Why would anyone write a blog?!?

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Well I don’t know about anyone else, but in my case it all started out harmlessly enough.

Back in 2013, I stumbled across a website called Mr Money Mustache. Here I find some bloke making some pretty bold claims…saying he retired age 30 and that anyone can get rich by following some simple steps.

Well that’s OBVIOUSLY horseshit right? WE ALL KNOW that you don’t trust some bloke on the internet who says he’s discovered the secret to getting rich (even if its on the BBC website). Your Mum & Dad taught you that years ago. Obviously a total scam.

And yet…and yet…

I read the MMM content. And I mean the actual content…not the emotions it stirred, not the dark motivations that my suspicious mind projected onto the author…not the feeling that this was all too sunny side up and too good to be true.

When I worked in corporate finance, it sometimes felt like everyone was trying to fuck me over. I worked on deals / disputes where there was a lot of money at stake. Clients hired us to help them win their case / knock down someone else’s case. I’ve pulled apart more glossy powerpoint presentations and found more errors in spreadsheets than most people have had hot dinners.

puppy

My point is: back then I wasn’t the sort of guy that fell for a nice story and some puppy photos.

But after a few days binge reading Mr Money Mustache, I came to the conclusion that it was actually true.

It added up: the maths worked and was consistent with everything I knew about investing. But the main reason I knew it was true was that, without even knowing that financial independence was a thing, I’d been on The Path for 20 years (unfortunately with higher spending…3 kids and living in London will do that).

It is therefore a cosmic irony when I now read suspicious comments online from people reacting to The Escape Artist’s blog. I see them going through the same cynical sceptical thought process that I went through. They’re pretty sure there’s a catch, but they don’t quite know what it is. After all, if this guy had really found the secret to getting rich, why the hell would he share that valuable knowledge for free?!?

So I thought…why not spare people the effort of inventing lame conspiracy theories and just tell everyone why I write the blog?

Reason #1 : Miss, he told me to do it!

Whenever I got into trouble at school, the teacher would ask me why I had done it? One of my go-to answers would be that one of the other kids had told me to do it. The teacher would ask whether I would jump off a cliff if someone else told me to? I would then put my puzzled face on 🤔, look like I was weighing up the pros and cons…and wait for everyone to get bored of the game and move on.

In 2013 I wrote a guest post and emailed it to Mr Money Mustache. He was kind enough to email back to thank me and encourage me to copy his blog write a UK financial independence blog telling my story.

MMM

So…granted, it’s not a great reason, but Miss…he told me to do it!

Reason #2 : Organising your thoughts

This is the best reason for anyone to write a blog.

We humans are prone to irrationality, flakiness, group-think and general nonsense. Most people don’t know their own mind from one day to the next. Their emotions change in ways that are baffling and unpredictable to them…like they’re driftwood on the ocean.

How do you get your shit together? Well, you need to do the work to understand yourself and how the world works…based on reality, not on how you’d like things to be. That means accepting that life is unfair and will test you. You have to play the hand you’ve been dealt as well as you can.

Writing helps me organise my thoughts and beliefs (and be able to back them up…see reason #5). Writing helps bring order to chaos.

Reason #3 : To pay it forward

pay-it-forward-chart1

If you’re like 99% of the population, your parents didn’t teach you properly about money.

Maybe if you were born working class you saw your parents lurch from pay check to pay check with little or no safety margin.

You may have grown up with a money blueprint that made you suspicious of rich people, the stockmarket and landlords. That is what Little Miss Fire calls The Shopfloor Mentality…that great article is what paying it forward looks like.

If you were born middle class, you may have been raised as a sensible saver but not to invest in the stockmarket or take other intelligent risks. You may (like me) have been conditioned to cling onto a safe (seeming) office job. Finding Mr Money Mustache helped me shake off some of my limiting beliefs and I wanted to pay that forward.

