Retire Now? My Retirement Blog is Just Beginning

May 19, 2015
 / 19 comments
Retirement blog
Dr. Rin Porter

Has it been a while since you learned a new skill?

For me, blogging is a new skill that I’ve been learning by doing for nearly a year.

Why I did it and how I did it might help you decide to try something new for yourself!

I started my retirement blog in July 2014. A friend suggested that I use LinkedIn as a way to promote my blog to more readers.

So I joined a LinkedIn blogging group. I met a lot of interesting people through the group and learned things from them about improving my retirement blog.

Then Matt Kaboomis Loomis invited me to write a guest post that told my story. So here it is.

My background

I am a Baby Boomer born in the very first year of that era – 1946. As part of the Baby Boomer front line, I have seen a lot of change during my lifetime. There’s been a lot of resistance to change from my parents’ generation.

When I was in high school, I saw that only a few professions were open to women: nursing, elementary school teaching, and secretarial work. Most girls in my school expected to do as their mothers had done, and stay home and raise children.

But some of us wanted more. So we went to college and vocational school and butted heads with the Establishment who tried to keep us penned up in the corrals of the past.

I became a teacher, but I taught college instead of kindergarten. My undergraduate degree was in a nontraditional profession: mass communications. Unfortunately, after graduation I could not get a job in radio, TV, or film-making (except as a typist) because these industries weren’t open to women in 1968.

So I went to graduate school and became a college professor. I retired from that career at age 58.

After my retirement from university teaching, I became a newspaper reporter. I worked freelance at that for 10 years, until one of my clients sold his newspapers, and another laid me off and took over my beat for herself.

So why write a blog?

Last year, I decided to write a blog because I needed an outlet for my writing.   I was used to writing almost every day as a freelance news reporter. But when most of my freelance assignments ended in June 2014, I was left with little to do.

retirement blog
Credit: William Iven
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

My daughter suggested that I write a blog about things I cared about: women’s issues, the environment, and retirement itself. So I decided to try it.

I knew nothing about blogging. After a few hours of Googling about the process, I found that Matthew Kaboomis Loomis’ website, BuildYourOwnBlog.net, would teach me what I needed to learn, step by step.

So I took the plunge.

 

 How do you go about creating a blog?

retirement blog
Credit: BuildYourOwnBlog.net

I won’t sugarcoat it for you: there is a LOT to learn about writing a blog online. Especially for seniors like me who had no prior experience with the web except for email, word processing, and online research.

Matt ‘s blog instructions told me that first I had to pick a domain name. What the heck is a “domain”? Well, I found out, and then I tried out several names until I found one I liked: “thingscouldbeworse”.

My domain name was meant to be a commentary on my life. The .com and .net suffixes of my domain name were already in use. So I created a .org domain and registered it.

Then I had to find a web host. I chose iPage. I used a credit card to pay for a year’s hosting, plus website backup service.

Next, I had to choose a website creation tool. Knowing nothing, I chose WordPress since Matt recommended it. And then I continued my journey through the rest of Matthew’s 8 steps for building a blog.

It was incredibly difficult for me to figure out all the user names, passwords, control panels, dashboards, settings, widgets, image placement, and other minutia that I needed for a website business, but after a couple of weeks, I began to get comfortable with these new concepts. I’m sure I drove the iPage tech support staff crazy during that time with my constant phone calls and chat room visits.

 There were many times during the first two months of blogging when I almost gave up, because the extent of the new vocabulary and new concepts was overwhelming to me.

Online articles about blogging, marketing, monetization, and other aspects of web work used tons of jargon that I didn’t understand. But I kept on going.

I wrote my first few blog posts just by feeling my way along, and asked my Gen-X daughter and her friends to read them and give me feedback. That was helpful.

What does a person write about in a retirement blog?

 

retire now
Credit: Metropolitan Life

My retirement blog was brand new. I had no customers, no clients, and almost no readership at all. I wrote blog posts about things that were of concern to me  and to other retirees and sent them out into the blogosphere.

I figured that if I cared about an issue, then probably other people did too, and it was just a matter of finding them and then I would have an audience.

That was a little bit naïve, but it was how I started out.

I write in my blog about retirement issues, women’s issues, and environmental issues because I see connections among them. I planned to write about 1/3 of my blog posts on each of the three broad topics.

