3 Lessons after 6 months Blogging

I had 2 questions to figure out in my first 6 months of blogging. 1. Do I like the process of blogging? 2. Do other people enjoy my blog? Some people try to figure out SEO, build a huge twitter following, improve their Alexa numbers (just learned what that was last week!), or earn tons of money with affiliates, ads or products. I’m just trying to figure out if I enjoy blogging. And if other people seem to enjoy spending time in this space. But I learned a few other things along the way. Almost nothing, mind you, about SEO or twitter. I have no idea how to add key words to my post, I’m just trying to get the words out in an honest, helpful and coherent way. But I learned things. So first I will share the things I have learned. Then for those who geek-out over numbers and charts, I will add all of those at the end so you can contrast and compare til your hearts content.

Unexpected lessons:

1. Blogging is a LOT of Work

Every single aspect takes 2-5x longer than seems reasonable. Right now I put in about 20-30 hours a week, and am doing about 30% of what I could/should be doing. If you ever read about how blogging is a fast and easy way to make money, they are just trying to sell you Bluehost. I think there are 20 really good reasons to blog, and one day I might write that post. But if you are looking for a way to make $1000 by Christmas, this isn’t it. After 6 months of part time to almost full time work, I have made $0 dollars. Impressive isn’t it? Actually I have spent about $500-$700. Although, admittedly I have made zero attempts to monetize this site. Remember the 2 questions? If I can make money wasn’t one of the questions.

2. Community is Magic

I believe transformation and progress happens in community. When we hear people’s stories and they hear ours. That is magic. Blogging transitioned me from a consumer of information to part of a community. So I am trying to create that community here for you. Every Monday I send out an email to my community, so we can catch up, share a resource like my new PDF, and you can easily email me. See, there is a bit of risk in delivering the emails because they might get lost beings I use my personal email address as the reply vs. a “do not reply.” But I want it to be as easy as possible for you to reach out. To email a question or say hi. I know we are better when we run the race together.

Remember in the early 90’s when we talked on the phone? Those were nice days. Actually talking to people. I want to go old school with MMA. And do something radical like try talking to people again. Maybe we start by reading and commenting. Maybe we email. Maybe we do Facebook live. Maybe we do a reader group Skype chat or book club.  A while back I sent out a Skype invite to my email list (you should really be on my email list!), and I got to chat with Britt. Later she edited my PDF and gave me great feedback. We chatted on the phone about it. Crazy right? Real people talking on the phone. She was the very first person in the blogging world I told about my son passing away, and how I was struggling to gather together the right words. So when I posted about that Monday, I waited for Britt to comment. I really wanted to know what she thought of it. That is community.

I started hosting Skype chats for bloggers. We all gather on a video call and share stories, ideas, and a little piece of life together. 40 minutes once a month. There is a saying, “A rising tide raises all boats.” But community is magic. I think community can raise the tide. (email me if you blog and want on the evite list! montanamoneyadventures@gmail.com

There are a hundred sites out there with great tips and tricks. I want to share those tips with you. I also know if you dig in as part of this community, you will end up with so much more.

If you ever thought it was odd that so many bloggers comment, this is why. It’s not that there are only 20 bloggers reading my blog. =) But they get the power in community. It’s starts in comments and spreads from there. And it makes us all better. It will cost you about 1 minute after you read something, and I often add some questions just to make it easier to jump into the conversation.  That 1 minute investment of time will pay you back 10x over.

3. I’m ready for a professional pivot

When people ask what you do, do you actually want to talk about it? By a rough count, I have had 13 jobs. 1 of those I had some interest in talking about. My work was always a means to make money and pay the bills.

I’m ready to have work that I am passionate about. To know it’s making a difference and I’m building something. Work I don’t mind being part of my identity, because I care so much about the work outside of the paycheck. For a few years I worked as a youth pastor. And I loved it for 4 reasons. Teaching, public speaking, mentoring and community. Those things were amazing. It was sharing stories and sharing life with people. I doubt I would ever work for a church again, but you can’t waste good. And all the things I loved about that job, are the same things I love about blogging. I’m a better writer, speaker and listener because of that time invested.

