The Ups and Downs of Amateur Blogging

Of late it feels a little like I have two jobs. One the regular day job, and the other – yes you guessed it right – this blog! What started out as a little experiment has become the most dominating consumer of my time outside of work. I have consciously tried during the last few weeks to hold back and regain control of some of my time. At one point, when things started getting very busy in my day job I was seriously contemplating whether I should quit this addiction cold turkey. Well, I am still typing up this post – so obviously, I am not quite ready to do that yet :) To help put things in perspective though, I listed out the ups and downs of blogging so far. At this point the ups and downs are precariously close to each other….

First the ups.

  • When I started blogging, I had just finished my Ph.D. I had poured years and years in school with very little grasp of practical issues like money management and wealth preservation. Blogging about personal finance has opened this whole new different world for me.

  • I have met a lot of interesting people. Some are still students, while others are veterans with years of experience in entrepreneurship and money management. Some are college dropouts and others are stay at home moms. Some big shots in this area are so down-to-earth that they blow my mind, and others are so pompous that I never want to meet them in real life! Overall, it’s an amazing experience interacting with different people, reading about their personal lives, improving my knowledge base one nugget at a time and receiving comments from total strangers that trigger real “aha” moments!

  • While in school, my focus was on purely academic pursuits. All I focused was on doing research and publishing papers. I never even realized how disconnected I was from the real world. Blogging has helped me a lot in complementing my academic background by bringing me in touch with some of the more practical skills. Apart from money management skills it has provided me with a taste for entrepreneurship, marketing and networking. Who knows maybe someday, I will have my own startup :)

  • This blog has helped me learn a few skills that might help me setup a stream of alternate income, such as building traffic, SEO, etc. Currently, what I earn from this blog is less than 0.1% of my day job, but over time, if I have the persistence to stick around long enough, hopefully that will change.

  • This is a great place to vent :) While I try to keep the focus as much as possible on topics related to personal finance, I do allow myself to stray sometimes (like this post). It’s great to have a place where you can rant every now and then. And all the ranting really helps me clear my thoughts too!

  • Blogging about frugal living, productivity, career, etc., imposes some form of accountability in my life. For instance, for close a year now, I have stuck to my plan of taking lunch at least three days a week. Without this blog and the regular posts that I write about frugality, I don’t know if I would stay as disciplined. I sometimes write about personal development and career – usually it is triggered by or will trigger something that I need to do in the work place. I have made my first foray into the world of investing (outside of the retirement accounts). I probably would have done it anyway, but I would like to think that chronicling the steps on this blog has helped me go in with much more clarity of thought and confidence.

And now a look at the downs
  • There are days, when it seems like the blog is always on my mind. This is particularly bad when I am at work poring over a boring document and it is easy to give in to the temptation. With great effort I have managed to impose some discipline and have kept blogging strictly a lunch-break, nights and weekend activity, but still the distraction is always there, lurking in the background.

  • I have very little time for other things I could be doing. For instance, I am a stickler for cleanliness and usually my house is spick and span. But off late, I just don’t have the time or the energy to keep it as clean as I would like. So I called in the maid service and it cost me a fine dollar too! There are a zilliion such small things – weekend cooking of “special” dishes has reduced quite a bit now, I have three books on my night stand that I really would like to read, I hardly watch any TV, etc. And then there are the potential entrepreneurial ventures I could be focusing on if I were not so addicted to my blog :)

  • Ever since I have started blogging, I seem to be only reading other blogs or material relevant to my blog. My information intake is narrowed in scope. While I know a lot more about personal finance, and possibly productivity, I know a lot less about what else is going on in the world around me! Not. Good. At. All.

  • Since I blog about money matters, I seem to think about money all the time. I am not sure I like this person that I have become who thinks about money all the time! Yes, it is good to make more, save more etc. But to think about it all the time is such a waste of energy. Again, what I need is probably more discipline, but it’s as if I have traveled to a new world and now somehow, can’t get back to my old one!

