After 1,000,000 blog hits, here’s what I learned about running a blog

Published May 15, 2017   Posted in Blogging

Think Save Retire recently crested the 1,000,000 pageview mark since my lame first post that had something to do with Starbucks. In the time it took me to build up a respectable audience, I learned a thing or two about this whole “blogging business”.

Blogging is about more than just typing a bunch of shit into a computer. I’m a personal finance and lifestyle blogger. That means this blog is full of personal details about my life, including our net worth and the fact that Erin Brockovich is one of my favorite movies. Don’t judge.

It’s fun to blog. I enjoy the process. It is amazing to be able to write with the knowledge that thousands of people will eventually read it. It’s humbling. Almost like a “high”.

As with most things in life, in blogging,Β you get out of it what you put in. If you’re a fly-by-night blogger who posts occasional rants or “10 things…” posts without truly getting involved within your blogging community, blogging ain’t going to be much fun, and that leads me to my first – and perhaps most important, lesson.

Find your blogging community

Most of us blog about a particular subject. That’s good. It keeps our blogs focused and direct. And, chances are you aren’t the only sucker blogging about your subject, either. Others write about exactly the same thing. Find your community’s hangout. Where do all the successful bloggers go just to shoot the shit? If you’re lucky, your community will have an email list or discussion forum that you can join.

This integrates you into the community. You get exposure. But more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to learn from those around you and get ideas about how to blog. Not just about the subject matter, but the peripherals around this business. How to get the most out of WordPress, for example. Popular plugins. Killer new themes.

In the personal finance community, the Rockstar Finance Forums is a popular spot where a lot of us hang out. In other communities, Reddit might be the place. Or a Facebook group. Whatever – you get the point. If you blog, find your community. Integrate.

The more integrated you get, the more informed you’ll be. Surrounding yourself with successful bloggers WILL make you a more successful blogger. It has me.

Get social and be public

I don’t care if you hate Twitter or Facebook – social media definitely helps increase your blog’sΒ pageviews. It’s a free platform to throw out your content to potentially thousands of people. Instantly. If you are looking to build up a blog, get social and be public about it.

Make sure folks can easily find your social media profiles on your blog, too. On Think Save Retire, I have links to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to the right of the title of every single blog post. Honestly, I could probably do a better job by coloring them or something, but I like the black for now. Those links are also at the bottom of every blog post. And in my email signature. They are there, too.

And if you’re using a WordPress plugin that allows the readers of your blog to share your stuff on Twitter, be sure to include your Twitter handle (username) in the message. Including your username will help to increase awareness of YOUR Twitter profile and also lets you know who is sharing your brilliant content.

For example:

Instead of: 10 things I hate about 10 things articles –

Try this instead:Β 10 things I hate about 10 things articles – By @MyCoolBlog

If you don’t have a presence through at least a couple social media outlets, change that. In the personal finance community, Twitter seems to be the most popular outlet. But, your community might be different. Find it. Use it.

Other bloggers need not be “competitors”

Don’t think of other bloggers in your community to be competitors. Even if you’re selling something on your blog, think of other bloggersΒ as nothing more than that: Other bloggers. They are not necessarily taking pageviews away from you. In fact, establish relationships with other bloggers (hint: the “community” thing again). You never know what’ll come from these relationships.

Some may link to you from within one of their blog posts. Or better yet, they might put your blog in their Blog Roll or links page.

Think engagement, not pageviews

It is no secret that I’m not a big fan of those “10 things/ways/hacks…” posts. They tend to be dry and uninteresting, and I refuse to accept those types of posts when people ask about guest posting opportunities on this blog. The reason is those posts tend not to help engagement. Engagement happens when your readers take a genuine interest in YOU. As human beings, we enjoy story-telling. Following someone’s journey that we find interesting captures our interest and tends to hold it. In the end, this helps engagement. Engagement equates directly to long-term blogging success.

Not every pageview is created equal. For example, I was featured in a Forbes article about my early retirement plans. After the article went public, my blog’s pageviews saw a dramatic increase. But, that increase also didn’t last.

This is the difference between engagement and pageviews.

The hits I got from the Forbes article were not hits from loyal blog readers who were particularly interested in my story. They saw the Forbes article and were curious enough to click over to my blog. Then, 99% of them probably never returned. This is extremely common in blogging. These hits weren’t engaging. They were “One-and-Done”-type clicks.

