Blogging

Blog & Podcast Update: October 2019

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In my recent FI progress update, I wrote about my crazy, exhausting October. But the even crazier thing is: I didn’t even include the flurry of activity at Eat Sleep Breathe FI and Explore FI Canada

There was too much blog and podcast activity to include in my FI progress update, so I decided to give them their own post this month (and moving forward1).

Blog tasks

There was a lot of back-end work here at the blog in October! Here’s what I worked on:
 

Task 1: Changed web hosts

In a move to simplify my life and save money, I migrated my site from Bluehost to Web Hosting Canada (the same host as my podcast). 

While I loved being with Bluehost and never had issues, my first-year promotional rate was coming to an end. It didn’t make sense to continue on with them when there were cheaper, just-as-good alternatives. 

Luckily, I’d already done a lot of research when I set up the website for Explore FI Canada and knew that Web Hosting Canada would be a good choice. Here’s why:

  • Their long-term rate is cheaper than Bluehost’s.
  • They’re Canadian (go Canada!) which means they charge in Canadian dollars. 
  • They allow unlimited websites on one account. That means I’m able to split the already-low cost of hosting with EFIC. 
  • My EFIC co-host Ryan will be moving his Canadian FIRE blog over at some point as well. This will bring the hosting fees even lower for all of us.

The numbers

OptionCost for ESBFI's share
Bluehost$143 ($108 USD)
WHC (one site)$105
WHC (two sites)$52.50
WHC (three sites)$35

At Bluehost, I would have been charged $143 ($108 USD) for one year of hosting. The Basic plan didn’t allow for more than one site, so Eat Sleep Breathe FI would have had to carry the full cost. 

At Web Hosting Canada, the renewal pricing will be $120 CAD for one year of hosting, which is already cheaper. However, WHC said they would allow us to renew at intro rates if I renewed for a two-year term.

That brings the annual hosting fee to $105 CAD. After splitting with cost with Explore FI Canada, my share drops to $52.50. Then, when we split the cost again with Canadian FIRE, we’ll only pay $35/year for each site!

The migration process

The migration process was relatively straightforward, with staff at both hosts being exceedingly patient and helpful. However, there were a lot of moving parts to deal with when changing hosts. 

Here are some of the headaches I encountered:

  • One of my plugins was creating a blank page error and took some back and forth to sort out.
  • My SSL certificate didn’t work initially, so visitors to my blog were receiving that scary Google message about the site not being secure. A message to WHC got this quickly rectified.
  • I needed WHC’s help to get my chrissy at eatsleepbreathefi.com email set up so I could check it through Gmail. I’m not sure why, but this is always tricky for me—even when I follow the instructions!
  • Post-migration, Cloudflare was giving some site visitors 404 errors when trying to load my latest posts. After some trial and error, I fixed the error by removing, then relinking my site to Cloudflare.
  • WHC’s migration department only works at night, which meant our communications were delayed when our working hours didn’t match up.
  • I also moved my domain name registration from Bluehost to WHC, which required additional back and forth with both companies.

Still a happy customer

Despite the above trials and tribulations, I’m still a happy customer—of both Bluehost and Web Hosting Canada. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either of them if you’re looking for a web host.

Help support this blog!

If you’re interested in using Web Hosting Canada or Bluehost, please consider using my links to sign up. There’s no extra cost to you, and you’ll be helping to support this blog. Thank you!

Task 2: Optimized site for improved speed

This is my pre-optimization mobile speed rating—not good!

Site speed is critical for reader usability and ranking in search results, so I’ve always tried to implement as many ‘best practices’ as I could:

  • Size images correctly.
  • Use ShortPixel or another image optimization plugin.
  • Use WP Rocket or another caching plugin.
  • Use as few plugins as possible.
  • Use a good, reliable web host (I recommend Web Hosting Canada).
  • Use Cloudflare or another CDN to deliver content faster.

Unfortunately, even after implementing all of the above, my site speed still wasn’t great. But I settled for the mediocre speed ratings since I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to do more. 

Affordable help via Fiverr

As it turns out, there was more that could be done. In this post from This Online World, Tom mentioned that he hired a WordPress developer on Fiverr to help him optimize his site.

