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Anyone writing or blogging in retirement? Advice?
Old 03-12-2021, 09:29 AM   #1
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Anyone writing or blogging in retirement? Advice?

Anyone else here doing any writing or blogging in retirement? (By "writing," I'm talking about blogging or doing something for publication, even if only a self-published e-book.)

If so, how has it been going? What's your experience been like? Any suggestions?

I retired a year and a half ago, and about six months in, I started a blog. I created content in spurts -- an article or two every couple months. I've got enough content now for a small self-published book. I just started into that process via KDF/amazon.

I understand that self-published books sell small amounts -- maybe a couple dozen, often none at all -- so I don't have any grand expectations about readership. That's okay. The traffic at my blog has been enough to justify the effort. Making it into a book just seems like a logical next step.

Anyone have experience with writing in retirement? How's it going for you?
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Old 03-12-2021, 09:44 AM   #2
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We have had quite a few members write their own books or blogs.

You can see them at our dedicated thread on Creative ERs.

https://www.early-retirement.org/for...ers-64204.html
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Old 03-12-2021, 09:58 AM   #3
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We traveled extensively in retirement, and we had a website where we posted stories about our travels.
Unfortunately, the software we used was obsoleted, and the thought of creating a whole new website covering all our travels was unacceptable.
All the trip stories are still on our website, except for the last 2 trips we took: a Hawaii cruise and an Alaskan cruise.
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Old 03-12-2021, 06:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
We have had quite a few members write their own books or blogs.

You can see them at our dedicated thread on Creative ERs.

https://www.early-retirement.org/for...ers-64204.html
Thanks. That seems to be a thread where people are allowed to make a single plug for their blogs and books. That's cool, but I was more interested in a discussion about the process.

For example:

Are people finding it rewarding?
Did they always want to write, and now they're getting a chance to in retirement?
Or is it something they just decided to do because why not?
Have their expectations for readership been met?
Are they trying to make money, and if so, how is that going?
Any particular challenges or hurdles?
What sort of subjects are they writing about?
Has it been worth the effort?
Did they try it and then find it wasn't to their liking?

Etc.
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Old 03-12-2021, 11:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post

Are people finding it rewarding?
Did they always want to write, and now they're getting a chance to in retirement?
Or is it something they just decided to do because why not?
Have their expectations for readership been met?
Are they trying to make money, and if so, how is that going?
Any particular challenges or hurdles?
What sort of subjects are they writing about?
Has it been worth the effort?
Did they try it and then find it wasn't to their liking?

Etc.
I wrote a weight loss blog for about 4 1/2 years. It was rewarding in a lot of ways. I did it for 2 reasons. When I started the blog I was in the process of losing weight and I felt writing the blog would help me stay with it. That did work and I got to my goal weight. I continued the blog to try to help others. It wasn't so much writing per se that was important to me it was the information I wanted to impart.

I made no effort to make money. The blog cost me money. I had a professional help me set it up (working with wordpress was beyond my capabilities). I paid for hosting, etc. More about money later in this.

I had no real expectations for readership. I did have an odd thing happened that sort of bemused me. When I started the blog (start of 2014), I kept reading that the big era of personal written blogs was over. They were no longer the popular thing. So I didn't expect a lot of readership. I had a small following but quite a few regular readers who would comment, etc.

I was following WW at the time. Almost 2 years later, WW was announce their new program. This is something everyone always wants to know every year and at the time WW really endeavored to keep it a secret. I wrote a post about a month before the program came out and posting about some stuff Oprah had said to hint around on the new program. There was nothing really new in the post (all public information) but just talked about possibilities. Well, within a couple of days it was the top Google search result for Weight Watchers new program (other than Weight Watchers itself). My traffic just went up astronomically. I mean, it was a big "wow" for me. So I really researched to find out info on the new program and eventually found some info in another country (all publicly available but most people in the US wouldn't see it) and I wrote about what I thought the new plan would be before it was released in the US. Even more traffic.

Anyway, that traffic vastly increased my readership for the rest of the time that I actively worked on the blog. It was really a serendipity kind of thing.

I quit for a few reasons:

1. We were moving and I was very busy and I was posting less and less.

2. I was at my goal weight and felt I had said pretty much everything I had to say on the subject. It was harder and harder to come up with new material.

3. I needed to do some work to my site that was going to cost several hundred dollars and I really didn't want to spend the money.

I want to address 2 conclusions that I had from experience.

Money -- Very few people, relatively speaking, make money from blogging. It is hard to make more than a relatively small amount of money from advertising. It is a bit easier if the blog is something financial related. It is especially hard to do for a personal non-financial blog. Are there exceptions? Sure. But, they are just that. Exceptions. And the exceptions work mostly work hard on their blog.

