Blogger Confessions #3: Stephen from The Fire Lane
Happy Saturday! Today is the third of the 'Blogger Confessions' interview series on the blog, and I'm bringing in Stephen from The Fire Lane to talk about blogging and how he's managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
Stephen, take it away.
Blogger Confessions with Your Money Blueprint
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
I'm writing for anyone that's interested in a Gen-X DI2K take on Financial Independence. Our blog is full of numbers because I'm a math nerd, so the reader needs to love the mathematics of personal finance. Our articles can be long winded so the reader needs patience!
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
We're not engineers. We're not deep in debt. We have managed to take a great income and find a way to let lifestyle creep in and swallow the entire thing up. For our September spending report, we earned $10,000 after tax and spent $10,000. I'm fed up!
Our mission statement is: This is our family’s journey to FIRE. We'll reduce spending to increase savings. We’ll create a portfolio of investments and passive income generating assets. We’ll provide security and education for our children along the way. We’ll work towards a point where we don’t need to work. While on this path we’ll ensure we don’t sacrifice our happiness for money.
Immediately, our purpose for the blog is to establish a plan. The plan needs to address reductions in spending to provide room for savings. It will also need to provide a plan for that cash-flow once it's freed.
We're not setting dates for early retirement. Early retirement for us may be second to more meaningful careers.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
The blog started on September 1st of this year. It's quite new. I've been fortunate to bring people to the blog through various means and methods. The blog has struggled to keep and bring back those readers for more sessions.
I've run many websites in my lifetime. My first was a website devoted to Nirvana sound(midi) files which was hosted on AOL in 1995. I have never before used Wordpress. I am learning the ropes with plugins and scheduling posts and it can be difficult at times. The Wordpress admin console is confusing and not user-friendly.
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
Absolutely. This is a must for me. Tracking real spending reports and net worth reports allow me to keep us honest. I've always enjoyed reading other blog net worth reports and I've always tracked my own.
Now I get to share it!
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
I have a few Adsense ads on the blog and some amazon affiliate links. It's more important for me to grow readership right now then to make money blogging. I did make $0.16 in September though.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
I would most like to be loved, but I think I've settled for controversial.
Already I've seen negative feedback on our spending reports. The reader sees FIRE on my blog title and comes expecting a 70% savings rate. We would love to be close to that someday, but we are not there yet. Our journey to a good savings rate is our first step.
Once we're making progress on our goals I am hoping controversy turns to love.
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
Coworkers. Both mine and my wife's. I'm blogging anonymously because I'm sharing a lot of our financial data.
My wife Erica is a teacher and our $400,000 net worth at 37 years old would be problematic for her coworkers to know. It's not the norm for teachers.
I'm a Project Manager and Vice President for a small construction firm. My net worth is less of an issue than my income. Some of my coworkers make less than I do. I receive better benefits in some because I'm management.
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
I've written 25 to date. Not bad for a month in.
My most favorite post details our automobile spending. We have VERY large car payments. The two of us spend $1,300 each month on car payments. The post details how we got there, and our plan for unwinding that lifestyle creep. It also provides a path toward cash cars in the future.
My least favorite post has to be the original post on the blog. It's my Hello World and holds very little value other than being first.
My more embarrassing posts are my spending reports. The hope is that each one I write will be less and less of an embarrassment. Once the savings rate is better I will be proud.
9: Explain your writing process
I'll spend 2-4 hours on a 2,000-word post.
I write it in the editor on Wordpress.com as it seems to be the best UI for me. Grammarly runs in the background and suggests spelling and punctuation corrections. I will also slip a few paragraphs in to Hemingway Editor for readability corrections.
I then add photos and clean up the headings.
I'll run through it top to bottom one time total and make edits/corrections as I go.
Writing for a blog is still new to me. I can see large differences in my first couple posts vs my last few posts and I assume the reader can too. In a year I expect it to be much improved.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
I enjoy Retire By 40. Joe's posts have that honest feel to them you can expect from someone who has been blogging for years. I relate to his family. I envy his savings rate and passive income. Retire By 40 also has a big emphasis on Happiness which is an important part of our mission statement.
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