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Partner’s in Fire is officially one year old! I’ve been celebrating for a few weeks now. I wrote a special blogiversary post completely unrelated to finance and a 12th month update. But now I want to talk about all the things I’ve learned from my first year of blogging.

Lessons Learned after one year of blogging

Blogging is Hard Work

“I can write that! How hard can it be to put a few words on paper and post them online? Anyone can be a blogger, it’s nothing special.” I’m sure we’ve all heard or thought these things and more prior to starting our blogs. But blogging is so much more than writing a post! Honestly getting the words on paper is the easy part!

Blogging also includes designing your website, creating beautiful blog banners, and ensuring your blog can be found. I’ve had to become a graphic designer, web developer, SEO expert, and social media manager this year to just keep my head above water in this blogging game! But on the plus side, I’m developing awesome new skills! I’ve been using my newfound graphic design skills to make t-shirts! How awesome is that?

Getting People to your blog

After one year of blogging, I’m still struggling to get consistent traffic. Although I’m seeing small improvements on my traffic month to month (generally, some months are outliers), I still haven’t been able to get to 1000 users per month organically. Over the course of the last 12 months, I had a little over 8000 users. I don’t think that’s bad for a first year, but I know I can do better.

 I’m learning about SEO and getting a few people from organic searches every day. That’s a win for a small blog like mine! I’m still working on building my social media presence on the big three (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). My communities on those sites are all growing fairly consistently.  I’m learning how to design compelling pins with calls to action on Pinterest, and using to Tailwind to ensure that my pins get seen. Tailwind is a lifesaver when it comes to Pinterest, if you aren’t using it already you need to check it out.

Blogging is time Consuming

 It may only take me an hour to write a blog post, but it takes about five total hours to get that post published. It takes another few hours to market the post correctly. All in all, I probably spend 8 hours per week on just one blog post.

But that’s not all! In order to stay relevant on social media and ensure I’m creating an engaged community, I need to do much more than just promote my blog. I need to share my blogging friend’s blogs and comment on their posts. I need to maintain a social media presence by posting engaging content that isn’t necessarily related to my blog. Although I enjoy doing all of these things (Blogging is a labor of love, after all), it’s incredibly time consuming. I probably spend about five hours per week on social media, just engaging with people and posting things to help build my community.

Blogging is NOT easy money

There are so many posts about “How I made 10K my first month blogging” that it seems easy to the casual observer. It’s not easy. Sure, some people get lucky and blow up right away, while others have experience in related industries that give them a leg up – and Kudos to them! However, most people aren’t going to make money during their first month of blogging. That’s just not how it works!

It takes most bloggers over a year to really start seeing progress on their blogs (or maybe I just want to tell myself that so I don’t feel bad that I haven’t gotten there yet). But seriously it takes a long time to build your Domain Authority – which is what search engines use to rank the relevancy of your website. It takes a long time to build a community and a social media following. And you need to build both of those things before you will see any income through your blog. I’ve been blogging for a year now and have only made a few bucks through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing

A lot of bloggers make a good portion of their incomes off of affiliate marketing. This is where you post a link to a product or website and earn a commission if someone uses your link to buy something. I’m only a member of a few affiliate programs – Amazon is the big one – but I barely made enough money via affiliate advertising this year to cover the cost of my domain (that was like 12 bucks). I made a grand total of $13.37 on Amazon for the year. Go me!

But if you do some research and read income reports from established bloggers, you will notice that Amazon is not a huge money maker for anyone. Yeah, they get between $300 and $500 a month from it, but that’s really just a tiny portion of their incomes. There are tons of other affiliates that pay way more, and I’ve only just barely dabbled in them.  One of my goals for this year is to find other profitable affiliate programs that fit in well with the blog, so I don’t rely on Amazon as my sole source of income.

Flex Offers and Share a Sale

I’m also a member of both Flex Offers and Share-A-Sale affiliate programs – both of which I’ve made a big fat zero on so far. I think your success with these programs will depend on your niche and how much of the program you explore. As a personal finance blogger, there are very few companies on Flex Offers that fit in with my niche, and of those there are even less that I believe in enough to share with my readers. My first goal as a blogger is always to stay authentic, so I’m not going to promote products that I don’t believe in. I haven’t searched for many partners yet with Share-A-Sale, but they do partner with Tailwind. I’m going to focus more on that platform this year to see if they have any relevant partners.

But if you are going to make money from blogging, which is something that I definitely want to do, finding awesome affiliate partners is a must. I just signed up for a few different ones, so I’m hoping that my 2019 affiliate sales can beat my 2018 numbers ($15 isn’t much to ask, is it??).

Blogging is Awesome!

So if blogging is difficult, time consuming, and so far not profitable, why am I doing it? Because I love it! I’ve always loved writing, so writing for an audience (regardless of how small) is always fun. I also love learning new skills. Who would’ve thought I’d be able to reach three thousand twitter followers, or learn how to design t-shirts, or figure out how to drive (even a small few) people to my site view SEO? I learn something new about myself and about the industry pretty much every day, and it’s all been amazing!

