Fighting Back The Doubts

I really need your help.

  • Why are you reading this?
  • What can I help you with?
  • What do you like about my writing, my viewpoints or my style?
  • How I can be more helpful with what I write, how I write or how the website looks or functions?
  • What topics are you interested in?

I know this is a strange way to start this little note. Here’s the story behind my odd requests:

Breaking the two-month daily writing habit I’ve recently established, for three days last week I didn’t write any new content. I was back “in my head space” as my friend Dixie says. I still don’t know exactly what to write so I decided to spill the beans and dump out what’s in my head and ask for your help.

Last week I talked with an internet marketing guru about my writing and this site. He was very blunt in his observations and opinions. And while I was and am seeking honest feedback, his words gave fodder to my fears.

He informed me that my writing and this site lacked personality. It is bland. I need a hook. Something to grab attention when a visitor comes to the site or receives an email. He asked why a reader should listen to me instead of Ramit Sethi or Dave Ramsey.

I didn’t have great answers. And to be honest, I believe you should listen to Ramit and Dave. I think a lot of their advice is fantastic. Go check out and

I don’t want to compete. I’m looking to help in different ways. While I agree with a lot of their advice, my own experience differs from some of their admonishments. We all have different paths, don’t we. So I’m deep into research, my old notes, understanding what makes my take on things unique and even old memories of what excites me.

I would love your feedback even if it’s negative. I really want to be helpful. It seems easier to be helpful in person. I want to have the same conversation online as we would have sitting across from each other at a coffee shop. It’s different somehow communicating through email and blogposts. I’m still “finding my voice.” Or maybe I’m still finding my ears.

I hope this makes sense. At any rate, I truly welcome your comments, suggestions, even hate mail right now.


  1. Dixie has some wise advice! Mine is to relate to your readers through stories. How have you helped someone, what were your experiences along the way. What did you or they learn? Sharing your own journey too. “You” have to connect with your reader.

    All the best Nathan

  2. Chris Martin says:

    I agree with the above comment, detailed stories. The ways to earn more money post had 10 ways, each one could have been an in-depth post…There is a lot of blogs that have lists or general advice, but most are light on details or real life experiences. Thats why when I am doing something DIY, i use instructables website if I can. Step-by-step guide from someone who has done it is great. For example, I like the coupons posts because they have details….

    I enjoy getting the blog post email in my inbox, keep up the good work!


  3. Mercedes Sparks says:

    How many internet marketing gurus do you know? I mean really??? No one called me… It’s cool though. 😉

    So I checked out the site… A lot of great content.

    But my main question is what prompted you to ask for advice in the first place… What were you wanting to achieve? So I can’t speak to whatever problem you were trying to solve for by asking for advice the first time… For example are you looking to drive readers, build a list, sell a product… Each would have a different path to success. You know what I mean?

    But if you are asking for just in general thoughts here are mine:
    1. The most important thing is to be authentically you. So whatever that looks or sounds like… Do that. The internet loves authenticity don’t change or doubt what your doing.

    2. Lead with value… Content may be king but when you lead with value and leave people with something that they – didn’t know before or experienced before – that helps drives any type of conversion. Also, don’t make that value hard to find put it up front.

    3. I think a cool angle might be real life case studies… ask for 5-10 individuals or businesses to be case studies. You could help them achieve there financial goals following the principals you out line in the blog… And write about those. Keeping names confidential if you must… But even better would be if you worked through stuff live with them. Super engaging. I would volunteer :)

    4. I know you lot are all writers, but I am still gonna say it… Video soooo helps with building a list. I, and most people, would rather watch a 5 – 15 min video than read a blog. I know, I know… Crazy if you are writer. I am married to one. So maybe longterm think about a hybrid. An short opening video you can use socially to share and bring readers over.

    Off the top of my head that’s a few ideas. :) Good luck Nathan!

    *i wrote this on my iPhone Plz excuse grammer and spelling 😉

    • Thank you for the feedback Mercedes! I especially love the real life case studies idea and video…maybe combine those two!

  4. Ben Hoersch says:

    Others have also said this but … It needs to be more personal. Readers should feel like they know you after reading for awhile. Tips and advice are all over … Readers will tune in for the personality.
    Love the Blog Nate. Keep it up.

  5. Seth Martin says:

    I know I’m a little late on this post– just saw it this morning, for some reason. Regrettable, because I feel like this is a VERY important post for YOU. Fortunate, because your more recent posts offer some more samples for “analysis.” So let me just work through your list:

    –> Why are you reading this?
    Because you’re my brother. I know that may not be super encouraging, you’d like to be able to attract readers with your content, not just your blood-ties. But turn it upside down and look at it from a different angle: I am eager to read your blog–not so much to show you support, like Mom coming to our high school soccer games even though she rarely had a clue what was going on on the field (though even that kind of simple, loving support is very significant)– but because there are certain areas of your life that I’d like to learn from, areas where you appear to me to be winning. I know about your life, a bit, because I am your brother, even though we pretty much grew up in different generations! But it’s this relationally-acquired recognition of your life that makes me want to read your blog– not blind familial support.

