Sicorra wrote a great post a while back asking how we define success.
Interestingly (to me, at least!), this comes up a lot. Particularly in the wild west world of writing about personal finance on the internet.We look at our peers, and we compare.
Ever thought the following while reading on the internet?
- I started at the same time as person X, yet I am not making as much money as she reports.
- Why does he have more followers than me?
- When am I going to start making all this money?
- I think my writing is darn good, why does the person who is an inferior writer get more interaction?
- Wow, that site looks professional. That person must make a ton of money.
Well, as is oft-repeated: comparison is the thief of joy.
When you start to compare, remember that you’re comparing all the things you know against all the things the other person wants to display. So, person X is working harder than you, the girl making a ton of money is doing things you wouldn’t do, you won’t make money with an attitude like that, viral content is largely not about excellent writing, and professional design only means professional design.
Why did you start writing?
Go back to this when things seem hard. Because they will. You’ll come to a point where you’re angry that you can’t come up with something to write. Where it seems like the blank page is taunting you. The voice in your head will veto every thought that pops into your head. “Write about saving half your income,” it’ll say. You’ll say, “NO! I just did that last week and the week before, and I seriously doubt they want to hear about it again!” you’ll snap back.
Which, again, is how crazy starts.
But remembering why you write, or, hey, it’s not too late, define now this moment, why you write. I have a post dedicated to why I write here, and I look at it whenever I feel a little run down.
I can sum it up here, too: I write because I want to help people. I write to hold myself accountable.
I made financial mistakes so you don’t have to! I paid off my student loans several years before they were due, because it was important to me to put that debt to rest. I want my money to be my own, and the only way to do that is to avoid owing banks money.
This space is called “Frugal Portland” — it’s not ever confused with get rich quick schemes or multilevel marketing.
I write from the heart, and I want to be trusted. I think I am trusted. In fact, one of my friends who I link to from time to time told me that Frugal Portland was a high source of traffic. I think number eleven? Including Google and social shares. Which is a strong sign that when I link to a friend, people who read this space trust that a) I’m not linking to anything dirty, and b) The article to which I’m linking will provide value.
Defining Success with a Dollar Amount Misses the Point
My family reads my blog (which is why I can tease my mom in this space without worry). I’m glad they do, actually, because most of the things I discuss really wouldn’t come up when we visit. Goodness gracious, I think it’s enough for them to know I’m not starving or living on the street, so I wouldn’t talk about how much money I’m making, saving, or spending.
But I don’t have to! I was talking with my mom about six months ago, and she said, “you know, I think I need to start paying back my student loans more quickly. I mean, you make it sound so easy!” So she increased her automatic contribution on one of her loans. And she wouldn’t have, otherwise, because paying it back was on autopilot.
Back story: My mom took out loans to help my sister, since the age gap between my sister and me is enough that college prices darn near doubled in the years between my commencement and her entrance. She is decidedly NOT still paying off her college.
But the point is, she’s reading. And listening. And her loans will be paid off faster because of something I wrote.
Do I sometimes make money with ads, affiliate revenue, or sponsored content? Sure. But if I never got another dollar in advertising revenue, I would still write.
I have learned so much, and I love this community.
I’m flattered when someone takes the time to comment on a post, or fill out the contact form (in the long form About page) and reaches out.
I have friends now that I never would have had were it not for this little blog.
Measuring success by number of friends gained feels good. Really good. Sort of how it feels to have the sun warm your back for the first time in the spring.
If you’d asked me six months ago whether I considered Frugal Portland a success, I might have laughed, scoffed, or otherwise self deprecated.
But if you ask today, I would say, yes, without a doubt, absolutely.