What got me interested is that the optimization made a noticeable difference to his site speed—and it didn’t cost him an arm and a leg! I headed straight to Fiverr, and decided to work with a developer named Ghhaider

How much it cost

I negotiated with Ghhaider to get his Premium package price down to $29 USD to deliver the following:

  • Increase mobile speed ranking to between 65–80.
  • Increase desktop speed ranking to 90+.
  • Software Version Upgrade
  • Browser Caching
  • Resize Photos
  • Minification
  • Database Optimization
  • On-page SEO
  • Unlimited Revisions

The package included everything I was hoping to accomplish, so I accepted the order and proceeded to the next step. (Which was a little nerve-wracking, but fine in the end. Read on for more on this.)

Security concerns

I was very nervous about sending my logins to Ghhaider, but I checked with Tom and Fiverr, and they assured me this was normal and safe. I went ahead with the order, but for extra security, I took these precautions when sharing my login info:

  • Changed my usernames to an email address that I use publicly.
  • Changed my passwords from what I’d normally use.
  • Sent usernames via Fiverr messaging system.
  • Sent passwords using email.
  • When the work is complete, I’ll change my usernames and passwords back.

I’m not a security expert, and I’m sure there was a lot more I could’ve done. But taking these measures was enough to give me peace of mind.

Results

The optimizations aren’t quite complete at this point, so I can’t report on the results yet. However, even before seeing the speed improvements, I’m already a satisfied customer. Here’s why I’d wholeheartedly recommend Ghhaider:

He’s knowledgeable

While Ghhaider is new to Fiverr, it’s clear that he knows WordPress and how to optimize websites. Based on our many interactions over the last few weeks, it’s apparent that he has a lot of experience with this kind of work.

He’s professional

Ghhaider has been prompt with all his replies to me, and constantly kept a close watch on our timeline. (If there were delays, they were all caused by me being too busy to reply!)

English isn’t Ghhaider’s first language, but he communicates fluently and in a very professional manner. If we needed to message about something in real-time, he would stay up late in order to compensate for our different timezones. 

He’s very patient

Ghhaider was always patient with me when answering my many questions. He replied every time with simple, clear explanations and resources. I never felt that I was annoying him or that any question was too dumb. 

He was also incredibly patient with my site migration, which created extra work for him. (It was not the best decision to do the site optimization and migration at the same time—d’oh!) 

He’s a willing teacher

Thanks to Ghhaider’s patient sharing of knowledge, I’ve learned so much. I now know how to keep my site optimized and how to prevent it from slowing down again. Bonus: I also have a better understanding of what those jargony speed test results mean! 

He goes above and beyond

I already felt that Ghhaider overdelivered on this order, but he went even further! He recorded two detailed videos to teach me how to: 1) optimize my images, and 2) test and compare the old and optimized versions of my site.

Each video was about 10 minutes long, and custom-recorded by Ghhaider for me (using my site on his screen). In the videos, he patiently explains what he’s doing and makes everything very easy to understand.

I can’t believe how much knowledge he shared with me, from how to use Google PageSpeed Insights to how to use the Inspect tool to find the exact image size I should be using. It’s very apparent that he’s a hard worker who cares about what he does.

Was it worth it?

I’m already very happy with the work that Ghhaider has done—even before seeing the results of his optimizations. He made a scary, intimidating task approachable and was willing to share his knowledge so I could learn.

I can’t wait to see how my site performs once the optimizations are complete. Watch for my next blog and podcast update where I’ll report on the final results.

Help support this blog!

If you’re interested in optimizing your own site, please consider using my Fiverr affiliate link. There’s no extra cost to you, and you’ll be helping to support this blog. Thank you!

Task 3: ChooseFI admin duties

While this isn’t directly related to my blog, I’m sharing this as it could be helpful to others. As an admin for the ChooseFI Canada and Vancouver Facebook groups, I’m responsible for sharing three posts each week: 

  1. Mondays: New member welcome message
  2. Wednesdays: Self-promo thread
  3. Fridays: Wins of the week

The self-promo thread for ChooseFI Canada and Vancouver appears on Wednesdays

Personally, I appreciate it when other FB groups are consistent with their timing when posting weekly threads. Knowing this, I wanted to automate the threads for my groups so that my busy schedule or forgetfulness wouldn’t get in the way.

Facebook’s limitations

The first option I tried was Facebook’s built-in post scheduler. It allowed me to schedule up to six or eight weeks of posts at a time, but I found the system to be cumbersome and tedious. 

