6 Questions Answered After 6 Months of Blogging

Michael QuanEducation, Habits, How to, Misc23 Comments

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Time certainly flies when you’re having fun.  I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I first started Financially Alert!  It’s been satisfying, challenging, and fun along the entire way.

To commemorate my 6 month blogiversary, I thought I’d share with you…  

6 Questions Answered After 6 Months of Blogging.

*If you’re new to blogging, or even if you’re seasoned, I hope these answers will help you in some way.

1. How will I get people to come to my blog and where will they come from?

Ah, so this is the critical question that every blogger asks from Day 1.  What a valid and important question!  I had NO clue.  In fact, like many bloggers that start out, I was literally writing to myself.

I started the site on June 1, 2015.  After a month and a half, I began to learn and explore other personal finance blogs that are out there.  I wish I had done this earlier, but better late than never.  There are tons of us (PF bloggers) out there sharing our own unique stories and trying to help others build a life of financial freedom.

Best Places to Find Other PF Bloggers

Wisebread –  Top Personal Finance Blogs ranked by social media, moz, Alexa, Facebook, back links, etc.

Rockstar Finance – PF content aggregator – J$ selects the best PF posts and also creates categorized lists to organize the PF community of sites.

Modest Money – Maintains a Top Finance Blogs list (500+!), Rankings by Traffic, Social, & SEO.

Other PF Blogs – Pay attention to the Comment Section after a post.  Many commentators are other PF bloggers and most will leave a link back to their blog.

As I began commenting on other PF bloggers sites, I started to see a small trickle of traffic coming from other PF sites.  Boy, was I excited!  I could easily double and triple my daily traffic by simply commenting.  However, there still weren’t any comments on my site which left me a bit disheartened.

Nevertheless, I stuck with it and finally had my first comment (from GenYFinanceGuy) come in at the tail end of September (almost 3.5 months into it!).  Slowly I began to see more and more comments come in and it’s wonderful to be able to interact with readers and fellow PF Bloggers.

Finally, I occasionally submit articles to RockStar Finance which is a PF Blog content aggregator of awesome content and run by Budgets Are Sexy creator, J$!!  If you get something accepted, get ready to see your traffic spike through the roof (see my analytics chart below).

Social Media

Twitter

As a former IT company owner, it’s a bit ironic that I never used Twitter before.  But, I finally jumped in and started tweeting to the world a few months ago.  I’ve slowly started gaining followers and currently up to 160+.

What I like best about Twitter is that it’s short and sweet.  For people like me that can get a bit long winded when saying something it’s a bit refreshing to have to say something nice and succinctly in 160 characters.

I also love interacting with other PF bloggers who are nice enough to help re-tweet things for me, and I try to do the same.  Anyhow, I’ve started to see a small but steady stream of traffic from Twitter, so I’ll keep staying active (which for me is about 4-5 tweets per day).


If you haven’t yet, please add me and I’ll add you back!

Facebook

I also started a Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/financiallyalert101

However, I really haven’t figured out how to leverage this yet or drive traffic to or from it.

The Stats

As you’ll see, blogging is truly a passion project.  Results are slow (at least for most of us), but they will come eventually.

G Analytics RSF

This is a snapshot of the last 6 months just to give you some perspective.  As you can see, crickets for at least 4-5 months!  Traffic only started picking up at the tail end of October once I had How to Knockout Financial Clutter for Good featured on Rockstar Finance.

G Analytics - June (Month 1)

Here’s my very first month of traffic.  Pretty much nada!  Over half the users were spam bots and the other half were my 2 friends, and probably me.  Again, I had no clue what I was doing in the beginning, but at least I knew my strategy had to change.

I believe it was during the second month that I finally decided to make the blog the front page and started finding other PF bloggers online.

G Analytics - Nov

Fast forward 6 months (Nov. 2015), you can see I’ve finally picked up some steady traffic which is a big win for me!  Of course I realize I’m just scratching the surface, but progress keeps me motivated.