We are about to wrap up our year off. There have been a lot of conversations and time pondering what our next step will be. There might be a 100 better ways to make money; faster ways for sure. But are there any I actually want to talk about or introduce myself as at a party? Growing up poor can shape the way you look at things. And one thing I struggle with is not working for an hourly wage. In a poor family, you need to make sure you get paid for every hour you put in. Professional growth doesn’t pay the bills. No matter how much I logically disagree with that now, and how big a fan I am of creating passive income that requires an upfront investment of time, this still creates a weird dissonance I struggle with. But I can’t shake this thing being built here.

So for the two questions.

Do I enjoy it?

I’ll admit I get bored quickly. I love learning, growing and new challenges. I’m basically unemployable. After I master something, my silly employer wants me to just do that job for a few years. And I am itching to learn the next thing. Well, I’m not sure I will ever learn, let alone master, everything with blogging. There are hundreds of possibilities. Bored? Ha, overwhelmed… perhaps.

I feel like this is right in my wheel house. I’m learning, writing, doing more public speaking, building community, and helping others in their business. It’s everything I have loved in paid or volunteer work. I’m growing too. The words are coming easier. My thoughts organize themselves a bit better. I’m learning to speak not just with authority but with vulnerability. To tell my stories in a way that inspires and instructs. And I am building community. Friendships. With readers, and with bloggers.

We are creating that rising tide.

And all the boats will be lifted.

Do others enjoy this blog?

Maybe? I hope so? A few people? Ok, so I only really figured out the 1st question in the last 6 months. But that is a solid start.

 

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Hum, I wonder which two months we were on our road trip??? Long travel in a pop up camper is not great for my blogging!

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I literally have no idea what creates Google search traffic. Over the summer I started to get a few each day. It picked up a bit in August. Then something happen Sept 27th. What, you might ask? I have no clue. But if it wants to happen again, I would be down with that. Maybe Google just realized I am here. But I went from about 10 a day to 20-50 over the last month. At least it’s going in the right direction.

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I have no idea what this means. Does Alexa think I started blogging in October? I think lower numbers are better. Not encouraging.

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So I just found this screen today, and was slightly devastated. The other screen that showed my page views counted them much higher. Oh well. Can you guess which 5 posts were featured on Rockstar Finance? =)

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I basically ignored my email list and mail chimp for 4.5 months and had 30 subscribers, including myself and my graphic designer, Holly. Then I changed the color of the subscribe button from gray to red. That alone helped people find it. Now I actually write emails. Like old school letter that people sent to each other before email became 90% work and advertisements. So if you signed up early on and unsubscribed because the emails sucked SO much, I get it. But they are a little better now, if you want to try again. =) And if you have hung around this whole time, you are my hero. I still can’t figure out how to create an auto-respond to let you know you have subscribed. Sorry about that. I know it’s weird. But your first email will show up Monday.

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I am new to Twitter. I joined for the first time ever in May. Yeah, May 2016. I have no idea what I am doing. But I like it.

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I want to do some more things with Facebook. I think it is an amazing platform for community. I might try some Facebook live. Some people have smart phones. I have a stupid phone. So posting photos and whatnot is a hassle. My sweet mama might gift me her old phone as a Christmas present, which would help. You know you are a late adapter if you are a millennial and your mom has a MUCH better cell phone than you.

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Fodder for discussion:

Do you generally take the time to comment after you read something?

Have you struggles with investing so much time in a project without a clear financial reward?

Did you have Halloween burn out? Falling on a Monday felt like we had 4 straight days of festivities at our house!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Add to the conversation! Community is built in the comments section. It's like free donuts after Church.

51 thoughts on “3 Lessons after 6 months Blogging

  1. I have the same problem as you at jobs. I get bored quickly and want to try something different. That’s just not how real life works. It’s unfortunate.

    Also, I think it’s totally foolish to start a blog for the primary purpose of making money. I mostly started a blog to feel like I can be a bigger part of this community than I would be just through commenting.

    • Blogging is great for community. And it’s also great for constantly learning new skills. I think it creates so many options, and possibilities; financial or otherwise. Quick cash just isn’t one of them. =)

      • Oh, it goes without saying that it’s an educational experience too. 🙂 For me, that’s a benefit of community in general. I’m always learning when I surround myself with others.