How can we best help everyone to handle money and become rich(er)? What if we told them the “secrets” of financial independence ? What if we told them about the mistakes that we’d made and learnt from? What if we put it all on a free website where everyone could see it?

Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, that’s what I’m doing here folks.

Reason #4 : To make money

Bad idea…blogging is an awful way to make money.

When I think about how many hours I’ve put into this blog, its comical how little money it’s made me. I used to make good money working in finance. Yes I started off as a modest earner on £12,500 per year but by the end I was a top rate taxpayer. So the idea that I would quit that to start blogging for the money is utterly hilarious.

Every FI blogger thinks about monetising their blog at some point….no doubt encouraged by Mr Money Mustache earning $400,000 a year…just by tapping some shit into a computer, as he would put it.

There’s nothing wrong with that…earning more is not cheating. But I don’t run adverts on my site. And there isn’t really any decent money to be made from blogging unless you recommend commercial products.

Yes, I earn some money from financial coaching…but unfortunately I have to do something that looks a lot like work for that. Go ahead and call The Internet Retirement Police if you want.

Reason #5: To be popular

If you thought reason #4 was lame, check this one out!!

This might be the worst ever reason to start blogging.

Firstly only a minority of the population reads anything sensible…so good luck reaching the rest with just a blog (that’s why the Playing With FIRE movie is going to be a game-changer).

Second, when you first start blogging, even blog readers ignore you. Tumbleweed blows past your blog stats page and, in the desert wilderness, there are fewer page views than rattlesnakes.

Then a few people notice you and take pity on you as the underdog. Some people linked to my blog (thank you Monevator and Rockstar Finance). I started to get some readers. Even better, some of those readers emailed me to say thank you and offered to pay me for coaching (see point 4 above).

Then you get some media attention and with that come trolls and haters. This envy is all a bit silly, but there are advantages to having haters. They seize on sloppy wording, keeping you on your toes and making you a better writer.

These clowns also act as your unofficial guerilla marketing team. 🤡🤡 They leave angry comments about you around the internet that spark other people’s curiosity (honestly, who walks past a fight without looking??) and drive traffic to your website. You don’t even have to pay them for this!

Reason 6 : To have fun

You have to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

As I wrote in Get Rich with the Process, there are 2 ways of motivating yourself:

  1. focusing on the outcome
  2. focusing on the process

Imagine a new blogger. If they focus on the outcome of having a massive readership, they may never even start because the risk of failure seems too high. If they do start, they’ll avoid controversial subjects to avoid offending anyone. Result: something bland and boring.

Better to enjoy the process. If you write because you enjoy it, you’re WAY more likely to follow through when you hit “The Dip”. In a world full of would-be bloggers that come and go, consistency is important.

I have a lot of fun writing this blog. Just writing this article, I’ve cracked myself up. Jokes are like cooking…home made is best.

Reason 7: To save the world

People often want to change the world for the better.

That’s great but I don’t think anyone’s qualified to change the world until they’ve got their own shit together first. Take student activists…I’d take them more seriously if they weren’t being funded by The Bank of Mum & Dad or loans from The Taxpayer.

But we do need to change for the better. Not to save the planet (the planet will be here long after we have made ourselves extinct) but to save ourselves. I don’t know exactly what’s gonna kill us all, but filling up our oceans with plastic and our air with pollutants seems like a pretty good place to start.

Let’s face it, we humans are a bunch of monkeys that conquered the world. Unfortunately, if you have 7 billion monkeys with shopping malls, drive-thru MacDonuts and SUVs, that’s a gigantic ecological disaster.

That alone is good enough reason to write a blog about buying less shit.


Further reading:

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  1. The Alignment of Interests
  2. Financial Coaching

22 comments

  1. I also started with Mr. Money Mustache and thought “Here are my people!” I don’t remember how I found TEA but I loved the visuals you gave me about escaping the prison camp. Plus I was in finance so that resonated with me as well. Now I am on FIRE and want to thank you for the work you put into the blog. I do not aspire to have my own blog but I appreciate having one I to which I can direct my friends in the UK. Just doing my part to save the world!

