I Actually Suck (and My Blogging Tips): A Confessional

 

I Actually Suck (and My Blogging Tips)Hey…..psssttt…..you over there.  I have a confession to make.  I want you to know that I’m barely computer literate.  Shhhh…..What’s worse? I only pretend to know what people are doing on Twitter, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing on Google +.   Not only that, but I actually send some of my blog posts to my mom so she can check the punctuation.  My mother has some amazing grammar skillz and is good at pointing out when I am violating any rules.  Thanks, mom!  She also sews buttons back on all my clothes….but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post altogether.

 

Anyways, back to the point of this post.  It’s that I suck at this stuff.  So you’re probably wondering how I am managing to write a successful blog and make money doing it.  And you’re probably wondering how I got hired to write for a bigger blog like Get Rich Slowly.  Truthfully, sometimes I even wonder the same thing myself.  On the other hand, I don’t think it’s rocket science or some secret formula.  The answer is simple.  I’ve been successful because I keep trying.  I never give up

 

When we first started our blog, the only person that read it was my mom…..and she LOVED it.  She thought it was amazing.  Or at least she said she did.  Anyway, that gave me hope that more people might read it one day. And now that they do, I thought I should share a handful of things that I’ve learned since I started.

 

Holly’s Quick Blogging Tips

Be yourself…even if you are an asshole.  Believe it or not, there is a niche for that!  You might just become someone’s very favorite HATEREAD.

 

Take every opportunity that you can get.  Even boring ones.  They may lead to other opportunities that you actually want.

 

Make friends with other bloggers.  Even if you don’t like them…or they make you log in to WordPress or complete a captcha to comment on their site.  ***If you do either of those things and I still comment on your blog, that means that I think you are worth the extra effort!

 

Grow a thick skin.  People won’t always like what you have to say…and that’s fine.  But if you’re going to say something shitty to me on my blog, at least make it funny.  Then I can laugh at you.

 

Plan on putting a lot of time into your blog.  It definitely takes a lot of time to start getting any traction.  Get up early or stay up late.  Do whatever it takes.  The more you put in, the more you get out.

 

Don’t leave crabby comments on other people’s blogs.  I’ll admit this is an area where I struggle.  I just *try* to revert back to what my mom always taught me…”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

 

Don’t be anonymous.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being anonymous (we were semi-anonymous for months), but you are probably missing out on opportunities.  Slap your picture and name on your blog, and wear your nerdiness like a badge of honor.  It’s not as painful as you think!  And from my experience, most people in “real life” aren’t all that interested.

 

What blogging tips am I missing?  Do you agree with the things that I’ve learned?

 

Favorite Posts

Since we’ve been sick/extremely busy at work/slacking on the VIP Club Roundups, here are a few of my favorite posts from other bloggers over the last several weeks:

 

We hope everybody had a great weekend! We hope to see you right back here tomorrow for some more of the awesome sauce!

 

 

 

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. After blogging for three months, I can say that yes, it takes up a lot of time. I’m in the “just keep trying” camp. I started out with writing articles that interested me, then started reaching out to other bloggers, then eventually improved the blog layout. At some point, I’ll figure out social media. Maybe…

    I would prefer to stay anonymous. Since I’m entirely transparent with my investments, the last thing that I want is someone goggling my name and seeing how much money I have.

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with staying anonymous for any reason. I’m just saying that you may miss out on opportunities….BUT you may not even want those opportunities in the first place!!!

  2. I still don`t know how Twitter works.. I love being part of this social media world, but there are still things I need to learn. I´ve noticed that blogging does take up a lot of time, but I really love doing it, it makes me happy and I love being part of a community! :-)
    I´m still anonymous, for several reasons that I`m not going into right now, but I do try to share things about my life, so that my blog shows who I am and what I stand for. I also love taking photographs and using them on my blog, making it even more personalized:-)

  3. Think I’m gonna fall for another April Fool’s prank? Suck, indeed… ha! :)

  4. Thanks for these great tips! I’m relatively new to the blogging game (and also pretty computer illiterate), so I appreciate the advice : )

  5. I hope I don’t leave crabby comments, but sometimes I do leave comments that are different or seem a bit contrarian just to make sure someone’s playing devil’s advocate.