  2. We couldn’t be happier that you started writing here. You’re easily among our favorite PF bloggers even after just six months.

    I’ve been blogging for about a year now (though with about the same number of posts you’ve put up in half that time!), and like you, revenue is sitting at a big old $0. Starting a blog has to be the worst hourly return side hustle I can think of. Everything takes forever, and there’s still so much more we could do (posting more often, fixing our crappy e-mail updates, getting on Pinterest, optimizing for SEO, doing guest content…). The good news is that money is not the reason I blog; I do it for the community and to meet great people. If it makes a little money someday, great. If not, that’s fine too.

    • Oh, thank you so much! I love your guys stuff too! And yes to everything to said. Yes. Yes. Yes. worst hourly return side hustle I can think of yes. Everything takes forever yes. fixing our crappy e-mail updates yes. getting on Pinterest yes. The good news is that money is not the reason I blog yes, and thank goodness.

      A fun side note for my readers, Matt and Daniel spent some time in Glacier National Park (check out those lovely pictures on their blog!) and we got to hang out, eat BBQ and get a drink together. It was insanely fun. =) So keep that in mind when planning your next vacation. =)

    • But you are doing this while working a full time job, which is incredible! There is no way I could have poured 20-30 hours a week into this place if I was also working. 5 hours a week maybe. 10 hours if I didn’t have 5 kids, and rentals. I just think it’s great you started and shoe horn it into your life!

  3. Well you sure know how to make a girl’s day 🙂

    You taught me such an important lesson on that Skype call! I’ve been silently stalking PF blogs for YEARS…they have radically changed the trajectory of my life. And yet I’ve never jumped into the comments, I’ve just read and disappeared as one of the anonymous page views in those stats above.

    Just in the last month of starting to comment, I have been so rewarded by the interactions. I feel like I’m actually a part of the community, instead of just consuming. I think as a reader, it’s easy to see that 95% of the comments on blogs are all other bloggers who are besties from FinCon, and it feels like this club that I don’t have anything to contribute to. While I can’t claim any crazy contributions, I do see such returns on participating. I can’t believe I let all those years of non-commenting slip away 😉

    Also, I love hearing about the development of other writing, speaking, coaching, etc. A whole ‘nother subject is the BIG-ness of transitioning from mom of littles/nursing 24/7 to finding something outside of that (incredibly important, all consuming) job.

    All this to say…I love this space! I love the community you’ve created! <3 <3

    • I am beyond happy you aren’t an anonymous page view! I think that is a huge misconception that bloggers have been friends for years, hanging out at conferences, or working on projects together. Maybe that is true for some bloggers. But that is ZERO % my story so far. I’ve left comments. Sent or received an email. Offered to jump on a Skype call or host a call. Which exactly how you and I became friends. =) That is how I’ve gotten to know Amanda from Centsibly Rich. And now I she is my go to when I have an idea or question. A couple emails, a couple Skype chats is all it took. I think creating community get harder when we aren’t in a school setting. Especially to find people who spur us on and encourage us in our goals. But this kind of space make it a low bar to entry. Leave a comment, and your in! In Monday’s email I have new way for people to get involved. I’m saving the first spot for you!

      • YES! PLEASE! I owe you an email – we are in the car all weekend driving to the east coast, so I will have plenty of down time and will be in touch 🙂

  4. Congrats! A lot of people don’t last 6 months. 🙂 I enjoy your blog. You have a lot of interesting stories and it’s getting better and better. I wouldn’t worry too much about the traffic. Usually, a blog gain more traction after the first year. Your numbers look really good, but probably should go with Google Analytic. I think that’s more accurate. I don’t know what you’re using here. WordPress?
    Keep at it!

    • Thanks Joe, I think I am starting to find my voice a bit, and figure out the direction more. At least that is my goal for the next 3 months. =) As to the numbers, I have no idea. I am an embarrassingly low tech person. Part of the reason I bought this theme is that it already had all the pieces put together. So I have never installed a plug in or widget. (Honestly I am not 100% sure what those are!) After I was featured on Rockstar the first time, J$ sent me a link if I wanted to put a badge on my site. And I thought, “Oh, that is sweet, he thinks I know how to do that.” =) If this space ever earns a dollar, that will be the first thing I hire out.

