Reflecting on the Inaugural Year of Blogging: A Journey of Twelve Months

Last year I published Invested Wallet with a few posts that I had written in advance. Time flies, especially when you’re having fun.

A few months ago I wrote a six-month recap, and I didn’t plan to do this one. It can distract from the true purpose of this site, which is to discuss personal finance and investment.

This information could be of interest to a number of personal finance bloggers who read my blog. It is also a great way to reflect on my future and keep track of growth.

Lastly, Financial Mechanic also inspired me. He had just celebrated his one-year anniversary, and encouraged me via a twitter convo to do the same. Here we are!

What is the purpose of an Invested wallet?
I have treated this blog like a business since day one and I don’t hesitate to admit that I started this site in order to make money. It’s not just that I love this topic, but also write articles about it.

In my opinion, the possibility of starting a profitable business out of a passion is an enormous win.

I was amazed by the positive feedback and encouragement that came my way in such a short time. I am not a financial advisor or guru, but I will be happy if I am able to relate and encourage others (even if my blog does not change my life).

Many of you have seen my “start here” page or followed me for some time know that I am a full-time marketer. I have a small advantage in terms of my skillset and experience, which helps me to grow. However, I have much more to learn.

My strategy was to approach this from the beginning as a business and this helped me make decisions about building my brand. You’ll find below some of the milestones I reached in my first year blogging, my strategy and my future plans.

Some areas of my content will remain private, while others I will make public. This is not to hide anything, but to protect myself and feel comfortable with what’s out there publicly.

Invested Wallet Milestones
Here are some milestones that I think you should know about.

First, a few words of content.

Here are some of the best pieces of content I’ve ever read:
The most popular (in terms of pageviews)
Here are the Milestones…

Was featured in a few major magazines:
It was part of my early strategy to legitimize and promote my website when I was new to personal finance.

Here are a few publications where I have been featured or quoted:

Business Insider
Yahoo Finance
Rockstar Finance
Huffington Post
The majority of what was above was done using HARO which can be difficult for bloggers.

Bloggers often struggle to get noticed by journalists who use this platform. I did have a formula for responding and an approach that had a good success rate.

Some will not link back to your site. It’s okay if they use a no follow tag (which means no SEO link juice), however, this B.S. It’s frustrating to hear that they cannot link back to you. You need quotes but you can’t properly cite the source. External linking is also part of good SEO. /rant.

I had my first month with $1,000+ revenue
Since the beginning, I have treated Invested Wallet like a business. In the first year of blogging, many people don’t make any money. Most people who make money from blogging do so through freelancing, consulting, or having some large sums of money behind the scenes working to fuel growth. I am not one of them.

I have focused on creating quality, interesting content that will lead to revenue. Since I have a job that pays my bills, anything from this blog is a bonus.

It was the 11th of January that I made the most money. It’s exciting to see this, especially because I’m not working as hard as I can (more about that in the strategy section).

My blog’s revenue streams are currently ads (I just started doing this in April), Affiliate marketing, and sponsored articles. I eventually want to reduce the ads in order to focus on other revenue sources. As a business it is important to have some recurring monthly revenue.

Ads can be annoying, but I don’t think they should stop bloggers from making money. Blogging is hard work and I still spend hours on this. We all deserve to be paid.

The First Year of Blogs: Twelve Months Reflections
My SEO is starting to kick-in
I have a background in digital marketing, which has helped me a lot when it comes SEO. No matter how well you do this, it takes time for a blog to show results and rank.

Here is a screenshot of my Search Console from the past year. It took around 8-9 months for it to spike upward. Ignore the random spike. It was a viral anomaly.

The First Year of Blogs: Twelve Months Reflections
I also checked my Domain Authority score (a scoring system that predicts how authoritative your website is). I’m also pretty pleased with my score, especially since this is a brand new blog. (Cue the outreach stuff to link to other blogs?

The First Year of Blogs: Twelve Months Reflections
In the eighth month, we reached 16,000 pageviews.
In the months of January and February, my traffic more than doubled. Two things were responsible for this: SEO kick-starting and a Reddit viral post.

In February, my eighth month in existence, I had reached 16,000 pageviews. I know bloggers who began around the same time or a few months or weeks before me who have twice or three times that.

Remember, I am only writing two posts per week and do casual marketing (more about that in the strategy). For the first six month, I also wrote 1x per week.

This number has grown since then, even though we are now in the slow summer months (I am hovering between 18k-20k/per monthly).

The First Year of Blogs: Twelve Months Reflections
Over 52,000 people visited the site
This is the number new users that have visited Invested Wallet (a week earlier than the date of publication). This is not the number of pageviews. It is actually 52,000+ users!

This number still blows my mind. I’ve had a business blog for a company and a music blogging site that I began in 2010, but these numbers are just incredible. I can’t imagine how many people are on this blog and have read the content. It’s amazing.

