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 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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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 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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Wow, three months of blogging in the books. I am halfway to becoming a real blogger! Let’s see how I did!

Blog Growth Strategies for our third Month

Readership

The blog readership is continuing to grow, slowly but surely.  According to Google Analytics, Partners in Fire had 516 users during this month, compared to 305 during month two and a paltry 89 during the first month. We are chugging right along!

How did we increase our readership?

A lot of our users are still coming from our various social media platforms, and we are continuing to grow and expand these while maintaining the sense of community. Two hundred seventy of our monthly users came from social media. Our top performing platform this month was Facebook, and that was due to both of us sharing our posts regularly on our personal pages. Sometimes building a following starts with your own network.

We also got quite a few direct hits (198!) during this third month. A large portion of that was J publishing his struggles and sharing them with people that he used to know. A lot of his friends and family didn’t know about his bipolar disorder or his struggle with alcohol, and they were interested to learn those things.

"blog growth strategies"

Posting

I’m pretty amazed that I (mostly) stuck to my posting schedule this month.  I only missed one day; and considering how crazy this month has been I’ll count that as a win. Instead of posting that day, I redid the “About Us” section and changed some photos around on the blog. It was cathartic and a good move for me personally.

Things are a bit calmer in my personal life now, so I should be able to stick to Sundays and Thursdays for month four. Here’s to hoping anyway!

Social Media

We are still doing amazing things with social media. A huge portion of our traffic came from Twitter; and although I didn’t gain a ton of new followers this month, I’m super happy with the community that I’ve built there.

We killed it on Instagram. We increased our Instagram following by over 600 followers!   I really think our Instagram game and engagement helped increase our traffic this month. Although Google Analytics only recorded 18 referrals from Instagram; I’m going to venture a guess and say that number is a bit higher. You can’t directly link from Instagram to a website; so I am fairly certain some Instagram users indirectly copied and pasted the URLS that we posted with our photos. I’m guessing this because I don’t think all 198 of the direct referrals were due to his friends reading about his drinking problem. But hey, they may have been. It’s hard to know for sure.

This was also my first month as an official Tailwinduser. I’ve seen an uptick in my traffic from Pinterest, but it isn’t a crazy amount yet. I’m going to continue plugging away at it and hopefully we can grow from there.

Monetization

Affiliates

I am still working on monetizing the blog through the use of affiliates. We actually aren’t doing too badly on Amazon!  We had 16 total clicks and 4 ordered items from Amazon in the last 30 days; and made about five bucks total. Obviously, that isn’t enough to gain financial independence; but it’s a great start! Although I’m pretty sure most of it is still from the list I made; but I’m ok with that, I’m super happy that we were able to put together a list that helps other bloggers!  I’ve been paying it forward as well.

I’ve utilized the other affiliate programs too, but so far we haven’t seen any results from them. We are members of Flex Offers, Share-A-Sale, and Clicky-Homes affiliate programs, and although we’ve received a few clicks; we haven’t had any sales from those platforms.

Ads

We are still using Adsense to generate ad revenue for our blog. Currently, we’ve made about twelve bucks total with it (and they don’t give you a payout until you reach 50). We are hoping to get enough unique visitors and page views 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?

This next month is going to present a unique challenge for me. With Jonathan and I no longer living together, he will no longer be contributing to the blog. He insisted on still managing the Instagram account, but we will see what happens with that.

For this next month, I’m going to continue to focus on improving as a writer and I’m going to focus heavily on gaining traffic from Pinterest. I’m hoping to maintain over 500 users for the month on my own; without the help of Jonathan’s network. I think it’s doable!

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

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Well, here we are at two months in!  It just flew by, didn’t it? I feel like we made some great strides towards growing our blog in this second month, but let’s see how we did!

Blog Growth Strategies for our Second Month

Readership

We really improved our readership over this second month!  According to google analytics, we had 305 individual users during this second month, as compared to 89 during our first month. That’s an increase of 216 readers!

How did we increase our readership?

The majority of our readers are still coming from Twitter. One of our major blog growth strategies has been continuing to grow and develop our Twitter community. Seriously, I love the PF Twitter community! 

