I don’t usually post on Mondays, but this Monday is different. Guess why…
It’s my blog’s six-month anniversary, exactly today! My first post, Origin Story, went up on August 22, 2015. And then I went camping for a week and mostly forgot about it, and when I got back I think there had been around ten pageviews, probably all of them from friends of mine in real life (and a big heartfelt thank you to those friends for being my first visitors!).
That feels like a long time ago now. And since a lot has changed on The Yachtless over the past six months, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect a little on the experience of blogging thus far—on what it has meant for me…and what it hasn’t meant.
If you had asked me in August why I was starting a blog, I would have said I had two reasons:
1) I had spent a long time feeling trapped and helpless in regards to my student debt, and I thought the blog would help me feel more empowered – like I was, in some small way, doing something about the debt rather than letting it emotionally control me (even if “doing something” was simply writing about my journey).
2) I needed something to get me through my final semester of grad school, something else to focus on that would keep me from succumbing to Crazy Dissertation Brain.
Check and check. Blogging definitely helped with both of those things. Now, as for other potential benefits…
Here’s what I haven’t gotten out of blogging:
- MONEY. Most of my feeble attempts at making money off of this site can be found here, in case you’re interested, haha. I also have occasional Amazon affiliate links scattered around, but usually they’re accompanied by a note suggesting that you not use them—in other words, marketing at its very finest. It’s possible I might try harder to “monetize” (as they say in blog-speak) in the future, but that’s just not where I’m at right now.
- Any type of decent understanding of Pinterest. I do have an account, but if you take a look you will quickly see that I don’t know how to use it properly.
Here’s what I have gotten out of blogging:
- Connections with other human beings
- Encouragement from other human beings
- A sense that I’m not alone in my struggles with debt and financial worries, because: Other human beings.
(Pssst! Other human beings = YOU.)
Even though I’ve been blogging since August, I only learned about Google Analytics a month ago when my friend Claudia from Two Cup House told me about it. As it turns out, there are a lot of things you can do with Google Analytics to examine your website traffic, but the one that I really get a kick out of is the real-time map that shows the locations of users who are currently on your site:
Sometimes I like to click open the real-time map and watch the bubbles appear and disappear for a minute or two. Want to guess why I do it? Here are your choices:
A. I have waaaaaay too much time on my hands these days.
B. Maps are cool.
C. It is seriously amazing to realize that it’s possible to make small connections with people all over the world. Look, there’s someone in Australia! Looking at my blog! Crazy!
D. All of the above.
E. All of the above, but mostly C.
And the answer is…E. All of the above, but mostly it’s just amazing to think about how this blog gives me the opportunity to make real (albeit sometimes very fleeting) connections with people who I would otherwise probably never get to interact with. The fact that it is possible to communicate with individuals in far-off places is not exactly a groundbreaking concept in 2016, but blogging has made this feel truly profound to me in a way that it didn’t before.
(And by the way, if you didn’t already know that website owners are, by default, able to see information about the general locations of their visitors, and other non-personally-identifying demographic information, that’s something you should know. With the exception of the real-time map, however, it’s analyzed as group data, not as data about individual visitors.)
One final thing. I’m aware that the one of the main “rules” of blogging is that you should always provide useful information to your readers. And there are indeed many wonderful blogs out there that provide tons of useful information. But I don’t think this blog is really one of them, at least not right now. And while part of me sometimes thinks it would be cool if I had more helpful tips to give out—like about how to spend less money or how to make more money or how to invest your money—I’ve decided that I’m okay with continuing to mostly just share information about my own experiences. (Though if I do happen to pick up any helpful tips, I’ll try to pass them along!)
I’ll actually even go one step further and say that, for whatever it’s worth, the number one reason that I personally read other blogs is not to get useful tips—though this is an excellent and very much appreciated side benefit. Rather, I read blogs because I want to get to know the authors as human beings, to follow their stories, to be inspired, and to have the opportunity to read about and discuss interesting topics (for more on my philosophy on blogging as an interactive medium, check out this post.)
That’s it, I think. This post is really just meant as a huge thank you to you. Please know that the connections I’ve made in these past six months with all of you—whether through emailing, commenting, or just visiting and reading—mean a great deal to me.
I usually put a comment prompt in at the bottom of the post, but I can’t really think of a specific one today. So feel free to comment on whatever you want: Blogging! Camping! Maps! Useful information! Australia! Pinterest! Potato Pancakes! Butterflies! Donald Trump!
Oh, also, I may not have useful tips, but I do have podcast recommendations. Lots of them.