  5. Thanks for sharing your blogging journey thus far! Agreed, blogging is a ton of work, takes a lot of time and the hourly rate is terrible at first. But I absolutely love it! It’s weird, but it is so rewarding in so many ways, it is totally worth it!

    I’ve had many of the same discoveries with blogging as you have. I particularly love the community. I love reading and commenting on posts (though I was a lurker for years!). I love the support and encouragement. And I love the inspiration I get from all the different members of the community, not just with blogging, but with living my best life.

    • The transition from consumer to community member is HUGE. I hope people can take that away, even if they don’t like this space so much. Find a space you enjoy, one that inspires, and encourages you in your plans, and invest there. The nice thing about smaller blogs, or blogs that focus on building community, is it’s easier to be known. You aren’t one of 200 comments or retweets. I can actually personally answer every email I get. And I have a fun idea for my email list next Monday! =)

    • Cute caption! “Free donuts after lunch.” That is a good way to get people clumping and chattering. When I went to church they had a sign reading “Donuts $0.50.” Says something to me about the community they were building.

      Anyway, Amanda, I agree. The tales and inspiration mixed in with positive personal finance tip and tricks really do compel me to polish the elements that comprise my existence. I am grateful for the openness of some people like MMA (though I’ve known her for only 2 articles). Detailing both the little and large aspects of a positive lifestyle and analyzing why they are as such is a fantastic way to share paths to success.

      • Hey Welcome to the community! Thanks for jumping into the conversation. Almost as good as a free donut, but really, donuts are hard to beat! And if it were an apple fritter, well forget about it. I can’t compete with those! =)

  6. Yes, people like your blog! Those numbers are great for 6 months. Don’t sweat it, you’re making a difference.

    I started a blog to see where it would lead. I stay for the community and the accountability. Anything else is gravy.

    • I think seeing where it might lead is a great reason to start. And I have no idea about the numbers. That is one thing I struggle with is, “Is it going well.” I think so? Maybe? Compared to what? I was a little hesitant to share, because if they are higher than other people’s, I don’t want them to be discouraged. And if they are super low, that seems sad too. I love the numbers because they represent people. And I like people. Other than that it seems random to me. Alexa? I just have no idea. It’s like my credit score, I’m sure it is meaningful to someone, but unless I am applying for a loan, it isn’t a great indicator of success for me.

  7. Your blog is awesome 🙂 I am a month behind you and have made $0 too and I really don’t care about SEO and all that either. It’s sharing what I know and am learning and communicating with others. I think if you remain true to yourself and don’t get sucked in by trying to make money, that eventually all of that will happen. I’ve quit reading some blogs where you can’t find the content because you have to scroll past ads. Keep up the great work – you are an inspiration!

    • Thanks so much Vicki! Over the next few months, I am going to be thinking more about what direction I want to take this space. I get a number of offers for different forms of advertising, but I’m not sure. Although, I would love to start breaking even. =)

  8. You are crushing it! Great traffic and great content 🙂
    The community is the awesome part. I had a blast chatting with you. There’s so few people you can talk about the Internet and money with. (Dangling preposition, no hating)
    I’m glad that you are enjoying it, too. That’s the most important part!

    • I think I am at the point in life, where I would be hard pressed to do work I hate anymore. The luxury of having more FI; not doing work that sucks. =) It was awesome chatting with you too! Your site and business are really interesting to me. I’m excited for you to be able to join one of the blogger chats. =)

  9. Awesome job so far. If I could be where you are in six months I would be pumped. I will definitely need to try to alter the colors of the email subscribe button to see if that works 🙂 Keep up the awesome posts, I really enjoy reading your posts!!!

