentages, you don’t own anybody any explanation on how much you earn. That’s your business.”

I may have dabbled into income percentages (especially during tax time or year end), but I’ve never got into the numbers.

Anyways, I’m not here to talk about online incomes, that’s a whole topic on it’s own. Instead, here’s the cold hard truth.

1. Nothing Is Free

Nothing online is free, and everything you do for your blog costs you each and every time. Think about it, every-time you write a post its costing you. Maybe you don’t have a staff writer or two or three, but you’re still paying. Heck, I’ve paid for every single of the 389 posts I’ve written thus far. We all pay with TIME, which also happens to be a precious resource that’s here today and gone tomorrow, and something that we can’t get back.

The time we spend doing SEO, hunting reliable and profitable advertising, graphic design, and general coding costs us every time. Either we pay with our time or we pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to do it, therefore cutting down on our bottom line profit.

Of course, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you have more time than you do money, and so you’re happy to invest it into building an online business. And that’s great, you’ll get to keep more cash in your pocket, but soon you’ll realize that you simply don’t have enough time for everything. So, you’re back into the same boat as the rest and now you’re outsourcing.

But even when we outsource, we still spend a shit load of time on our blogs, and if we broke down the time we spend vs. our blog income, the hourly rate would make the majority of us throw up. Is this what we signed up for? I highly doubt it. I certainly know I didn’t sign up to be working a shitty hourly rate.

So, why do I still do it? The answer is easy – PASSION! When you’re passionate about something, you’re not overly concerned at the rate, because it brings you happiness, pride, joy and many other giddy feelings that money can’t buy!

Whether you have an abundance of extra cash kicking around that you can outsource heavily or whether you do it your self, you’re paying for it one way or another, therefore nothing is free.

2. Majority Of Us Will Never Earn A Million Online

Myself included.

Only a tiny percentage of online entrepreneurs ever become millionaires. The three prime examples for me are: JD Roth (Get Rich Slowly), Pay Flynn (Smart Passive Income), and Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To be Rich). I’m sure there are many more, but those tree really stand our for me – probably because I’ve met all three in person and I follow them on regular basis.

So, back to the harsh reality. Lets’ be honest with each other. Most of us aren’t going to make millions from our blogs. Yes, it happens, but not very often. I would guess less than 1% ever make it that far.

So, should we quit now?

Absolutely not!

Majority of personal finance bloggers (and online entrepreneurs) never become millionaires, yet they’ve been writing for 5, 6, 8 or 10 years. These are all smart, hard working people, who do make a pretty good living online, but they’re not millionaires after all these years. Does that mean that they’re failures? Nope. Instead they lead a modest life, travel the world, stay at hotspots sponsored by others (advertisers), and lug around their 4.4lb laptop wherever they go, so they can write in a 3rd world country, top of the deck of the cruise ship or the tiny island of Hawaii.

Instead we personal finance bloggers are information publishers, opinion sharers, authors and service providers. We run our business like any other business owner does, except the majority of our business takes place online. Most of us are not rich, yet again after writing many articles on the super elite, psychology of money, richness, getting rich and feeling rich – I’ve learned that the term rich is very loosely thrown around, and it’s more of an opinion or perception that anything else.

So, why do we continue to write?

Here’s my quick list of why I write, and the majority of you do as well:

  1. Control
  2. We like $$$
  3. Security through another income stream
  4. The dream of working ONLY for our selves
  5. We want to self-educate our selves
  6. Grater career opportunities (Again…control in many different faucets of control)

3. Know Thyself

Contrary to what the corporate world would have you think, not everyone is at their peak productivity between 9 am and 5 pm. Certainly running a blog part-time or full-time is anything but banker hours. As it turns out, you’re always working, even when not in front of your computer. I answer emails at all times of the day and night, and have become so accustomed to checking my phone for emails on regular basis – even before going to the washroom in the morning after getting up as I’m wiping the drool off of my face. Yup, I’m that dedicated!

Furthermore, getting away from the artificial barriers, others schedules, and beating to the beat of your own drum is when you’ll truly reap the benefits – whatever those benefits may be at the time. Remember! We’re all different.

For example, I rarely get any work done if I don’t start off with reading the news, my horoscope, and other daily news happenings. Why? I’m not one of those that can just start typing and create a post. I wish I was, but unfortunately I’m not that gifted. So, I do the next best thing – motivate my self. Gain ideas, thoughts, feelings, and most importantly get the juices flowing before I start working. I’m up early most mornings (530am), Monday-Friday, and I’m at work by 730am. In the hour or so, I generally reply to emails, edit posts, publish, work with advertisers and promote others. Since I spend most of my day at a desk answering phones, emails, and putting out fires, my writing takes second place, and therefore I write later at night – typically after 9pm and between 1am. Usually 1am is the cutoff, and the latest I’ll hit the hay.