You have to copy and paste the text over and over, and there’s a lot of clicking around to edit the date and time and schedule the posts. It’s also really easy to lose track of what you’ve already scheduled because you can’t see an overview as you’re creating the scheduled posts. 

Hootsuite to the rescue

After some research, I discovered a free option from Hootsuite. On the Free plan, you’re allowed to schedule up to 30 social media posts at a time! 

Even better: it’s not a timed limit, where you run out of free credits as you use them each month. As soon as scheduled posts are sent, you regain that ‘room’ to schedule more posts. 

I’ve only been using Hootsuite for a couple of weeks and it’s already been such a time saver. The ability to duplicate posts and the ease of editing dates and times makes it a much better solution. 

If you’re a fellow Facebook group admin, I’d highly recommend trying out Hootsuite!

Note: I haven’t found a way to automate the Monday welcome post as it requires that I go into Facebook to grab and tag the names of new members. If you know of a way to automate this, please let me know.

Task 4: Updated ChooseFI cover images

If you’re in the ChooseFI Canada or Vancouver Facebook groups, you may have noticed that the cover photos have finally been updated to match the new branding:

I also updated the Wednesday Self Promo image while I was at it:

While my supposed friend Ryan accused me of simply copying and pasting the graphics (thanks a lot, buddy!) they actually took quite some time to create.

I didn’t have the original files, so it required a lot of Photoshopping and detective work to match the fonts, colours, and layout. (I also reached out to ChooseFI to get their approval before uploading the new graphics.)

But the reason why I’m sharing all this is because I’m putting an offer out there: if you’re an admin for a local ChooseFI group, I’d be happy to help you update your cover photo too.

You just need to send me the name of your local group with a link to a royalty-free image of your choice. (UnsplashPexels, and Pixabay are my favourite sources for free images.) 

If your group also features a Wednesday sharing thread, feel free to download and use the image above.

Blog update

While there was a lot of work on the blog in October, there was also some good progress to keep me motivated:

A month of record traffic

Eat Sleep Breathe FI had a record traffic month with 4,028 page views in October! Average page views between March and September were 3,200 per month, so it was nice to finally see a notable increase.

My husband M thinks the bump is a result of changing my homepage to feature my latest blog posts and improving the layout of my menu items. But these changes were his suggestions, so of course he’d say that!

But to give him credit, I think there’s a good chance that he’s right. I do find it easier to navigate my blog now—so it’s likely that visitors do too. The extra page views could be a result of visitors sticking around and perusing more of my content.

A more experienced blogger would know how to dig into the analytics to prove this out… but I’ll just have to make an educated guess and go with it.

My first Google Adsense payment

My first Google Adsense payment of $119 finally hit my bank account on October 22nd—woo hoo! I also managed to earn another $30 in ad revenue in October, so maybe I’ll receive my next $100 from AdSense sooner than my first $100?  

Coast Capital referrals

In October, I received five referral payments of $50 each from Coast Capital. I know it’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it’s hugely gratifying for me as a blogger. Maybe instead of earning $0.000001/hour, I’m now earning $0.00001/hour? LOL.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it’ll be a while before I know how many of my 18 total referrals will actually come through. But actually seeing the first five deposits in my account is very encouraging!

A successful guest post

Way back in July, I started working on a guest post for Bob at Tawcan—and it finally went live in October. I don’t think either of us expected it to turn into the monster post that it did, but the details and thoroughness have been well-received. 

I also submitted the post to my favourite FIRE content aggregators: Apex MoneyPersonal Finance Blogs, and Camp FIRE Finance. Much to my delight, Apex and PFB featured the article in their daily roundup emails.

And the cherry on top: J.D. Roth also linked to the article in his weekly Get Rich Slowly newsletter:

If you’re not already on J.D.’s list, get on it! His newsletters are awesome. My favourite part is the non-money links that he closes off with. They never fail to entertain, educate, or elevate me.

Admitting defeat

Despite all this good news, I’ll be making some changes to how I blog. I mentioned in my recent FI progress update that life, blogging, and podcasting converged into a perfect storm of stress for me in October. 

I’ve realized that I can’t keep up with blogging the way my perfectionist self wants to. I’m still figuring out what my new blogging process will look like, and will write a post about it soon.

Podcasting update

October was also a very busy month at Explore FI Canada. We recorded two episodes and one interview—which means we now have enough content to take us into January! 