  • I had a bad case of “stat-a-holism” – an irresistible urge to keep checking my stats every few minutes. I have since managed to get a bit of a hold over it and now check my stats only 3-5 times a day (yes, I said “only”), but still some ridiculous numbers that don’t really mean anything have a control over how good I feel, and I don’t like that!

Like I said before, at this point the ups and downs are precariously close to each other. I don’t want to quit yet, but I don’t want to it to take over all my free time either. I know what I need is a bit of discipline to remember that it is just a hobby. I have no illusions that someday I will earn enough from blogging to quit my day job. Besides, I like my day job and don’t want to quit it (not unless I come up with a kick-ass idea and start my own company :)

Any other amateur bloggers out there facing a similar dilemma? How do you deal with it?

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Urbanist said...

LOL! Wow, that sounds exactly like me :) By the way, I found the cure to the constant-stat-checking: Romlet. You can see two versions on a site I co-author: - it's kind of like the AddThis widget but has more functionality, include up-to-the-second stats displays. Beta testers are still being accepted at - might free up some more time for other blogging stuff ;)

Matt said...

I had some very similar thoughts after I changed jobs back in January; I got so busy with work that I was having trouble keeping up with my blog and I started questioning if I wanted to keep it - since then I've decided to start focusing on the blog a bit more and not 12 hours a day on work. Essentially it comes down to balance.

As for being a stat-o-holic; I've been trying to keep checking stats down to once or twice a day. I'm going to see about reducing that even further.

Its a good blog; keep it up.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

Yes, I can relate to this! My house has been slowly falling into chaos. . .and I always felt like I didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to. I made the difficult decision a few weeks ago to only post 3 to 4 days a week, instead of 6 days a week.

Yes, I may lose some of my traffic (which is about 2000 hits a week, and about half of that from google searches etc. . .) but since I don't do ads etc, I had to be realistic. It isn't like losing traffic really hurts anything except my pride.

I posted about my decision to only write MWF, with a possible Sat post. My readers have been very supportive of the decision.

GoldnSilver said...

Yes, I can relate. I try to post one entry per day, and I feel like I barely have time for anything else. I don't keep stats precisely for the reason that I know I will become obessed with checking it like...very 5 mins.

I was going to write a post on the downside of beat me to it :)

ispf said...

All: Thanks! It gives me a weird sense of relief that at least I am not the only one :)

Urbanist: Thanks for the info about Romlet. I will check it out.

Matt: You are right - balancing is the key. But somehow, the scale seems to tip in favor of blogging and I end up spending way more time than I should :(

Jenn: I am glad you chose quality over quantity! With the type of posts you write, I am sure the readers will keep coming in, even if you post less frequently.

goldnsilver: You are a much stronger person than me! When I decided to get rid of the stats, I didn't even last a whole week!!! I have reduced the stat checking to roughly three times a day now - I will be glad if I can bring it down to just once a day...

Dennis said...

I feel the same way sometimes. Its hard to continually write good content that others will be interested in.

You're right, it is a second job!

Millionaire Mommy Next Door said...

Finding a balance can be tough, but it sounds like you're on the right track. When I get started into a new project, I tend to jump in with mind, body, and soul. I love feeling so passionate about something that time becomes a non-issue.

However, a healthy life is definitely a balancing act, and your post serves as an important reminder to set some boundaries.

I launched my blog less than one month ago and I can already tell how much time and energy it has potential to sap away.

I don't have to work anymore, but I am a mom - a big job, of course.

My current "blogging boundaries" are: 3 to 4 posts a week; read and participate on other blogs 1 hr/day; check stats 2x/day.

ispf said...

Millionaire Mommy Next Door: Wow, you seem to have a lot tighter boundaries than I do! Someday... someday... even I will check my stats only 2x/day! (and hopefully have more time to participate on other blogs.. :)

Yehuda said...

A nice post, and similar to some of my own experiences.