As noted earlier, traffic is primarily coming from other PF blogs, Rockstar Finance, Twitter, and some occasional Google searches.  I’m definitely going to keep trying to push the momentum and it’ll be interesting to compare where traffic is at the one year mark!

2. How much of my story will I actually share?

I definitely had some reservations about sharing my financials publicly, but I thought about it hard and long.  I figure the rewards (for others and myself) outweigh the risks.  So, in November, I disclosed my net worth and will discuss it in full detail each month going forward.

Going all in and sharing my net worth has definitely piqued interest and landed me a spot on Rockstar Finance’s Ultimate List of Blogger’s Net Worth Page.

My decision was ultimately driven by my desire to help others.  I realize that the bloggers that really expose themselves fully are the ones that I truly resonate with.  So, I’m doing my best to follow good company in that manner.

3. What will I be doing in 6 months, that I used to think was impossible?  

Since I’m primarily working on this site after hours, I always knew time would be a factor.  So, I made a commitment to myself to write a post at least once per week.  I was able to accomplish that rhythm, but barely.  I didn’t think I had anymore time.

But, then along came the Yakezie Challenge created by Sam over at Financial Samurai.

The Yakezie Challenge really kicked my butt and challenged me to produce more content.  So I doubled my output to publish content at least twice per week.  In the beginning I had trouble just getting one post out there a week, but I’ve slowly been developing a rhythm and even working to create a backlog to pull from when I’ve got writer’s block.

Some credit and thanks back to Dom at GenYFinanceGuy who is several months ahead of me with his blog.  He’s definitely found some success growing his site, and he continually gives me tips for being more efficient and where to focus my time.

4. What are my favorite (free) tools that I will use to make my life easier?

http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer – Helps you to analyze your post headline and grades it based on word types, syntax, and other factors

http://www.pixabay.com – Tons of royalty free images to use on your site with no attribution required

http://www.buffer.com –  A tool to help push your tweets out on a specific schedule.  If you’re just getting started with Twitter, I’d probably suggest tweeting manually for a while just to get acclimated.

http://www.feedly.com – As I started to read a lot of other finance blogs, my inbox started to explode with newsletter and new post emails.  It eventually became unmanageable, so I turned here to consolidate and categorize my RSS news feeds into one place.  I use the app – newsify on my iPhone to read through new articles

http://www.sumome.com – This really cool wordpress plugin has several cool apps built-in to it. I like the newsletter app because it actually got me my first subscribers!  They also have heat maps which allow you to see where readers are clicking on your web pages specifically.  This is helpful to know so I can remove unclicked features and enhance areas that are getting the most attention.

I could probably go on and on, but these are the few that stand out most.  Perhaps I’ll do a separate post later about the rest of them.

5. Will I be able to monetize the blog in just 6 Months?

Monetizing the blog is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, I like keeping my site clutter free and minimal in distractions from my content.  However, I’m also very interested in testing out the possibility of building a sustainable stream of revenue over time and as traffic increases.

I recently decided to add in my first affiliate links just a month ago.  This allows me to recommend services like Personal Capital which I would do anyways, but also allows me to pick up a little referral bonus if someone signs up after clicking through from my site.


Flex Offers

I signed up with Flex Offers based on Dom’s recommendation.  So far I’ve made $157 in November.  We’ll see what kind of activity happens going forward.

Amazon Associates

I also setup an Amazon affiliate account a few months ago and was literally about to get shut down for no activity.  Luckily How to Knock Out Financial Cutter for Good got some attention and that traffic lead to my first affiliate income… woo hoo!  I also got a small referral fee from a kindle book purchase.

Currently I only have a couple of links actively pointing to Amazon (one recommending the scanner I use) on How to Knock Out Financial Cutter for Good and the book, Unlimited Power, by Tony Robbins on my About page.