The two episodes we released in October created some lively and interesting discussions in the comments section of our show notes:

Feel free to chime in with your comments too! (Or reach out via TwitterFacebook, or email.) 

Moving forward

The EFIC team also took some time in October to do some future-planning. We want to continue bringing high-quality Canadian FI content to our listeners, and staying power is top of mind for us. 

In light of this, we’ve decided to maximize our time, skills, and interests by dividing and conquering. Moving forward, we’ve decided to split up our podcast tasks as follows:

Recordings

  • Money Mechanic and I will record the interviews.
  • Ryan and I will record the actionable, non-interview content.
  • MM and Ryan will still occasionally appear on non-interview/interview episodes.

Editing

  • Money Mechanic will edit the interviews.
  • Ryan will edit the non-interview content.

Miscellaneous

  • I’ll handle the show notes, website maintenance, social media, and guest communications.
  • We’ll all continue to reply to comments, emails, and social media messages.
  • Also: we’re very fortunate that a special friend has generously volunteered their time to help us with our show notes. Thank you, SK!

We think this new task division will allow us to be even more creative with our content and make our workload more sustainable. Here’s to more and better EFIC content!

Time for your feedback!

Phew, that was a busy month of online activity. I hope this update was useful and informative for you. Leave a comment to let me know what you liked about the update and what I missed and should include next time.

Also, if you have your own blogging or podcasting wins or tips, please share them below. I’d love to hear about it!

Sharing is caring…

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) Thanks for your support!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Kari
    November 18, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    What a busy month, Chrissy! Thanks for being so specific on your site speed improvement process. I have been looking at mine, and have reached similar conclusions – it’s way over my head. I did remove a couple of slow plugins, which decreased my loading time by over 1 full second. Maybe I’ll hire Ghhaider! I love the new look, too.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 18, 2019 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Kari,

      Decreasing load time by 1 second is huge! I’ve learned a lot from Ghhaider, and will share my newfound knowledge in my next blog update post. Some of the things I’ve learned from him are easy to implement and can help a lot!

  • Reply
    Richard
    November 18, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Hey Chrissy, you can use bounce rates and page views per session to prove it out for theory 2!
    Theory 1. There were simply more users coming to the site in October.
    Theory 2. Site changes made users stay and browse more pages.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 18, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      Ohhh! See—I just needed someone smarter than me to show me the way! I’ll take a look to see if there are differences in the bounce rates and page views per session. Thanks, Richard!

  • Reply
    T on FIRE
    November 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I love the fact that you are now making .00001 dollars per hour! Haha. Well done! This was a great post. I got a 3 year deal with Bluehost, but once that runs out I’ll definitely give WHC a shot based on your recommendation! I have used Hootsuite in the past for work, but I didn’t know there was a free version. This would be great for posting to the various social medias. Additionally I will sometime get around to sending you the ChooseFI NB image to update our old group photo. Thank you for offering. Lastly, you have given great insight to how much work goes into a podcast. I’ve thought about starting one but it is quite obvious now that I probably don’t have time. Maybe when I reach FI 😂. Keep at it, you are doing wonderfully!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 18, 2019 at 10:50 pm

      Hi T—gotta focus on the incremental gains, right? You are clearly a more committed blogger than me to take the three-year Bluehost deal! That was a smart choice as it’s a much better price that way. Please do send me the ChooseFI NB image. I’ll be happy to create the image for you. As for the podcast, all I can say is I’m very grateful that I have two wonderful co-hosts who work hard to split the duties equitably (and a special helper for the show notes)!

  • Reply
    Jaimee @fimigrant
    November 19, 2019 at 5:34 am

    What a busy and productive month! I truly love how you write and organize everything. It keeps me reading! Congrats on the payments! Wooooo hooo and the new host and the page views!!!! I have been putting off so many things on my blog due to been intimidated to do them but when I read yours I get armed with motivation!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Jaimee, I absolutely get the intimidation and overwhelm that comes with managing a blog. There’s just so much to do, all the time. I hope that by sharing my experience that others can learn and avoid the mistakes I’ve made. Thanks for the lovely comment!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    November 19, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Love the site updates you have made. I agree with M having your most recent posts on the front page is very user friendly.

    I have site speed in the back of my mind too. Thank you for being so transparent with this. May eventually look into hiring someone to help me with this too.