If you are considering starting a blog, I have to say go for it! It’s actually a fairly inexpensive hobby! You can start for under $5 a month with BlueHost (and yes, this is one of the new affiliate programs I signed up for, but they are awesome, especially for new bloggers!). It’s not easy to make an income off of it, but with grit and dedication it really is possible (hopefully!). But even if you don’t make money off of it, any opportunity to develop yourself and learn new skills is a good thing. So give it a try! I’m so glad I dove back in to the blogging world with Partners in Fire. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m excited to see what my second year brings!

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Twelfth Month Update

We made through our twelfth month of blogging!  Partners in Fire is officially one year old! I’m so excited to finally reach this milestone. Unfortunately though, our numbers for this month weren’t as great as I had hoped. We didn’t make it to that coveted 1000 users mark; in fact we took a huge step backwards on total users for the month. But we are still trekking along! Let’s see what happened this month to find out where we lost users.

Posting

We stuck to our posting schedule during our twelfth month blogging, publishing a post every Thursday and Sunday like clockwork. We also managed to post a weekly episode of “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”, which has been great fun.  I did a bonus post on my one-year blogiversary which was completely unrelated to finance but I thought it would be fun to write about. It’s my birthday and I can write what I want to, right? I actually got decent page views out of that too. Weird.

twelfth month graph

Readership

Our readership really took a hit this month. We went from an average of 30 users a day to under 20. We didn’t get any big features this month, so that may have contributed to our decline in users. I think some other factors played a part as well though. I didn’t comment on nearly as many blogs this month as I did last month, and I wasn’t as active on social media. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have time, as I am getting ready for another big move. I would like to say that I’ll do better in December, but I’m actually moving in December so I doubt that will happen. My goal is to at least stick to my consistent posting schedule.

Traffic Drivers

Direct Hits

Direct hits were still our number one source of traffic this month. We had 276 users via direct hits this month. Most of these are coming from our email subscribers who are super awesome and visiting whenever we post. We love you subscribers!! And if you aren’t yet subscribed, just fill in your info to get updates directly to your inbox!

Organic search

Organic search was our second biggest driver of traffic this month. Maybe I’m starting to figure out this SEO thing! We had 190 users from organic searches this month, which is very similar to the last few months. The same keywords “Barista fire” and “Coast FI” are driving traffic. Maybe I should write about those topics more! 

Social Media

I failed at social media during my twelfth month. In month 11, I was posting older articles every day, posting to Instagram every day, and posting relevant content to Facebook to increase my following there. I hardly did any of that this month, and my lack of effort shows with my users. We only had 174 users from social media this month, almost 100 less than last month. I really need to find time for social media to get those numbers back up.

Pinterest

Pinterest is still a work in progress. We only had 66 users from Pinterest this month, which is a small decrease from last month. I did just recently sign up for Tailwind’sSmart Loop feature, so hopefully I’ll start seeing results from that in the next month. Other than that, even with tailwind, my traffic from Pinterest has been fairly stagnant.

Facebook

I did not work on my Facebook presence like I wanted to this month. I did cultivate some good content to share, but unfortunately other things get in the way and I forget to do it on a regular basis. Still, I did get six new likes this month on Facebook, and I got ten more page views from the platform during my twelfth month than during my eleventh. It’s the only social media platform that gave me an increase in page views this month, so I’m going to count that as a win!

Twitter

I failed the most at Twitter this month. I only had 47 users from the platform this month, a huge decrease from the 114 of last month. Why did this happen? I have a few ideas. First, I wasn’t posting as much older content to Twitter. Last month, I tried to share an older post at least once a week for fresh views. Second, and more importantly, I wasn’t as supportive of other bloggers on Twitter as I was last month. I rarely shared content or retweeted, and I just wasn’t as active on the platform in general. When it comes to twitter, giving love is super important. I’m definitely going to try to do better next month!

Instagram

Instagram was a complete failure this month. Although I did post regularly for the first half of the month, I failed at posting during the second half. I only had nine users visit the website from Instagram. My following even decreased – I was close to 1300 and now I’m back down to nearly 1200. Instagram users are super finicky, aren’t they? I want to do better on the platform, but I don’t think I’ll have the time to create compelling photos this month. I will post a bit, but I’ll focus more of my energy on Twitter and Facebook until I get settled in my new job and house.

Referral Traffic

We had 52 users coming from referral traffic this month, which is fairly in line with what we saw last month. However, the referral sources look pretty spammy, so I’m guessing most of these users were bots. I’m going to try to do some extra guest posts in the coming months to get better referral traffic (and increase my DA as a bonus!).

Content

I think the content I posted this month was unique and engaging, but the lack of users to the site tells me otherwise. I tried to write for a general audience interested in saving money on basic things and normal life stuff (pets, giving thanks, groceries, etc). I don’t know if this has just been written about so much that it’s no longer relevant, or if I did a poor job of marketing my content. I guess I’ll find out this month when I post more super exciting content and do a better job of sharing it!

Monetization

I actually made a few bucks off of Amazon this month! Isn’t that exciting? I’m still not making enough money on the blog to pay for anything, but it’s nice to see a few more clicks and purchases every month. We are monetizing slowly but surely! I’m going to try to dabble in sponsored posts and research more affiliate programs in the near future. Hopefully I’ll be able to turn this blog thing into a decent income generator some day!