Gadsense

Lastly, I added a couple of Google Adsense spots on the side bar and bottom.  No one has clicked through yet, but you get some nominal rewards for simply showing the add to your audience.  As you can see this just started mid way last month, so $1.80 it is so far!

In the end, I’ve decided that advertising in this manner is acceptable to me as people don’t have to click on anything they don’t want to and it’s not super distracting.  I have decided however to never “sell out” and push products or services which I wouldn’t use myself.  Of course this is primarily an integrity check with myself, but I’m confident I can hold my standards.

Obviously in order to make any substantial revenue, I will need to grow my traffic a lot.  So, this is the primary focus with a couple of ads thrown in to test the waters.

6. What’s the Best Advice I Have For New Bloggers After 6 Months?

Get Started

My best advice if you’re just considering starting a personal finance blog is – just do it!  I used to think that the space was too crowded, but I’ve come to realize that it’s really not.  The personal finance community is full of everyone’s unique life story and perspectives.  You can find pretty much anything to suit your tastes, and remember your story and opinions are just as important!

Get Setup with Minimal Cost

Costs are minimal to get started and you can write in your spare time.  I signed with Hostgator because they are ridiculously low-priced and easy to set up.  Anyhow, I use them to host all of my current websites.  Ultimately if my blog gets too much traffic, I may switch to another provider, but for now it’s been rock solid and I can’t complain.

Anyhow, if you’re interested in using them for your hosting provider, you can use promo code:  SNAPPY to get it even cheaper.  You can find them here (<— fyi, affiliate link, but again I wouldn’t suggest them if I didn’t trust them myself).

hostgator-1-click

I’m a bit partial to using WordPress, but there are other platforms you can use as well.  Hostgator supports most all of them and has 1-click easy installs.

Create a Blogging Schedule

Once you start blogging, try to set up some sort of schedule that you can keep to.  I’d target twice per week if possible.  Don’t worry about the content that much in the beginning, just work on getting something out there.  Chances are no one will start reading your blog until you start actively marketing or engaging in the community, so no need to be self-conscious.  Simply be yourself.

Write For Yourself First

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of traffic in the beginning (remember my traffic chart?), you can treat the blog as your own personal finance journal which has its own rewards even without an audience.

Consider your blog a public declaration of habits you will change for the better!  Use it to track your financial metrics and watch your own progress as you cut expenses, chop down debt, and increase savings.

Join the Community

Finally, just another reminder that there’s an entire personal finance community out here that is incredibly supportive and helpful.  If you need help, you simply need to ask.

There’s no need to ask permission to join the PF community.  Just get out there and start sharing, commenting, and contributing the best of you.  If you can do that consistently, the rest will fall into place.


Conclusion

Still here?  You are awesome!  🙂

Want to know a secret?  Financially Alert didn’t start out as a blog.  It was actually a website built around my aspirations of becoming a financial coach.  The blog was just a small subsection of the site initially.

While I still have a goal to coach others, I realized the idea was a bit premature back then.  So, I shifted strategies and made the blog the entire focus of this site (with the coaching a small subsection).

I realized that a focused blog would help me to create an online presence, build trust with followers, and someday convert some of you into clients (I’ve already been getting inquiries which is exciting!).

Anyhow, I’m certainly glad I pivoted and changed strategies.  My goal is to serve you as best I can with full transparency.

Life is short.

Let’s work together on improving both our minds and our money.  Let’s live a life of gratitude for all the blessings we currently have.  And, finally let’s strive everyday to find freedom, happiness, and purpose.

fire-549103_1280

Upwards and onward to FIRE and beyond!  I can’t wait to see what the next 6 months will bring…

 

Readers, how can I better serve you?  Do you have any advice to help my blog become better in the next 6 months?  What other topics would you like to learn about and discuss at Financially Alert?

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23 Comments on “6 Questions Answered After 6 Months of Blogging”

  1. Great insights here Mike! You break it down really well and this will be a post I’ll have to come back to and read several times to soak up all of the value here

    Well done on the flex offers as well!