The other way people make money from the blog is to sell a product and use the blog to get people here to buy the product. So, maybe you have a blog and you sell an ebook with recipes. Or, you sell a book about something else. Or, you offer a course. Maybe you sell books on Amazon and you use the blog to drive people to your books. That kind of thing. I didn't have another product I wanted to sell.

Other alternatives to blogging -- If I was going to do a blog today I wouldn't do a written blog. I would do a video blog on YouTube. Those are basically easier to do and you don't have to worry about a lot of the headaches of a written blog. And, nowadays, people are much more likely to want to watch a video blog rather than read a written blog.

I have thought about doing one on an entirely different subject. I even bought a camera and microphone but I just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe someday, or maybe not.
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:28 AM   #6
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Katsmeow, thank you. I appreciate you sharing your experience.

I have thought about Youtube as well, but I'm someone who's always been very comfortable expressing myself in writing but am not very skilled at speaking extemporaneously on camera. I sometimes joke that spoken English is my second language (written being my first). I get pleasure out of expressing myself in writing, I'm reasonably skilled at it, and it comes very naturally to me.

I do understand that the video format is more popular than the written one, though. I spend a lot of time on Youtube myself. It hasn't replaced reading and writing, at least for me, although I know it has for many others.

Another reason I'm not inclined to go the Youtube route is that some of my opinions can be politically incorrect -- not on my current blog, which is fairly innocuous, but on some ideas for the next one. I know several people whose lives have been really turned upside down, because someone took offense to what they said on their Youtube channel and decided to dox them and get them fired. The cancel culture mob is quite active on Youtube, and I'd rather not worry about that. I want to be free to express myself, and you can't really do that on Youtube, not on certain subjects, unless you hide off camera and just use voice-over, a fake name, and images (which is an option, I suppose).

I don't have any desire to make money. My blog costs me about $20/year to run, which is nothing. I set it up on my own. I had a bit of a learning curve with Word Press, but I got the hang of it.

It's a simple blog, with a small readership. That's okay. I had no grand ambitions. In fact, I decided that I would only need a couple hundred people to check out my blog, to make the effort worthwhile. Most of my pleasure comes from the writing itself, although I also knew I needed some readers or else it would be pointless -- it would be like talking to myself, which I do enough of already. I figured if I had a couple hundred readers, that would be enough. I set my expectations low. I've ended up with considerably more readers than that, so I'm satisfied. I'm not in it for the money.

My main motives are:

- enjoying the process of writing; it's my preferred form of creativity
- enjoying expressing myself and putting my ideas out there
- connecting with other people who have similar interests or views
- partly satisfying my need for meaningful "work" in retirement
- trying to help somehow, provide a service, give people something of value
- intellectual stimulation and learning; I always learn something along the way
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Old 03-13-2021, 11:57 AM   #7
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I've been a professional writer for 20+ years. During that time I've authored blogs and managed a large network of bloggers. Right now, I'm burnt out and have very little desire to author a book, a blog, a letter, or a grocery list once I'm retired.

Having said that, I haven't completely discounted the idea, mainly because of a book I read 20 some odd years ago, and have re-read in part many times since - Zinsser's "On Writing Well". Your experience and desire in particular reminds me of a story he tells in Chapter 1 about the differences between someone who writes as a vocation and someone who writes as an avocation. From that chapter:

Quote:
There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods, and any method that helps you to say what you want to say is the right method for you. Some people write by day, others by night. Some people need silence, others turn on the radio. Some write by hand, some by computer, some by talking into a tape recorder. Some people write their first draft in one long burst and then revise; others can’t write the second paragraph until they have fiddled endlessly with the first.

But all of them are vulnerable and all of them are tense. They are driven by a compulsion to put some part of themselves on paper, and yet they don’t just write what comes naturally. They sit down to commit an act of literature, and the self who emerges on paper is far stiffer than the person who sat down to write. The problem is to find the real man or woman behind the tension.

Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is. I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest me—some scientific quest, perhaps. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field. How was he drawn into it? What emotional baggage did he bring along? How did it change his life? It’s not necessary to want to spend a year alone at Walden Pond to become involved with a writer who did.
All of which to say, it sure sounds like you're writing for the right reasons for you. And as long as that is true, I expect you'll enjoy the process.
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Old 03-13-2021, 01:39 PM   #8
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I've been a professional writer for 20+ years. During that time I've authored blogs and managed a large network of bloggers. Right now, I'm burnt out and have very little desire to author a book, a blog, a letter, or a grocery list once I'm retired.

Having said that, I haven't completely discounted the idea, mainly because of a book I read 20 some odd years ago, and have re-read in part many times since - Zinsser's "On Writing Well". Your experience and desire in particular reminds me of a story he tells in Chapter 1 about the differences between someone who writes as a vocation and someone who writes as an avocation. From that chapter:

All of which to say, it sure sounds like you're writing for the right reasons for you. And as long as that is true, I expect you'll enjoy the process.
Yes, I'm enjoying it so far. You're on the mark.