What’s Next?

We are going to stick with our goal of trying to get over 1000 users, even though we were pretty far from it this month. I know it’s doable! It is going to be hard this month though, I plan on moving in mid-December, so a lot of my free time will be dedicated to packing, cleaning, and getting ready for the move. Unfortunately, that won’t leave a lot of time available for blogging, but I’m going to stick to my Thursday and Sunday posting schedule! It won’t be easy, but I can do it.

What are your thoughts? What else can we do to improve our readership? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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"eleventh month blogging"

Eleventh Month Update

Wow, eleven months! Only one more to go until I’m a “real” blogger! We were so close to our goal of 1000 views this month – only 50 users shy of it! We also had about 250 more users than  last month , so that’s a huge win! Maybe I’ll get that big 1K for my 1st birthday!  That would be awesome! Read onto find out what we did during our eleventh month.

Posting

We did an amazing job of keeping up with the posting schedule during our eleventh month. We published 10 posts this period, one every Sunday and Thursday and a bonus guest post by Ryan from Arrest Your Debt. And wouldn’t you know, we tended to have the most visitors on the days we posted! We also started a brand-new feature this month, the podcast “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”. We’ve published three episodes so far, and are confident that it will be a breakaway hit!

Readership

Our readership was fairly consistent this month. We averaged about thirty users per day, and only had two days with less than twenty users. Our worst day saw 15 users, and our best day saw a whopping 165! I’m pretty sure that was due to ESI Money sharing one of our posts that day, so thank you! That was a major outlier though, because we only had between 25 and 45 users on most days. That is a small increase from last month though, and a small increase is still an increase, so I’ll take it!

"eleventh month"

Traffic Drivers

Direct Hits

Direct hits were our number one source of traffic this month. Almost half of our users came via direct hits. Many of these were from our awesome mailing list (subscribe now if you haven’t yet to get updates directly to your mailbox!). For some reason, whatever ESI did to drive users to my site was recorded as a direct hit. I’m not tech savvy enough to understand it, but I do know that the article they shared got tons of direct hits on the day that they shared it. I would think it would count as a referral, but who knows how this newfangled tech stuff works.

Social Media

Social media was our second biggest driver of traffic this month. We had 259 users from social media, almost 100 more than last month! It just goes to show that being active on social media does produce results.

Twitter

Twitter was the biggest driver of traffic from social media this month. We had 114 users from Twitter, which is almost three times as many as last month! That’s amazing! I think a big portion of this was my one day of commenting on a bunch of people’s blog posts. Who would’ve have thought that being supportive would lead to people supporting you? Crazy how that works out.

Pinterest

My Pinterest traffic is growing slowly but surely. We had 87 users from Pinterest, which is a modest increase from last month. I’m still trying to design better pins that people will want to share (and click on!). I’ve been using Unsplash to find awesome images and Canva to create beautiful designs, but I need to work on my call to actions. I need to make the words so compelling that people can’t help but click! It’s a work in progress.

Facebook

My Facebook performance is still lacking. I do have 119 likes on the platform, but that only translated into 42 users this month. Obviously, my Facebook presence needs some work. I’m trying to share other people’s blogs and fun financial memes to keep my page engaging and relevant, but it’s not always easy to find the time. I’m still chugging away at it though!

Instagram

Instagram is the only social media platform that saw a decrease in users this month. I only had 14 users from Instagram this period, three less than last month! My Instagram following keeps growing, but it’s not translating into page views anymore. Maybe one day I’ll get to the 10K mark and I’ll be able to add links to my story! That will be a great day!

Organic search

Curiously enough, we had pretty much the same number of users from organic searches this month as we had last month. I did a search on Alexa for my keywords, and as it turns out people are finding my site after searching for “Barista fire” and “Coast FI”. Yay for relevant searches! SEO hasn’t been the easiest thing for me to figure out, but it’s something that I’m working on and I think I’m getting better little by little.

Referral Traffic

We only had 54 users coming from referral traffic this month, a drastic decrease from last month. On the plus side, a bunch of those were from other blogs, so that’s much better than the spammy referral traffic I was getting in the past! I think most of these were due to my diligence in commenting on other blogs (since you have to leave your URL to comment), proving once again that helping others helps you too!

Content

I think we did a great job of posting interesting, helpful content this month. It was crazy that I started writing about a stock market crash right before stocks started losing! I’d like to say that I predicted it, but that would clearly be a lie. The articles were very timely though, and I do think that helped translate into page views. I also posted a blogging award article this month, which hardly received any views. I guess most people don’t find those types of articles useful, however I am still going to write them because it’s a great way to support other bloggers, and that is one of my main goals.

Monetization

We are working on monetizing Partner’s in Fire via affiliation. Last month we posted about skincare and this month we posted about online shopping. Although those posts have generated clicks, very few have resulted in sales. The powers that be generally say that you have to have between 50 and 100 daily users before seeing affiliate sales, and I think we will get there soon. I’m hoping that my articles with affiliate links are still helpful and entertaining though, I only want to add value for my readers.

Patreon

We also got our Patreon up and running this month. The primary purpose of the Patreon account is to support the podcast so we can get it hosted on the big platforms like I-Tunes and Spotify. Unfortunately, we don’t have any Patreons yet, so if you love the podcast you can be our first!

