What a Little Jealousy Can Tell You

If you read personal finance blogs regularly, it’s pretty much a sure bet that you’ve heard of Get Rich Slowly.  JD Roth posted recently that “GRS had 9.5 million visits during 2010 from over five million unique visitors.”

5 million unique visitors? So yeah, you’ve probably heard of it.

In contrast, if you’d heard of my old blog, you’d have been one of a very small group. Tiny!

And that’s ok. In fact, looking back at my writing, it’s probably a darn good thing!

But it used to really bother me. Why couldn’t I have even, oh, 500 readers?

Back in 2007, I’d peruse JD’s blog and see similarity after similarity. We both started blogging daily about personal finance right around the same time. (Get Rich Slowly started in April of 2006, and I started my old blog in August of 2006. )

For years, we both blogged about very similar topics. (That’s changed a bit since I started this new blog instead.) We both had a get-out-of-debt story. Neither of us pretended to be an expert. We were both open about what was going on in our lives — open about the times we failed and the times we succeeded.

The list goes on and on.

His blog gained readers like crazy. Mine was lucky if my husband happened to read it.

Did I mention this used to really bother me? The green-eyed monster had a permanent perch on my shoulder.

Then one day it hit me.


There was one major difference between the two of us. (OK, there were several, but one that really mattered.)

He wanted it. And I don’t mean he “wanted a lot of readers”, although I’m guessing he did. What he wanted was something that naturally brings a lot of readers. He wanted to be an excellent writer.

He regularly spends at least 8 HOURS writing each of his posts. Writing well and only producing excellent content is really important to him.  If this were his post, he would go back through it and fix all the places I changed tense. (I did at least notice them this time, but editing them now would ruin my point.)

I felt a lot better once I admitted that while I do want to improve my writing and to produce excellent content, and I do want to have lots of readers, I don’t want it the way he did/does. I don’t want to be a “real” writer the way he is. I don’t want it enough to put in the effort it would take.

Instead, what I want to do is a little of this, and a little of that, and some more of another thing, while I hop here and there around the world with my family. And I want to do those things without being worried about money, which means I want a nice cushion in the bank.

The common goal for me though — the thing I really want — is to help others while poking around the world being a doer-of-miscellaneous things. That is something I can be great at.

A little jealousy can tell you a lot, if you’re willing to listen.

What do you really want?


  • You have probably helped a lot of people on the way!! The trouble is that you may never know that you have helped.

    If you enjoy passing on the information, people will read it and use it to improve their situation.

    Every so often you may get someone who contacts you and thank you for helping them to change their life for the better.

    That one thank you is better than a thousand followers!!!

  • Seangz

    First off, I want to say that i follow your RSS feeds.

    That being said, I strongly disagree with you.
    A simple observation in the world reveals that our economy and our society rewards people who are the masters of their trade.

    the best i ever heard it was, avoid being a ” jack of all trades, and a master of none”
    or “good is the enemy of evil”

    Please, dont accept defeat. Dont give up. Be the best. Compete with GRS.
    That is the only reason i follow you, because you want to be the best at providing valuable information and advice for people like me.

    Please dont post a public record of defeat.
    as Seth Godin put it once, “The dip: “Quit or be exceptional”
    I’ve taken his advice, I’ve decided to be exceptional at what I do. Otherwise, i’d quit.

    I hope that provided you some motivation.

    I anticipate your response.

  • Seangz, interesting, I hadn’t viewed this as a public record of defeat. I was nervous about posting it, but more because I don’t like admitting jealousy. But I went ahead because I believe you can learn a lot from jealousy.

    Keep in mind too that I’m talking about something that I realized a couple of years ago, before I even started this blog. I realized that I was jealous of what appeared to be “easy success”, when in fact it wasn’t easy success. It’s kind of like me spending an hour a year ice skating, and then wishing I could skate like an Olympic skater. The realization was that, well, no, being an Olympic skater isn’t my dream. My dream is something else.

    In this case, my dream is to spend my time doing the things I enjoy, while helping others in the process. That’s why I write here. I am a writer, and writers write. I’ve written out of enjoyment since the day I first realized that squiggles on a paper could mean things. I want to keep that enjoyment (and to keep sharing what I’ve learned) without turning it into work.

    Does that make more sense?

    I hope you will continue to stick around.

  • First I applaud your honesty! Takes courage to post something like this! Here’s how I would look at this – if this was the *only* feather in your crown, then, yes maybe you are justified in being upset, but if this is yet another feather in your crown, you are doing awesome!

    • Ah, thanks for the kind words :)

      The thing is, I’m not upset. I used to be, years ago, until I spent some time thinking through what the jealousy meant for me. That’s what I was trying to get across.

  • is it jealousy or reflection on your efforts? Personally, reflection is better and more effective. You don’t want to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity.

    • It was definitely jealousy at first, which then turned into reflection. So that’s why I think a little jealousy can be a good thing.

  • Dow Jones

    First time reader to your site, I really loved your honesty. I too would like a job where I can half a## it and get paid, as do most people. But we cant, you should work hard at this, you have great something good going. Keep working at itl. I will keep reading out of curiosity :) best of luck!!

  • The funny thing about jealousy to me is that it makes me want things I didn’t know I wanted 10 minutes earlier. If a friend gets a brand new car, I want one. When 10 minutes before I could have cared less about cars or anything related to them. Weird.

    • That’s funny. To me what you’re describing happens with advertising, so I have to ask myself “did I want this before I heard about it or saw it?”.

  • My question is did JD take eight hours a day to compose a post while working a full time job, too?

    • Yeah, if I remember right, he did. I’ve worked plenty of 16-18 hour days myself over the past couple of years, but putting that kind of time in on just two things (day job + a single project that would never end) isn’t something I could bring myself to do I don’t think.

  • I didn’t realize your blog has been around for 4 years! Wow, I wonder how Financial Samurai and Yakezie would be like if they started then. I was thinking then about starting my sites, but was too focused on my career. I don’t regret focusing on my main income generator, but it would have been nice to just start then!

    • They’d probably be even better :)

      (And this blog has only been around for a little over a year, it was my old blog that was around back in 2006.)

  • You have no idea how much I relate to this post! I even had a few close calls of selling my blog for way less than what it should go for. That being said, whenever I feel like that I just take a few days off and I feel the NEED to write something…it is at that point that I remember why I started a BLOG and not your standard learn personal finance site.