On retirement:   I was utterly unprepared for the reality of retirement. No one had explained to me that I would feel a loss of identity when I left my teaching career, that I would find myself incredibly lonely without my colleagues to give me a social life, and that I would have to be concerned with money almost constantly.

To save other people from being as unprepared, I write about these retirement issues in some of my posts. I try to get people to see that they need to start early to plan how they will spend the 20 to 25 years of life that almost all of us have in retirement.

Yes, that’s right: 20 to 25 years of retirement.

Are you ready for 20 to 25 years of retirement?  If not, start reading my blog!

On women’s issues: I have been working to get equality for women since I was 14. As a young teenager in the early 1960s, I thought it was unfair that boys could wear pants to school, but girls had to wear skirts of a certain length and style – never pants. And NO ONE was allowed to wear jeans.

It also made no sense to me that girls who barely knew each other had to shower together nude after gym class. It made no sense to me that girls had to enroll in home economics while boys could take woodworking or auto mechanics courses in junior high and high school. Girls were taught typing and shorthand, while boys were taught accounting and the basics of business.

And so on.

Until the women’s movement began to gain traction and publicity in the early 1970s, “real issues” (like the right for a woman to get credit in her own name, be admitted to law schools and medical schools, keep her name when she married, get equal pay for equal work, and enter professions that were previously closed to women) were not taken seriously by the male establishment who ran Western countries.

I campaigned for these issues during my working life in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Many of them remain unresolved today. And so I include them in my blog at times.

Women’s issues connect with retirement issues.   Since women are paid less than men (about 79 cents for every $1.00 a man earns), when women retire, they have less money in their Social Security accounts and retirement accounts than men do. Thus, they receive lower Social Security payments and generally have less money in their 401K or 403B accounts than men do. So women’s standards of living drop when they retire.

In addition, about 7 out of 10 women will find themselves alone during their retirement years, due to the death of their spouse or partner, divorce, or the choice to be single. Being alone and without a job lead to loneliness and social isolation – big problems for retirees.

On the environment: I have volunteered in environmental conservation for more than 20 years.

  • I participated in the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
  •  In the 1970s, I joined nationwide organizations like the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, and Defenders of Wildlife.
  •  In the 1980s, I took part in neighborhood clean-up activities.
  •  In the 1990s, I joined a local land trust group.
  •  In 2003, I was part of the organizing committee for a statewide energy efficiency group. I’m still a member of the steering committee of this group.
  •  In 2007, I was hired as an ongoing consultant by a state agency that uses retirees to help local governments and businesses to reduce their energy usage.

So I have quite a bit of experience in environmental matters, and I like to share my experience through my blog. I’ve written posts about recycling, personal responsibility, the place of birds in the earth’s ecosystem, minimalism, and gardening.

Environmental issues connect to retirement issues when retirees reduce their expenses and their consumerism by shopping at garage sales, buying clothes at Goodwill, sharing equipment with neighbors, and bartering. Using fewer resources means reducing one’s impact on the planet.

Environmental issues connect with retirement issues when retirees move to smaller housing, use less energy for heating and cooling, stop commuting to work, and drive energy efficient cars.

Do you make money from writing a blog?

 

Section heading_ Do you make money from writing a blog_

Some people do and some don’t. Right now, I don’t.

Making money from blogging (called “monetizing a blog”) is possible after a blogger develops a large enough readership, acquires some influence in a topic area, or succeeds in selling goods or services connected with the blog.

I have not reached critical mass in any of those three factors, so I’m not making any money from my retirement blog.

But I hope to eventually. I’d like to market my services as a writer, editor, communication skills trainer, and retirement speaker. To make any of these options possible, I have to keep working on my blog to increase my audience and build trust.

 

How do you market a blog?

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about that issue – marketing.

retire now

So far, I’ve followed the recommendations of established bloggers in the field of internet content marketing: read the blogs of others in my topic area, comment on those blogs, make contact with people who are influential in my topic area and in internet marketing, do favors for those you know and trust, join online forums and discussion groups, be active on social media, be friendly and humble, write really good blog posts in forms that follow content marketing principles, and improve my “profiles” on all the social media that I use.

In the last few months, I’ve quadrupled my “followers” on Twitter and my blog readership, but I still have a long way to go.

When you start from zero, getting to be ranked on Google is difficult, but lots of people have done it, so I believe that I can too. Eventually.

 

What is my blog niche?