  2. TEA for Prime Minister!
    That had me laughing throughout, thank you for not spamming us with ads. Corporate Finance really is a horrible place come to think of it, I really need to fast track my FIRE plan!

  3. Holy shite, that puppy photo… you got me… 😉

    To pay it forward is mostly my reason. I do want to help people, partly because the formula to help them is so damn easy.

    To make money? ….. yeah, that ain’t working out

  4. bloomingheck · · Reply

    I especially like it when you use the word horseshit. That’s my main reason for reading your blog.

  5. I love this article and am currently working on a blog myself after witnessing so many people spend themselves into near financial ruin that I feel my head might explode! Hopefully I can help them see that the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts drive through was NOT the best invention of the century and does not come in the top 10 necessities in the budget.

  6. I read your blog because you make me laugh and you keep reminding me to stay away from shoe shopping. But seriously, point 7 makes a lot of sense and thank you for not being one of those over- commercialised blogs😄

  7. […] A big thanks to the fabulous escape artist for mentioning me on his blog: […]

  8. Fab post and I really enjoyed the puppy photo! Thanks for the mention too! Nice little surprise after my massive break from blogging. Your post has guilted me into coming back too 🙂

  9. Good post TEA, I want to start a blog but have been a bit daunted by all the info on blogging out there, why I want to blog is mostly to get my thoughts out there and not really care if people like it, or read it, I need to just go for it. I was at the last meet up, didn’t get to talk to you but really enjoyed it.

  10. Before I retired recently I had never looked at a blog about anything at all.

    Stumbled here by accident whilst doing some research and have been amazed at the volume of material on FIRE out there. In my opinion this blog is one of the best – love the title the lay out, humour and the absence of adverts.

    I think reason 7 is a bit of a two edged sword. Of course, in the interests of the world, everyone needs to buy less shit but If everyone really did buy less shit there would be the mother of all market crashes which may bugger up the FIRE. As the saint said – make me chaste – but not just yet!

  11. FI Warrior · · Reply

    Hi, I grew up really precariously, in that we may have looked comfortably middle-class to the outside world, but it was fragile, the smallest gust of wind would have blown us apart. This made me feel insecure to the extent that later, as an adult, I never fully trusted the semblance of safety, whatever happened, having a good job, whatever. Frugality therefore made sense, it was like insurance, so as to never end up helpless again, depending on random fate, like windforce and direction as a kid.

    That’s how I found your site, via the fledgling FI/RE scene in the UK. This article, as well as a lot of the general background reminds me how different the mass of the herd are to us outliers. I knew I was different and never fitted in; (even just with the always liking to think for myself) but never realised how small a minority I am probably in. For sure there are pros and cons either way, but I’m not certain which gives a better life here on this planet.

    So, step one if you want to be a successful blogger, is don’t choose a topic that is unpopular with the vast majority of the general populace. If you think that saving even one person is worth it though and money in this respect is irrelevant, then it’s a good FU to the default mainstream conformity.

  12. Be honest. You started the blog so you had an excuse to wear *that jacket*. 🙂

  13. So my gateway drug to FIRE blogging was ermine at Simple Living in [wherever he was before now] and the long departed Dr Doom at livingaFI. I then came to MMM and Jacob at ERE though them and then through them to the rest. It makes me realise quite how long I have been lurking around this space…!

    As someone who is just over a week into this blogging thing your post is rather timely. For me reason 2 (to organise, record and test my thinking) and reason 6 (fun) were definitely big reasons. But actually I’ve realised that part of it was also to make me feel like I had some legitimacy to engage in the comments and on twitter with other bloggers. Yes it’s a big step to launch a blog, but for some people I think it’s also a big step to comment and engage rather than just read.

