Blogging Is Like Fishing: You Never Know What You're Going To Catch

One of the things that helps keep me writing 3X a week for the past eight years is a simple visualization exercise. I imagine sitting at the edge of a cliff on a warm sunny day. I can see an island 80 miles in the distance because the air is crystal clear.

In my hand is a fishing pole. When I first began in 2009, the pole was only six feet long and it couldn’t even reach the water below. But now, the fishing pole is over one mile long with a cantilever surrounded by brackets of reinforced steel.

Every time I publish a post, I’m casting deeper and deeper into the ocean. Most times, I reel nothing back. Given I’m always hungry, the obvious move is to cast again until something is caught. I refuse to starve.

I know that somebody, somewhere will find something I write interesting. It’s an inevitability with over three billion people online. I just have to keep trying because once I catch one big fish, other big fish will follow.

Catch Big Fish

Recently, I caught a massive fish with a buttery belly when Scraping By On $500,000 A Year went nuts over social media. I knew the post was pretty good due to the amount of social shares and comments it had since I first published it in 2015. But it was a complete surprise when Twitter got hold of it in 2017, turned the couple’s budget chart into a meme.

The post became a Twitter Moment for several days with over 45,000 Tweets and I got me some invitations on some fun podcasts. Today, I have my own top personal finance podcast with over 1.5 million downloads so far.

Thanks to the traffic boost, the post also earned me enough money to completely landscape my house. That was cool. But after about six days of fanfare, the fish was consumed, and I was hungry once again!

And so I went back to fishing off my cliff with a slightly longer and slightly stronger fishing pole. Now that I’ve caught one big fish, I know I have the skills to catch another big fish again. All I have to do is to keep writing and stay patient.

Financial Samurai Twitter Moment

Scraping By On $500K became a Twitter Moment in March, 2017 for three days

Your “Big Break” Will Eventually Come

If you’re just starting off on your blogging journey or don’t have a lot of traffic yet, CHERISH your situation! I’m envious! The most fun I’ve ever had blogging was when I first started out. Having a larger blog accept your guest post is a huge deal. Seeing a 1,000 pageview increase in one day is awesome. Climbing up the Alexa ranking charts made me wake up each morning with joy. These are your big breaks!

As you grow larger, the excitement will fade because you need a bigger and bigger hit to replicate the percentage growth figures you hit in the past. Even though my $500K post went viral, my traffic only went up about ~20% in March.

Pro Tip: I suggest all of you identify 5 – 10 pillar posts, those posts with a lot of meat on them where you think can be big hits, and continuously link back to them with every new relevant article. Build that niche site within your site! My $500K article was “discovered” because I linked back to it from an article I wrote reflecting on early retirement five years later. Sooner or later, someone larger than you will believe your work is worth highlighting.

Financial Samurai Yahoo Front Page

Getting on the front page of Yahoo

During the crucial time period where you’re experiencing extraordinary fanfare, seize the moment and press. It’s all you can eat baby! You’ve got some street cred now. Reach out to folks who matter in your industry because they’ll be more obliged to take your call. For example, Yahoo decided my article, The Dark Side Of Early Retirement was good enough to be featured on the front page of their home page on May 1, 2017. That was an honor since I’ve been a fan of Yahoo since 1997. Perhaps now other publications will feel the same way.

Know that you don’t have to aggressively self-promote either. Screaming from the top of your lungs about how much money you make in order to gain credibility isn’t necessary. Putting up pictures of yourself and your fabulous life all over social media and your blog isn’t necessary either. Read both the $500K and Dark Side posts and you’ll find little in the way of self promotion. Instead, I went DEEP into figuring out problems that pertain to other people.

Eventually, your 15 minutes of fame will be over, and you’ll have to sit for long periods of time with not even a nibble. But hopefully you’ll take solace knowing that you’re good enough to be heard.

Until we feast again!