Make no mistake about it: Exposure on popular or well-read websites is great. The more that happens, the greater your pageviews. But unless you happen to get featured all the time, those pageviews tend to be temporary. They are fleeting, just like Bill Cosby’s popularity.

Think engagement. Encourage people to comment. To care about your story. Give them a personal connection to your life and you create an implicit motivation among your readership to continue following your journey.

Haters gonna hate; let ’em

I cannot stress this point enough: You will never be able to please everyone. Ever. Don’t try.

I don’t care how kind, caring, compassionate or sensitive that you think you are. Eventually, you are going to piss someone off. You will write something that someone will take the wrong way. Mark my words – it will happen. If you’re already blogging, then it probably already happened whether you realize it or not.

And in the words of Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Stay true to yourself and push forward with whatever you believe is best for your blog. Don’t worry about offending people. Some readers are impossible NOT to offend. Those people probably aren’t your target audience anyway, and they definitely are not worth changing your blog or writing style to accommodate. Offer no apologies (unless, of course, you were a total dick to someone).

I never set out with the purpose of offending anyone. But if it happens, it happens. I honestly don’t care. This blog is a reflection of our journey from full-time job-keepers to full-time explorers (Ha!), and that’s the way it’s going to stay. My words. My thoughts.

I cuss. I talk shit. Every once in a while, I’ll post something that is sure to rile up feathers. It happens, and I am cool with it.

My policy is simple: Don’t like what I write? No problemo. Move on to another blog.

That’s it, fellers! Have anything to add to the conversation? There’s a nifty little comment section below. Try it out. πŸ™‚

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


61 responses to “After 1,000,000 blog hits, here’s what I learned about running a blog”

  1. othalafehu says:

    Great article, you are spot on about us in the community not being competitors, we are really fellow pioneers with different homesteads. A thriving community grows and each nexus in the spiderweb benefits from the overall web getting bigger. Thanks for the virtual high-five!

  2. Spot on with advice here, especially the incalculable value of finding a method to work with others in your space. I have to say my game has improved ten fold since rockstarfinance started that forum. Congrats on the milestone.

  3. Slow Dad says:

    Sage advice Steve.

    Only thing I’d add as a tip to bloggers is “don’t be stealing stuff” (e.g. images, plagiarised content, passing off ideas as your own, etc) and if you do then beware the IP trolls, trademark thugs and copyright police.

  4. brian503 says:

    Congrats on the milestone! It is a great community. We can/have learned a lot from each other. Agreed we are not competition, we should view it as a common goal to grow the community and message.

  5. Good advice, and how fun to have hit the 1 million mark. Even though I write them from time to time, I agree that the “10 Things. . .” type articles can get dry. However, one way to salvage that sort of post template is to include a heavy dose of actionable advice and also intermix your own stories. That way the post won’t read like an article. Just my two cents.

    • Steve says:

      Actionable advice is a huge selling feature for me, as I’m sure it is for most of us. I used to read from time to time, but you’ve hit on exact why I haven’t been there in years.

  6. Team CF says:

    Glad to now I’m not the only one the honestly hate those 10 horrible things – lists. Thanks for the post, interesting insights! We are nowhere near the 1M page views, but are slowly making progress within our own “community”. Cheers mate!

    • Steve says:

      A return cheers, my friend! Appreciate the comment. This ain’t no race, remember. Slow and steady progress is good progress in my book.

  7. Arrgo says:

    1,000,000 bong hits? Wow thats a lot! Oh you said blog hits. Sorry. Hope I didnt offend …. πŸ™‚

    • Physician on FIRE says:

      Pick it, pack it, fire it up!

      Steve, Congrats on your milestone achievement, and thank you for sharing your insights as a 7-figure pageview guy. I definitely agree with the community aspect and treating other bloggers as friends rather than competitors. Speaking of friends, it must be getting warm down south. Any plans to head north to escape the heat this summer? I’ve got a cold one for you if you find yourself near the great lakes.

      I’m pretty active on social media (mostly Twitter, some Facebook), but the Facebook traffic also tends to be one-and-done, and I’ve heard Pinterest traffic is even more so. Organic search traffic and referral traffic tends to hang around longer.


      • Steve says:

        Thanks PoF! We will definitely make it up your way one of these days, but probably not this year. Next year, though, we’re planning a summer trip across the northern U.S. to Maine. That should be fun, and we’ll definitely drop in! πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Not at all. If I had 1,000,000 bong hits, I think I’d be writing a very, very different blog right about now. Imagine the words I’d use then! πŸ˜‰

  8. I’m ashamed to admit I never knew there was a Rockstar Finance forum. I knew of bogleheads, various Reddit forums, MMM forums, and Facebook groups, but not about this one. Many thanks!