What’s Next?

We are going to stick with our goal of trying to get over 1000 users. We were so close! We only need to average 34 users per day to get there, and with our average daily users slowly creeping upwards, I think we can get there.

What are your thoughts? What else can we do to improve our readership? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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"tenth month"

Partner’s in Fire did pretty well during our tenth month. However, we didn’t meet our goal of a thousand users and we had about 150 less users than last month. What did we do wrong there? 

Outside of not reaching our user goals, we had some big blog wins during our tenth month and did a lot of things right.  Read on to find out what our strengths and weaknesses were during our tenth month blogging!

Our Tenth Month

Posting

As I mentioned in my ninth month updated, I skipped three blog posts this month due to a trip to Germany. Outside of that, I stuck to a very consistent posting schedule. We published seven blog posts this month; publishing every Thursday and Sunday that I was home. I do think that consistency is important when blogging (or you-tubing, podcasting, and pretty much anything that requires a return audience). If you stop providing content, people will stop coming. I learned that the hard way during my six-week hiatus, so outside of planned vacations, I hope to not skip anymore blog posts. It was extremely hard this month though, because I also had a good friend visiting from the other side of the country for five days. I sacrificed a small bit of time with her to ensure that I stuck to my posting schedule, but good friends are understanding and supportive of your goals. 

Readership

I knew we were going to struggle with readers this month due to the vacation, even as I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. You can clearly see in my stats where my average daily users dipped for a few days in the beginning of the month. Other than that, my readership remained fairly consistent during the course of the month. I had between 20 and 40 users almost every day during this period (except during vacation time). What I found interesting was the fact that I lacked the huge spikes in readers on certain days that I had last month.

I think this is kind of a good thing. Those spikes generally corresponded with a lot of spammy looking user registrations, which I didn’t get a lot of this month. I’m hoping that means the majority of my users this month were real, engaged visitors rather than robots.

 

"tenth month update"

Traffic Drivers

Organic search

Organic searches were our biggest driver of traffic for the first month ever. We had 203 users from organic searches this month!  I think this increase is due to the fact that our domain authority is steadily growing. For our first few months, our domain authority was at a paltry one. When you typed Partners in Fire into a google search, you’d have to scroll through pages upon pages of firefighters to find our website.

I recently checked my domain authority, and it was at 20! I know that’s not great, but it’s way better than one!  Also, I ran a google search of Partners in Fire on a computer without the website in the cookies, and we were the first result!  Apparently, we are doing something right with SEO.

Unfortunately, I still can’t see what people are searching for that brings them to our site, but they tend to stay for more than a minute and look at more than one page, so that must be good!

Direct Hits

We got quite a bit of traffic through direct hits this month as well. We had 175 users come to us directly during our tenth month. I think this is because we are slowly but surely increasing our subscribers (I think the pop-up, although annoying, has helped!) and people are remembering our name. That’s what I’m going to tell myself anyway.

Social Media

Social media was only our third biggest driver of traffic during our tenth month. We had 162 users from social media this month. This is obviously quite a decrease from the 244 we had last month. With my vacation and my friend visiting, I wasn’t as active on all of my social media pages as I was last month. I’m definitely ok with that though. I sacrificed some time with my friend to post an article  and market it at least once, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice more time with her to participate in Facebook groups and remain active on Twitter and Instagram. She is more important to me than marketing, and I’d definitely make the same choice again.

Pinterest

Pinterest was our top social media traffic driver during our tenth month. We had 72 views from Pinterest, which is the only traffic source that increased during the period. Thank you, Tailwind! I use Tailwind to schedule my pins, and my queue is full weeks in advance. So technically, I was still active on Pinterest even though I wasn’t doing much else.

Twitter

I still love twitter, and it was the second largest social media driver of traffic this month!  We had 46 users from twitter, which is only twenty less than last month. This is great considering I didn’t post as much!  I think that really goes to show how important it is to engage with and grow your Twitter community.

Facebook

I had less than stellar performance with my Facebook page this month. Only 27 users came from Facebook, a huge decrease from the 81 we had last month. Unfortunately, I think the main reason for this is the content I was producing this month as opposed to last month. Our friends and family were really interested in my shift in mindset about having kids, and a lot of them found those articles via Facebook. Unfortunately, those relatives aren’t as interested in becoming a Twitch Affiliate or Complaining on Twitter.

However, people in other communities are interested in those topics, and I’m not just writing for our families. I’m writing for myself, and for everyone else. Not everyone is going to care about every topic that I write about, and that’s ok.  Finance is  related to almost every facet of our lives, so there are thousands of things to write about. I’m sure most people will get some value from at least one of my topics. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Instagram

I had half the number of users from Instagram this month as I did last month. Only 17 users came from Instagram during this period. And I even tried to post consistently!  I think that I had the same problem here as I had with Facebook…Instagram users (at least the ones in my community) seemed far more interested in articles about children than they did about the content I was producing this month. Like I said above though, that’s ok. Different people like different things. My Twitter audience (where I have gamer friends) loved my article about Twitch. My Instagram audience did not. In the future, I may try to take this into consideration and avoid posting content that a certain community may not care about.

