The Curious and Profitable Side Effects of my Passion

I started this blog for one main reason:

I love to write

I even contemplated studied journalism in college. I ended up going with biology and chemistry, but never lost my love for writing.

I found a way to write 20 years after I took my first college class. A bad day at work back in late 2012 gave birth to 1500 Days. I was 38 at the time and the thought of working for another 25 years was incredibly horrible. Mr. Money Mustache and JD Roth showed me it was OK to retire early, so I decided to document my journey to financial independence. This blog was born.

1500 Days has exceeded all of my expectations. Even with 2,000,000+ page views, I am still a very small fish in a very large ocean, but numbers weren’t my goal. Writing, learning and connecting with like minded people was what I set out to do and it’s been wonderful. My life has been enriched from the blog and I’m so thankful.

The blog has always been about money, but not about making money. I added Google ads and affiliate links to help pay for the hosting and my new computer, but had no expectations or goals. Then, a funny thing happened. The blog started to make money.

$$$

It wasn’t huge money. I don’t make $10,000 or even $5,000 per month, but more than I need to run this little site and buy me tacos every week. Great! I don’t believe in inherited wealth (sorry kids), so I’ll use the surplus to make the world a better place before and after I die.

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Earlier this year, another unexpected thing happened. Some anonymous internet person, Nate, asked me if I wanted a side hustle publishing posts on his site. While I was thrilled about it, I was nervous too. I won’t compromise my principles, so I was worried about what kind of articles he would want me to write. I decided to try it out and see how it went.

Some of the articles on InvestmentZen are purely my ideas and others are not. The most recent one, How Much Should I Have Saved For Retirement At My Age, was one suggested by Nate.

Having someone give me a title and ask me to make a post out of it is something new. Most of my posts come from random ideas that pop into my head. I come up with a story and the title comes later. I wasn’t sure how if I could write anything worthwhile starting with a title.

It turned out that the article was a lot of fun to put together. It wasn’t something I would have come up with on my own, but I enjoyed the challenge of putting my own spin on an old idea. Fortunately, Nate is a good guy who gives me freedom. I’d have it no other way. Whether the article is decent, pure trash* or something in between isn’t for me to decide, but I hope that as a writer, I can always be flexible.

I’m glad the little freelance assignment has turned out well. Because…

The Future

Confession: I was completely clueless when I started the blog.

The underlying current of the blog is financial independence, but I had not even considered this question when I started:

What the hell are you going to do after you quit?

Somewhere along the way, I learned that retiring without a solid plan is a horrible idea. I need meaningful activity to feel content and fulfilled. I admit that it distressed me for at least a year. Then, I realized that the answer was right in front of me; the keyboard. I love writing, so why not keep going with bigger and better projects?

  • I had an interview last week to write posts for another site. This gig has the potential to almost completely replace my software developer income while consuming less than 10 hours per week.
  • I have another blog in the works. I expect it to launch later this year.
  • I have a book that is mostly written. The words are in my head, so I have to put them into the computer, but that is the easy part.

Follow your Passion

Like 1500 Days, I have no monetary expectations for the new blog or book. I’m developing them them because the work makes me feel better at the end of the day.

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I encourage you to find your passions in life and chase them down. If you love what you do, it will show. You do your best work when deep down, you truly care. Your spouse will notice your improved demeanor and you’ll sleep better at night. You’ll rise above and life will be better. If money follows, that’s great too. Be warned though; focusing on dollars may take you off course. Focus on what you love first.

Everything else will fall into place when you work hard at what you’re meant to do.

 

*Do you enjoy writing? Stephen King’s, On Writing is by far, the best thing I have read about becoming a better writer. King is mostly known for his horror novels, but don’t let that deter you. He breaks writing down into the basic building blocks and builds up from there. King is far more interesting than your 3rd grade English teacher. Check it out from your local library or click on my wonderful affiliate link to purchase.

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62 Responses to The Curious and Profitable Side Effects of my Passion

  1. Frogdancer says:

    I agree with you. King’s “On Writing” is the best and most accessible book on writing I’ve ever read. (English teacher speaking.)

  2. Glad that you kept going with this site and were able to shape it as you went. We can tell you really enjoy the topic and you can do the magical thing of making personal finance entertaining!