I have Zinsser's book on my shelf. That and EB White's Elements of Style. It's been a while since I read Zinsser. Maybe I'll revisit him.

This part fits my experience of blogging:

Quote:
the self who emerges on paper is far stiffer than the person who sat down to write. The problem is to find the real man or woman behind the tension
Right. At first, my writing resembled my old, professional style, which I had developed over the course of two decades, writing long, involved professional reports. It sounded very smart and professional, but also pretty dry and detached. It took me a while before I loosened up and started expressing myself more naturally.

When I read his book a long time ago, I remember Zinsser saying that writers tend to have big egos, you can't write without owning your ego. He wasn't saying you have to be full of yourself, just that you need to embrace that egotistical side of yourself that believes in the value of what you have to say. At the time, I found that very helpful. One of the things that's blocked me in the past was insecurity about what I had to say -- like it wasn't worth saying, basically. Zinsser's comments about "owning your ego" helped. That was many years ago.

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They sit down to commit an act of literature
lol
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:03 PM   #9
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I wrote a self published academically oriented math book before retiring, and co-authored a pre-calculus workbook while an undergraduate.

I recently started a blog, mostly just to document construction of a wooden boat I'm building, and to show it to friends across the country.

Having recently shopped for a finance book for my daughter, I would say that the market for personal finance writing is saturated. There is a lot of crap distracting us from what matters. This is both a motivation to write something better, but also likely results in just more crappy finance writing.

I'd suggest that answering questions in this forum likely has more positive impact than making your own blog on the subject. Unless of course, you're writing for purely selfish reasons, not to say there is anything wrong with that. Most of my writing is for selfish reasons too.
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:07 PM   #10
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I have a lot of writing experience, although probably not the type you're looking for.

I spent about 12 years as a professional technical writer, creating user manuals for custom software. I found that to be not only interesting but very enjoyable. I got to split my time between the customers who needed the software and the engineers who were creating it. I got to play with some incredibly cool stuff, and it was satisfying to be able to explain how to use it in a concise, readable manner. My clients included 14 of the Fortune 100 companies, so there was never any problem about getting paid.

I also spent a number of years writing columns for newspapers and magazines. That was even more fun (although hardly lucrative) because I got pretty well known and received invitations to so many events and places as a result. When you're recognized as a reviewer, everyone wants you to try their latest offering.

Eventually the column writing became less fun and more of a chore, so I quit entirely and haven't done any of that for 15 years now. I would echo @intent that you should do it for as long as you enjoy it.

The one thing I always insisted on, and which can seem odd to those who don't have the relevant experience, is the editing process before submitting anything. I would complete a project, even if it was nothing more than a 600 word newspaper column, and then put it aside for at least a day. Then I would open it, revise it for readability (always necessary), and close it again. On the third day it would get the same treatment, and only then would I send it in. Tedious, but very necessary (at least for me).
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intent View Post
I've been a professional writer for 20+ years. During that time I've authored blogs and managed a large network of bloggers. Right now, I'm burnt out and have very little desire to author a book, a blog, a letter, or a grocery list once I'm retired.

Having said that, I haven't completely discounted the idea
I felt the same way about my career field while I was working, but my attitude changed after about a year and a half into retirement. Back when I was working as a psychologist, the last thing I wanted to do in my leisure time was read a psychology book. That just reminded me of work. I had more than enough of that already. I wanted to explore different subjects.

But after about a year and a half of retirement, an odd thing happened: my interest in psychology returned. Not only that, but it returned in a more "pure" form. It was similar to the interest I had that first drew me into the field -- just a simple interest in the subject matter, in learning about myself and others, in growing as a person. Back when I was working, anything I'd read would get associated with career (e.g., "how can I apply this in my work?") and it was added on top of a life already filled with that subject. Now, though, it is something I can read at my own pace, based on my own interests, and for my own purposes. It feels very different.

Anyway, maybe the same thing will happen for you? After you take some time off of writing in retirement, your interest in it may resurface later, in a different form. Who knows.
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:59 PM   #12
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I would say that the market for personal finance writing is saturated. There is a lot of crap distracting us from what matters. This is both a motivation to write something better, but also likely results in just more crappy finance writing.

I'd suggest that answering questions in this forum likely has more positive impact than making your own blog on the subject. Unless of course, you're writing for purely selfish reasons, not to say there is anything wrong with that. Most of my writing is for selfish reasons too.
I'm not qualified to write a finance blog. I wouldn't be interested in that, although I am interested in the topic of simplicity and stepping out of consumerism, which is related. I might write a little about retirement later -- not from a financial perspective so much as an internal and social one, but not right away. I'm still a greenhorn.