  9. DadsDollarsDebts says:

    Kudos and now I am pissed…well not really. Keep on sending out the pics and the stories. Looks forward to reading more in the future.

  10. So much yes to this! I was really suspicious of other bloggers at first and didn’t want anything to do with them; I thought it was a competition. But it’s really been awesome meeting so many wonderful bloggers and sharing with them. It’s not a competition; it’s about writing and finding some buddies along the way. πŸ™‚

    • Steve says:

      Honestly, Mrs. Picky Pincher, I thought of it as a competition too when I first got into this business. Now, I’m much more wise and recognize that we’re all in this thing together, and the better that we make our own blogs, the more successful we ALL become. πŸ™‚

  11. When I was just starting my blog a couple years ago, I initially thought that I would just spend some time writing and that would be it. Like most bloggers, I learned pretty quickly that there’s a lot more involved – time, energy, and figuring out all kinds of things that have nothing to do with writing.

    But the best thing that came out of it was the engagement with the people. The personal finance community is a fantastic group with a lot of great ideas and inspiration.

    Congrats on the 1 mill mark – truly impressive!! Keep on keeping on, Steve!

    — Jim

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Jim! This has been one of the more welcoming communities that I’ve ever been a part of, no doubt. Just simply amazing.

  12. Divnomics says:

    Great summary, maybe even one of the best ‘this is what I learned from blogging’ – posts πŸ˜‰

    The whole community is the thing that amazed me so much after starting a blog and is the one thing that really kicks back some motivation to continue. You can become a part of something bigger, if you put some effort in it.

  13. Mrs. BITA says:

    Cheers to the PF blogging community. So much support there. I hope I give back at least as much as I’ve received since I popped on the scene 6-ish months ago. And congratulations on the 1 million milestone. May there be many millions more to come.

  14. Grace says:

    Thanks for this, it’s encouraging and really great information. I dig the community vibe, and I feel like especially the FIRE community is a welcoming one. The more widespread these ideas get, with each of us putting our own unique spin, the better off everyone will be!

    And that’s a great reminder about not worrying about pleasing everyone. It’s impossible anyways, and all we do when we try is lose authenticity.

  15. Mr. Tako says:

    Good stuff Steve! It’s always great when you share your skills and experience in blogging.

    I think a lot of people that quit blogging do it because they lack the community engagement. Most bloggers cite the community as one of the major reasons that they blog!

    • Steve says:

      I think you’re probably right, Mr. Tako. The more involved I’ve become, the more satisfied I get with spending so much time blogging. It’s a labor of love I suppose!

  16. Kate says:

    I originally started my blog as a way for my friends to easily access the blogs and posts that I’ve found helpful along my journey. It’s also been a place to record my thoughts, with the idea that maybe other people were thinking about these things too and we can talk about them openly. That quickly evolved into building relationships with other personal finance bloggers.

    It’s been so great connecting with people who are on a similar path and I’ve gotten far more out of that than any post I’ve published πŸ™‚

  17. Amy Blacklock says:

    Congrats on the pageview milestone, and more importantly congrats on all the engagement you get with your thoughts, words, advice, and shit. πŸ™‚ Happy to be a reader, follower, and Rockstar community cohort. Thanks for all you do and share, Steve!

  18. Tawcan says:

    Great advice and congrats on the big milestone! Engagement is very important and to get that you need to create your own voice/niche. I have been very lucky to connect with like-minded people in the community. This only encourages me to continue blogging.

  19. caren magill says:

    I couldn’t agree more on all points (where there 10 btw?) especially on the building community part. It’s amazing how open and welcoming the finance community is. That’s not true of all blogging genres.

    Thanks for the insight and congrats on the milestone!

  20. Great article, and awesome achievement. Your milestone is inspiring to me. Wealth Well Done is inching close to 20K page views in it’s first 8 months, so if I keep rocking and rolling, your achievement shows that I can do it too. My wife and I are in this for the long haul, friend. Our best is yet to come. So your achievement of one million views is motivation for us that we can do it too. We’re just getting started, and it’s nice to have you up front holding the torch in the darkness of the unknown, showing us the way we need to go. Thanks.

