On the same day I posted that I was taking some time away from EPF and the PF blogosphere, I had a long talk with one of my good local friends who also reads EPF (hi AM!). She told me that it wasn’t surprising to her that I freaked out about my future with blogging after FinCon14, given that I defended less than two months ago and recently became funemployed and don’t know where I’ll be living in six months. There are a lot of transitions going on for me right now!


I think attending FinCon and seeing myself as a starkly-contrasted hobby blogger gave me a bit of an identity crisis, since our online projects are really what I had intended to focus on this fall. If I’m not a grad student and I don’t have a job and I don’t even want to be a problogger, who and what am I right now? Thankfully things have normalized a bit for me emotionally and I am ready to return to EPF and the PF blogosphere – but it’s not quite going to be business as usual.


blogging pros and cons


I’ve resolved to make a bunch of changes based on what I have determined I love about blogging and what I could leave, but I’ll just expand here on the public portion of those changes so you know what to expect.


Engagement with People


One of the big themes for me on the “love” side of my list is engagement with people in a truly relational manner and serving them when possible. Pageviews and money are definitely not sufficient. I have always known that I write more for comments than for pageviews, but now it’s clear to me that comments are just one method by which I engage with people through EPF.


I love talking about a recent post or finances generally with people who are already in my life, through any medium and with any level of prior relationship.


I love that writing EPF and reading widely about PF has turned into service opportunities for me at my university and my church. Again, I’m connecting with people one-on-one and helping them in a very intimate and usually vulnerable capacity.


I love that I have friends from the internet, both fellow bloggers and regular commenters. These relationships are different than IRL ones but still very fun and valuable.


If there is anything that I really want to change in this reboot, it is focusing further on engagement with people, online and off, and less on stats. I would especially love more engagement with non-bloggers (I’m already getting a lot with other bloggers so keep up the great work y’all). To that end, I’m going to shift slightly away from writing publicly and toward writing and talking one-on-one.


1) This fall I have several IRL volunteer opportunities going on in the personal finance sphere, so I’m going to really dive into those. The activity I’m most excited about is my seminar on money management for graduate students at my university, which is scheduled for November 13. I’ve been building the presentation and I think it’s going to be unconventional but fun, and it will give me an opportunity to meet and talk with people I never have before.


2) I am starting a newsletter for EPF so that people are more inclined to talk with me through email (I hope). I’m thinking that I’ll send an email once or twice per month (so as to not overload you) and it will contain some kind of behind-the-scenes discussion, like expanding a blog post from that month to include the full motivation behind its writing or answering the “what happened next?” question. I think I will also feel comfortable being a bit more transparent about our lives through email in revealing details that we don’t want Google to know. Many of the people who commented on and contacted me after my hiatus post said that they are following EPF because I am a woman in a STEM field, which was very surprising to me. I don’t really like to talk about career stuff on EPF because of the possibility of future employers seeing it, but I could do more of that through email.

Subscribe to our mailing list


3) I have decided to reinstate my weekly update posts. I stopped doing them both because I became too busy with my dissertation and because it seemed they had fallen out of fashion in the PF blogosphere. But now I don’t care what’s in fashion and what’s not. I want to highlight great comments and frequent commenters on EPF and link to posts I really appreciate on other blogs. I also miss having a regular place on the blog to catch random tidbits I want to share but that don’t warrant a full post. I hope that bringing these posts back will be a bit of extra motivation for people, especially non-bloggers, to leave great and frequent comments.


4) What I can’t control but would ask of you, Dear Reader, is to consider taking your level of engagement with me up a notch because that would really motivate me to continue writing. Subscribe to the newsletter, RSS feed, or email-to-RSS feed (same link as RSS, but click on “Get Evolving Personal Finance delivered by email”). Leave a few comments if you never have, or increase your commenting frequency. Talk to me through Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t want to leave a comment publicly but have something to say, you can email me at evolvingPF at gmail dot com. I will email you back and I’ve even been setting up Skype calls with people of late. If you know me IRL, please send me a message or speak to me about any feedback you have. I hear all the time “Oh, I read your blog but I never comment.” Well, it would be so rewarding to me if you would let me know that you are reading before I bring it up! 🙂 I also want to serve you in any way possible, so if you have a question you’d like to talk with me about or see addressed in a post, let me know! I also would like for you to consider sharing my posts that you like through whatever means you have available to you (if I wasn’t a blogger that would just be Facebook for me) – you can easily use the social sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. The ultimate purpose would not be for high share numbers but to draw more people to EPF.