Credit:  Pinterest.com
Credit: Pinterest.com

When I began writing my blog, I planned to aim it at women over 60 – the prime area of the Baby Boomer demographic (which is the largest demographic in the U.S. population).

Right now, according to Google Analytics, 83% of my readers are age 54 and up. My readers are 74% women and 26% men.

The average length of time that readers stay on my website is 1.33 minutes. That means that people aren’t clicking away from the site the moment they reach it, but are staying to read some or all of the post that they chose.

Credit:  theguardian.com
Credit: theguardian.com

My readers are coming from primarily from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a senior website called “As Time Goes By.”

 

So I conclude that my blog is reaching the audience that I wanted, and that readers are staying for a short time.

 

But there are too few readers!

I need to find ways to reach computer-literate women age 54 and up in greater volume than I am presently doing.

 

What benefits do I get from blogging?

Well so far, in 11 months of blogging, I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary and gained understanding of some aspects of social media. I’ve met at least a dozen new friends online. I’ve helped publicize the blogs of three of these friends, and have helped one of them by editing two of her blog posts. I’ve received help and advice from four of these online friends.

I’ve given myself a new reason for writing and studying three hours a day, five days a week. My enthusiasm for life has increased. I’ve found a new way to help others by explaining hidden aspects of retirement.

I’m optimistic about the future of my blog as a platform that will help me identify potential clients for my writing and editing services, retirement speaking engagements, and communication skills training gigs.

For me, blogging is definitely worth it!

Author Bio:

Dr. Rin Porter is a retired communications professor who today works as a freelance journalist. On her blog Things Could Be Worse, she writes about issues that affect the soon-to-be retired, along with occasional posts on women’s issues and environmental concerns. You can connect with her on Google Plus.

 

19 comments

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  1. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

    Matt, thanks a lot for placing this guest post on your blog. I appreciate it!

    Rin

    P.S. I am not a “former” journalist. I am currently a journalist.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Love it, Rin…you’re making sure the accurate truth is out there like a real journalist. 🙂 I will update your bio. 😉 Love your article, love this niche, and I can’t wait to see your blog grow and grow and grow.

  2. Brent Jones says:    •   4 years

    Awesome, Dr. Rin. Really nice job.

    First, let me say that I love the niche you have chosen for your blog. Not only is it extremely topical for many, but there is a disproportionately low number of bloggers in that space.

    Second, your breakdown of your online journey is inspiring to many.

    Keep going! You’re doing a great job!

    1. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Thanks, Brent! I am grateful for your encouragement!

  3. Jane N. says:    •   4 years

    Certainly a very interesting synopsis about your life Dr Rin. Your articles over issues of concern would definitely garner awareness among us readers. Most inspiring to see your devotion to writing as well.

    1. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Thanks, Jane. My goal is to help others navigate their journeys as they age.

  4. Tony Durrance says:    •   4 years

    Inspiring – Thank you Dr.Rin and Matt for sharing this.

    Personally, I’m at a crossroad with my blog. I’m not sure my content is what I really want to say. Maybe I’m trying to be a people pleaser instead of saying what’s really in my head.

    I’ve read somewhere that we should write as though no one is going to read your post – You’re just writing for yourself. I’m thinking of starting a diary and writing thoughts as they come into my head. This could be the way forward.

    1. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Hi Tony, yes, it is difficult to find your “voice” when you start blogging. I’m thinking your dilemma needs to be rephrased: you need to please people, of course, or they won’t read your blog; but you also need to say what you really think. It’s both, not either/or. And of course none of us can please everybody.

      Your first draft could be written as though no one was going to read it. But then after it sits for a few days, you can revise it to make it more tactful and appealing to the people you want to reach. And a diary is always a good idea! Good luck! Let me know how you’re doing.

  5. Steve Featherston says:    •   4 years

    Thanks for the post. I am also a baby boomer (born 1957). Corporate blood-letting put me out of a job Nov 2014 (after 19 years w/ the company). Think 2 weeks of “shock & awe” followed by 4 to 6 weeks of “get your butt in gear …”

    Now working at home as an agent in the same line of business–transportation. We’re keeping our head above water, but I want to return to my first love–writing, and my second love–entertaining seniors with my music.

    Your post has caused me to re-think some strategy about creating a blog. At 58, I’m no “spring chicken,” but I’m in better shape than most 20 year olds, have some money in the bank, happily married w/ 3 great grown kids. Maybe blog about “Life after 50” or “Grayer, Wiser & Happier”

    But anyways, thanks for the post!