    Your reasons are a lot of the reasons why I started by blog. I’m not the best writer yet but I feel like I get a little bit more of my voice each post. I agree – it isn’t about the money (because if it was, I’d probably be out by now), but working through some of my thoughts and ideas while talking to others who think the same way.

    Blogging helps gives an outlet that many people don’t always have in their day to day lives.
    Thias @It Pays Dividends recently posted…Take Vacation Time, Save Your MindMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “Blogging helps gives an outlet that many people don’t always have in their day to day lives.”

      Yep, and a chance to talk about stuff that doesn’t regularly come up in normal conversation…

  3. You have a fun and witty writing style, no surprise you have been so successful writing. Keep up the good work and I look forward to following your new adventures!
    The Green Swan recently posted…Why I Don’t Calculate my Savings Rate: My Savings Goal ExplainedMy Profile

  4. I just started reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It was a gift from my former boss who is also a photo journalist. Becoming a stronger writer is a daily challenge for me, but it’s one I’m committed to. Sometimes I wish I had focused less on music in college. I really could have used a few journalism or writing classes. I love that you have so many exciting projectsin the works, Mr. 1500. It’s really inspiring!
    Kate @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…#GetMore with KasasaMy Profile

  5. Mr. SSC says:

    That’s great that you ahve got some side projects going to keep writing, Congrats! I haven’t decided whether we should throw some ads on our site or not. We ahven’t yet because I don’t want to focus or get distracted with page hits and stats, and since ours are still steady but low, is it worth the hassle? Meh, I don’t know. Not yet anyway.

    Looking forward to the new blogs and always like reading the current one too!
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Our money went where? July 2016 UpdateMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I find myself checking my stats more than I should. I don’t think it’s a crime to put some Google ads on your site as long as you’re pure about it.

  6. Congrats on finding a new direction! I look forward to reading you in new forums and media.

    (And agreed regarding the excellence of On Writing.)
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Buffett’s BetMy Profile

  7. Sweet, does these mean you have officially pick a date for you departure from the programming gig?

    Looking forward to more Mr.1500. A book? It’s not going to be one of those scratch and sniff ones is it?

    I agree I started my blog as a way to stay connected to the community, share our story, maybe help someone else out there, I like writing too, but ultimately I found the teaching piece to be my passion.
    Brian @ debt discipline recently posted…Sharing our Personal Journey out of Debt: Part TwoMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, I think I have a date. My mode of operation is to keep all options open as long as possible, so my lips are zipped for the time being.

      The upcoming tome will not be scratch and sniff, but will be a sticker book. On one page, I’ll be at the beach and you get to put a bathing suit sticker on me. Titillating, right?

  8. I find writing articles for my blog to be a wonderful creative outlet that fills the gap left by my day job. The wonderful community is what keeps me writing! Excellent work and I’m excited to see what the future produces for you!
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…An Evening with PhroogalMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, I think most of our blogs come from gaps in our real lives. Instead of watching TV, we write about money!

  9. I love this. I also started my blog for funsies and to keep myself accountable for staying on the frugal wagon. But making a little bit of cash from it isn’t too shabby, either. Hopefully one day I can start writing a lot more as an income stream–I feel like I don’t get to do it enough!

    Bravo for finding stuff to do when you retire. 🙂 It’s scary to have that much time on your hands but it’s ultimately a very good thing.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Why I Took an Unpaid Promotion At WorkMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Frugal wagon! Don’t fall off in front of a Nordstrom!

      I’ll never turn down free money. And it is free because I’d write regardless.

  10. You definitely have a knack for writing – straightforward with some good humor sprinkled in now and again!

    That’s exciting with some of the other ventures you’re digging into. I’ve written and published a couple of technical books (under my real name, not the R2R pseudo) and I can say that it’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely something to be proud of when it’s done! Good luck to you!!

    — Jim
    Jim @ Route To Retire recently posted…Is It Possible to Reach Financial Independence with Kids?My Profile

  11. Reading On Writing made me too nervous about writing. While I enjoyed the book, I started second guessing every adverb and wondering too much about truth telling, since I can always identify an exaggeration (for effect) or stretch (why not take it to absurdity?). These things made my writing enjoyable for me, so I continue despite Mr. King’s sage warnings. Besides all the fun goes away without the copious amounts of cocaine and booze!
    The Jolly Ledger recently posted…The Big Scratch – August 2016 Net Worth UpdateMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, some of his advice is hard to incorporate. He’s a master though, so trying to emulate everything would be a ridiculously difficult task.