  10. I had to laugh 😂 all the way through your post. So much of it resonates with me, especially the not-having-a-clue and being a millennial with a mother who has a better phone. Lol. I started blogging in 2016 and when I told my oldest daughter I had started blogging, her response was – about time. It’s taken you 4 yrs 😂😁. If it’s any consolation you are doing well with the statistics as I can bearly figure out where mine is located. I had 6 followers on my old free wordpress blog before I moved to a paid platform – and I now I cannot figure out in my over saturated brain how to move their details over(wordpress tells me some bits don’t export). Like you, I’ve make £nil through my blog but I’m hopeful. Twitter is a mindfield. I typically stay and slay Facebook Live and I’m getting much better with instagram. I’ve always been a YouTube girl. The struggle is real when one is self taught. Right now, I’m asking myself if i can handle another opt-in??? I prefer the 1-step opt-in on my blog as it’s unfair to have to ask my followers to have to go through so many hoops just to sign up. Wishing you great luck in your social media future and you may just see me in your once a month 40 min evite.

    • Mail Chimp and I struggle. Mine is suppose to be a double opt in. Is it? No. I have no idea. People sign up, and then get NOTHING. No confirmation, no welcome email, no “please confirm.” Their name is added to my list. And they will get an email the following Monday with everyone else. If you want to be added to the evite list, just shoot me an email. We would love to have you!

      So if there are any Mail Chimp experts out there, please email me and tell me what I am doing wrong. Please and thank you!

      • lol. Even something as simple as scheduling causes my nightmares. I’m pretty tech savvy…but more money savvy…I just learn as I go along and try not to beat myself up about being perfect. WordPress is a mind field. We’ll get there sooner or later. I’ll shoot you an email.

  11. Congrats on six months! And here’s to many more!

    I have the same first reaction as you: blogging is way more work than anticipated. I had planned to do a couple extra posts every week to stash away so that I could get a month ahead of schedule. Then I would take some extra time to figure out some of the non-research/writing parts of blogging. Well…still not a month ahead of schedule. (Still not a week ahead of schedule if I’m being honest.) I find that I spend so much more time than I planned on the research that I never end up with time for the design work and the SEO work and everything else that should be done.

    You are definitely right that the community is magic. I had read finance blogs for a long time before starting my own and I never ever commented. I was just a consumer of knowledge. I get so much more out of it from commenting on other people’s posts and having people comment on mine, because you get that personal relationship and that connection that is missing when you are just a content consumer.

    • Yes! And I think this is such an important area to have a supportive community. Like I wrote about in Their Up is My Down. It is SO hard to find friends and family who will rally with you to hit your financial goals. Or that you feel comfortable sharing that with. But it’s 100% different in this space.

      And I am totally with you on trying to get ahead with my posts. Sometimes I get a week ahead, or two weeks, but then life just seems to happen. We get sick, we celebrate birthdays, or 4 full days of Halloween! Geesh. Our dryer breaks, and 2 kids throw up spaghetti in their beds. Yup. That was last week. =)

  12. Happy blogiversary!! What I really love about blogging (heading toward the end of my fourth year now) is the uplifting, encouraging atmosphere, especially in the PF blogging arena. Seems that most everyone’s goal is to help others. How can one not love that? 🙂

  13. Thanks for sharing the community aspect. I have found the community aspect great, and the reason why I return to the different blogs weekly. It took me several months of following different blogs before I commented my self, now I add a couple of comments weekly.

    “I love learning, growing and new challenges. I’m basically unemployable. After I master something, my silly employer wants me to just do that job for a few years. And I am itching to learn the next thing.” – I totally relate to this. I like to dig into a new topic, explore it, master it to about 70% then move on. I get bored if I have to repeat the same task after I “master” it. I have not stayed in the same role longer than 2 years. On the up side, my next employer/client/end user gets a much rounder, more experienced, and greater skill set to apply to their problems. This is partly why I am drawn to the miniretirement schedule over the early retirement schedule.

    Enjoy the nice autumn days before winter shows up.