Referral Traffic

We had 157 users come from referral traffic this month. Unfortunately, I think the majority of this traffic is spam, because it has the highest bounce rate of any traffic source. This is really bringing down my average! Not all of it is spam though. We got featured on Little Bytes News somehow, which brought some decent traffic, and we also got a bit of referral traffic through two awesome financial blogs, Tread Lightly, Retire Early and Wise Money Home.

Blog Win for the Month

Though we had less users this month, we did have one awesome blog win. We are working towards monetization, and to that end I posted an article about skincare with affiliate links to products that I use and I strongly believe in. We actually had a few people purchase the products that I recommended! I’m so happy that I can provide useful information, and that our fans trust us enough to try something that we recommend. Thank you so much for your continued support, and I promise you won’t be disappointed with the moisturizer.

What’s Next?

We are going to stick with our goal of trying to get over 1000 users. I don’t have any vacations or visitors planned for the month of October, so I should be able to stick to the posting schedule and remain active on all of my social media accounts. We also have a bunch of useful, interesting, and engaging content planned for the month, which I’m hoping will attract even more users!

We are still going to work on monetizing (hosting a blog isn’t free you know!) through affiliate links, but we are also going to sign up for Patreon to see if we can at least recoup our hosting fees through donations.

Our biggest new project is a financial Podcast. We did a practice run this week which I think went really well. We are going to rely heavily on Patreon for the podcast, as monthly hosting fees can get costly. Be on the lookout, it’s coming soon!!

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ninth month blogging

 

Partner’s in Fire killed it during our ninth month! Maybe this is what happens when you start growing as a blog and post consistently! Let’s see how we did this month and how we got there.

Posting During our Ninth Month

We stuck to an extremely consistent posting schedule during our ninth month. We were able to publish a blog post every Sunday and Thursday during this period.  I think that this consistency really helped us grow our readership, and it is something that I will strive for in the future. However, I am still going to live my life. This month, we already skipped a few posts due to a trip Germany. I’m sure my 10th month readership will suffer slightly due to the vacation (we will have to wait and see about that!) but traveling is one of my FIRE goals, and it’s not something that I am willing to give up. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to schedule blog posts so that I can automatically post while I’m away, but that would mean having posts queued up and ready. Unfortunately, I’m not that organized.

Readership

We killed it with readership this month! This was our first month with over 500 page views (not counting our feature on Rockstar Finance, which was amazing!).  We had 843 total users for the month.  The best part is that it was fairly consistent. We had spikes in users on the days that we published and we had between 10 and 20 users on the days between posts. There’s a lot of room for growth here, but since we are still new and just came off hiatus, I’ll take it!

 

ninth month stats

 

How we increased the readership

843 is a huge increase from the paltry 276 that we had last month. I think the biggest reason for the increase was the consistency in posting that we talked about above. However, I also think this month’s content was interesting and valuable to a wide range of readers. I think talking about having children drove a lot of my family and friends to the blog as well. The lesson here is that great content leads to increased readership. But people have to be able to find the great content, so how did we make our content visible?

Social Media

One of the biggest drivers of traffic during our ninth month was social media. We had 244 users from our various social media platforms. We focus on the four big social media platforms, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

Facebook

My awesome boyfriend invited all of his Facebook friends to like my page, which led to a nice increase in page likes. But I also started posting more (and better) content on my page. I’ve been sharing interesting finance articles, memes, cartoons, and pictures in addition to my own blog posts.  In the past, I had only been sharing my own articles on my Facebook page, and to be honest it looked a bit spammy. Sharing more than just my own articles has led to greater engagement on my page and more organic likes. Also, because people have come to trust my page to have interesting content, I am able to convert more page likes into blog post clicks. 81 of my 843 users came from Facebook this period, the highest of any of my social media avenues. I still have a long way to go on Facebook, but I think this is a great start.

Pinterest

Our second biggest social media traffic driver this month was Pinterest, with 67 views. I’m still not entirely sure how to use Pinterest correctly, but I try to make pretty, appealing pins with Canva and I schedule my pins with Tailwind. I still use the large group boards, even though there are rumors floating around that Pinterest doesn’t like them. Maybe one day I will learn how to use Pinterest more effectively, but it seems to be working pretty well for time being.

Twitter

Oh, how I love my Twitter community. It was the first social media platform that I started working with, and it is still one of my favorites. People on Twitter are so supportive with their follow threads, social media threads, chats, and all-around engagement.  Although it’s not the top driver of traffic, we still had 64 users from it, which makes it a close third. But to me, Twitter is about more than driving traffic. I use Twitter to talk to like minded people, share my random thoughts, and find interesting articles to post to my Facebook page.  I look forward to continuing to build my Twitter community, and to finding new Twitter friends to engage with.

Instagram

Instagram is a platform that I’ve largely ignored until this past month. My ex-boyfriend had built a following last year when we were still together, and I really didn’t want to deal with it. But I know that it can be a great driver of traffic, so this month I dug in and started working on it. First, I had to curate my followers/following. There were quite a few inactive accounts and “bot” accounts on those lists. Next, I increased my posting. I made a concentrated effort to post to Instagram at least once per day. I try to post a variety of image types and am working hard on my hashtag game (although I think that still needs improvement). So far, my new commitment to Instagram has been successful. We had 34 users from Instagram this month, a huge increase from the big fat zero of previous months. As we continue to grow our Instagram account, this number will only increase.