Less Reading and Commenting Elsewhere


The flip side of engaging with people through and because of EPF is that I am an avid blog reader and commenter, not just a blog-writer. I checked my Feedly the other day and I was subscribed to just under 100 blog feeds. Reading and commenting takes a lot of time and it’s something I try to do every weekday. However, it is not always a satisfying activity and I don’t think I get great value for my time spent doing it.


I’ve decided to stop reading/commenting on blogs that don’t engage with me as a commenter or fellow blogger. While I think that probloggers are more prone to letting comments slide by without responding (they are probably more focused on pageviews and income), this is definitely not a pro/hobby blogger divide. I’m keeping many probloggers on my reading list with whom I do feel I have a relationship. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is a great example of a big-time blogger who responds to comments (even though she gets tons) and has also been very supportive of me as a fellow blogger by answering questions through email, commenting on EPF, and publishing guest posts I’ve written. There are also many hobby blogs who don’t seem to prioritize responding to comments. I just don’t have time for activities that aren’t relationship-building since that is what I’ve decided that I value. On the flip side, by following fewer blogs I will likely be able to focus more on commenting on the blogs that really show their commenters how much their are valued.


Audience and Spin-Off Projects


When I first started writing EPF, I didn’t define my audience narrowly. I was basically writing for myself, so my ideal audience would be someone more or less like me – a Millennial, maybe married, likely needing to practice frugality, and possibly a grad student. Just by virtue of who we are, I was not writing for older folks, people intensely paying off debt, or the early retirement crowd. Thanks to prompting from Bethany from Ellie Kay, I’m now visualizing in greater detail who my ideal audience is (though I’ll decline to state it explicitly here). Kyle and I are still members of that ideal audience, but we are evolving – we’re no longer grad students.


I am not going to write about grad school-related educational-type topics on EPF any longer unless they are super-pertinent to our current finances. I just don’t want EPF to be stuck in our past. Grad students are of course more than welcome to keep reading EPF – after all, we’re still on your same path, just a step or two ahead.


However, I still want to serve the grad students in my audience and grow it even further. I have a ton of knowledge and dare I say expertise on how to succeed financially in grad school and I care a lot about grad students being motivated and educated to do so. That is why I’m giving my PF seminar at my university in November (and I’m dreaming elsewhere as well!) and why I’m going to continue with my original vision for Website #3, my passion project for this fall. The website will be devoted to educating and inspiring grad students to be successful with their finances during and after grad school. It will not be (primarily) in a blog format and will depend much more heavily on participation from the community. I heard a lot of “supposed to”s about websites at FinCon14, but I’m going to try something different with this project that breaks the rules. If it’s not successful, oh well, I gave it what I was able to. If you want to hear further updates on that project and be a part of building it, please head over to Grad Student Finances and subscribe to its mailing list. (There’s nothing on the site right now except that sign-up, but rest assured I am working furiously behind the scenes to generate the initial content.)


Lastly, we are still planning to launch websites #1 and 2, and I am going to email the testers who volunteered as soon as the site is ready. I’m basically just waiting on my developer (cough cough Kyle cough) to do the work we have already planned out.




You may have noticed that money and advertising do not appear on either the love or leave side of my blogging pros and cons list. I have enjoyed the bit of income we’ve generated from EPF, but we don’t need it. It’s a neutral topic for me because I don’t really have earnings expectations for the blog (unlike stats, which I am going to stop checking so often!). I am not going to de-monetize EPF, but I am going to focus the advertisements even further. I’m glad that I’ve never published a sponsored post here for a quick buck, and I don’t plan to change that. I will continue to have Adsense up because it pays our hosting fees and I will write about affiliate products from time to time. However, I am only going to write about products that I have tried out myself, so they will be honest user reviews. Of course I would appreciate you using one of my links to sign up for any products that might interest you, and I hope that you will grow to trust my reviews and choose to use the products as well if I recommend them. (Republic Wireless really is awesome!)


stats shirt

FinCon14 swag. I don’t want to check my stats as often now!


A Call to Action


I already stated this above, but I’m asking each one of you reading this post to take the next baby step in increasing your engagement with me. Please comment and share (more). 🙂 Follow me on social media or through RSS with the buttons on the top right and subscribe to my brand-new newsletter – and talk with me through those mediums. If you are a grad student, please consider participating in the launch of Grad Student Finances (find out more by subscribing to its mailing list) – I really need you to make it work!


I hope you’ll continue walking with me on our blogging and financial journey!