  6. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

    Hey Steve! I’m encouraged by the positive way you’re looking at your situation. Your company’s action must have truly been shock and awe. Wow. But you’re moving forward as well as taking stock of your skills and the possibilities you now have for a more fulfilling future.

    If you haven’t already done so, I’d suggest reading some of the other retirement blogs (as well as the previous posts in my blog (http://www.thingscouldbeworse.org). One of my favorites is http://www.timegoesby.net. It has a great list of “elder blogs” to check out. And a blog whose writer is taking time off is http://www.satisfyingretirement.com.

    Good luck, and let me know how you’re doing!

  7. Adrienne says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matthew,

    What a great guest you have with Rin, sharing her story and I’m sure other will definitely be able to connect with her as well.

    Hi Rin, thanks for this guest post and I thoroughly have enjoyed getting to know you over these past few months. As you know, I’m a baby boomer as well but not quite to retirement age yet. Of course I left corporate America about eight years ago to create my own business so that I won’t have to have so many unresolved issues when I reach that point.

    It’s still a challenge though and I know that a lot of women have the issues you’ve addressed here but I love that you’ve chosen retirement as your niche and I have a feeling that you’ve already helped a lot of people with what you’ve learned as well. I have no doubt that you’ll do very well making this into a business venture.

    Thank you both for this post and I hope you have a wonderful week.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Dr. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Adrienne, thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. You’re right – a lot of women have these retirement issues and I’m hearing from some of them after writing this post and some of the others on my website. You are a role model for many of us in that you created a successful business on your own. I am glad that we can share things about our lives that will help others.

      Rin

  8. Terri says:    •   4 years

    Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your story. I’m also a baby boomer and remember some of the issues from that time. I’ve been researching the web looking for information on starting my own blog and found your story very interesting. I plan to follow your blog and appreciate the good advice on retirement and women’s issues. Thanks again!

    1. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Terri, thanks for writing. I’m glad to hear you are going to look into starting your own blog. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to meet interesting people. Thanks for following my blog. If it helps you, please tell your friends too! Let me know how things are going for you. Rin

  9. Sharolyn Iris says:    •   4 years

    Good Morning:
    I just started a blog and I am learning all about blogging and attempting also learn about copywriting. These are both intricate and require a great deal of dedication and work. I am enjoying the journey and Matthew suggested that I check out your blog. I am in the same boat as you are since I was forceably retired and felt I could still add my talents to society.

    I can see that it is going to take a great deal of time to build a following but that is alright. I seem to have a great deal of time right now.

  10. Sharolyn Iris says:    •   4 years

    Good Morning:
    I just started a blog and I am learning all about blogging and attempting also to learn about copywriting. These are both intricate and require a great deal of dedication and work. I am enjoying the journey and Matthew suggested that I check out your blog. I am in the same boat as you are since I was forceably retired and felt I could still add my talents to society.

    I can see that it is going to take a great deal of time to build a following but that is alright. I seem to have a great deal of time right now.

    I have started learning about copywriting in order to attempt too earn an income. Retirement is supposed to be our years to relax but it looks like these years will be the same as all of my other years. I am always busy learning and implementing something. I guess I would be bored without these “kicks-in-the-pants” to make sure my mind stays engaged.

    I’m looking forward to more of your story too.

    Blessings,
    Sharolyn Iris

    1. Dr. Rin Porter says:    •   4 years

      Sharolyn, sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been having computer problems! Thanks so much for writing. I am delighted to learn that you have started a blog too and are learning about the social media business.
      Retirement can be whatever you make it to be – that is what I have learned so far. I hope you will enjoy reading my blog and maybe take some lessons from it. It took me a while to accept my less-employed status, and I still struggle with it.
      Let me know if I can help you with blog ideas. Matt is a great resource and has helped me immensely.

      Rin

  11. Kyle Rolek says:    •   3 years

    Great piece

  12. Nicolene says:    •   2 years

    Nothing of what you do , what you are interested in or concerned about deserves the umbrella of “ retired” or “ retirement” , they are all relevant , so are you . May I suggest you turn the tide in your favor and be the one of many retirees who refuse to retire. Life begins at …. girl .!! You thought fun was only allowed until fourty ? Check out 60 , 70 ….. and send me pictures of you sky diving , hiking or …. ( whatever) . Open up the conversation and enjoy the journey!!