  12. I, similarly, have found writing at the end of my traditional career path: the thing that comes next, or now.

    I get the feeling that writing is something everyone can and, maybe, should do. Language is one of those things that makes us human.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Writing it DownMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “I, similarly, have found writing at the end of my traditional career path: the thing that comes next, or now.”

      Nice. I wonder what else you considered?

  13. Justin says:

    That’s pretty much how I approach things as a financially independent early retiree. If it makes money, great. But the primary question is “is it interesting and/or fun?”. Many productive things are interesting or fun and therefore lead to the possibility of money. I did some freelance writing for a while and made some decent cash at it (enough to fund our living expenses if I really applied myself just a smidge).
    Justin recently posted…June 2016 Financial UpdateMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      It is incredibly liberating to be able to work at things and not have to worry or care about the money carrot.

  14. Money Beagle says:

    I won’t lie, hearing people that get offers for side writing gigs that turn profitable makes me jealous. Either my writing completely sucks or I just am never in the right place at the right time. Never had that fall into my lap, and it’s a difference maker for many.

    • 1500 says:

      Hey MB, don’t worry about it. It took over 3 years and 500 posts to get any offer at all. I see you’ve been at it for a while too, but it’s a tricky business.

      And if I were to run the numbers, I would have been MUCH better off using the time to code. In the time I spent working on the blog, I could have made 20x the money programming.

  15. I think it’s great to be able to experience more than just one career in your life. You never know where other paths will lead until you go down them. Congratulations on your writing success, and good luck with the future plans!
    Mr Crazy Kicks recently posted…Garden: July – Gotta Eat Em All!My Profile

  16. Congrats, man! I love reading your writing anywhere it is and have been enjoying the posts elsewhere.
    Maggie @ Northern Expenditure recently posted…The Formula for a Productive, Happy DayMy Profile

  17. This is awesome! I have been a reader since almost the beginning but never felt I add much to add. I am also a bio/chem major but was a trapped writer inside too! Looking forward to hearing about your new blog and adventures!
    Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions recently posted…8 Thoughts and 8 Goals on 8/8My Profile

  18. Casey says:

    I haven’t read On Writing yet, but listened to the audiobook of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was AWESOME! She is so not into the “tortured artist” thing and talks a lot about her pure love of writing. She even took a vow to always be a writer, whether it earned her money or not, as a teenager (a vow that has lasted longer than her marriages). There is no discussion of writing technique, it’s mostly about being inspired. There’s a good bit of woo-woo in it, but it wasn’t too over the top.

  19. Mrs PoP says:

    Such a different tone and message from those posts (what a year or so ago?) when you were struggling with stress and contemplating quitting writing here (and blogging, I thought) altogether. Very happy for you.
    Mrs PoP recently posted…Happy Friday – Happy Anniversary, Florida!My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, you’re absolutely right! I still have what was supposed to be the final post for this blog in my Drafts folder. I’ll still publish it, but 1500 Days won’t die, at least not on 2/17 as was always the plan…

  20. Jason says:

    I can say that I enjoy writing, but part of it is for my job. I don’t think I could ever do creative writing I just don’t have that side to me. The writing aspect is ironic because I am and will always been a speech and debate person. I love speaking. I coach, watch it, train people in it. I never thought writing would be an avenue, but I found I am not too bad at it (at least the academic stuff). I so I say keep on writing and explore different types of writing. I never thought I would continue the blog as long as I have. In some respects that writing has gotten in the way of the other writing. Just not enough time in the day for everything. Good luck and look forward to hearing about the other blog.
    Jason recently posted…My Tribute to ZachMy Profile

  21. SpacemanFry says:

    I’m glad you’ll continue writing. I really enjoy your blog. Out of all the FI blogs I read (not too many but still quite a few) I like yours the best. It’s partly because we have somewhat similar backgrounds, also similar sense of humor and I enjoy your writing style.

    Looking forward to more of your writing, especially the kind that just pops in your head and you post it 🙂

  22. Nate says:

    Its been awesome working with ya over the last 6 months, even more awesome that my anonymous email helped u grow as a writer.

