May Progress & Income Report

By Zack | How To Make Money Online

May 23
Make Money Blogging

Read Time: 7 Mins

What up Freedom Chasers?

Have an exciting new post for you today that will give you a 'behind the scenes' look at how we are running this blog. Don't go anywhere because we're sharing some awesome tips and insights with you. 

If you're returning, thank you for stopping by again, it's great to have you! If you are new, FreeUp is a blog that helps millennials get out of debt so they can travel more. You'll find inspiration to manage your money better so you can do more of what you love.

WELCOME! 

This is my first public progress report since blogging full time for one month. Publishing reports like this lets you see behind the scenes and also allows us to reflect on our progress. It will give you an idea of what it takes to build a blog and online business if you've ever wanted to do that. 

Wanna start your blog? CLICK HERE but don't go yet! Open the tab and come back to it after you read this post. You may not wanna be a blogger after you read what we are about to cover 🙂
WHAT'S AHEAD

Blog Growth

Monetization

Wins

Insights

Goals


CONTEXT

We launched FreeUp - YourMoneyYourFreedom.com one month ago. It's been a dream to go all-in on something we were passionate about. Personal finance is something we love and we knew a lot about. Everyone is always asking us for advice and about our debt payoff story. If you know our story, you know we crushed our debt by living in a camper and now I run this blog full-time.

A note on building a new blog or business. The sole reason I am able to do this full-time is because we got our financial life in order.

Launching and building a business can be incredibly stressful! Being in bad shape financially and trying to build a business would just be stupid. Take care of your finances first, then build your business. Just my advice.

 Join our free course about getting your money together, enter your info below:

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GOALS REVIEW

So, what were our goals when we launched the blog?

  • 2,500 visitors to website
  • 250 people on email list
  • 12 blog post on our site 

Since launching the blog, we've seen consistent growth and nearly met all of our goals except our email subscriber goal.

As a blogger, you have to create opportunities to drive traffic to your content, product or service. This is much harder than you think.

The day's of putting out content & expecting people to find it on their own are gone. You have to hustle. You have to market what you're doing.

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We published 16 articles on our blog and have done 4 guest post on other blogs, including being featured in a Forbes article. 


We had 8 posts on the blog when we launched and continue to add more. If you'd like to pitch us on a guest post, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us here.

Our strategy with content is simple, we just try to write valuable articles.

We want people to come back and read later. Having content that is quality and helpful has been a key that has contributed to our readers returning.

Main takeaway: Content matters. Goal setting matters. Write more than you think you need to. Set bigger goals than you think you can reach.

working overtime 925x - May Progress & Income Report

EMAIL LIST

​Choosing an email collection and service company was important when we started. We knew we wanted to focus on creating a relationship with our reader and the best way to do that is to interact via email.

We tried MailChimp but to be honest, it sucked. It was not intuitive and it didn't really have the features we wanted or needed.​

We use ConvertKit to collect emails and send our emails to our subscribers. ConvertKit is a great tool that has made it possible for us to grow our list to over 200 people so far. 

Of those 202 subscribers, 183 are "confirmed" or have double-opted in. This is blog speak for, they clicked a second time to confirm they wanted to be on your list. This makes sure you're getting people that actually want to be on your list, which is what you want to aim for. So, we consider our true number 183.

Screenshot 2017 05 22 11.20.51 - May Progress & Income Report

If you want to sign up for Convert kit you can use this link.​ It's the best in our opinion. That is coming from hours and hours of research in black holes in the internet. Save yourself the time. Get it if you want to take your list seriously. 

Main takeaway: ConvertKit is better than MailChimp, Mailerlite, and all the other platforms. If you want to be the best, use the best. 

woman taking work break 925x - May Progress & Income Report

MARKETING & SOCIAL 

Running a blog or any business requires you to market yourself, your product or your service. This has been fun and challenging for us to figure out.

We drive traffic to our site from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and our email list. A lot of bloggers talk about Pinterest being a major contributor to their traffic. Our goal has been to grow our audience across the board on each platform and find the platform that works best for us. 

Doing this requires tremendous time and energy to create posts and to find out what works on each platform. Luckily, we've seen growth on all of our platforms.

A surefire way to get burned out is to try and learn every platform at one time. Using a platform personally is different than using it for business, so while your experience does count, don't think that it will be easy just because you are a user already.

Small Takeaway: find 3 networks that you like and invest the time and energy into understanding the platform, create a strategy, and implement it. Rinse. Learn. Repeat.