    • Steve says:

      20k pageviews in eight months ain’t too shabby, my friend! More than I had in my first eight months for sure. You’re definitely off to an awesome start. πŸ™‚

  21. The Friendly Russian says:

    First of all, congrats on the great milestone, the way to go. I also think “The big Why” matters. Every person has his/her own reason for writing. I remember when I started my first blog in Russia, I just wanted to make more money. And that blog didn’t last long. But when I started writing about what I really enjoy, at that time it was Ice Hockey, my blog quickly became popular and I was able to write about what I like and make a little extra money
    Thanks for this post.

    • Steve says:

      Totally agree. Why you’re blogging has a lot to do with how much you enjoy the process. The more that you like what you write about, the more satisfaction you’ll get out of it…for sure. πŸ™‚

  22. RichUncle EL says:

    It is a great accomplishment hitting 1 million views. Yeah people do enjoy seeing progress or a story behind a blog, that helps build the community. I guess FI is now helping build it even further, since you are not in a cubicle. Good Luck.

  23. ReachingTheCrest says:

    That’s a huge milestone. As a new blogger who is still trying to find my voice i’m struggling between the “Top 3” type of style and a more open dialogue. I certainly appreciate your dislike of those types of articles. What I struggle with is why a site like Michael Hyatt who almost always has simple 700 word posts on the “top 3” reasons to do something and has over 700k subscribers.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks RTC! Yeah, there are all kinds of reasons why some sites just magically make it to the top more than others. A lot of the time, those bloggers are well-connected. They may also come at this with a background in marketing or experience building blogs and know enough people to build popularity, fast, using a well-funded platform. πŸ™‚

  24. paulandrews says:

    Congrats Steve! I’m oozing blog jealousy over here. I have a question/idea for you: I’d love to know what happened during the last six months or so of 2015. Seems like you had some serious growth during that time; I’m thinking there should be a blog post for us newbies or something. Thanks for sharing; these sort of reports are what keep me rollin’!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Paul! Really, all it was…was consistency and commenting. A lot. During that time, I spent a ton of hours getting as involved within the PF community as I could. I wrote a lot. I built up my Twitter profile. It was the initial “grind” period of just staying determined and putting up high quality content. Easier said than done, though.

      • financeswithpurpose says:

        Great to know – I love this stuff, too, and love being engaged. Looking forward to hearing much more from you! And congrats – another great post, and 1M pageviews is awesome!

  25. The Tepid Tamale says:

    Wow, thanks for this post, and congratulations on 1 million! This advice is great for those of us trying to find our footing. (I always wondered on the ’10 things articles: Were there really 9 good things, and they made up one more to make 10? Or were there really 11, and they had to cut a good one out to make 10? Why always magically 10?)

    • Steve says:

      You’re most welcome, and appreciate the kind words. And good question…why 10? I suppose ’cause it’s a nice round number? Maybe? Hmm…

  26. Thanks for sharing some of the tips you’ve learned over the years. I’ve already implemented your suggestion to include the twitter handle in the share feature of my posts. I enjoyed your Bill Cosby joke too lol Congrats on the blogging milestone!

  27. colinashby says:

    Finding a community in blogging was probably the best thing I did. It really is so beneficial in helping you get out of your own bubble and learn more about different things. Thanks for helping put together the Rockstar Finance forum! I love it!

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate the kind words, Colin. Yup, the community aspect of all this is just amazing. So welcoming. It’s a great benefit!

  28. Josh says:

    Congratulations on the milestone. I am pretty new to all this (started in January) and I have been amazed at how many other bloggers I have been helped by on social media. I hate social media, but Twitter is a great way to connect and learn. Keep up the great writing, because I am learning from you.

  29. Hey Steve,

    Congrats on the new landmark! It gave me a bit of a chuckle that this post attracted me because of the big number of page views in the title yet further down you mention favoring engagement over page views. I agree that engagement is the goal we all should strive for as bloggers but sometimes those ‘# of reasons to do x’ posts help drive the most traffic, though perhaps not the most qualified!

    I’ll be checking out your blog more often for sure. Keep up the great work!

  30. johnklavu says:

    Hey Steve,

    I really enjoyed your article and congrats on the milestone. I’ve also discovered the forum you mentioned. Thank you! I’m relatively new to blogging, but continue to see similar memes around building community and collaborating. I hope to contribute as well.

    You’ve made a difference.


    • Steve says:

      Thanks John, appreciate your message! This is a wonderful community to be a part of. So welcoming. And we all know what each other is going through, at least from a financial perspective. The encouragement we all give and receive is amazing. πŸ™‚

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