    As for Twitter, I still feel like, “Twitter… what?!?”

  6. I pretty much agree with all of your tips, especially “plan on putting a lot of time into your blog.” I’m surprised when people think that blogging takes no time and start a blog thinking it will be an hour or two a week. There’s so much more to it than writing, even though that’s the most important component of a blog.

  7. You mean blogging takes time?! ;) Seriously though, great tips and could not agree more. Thanks so much for the mention, hope you guys had a great weekend. :)

  8. Great tips. It could be a coincidence, but I found that I started getting a lot more traction with my blog when I stopped being anonymous.

    • Totally agree!

      • Ooh, that’s interesting! I’ve seen a few bloggers come out of the closet during my time reading them and have noticed the same thing.

        I plan to start sharing my blog with more people IRL soon as we travel so they can keep up with us. I’m not sure if that will make a big difference in my traffic, though. And I’m not sure how that might affect my blogging and the kinds of stuff I share once we return to normal life.

  9. Great tips Holly. I never give up either when I really want something. People may call it luck…

  10. These are all great tips! I’m kind of anonymous but not completely. I use my real name and if you searched me, my blog does come up. I also post pictures and other bloggers/readers are Facebook friends with my personal profile and have my phone number as well. The main reason I’m semi-anonymous though is because I would most likely lose my job, and I don’t want that to happen! Also because I am much more open on my blog than others are, and talk about private issues (such as about my mother), so I think it really depends on the direction of your blog.

    • Do you really think you would lose your job? Why?

      • With the job that I have, I don’t think how open I am with everything would be very appreciated by those that I work for and also by clients. Anyways, I’m really not THAT private and I wouldn’t really say that I’m super anonymous – I’m just not putting a picture of my face on every single one of my posts :)

        • Honestly, that’s kind’ve how we are too. We aren’t anonymous but we just don’t really talk about it to people. It really isn’t a topic that comes up that often! Whatever you’re doing is working, Michelle!!! =)

  11. Its nice to know you had a bit of time where you didn’t feel like a real blogger. I never really expected anyone to read what I wrote, but one day I woke up and realized that people wereare actually commenting quite consistently, so I must be doing something right!

  12. Thanks for the tips Holly!

    I have a question – how do you come up with your topics for blogging? It can be tricky to keep thrifty topics new and interesting!

    • I have the amazing gift of having an unlimited amount of stuff to talk about it. This is mostly because my mind is full of useless crap! I just have to find a way to channel it into something that people can stand to read. We have a ton of blog drafts in our queue and I come up with new ideas every day. Coming up with ideas is one of my strengths.

  13. These are great tips especially for a newbie like me. For now, I’m choosing to remain anonymous because I don’t want coworkers knowing too much about my finances. I even stopped doing networth updates because I’m that paranoid!

  14. This is one of the many reasons why I like you Holly and your blog. I like the realness of it. I know you are not a pro and that is what is so appealing. I think your tips are spot on and just remember that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and there will be ups and downs.

  15. I can’t blog under my real name because I could get fired. My blog name is a play on my real name but I need my job to pay all the bills. I thought I would just have to write posts and that wouldn’t take too much time but blog marketing is all consuming. If I miss a day my readership drops.

    I try and be myself but that means I can’t comment on some posts because I am the first to start a polite argument if I disagree with an opinion.

    Mother Nature has made it snow as her April Fool’s prank on my part of Canada today.

    • I did figure out how to register to receive my Alexa ranking on the weekend. My ranking was 175,000 on the weekend and now it is 180,000 so I guess I got worse in a 24 hour period but I don’t have any idea what that number means.

      Should I shoot for number 1 or will I be happy with 124,000 and who is this Alexa person anyway?

  16. My favorite reads are the Hate reads, especially where there’s lots of cussing! I love the I hate Wal Mart post! :)

  17. But I love leaving crabby comments! You take the fun out of everything….

  18. This was my favorite line from this post: “Make friends with other bloggers. Even if you don’t like them” haha! I haven’t “met” really anyone in this community that I don’t like yet. I’m sure I will, but everyone seems pretty awesome, even if they write Hate blogs.