What do you think of my new plan? How do you try to translate your online interactions into real-life relationships? What is rewarding to you about reading blogs or running a blog?


Written by

Filed under: blogging · Tags: , , ,

43 Responses to "Rebooting"

  1. Mrs PoP says:

    As long as your new plan makes you happy, it’s a win. One thing that I have taken to heart over the past couple of years blogging is that we are all in it for different reasons and different results, and trying to emulate one blog or even hybrid-ize several is not generally a good idea. Being true to yourself is what blogging is all about.

    I think for us, blogging is just a hobby and going to FinCon in 2013 cemented that a bit – shortly after that experience was when we stopped “forcing” ourselves to produce content if we weren’t inspired. That was a turning point and in a good way. We’ve made some “IRL” friends from the hobby and it’s certainly helped us to clarify our goals and provided an accountability toward the goals that would be harder to find in our day-to-day life without the blog, so it’s a good hobby that definitely is a positive in our lives, but we have no designs on making it a MAJOR part of our lives.

    PS – I HATE TWITTER and ignore it 99.99999% of the time. I ignore Facebook 100% of the time. =)
    Mrs PoP recently posted..PoP Balance Sheet – September 2014

    1. Emily says:

      I should have talked with you before I went to FinCon14! It sounds like we had similar take-aways about blogging being only a hobby and to just do what is most rewarding. Personally, I’ve really not had to force myself to write posts, but there’s plenty of other stuff I’m “supposed to” be doing that I let slide. I think you’re using your blog in a great manner – the accountability and relationships. I’m glad to have ‘met’ you!

  2. Lauren says:

    I think this sounds like a wonderful plan–you’ve gotta do what works for you. I really enjoy your blog and would be sad if you stopped it altogether!

    1. Emily says:

      No plans to stop now that I know better what I want – though the posting frequency on EPF may be only 1-2 times per week to make room for my other PF and writing activities. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Ben Luthi says:

    I think all of this is great. I’ve thought a lot about how much time I spend commenting on others blogs since Mr. Money Mustache’s breakout session at FinCon. Doing it is great to get in the community, but if you spend all your time engaging the community and not your readers, you’re never going to expand your audience to everyday people.
    Ben Luthi recently posted..5 New Ways We’re Paying Off Debt

    1. Emily says:

      I was at that session as well. I think commenting is necessary to start blog growth but not so much to sustain, so that’s why I’m cutting back. But I don’t think I’m going to get on Reddit… I really liked the takeaway of being more giving to and less taking from the readers.

      1. Ben Luthi says:

        Reddit’s a pretty tough crowd, for sure. I liked that as well. I’m making some changes because of it and it makes me feel 100 times better.
        Ben Luthi recently posted..5 New Ways We’re Paying Off Debt

      2. What was the secret on Reddit? I’m not on it but I have a Reddit button which sometimes goes crazy Cray.

        Reddit = good?
        Financial Samurai recently posted..Should I Contribute To My 401K Or Invest In An After-Tax Brokerage Account?

        1. Emily says:

          It was just to use it as another way to serve (and gain) readers. But I’m not looking for anther platform to get involved with. I basically only visit Reddit when I see some traffic coming from there.

  4. E 2 says:

    I’m glad to hear you’re sticking with it, and emphasizing the parts that work for you. Being between jobs or in general periods of transition really does do a number on you psychologically, it’s true…don’t feel bad about not having things all figured out, it’s an important process to go through!

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your encouragement! I wish I’d had the foresight to realize that FinCon might throw me for a loop based on my recent defense/funemployment, but I’m (according to a test I took in the spring 😉 ) not very in touch with my emotions. I hope you’ll continue commenting regularly and participate with Grad Student Finances! I really appreciate you.

  5. Gretchen says:

    I’m also glad you’re continuing with the blog and already signed up for the newsletter. It sounds like you on our your way to finding that balance. I really appreciated the discussion we had on your post-Fin Con update and am looking forward to engaging with you on a regular basis 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      The resolution you shared over on that post was what inspired me to ask the readers to take the next step to increase their engagement with me. I hope others will follow your example now that they know how much we value their comments, emails, etc.!

  6. Sara says:

    I would assume that it must be especially tricky to be a hobby pf blogger. So many bloggers are all about the alternative income stream – and here you are, boldly declaring you’re not interested in doing that. Though you write about money maybe it’s a good idea to look to blogs in other topic areas for support and ideas.