    1. Thanks Jef. It’s certainly an ongoing process of learning and evolving. I look forward to sharing my new distinctions at my year one anniversary! 🙂

  2. Awesome post! It definitely seems like you’ve learned a lot, and in this post especially are teaching a lot to others about personal finance. Keep up the good work!

  3. Yes, I read the entire article because I too am looking for good tips on getting my blog noticed, and you have give some really practical tips here, none of the general stuff like, ‘more marketing please!’. Upon your suggestion, I submitted my first article to Rock Star Finance. So thank you!!

  4. Love this stuff. Found your blog through Gen Y. Welcome to the PF community and I am still trying to figure out a lot of this stuff (and have been doing this for over a year). Cheers. Look forward to reading more.

  5. Congrats on 6 months and thanks for being so transparent, it will help a lot of readers. I’ve been able to build my followers a bit quicker so here are some suggestions.

    Things you’re doing right:
    – Blogging twice a week
    – Creating great content
    – Commenting on other blogs, getting to know other PF bloggers
    – Using co-schedule and pixabay
    – Using FlexOffers – I have not done this but it looks very interesting – thanks for sharing!

    More things you can do:
    – Build more twitter followers, you have about 165, I have over 24,000. Consider using Crowdfire to build them, here’s an article I wrote that tells you how:
    http://www.weretiredearly.com/Blog/2015/11/14/why-its-important-to-have-twitter-followers-and-how-to-get-them/

    – Make sure each blog post is SEO optimized. I use a WordPress plug-in for this called Yoast SEO, here’s an article I wrote that tells you how:
    http://www.weretiredearly.com/Blog/2015/09/28/wordpress-seo-tips-for-google/

    – Tweet more often, once an hour between the hours of 6 am and 11 pm. You can automate this using a free tool called ViralContentBuzz. It allows you to find good content to tweet and you can schedule it.

    – Repurpose your blogs on sites like Medium and Niume. I get lots of referral traffic from those repurposed blogs.

    – Do some guest blog posts

    – Invite other PF bloggers for an interview on your site (I know you just started doing that). Similarly, see if you can be featured on other people’s site in an interview

    – Contact some authors of financial books and pitch them on giving away their electronic book to a certain number of people. When you blog, let people enter that sweepstake. I have a personal friend that wrote a great financial book called How to Retire Early (Robert Charlton), he may be open to this. Other will surely be open to it because it drives eyes to their book.

    I hope this helps.

    1. Wow, this is super helpful. Thanks Steve!

      I’ll definitely checkout Medium and Niume. I hadn’t considered re-purposing like this, but it makes sense. I also like your idea to contact some authors of financial books.

      I am using the Yoast plugin for SEO, but I’m sure there’s more I can do to optimize beyond the basics.

      And LOVE the twitter ideas!! It’s incredible how many followers you have. 🙂 I definitely need to checkout viralcontentbuzz.

      1. I use Crowdfire to gain Twitter followers. The Crowdfire team heard about my success and is preparing a case study that showcases my effort there. I created a Youtube video for the case study, you can see it here if interested:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX-K20DzYFc.

        They are doing a Skype interview with me next week, not sure when they will actually post the case study.

  6. Happy 6 month blogiversary, Michael! Thanks for sharing your experiences and lessons along the way. There’s always more to learn!

  7. Great post, Michael. Thanks for sharing. I like number 3 and 4. For number 3, (and in general) how did/do you come up with enough ideas to write about? On number 4, I appreciate the free stock photos site. I seem to get trapped every time I search for them.

    1. For number 3, I never really had a shortage of things to write about, rather a shortage of time to write them. I like to keep a list of possible post articles in evernote so I can instantly access it whenever and wherever I’m inspired. Inspiration comes in many forms, free thought, reading books, reading other PF content, playing with my kids, or hanging out with friends or family. How about you Nick?

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