    I don’t mind when people disagree with my posts, just as long as their retort is a thorough one. I HATE comments that add nothing, or have no relevance to what I wrote. Someone wrote “Interesting” as a comment. It was another blogger.. just for a shameless link back to their site.

    • Hey, at least he/she stopped by your blog, right? It’s hard to come up with something to say sometimes….especially after you’be been blogging for a while. At a certain point, all of the topics have been covered!

  19. I love this! This is so true: And from my experience, most people in “real life” aren’t all that interested. I’m not fully out of the blog closet, but a lot of my friends do know, and I used to tell them, “don’t say anything to anyone.” Now I don’t care if they do. The funny thing is not ONE single real life friend has ever commented on my blog. They love and support me, but it’s just not something they really care about. lol! I also try not to post crabby comments either. If I strongly disagree with what someone is doing, I usually just don’t comment. At that point I think it’s none of my businesses what they decide to do. If they specifically want thoughts and opinions, then maybe…Also I wish I had a mom who could proofread. It’s just me and I’m sure I have a lot of things fall through the cracks.

    • Usually Greg looks my stuff over but sometimes he’s busy. It always helps to have a second set of eyes scan things over, I think!

  20. I am only semi anonymous, if that is possible Thanks for the links, I am in good company.

  21. I’ve been really nervous to tell some of my friends that I have a blog and it literally gets about 2 seconds of their attention and then nothing ever again. I’ve been invited by three people in a week to join Linkedin and I don’t even have an account. I too feel like the last person on earth that should be blogging, but I have a big mouth and always think I’m right, so no on else listens to me, might as well share with the world!

  22. Love this–I’m in the same boat with G+…seriously no idea what’s going on half the time :)

  23. Great post!
    I actually blog anonymously because it allows me to share more information than usual. I definitely want to keep my personal, career, and blog life separately.
    I enjoy blogs that are easy to read and show the blogger’s personality.

  24. I like the aspect that most bloggers have legitimate jobs whereas I make like $1000 a month. But it’s because I’m most likely younger and still in college, which in turn allows things such as Twitter and WordPress to be fairly simple to me. I think I rather be computer illiterate and make more money at my job though!

    • I’m not completely computer illiterate, obviously! Just on some things like Google Plus. I signed up for it and have a page but I don’t really get what’s going on there.

  25. Holly, I often struggle with the negative comments on other people’s blogs. Especially when all I can think to say is that the author is a complete moron. Usually only happens when I notice erroneous facts or click a link that doesn’t work. BTW, I couldn’t even get my Mom to read my first blog.

  26. I couldn’t agree more with “don’t leave crabby comments on other people’s blog” I think because I am a “debt blogger” I get quite a few comments/emails about how I am wasting my money and not being smart enough. Those comments/emails are quickly helping me to “grow a thicker skin.” Thanks for the great post Holly :)

  27. I agree with the be yourself tip – somehow, your personality and humor (and Greg’s) really emanates from your posts, so it’s most likely the reason a lot of people gravitate towards your blog!

  28. Hi Holly,
    I am new to your blog and think your tips are dead on. I also do not get the Google +. I did not realize how much time it takes to operate a blog and mine is new. I know I should spend more time on it but with work and school, the time is limited. Getting there slowly though.

  29. I’ve been making my entire living online for almost five years – and I STILL have no idea how to benefit from Twitter.

    Seems to me that the bloggers who end up succeeding are those that just sort of hang around. Setting aside content quality, style, and personality, it seems like just showing up over a multi-year period is enough to make some friends, garner some links, draw some search traffic, and make a little extra money. Not so glamorous, but if your goal is to make $500 to $1,000 per month from your blog – just NOT STOPPING seems to be enough to get most people there.

    • Yeah, pretty much. Our goal has never been to become so rich blogging that we could instantly quit our jobs and live a life of leisure. But our goal was to make money and we have consistently been making enough money to make it more than worth it. Last month was our highest income that we have ever made online….and I hope that it only goes up from there!

  30. Love your tips! I’m anonymous, kind of, but I’m okay with it for now. I’m with Mark and you, too: just keep going and don’t give up!

