Successful blogging…Back to the Future style.

Thats right, I’m going all Michael J Fox up in this place and gonna take a step in to the future. “Why?” you ask. Well, I read an excellent post by Bob over at Christian PF and it got me thinking, “Maybe I should write an article about how to become a successful blogger.” Only problem is… I’m not a successful blogger. Wait a minute! Who said you need to be a great blogger to write an article about how to become a great blogger? Anyone ever watch golf? Why does Tiger Woods ask his caddy for advice… it’s not like that guy is a better golfer than him. If Tiger Woods’ caddy can tell Tiger how to golf, I can tell novice bloggers how to become successful. This is my advice to the unsuccessful blogger that’s looking to boost their numbers…

So you just started your own blog and now you want to know how you can go about getting people to read it. Well I got 7 simple rules that, if followed, should get ya well on your way.

1) Don’t suck. Seriously, this is the most important part of becoming a good blogger. People don’t like things that suck, so you’re blog probably shouldn’t suck either. Whatever your niche, personal finance, religion, politics, or your life, do something that is going to set you apart from the other 200,000 bloggers just like you. Before you start your blog think about who you want your audience to be. Is it college students? Old People? Midgets named Helga? Whatever your targeted audience, try to format your website in a way that is going to be aesthetically appealing to them (your writing should also cater to that same group). When I browse PF (personal finance) blogs the layout is absolutely critical to how long I’ll be sticking around. If I can’t navigate their webpages or find what I’m looking for easily, I’m out the door in the blink of an eye. If you think your website looks ugly, it probably is so you need to change it. Blogs are like people, the best looking ones seem to get the most attention.

2) Reread step one

3) Make your blog personal. I’m not telling you to share all your deep dark secrets, but don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable and make your blogging personal. Although I read a ton of PF blogs, I always find myself checking up on the ones where the author has focused on sharing their personal story. I would be bored out of my mind if PF was only about stocks, bonds, and wall street. I know it’s a little weird to think about sharing your personal life with people you have never met, but don’t think about them as strangers, think about them as strange friends!

4) Find a blogging BFF. I have been emailing back and forth with a couple different PF bloggers and the wealth of information they have provided to me has been invaluable. Don’t get caught up in the mentality “What can that blogger do for me?” Instead think, “What can I do for that blogger? ” A random act of kindness on your part can go a long way. Do not go to every blog in your genre and say “Hey will you add me to your blogroll” or, my personal favorite, leave a comment that says “Great post, you should check out my site at” Instead shoot your favorite bloggers an email that says “Thanks for all your great posts. They have totally motivated me to join the blogging community!” Comments like that are far more likely to spark a friendship and maybe even a blogging romance.

5) Be prepared to see the number 0. When I first started blogging I had a habit of compulsively checking my sitemeter statistics, adsense account balance, and blog emails. Most of the time I did that, the number zero was waiting to welcome me. Some days I had no visitors, most days I made $0 from adsense, and my computer wasn’t saying “You’ve got mail.” It’s easy to get discouraged by a low visit count or when no one is commenting on your posts, but ya got to push through and keep on truckin’. You have to give it an honest attempt for at least six months before you can expect any kind of growth in your web traffic. Patience, patience, patience.

6) Respond to your readers. Once you finally start generating traffic you will probably get some people stopping by to give their two cents. Think of these people as your VIP customers. You need to win these people over. If someone comments on your post be sure to comment back on theirs. This principal is closely related to step four, building blogging friendships. Not only will your commentors feel appreciated, but it may cause them to comment back again or for someone else to jump in on the conversation. If you don’t respond to your readers they wont respond to you.

7) Blog because you want to. This is the last and most important point. I started blogging  because I wanted to make money . I lasted about two and a half months before I totally burned myself out. Before you start your blog, think about what your reasons for doing so are. Is it to keep yourself accountable? Is it to share information with friends and family? How ’bout to become super famous and rich? If it’s the last one I recommend you spare yourself and quit now. If you’re not passionate about the material your covering, you’re not gonna last.

So there ya have it. These are my seven tips that will hopefully lead you to a prosperous blogging life. I can’t gurantee they are going to work, primarily because I am so new to the blogging world that I have not been able to adeqautely test them. These are the principals I am going to live by and hopefully two years from now I can look back and say “Told ya so!”

Thanks (for nothing) Upromise!

Looks like this debt puncher is going back to college. That’s right, I’m gonna get me a PhDizzle and I owe it all to Upromise. I signed up with them after I graduated college, about two years ago. I have my account linked to my credit card, which I use for EVERY purchase I make (I would pay my rent on my credit card if I could). I got an email from Mr. Upromise today with my current statement. Here it is….

Thats right suckas, I’m rich! I got a whopping $0.84 to use towards further education if I so choose. I broke it down and crunched some numbers. If I went to my alma mater and got my masters degree, this 84¢ would pay for exactly 0.003% of that degree. It’s pretty close to a full ride. Seriously Upromise? You can keep your 84 cents if you promise to stop emailing me!

* p.s. if you look at the date of my last visit to Upromise, you can tell I check my balance religiously  🙂 *

Let’s get crunk!

I’m throwing a party for all you PF’ers out there. But why, you ask? Today marks a monumental day in Punch Debt In The Face history. April 10th, 2009 is the first time this site has seen over 100 visitors in a single day, not bad considering this site is just over a week old. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Go ahead and take a look around, stay awhile, drinks are on me 🙂

I want to give money to this homeless dude!

