This cute little blog celebrates its one-year birthday this month. How did I survive my first year of blogging? When I started Abandoned Cubicle last September, I had strong encouragement from my ever-patient wife.
Here I am a year later. Still at it, and more motivated than ever to produce meaningful content for whoever stumbles across this early retirement playground.
First Year of Blogging: “Rinse and Repeat”
All of us early retirement bloggers aspire to something more than a drawn-out life of consumption, spent mostly in a fluorescent-lit office space. Every one of us has a story to tell, and that makes for good reading.
How many times can we read about the Safe Withdrawal Rate or the Marginal Utility of Money? There are at least fifteen posts by fifteen bloggers to tell you all about it.
But each one is layered with personal experiences and anecdotes that just might relate to your particular situation. Or at least, tickle a different funny bone?
It’s increasingly challenging to produce original and attractive content that stands the test of time. The biggest challenge I’ve found is creating original content that’s meaningful and engaging.
There’s such a wealth of great information produced by very talented bloggers every day. Very few of us have an excellent back story like Pete (Mr. Money Mustache), who retired at 30 alongside his partner in crime, Mrs. Money Mustache.
He’s gone from blogging to saving the planet – complete with a brick-and-mortar headquarters. Aim high, and have a good story to tell. You never know where it could lead you.
“That guy in Colorado has nothing on me. Stay frugal, my friends.”
I look back on a year of mixed quality in my content. Not that I’m a harsh critic of my work, but heck, I slapped up some posts that could’ve used a re-write or two. I reckon that’s the balance we strike when other obligations come into play like work, family, and college football season…
Oh, and if anyone noticed, I took a long three-month hiatus earlier this spring that didn’t help improve my readership much. It’s interesting. Part of that little sabbatical I attribute to boredom. What more could I say that hasn’t been written up fifteen times elsewhere? Back then I wondered, is the utility of my time better spent on family, exercise, and college basketball?
Remembering Why I Write
I hope my readership grows and grows because I’d like nothing more than to make blogging a key part of my life after early retirement. I fully expect my quality will improve even more with the luxury of time and experience. Plus, the kids will be in school, so I can finish a coherent thought without having to give a timeout or kiss a boo-boo.
Do I want to make money with this blog? For sure I do! Am I that serious about it? Yes and No. I have a few of the requisite Ad Sense ads up on the right side, and affiliates in the works.
Ideally, the content will drive the trickle of traffic, allowing me to feather in the most appropriate monetization widgets. Stuff I can promote without being two-faced. (you know, save your money for early retirement, purchase this or that so I can make money from YOU!)
Getting Slightly Better with Time
A post from back in July explains it best. The single most helpful improvement for this blog was dragging me behind out of bed at 5 AM instead of the usual 6:15ish. This additional time is dedicated to blogging and my newfound fascination with Pinterest.
Off I was. 5 AM. every. blessed. day. After two months of this, I can attest that the new routine has helped not only the productivity of this site, but I’m also now in sync with Mrs. Cubert’s schedule. A win-win situation.
There are still limitations. I thought at first I could pull off three posts per week, but I soon learned that quality demands rewrites and more rewrites. The plan going forward is to stick with two posts per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’ll give all of you fine readers plenty of time to post comments and share with friends.
I Accomplished a Few Things
The highlights of this past year are few but special. Just a month after launching this blog, J. Money was willing to feature me in a guest post titled, “How to Lose a Million Dollars“. That quickly got this blog noticed and maybe set some unrealistic expectations at the same time.
If nothing else, that post is a diary of my idiocy with money that a few of us might relate to. I think failures make for a great readership. Don’t you agree?
Soon after coming back from hiatus, J. featured my Landlord’s Ten Commandments post on Rockstar Finance. Another spike in traffic followed. And I got a kick-butt banner to put on my home page. (Dork.)
I consider J. Money is a sort of Godfather. He has been super supportive of noob bloggers including me, even though I ribbed him over his affinity for Net Worth.
What’s Up Next?
Now that I’m within striking distance of early retirement, I expect several posts will delve into the tactical nature of planning for the future. Make sure health insurance is accessible, that our cash flow is set up nicely, and that our kids’ college funds are off to a healthy start. There’s a lot to prepare for.
I’m considering a travel series as well. We’ve been to our share of overseas and continental destinations. Lots of financial fails and wins to share, along with solid amateur photography.
Finally, there could be a new Airbnb property in the works. We’re in the middle of negotiations on a condo in northern Michigan. We’ll see where that goes. If it comes through, we’ll be busier than snot getting that joint ready for seasonal rentals. More lessons to learn and share with you.
Finally, finally, THANK YOU. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and be a part of the journey. We’ve got a long way to go!
PS. A special “thanks” also to a couple of established personal finance bloggers who put this blog in their blogrolls, which helped generate new traffic: Millennial Boss and Physician on Fire. Gracias, friends!
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Susan B says
Looking forward to reading more on Tuesdays and Fridays! Best of luck with the condo project….
Thank you! Just gotta get past the seller’s amnesia on 2% seller paid closing costs… ????