  31. Those are pretty good tips. I think it’s safe to say you don’t actually suck! :)

  32. I am relieved to learn I wasn’t the only person who ever started blogging to only have their mom as their loyal reader! :) I wholeheartedly agree with all your tips – particularly make friends with other bloggers. It’s made a huge difference not only to the growth of my blog, but to how much fun I’m now having!! And I would have to say that you don’t suck, but are fantastically real, which I appreciate.

  33. These tips are for real and I love them!! Hateread? Did you coin that? I love it…I admit I have a few myself :). I will be non-anonymous one day, probably on another blog!

  34. Timely posting! I just started blogging about two weeks ago, as a way to think through and document my caregiver responsibilities at both ends of the aging spectrum. I’m curious to know what your “tasks” list is for a given day to help drive traffic to your site…

  35. Like your tips Holly! Blogging takes up quite a bit of time, but you don’t realize it till you jump in :)

  36. So true that you need to have a thich skin, especially as a public blogger!

  37. You don’t suck! If sucking is getting a PR4 blog, tons of traffic, and regular staff posts on GRS, then I want to suck too! You guys have done great work here, so keep it up!

    - From your “anonymous” friend :)

  38. I’m part of the anonymous group of bloggers. I’ve always been pretty private but as you said most people in our lives will likely forget we even have a blog after a few minutes of conversation.

  39. You and Greg are both awesome you don’t suck at all!! You’re yourself which is what gets people coming back, you’re easy to relate to :) Also, it kills my husbands ”English whiz soul” how bad my grammar is :)

  40. “Wear your nerdiness like a badge of honor” I love this. I am definitely still just trying. Juggling a demanding job, trying to put in the time, keep up the motivation. Great tips!

  41. Google+ sucks. Seriously.

    I still read plenty of Blogger blogs, but it needs to be a pretty spectacular post if I’m gonna go through the Captcha maze. Sorry!

  42. I’ve been trying to let my personality show through in my writing a little bit more. Today’s the first “real” time I’ve let it show so we’ll see how this experiment goes, but I think you’re right.
    As for the grammar thing, Mrs. Frugal Path (reluctantly) reads everything that goes up on the site to keep me from making a complete fool of myself.
    Thanks for the tips, your doing great and I can’t figure out Google+ for the life of me either.

  43. Some great tips you have there. You know not everyone is perfect and if they try to be they sometimes come down on themselves very hard. The way I like to improve is little by little learning ways to make things better. If I suck at something I will try to learn why and how I can improve that skill. There are some skills I know I’ll never be good at but that’s OK, life goes on. Happy Easter Holly!

  44. Great tips guys. Building realationships are key to taking a blogging business to that next level. It makes your job a whole lot easier and is a lot more fun that way.

  45. An especially resonant point about being yourself in your blog topics, instead of swaying with what you think the winds may be. There are others out there who do want to hear about the same topics!

  46. I am glad to know that I am not the only one that doesn’t have the best tech prowess. I want to eventually move to self-hosted, but I am just learning the new language of all this website stuff. I can do twitter, but websites? Ack. I am semi-anonymous because I’m trying to find work and I share many personal details and I prefer it that way. I wouldn’t be too bummed if someone found me, just don’t need it all out there!

    Also, I don’t really love crabby comments and I am working on making more friends. It’s been good so far! I also hate the captcha!

  47. I think the thing that impresses me most about your blog is the incredible outreach you do to new bloggers! I’m not sure how many comments you do every week but it sure is impressive!

    I also like the idea of not being completely anonymous and having a your own unique voice. I think it is funny but the individuals that have something interesting to say do end up catching others attention.

  48. Great Post holly, your tips are well appreciated! I thought blogging was going to be something that passed the time after my daughter went to bed, it is soooo much more than that, but so far I dig it. Made some great contacts and will continue to do it. Thanks Holly!

  49. My family drops by and writes “I’m so proud of you” comments, but most people I know don’t care. Except when I got on the front page of Yahoo! Then they flocked to me like groupies all like “can I haz autograph!?” No one cares until you’re a celebrity. Ahhh, it’s a tough life to deal with, but after the champagne, caviar and $100 bills falling like rain all around me, I’m just like you. Except rich and famous. ;)

  50. This will definitely become a good reference. Would love to get more into this stuff

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