What Have I Gotten Myself Into? An Assessment of My First Month Blogging
I’ve noticed personal finance bloggers generally fall into 3 categories:
1) Stay-at-home moms
3) Frugal millennials
Since I can check off 2 of those boxes, I thought blogging would be easy.
I was wrong.
I have an undergrad degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. And while these degrees have certainly helped my career, I can now say with absolute certainty that the best post-secondary education is YouTube.
YouTube is the only reason I was able to create, design and post content to my blog. Those college degrees didn’t help one bit. In fact, they may have created an overconfidence that could only be overcome by getting instruction from a 12-year old.
I recently read another personal finance blogger’s first month report. I was amazed that she had gotten over 10,000 page views in her first month.
But I was thoroughly depressed after reading her report. And here’s why. I’m going to call it The Bad, The Good and The Ugly.
Blogging is a lot harder than it looks. Sure, I love to write and I love to design and designing the site from the ground up was lots of fun. But it’s not been without its challenges.
WordPress has a steep learning curve. What’s really sad is that as a former engineer, I took a year of code while getting my undergrad degree. So, in all actuality, I could easily be getting paid like 4 thousand dollars an hour to code, rather than getting paid like negative 12 cents per hour blogging.
What’s even sadder is that I know all about SEO. I have worked with people whose only job was to analyze Google Analytics. I’ve developed keyword maps. I’ve written meta descriptions. Etc.
But driving traffic to my own site? Now that’s been a challenge.
And social media? I live with 3 millennials, for Pete’s sake.
If anybody should understand the importance of social media, it’s someone who is forced by their own kids to make every picture Instagram worthy. No wonder Polaroid went bankrupt.
Before the blog, my only exposure to Twitter was a personal account where I followed one person. And it was the district school board. Because that was the fastest way to find out if the school buses were running during a snow storm.
So, the Twitter account of Dash2Retire started with 0 followers. I’m now up to 50. I could even get up to 51 followers, if I could convince the school board to follow me.
Designing the site? I went through 3 WordPress themes before I settled on one I liked, because I couldn’t get just the look I wanted. With each theme, I’d try to customize it by altering my own Additional CSS. I finally decided that if I waited for my site to look perfect, it would never get published.
I have at least figured out the difference in a widget and a plug-in.
My husband is getting tired of being my editor. While working as a technical writer, every content piece I wrote went through a rigorous editing process. First, with a subject-matter expert and then through the grammar police. Now, my only editor is my husband.
It’s actually pretty liberating coming from a place where every word must be perfect to a place where you just type whatever comes into your mind. Like I’m doing now, for instance.
Which brings us to The Good
Sensing my depression from The Bad (see above,) my husband asked me to remember why I started blogging.
Was it for the fame?
Was it for the glory?
Was it for the big bucks?
Are you serious?
I started blogging to have something to do with my time. Now that the kids are in high school, I’ve cut back significantly on my volunteering at the local elementary school. I used to serve over 1000 slices of pizza every Friday, tutor a couple of kids each week and go on lots of field trips. Anything from curling (got to get into the Canadian sports, eh?) to 5 different excursions to a groundwater festival.
I find learning about groundwater about as fascinating as watching paint dry. And after 5 trips, I actually knew more about groundwater than the organizers.
I started blogging because I enjoy writing, creating and have a passion for personal finance. Designing a website is fun, even with all of the technical challenges. I love to write. Before I went to engineering school, I was enrolled in journalism school and writing a blog reminds me of why I fell in love with creative writing in the first place.
And personal finance. I’ve been hooked on personal finance since the time my dad took me to a meeting with his tax preparer when I was 16.
A pretty boring meeting, but I was fascinated that taxes were so complicated you need someone called a tax preparer.
I started blogging because of my entrepreneurial spirit. It is so much better to report to only 1 person (me.) And although I can be demanding to work for, it’s great that I allow myself an hour off every day to eat lunch and watch Netflix.
I started blogging to show my 3 kids that you’re never to old to try something new. I wanted to show them that if you work hard at something, the payoff can be awesome. So far, there’s been no payoff. Just a lot of complaining.
I started blogging to find a community of like-minded people who also have a love of personal finance.
Special shout out to ESI Money. ESI was the first blogger I contacted just to have a look at my site. I chose ESI because his was the first blog I found when I googled financial independence. My husband and I have become big fans of his blog. I was pleasantly surprised when ESI checked out my blog and got back to me within a couple of hours with some encouragement.
Also thanks to Lily at the Frugal Gene. She was the first to share one of my posts to her 7 Million or so Twitter followers (slight exaggeration, but way more than my 50 followers.) And I get a real kick out of her comments on my blog.
My husband says that the personal finance blogging community seems to have an incestuous relationship because everyone comments on everyone else’s blog. I told him that was ridiculous because I haven’t actually met any other bloggers face to face. Of course, I have no idea what really happened at FinCon.
And Finally, The Ugly (aka The Numbers, The Very Depressing Numbers)
Visits to site – Average 40 per day
Demographics – Evenly split between America and Canada. Makes sense since I’m Americanadian (pronounced A Merry Canadian.)
Signups to Mail Campaign – 12
Twitter Followers – 51 (I convinced the school board to follow me.)
Post Popularity – A friend in retail once told me that trying to gauge what people will buy is a crapshoot. I believe it is because my favorite posts (Single-Payer Healthcare – Painful or Painless and Will Our Housing Bubble Burst?) didn’t garner much attention.
But the post Got Teen Boys? It’s Gonna Cost You! really seemed to resonate.
I got a few comments and several personal e-mails. I clearly underestimated the impact teen boys!