    Looking forward to seeing what u accomplish post 9-5!
    Nate recently posted…Why Compound Interest Isn’t As Powerful As You ThinkMy Profile

  23. So when are you quitting the software development job?
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes recently posted…July 2016 Dividend Income And ExpensesMy Profile

  24. Tawcan says:

    I need to read that book, time to find it at the local library.

    Sounds like you are very well set up to quit the software development job at end of the 1500 days. That is totally awesome I have to say.

    I love to write too but writing in English probably takes me slightly longer (due to the need to edit) compare to native English speaker since I’m ESL. When I came to Canada ~20 years ago I only knew the 26 English alphabets. 🙂
    Tawcan recently posted…Parental struggles during vacationMy Profile

  25. Kyle says:

    It always seemed to obvious to me that writing would be a big part of what you would do after you quit your job. You’ve always clearly had a skill for writing in a very entertaining manner and seem to enjoy it. Your writing style has been something I look up to when writing on my blog. I’ll have to take a look at that Stephen King On Writing, Thanks.
    Kyle recently posted…When can I retireMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Kyle, that means a ton. Thanks so much for the kind comments. Beers in Wisconsin again this fall?

      • Kyle says:

        would be a hell yeah on the beers. We’ll still have to figure out the King Sue :D. Just been hectic this week, they’re all in the Fridge, trying to keep them fresh.
        I’m running to Iowa again this weekend to help my friend move so I could grab some classics like PsuedoSue, Pompeii, etc. That last batch of Pompeii I had at the tap room was amazing, everyone agreed. I’m not sure if that batch has hit store shelves yet though. Of course I could grab Wisconsin brews too for you, I may get a couple New Glarus special release beers if we go there Saturday on the way back.
        I still haven’t made my Citra Pale Ale, but I do have some Pear Cider on tap I could bottle.
        Kyle recently posted…When can I retireMy Profile

        • 1500 says:

          King Sue! Still can’t hardly believe you came up with that one!

          I already have some PseudoSue and a Pompeii bomber from my road-trip last month.

          Like I mentioned, I have Zombie Dust. I also have Melvin which is really good.

  26. Excellent post!
    Very motivational and a great message. I absolutely loved that closing line…

    “Everything else will fall into place when you work hard at what you’re meant to do.”

    And I’ve never been a Stephen King reader because horror doesn’t really interest me, but that book on writing sounds amazing. I’ve heard people who do read his work constantly rave about how talented he is.

    Overall, really loved hearing about your journey with the blog. It sounds like you have the long term plans all figured out now, which must feel great. Good luck with the new writing opportunity and thanks for sharing 🙂
    Graham @ Reverse The Crush recently posted…5 Goals For AugustMy Profile

  27. Mr. PIE says:

    Long time reader of this great blog. We only decided to start our own little blog a few months ago and for us it was just a way to share a perspective on our journey, FIRE with kids, mistakes, successes, the life we live.

    I wish other bloggers would not optimize posts for marketing content and just bloody write. You lead by example with your approach and it will be fantastic to see what you get up to next, new blog, book and all.

    Good luck and thanks for keeping us real.
    Mr. PIE recently posted…5 Lessons in Building a Successful CareerMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      When your focus is money, everything changes. You must name your post blah blah blah, put ads here, write about this… No thanks to all of that…

  28. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that the whole follow your passions thing just isn’t going to work for 90% of the population.

    We can’t all be writers, musicians and artists, or professional video game players 🙂

    The key point is to get a good financial grounding first so you indulge in your passions without money being an issue. In fact I think most people are still far too conservative with that side and if you really don’t like a job and have even 1 years expenses saved up I don’t know why you wouldn’t quit and try something else.

    And of course if you don’t give it a go you will never know, which is the point you are making and I’m fully on board with that! And the large majority of people don’t try, which leaves a bigger than you’d think gap in the market for people that do.

    Cheers and glad to hear as everyone else is that the blog and other writing projects will continue after FI!
    theFIREstarter recently posted…july update – plus the inevitable question gets askedMy Profile

  29. I didn’t think that I would enjoy writing as much as I do when I started my blog. English was my worst subject in high school but starting the blog has made me enjoy writing a lot, maybe it’s cause I’m writing on a subject I’m passionate about.

    Also, really looking forward to following your next plans! I feel that a lot of readers (including myself) have been emotionally gone through the roller coaster ride with you.
    Finance Solver recently posted…What’s Holding You Back?My Profile

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