I can see myself writing something similar a year from now. I’ve just started, but can identify with many of your points. I think the issue of quality content is a real issue for me and the wider community. I’m an analytic person but analytic blogs are ho-hum. So I agree that the personal touch is so important.
I sure hope so, Actuary! I’ll have to check out your site soon. Stick with it and you’ll find your style begin to emerge and the original content follows. And if you struggle to find that personal touch, inject some fun photos or gifs to lift the tone. Best!
Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto says
Happy Birthday, my (for now) cubicle bound friend! I’m down to 274 Days To Go, and began writing when I was ~900 days out. It’ll be interesting to watch you “follow my path”, and see how you handle the final miles to the Starting Line. You’re a good writer, and I fully expect you’ll continue to see steady growth if you decide to stay with it. Love the process of writing, and the rest will follow!
Thanks, Fritz! And congrats on 274 days! Man, that anticipation has to feel good when you’re within the year mark. I really appreciate the compliments, especially coming from someone who walks the walk when it comes to good writing.
Gwen @ Fiery Millennials says
Heard you had a pretty fun blogger meetup with some amazing bloggers. Wish I coulda been there! Congratulations on surviving a year of blogging!
Re the meet-up, we had a great time shooting the sh*t and random QA. You need to get up here for the next one, Gwen.
Financial Panther says
Ah, you’ve got that miracle morning down! Congrats on hitting the one year mark. We’ll have to meet up again!
We’ll see how it goes this winter when I’ll be waking up to darkness and frigid home temps. I’ll need a fur coat to blog! Let’s definitely meet up again soon – good times, FP!
Dylan | Trail to FI says
Congrats on your anniversary! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts – I find them helpful as a new blogger myself. Looking forward to hearing about that Airbnb property.
Thank you, Dylan! And likewise with respect to Trail to FI! Hopefully there’s more news coming soon on the Airbnb deal. It’ll be a lot of work up front, but that’s certainly not unusual with investment properties.
Congrats on one year – plus.
Id like to offer an insight that I know several Pro DJ’s use and a few comedians also.
They say they deliberately do not listen to others works in their field because they would be swayed from thier own original ways- I will add that I know two of these people well and they stand out. Its obvious they are unique.
Thats my thought to share. Im a year into blogging BUT really only a month (as for 11 months I did not even know if I wanted to blog or not – I wasnt serious).
Hey man- thanks for offering that up. Whenever the doubts hit you’ve got to stick to who you are and the style that’s your own.
J. Money says
Haha… Love you too man – congrats on making it to one year! 95% of bloggers never do (totally making that stat up, but I bet it’s close :))
Keep pouring your heart out!
Take a guess which actor is you and which is me. Yeah, I’m not Andy Samberg… Thank you, J. – lots more pouring to go!
Mr Defined Sight says
Congrats on the one year birthday! I share the same feelings about prior posts on my blog. Some things could have been better but whatever. We learn as we go and gain experience just like anything else. Keep going and continue creating awesome content!
Thank you, Mr. DS! Whatever indeed. Onward and upward into year 2. And no more messing with perma links! Yeesh what a pain…
Amy @ LifeZemplified says
Congrats on your one year! We are also hoping to retire in 2020 so I’ll be looking for your wisdom as you figure all this stuff out. 🙂
Thanks, Amy. You know, I think Retire by Forty is also set to hang it up in 2020. We need to plan a party!
Happy blog-birthday bud. I’m about 3-4 months in and will say for sure the biggest eye opener for me was the hustle needed to get traffic. I was a bit naive when I started thinking people would just come easily.
Thanks, man! Oh indeed. The traffic is one puzzle I’ll be working hard at for some time. Original content in this space is getting more scant all the time.
Tread Lightly, Retire Early says
Really loving your posts and glad you didn’t hang up your hat after that 3 month hiatus! My biggest motivation with my blog is the accountability it gives me to stay on track with our spending and continue learning different ways to save it. Plus connecting with like minded people who actually want to talk about money as much as I do 🙂
Thank you, TLRE! It warms my heart to see those kind words. Especially on a day that won’t exceed 0 degrees F here in Minneapolis. BRRR!!!
I love your approach. Accountability is a great byproduct of this little hobby. And of course, money talk is always fascinating too. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from picking up on FIRE blogs. But I can tell you that Mr. Money Mustache almost single handedly got me on the path to early retirement. Probably saved me six figures in a variety of areas of our budget!
Tread Lightly, Retire Early says
Amazing how much impact that one man has had on so many lives. Punchdebtintheface is actually where I started and he lead me to MMM. Sure miss that blog!
And brrrr – we’ve been complaining about the cold in the nw for temps in the 20s/30s. High of 43 and sunny today though, practically t shirt weather 😉
Wow! We wouldn’t know what to do with temps above freezing here. Maybe take a nice walk around the block? LOL. If nothing else, you have no excuses not to catch up on some good reading during this deep freeze. 🙂
Tread Lightly, Retire Early says
It might rain a lot in the PNW, but the upside is there is rarely a day where we can’t head outside.