I have a friend who I think crossed the territory of “I’ve known him longer than I haven’t.” That’s actually a paraphrased quote of his, but I’m stealing it, because it is awesome. We were on a road-trip recently and he asked me:
“So What Do You Actually DO everyday?”
He knows I’m blogger. It’s kind of an usual job and I understand that people find it interesting. I don’t remember if I went straight into the explanation, but if I didn’t, I hope I pointed out that no one in 15 years has been able to figure to out what he does. He doesn’t help his case by saying that doesn’t know sometimes. (This is all a joke, because he’s a manager of a very specialized division of a highly profitable tech company.)
The strange thing is that I didn’t answer about anything related to blogging. I started off with getting the kids ready for day care… and picking them up. There are 2-3 dog walks in between. There’s cooking dinner and lunch. I probably didn’t mention laundry… I’m not sure my wife fully trusts me with that chore, but launder the safe stuff sometimes.
I also grocery shop at 5 different stores, which was a post ironically inspired by this very same friend. This sounds like it would take a lot of time and be very wasteful on gas, but they are mostly a couple of blocks away from my house. I am very efficient in grabbing staples from them and can get in and out of them in 45 minutes. It helps that I’m able to shop in off-hours when the stores are empty.
It also helps that I’m able to keep a database of great prices in my head. I can usually save 30-50% over what it would cost me if I did my shopping at the local Stop and Shop.
Oh and I mentioned the siesta. I usually wake up around 6AM, but today, I’ve been up since 4:30. Going to sleep around midnight means I nice little siesta of 45 minutes in the middle of the day. It is my favorite perk of working for yourself. I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to work refreshed in the middle of the day.
So while I may have sounded extra lazy with the mention of a siesta, overall, I probably get by on less sleep than most people.
And this is where the conversation moved to another subject. Looking back at my answers, I probably sound like I live up to my name.
However, there are a few things that I probably should have mentioned. I think he knows them, but they certainly make a huge difference:
My wife works (4) 10-hour days
This means she has Fridays off. Blogging allows me to create my own hours. I’m going to be working extra Monday through Thursday to be able to take some time off with her… even if it is just doing errands. I effectively have an extra weekend day, but I also have to get the same amount done in less time.
Rental Property Duties
We’ve got three rental properties and no property manager. It’s not like something is always broken, but it can feel that way. Add in primary residence duties and it is pretty significant.
This Blogging “Thing”
I’m going to borrow from this description of what people think about bloggers, “No, I don’t just sit around, drink coffee all day long, and sit on Facebook. However, that’s what many believe actually happens in the average day of an online business owner.”
I write articles. I write a lot of articles… more than readers here know. Some articles are quick and I can get them out in an hour. This one is probably going to come in at 2.5 or 3 hours. I think my blog post on Nerium took more than 20 hours.
The average reader can see that and get it. What the average reader doesn’t see is all the stuff behind the scenes. It’s like an iceberg where you only see the tip. There’s so much more going on behind the surface. I’ve covered a lot of them back in 2007, but here’s just some of the things that I have to deal with.
I’m the bookkeeper. I’m one who negotiates with advertisers. I’m the marketing manager. I’m the networking guy, making new relationships in hopes they pay off down the line. I’m the technology expert. That includes understanding how search engines work, to social media, to coding HTML and PHP. I even run my own Amazon Web Services server where I put on my Linux sysadmin hat every now and again.
I’m doing all this and keeping up with dozens of email inquiries every day. I’m doing all this while trying to read dozens of articles a day, which gives me inspiration to write new material.
I deal with lawyers. Oh do I deal with lawyers. I’ve got 4 of them working on various aspects of blogging, but I’ll get to that in a little bit.
In short, the “blogging thing” is running a company from top to bottom. It may not be the best company and I may not be the best at all parts of it, but I’ve always loved doing different things. I get bored doing just one thing, so this works for me.
Here’s What I Don’t Do
This past weekend, I met up with an old friend and he asked what I did. I used to respond that I’m a software engineer, as I would view myself that way, but lately, I’ve just being saying it, “I’m a blogger.”
It’s a little like how my wife and I would talk around how we met. We met online in 2004. That was just something that did not happen. The news interviewed us for how unique we were. The stigma was that you must both be such damaged goods you couldn’t meet in the physical world. A decade later, I wonder if people meet any other way.
In 2006, being a blogger was weird. In 2015, it is much less weird. In fact, most people find it very interesting as I said at the outset.
This friend’s response was, “Oh yeah, I heard you disparage companies.”
My first thought was: “Oh eff-no.”
My actual response was something like, “I aim to help people find financial freedom by saving and investing in 401Ks, Roth IRAs, real estate, and other business ventures. I also expose MLM/pyramid schemes because they directly harm more than 99% of the participants from achieving this.”
It wasn’t that well-worded… a martini was involved.
I had to look up “disparage” when I got home, because I wanted to make sure I got the connotation right. I originally thought my problem was with the word “disparage”, but it is fairly accurate. My real problem is with the word, “companies.” While Enron and Bernie Madoff’s company were technically companies, they earned all the “disparagement” they had coming to them as they were probably best described as schemes.
If you are running a company and making money by providing a helpful product or service to consumers, I’m generally cool with you. I’ve written about dozens of these companies, from Fitbit to NutriBullet to Aldi grocery stores.
If you are running a company that is trying to make money via some kind of scam or confidence trick, I’m going to call you out for it. Consumers deserve to have access to the information and make their own decisions.
I realize this post went in a few different directions. I don’t often like to talk about my motivations for what I do or even how I do it when it comes to blogging. I don’t think that’s the interesting story. It’s like a reporter talking about his daily process for chasing leads. I don’t think the public wants to read a lot of articles about it.
Sometimes it is interesting to get a behind the scenes look. However, most of the time, I just want the actual story and not the details about how it came about.