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It has been a whole month since I started Mama Fish Saves! Where does the time go? I decided to start a monthly blog report on Mama Fish as these reports from other bloggers are very helpful and interesting to me. I don’t want the focus of the blog to be blogging, but I also want to do what I can to stay accountable and connected with the blogger community. So, here we go!
A month ago, on February 10, 2017, we had a snow day and I decided to take the leap and start a personal finance blog for families. My passion has long been personal finance and education (because I am a huge nerd). Primarily I have been trying to find a way to make budgeting, investing, and general money management accessible to young families for whom money is often a topic of stress and confusion. Within a few days of blogging, I knew I had found the right avenue for my goals!
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Getting the blog set up
Getting the blog immediately set up wasn’t as hard as I would have expected. Buying the domain from Bluehost and linking it to a wordpress.org account was really easy. I had the blog up and running with my welcome post up on the first day.
However, finding a theme that I liked and customizing it in a decent way was a very steep learning curve. I knew nothing about blogging and customizing the layout was a notable time commitment. It still isn’t exactly as I would like it, but I am happy with it for now. If a few months down the road things are going well I might hire a professional to build a site for me. I know a lot of bloggers try to avoid paying for anything they could do themselves, but I try to look at everything like I am trading time for money. The amount of time it would take me to build the site I really want would be very significant. I would rather pay someone and spend that time actually writing and interacting with readers and other bloggers.
Monetizing my blog is on the to-do list, but my first priority is developing valuable content and building a following for the blog. I like the idea of having products drive revenue down the road like webinars, eBooks, and courses. Affiliate relationships would work too (I have accounts with Bluehost and Amazon), but only if I can develop relationships with businesses I really love using personally. I generally don’t like the idea of bogging the site down with too many ads.
What I learned
- I really enjoy writing. My current job doesn’t allow me to write as much as I used to and I forgot how much I enjoy it. Writing and editing posts about things that I love has been a great joy.
- Social media takes a lot of time. The best way to build relationships with other bloggers and drive traffic to a new site is to be very active on social media. Posting on social media, commenting on other blogs, and responding to tweets and Facebook comments has taken almost as much time as writing posts. I have to find a way to reduce the time spent on this if only so I am not always staring at my phone.
- The blogger community is amazing. I have been so surprised how supportive and connected the personal finance blogger community is. DA at Debt Ascent has been an awesome accountability partner and he and his wife’s plans to pay off debt is inspiring to read about. Everyone on the Rockstar Finance forum is quick to answer questions and offer suggestions, which has been a huge benefit.
- I am technically useless. Figuring out the back end of the website and trying to customize the website’s layout takes me way longer than it probably should. I even think all the step by step guides are written in gibberish. The tech part of blogging is going to be a long learning curve!
I debated writing a first-month post because I don’t want Mama Fish to be about my experiences blogging. However, reading other bloggers monthly reviews and income reports was a really awesome source of perspective and inspiration for me this month so I thought I would give back and provide the same transparency.
27 posts in 29 days was pretty close to my target of one a day for the first month. I view this as a huge success as writing every day takes a ton of time. Now that I have some content built I am going to slow to 3 posts (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) during the week and the Weekend Wisdom post on Saturday mornings.
I was pretty happy with these numbers. I had a few good friends that shared the Facebook page for the blog early on and I announced it in my mom’s group when I started which I think helped. My peak day was March 1 with 223 page views.
Bounce Rate: 65.82%
Session Duration: 02:58
I know some people track different statistics than pageviews so this is just a summary of the other stuff on my Google Analytics page.
Email subscribers: 24
Only 8 of these subscribers are people I don’t know. Most of my small group of email subscribers so far are family and some friends, but I was happy that I got any random subscribers. I created a little email opt-in with a PDF of my top 10 budgeting mistakes and how to avoid them, which did seem to increase organic subscribers. Subscribers, if you are reading this – thanks for taking the time to follow the site!
Blog comments: 62
About half these comments are me posting back to every single person who leaves a comment. I have received some really great feedback through the blog post comments and commenting has really started to gain traction.
Twitter followers: 330 – Facebook likes: 105 – Pinterest followers: 15
How much time I committed to each social media service is clear in the following numbers. I have spent a lot of time learning how to use Twitter, participating in Twitter chats, and keeping up with other bloggers. Facebook is great, and actually my main source of traffic today, but people aren’t there to read blogs, they are there to catch up with their friends. I have high hopes for Pinterest in month 2, but it is still a bit of a mystery to me so we will see.
Net income: -$1,114.66
Revenue: Hahahahha. No, seriously, $0.
Setting up the site – I would consider $317.66 of the expenses to be directly related to the site. This included 3 years of Prime Bluehost and domain name, a year of a P.O. Box for my MailChimp newsletter, $6 for a logo from Fiverr I didn’t end up using and $25 in Facebook post boosts (which, for the record, were pretty useless).
Elite Blog Academy: Last week I paid a whopping $797 to sign up for Elite Blog Academy. This is a course run by Ruth Soukup from Living Well Spending Less for people who want to develop their blog into a business. Deciding to spend that amount of money was difficult, especially this early on. But in the end, I chose to be all in and make a strong effort at growing Mama Fish Saves. It definitely helped that my husband could not have been more supportive. Ruth’s course only opens for admission once a year and I chose to try to build the blog properly from the beginning. The course will probably take me 8-9 months to complete and a while to see the return on investment, but I have high hopes!
My favorite post – Follow the Roadmap to Financial Health
My favorite post of the month was “Follow the Roadmap to Financial Health”, which is meant to offer the reader insight on how to start a financial improvement process. There is a separate post for each step on the roadmap and I am hoping the series gets used and referenced by families as they stumble across it.
Top 3 posts on views
This post I wrote on a whim. It was the end of the weekend after Fuss Fish’s first birthday and birthday party. I was actually trying to write a post about something else (what I can’t now remember) but I kept getting distracted thinking about Fuss. I scrapped what I was doing and wrote this letter to him about what Daddy Fish and I hope to teach him about money. It was easily my most popular post.
This post on why we will never refer to our primary residence as an investment was a summary of our first year of home ownership. I showed why buying for the relatively short term, 5-7 years, will be a major cash loss for us and how a house is a cost center, not an investment asset. What was cool about this post was the various opinions I heard back on it. Some people agreed, but a lot of people took the post to mean you should never buy a house (which was not my intention) and disagreed vehemently.
A detailed question posted on the Dollar Cost Averaging infographic about not having a clue how to start the process of investing led me to write this full post response. It walks through how to sign up for an investment account, fund it, and pick the investments.
What is in store for Month 2?
Who knows! I signed up for the Elite Blog Academy last week so that I can grow the blog in an efficient way. It is really valuable to have some structure in place. I am only in the second unit of a 12 unit course and am working my way through that process slowly and thoughtfully.
My goal is to post 3 times a week in Month 2, establishing a Monday, Wednesday, Friday post schedule. I will also keep up my Weekend Wisdom posts on Saturday morning covering what I will be reading for the weekend. On social media, I want to commit some more time to Pinterest, as I think it could be a good source of traffic for the site.
Overall, though, I just want to keep developing my voice and tweaking my topics to best speak to young families. And to have as much fun as I had in month 1!