I also started a free trial of Tailwind early in the month, and we have seen a pretty nice increase in traffic from Pinterest. However, just adding pins isn’t enough. Another thing I did to boost the traffic from Pinterest is create better pins. I started using high quality photos from Unsplash and worked a lot harder to improve the aesthetics of my designs, which I think that was a huge success. We went from 2 referrals from Pinterest during the first month to 22 by following this strategy.  I  bit the bullet and signed up for a paidTailwind* account for the year, so hopefully our Pinterest traffic will continue to grow. 

 blog growth strategies

Posting

I think sticking to a regular posting schedule for this month also helped contribute to our increased readership. We posted twice per week (generally Sundays and Thursdays) so that gave us a total of seven posts for the month. I think it’s easier to get users and page views if you have new, relevant content to share at least on a weekly basis.  You can seem kind of spammy if you are re-sharing the same content over and over, but sharing things regularly keeps you on people’s radars. It’s a thin line!

Social Media

We totally kept up with the killing it on social media game for our second month. Partner’s in Fire has over 1000 Twitter followers and almost 500 Instagram followers!  We even increased our number of Facebook likes by a tiny bit even though that wasn’t a major focus (maybe once we get over 1000 Instagram followers we will focus on Facebook!) The best part about this is that I feel like the Twitter community is even more engaging as it was before. I’m definitely achieving the goal of maintaining an engaging follower-ship as the numbers increase!

Education

We are still learning so much when it comes to blogging!  I’ve done much better with Canva and creating images – I just learned that using the blog banner template makes the featured image look way better! I’m creating multiple pins per blog post rather than just re-pinning the same image.

We are also learning a lot about SEO. There are a few really cool keyword research tools that I’ve been utilizing to help me find better keyword phrases (though that’s not really transferring to pageviews yet…I’m still learning!)

My writing skills have greatly improved over the past month. I’m regularly getting green readability scores after my first edit, which is great!  During the first month all I saw was red! I’m learning how to separate my content into easily digestible sections, rather than just posting a huge wall of text. I think that really enhances the user’s experience!

Monetization

Affiliates

We added a bunch of affiliate links (tastefully, I hope) to the blog this month to begin the process of monetization. We know these things take time, but thought think it’s best to get started as soon as possible.

 

Amazon

One of the limitations of  using Amazon as a new blogger is that the Amazon* affiliates program kicks you out if you don’t have a qualified sale within the first 6 months.

Luckily for us, we did get a few Amazon sales this month!  We got them by being supportive of other bloggers.  Being supportive and lifting each other up is seriously the best way to start.  We reached out to our Twitter friends asking for links to their affiliate stores, so that when we need something from Amazon, we can support them. I started my list and bought the thing I needed from one of my blogger friends (and will continue to use the list every time I need something) and miraculously, someone decided to pay the favor back and purchase something through our store!

Related: Are you interested in starting a blog but don’t know where to begin? Check out the Blogging For Dummies series on Amazon. This series can always be counted on for relevant, useful advice*

                                                                

We also created a google docs spreadsheet with a huge list of bloggers that we can support, so if you are interested in having it or adding your blog to it, please send me an email (melanie@partnersinfire) and let me know!  I’m not going to post the list on this blog because I don’t want to get banned from Amazon. I don’t think having a list is specifically against any of their rules, but why risk it?

 

Other Affiliates

We also signed up with some additional affiliate programs, to include Clicky-Homes* and Flex-offers. Flex-Offers is interesting because it’s a website that’s just a conglomerate of affiliate links. You have to register to access the website, and then you have to apply for each company you’d like to partner with. Most of the companies that are members aren’t really applicable to the field of personal finance (lots of retail) but I did sign up for a few of the travel affiliates and incorporated them into my travel blog.

Ads

We are still using Adsense to generate ad revenue for our blog. Currently, we’ve made about twelve bucks total with it (and they don’t give you a payout until you reach 50). We are hoping to get enough unique visitors and page views in the next few months to upgrade to a better ad program.

What’s Next?

Our goals for February are to work really hard at alternate forms of marketing. My biggest challenge is E-mail marketing.  The goal is going to be to get ball rolling on e-mail subscribers, though I’m not entirely sure how to do that yet.  It’s probably going to take a lot of research, but I’d love your input! Also, if you aren’t already subscribed, don’t forget to sign up in the side bar!

My other big goal for this month is to continue growing our readership. I want to increase by 200 readers again, so that we have 500 total users for this next month. It’s a hefty goal, but I think its achievable. 

I also signed up for the Share-a – Sale affiliate program. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll be sure to add it to my updates for next month!

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

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