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The one thing I always insisted on, and which can seem odd to those who don't have the relevant experience, is the editing process before submitting anything. I would complete a project, even if it was nothing more than a 600 word newspaper column, and then put it aside for at least a day. Then I would open it, revise it for readability (always necessary), and close it again. On the third day it would get the same treatment, and only then would I send it in. Tedious, but very necessary (at least for me).
"The art of writing is the art of rewriting," said someone. I agree. I usually go through five or six drafts before I hit "publish" on the blog, and even then, I still go back to rewrite or correct things. I'm a big fan re-writing. Sometimes I go overboard with it -- wasting time trying to get it Perfect -- but usually I keep it in bounds, and it improves what I'm writing. I'm kind of astonished at the poor editing in some of the books I've seen.
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Old 03-15-2021, 11:33 PM   #13
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Thanks to @JDarnell for pointing me to this thread!

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Anyone else here doing any writing or blogging in retirement? (By "writing," I'm talking about blogging or doing something for publication, even if only a self-published e-book.)
Sure, I enjoy it. Iíve written one book, co-authored a second (with my daughter), and Iím working on two more. Iíve founded and written on The-Military-Guide for over a decade.

I also enjoy guesting on podcasts & videos, because I have little interest in doing my own. Iíd rather write.

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If so, how has it been going?
To date Iíve donated over $18K to charity. Thatís all of The-Military-Guide blog & bookís gross revenue. Itís gone to the ones chosen by the members here who volunteered their help: Fisher House Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project.

Iíve occasionally wondered whether Iím going to age out of writing and pursue more of some other activity on my list. But Paul Merriman just published a new book at age 77 and Buffett is still writing annual reviews at age 90, so Iíll give this another two or three decades to see how it works out.

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What's your experience been like? Any suggestions?
You have to write for yourself: your internal motivation, challenge, and fulfillment. Erma Bombeck has written that she was a writer because she couldnít stop writing.

Or, as my spouse has said about my writing, ď... because you canít shut up.Ē (Sheís relieved that I have the entire Internet to talk with instead of focusing all of my curiosity and drafts on her.) Iíve worn out a half-dozen keyboards over the years, as well as upgraded a podcast mic and a couple webcams.

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Are people finding it rewarding?
I sure hope people find my writing rewarding. Some of them tell me that.

I also get a lot of followup questions that eventually turn into new blog posts and more book chapters. The more often that I answer the basic questions, the better my answers are.

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Did they always want to write, and now they're getting a chance to in retirement?
One of my military skills was writing point papers (and pithy e-mails) on liberty-dependent deadlines. When I finished that dayís work then I had no interest in writing more stuff on my own time. Blogs were just gaining momentum when I retired in 2002, but maintaining the software got in the way of writing and that didnít seem like much fun either.

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Or is it something they just decided to do because why not?
In mid-2005, as Bob Clyatt finished editing ďWork Less, Live MoreĒ, some of us military servicemembers & vets were wondering why so few military retirees were financially independent. Hereís my first thought on the subject:
https://www.early-retirement.org/for...tml#post312739

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Have their expectations for readership been met?
Sure! Iíve found many more friends whoíve read the book and looked me up, especially through financial conferences & meetups.

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Are they trying to make money, and if so, how is that going?
Nope, itís all going to charity.

Iíve learned enough over the years to start a financial coaching business, but thatís... work. I give it away for free and Iíll stop when Iíve done enough. Another member of this forum uses their hourly fee to as a filter to only talk to people who really want the coaching.

One of my friends uses all of her book revenue to fuel her careers in public speaking and career coaching. Thatís the other business model Iíd use if I was trying to make money.

My daughter (a Navy vet now in the inactive Reserves) has leveraged her author credibility into a part-time job with a financial firm. Weíll see whether she has another book in her or whether she decides to pursue more financial credentials. (Or both.) She and her spouse are leanFI so theyíre more interested in lifestyle and work/life balance than in bridge careers.

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Any particular challenges or hurdles?
I enjoy the creative aspect of writing, but I lack focus. Right now I should be recording a chapter of an audiobook, but right now I feel more interested in researching the answers to these questions.

Iím also allergic to deadlines, and Iíve successfully avoided them for nearly two decades.

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What sort of subjects are they writing about?
I write about financial independence and military personal finance.

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Has it been worth the effort?
Yep. I can tell it is because Iím still writing about it, and will be for at least another decade.
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Old 03-16-2021, 12:02 AM   #14
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I think anything that makes money needs a lot of efforts. In order to have audience, you have to visit and leave comments on other people's work (blogs, Youtube, etc). You have to post regularly with new stuffs.

I was an earlier blogger with MSN in early 2000 and had quite some mutual friends and followers. People did not talk about making money at that time. The MSN sold its blog interest to another company, then to WP, I lost most readers and did not want to continue it. I never made a penny, but had some fun friends.
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