Each platform has strengths & weaknesses

The goal is to find out how you can use each to its own unique strengths. So far, we are still experimenting, so we will update you on learnings as we go.

Analytics

Facebook: 188-page likes

Twitter: 2,636 followers

Pinterest: 3,294 impressions & 167 monthly engaged

Instagram: 553 followers

We're consistently seeing growth on all of these platforms. Don't be too caught up in the amount of followers you have. In some way social media can be a vanity metric. Meaning, not all followers are created equal. We like increasing followers but we're focused on other things as well.​

Main takeaway: Post consistently. Give it time. Social can be a long-game. ​

MONETIZATION

The goal of our blog is to create a platform that we can make money from. It doesn't take away from the value that we strive to provide to readers for free. In fact, it makes it that much more important. Make no doubt about it, content takes time and energy. For example, this post has taken me nearly 3 1/2 hours to write and it takes you, the reader, 7 minutes to read! 

We do have good news. We earned our first dollar!


Affiliate: $120

Affiliate sales are products that we recommend to others and end up getting a commission for. It takes work to find products and services that your readers want. A key here is to not "sell-out". Don't offer dog food to your cat lover audience. Always keep your reader in mind and what's best for them. Your reader is your customer. Treat them well.


Google Adwords: $3.59

Google Adwords are Google ads that are placed on your site. Ideally, you want your traffic to stay on your site but the way I see it is that early on in the life of the blog, you may as well get paid for your traffic. Obviously, this isn't much but hopefully continues to increase.


Side Hustle:  $300/mo. 

The side hustle income came up after I launched the blog and was a result of the blog, so I'm including it. We were approached to and asked if we could design a flier for a small business in OKC. We did a great job on it and then they asked us to manage their social media for them for $300/mo. We're only spending a few hours a week on it so it's worth it. 

We'll be using this customer as a 'case study' to launch into marketing for other small businesses as we explore the territory locally a little bit more.

This is a great benefit of starting your own business and website. You gain exposure and SHOWCASE your skills by running your own site.  This allows people to actually SEE that that you know what you're doing. 

If you want to earn money with a blog ask yourself these questions:

Are people making money from blogs in that niche? How much?

How are they doing it? Can I add value to that niche?

If the answer to all of those things is YES, then you should start your blog and begin building your own blog or business. 

Read our blog post on how to start a blog from scratch: CLICK HERE
Main takeaway: Blogging is hard work! Monetizing can be tricky. There are tried and true ways to go about it. Begin testing for yourself and find what works for you.

JUNE GOALS

  • 4,500 monthly views

  • 300 email subscribers

  • Post 1 time a day on Facebook

  • Post 3 times a week on Instagram + stories each week

  • Join 1 Facebook & Pinterest group

  • Foster engagement on social platforms in the form of comments & shares

  • Make first $ with Amazon affiliate

  • Get first sponsored blog post

  • Post 2x per week on blog (one of my own posts & one guest post) (reach out if you'r interested in guest posting!)

WINS

  • Our story featured in Forbes <- read it here
  • Networked locally and stirring up some cool opportunities in OKC
  • Connected and made some friends in the blog world
Big shoutout to all who collaborated with us in May! Thank you!

Made some new friends and collaborated with personal finance blogging industry leaders. They are all awesome, so check 'em out!

J.Money at Rockstar Finance Blog & Directory

Amanda and Julia at A&J Money Matters

Bobby over at Millennial Money Man

Matt at Distilled Dollar

Jocelyn at The Scholarship System

Deacon at Well Kept Wallet

ocean sunset swim 925x - May Progress &#038; Income Report


TOP 3 LESSONS LEARNED 

MAJOR TAKEAWAY: This goes for starting a blog or anything else you do that matters to you. There will always be haters or people who don't want you to succeed, JUST BECAUSE. Use them for fuel. Forget about 'em! ​

"Not everyone will cheer you on (including friends & family). It doesn't matter. Take your wins, your losses, & just hustle." -zackarylee

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"Don't waste your breath telling people what you're passionate about. Show them with your actions." -@zackarylee

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"Chasing your dreams IS worth it. God, the universe, people (whatever you believe) makes space for you when you take action." -@zackarylee

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If you got this far, thank you for reading. Comment to let us know what your favorite part was. What do you want to learn more about? Shout at me on Twitter @zackarylee if that's your thing.

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