Other Traffic Drivers

We had a lot of referral traffic during our ninth month, and my major concern is that some of this might be spam. Unfortunately, I do not know how to tell the difference between a spam user and a legitimate user. And even if a user was referred from spam website, does that mean the user was a spam user? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. But I do have the A-kis-met spam blocker activated, so at least the spam users can’t do much damage.

We also had some users come from organic searches, but unfortunately the keywords were not provided, so I can’t really tell what people are searching for when they find my blog. The last chunk of users during our ninth month came from direct hits. These are the folks that are subscribed to the blog and get the e-mail updates, and the ones who type our URL directly into the search engine. I’d like to think that we have a few fans who do that, but let’s be honest those are probably mostly me.


What’s Next?

Our goal for this next month is to get over 1000 users. It will definitely be a challenge, especially with the vacation we took for the first week of the month, but we have a lot of interesting content planned so I think it’s very doable.

We are also going to continue focusing on building our social media platforms, especially Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. What we are currently doing seems to be working, so we are going to stick with it.

Another thing we are going to work towards is monetizing Partners in Fire with a few more affiliate articles (non-spammy and relevant, of course!). Maybe someday we will even write some guides and do some sponsored posts!  I don’t think we are quite there yet though.

Our biggest focus is to continue to provide useful, relevant, interesting content for you, our readers. Without you, we wouldn’t be anything. We greatly appreciate your continued support. Here’s to another great month!

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"eighth month blogging"

Partner’s in Fire is officially eight months old! Unfortunately, we were on hiatus for the majority of our eight month, and our blog statistics really show it. Man, I thought month seven was bad!  It’s very interesting to see how badly the blog performed at the start of the hiatus versus how poorly it performed towards the end though. Our readership declined every week during our time off.

I think the biggest lesson learned here is that the longer you take off, the more your blog will suffer. Need a two-week vacation? I think the blog will be just fine. But if you are just starting out blogging and take more time off, be prepared for a drastic cut in your readership.

Let’s get to how we faired during our eighth month blogging!

Posting

Since my eight month was pretty far into my hiatus, I did not post very often. As a matter of fact, I only published three blog posts from June 27th through July 27th, and they were all at the tail end of the period. That’s a pretty epic failure on my part. But, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, you need to take care of yourself first. If that means you can’t post for a month or two, so be it. Blogging will be ready when you are!

                                                                           

Readership

Not surprisingly, with our lack of posting anything for almost six weeks straight, our readership took a huge hit. The first post I published was on July 19, which only gave me 7 days to improve my readership for the month. Obviously, that is not enough time. Our readership dropped drastically during this period, in fact it was our worst month since our first month!  We only had 276 users for the period, 62 less than in month 7th. That’s really freaking bad! But, on the plus side, you can clearly see in graph that as soon as we started posting again, our readership started to improve. We only had one day with less than 10 users during the week that we started posting again. So the lesson here is if you take a break, your readers will return when you do. And that’s super comforting.

 

"eighth month stats"

 

What’s Next?

Partners in Fire is really trying to move on from this break that we took and get back some of the momentum that we lost. Honestly it isn’t easy seeing such a huge decrease in pageviews, but knowing it was mostly my own fault helps.

We have a lot of interesting (we think!) topics to blog about moving forward, so we are hopeful that we will be able to stick to a regular posting schedule for the majority of month 9th. Month 10 will be rough, because I have a week-long trip to Germany planned, so I’ll probably skip at least 4 blog posts that month. But it will be interesting to see how taking two weeks off will compare to taking six weeks off.

Moving forward, we are going to focus more on Instagram, Facebook, and monetization. Any tips that you can think of that would help us in any of those three areas would be greatly appreciated!

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"7th month blogging"

 

Our 7th Month

Welcome to our 7th month update!  Or, as I like to call it, that time that I took a six-week hiatus from the blog and didn’t see any growth! So, I guess instead of an update, here’s a blog post about what happens when you work super hard on your blog for six months and then stop doing anything for about six weeks!  Can I pretend that I did this for research?

Technically, I’m about a month late on this post. I was supposed to publish an update around June 27th-ish, and here we are all the way in the middle of July!  Sorry about the lateness!  

Posting

I only wrote two blog posts (three if you count my 6-month update) during my seventh month blogging. I published my last post for the period, Making the Decision to Move in Together, on June 10.  That means from June 11 through June 27th, I had no new content being posted to the website. Fail! But given that, let’s see how we did!

Readership

Spectacularly, we had 338 active users during our seventh month blogging. That’s only 139 users less than the month before, when I was actively working on it!  338 is not a good number by any means, but I don’t think it’s terrible considering my lack of effort.

"7th month blogging"

Monetization

Its super hard to make money blogging if you don’t blog.  Funny how that works out, isn’t it?  I did manage to get two clicks to my Amazon account (no sales though) and my Google Adsense account is going strong at thirteen bucks!  Go me!  I still haven’t seen any results from any of the other affiliate programs that I am a member of, but I don’t really utilize any of them much either. I think that in the fall, when all the craziness of summer dies down, I’m going to focus on affiliates and see if I can make something happen with them.

