Fritz Gilbert from “The Retirement Manifesto” was a recipient of a 2018 Plutus Award. Now, a year later, we catch up with him about his latest cross-country road trip, what readers really respond to, and how he plans to return to writing after a three-month sabbatical.
1. Can you tell us about your blog and what Plutus Award you won?
My blog is “The Retirement Manifesto,” which won the “Best Retirement Blog” award in 2018. The blog focuses on our journey to — and through — early retirement, with an emphasis on “Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement.”
2. How did you feel when you won the award, knowing it was from your peers?
Winning The Plutus Award has been one of the most significant achievements in my blogging career. As any blogger knows, honest feedback is a treasure, and there’s nothing better than positive feedback from your peers confirming that your writing is hitting the right chord.
3. What have you been up to in the past year; are you still doing the same blog? Have you decided to focus on anything in particular this past year or have you changed course in any way?
I retired in June 2018, and have been enjoying our retirement to the fullest! This summer, my wife and I have traveled 8,000 miles cross-country in our RV with our four dogs in a trip I’ve designated #TheGreatAmericanRoadTrip. Having the freedom to slowly travel across the USA is a dream come true.
For the past four years, I’ve written weekly on my blog. In order to fully enjoy our road trip, I chose to take my first-ever sabbatical. It’s been an interesting change, and I look forward to resuming my writing when we return to Georgia this fall.
4. Have there been any topics you’ve covered/are planning to cover that people have really responded to? Why do you think that is?
The biggest surprise to me as we moved toward early retirement was how money becomes LESS important as you approach FIRE. My life — and my writing — have reflected the shift toward “the softer side” of retirement planning, which focuses on things like purpose in retirement. The response has been overwhelming, and it seems this focus on the things that REALLY matter is a reality that most folks go through as they make the transition into retirement.
5. Do you make stepping away every now and then a priority? What do you do to recharge?
For the first four years of my blog, I wrote every single week. Never missed. It was grueling but rewarding. For the first time ever, I decided to take a true sabbatical from writing this summer in conjunction with our Great American Road Trip.
I have every intention of returning to regular writing when we complete our trip, and am curious about how my writing will be impacted by the three-month sabbatical. Throughout the trip, I’ve been keeping bullet lists on my phone of things that have come to mind for future blog posts, and I look forward to digging into them when I’m back at our retirement cabin in the Appalachian Mountains.
6. What advice would you give someone looking to start their own blog?
I enjoy mentoring bloggers, and regularly give advice to those attempting to grow their blogs. In “What I’ve Learned In 4 Years Of Blogging,” I summarize my top tips:
- Motivation matters: Find a deeper purpose for writing beyond “making money.”
- Focus on creating great content.
- Make the reader the focus of your writing.
- Enjoy the social network of our community.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Have fun.
7. What do you consider your greatest achievement outside of “The Retirement Manifesto”?
Let’s face it, our blogs aren’t really all that important in the greater scheme of things. Keep things in perspective, and focus on things that matter. In my case, I’m proudest of the fact that I always focused on keeping my family first, and was able to avoid getting caught up in the materialism that derails so many folks in our country.
Knowing that I was able to retire early and build a life of financial independence means more to me than anything that I’ll ever accomplish with my blog. It’s a Tuesday, and I’m writing these words from an RV in Olympia, Washington. I’m proud of the reality that I’ll never have to worry about work again.
Thank you for sharing with us, Fritz!