    • I totally agree on the mini retirement. Our plan is to create enough passive income to give us flexibility in pay. Sometimes we will take a bit of time “off” for adventures and travel. But really I just want to be able to do work that is interesting and meaningful. If I can make sure our basic bills our covered, then the bills don’t get to determine our employment. And in Montana winter is a sneaky son of a gun. =)

  14. Those traffic numbers seem awesome to me for 6 months of blogging! And that Alexa rank is really good as well. Congrats on all the progress! I love how passionately you talk about the community you’ve been building throughout the first 6 months, I think you’re spot on with that being the most important part of blogging 🙂

    • I really had no idea what to expect, and there was no benchmark I was shooting for. Creating a supportive community is a two sided goal. I think the pf blogger community is already amazing and I just want to add to that. But the reader community is so important. Really consumer debt, and living paycheck to paycheck is the norm in the US. So to buck that trend and live in a counterculture way takes some gumption. And a supportive community is so helpful for that.

  15. Congratulations your six months! I do hope you will continue on because you are such a natural and engaging writer. I really enjoy the blog. I think I started around the same time as you so I am genuinely impressed with your progress. Very well done. Funny, I never commented anywhere before I had a blog! I am naturally shy and reserved and I guess that extended online. But now I really enjoy commenting and letting people known when I enjoy something they have written. Certainly I know how fulfilling that feedback is. I have my very favorite bloggers who I love to show support for but I never comment gratuitously. I also have not spent a moment yet thinking about money. Seems pointless until I figure out if I can continue to have something to say. Though it is a lovely thought!

    • I was an occasional commenter. But now if I am going to take the time to read something, I will comment at least 50% of the time. It would be great if the blog could cover some of it’s own costs. =) Right now it’s a bit of a slacker.

  16. Inspiring stuff Ms M! I enjoy reading your material because your writing style shows you have a positive outlook on life :). Your posts are unique, thoughtful, and honest. I can tell you put a lot of time into each post.

    I just started my blog last month and I agree that “overwhelming” would be the word to I would use right now. I thought I would be able to crank out 2 posts a week initially but that hasn’t happened yet, and as I learn more my to-do list keeps growing.

    Just from looking at your (impressive) stats I know that producing valuable content and building relationships are so important. I am going to focus on that and see where it takes me :).

  17. I had no idea that your blog was this new. I assumed that you had been around longer – I love your blog and the detail you provide in each of your blog posts.

    I understand what you mean about SEO. I only recently started spending time on it. It seems like a lot of work so far, haha.

    • Yeah, I am the new kid on the block. =) Thanks so much for the kind words, that helps spur me on. And to know that one of the great blogging masters out there (yes, you!) hasn’t fully master SEO gives me hope. =)

  18. I love your blog and truly look forward to seeing what you do next. I admire how you’re contemplating the best ways to remain authentic while you move forward. I also admire how you’re bringing people together. But most of all, I love your writing.

    • Oh, thanks! It’s been great to write and have a good reason to write consistently. Even after 6 months, the words are coming easier already. It would be interesting to me to see what might happen after another year or two. It’s been an interesting 6 months so far. =)

  19. I totally enjoy this blog because it’s relatable and I find the writing to be interesting.

    I agree with your thoughts on starting a blog to make money. It should never be the main reason for starting. You’ll fail anyways if money is your blogging goal. Although I would like to earn money from my blog, there’s certain things I would never sacrifice. It’s a creative outlet. And the only reason I care if it earns income is so I could blog forever full time. That would be a dream. So far I’ve earned $70 that was actually deposited into an account from my Questrade affiliate. I also have about $8 in Google adsense income that hasn’t been paid out yet. Other than that, I have an upcoming freelance opportunity. I’ve been blogging for a year at the end of this month.

    I do take the time to comment after reading. And I don’t struggle with working on something that doesn’t have a clear financial reward. I find it easy to get optimistic about the long term. No Halloween burnout here. Hope you had a fun night! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Blogging for me is for the community, nothing more.
    IT does not costs me anything, I do do not make money and yet, the community reward is awsome. IT can even end up in meeting people in person! great…!

    Sometimes, I have great ideas… Execution fails as the passion for my job and family is bigger than for my blog…

  21. I think you’re taking such a great approach to this.

    I’ll admit that some day I think it would be cool to make money from blogging. The idea of making money doing something I love is very attractive. I think some people forget that the coolest part about that is the ‘doing something I love’ part. I’m also happy doing it without the money.