We have reached some very important milestones here at My University Money in the past week. We are pretty proud of how far we have come considering we didn’t really have much of a plan when we first started, other than to share some of the post-secondary survival skills we had accumulated in our quest through the education system. Last week we recorded our 100th post, and finally dropped under the “magical” 200K (198K as of this writing) bar in Alexa rankings. For those that aren’t familiar with what the Alexa rankings are or why they are important, they are basically a ranking system for websites. I still have not read a complete assessment of the formula they use to rank sites, but most believe it is some combination of the number of visitors to your site, the frequency with which your site is updated, and links between your site and others; or quite possibly just some wizard at the center of Al Gores’ “tubular” internet that rules over his byte-processing domain. At 200,000 most bloggers will agree you have reached some degree of legitimacy as a blog. The Yakezie network (a group of financial bloggers that we joined) will admit you as a full fledged member once you get under this 200K bar, so this is another bonus and it is always nice to be recognized by your peers as a contributing member of your chosen field. Speaking of recognition, we were also honoured to be nominated for the 2011 Plutus awards. These awards are granted to personal finance bloggers and are broken up into specific categories. We appeared on the ballot for the student finances section, and we would be very grateful if you gave us your support by clicking on the logo to the right of this column and voting for yours truly! In all honesty, although we would love to win, it is definitely encouraging and a little humbling to be placed alongside some truly great blogs and authors that we read daily.
Ok, so enough patting ourselves on the back! I thought I would share with you a few lessons we have learned since getting My University Money off the ground.
1) First and foremost, starting a blog is a lot of work. I’m fairly certain that if you want to make money there are far better ways of doing it than starting up a blog (or maybe other people are just better at it than us), if you do it purely for the money your time is probably better spent elsewhere. Be prepared to put in a substantial amount of work before you see a ton of results if this is the first blog you have every created (if I were to ever begin a second one, I believe the process would exponentially easier).
2) If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing it will be difficult to succeed. Never mind the writing aspect of the blog, the networking and responding to your dedicated readers will likely burn you out rather quickly if you don’t actually like what you’re doing.
3) Join online communities and make new friends. This has been by far the most rewarding part of starting up a blog for me. Sometimes writing on a blank page can get boring or tedious, but commenting on others’ sites and replying to those that are kind enough to leave their thoughts here on ours’ never gets old for me. I love exchanging ideas with other smart and innovative individuals from all parts of the world. I honestly don’t know what I would without an internet connection at this point! Joining online communities is also the most efficient way to grow your blog and introduce it to new readers within your targeted demographic.
4) Read voraciously. There are always new things being published and new developments in the world of finance and frugality. Reading will not only make you smarter and better prepared for your life (a great fringe benefit), but also increase the value of the content of your blog since you will presumably now be better informed and able to produce better stuff.
5) Write when the inspiration strikes. One of the most appealing aspects of writing on a blog is definitely the flexibility it allows me. There are some days where I don’t feel like opening up my laptop, and it’s nice not to have to. There are also times when I want to work on more pressing matters like school work etc. The reason I am able to do that is because I try to really focus in when inspiration strikes. The amount of work, as well as the quality of writing I can get done when motivated and full of energy, compared to when I have to force myself, is unbelievable. When I am inspired by something (positive or negative) I try to get as much done as possible and block out distractions. This effort always pays off big time when I see how much I was able to get done in a 2 hour block, or an evening, and many of my best articles are written in the middle of these inspired blogging binges.
6) Finding a partner, or someone you can outsource part of the workload to will make your life a million times easier. I’m lucky here at My University Money to have JB to do all the things I am absolutely terrible at. In that vein I have to admit that I am a technological idiot. When we first started this blog I didn’t have the first clue how to use WordPress and I still know nothing about computer coding. I have had to rely on him completely for this part of the operation. By applying his strengths to the blog, it allowed me to focus on writing quality content and building our connections online. We operate much more efficiently because we are able to divide labour in an advantageous manner. The other great thing about a partnership is the ability to bounce ideas off one another and encourage each other when motivation is needed. It’s tough to outsource that part of it. If you are dead-set against a partnership, I highly suggest taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses as a blogger, and look at outsourcing some of the stuff you either dislike doing, or have no interest in learning. This will save you a ton of time and probably also save many potential bloggers from the dreaded burnout that seems to come with multi-tasking too many things at once.
It sounds cliché, but maybe the most important thing we’ve learned is to have fun. Since I have started reading so many different blogs I have realized that there are many opportunities out there to make a decent little side income while doing something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy blogging, it really isn’t worth your time and energy. Finally, a big shout out and THANK YOU to all the bloggers out there who have helped us out as we have started our blog, and to the people that actually read our stuff and give us some honest feedback. I’d have lost inspiration long ago if it wasn’t for you people!