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Today I’m summing up my experience from the past six months of blogging. There will be a Q & A at the end with some information that may be helpful to current or aspiring bloggers.
Towards the last quarter of 2017, I felt the need to start something new.
It was time to do something other than the status quo.
Summer had ended, a contract position was in the books, and I was still in the midst of searching for my next 9-to-5.
Back in 2014, I thought about starting a blog. I never settled on a name, so it just didn’t happen. Those names can be tricky.
Fast forward to 2017, after seeking out a productive way to spend my days, I took the leap.
My husband was 100% supportive (like he always is).
We both relished in the fact that I would be working on something productive and learning new skills in the process.
I was practical and realistic in terms of blogging – therefore, I never set any expectations.
Fulltimedollars.com went live on September 18, 2017.
It became my online space about personal finance – my favorite subject.
I wanted to let EVERYONE in on how they could set their life “ON FIRE”.
Where money is not a prime factor in making life’s decisions!
Other bloggers may be able to relate, but it’s the thought that if you shared your journey – someway, somehow it could change someone else’s life.
That’s why I changed my message from 100% FI/RE to a redefined life away from the 9-to-5.
In this case, the goal is financial freedom with the power to work on what you want, when you want.
My time away from work helped me come to this realization. I needed to find work that would make me happy, and my goal is to inspire readers to do the same.
Whatever that is for you, find your happy place.
From someone that has worked for everything they have – I know it’s hard, but it’s SUPER POSSIBLE, especially here in the land of opportunity.
The Future Of Full-Time Dollars
I didn’t have a plan for the blog.
It’s unlike me – since I’m a planner at heart.
I had visions in my mind that I might get a visitor here or there.
Someday I could chalk it up to a resting place for 1,000 of my articles.
My vision of blogging hasn’t changed much during this time, but there are a few things that have.
These past few months, I learned that I knew very little about the BTS of operating a blog.
Blogging became all-consuming.
Mainly, there was no balance. I gave myself the okay to slip into a “blogging coma” where it was okay to spend endless hours pouring all my time and energy into the blog.
I was either editing my articles for the 20th time, spending countless hours drafting up a new one, or sitting here staring at the screen determining how to proceed with what I had just read off a help guide.
Did I mention I’m somewhat of a perfectionist? 🙂
It was important to me that I presented a professional-looking website. Visually appealing, easily readable, organized, cohesive – among other things.
This meant that I had to invest in my blog, even if I didn’t have plans of monetizing.
Even if it meant that I would never make money from the blog.
A few weeks ago, I assessed the situation.
Spending too much time on the website. Check
Getting lax on the job search. Check
Sleeping too late. Check
You may not notice from the number of articles that have been published, but I was always tinkering with something.
Undoubtedly, it seemed like there was always something to learn or fix.
Also, there were circumstances that really took the fun out of blogging for me. I’ll get into that later!
Although I am incredibly grateful for the progress that I have made in the past 6 months – I realize I have a life here in which I want to be present.
Here are a couple things I have taken to heart on this journey.
#1 – Blogging is long-term for me. This is just the beginning, so there’s no rush for me to push out content. As I mentioned early on, I would still be writing even if no one was reading. Though, the goal has always been to build a community of readers.
#2 – Ignore the noise. In an online environment where identities are obscured, you see much more negativity, judgment, and controversy. It’s hard not to notice on social media or on other blogs.
I made this below visual early on for Insta, so I’m going to share it here now to accentuate my point. 🙂
Let’s Do A Quick Q & A
#1 – What are your most popular articles?
aka. list-based articles.
The articles I spend tons of time on don’t get as much exposure as some of the listicles that I draft on my phone.
Love them or hate them, it’s the reality.
Don’t get me wrong. It also depends greatly on where you are getting your traffic.
From what I have learned, the PF community is not a fan of listicles, while on Pinterest, list-based articles are preferable. I try to balance different audiences, but either way, I try to frame everything to be helpful.
#2 – What has your traffic been for the past 6 months?
I didn’t have GA early on – other than Jetpack, but it was maybe 5-10 people a day.
Traffic started to pick up when I got added to the Rockstar Finance directory.
Still, I had many early days where I topped out at 18-20 visitors.
These days, most of my traffic comes from social, direct, and referral.
So far, organic is improving month over month – which is AWESOME to see.
Pinterest continues to be my biggest referrer. In the past 4 months, it has varied between 4k – 10k/month.
Early on, I was getting the sense that Pinterest was a good place to get traffic so I pursued that route. It doesn’t hurt that I love being creative.
Please understand that with any platform, the traffic can change when social media and search algorithms are updated. It’s always good to look for various avenues and not rely on one single mode for traffic.
#3 – How do you get traffic from Pinterest?
I use a combo of pinning services, manual pinning, and group boards.
Pinning service: Tailwind/(Tailwind Tribes).
Manual pinning: It’s mainly when I have time, but generally it’s during the evening. I manually pin from my main boards to boards I created and/or group boards. It takes ~10 minutes max.