    –> What can I help you with?
    I don’t know. I have lots of questions about life, some of which you may be able to be answer with this blog, but many not. You are interested in lots of things, which is actually a virtue in and of itself, but I think the things I would come to this blog for help with are the one or two things you are truly passionate about! The blog title itself, for example: I think you may be able to help me get to financial independence– without selling my soul!

    Personal moment coming: Your last post about The Four Uses of Money starts to put Financial Independence in perspective. I’ve learned over the past year that I have to capacity to increase my income. This was a terrifying revelation to me. Why? Because I learned also that I have the capacity to “love” money. The thrill of seeing sales rise and rise and rise– that thrill in and of itself is what I felt, divorced entirely from my true life goals (to give disadvantaged kids an education, to start an orphanage, to spend my time mentoring, creating, teaching rather than holed-up working by myself). That’s the “love of money” that for some reason I had never experienced before. And it scared me. I don’t want money to be my master– either through poverty or through riches. I try to follow Jesus’ teachings on that matter. That doesn’t mean I just want to be somewhere in the middle. I guess it means I want to generate enough passive income to be able to spend my time on the life goals I mentioned above. OR that I want my job to be something that coincides with my life goals.

    Can Financial Freedom Blueprint help me with that? I don’t know. That’s what I came here to find out. So my feed back on this question is: context, context, context. Intentionally place every post into the context of the One Thing: Financial Freedom. And remind us WHY we want financial freedom– because we forget sometimes and fall in love with money itself. Then we either hate money or love it, but we don’t use it well. So in every post about coupons or budgeting or contentment, be obvious in reminding us why we are here (to get the Blueprint for Financial Freedom), and also remind us why we want Financial Freedom in the first place!

    –> What do you like about my writing, my viewpoints or my style?
    –> How I can be more helpful with what I write, how I write or how the website looks or functions?
    I’m going to lump these two together.
    1. In your (very short) post about the Four Uses of Money, you a.) told a true personal story complete with your feelings about the “wise man,” the “dinner” setting of the story, the man’s impoverished Virginian history; b.) updated the story with details about the real-life things the “wise man” is currently using his Financial Freedom for, and c.) you pointed us back to the best uses of Financial Freedom. Story, story, story– great story!

    But we’d love to hear more of YOUR viewpoint! Where were you eating? Your house? His house? A restaurant? In what city? Becky’s comment on that post implied that you were traveling. Set this story in the context of YOUR journey! People find journeys and travels so inspiring (I know I do!). Tie your real-life business trips and hobby trips to this greater journey toward Financial Freedom to Live the Life we Choose. No detail of any story is a waste of time if it will hook people or somehow remind them of their “personal legend” to borrow from Coehlo.

    2. I would say be a little more conspicuous in pointing the story back to the mission of this blog: Financial Freedom that enables us to achieve OTHER life goals! That doesn’t mean pasting a preachy, pedantic paragraph at the end of each post– no one would read that anyway. Little comments throughout the story or the summary of the story will be sufficient. Maybe the key to this is using your blog’s personal Language.

    This is your blog’s personal language or vocabulary: Financial Freedom Blueprint Free to Live the Life you Choose. Those seven capitalized words (which are well-chosen, btw) need to show up in some form in every post, scattered throughout the post and/or tied into one concise closing sentence. So with your last post: I liked the length and energy of your last line (“What a legacy! What a great use of money and time!”), but you should use your Blog’s Personal Language in that sentence. Something like: “What a legacy! This man fought for and won Financial Freedom and now gets to choose a life where he spends his time and money offering others freedom through life’s opportunities.” I don’t know. That’s not very concise, but I hope you get my sense. Consistently using that same seven-word vocabulary reminds us why we’re here (at your blog). The trick is to do it without pedantry.

    3. Pictures, I think. Not so sure about this one, but whoever said your blog lacks personality was right. I mean, just the way it looks. Maybe some pictures would help. Or slightly more color. It’s a bit monochromatic at the moment. And for the pictures, try to get meaningful, personal pictures– just like your written content. Don’t settle for Getty Images or whatever. So maybe this wasn’t even possible, but what if, for your last post, you had a picture of the “wise man” and you at the table and you’re listening to him share his most valuable asset– his experience and knowledge? Just that the more personal and true and relevant the pictures are, the more they will hook us. I know just the person to help you with this, I think. You share a bedroom with her. She is the picture queen in our family after all!

    Try to come up with a good pattern, like a picture for every four paragraphs of written content. So a very long post may have multiple pictures scattered throughout. A very short post may not have any. I don’t know if I’m barking up the right tree with this or not.

    What topics are you interested in?
    I’m interested in Mentoring! I’m also interested in the ways you are personally using Financial Freedom to Live out the Life you Choose. Be more personal if you can. You seem to travel more than the average person. Do you enjoy that? Are you currently Free to Live the Life you Choose or are you still on your journey to that point?

    SUPER LONG comment! Please feel free not to publish this. It’s up to you. Anytime I’ve done public speaking, my long-windedness has been my most frustrating weakness.

    Best of luck, brother!

    • Thanks brother! Long is good if you have something to say. All this feedback is valuable to me. Good point about tying back to theme of site. And of course, pictures and stories. Nearly everyone said more stories. Great, because I like stories. Now I need to learn how to tell an interesting story. I find it extremely useful to know what to work on next. I appreciate the time you took to think through this with me and to share!

Speak Your Mind