Yes, I do run on little sleep, but then again that’s me. It works for me, and may not work for you.

Some people love to work intensively for two or three days, then take several days off. Others like to establish set routines, or work at night, or like to work alone or with a partner – and that’s fine. Do what best works for you!

Finally, you will always be figuring out when you’re most productive. Routine is good, but then again it also limits you in other ways. When I first started I tried to write after work, and it worked for a while. Then work schedule gets busy, and I have to regroup. Now I do a lot of writing on weekends – early Saturday and Sunday mornings while I’m having coffee are my favorite times to write.

4. Weekends Don’t Really Exist

This seems obvious, but let me assure you that it is not. Unless the vast majority of your friends are also entrepreneurs, nobody will understand your need to work on weekends. Invitations will still flow in for nights out, weekend lunches, golfing trips, dinners, weekend getaways or the baseball game. Yes, you’ll have to learn to say “No” from time to time – something that was hard for me to do.

Getting invites is awesome, and I’m the first one in line for a great social life, but it’s all about balance in the end. There’s nothing worse than planning to spend a whole weekend working on your new e-book, only to feel awful because you have to refuse an invitation to a birthday party. This is especially true of spouses and children, who have probably waited all week to spend some quality time with you, only to find you holed up in your office all weekend – thankfully I’m not there yet. Big shutout to my blogging amigos who are married or living with their partner, especially those of you with kids. You guys are rock-stars!

No matter who you are, your weekends will always be a hot commodity. So, plan accordingly…..and plan well ahead!

5. You Don’t Know It All, Nor Will You Ever

Someone will always be better at something than you. They may be better at SEO, networking, writing or anything else for that matter. This doesn’t mean that they’re better than you. So, instead just focus on your thing, and do the best you can to your ability. The most successful online entrepreneurs use this to their advantage through outsourcing. They literally outsource everything, including writing, except maybe handling advertising and bringing in more income.

Personally speaking, I don’t consider my self a great writer. I’m a newbie to SEO and programming, however I’m REAL. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I don’t shy away from truth or taboo topics. I’m also not afraid to share deep things about my life, because let’s face it, people thrive on reading someone’s drama, juiciness and forbidden topics.

6. There Are No Rules

You are your own boss, your own voice, and your own person. Please, don’t emulate others or you’ll always be left in disappointment when you don’t achieve a given task or reach a certain expectation. I learned this very early on when I started blogging, and accepted certain facts about my blog and my self for that matter.

Instead focus on your own thing, and do the best you can. Furthermore, forget what others are saying – there are more haters ONLINE than in real life – and mostly because it’s easy to hide behind a computer screen, critique others, take cheap shots, and essentially say anything.

There are those who’ll try and critique you. If they’re not critiquing your writing skills, they’re critiquing your you quality of comments you leave on their blog. Seriously, since when did they become an editor? If I wanted an editor in my life I possibly could have had one with a blogging job at Toronto Star – only if I took it seriously. However I didn’t! I like my own voice, and not having what I created look nothing like it was written when it gets published. I didn’t sign up for filming a reality TV show where only the juicy parts get aired, because that’s what brings viewers. Call it cut throat, but it’s damn true, and it ain’t for me.

Final Thoughts

Do the best you can, because even when you’re at your best, there will be someone around the corner waiting to knock you down. I learned to focus on my own thing, and do what I think is the best for me, my blog – what has become a full fledged side hustle for me. I accept the fact that there are better writers than me, those who earn more than me online, or those who are better at all the SEO stuff, however I must be doing something right with over 19,000 unique monthly visitors every month and growing daily.

At the end of the day, after all that researching and brainstorming and networking and blogging and managing – we’re all bloggers with our unique voice. That’s what makes all of us unique – even though a given topic (especially in PF) has already been covered a million times over. Blogging is hard, and it’s something that most forget at time, and just because you’re wearing pajamas while you blog doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard – and fun – and work on top of work for most of us with full-time real life careers.

The truth is I love blogging, and everything I’ve accomplished in this short time. I’m grateful for those who have touched my life through blogging, and the important connections I made over this short period of time. I enjoy being an artist with words, but the truth is I still have a lot of growing to do, and that is going to take some serious heart and soul, creativity, mistakes, time, and practice.

Bloggers, what have you learned in your blogging journey?

Readers, what are your thoughts on bloggers? What do you like? Dislike?