The First Year of Blogs: Twelve Months Reflections
First Year Blogging Strategy
Although I am excited by the growth and numbers, I am not doing well for a personal finance blogger. While there were times when I was frustrated and questioned myself, I took a step back and gained my composure.

I am also not working as hard as I could be. But I did it for a good reason: to avoid burnout.

Everybody is different when it comes to blogging and growing your blog. For example, if I wrote three times a week, spent 2x as much time on guest posting and promoted my blog, I am pretty sure that my numbers would have doubled.

Here’s the thing: I love my job as a full-time digital marketer. I spend a lot of time on my computer, writing content, doing paid ads, managing strategy, etc. I don’t want to get burned out on marketing or become obsessed with traffic numbers, so I limit my blog time.

I do not want to lose my momentum and burn out. I also don’t want to be mentally exhausted, as this can have a negative impact on other aspects of my life. My approach has been methodical, slow, and steady.

Even though I consider this a business, I am still happy to not work as hard as other people in order to see it succeed immediately. Do not get me wrong. I am still working hard, but my capacity is only about 60% of what it could be. I’m okay with that.

Highlights of My Strategy
Here is a small part of my blog strategy that you can use for your own. Remember that your blog, even if you are in a similar niche, is unique. What works well for me might not work very well for you.

I paid someone to make my website look professional right from the start. I could have done it myself, but I’d rather spend my time on other things.
In major publications in the first six-month period. This was a deliberate approach to build credibility, traffic and email subscribers. It also helped drive brand awareness for something new.
Be everywhere and anywhere. Again, I took it slow with this, but I would post on major social media, share on Reddit and Quora, search for Facebook groups, post on forums, test Facebook ads at times, etc. As of this writing, I have had over 130k views on Quora’s answers. It is best to start with one platform and then expand your reach once you have mastered it.
Create high-quality posts for both SEO and personal use. Bloggers will often say to choose just one aspect of this and focus on it. Nah, I do both. It takes me a long time to develop an audience if I only focus on personal stories. SEO is also time-consuming, but it can generate recurring traffic as you rank phrases, keywords, and intent. There’s nothing wrong with picking one or the other. But I chose a combination. It’s working, whether you agree or disagree.
Try to bring something new to the conversation. Many blogs repeat the same listicle article that has been written 5,000 time. The odds are against you. You may rank on Google one day. I do some things that have been discussed a lot, but I try to add my own flair or to make it more interesting. The reader may get some ideas that overlap, but hopefully they will gain a deeper understanding of me.
Post consistent content. At first, I only published once a week on Tuesdays. It wasn’t consistent. I changed it to posting twice a weekly every Monday and Thursday. Since mid-Fall, when I changed this up, I haven’t missed a single day. It’s a great way to keep an audience interested when they know what to expect on certain days.
Joined a few blogger sharing groups. Although I am not a huge fan of this method, it is still valuable whether or not you get clicks. Joining some groups allowed me to discover many great bloggers and I was able help them as they helped myself. These groups may not have driven a lot of traffic but they did give me more exposure to other bloggers.
The above are only the very basics of my strategy. There is much more to it. Not everything worked, but it’s important to try and test.

What are my plans for the second year?
The plan for the next year is simple: I will stick to my schedule of content and maintain a high level of consistency in writing. Since blogging is a long game, I don’t expect to earn a lot of money even in year two. If it happens, great!

Currently, I am a contributor to The Ladders. I’m also looking for syndication opportunities with larger publications. It would be great to get featured on MarketWatch or Business Insider.

I am looking to add some new features to my website. These will be calculators, not the standard, simple ones. There may also be some digital products and I plan to continue scaling up affiliate marketing.

My plans are still in flux as I try to figure out what Invested Wallet will be and how it can evolve.

The blog could take a number of directions in terms of financial gain. I am open to all possibilities.

This income will cover all of my monthly expenses. This number is currently around $1700 and will drop once I have paid off my remaining student loan debt. This is the most likely scenario, whether it happens sooner, in year 2 or later. It is possible, especially since I was so close this past May. Then, I could save my entire full-time salary which would be a huge financial game changer.
It becomes my sole job. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss without needing a job. I’m an entrepreneur. My good friend taught me how to create an LLC and I also manage Quickbooks myself. If the site’s income grows, I may pursue it full-time. There is no immediate rush because I enjoy my current full-time position.
Someone will buy it, or I’ll put it on the market. It’s not out of the question, even though it is the least likely of all the possibilities. I’d be willing to listen to an offer from another brand to purchase InvestedWallet, whether it was for the domain, content, income or anything else. It would need to be financially viable. Selling it would be difficult for me because I think the blog has a lot more potential than selling. It’s also possible that I sell it myself to pursue other interests. It could happen someday, but for now I don’t plan to sell the site on my own. Personal finance and investing are my passions, and writing about them on the blog makes it even more fun.
You deserve a medal if you managed to make it through that recap. Overall, I am pleased with the way the first year blogging for Invested Wallet went. I hope to continue to take this blog to new heights.