    My sense is that you’re more interested in relationships and their depth than the sheer number of page views that your blog reaches. Maybe you’ve attempted to grow your blog in the wrong way? Put another way, perhaps your target audience doesn’t currently match your marketing. I wonder whether graduate school forums would be a better place to focus efforts than other general finance blogs.

    Regarding continuing to write about grad school, I suggest you look to Iowa Girl Eats for ways to bring back older posts without simply regurgitating content. She’s (obviously?) a food blogger but has gone gluten-free in the last year. While she doesn’t post any new recipes with gluten she’ll include her old posts in themed round-ups every so often. Something like that would be a way to keep the grad school relevance on the blog even though it’s no longer part of your life.

    I’m glad that you’ll still be writing here and I hope that your hobby becomes more enjoyable for you with all of the tweaks that you’re making. 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      I think I’ll have to be careful about what other blogs and websites I choose to invest in, now that I am cutting down on PF blogs. I don’t just want to replace them with other blogs unless they are of high value to me. I have been trying of late to find some grad school blogs or forums to scope out, but I don’t know of many that are active. It looks like GradHacker moved to Inside Higher Ed. I still get some referrals from Grad Cafe from users posting links to my earned income post. What would you recommend? And would you like to promote GSF (now or after the launch) on some forums that you already participate in? It would feel more genuine coming from a current user than an new one – that is of course if you think the site is valuable once it’s up. That’s part of my motivation for building the email list at GSF – to have some ambassadors who are excited about promoting the site. They’ll be much more effective than I would, anyway.

      I’m sure I’ll still link to my older posts as they are relevant as I’ve been doing, but I’m not otherwise looking to recycle the content on EPF. I will rewrite and/or link to a bunch of posts that have appeared in EPF from GSF.

      I hope you stick with me through these transitions and that you consider coming over to GSF as well! I really value you as a regular commenter.

  7. Myles Money says:

    In the end, you have to enjoy it or it’s just another job. Surely that’s what we’re all trying to avoid isn’t it? Doing things we don’t enjoy for money?
    Myles Money recently posted..Ignoring Debt… #FrugalFriday

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I definitely want to keep enjoying blogging, money or no. I hope I’ll have an enjoyable day job as well, though!

  8. haha I love that you put Twitter under the list you don’t like. I feel the same way.. I just never know what to say on there! haha. Also– yay for the mailing list!!! 🙂 🙂
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted..Blog Tour!

    1. Emily says:

      To me, Twitter – or at least the way PF bloggers use Twitter – is so noisy. I don’t mind talking there because of the notification system but I hate reading through a zillion reposts of mediocre blog posts. And I don’t want to be sitting on Twitter all day searching for something I want to respond to. I feel like I’m whispering in a room of shouting robots and there’s no chance any real people can hear me.

  9. Julia says:

    I’m so glad you’re back! 🙂 Intense work has a way of draining us in ways we don’t fully realize… Our blog is also hobby first, and is proving the first thing to be dropped when life gets in the way! Most recently for us (since we share the one computer) we stopped posting for a bit because the computer was needed to finish a journal review on a tight (couch*procrastination*cough) deadline. And now the Internet is slow enough that we’ve been held up by difficulty uploading photos! 🙂
    However, I will admit that our blog has the unforeseen benefit of calming our Mothers’ concerns over our travel plans (or lack there of!) Due to our technical difficulties the worried sounding emails have sky rocketed! Who knew?
    Julia recently posted..Comment on Picture of the Day: Days 53-59 by MK

    1. Emily says:

      Sounds like you have your priorities sorted out already – that’s great! Sharing a computer must be interesting…

      Haha that’s great that your moms read your blog and that keeps them from freaking out. I don’t think anyone in our immediate families of origin read EPF or my other blog, though they all know about them.

      1. Julia says:

        Sharing a computer is …er… not a long term solution! 😉 But it’s worth it to keep our bags lighter for now!

  10. I’m glad to hear you’ll still be blogging! I enjoy your perspective on things and appreciate your insights. I’ve greatly appreciated the comments you’ve shared on my writing and I look forward to following along on your new direction for EPF. Thank you for sharing your plans with us 🙂
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Weekly Woot & Grumble: 10 Questions On 1500 Days

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you, Mrs. Frugalwoods. Rest assured that your blog is still in my reader so we can continue our reciprocal commenting relationship. 😉

  11. ervinshiznit says:

    Great to see you’re back! I’m sure your transition to post PhD life will be informative!

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you! It’s certainly an interesting time of life to be documenting here, especially because of our two-body problem.

