I finally did it. I told my mom I had a blog, and it was called The Dumpster Dog Blog. In the silence that awaited me on the other side of that statement, I could have taken a trip to Mars and back. And had my oil changed. And watched every episode of GoT. But I got through it—one of the teeth-grittier moments of the last year. (I received a similar reaction from my beloved mental health professional. Look at me now, doc!!)
But now, she understands. For me, it could never have been something pink or femme or #girlboss. These presentations are just fine, but totally not “me.” More importantly, it’s not the woman that would appreciate the way I communicate: Women who are sick of living by men’s rules, but who aren’t sold on store-bought feminism; women who are imperfect and scrappy, women who are navigating that infinite grey area between successful adulthood and lingering immaturity, women who just wanna thrive and have fun but also who want to get their shit together—but never made to feel bad about their past mistakes.
I wanted to write for, ya know, fellow Dumpster Dogs!! (One of my favorite things has been people who have sent stories of their own Dumpster Doggin’. I’ll compile at some point—keep ‘em coming, ladies!!)
A year ago, at this time, I was prepping to launch this bad bloggy, nervous and with an impressively minimal understanding of what I was getting into. I had a million elaborate reasons not to do it; but spend four minutes probing into those lil’ shit nugget excuses and you discover it’s really just fear: Mostly fear that I’m not a good enough writer and that people don’t give a shit what I have to say. And I AM HAPPY TO REPORT THAT I AM CURED!!! EVERYONE LOVES ME, EVERY PERSON’S EVERY BREATH HANGS ON MY EVERY WORD!!! Ha. Not. Those fears have gone nowhere. But I’ve accepted that for as long as I’m “putting myself out there,” those fears will be stuck on me; unwelcome, unavoidable gremlins like the occasional, stiff black hairs that sprout from the weird mole on my face. (Life is strange.)
I’ve been reticent to cook up a “Year in Review” type of post because I worry when the blog borders on “too much about me,” and “not enough about you,” but to hell with it!! It’s my strange little monster and she ain’t much but she is MINE. If you’re not interested in gettin’ to know the dog inside the dumpster, no need to read forth! This is a highly personal (and kinda boring, TBH) post, which won’t be for everyone!
For those of you that care to know more about my journey, I’ll share a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes: The highs and lows of blogging (and everything in-between)!
HIGH: I LIKE BLOGGING!!!
After months of being a stubborn wench about blogging, I’ve found that it’s nice to write something short(ish), smash that publish button, and move on w/ my life. And though it’s a trudge over mountains and through valleys, I have to remind myself that liking the work is what’s important.
And I’m really proud of some of my favorite posts!
LOW: BUT BLOGGING CAN STILL KINDA SUCK DICK
But bloggin’ ain’t all daisies, yo!! This year, I’ve written over 40 entries; this doesn’t include the freelance work I’m actually paid for. That’s a whole lotta work fo’ freesies. It would be no problem if I genuinely thought that people loved it, but I don’t always feel that way. (This is not Your Problem, it’s mine; currently working thru it!)
Example: I have pop-ups on a handful of my articles, where I ask you to sign up for my newsletter. The other day, someone wrote in “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Kinda hilarious, I guess, once I got past the hurt. But like, COME ON. I have no ads, I’m not here to slimeball sell you something I wouldn’t use. I’m dedicating a lot of myself and my time to helping young women, but I also can’t continue on if I can’t build a following. That’s how this shit works, people. I love my readers except fuck that guy.
PURGATORY: DEATH BY 1,000 WIDGETS
With less than zero experience, building the website was a painful task. For several months, my life was dedicated to fixing technical glitches. I could feel my eyes glaze over in real-time.
(Don’t even get me started on SEO. I’m learning!)
Freelancers/friends with beautiful blogs: I’d like someone to come and clean up the 1990s, hodgepodge, Clarissa Explains It All aesthetic on my site—if you’d like some side work, hit my ass up!
LOW: PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO READ ABOUT MY AREA OF EXPERTISE
YOU LIL BUTTHEADS!!! I guess I could have predicted people would like the personal and fun stuff over the posts about investing, but I got into this biz to teach the technical stuff! I’m going to keep working on finding the balance between giving people what they want and giving ‘em what they need.
Cause that’s what your crazy blogger auntie does. *kisses you on forehead*
HIGH: SPEAKING WORK
The speaking has gone really well, better than the blogging. (I think.) Forcing everyone into a room where they have NO CHOICE but to listen to me is just SO powerful!! When people can’t escape me, I truly thrive.
