I’ve been a lurker in the personal finance space for fifteen years and it was time to start a blog after publishing random thoughts through tens of thousands of comments on message boards.
I am also a business nerd and the idea of owning content and seeing people monetize this content peaked my interest. I have been loaning money to businesses for 15+ years and can pretty quickly evaluate how any company makes money and what drives their success. Its been interesting to learn the inner workings of running a blog and observing/figuring out what others are doing who can pull this off as a part or full time business.
Business Thoughts about Blogging
There are some some serious full time bloggers out there. These bloggers are running a full fledged business with multiple employees and are professionals. There are a good number of hard working, side hustling part time bloggers. None of these folks grew their site/business overnight. These people do the work.
There seem to be two big drivers of traffic: Content and Digital Footprint. There’s no magic bullet that grows your digital footprint but instead its about consistently doing small activities that organically grow page views. It takes time, content, design, and work. Occasionally you’ll see someone get to a high number of page views early, but its probably not their first blog. There are also people who can shorten this ramp up time with some targeted advertising investments. If you decide to make the advertising investment than you better be read to capture email addresses and subscribers with a hook.
If you’re in the personal finance space then blogging is only so anonymous. There will be close calls and people may be able to find you. It is fun watching some of the anonymous bloggers either reveal themselves all at once or slowly see their name/picture drop in a major media article.
If you are considering starting a blog and have the idea it will become a business, think about the following:
– How are you going to drive traffic to your site? How do you capture those readers without relying on media that you don’t control? Want a mailing list? It will cost money. Can you create any content to give away to promote signups? Most business require capital and that can apply to blogging too.
First Year Review
Stop Ironing Shirts totaled over 30,000 page views with 34 total blog posts in its first year. Traffic slowly rose over the first seven months to a baseline of 2,000/mo (with some nice spikes mentioned below). Twitter followers sit at 1,750 and is my only real form of engagement (probably because my attention span struggles to get past 140/280 characters)
March was my largest month ever with 6,400 page views courtesy of these thoughts about the 4% rule during a walk through Costco resulting in the first Rockstar Finance feature.
January generated 4,750 page views thanks the millionaire interview series on ESI Money and Karsten taking on my case study at Early Retirement Now.
August saw 4,500 page views from a Rockstar Finance feature where I dipped my toes into the forever debate of whether or not you should take a mortgage into retirement.
Average views per post are 890. I am not sure if this is good or bad at this point (its probably bad). There is a direct correlation between publishing new content and traffic. In my day job often argue “quality verses quantity” as if the two are mutually exclusive. I believe quantity generates quality and this can apply to blogging. The more posts you write the better your writing gets and the more opportunity exists for your content to be resonates with readers.
The glaring challenge for me is I enjoy writing and creating content during periods after I’ve had three to four consecutive days off work. The day job can be high stress and it turns out I require a few days away before I can focus and enjoy writing content. This is probably a good sign for this being a stimulating hobby post retirement while posting content during periods of work is more challenging.
Where do I take the site in year two?
Achieve 10,000 page views in a month by August 2019
Tactics to Achieve These Goals
Post at least once per week through March of 2019
Post at least twice per week once I leave full-time employment.
Develop an interview series to assist in content creation
Do at least five podcast appearances (preferably after March once I do not risk work anonymity)
Work on website design to grow past the standard “starter” theme
Get a major media feature (which may involve breaking anonymity)
Learn more technical skills inside WordPress.
Establish a second medium in addition to help drive traffic. This will likely be a Facebook pseudonym to drive traffic back with all of the responses I write to help people.
Attend a CampFI / Fincon (not entirely a blog goal – I think I’ve found my people with the cult of money nerds)
Specific Thank You’s:
Physician On Fire – First comment and being willing to publicly post his original website
Millennial Boss – One of the first blogs outside of Mr. Money Mustache I started visiting to primarily to figure out how to coach younger employees into leadership roles.
(both of you helped me realize this could be done while working an intense day job)
John @ ESI Money for his Millionaire Interview Series and keeping Rockstar Finance the aggregation it is. That Rockstar Finance feature is one of the great rewards for producing solid content and Karsten @ Early Retirement Now for taking up my case study.
3 Replies to “First Year of Blogging”
This article is almost a year old but I will drop a comment here anyway. I have also “published random thoughts through tens of thousands of comments on message boards” since my early 20’s. I’ll guess that I’m at least 15 years older than you are, so perhaps I’ve posted “many tens of thousands” of comments. But I never gave any thought to monetizing it. Never imagined that I could dress up my writings in a slightly prettier form, and make money off page clicks. Market myself and create a “brand” and so forth. I could not do that and maintain my pride and integrity.
I guess I am a dinosaur from the days where internet discussion was really “free”.
And yes, I get the irony of posting a comment saying what I’ve said. Oh well.
I think it’s great timing, I have a two year anniversary coming out soon. Those same questions people ask on message boards they also ask Google.
I haven’t done anything yet to make money through pageviews, but it is fun to think about. I don’t mind owning my content though