 

What’s Next?

We are now half-way into our eighth month, and this is only my second post (I’m sure my eight-month update will be amazing as well!). It’s hard to say what’s next, but my barrage of visitors has stopped for now.  I am also feeling much better, so hopefully I’ll be able to stick to a decent posting schedule for the remainder of the summer. I do have a trip planned for the beginning of September though (I’m going to Germany to watch my friend get married!), and that’s only a month away so I’m sure that will result in some missed posts. But like I said before, we can’t sacrifice our lives to blog!

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Blog Growth Strategies for our Sixth Month

Partners in Fire is officially six months old!!  That means we’ve met the basic requirement for being a real blog!  This is a super exciting milestone for us, so let’s see how we did!

Readership

We ended our sixth month with 477 users, just 23 users shy of our 500 users target. I’m actually really happy with that number. As I wrote in my 5th month update, I knew May was going to be rough. There was so much going on in my personal life that I didn’t have a lot of time for blogging. I meant to only skip three posts, but my sickness lingered longer than I thought it would and the SCUBA classes were way more time consuming than I anticipated (But definitely worth while!). I was only able to write and publish four blog posts this month!! That’s half as many as my target, and I still managed to get 477 users!! I’m going to call that a huge win!

Where are our Users Coming from?

Direct Hits

A little over half of our readers for the month of May were direct referrals. That usually means that someone sent a link over email, or someone directly typed in the URL. Most of them were on my post the Worst Financial Mistake of My Life, so I’m guessing a lot of these views are the residual affects of being featured on Rockstar Finance. I would love to find a way to learn for sure where these direct hits are coming from though (and if you have any ideas on how to find out, please share in the comments!)

Social Media

Social media was the second biggest driver of traffic to Partners in Fire this month. We had 187 referrals from social media during our sixth month.

Pinterest continues to be the biggest driver of social media traffic, with 139 users. This is only 35 less than last month, which I think is fabulous considering I only posted half as much. Twitter was second, with 26 referrals; which is not a lot at all, but again, I hardly posted anything.

Monetization

It’s difficult to include a section on monetization each month when I’m not succeeding at monetization, but I think it’s important to discuss the challenges with the blog in addition to it’s strong points.

Monetizing a new blog is hard. Getting readers to a new blog is hard. Getting subscribers is hard. A lot of things about blogging are hard, but a lot of big bloggers won’t tell you that. Hell, a lot of the smaller bloggers won’t even tell you that. You have to love doing it first, and I do. The money part, if it ever comes, is just a bonus.

What’s Next?

Although summer is going to be super busy with all the visitors and vacations that I have planned, I’m going to attempt to stick to my blogging schedule. I think I would have destroyed my goal of 500 users this month had I actually posted the full eight times. I’m going to try harder to do that this month.

One of my limitations right now is a bit of writer’s block. I do have a few article ideas that I’ve been kicking around, but not enough. Sometimes more come to me, and sometimes they don’t. I think that overcoming this small amount of writer’s block and coming up with good ideas for the blog is going to be my biggest challenge in the coming months.

What strategies have you used to help grow your blog? What are your biggest challenges? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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"Blog Growth"

Blog Growth Strategies for our Fifth Month

Readership

Wow our readership exploded in month five!  But only for a day really haha. We ended the month with a whopping three thousand users!  It’s a new record!

How did we get so many users?

Partners in in Fire was lucky enough to get featured on Rockstar Finance this month!  Our article The Worst Financial Mistake of My Life was featured in Rockstar Finance’s April 10th Features! I’m not really sure how it was chosen, heck I didn’t even realize it at first!  I thought something strange was going on when I kept getting legitimate comments on the article.  So, I did some online digging, and found my post on the Rock Star Finance main page! Super Exciting Stuff!

After an amazing day of lots of page views, we were also featured in The Financial Diet’s weekly round up!  What an amazing week for Partner’s in Fire!

Posting

I did an excellent job of sticking to my posting schedule this month. Unfortunately, I got sick during the last week and skipped posting on the last Thursday. I even had everything drafted up and ready to go, I just didn’t have the energy to do all the social media posting or to proof read, so I decided to wait and post it next week. Sometimes life happens, and that’s ok.

Social Media

Obviously, the majority of our users this month came from Rockstar Finance and The Financial Diet (Thanks again guys!). But we did pretty well with our social media platforms as well.

Our Pinterest referrals are really picking up steam. We had 174 referrals from Pinterest this month, almost 100 more than last month!  It outpaced Twitter for the first time ever! I think that Tailwindaccount really is starting to pay off. It hasn’t led to monetary conversion yet, but page views need to come first.

With 96 users, Twitter was our second biggest social media referrer this month. We didn’t do as well on Facebook this month as we did last month, but I think that is because I skipped sharing a few of my posts on Facebook. I didn’t want anyone to take offense at things that weren’t meant to be offensive, so I decided not to share.

Monetization

Affiliates

Though being featured on some major Personal Finance sites led to lots of page views, it did not lead to lots of affiliate clicks or sales. We did have a handful more clicks to Amazon than in previous months, but it did not generate any sales.

