I quit the rat race in 2016, and over the course of that year, I noticed remarkable changes to my blog that also seems to happen to a lot of us after we finally pull that “working for a living” plug.
What are the changes I’m talking about?
- Comments have decreased dramatically
- I don’t respond to every comment like I used to
- The emotion has been taken out of a lot of my writing
- More guest posts to help fill the content schedule
- Pageviews have steadily increased (up until the Google algorithm change in August of last year, which single-handedly cut slashed the number of pageviews I get by around 25%)
For a typical FIRE blogger, we start our blogs to chronicle our journey toward that goal. We talk about the struggles that we go through and the different ways we’re maximizing every dollar that we spend.
Our writing is typically full of emotion. Like, the raw stuff that so many of us instantly connect with. And, it’s this component that makes most of our blogs so compelling.
Sorry, it’s not your money tips. It’s not your “10 ways to save money this Christmas” article. Even if those posts perform well, those reading aren’t your dedicated readers.
They are “one-and-done” readers who won’t give your story a second thought.
How do we keep that connection going with our readers after we’ve made it to the finish line? I think the first step is to understand who our readers are.
BTW: Are you a newer personal finance blogger? Check out the bottom of this article for an opportunity to submit a little form that you might enjoy. 🙂
The typical FIRE blog reader
There are a few fundamental things that FIRE bloggers should keep in mind:
Most FIRE blog readers read for the story, not the money tips. Our readers are following us as much as they are the tips that we’re giving out.
Most FIRE blog readers empathize with the struggle and emotion that’s inherent in this whole “early retirement” business. They can get money tips anywhere, but they only get to connect with you through your blog.
Most FIRE blog readers want to feel connected with those whom they follow. That connection provides an unspoken sense of community, in a “we’re all in this together” sort of way. Common struggles and all that.
And in a strange way, once the blogger does finally achieve financial independence and early retirement, it can be tough to maintain that connection with the reader because much of this has been removed from the equation. Why?
The reason is simple: We’re no longer struggling to achieve our goal and the emotion is largely gone. We’re already there, standing at the finish line with a big smile on our face. We use our blogs to highlight how awesome it is to be there, but there’s only so much that we can say.
We’ve already put the pieces into place that allowed us to retire early. We’ve written about everything that got us to this point…
Our readers begin to feel a growing disconnect with us because we’ve achieved the goal and there’s no longer a common struggle. The reader is probably still in the saving process. They’re back on the trail, climbing up.
How do we keep our readers?
This isn’t an easy answer, and clearly, I haven’t figured this out. But, some random thoughts:
Keep the writing as personal as possible. After all, that is why people started to follow us to begin with. This means resist writing easy “listicle” articles. Again, your readers can get that content anywhere.
Don’t be an asshole. In other words, once you’ve achieved the goal, don’t look down upon the sea of readers who are still in the process of climbing up. Remember that you were just there, doing the same climb.
Don’t stop writing about your story. Admittedly, this is a double-edged sword, but the blogs that keep their story at their core often do the best. I’ve struggled with this point, but I’ve also tried hard to keep everything that I write heavily influenced by my story.
Engage, don’t disappear. Many blogs shut down because the blogger has lost interest in maintaining it. One of the best examples is Living A Fi, which was one of my favorite blogs up until the point that he abandoned it. But even if you don’t shut your blog down, don’t disappear. Stay active. On social. In the comment section of your blog. Be there.
It’s not all about SEO. Many bloggers want to turn their blogs into a business, and that’s a huge influencing factor in driving your loyal readers away. When your entire blogging goal revolves around keyword research and squeezing out the
My thoughts for today. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.