Group boards: There are a few group boards that do better than others. I try to pin more consistently to those boards. There are some boards that are stagnant, therefore I leave them out of the automatic pinning schedule entirely and only pin to them manually.
#4 – The inevitable question – Money?
I want my experience to be as organic as possible. I didn’t start this venture in order to make money. It was meant to be a creative outlet, a way for me to meet like-minded people, and a finance + lifestyle resource.
It’s all still a learning process for me, therefore, I have opted to promote services that are relevant to my message and that I personally use or would recommend.
So, if you are curious as to the money situation – I have made money. Right now, it doesn’t nearly cover the costs of operating the website.
Definitely, if your prime goal is to make money from blogging, it’s possible. If you understand that blogging is not a “get rich quick” scheme, that’s a good start.
#5 – What do you recommend in terms of blogging services?
I can only recommend what I have used and have actually enjoyed using.
Seva (formerly ConvertKit): This service is used to build a subscriber base. I tried free versions and they just weren’t visually appealing. You can definitely get by without having to make an email service purchase, but if you are looking for a paid product, this is my rec. It’s somewhat of a headscratcher for a newbie to learn at first, but then once everything is in place, it’s seamless.
Here are some of the opt-in boxes:
Get Instant Access To Your Action Plan Worksheets
Join the newsletter
Want a new & improved way to rock your money?
Get a preview of the "Budget + Tracking" Spreadsheet that makes you want to budget!
Learn more here.
Check out Seva here.
Tailwind: I use this service to schedule my pins and other blogger’s pins through the use of “Tailwind Tribes”. This is a great way to get your pin out there to be shared with a whole new community of bloggers. Each week, I go through and either reshare the pins (If I find one I like, I repin it over and over) or find new ones to schedule. It takes ~30 minutes.
Get a free month to use Tailwind here.
#6 – What FREE resources have you used to get a better understanding of blogging?
Read articles on blogging and join relevant Facebook groups. There are tons of free resources out there. Also, I took a free Pinterest beginner course through Melyssa Griffin to get started and it was helpful. I learned the importance of rich pins, setting up a profile, and clearing up my overall message.
#7 – What are the BEST things about blogging for you?
• Receiving thoughtful comments (I respond to ALL non-spam comments. If you take the time to type something up, I’m going to reply!).
• Having people that actually read my content!
• Getting to use my creative side through Pinterest. I love color – can you tell?!
• Connecting with people that I normally wouldn’t cross paths with.
#8 – What are the WORST things about blogging for you?
I.T. problems and Pinterest pin swipers.
If you are on Pinterest at all, it’s always good to check that your pins are pointing to your domain and not another URL.
An easy way to do this is to search for your keywords. For example, I would go to the search bar, type “financial freedom”, “early retirement”, “how to save money” – so on and so forth.
If I see one of my pins, I hover over it.
It should have my URL – fulltimedollars.com.
If it doesn’t, I file a report with Pinterest to have it removed.
The process normally takes a couple weeks to clear up, so check periodically.
So far, I have had about 40 pins that I have had to send in for removal.
Also, I always make sure any pins I save from other bloggers have their URL and not a random, fishy one. It only takes an extra few seconds to compare the domain typed on the pin to the URL. I don’t ever want my followers to click on a bad link.
As you can see, there is more GOOD than bad when it comes to blogging.
#9 – What is your focus when writing a blog post?
• Doing things my way, despite what the trends advise. I could easily get sucked into writing articles that do well on one platform, but I’m not going to do 100 variations of the same articles.
• Number of words >1,000 per article. Since I am writing less content, it’s important for me to write longer articles that provide value. Many of my articles are >2,000 words.
• The title is relevant to the content. I’m not going to make off-the-wall names that have no relevance to what I’m actually writing. Example: If I used this title for my 6-month update: Tortoise and the Hare: The Then and Now (Say wha?)
• Keyword ranking. I want to write about what people are searching for. If I am going to do that, I need to do my research. Currently, I use KWFinder to do this.
#10 – What advice do you have for newbie bloggers?
Strive for engaged readers, quality over quantity, write about what people want to read, be authentic, and try a lot of things to see what works for YOU.
#11 – On a scale of 1-10, how difficult is blogging?
Seven. There’s a lot that goes into blogging. Research, writing, editing, visuals, promoting. It may seem like you are always on an endless production wheel.
Don’t let this deter you from blogging though. You can always try it and see if it works for you. It’s been 100% worth it for me.
I will take this time to add a running list of all the people behind these websites that have come by and commented. Check them out!!
- Dividends Diversify
- Peerless Money Mentor
- Simplistic Steph
- Four Pillar Freedom
- Smile & Conquer
- Time In The Market
- Mr. Freaky Frugal
- Defined Sight
- Mr. Robot
- Retiring On My Terms
- Damn Millennial
Also, to the folks without websites, so many thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion! 🙂
This rounds it out for this blogging update. I hope you enjoyed it as much I had fun putting it together. If you have any questions I didn’t cover, feel free to contact me here.
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Fellow bloggers, what is the biggest lesson you have learned since you have started blogging? Readers, if you are looking to start a blog, what are your concerns?