Month four was rocky, primarily due to turbulence in the site founder’s personal life. The readership decreased slightly, and the website transitioned from a partnership to a single owner.
Despite that, the remaining owner, Melanie Allen, was determined to make it work and record the month’s status for posterity. Here’s where Partners in Fire stood after four months, edited for grammar, clarity and to offer insight from the privilege of hindsight.
Readership decreased during the fourth month. According to Google Analytics, the site welcomed 459 users, compared to 516 during our third month.
However, given all that happened this month, a decrease of less than 100 isn’t that bad.
Why Did Our Readership Decrease?
J and I broke up and mutually decided he shouldn’t be part of the website. Work that two people were doing fell to one.
Previously, he was sharing content on Facebook and building an Instagram following. Many of his personal Facebook friends followed along our journey to support him and stopped reading when he parted ways with the venture.
I didn’t have time to take over all the tasks he handled, so our Instagram and Facebook reach suffered. However, when we parted ways, I knew the website would suffer, and I accepted that. I knew I’d have to work harder to gain and maintain readers.
Though the website did suffer in the short term, ending the relationship with J was the best decision for the website moving forward and for Melanie’s personal life. The relationship was the worst financial mistake of her life.
I’ve also been enjoying my life a bit more, which means I’m dedicating a little more time to going out and having fun with my new boyfriend and friends than before.
Unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited time, so I spent a bit less on the blog. But I’m 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.
At this point, Partners in Fire was still very much a personal passion project, and it shows in how Allen interweaves her personal story into the website’s successes and failures. If we could go back, we’d focus these updates on actual growth strategies and leave out the personal woes.
However, we decided to keep the stories as a learning experience for others just starting their journeys. It’s okay to have a personal blog where you share your life story if that’s what you want. However, if you want your website to be a business, as we did from the very start, you should minimize the personal stuff. It serves no real purpose in a post about growing your website.
We didn’t stick to our posting schedule during the fourth month, missing one Sunday. The one missing post may have impacted our readership from social media.
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.
Sticking to a schedule is vital for growing your blog, especially when starting. It’s been six years, and we still publish something every Thursday and Sunday. We publish a new post on Thursday, and overhaul an older post for republication on Sundays.
However, skipping one post in the very beginning probably didn’t impact our readership as much as we thought. In these early days, the schedule is more to help you stick with it and to grease the wheels at Google so they start seeing regular content coming from your domain.
Allen is correct that you have to enjoy life first. If you don’t love blogging, you won’t be successful, and if you strip yourself of all the fun in life, you’ll burn out quickly. You must find a balance to be successful.
The majority of our users still come from social media. This month’s top referrer was Facebook, with 102 users coming from there alone.
Much of that was due to Tread Lightly, Retire Early posting my tell-all about my relationship with J in a group dedicated to helping women in finance. My friends and family’s interest in what was going on in the relationship for all those years also played a role.
I appreciate the support.
This month, we received equal traffic from Twitter and Pinterest, with 85 users from each platform. Tailwind might be starting to pay off, as this is the first time that Pinterest stats are competitive with stats from other platforms. Moving forward, I will continue working with Pinterest and Tailwind, as I can see the potential for growth on the platform.
We only used Tailwind for the first year and never saw substantial growth on Pinterest. We gave up on it for several years and only began diving back in near our six-year mark.
Monetizing the blog through affiliates still isn’t bringing in any income, but I’m still working on it! We got a few clicks to Amazon this month, but none resulted in sales.
None of the other affiliate networks 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 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.
Partners in Fire still believes in authenticity and only promotes affiliate products they believe in. In hindsight, we would have limited the use of affiliate products even more in the first year or so of the website to find our voice and footing before even thinking about selling products.
We are still using Adsense to generate ad revenue for our blog. We’ve made about thirteen bucks with it (one dollar over last month, woot!). We hope 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!
It took years to get into Mediavine. They raised their threshold from 30K to 50K users, and achieving that criteria was a lot harder than we anticipated. Even now, six years later, we struggle to hit the 50K mark each month.
My fifth-month goal is the same as my goal for this month: reach 500 users independently. 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).
Overall, I’m pleased with Partners in Fire’s progress as a live blog over the past four months, and I’m looking forward to continued growth in the coming months.
One thing to note is the massive change in writing style from the beginning to our six-year mark. Although we’ve changed the worst offending grammar during our overhauls, hints of it remain in the extensive use of exclamation points, superlative and personal asides.
Remember, you will not be a good writer when you start your website. Looking at these articles after six years is painful. We cringe at the awful writing and lack of crucial detail. However, we also see how much we’ve improved over the years. We would never have come so far if we didn’t start. So don’t worry if you aren’t a great writer. It will come through practice. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly so you can learn how to improve.