    The other big thing for me is to punch up my writing style. The way I see it, if I crank out a thousand or so words every week on a blog my writing can’t get worse, can it…?

  14. I really enjoyed reading this post. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and it’s (along with RIT) my favourite in part due to the writing but also the UK focus – and I like the prison camp mentality.

    I have my own blog and the main reason for setting it up was that it was an outlet for my interests in personal finance and FIRE that were beginning to get a bit repetitive to those who have to listen to me ranting on and on.

    Keep up the output!

  15. SurreyBoy · · Reply

    As usual, an interesting post. If you get your mojo from the idea of positively influencing anonymous readers from the web, then your site has positively influenced me.

    I am FI lite now just about, and am starting to feel some stress slide away. When I read this blog and comments i like the fact that im part of a secret and subversive club – makes it easier to tolerate the tedious BS of corporate Britain.

    Keep posting please.

  16. As usual couldn’t have written this list better myself!

    Crystallising my own thoughts, and perhaps even more important, getting some really good constructive feedback/criticism of them in certain cases, has been the best part of writing my blog.

    @caveman – why did you think you need to have a blog to legitimately get involved with commenting etc? A lot of comments I get from other blog owners are vacuous one liners that they only leave to get the link back. In general I’d much rather read a comment from a genuine reader

    (not saying all blog owners aren’t genuine readers and of course I’ve left one liner comments before on other blogs, but the fact remains!)

    1. Thanks to all for the comments 🙂 A lot of people keep telling me to keep posting. Well, I’ll be taking a bit of a break from blogging over the next few weeks but fear not…I have some excellent hand-picked guest posts from real people lined up to dispense more non-wimpy personal finance advice. The style may look different but all contain amazing life lessons and The Magic Ingredient.

      The idea is to mix it up and showcase what readers / other people have been able to achieve in their lives. Its almost as if its not all about me!

      TEA

    2. Good question TFS

      What was the old rule of thumb? I think it was something like 1% of the people on the internet create, 10% comment and the rest just read. I felt that for my opinion to be of value I would have to be one of the 1% rather than one of the 10% and so instead I stayed as of the 89%.

      If I wasn’t one of the 1% then I felt that I would have to restrict myself to just those vacuous one liners.

      I’m not suggesting that it was logical at all. It was also unnecessary caution. It’s just that for some people (like me) moving out from the 89% wasn’t as trivial as it possibly should have been!.

  17. tuppennysfireplace · · Reply

    It’s probably no coincidence that many of us have found the FIRE community through other bloggers. Mine started with Jacob over at ERE mainly because I was into the frugal/saving money scene – think Tightwad Gazette and Your Money Or Your Life – and I then quickly found MMM.
    Many subsequent blogs found have been through the comments section. I love checking out unfamiliar names and seeing if their writing style (if they blog) resonate with me.

  18. All awesome reasons! I’ve been blogging for more than 5 years and at some point wondered – I don’t have a book deal, I don’t monetise it, why am I doing it? And I realised that I would continue to write it without any incentive – I just can’t shut up :)) I need to write. I treat my blog as my diary (albeit public), as a reflection tool (journaling) and as a record (I have a memory of a fish). You are right, it really does help to organise one’s thoughts! It’s like talking to yourself. Most of the time I revisit my thoughts or findings on my blog to remind me who I am and what techniques to use. And yes, if it helps at least one person, my job is done.

  19. Hi
    The reason why I write a blog is to express my ideas and thoughts on a daily basis. I do not care whether I earn the fund for blog writing. Blog writing is an enjoyment for me.
    WTK

  20. I just started out and I think I do it to fill a void. The only hobby I ever had was football, and I’m now too old to do that. I don’t really enjoy anything else anymore now that I’m a parent. I started reading about financial freedom out of sheer boredom, and it just grew from that. I want to portray the journey of an average financially uneducated joe on their quest to be able to quit their sh***y job as quickly as possible. Oh, and I actually need people to help ME, rather than the other way around!!

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