Our other affiliates, such as Flex Offers and Clicky Homes, still haven’t generated much interest. I think the reason for that is because I refuse to sell products I don’t believe in, so I’ve greatly limited the types of campaigns I will run from Flex Offers. Clicky Homes is a great program, but it is only useful to a small subset of the population (realtors). I’m ok with both of those things though, I know that if people visit my site and actually click through to an affiliate, it will be useful to them. That’s more important to me than making money.

Ads

You’d think that with over 3000 pageviews, my ad revenue via Adsense would have increased. That was not the case. I think I only have Adsense ads on a few of my pages, and those were not the pages that got the views. According to Adsense, I only had about 300 pageviews during the last month. This was not enough to make a dent in our earnings.

I don’t want to destroy any user experience I have, so I’m not going to change the way my ads are laid out. However, if you are interested in monetizing via google ads and notice a discrepancy between your Google Analytics pageviews and your Adsense pageviews, this may be something worth looking into.

What’s Next?

I totally destroyed my goal of getting 500 users for this period!  But I know I got super lucky with that amazing feature, so I don’t think 3000 views every month is sustainable. Partner’s in Fire did get a few extra subscribers from that though, and I’m getting better and better at Pinterest, so I think getting to 500 without any special features is totally doable this next month.

I am keeping my expectations low though, because I have a lot going on in my personal life this month, and I know I won’t be able to stick to my posting schedule. I have SCUBA lessons next week which are going to take a ton of time (but will so be worth it!) and I have a girl’s trip to Vancouver coming up, so I won’t be posting at all that week. Can I get to 500 while skipping three posts?? That’s the goal, so we shall see!

What strategies have you used to help grow your blog?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Blog Growth Strategies for our Fourth Month

Readership

This fourth month was Partner’s in Fire’s first month with a decrease in readership. According to Google Analytics, we only had 459 users as compared to 516 during out third month. However, given all that happened this month, I think that’s still pretty freaking awesome!

Why did our Readership decrease?

I’m fairly certain that the main reason for our decrease in readership is the fact that Jonathan and I broke up and mutually decided that he shouldn’t be a part of the blog. In previous months, he was sharing the posts on his personal Facebook page and gaining users from Instagram.  Most of his Facebook friends who were supporting us by reading the blog decided to stop following when he was no longer a part of it. I totally understand this though, and I kind of expected it. I knew I’d have to work harder to gain and maintain readers, and I’m working on it.

"4th month stats"

I’ve also been enjoying my life a bit more and that means I’m dedicating a little more time to going out and having fun with my new boyfriend and my friends than I was before. Unfortunately, I don’t have an unlimited amount of time, so that means I spent a bit less time on the blog. But I’m actually really happy for the first time in a long time, so I’ll take the trade-off. I’m sure when the buzz wears off I’ll be able to focus more on blogging.

Posting

Another reason why (in my opinion) our readership decreased is that I didn’t exactly stick to my posting schedule. I missed a Sunday. We only lost a few users as compared to last month, but I’m sure some of it was due to the missing post. However, I went out of town that weekend and had a blast in Orlando, so I don’t regret not posting. You have to enjoy your real life first.

Social Media

The majority of our users are still coming from Social Media. The top referrer this month was Facebook, with 102 users coming from there alone. I think a big portion of that was due to my friend from Tread Lightly, Retire Early posting The Worst Financial Decision of My Life in a group dedicated to helping women in Finance (Thank You!). I think another part of that was my real friends and family’s interest in what was going on with Jonathan for all those years. Either way, I appreciate all the support.

Twitter and Pinterest were neck in neck this month!  I had 85 users from each platform. This is the first time that my Pinterest stats are even close other stats, so maybe using Tailwind is starting to pay off. It’s definitely something that I’m going to keep working on moving forward, and I can already see the potential for amazing growth through that platform.

Monetization

Affiliates

Monetizing the blog through the use of affiliates still isn’t bringing in any income, but I’m still working on it!  We did get a few clicks to Amazon this month, but none of them resulted in any sales. None of the other affiliate networks that we’ve been utilizing has resulted in a sale yet either, however I rarely include them in my blog posts. I don’t want to be spammy or sell products that I don’t believe in, so although I am a member of these affiliate programs, it’s hard to find products that fit with me and the themes of my post. I’d rather be authentic than make extra money pushing products I don’t believe in.

 

Ads

We are still using Adsense to generate ad revenue for our blog. Currently, we’ve made about thirteen bucks with it (one dollar over last month, woot!). We are  still hoping to get enough unique visitors and pageviews in the next few months to upgrade to a better ad program. I keep eyeing mediavine; but I don’t have nearly enough users yet for that!

What’s Next?

My goal for my fifth month is the same as my goal was for this month…get to 500 users on my own!  I was super close this time (I only missed it by 40 users!) so I think I should be able to get there if I stick to my posting schedule and participate a bit more in my Facebook blogger groups (I’ve kind of neglected them this month unfortunately; maybe that’s another reason why my numbers were a bit lower).

All in all though, I’m super happy with the progress that Partners in Fire has made during the four months that we’ve been a live blog, and I’m looking forward to continued growth in the coming months.

What are your favorite blog growth strategies?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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