If I owned a company, I would probably have to hire this guy as the head of my marketing and advertising division. We have all seen the homeless person with the sign that says “Not gonna lie, need money for beer.” or “Will work for pot.” But if I ever come across a homeless guy with a sign that says ninjas stole his family and he wants to learn karate, you better believe I’ll empty my pockets for him. Why? Because he provided me with a good chuckle and I’m always down to support someone who makes me laugh. Oh, and because I want him to get his family back of course 😉

It’s pictures like this that remind me effective marketing can go a long way (this homeless guy is actually semi famous in the seattle area for his hilarious signs). So weather you own a giant corporation or a blog that only reaches out to three visitors a day , standing out from the rest and making people laugh can go a long way.

Side note:

While looking at this picture I also started to wonder what PF bloggers personal take is on giving money to the homeless. I use to empty my pockets whenever I was asked for some spare change, but in the last two years I have tightened up on who I give money to. This shift occurred after I watched an interview with a former homeless person turned business baller.

He said, although he was homeless, he never begged for money. Instead he took advantage of the multiple ministries and social programs designed to benefit the poor. He was able to use these programs to land a job, find a place to rent, and eventually start running a company. He refuses to give money to the homeless, saying, if they wanted to change their life, there are plenty or programs and opportunities for them to do so. I tend to agree with this view (although I do still occasionally cough up some cash). When approached by someone asking for money, I feel much more comfortable offering to buy them dinner or water instead (at least that way I know where my money is going).

At times I still feel guilty after turning down a solicitation for money. Is this normal? What are your views on giving to the homeless? I’m a huge fan of supporting charities and ministries, but just don’t know how I feel on this topic.

What’s your favorite dumb but fun expense?

If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine 🙂 Three years ago I was entering my senior year of college and was in need of a car to begin my adult life. I ended up getting a brand spankin’ new Scion tC. I was set on buying a used car, but with some funding from the parental units, the Scion tC was my destiny. It was love at first drive. Knowing what I do now about the depreciation of new vehicles, I probably wouldn’t have purchased brand new and would have stuck to a gently used car instead, but at the time I didn’t know any better.

By now you might be thinkin’ that the new ride is my “dumb but fun” expense…you’re wrong. As stupid as it was to buy a new car, the first thing I did when I drove it off the lot was cruise on over to the local Best Buy and got two 10″ Infinity subwoofers installed in the back. It set me back a cool 500 bucks (paid in cash) and made my car go boom boom boom. I thought I was sooooo tight because my speakers hit sooooo low.

Fast forward to today, I rarely use the things ’cause they are so dang overwhelming. Although, I do still love my occasional thump session, I wish I went with one 10″ sub instead, or possibly even no subs at all. I could use that extra cash flow for my student loan debt. Thinking about my dumb and fun speakers got me wondering what you PFers have dropped some dollars on that you only kind of regret….like a guilty pleasure if you will.

I posted a short video below of my subs doing their business to my PF Rap for those interested….

*if the video doesn’t work, go here*

  Hittin’ hard,

Travel Fund before Emergency Fund…what?!

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m kind of a blog whore and if your reading this, then chances are, you’re equally whorish. One of the things I find myself particularly drawn to on other PF blogs is the progress bar, much like the one on the upper right corner of this page. It’s a tiny snapshot of that bloggers financial soul. It’s always interesting to see how much debt someone is working to pay off or how much cash they have in their savings account. I like making goals for myself and progress bars allow me the opportunity to see what my fellow bloggers goals are. Progress bars are legit, what’s not so legit is the breakdown of some of these bloggers priorities, especially considering they are personal finance bloggers.

I’m perplexed as to how PF bloggers can have their “fun” progress bars (ie travel fund or new car fund), contain substantially more money than their debt payoff, emergency fund, and savings account bars. I don’t know what to do when I see a PFers travel fund have $3,500 in it and their emergency fund have$30.50 in it. It makes me wonder if their financial priorities are in order. Is it not hypocritical to write about the importance of fundamental financial knowledge, only to have your own website display such a large gap between the necessities (emergency fund) and extras (travel)? Maybe having an emergency fund doesn’t qualify as a fundamental financial principal and is more of a best practice? No wait, that’s ridiculous! Having some kind of emergency fund should be one of the first things we do as we fight to gain our financial freedom.

So to all you PF bloggers who have skewed priorities I’m challenging you to a blogging duel. Please explain or justify the logic behind your actions. Am I crazy? (don’t answer that)

*p.s. this tif is only towards those whose blogs contain financial advice for their readers, if your blog is not about money or only about your life than this is not directed towards you :)*

Emergency $100 in your wallet….no thank you!

I was given a piece of advice when I was in college… “Always keep a $100 bill in your wallet because you never know when you might need it.” I took the recommendation to heart and decided I would give it a shot.

Let’s just say that bill turned in to ice cream, a hoodie, and dinner out real quick. I didn’t then, and still don’t think, I have the discipline to keep a benjamin on me without being tempted to spend it.

I understand the principal behind having a mini emergency fund on ya at all times, but honestly how often do you find yourself in an emergency that 10,000 pennies is gonna solve (that’s $100 for those that aren’t quick with math)? I am sitting here thinking “When have I been somewhere and there either a) not been an ATM machine within a mile of where I was or b) not been able to use my ATM or credit card?” I can honestly sit here and say I can’t think of one time that either “a” or “b” was not an option. I guess one could wind up low on gas in the middle of Gay Head, MA (no really it’s a real city, check it out here) and find a gas station that doesn’t accept any type of plastic (if cash only gas stations still exist?), but I’m of the mindset “You shouldn’t drive in Gay Head, Mass without cash on you anyways.”

It’s logical to keep cash on you if you plan on visiting a small town that hasn’t caught up with the 21st century, but is it really necessary to keep it in there at all times? I mean it’s not even earning interest in there…RIGHT?…haha. “Keep $100 in your wallet for an emergency” is advice this young lad is gonna have to pass up.