The response to my Invested Development presentations has been thrilling. While I don’t have plans to stop blogging, I’ll definitely be pursuing speaking work like the thirsty performance artist I am.
Get your company to bring me in! Your company probably has a budget for these types of things, especially if you have any sort of women’s leadership panel. Or, consider Invested Development for your favorite women’s group or league, or even better—your group of friends! In my ideal world, I’d show up to someone’s house on a dreary Tuesday evening, we’d all have red wine and light candles, and I’d teach you and your best buds about investing for FAR less money per head than a financial planner or financial consultation. Send me an email at AmandaHoldenInvesting@gmail.com for more info!
COCAINE HIGH: DUMPSTER DOG LOVE
My biggest post of the year was my original Dumpster Dog story. I had a feeling about the story’s allure (ha), but even I was surprised at the amazing reaction. Thank you, friends.
POPSUGAR syndicating the piece felt like railing a line of fairy dust. It was my first-ever “published” piece, and I won’t soon forget that feeling of seeing something I wrote on a site that gets 2.5 billion views per month.
WEIRD SPACE IN-BETWEEN: BRITISH TABLOIDS
The Dumpster Dog origin story was picked up by The Daily Mail and three other British “newspapers” (they’re tabloids) in what was my biggest brush with fame to date.
The Daily Mail came first, the story loaded with blurry truths and misquotes. Then came the following three, and they were all equally as terrible. I let go of expectations and took a very “Well what the hell did you expect, Dumpster Dog??” view and now I love them. The headlines are truly glorious.
LOW: SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES ME WEEP
The other day, an old friend who’s a whiz at social media asked me to describe my Instagram strategy. My response? “Uuuuhhhhhmm mmmmmmmm, just be myself? And make people laugh? And try to educate them?!!!” To which he responded, “NO. Your only strategy with Instagram is to curate a life people are jealous of, even if they don’t realize they’re jealous of it. Then people will read what you write.”
The sad thing? He’s probably right, at least partly. (Helllllo, Twitter!!)
Hey, ladies, first of all, know that I’m certainly no angel, no paragon of social media humility. But this brand of self-promotion is an internal struggle for me. I’m doing all of this because I want to educate young women on how to be smart with their money. Making people yearn for what they don’t have is the LAST THING I wanna do, professionally and personally. I know what it’s like to be jealous of other women on social media. Fuck, I tee up an Andre the Giant-sized bag of popcorn ready just to scroll through Instagram’s endless feed of women dressed up for weddings while posing with their hot husbands or new moms holding a fresh-baked apple pie in one hand and a monogrammed baby in the other (while wearing heels). For why?
I’m going to focus on the opportunity social media provides to build a community and try not to get too caught up in the rest. And post with more regularity. (I’m a grandma millennial, bear with me!)
HIGH: GETTING PUBLISHED
When I started this journey, I had no idea what it would take to get written work published. Since then, I have written over a dozen published articles and been paid to write over 20 pieces. It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about could-be-better blog stats, but this is an accomplishment!
AND I managed to talk about g-strings on the podcast that was voted the Best Business Podcast of 2016, so that’s a pretty neat! Thank you Stacking Benjamins, for giving me a shot!
BOTH HIGH AND LOW: STOCK IMAGES
For many freelancing articles and even at times for my own blog, I must slog through databases for free stock images. And if you’ve never perused one of these sites, allow me to fill you in: stock images are the absolute dumbest. Sifting through generic photo after generic photo reminisces the tedium of pulling weeds UNTIL you stumble across one that’s so ridiculous it feels like finding a secret treasure.
Like this one:
SUPER DUPER HIGH: THE PERSONAL FINANCE COMMUNITY
Specifically, my fellow millennial women personal finance bloggers. They’re soft beautiful bunny rabbits, every single one of them, and I want to squeeze them until they explode. Connecting with them has been a highlight of the year, and I’m so grateful for the genuine support this community provides. And meeting some of my faves IRL? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee! (Getting nominated for Funniest Personal Finance Blog of the year by our industry awards was pretty damn cool too!)
Because you should all have access to all the best goods of the year—not just mine—I’m compiling a list of my favorite articles, blogs, podcasts, and books, and I’ll put that out soon!
HIGHEST OF HIGHS: ALL OF YOU!
I’ve been so lucky to have such amazing readers, most of whom have said really nice things to me. Those comments, and just knowing people are enjoying and learning from my work, fuels me and keeps me going. (Also, all of you are hilarious.)
Here’s to another year!! Please let me know what I can do to be of better service to you. Never forget, I’m here for you.
I love you, fellow Doggies! You make it all possible!! And happy holidays!! xo