  12. I feel you especially with the time investment in blogging, which is really hard at the start. But, once I invested some time for good article outputs and some seo strategies, I kinda got to see good results. And, what I love about blogging is that it gives me a means to gain more friends.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Financial Impacts of a Global Ebola Pandemic

    1. Emily says:

      Sounds like we’re pretty similar in what we like about blogging!

  13. Michelle says:

    LOVE THIS POST. I am glad you are rebooting 🙂 I believe engaging with readers and those in your community is very important. Bloggers who never respond to emails, comments, tweets, etc. just don’t have me interested. For me, luckily I love engaging with everyone, reading everyone’s blogs, and responding to comments so it makes blogging much more enjoyable.

    P.S. I love Twitter. 🙂
    Michelle recently posted..$15,272 in September Online Income – Outsourcing and Passive Income

    1. Emily says:

      It’s easy to tell you agree with many of my resolutions because you live them out daily! I’m so glad that you haven’t lost touch with your readers and other bloggers as your business has grown.

  14. I like your pros and cons list! Like I said the last time I commented — I think it’s so important to know why you’re doing this, whether it’s for the $$ or whether it’s for the communal engagement. You seem to have really thought this through and I’m looking forward to seeing where you end up going.

    I also think the grad student site is a great idea. If you’d be interested in the occasional guest post for it (from a recent humanities PhD who got through school in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country) I’d be interested in helping out.
    Cecilia@thesingledollar recently posted..End of September Update

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your support, Cecilia! Yes, I would love your input on some content on GSF, especially because you have had such a different experience during grad school than I have. You’ll get more details through the GSF email newsletter about what everyone is welcome/able to contribute and we can also talk through email if there is more you might want to do. You will be hearing from me and I’m glad you’re excited about the project! 🙂

  15. I like where you are headed and the reasoning behind it. And I agree the commenting is really tough. It seemed so valuable in the beginning to establish relationships with other bloggers. Then when your focus shifts to growing the blog or when life just gets in the way it seems like commenting is the first thing to go. I know I haven’t been commenting as much lately, which is frustrating. I’m not quite sure how to balance that with all the other stuff I’m doing for my blog. Best of luck with your renewed focus!
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..Give the Gift of Investing This Holiday Season

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your input, Brian. I also go through phases in my enthusiasm about commenting. But I also know that I still have those established relationship with bloggers that will go on even if I’m only commenting on and off. I still read. 🙂 BTW I’m sorry we didn’t meet at FinCon14 – I was sitting behind you at the Plutus Awards celebration but I didn’t see a chance to introduce myself. :/

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Glad you’ll still be blogging! I just found your blog a few months ago and have enjoyed reading it. I’m also in Durham, and finished grad school last year (Go Tar Heels!) so I appreciate the former grad student perspective. While I don’t blog, I am on facebook a lot and would love to meet more people in the area. It’s sad how your social life seems to go away once you graduate and everyone moves off and finds jobs…

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth! I’m glad to know we are neighbors. What program were you in? It is strange/sad how dependent we can be on our classmates for socialization. The Triangle has such a high turnover rate that we’ve really found we have had to make new friends every year (but that’s great!).

  17. […] I started – you can sign up for it at the top of the right sidebar. It’s one of the ways I’m trying to foster more engagement with you […]

  18. Kim says:

    Great plan. I’m glad you didn’t quit. I don’t read and comment as much as I used to either. I feel bad about it, but I really don’t have the time or rather, I choose to use my time in other ways.

    1. Emily says:

      That’s what I’m coming to as well. I’m glad to see you’re commenting here today! I know that if my comment isn’t acknowledged it’s a real deterrent to commenting again.

  19. […] I have to say, I’m so excited by the response I’ve gotten to my new EPF newsletter (top right sidebar! sign up!). I haven’t actually sent out an official newsletter yet, just an introductory email, but it’s sparked some great new connections with readers already! And I have lots of new ideas for posts now, thanks to them. I’m so glad I started the list. […]

  20. Sounds like Fincon was too much? I just wanted to learn about podcasting before I launched mine. It’s kinda a fun endeavor that I don’t think makes any money, but engages and connects with my community more.

    Growth a lot of the times just feels like luck. But it looks like you’ve got some good content recently. Maybe write more about pressing problems that others might have to gain more search traffic? I’m constantly trying to solve problems on FS.
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Do You Have The Right Money Mindset To Get Rich?

    1. Emily says:

      Podcasting is a great idea. I love listening to them but I don’t have much time for it now, unfortunately. It is much more personal.

      Yeah, that’s a good suggestion!

Leave a Reply


CommentLuv badge