New Year’s offers a great moment for many of us to set intentions (or resolutions) for the year to come. One of the writers that introduced me to modern minimalism and simplicity through his website Zen Habits, Leo Babauta, wrote about New Year’s being a blank slate. Every year, I reflect on my progress of my year’s intentions and review my goals, dreams, and aspirations for the year ahead. While I don’t set “resolutions” exactly (this term is loaded with cultural baggage, and therefore has a high rate of failure), I do look at which habits I most want to change and which achievements I most want to reach in the new year. Sometimes, I set a specific goal (for example, in 2019, I plan to become a certified fitness trainer in my favorite dance fitness format); sometimes I just focus on a specific habit that would help me live better with my values (in January, I am eating food prepared at home for all meals and something green with every lunch and dinner).
Part of my reflection this new year, was setting intentions for Free, Fun, Family. I’ve been blogging here since March of 2018, mostly to keep myself accountable for our Debt Elimination Project, but also because I love to write and feel most myself when I am writing. I love that I’m back in the “world” of blogging, but blogging is a very different world than when I was last a blogger (2007-2011). Cait Flanders wrote eloquently about her perspective on this change in blogging-scape when she retired from blogging last year. J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly wrote about this shift in his post about why you should be skeptical of personal finance bloggers. When I left regular blogging in 2011, I had only just begun to think about ways of “monetizing” my blog (never earned bupkus, even with daily readership in the several hundreds at its height); now it seems that everyone assumes blogs are supposed to make money. Heck, I fell for it, too, and signed myself up for the Amazon Affiliate program (they dropped me once because no one reads this blog, but I did sign back up) and another referral program (from which I’ve had no clicks).
Maybe it’s because I’m loosely intersecting with the personal finance blog world, which is much larger and more intimidating than the expat-living-in-Korea blog world, but I have struggled to build a community through blogging and “find my people.” Sometimes, it feels like many people these days look at blogging as a kind of get rich quick scheme, where they can make a lot of money quickly through affiliate marketing and impersonal, listicle-style writing. Some bigger names in the blogging community even deride so-called “hobby blogging” as naive and worthless; sometimes even those who began as hobby bloggers themselves!
It’s been lonely here, feeling like no one is reading, blogging for my average seven viewers a day in 2018. (Hi there, Allison, Amanda, mom, and like, three or four other people! I love you guys!). While I write for myself first and for accountability, it’s a lot more fun to blog when you feel like part of a writing community. And when someone reads what you write.
My last couple months of pulling off Facebook had the weird side effect of spending a bit more time on Twitter, where I feel like I’ve finally started to find my people in the PF blogging community. I’ve stumbled onto a few bloggers who aren’t quite so “big” as the Liz Frugalwoods, Cait Flanders, and Chelsea Fagans of the world (all of whom inspire me, but really are just too awesome to spend their time on this little slice of the internet), but who are writing in the personal, inviting style of blog I enjoy, and are being recognized within the personal finance/financial independence/frugality blog world for their excellence. Women with voice and power in their writing, who are telling good stories, and welcoming me into the blogging world a bit at a time. I cannot thank the following writers enough for being a source of deep inspiration for me in setting my blogging intentions for 2019 (in no particular order):
- Angela, who writes Tread Lightly, Retire Early about frugality and sustainability (and identifies as a “hobby blogger”).
- Penny, a teacher (YAY) who writes She Picks Up Pennies about purposeful spending and keeping the personal in personal finance.
- Jennifer T. Chan, a lawyer and deep thinker in Canada, who keeps a blog in her own name and no longer considers herself a personal finance blogger, but writes stuff that makes you really think about your spending.
- Mrs. Frugal Asian Finance, who lives nearby in DC and writes about marriage, culture, and frugality.
- Piggy and Kitty, who write the delightful, not-suitable-for-work-but-totally-should-be, Bitches Get Riches.
Here’s what I’m doing in 2019 to improve my blogging practice:
- Starting a posting schedule. I’ve been mostly writing when I feel inspired. But one thing I’ve noticed (especially during my 21 Day Challenge this summer) is that I actually FIND inspiration to write more when I’m writing regularly. A posting schedule will help me produce regular (hopefully high quality) content that people who want to read my blog can depend upon. I will be publishing on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Sundays will be my Free, Fun Family updates. Tuesdays and Fridays will be whatever I feel like writing (including my recurring features like the Debt Elimination Updates and Ways We Save Money).
- Tell more stories and deal with complex philosophical issues. Telling stories is the best part of blogging. Deep thinking is the best part of writing. Besides, who am I to offer advice and cater to the mainstream reader, anyhow? I was the girl in college who took Linear Algebra for FUN. I just want to write authentically to my weird little inner nerd’s delights and literary forays. I hope you enjoy more of my chronicled adventures and bizarre philosophical tangents in 2019.
- Stop worrying about blogging “shoulds.” I will not worry about my statistics, Pintrest (ugh… no), forming a community, or creating courses. I do want to be more intentional with linking to content I enjoy and commenting on other writers’ work (such as with the blogs above). Other than that, I’m just going to write about what I want to write about, in the way I want to write about it. I hope you enjoy reading, and (if you’re here) drop me a line to let me know what you want to read about.
- Include more photos. What can I say? I live in a beautiful city and have really cute kids in my life. I mean, I only have a handful of readers, right? I like taking pictures as part of my documentation of the stories I tell. For example, enjoy this little moment of joy from my kids learning to play the guitar and ukelele:
My goal for 2019 is to write 150 posts. Posts I can be proud of and enjoy reading over when I’m old and miss my kids because they’re off pursuing FI/RE. If I keep up with my writing schedule, I’ll make that easy, peasy.
What I’m NOT going to worry about? Monetizing. Targeting an audience. Improving my statistics.
Do you have blogging or writing goals for this year? Feel free to tell me about them. I love encouraging other people to write (it was my day job for about 13 years).