    Keep making small gains – they all add up!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 20, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks, Maria. Your encouragement means a lot. You give such simple, but helpful advice! Your last comment in my FI progress update (about how posting once a month is still progress) really resonated with me. I feel less overwhelmed and more motivated when thinking of my blog as growing incrementally, with no set timeline. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  • Reply
    Kris
    November 19, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Great idea on changing web hosts so you’ll be able to pay at a cheaper rate. I remembered when I first decided to self-host my blog, the process was kind of a headache transferring the domain and the SSL certificate like you went through. Luckily Blue Host helped me through it and the blog was up and running after a few days.
    I haven’t even thought of checking the speed of my blog. Great job looking into it and having some improvements in it!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 20, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Kris, I’m glad I’m not the only one who found the site migration to be a headache! It seems that it should go more smoothly, but I guess it’s unavoidable.

      Also, I forgot to thank you in the post for telling me about that 404 error. If not for you, I wouldn’t have realized there was an issue when I reconnected my site through Cloudflare. So thanks again for taking the time to tell me and to help me test it on different browsers!

  • Reply
    Financial Pilgrimage
    November 19, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    This is really helpful as I’m in the process of moving hosts and redesigning my site. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do myself and what needs to be outsourced. Thanks for the helpful info and congrats on the record month!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Hi Financial Pilgrimage, thanks so much for coming by to comment. I recently read your two-year blogiversary post, and it really resonated with me. I think our goals and expectations are pretty similar. (Also, I just have to tell you: what a fun idea to do a Q&A with your community!) Congratulations on your progress. I look forward to reading more content from you.

  • Reply
    Ana
    November 23, 2019 at 9:20 am

    You’ve been so busy! There’s so much work in blogging that isn’t visible to the reader. Your site looks wonderful and I hope it makes running things a little smoother. Thank you for the insight to all the mechanical parts. I’m taking notes! Congratulations on your income and growth 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 26, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement and kind words, Ana. There really is so much work behind the scenes! On the whole, I love it—which is why I keep going. It’s just hard to find enough time to get to it!

  • Reply
    Ramona
    November 24, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Phew, now this was a busy month for you 🙂 You could add Schema as well on your blog, it helps good ole google see your website better. Good traffic stats, keep up the great work. Solving those technical issues is also great, you are now set up properly and ready to continue your journey.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      November 26, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      Hi Ramona, thanks for the comment and for the tip about using Schema. I’d heard of it but never thought to use it myself. I’m really curious now, and will take some time to look into it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • Reply
    Abigail @ipickuppennies.net
    December 2, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Wow, you’re way more on the ball than I am. I’ve been needing to switch to a mobile-friendly theme for ages. But every time I start looking, my soul shrivels and it feels overwhelming. I guess I’m going to have to make it one of my resolutions for the new year, preferably January.

    Congrats on getting all that done — and doing so much of it yourself. I fall back on Grayson Bell for my more technical stuff, like migration and theme updates and things like that. I just don’t have the wherewithal to figure it out myself. So good for you!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      December 3, 2019 at 11:13 pm

      Abigail, it may seem like I’m on the ball, but it’s all behind the scenes stuff! I need to put more effort on the front end and push out more content. I honestly don’t know how you post as often as you do! I’m so impressed.

      I keep hearing about Grayson. He must be good! I think he’ll be my go-to guy if anything major came up and I couldn’t manage it myself. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Reply
    Savvy History
    December 6, 2019 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for doing an update in this style! You have been rocking it, Chrissy! I really enjoy hearing about the backend work on a site because it makes me feel like I’m not alone in being overwhelmed by all of the extras that come with blogging. Your site is loading incredibly fast for me:) When my one-year promotional deal was up, I migrated as well. I’m happy with my decision to go with SiteGround.

    Also, congrats with all of the success on your article about the true cost of staying at home. I saw it floating around on Twitter but had no idea it had made it on the Get Rich Slowly newsletter. That is awesome! Like you, I have no idea what articles will do well and which ones won’t. I like the variability though and that keeps it exciting.

    I look forward to listening to a podcast episode over Christmas break when I have more dog walks coming my way!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      December 9, 2019 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for your kind words and for following along on my blogging journey. It’s so nice to have other friendly bloggers to commiserate with! I have always been impressed with SiteGround, and suspect I’ll end up with them one day—if the blog or podcast ever blow up! (Which might be never—ha ha!)

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