It’s my 1-year blogiversary!
Well, I made it—Eat Sleep Breathe FI is officially a year old. It’s been an amazing year; filled with surprises, challenges, and progress. To celebrate this milestone, I wrote another blogiversary post!
I’ve read plenty of blog updates over the years. And the ones I’ve enjoyed and appreciated most were the detailed, candid ones. These bloggers openly revealed their stats, earnings, highlights, and (most meaningful to me) challenges.
My goal for this post is to do the same. I’ll reveal the good, the bad, and lessons learned. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in!
Part 1: What went well
Thankfully, many things continued to go well in my second six months of blogging. Here are the highlights:
1. I avoided another slump
I shared in my six-month blogiversary post that I went through a slump at the five-month mark. I had a serious case of imposter syndrome and wondered if it was worth continuing.
Thankfully, I persevered and found my second six months of blogging to be a lot more relaxed and fun. My confidence as a blogger has grown, and things like unsubscribes and dips in traffic don’t get to me as much.
I also realized that a strict posting schedule, perfection, and keeping up with other bloggers was leading me down a bad path, so I let go of those things. (More on this in Part 3: Lessons learned.)
All of this has helped to prevent the confusion, doubt, and burnout I faced earlier in the year. I’m a lot happier now, and can continue my online adventures in a way that’s healthy and sustainable.
2. Blogging got easier
Compared to my first six months of blogging, the second six months was much easier:
I had fewer technical issues
I largely overcame the technical issues that overwhelmed me early on. These days, I’m spending more time on content creation and less on troubleshooting and skill building. What a relief!
I figured out my social media
Social media also got easier—especially Twitter and Facebook. I’ve mostly figured out those platforms, and am slowly getting better on Instagram. (But I don’t think I’ll ever master the whole ‘Stories’ thing; it seems like too much work!)
My blogging routines became ingrained
My blogging routines (writing, formatting, posting and sharing) are so ingrained now that I no longer need to reference my checklists before hitting publish. It’s such a time saver!
My writing process improved
I learned to start my writing process with a solid outline, which helped to make my writing more coherent and organized. It should also help with my speed and efficiency—but I haven’t seen those benefits yet! (See Part 2 below for more about my slow writing.)
3. I continued to build relationships
I gushed about my online friendships in my six-month post, and I’ll gush about them again here. These relationships are a huge source of happiness and satisfaction for me and a big part of why I continue to blog and podcast.
I’ve strengthened existing friendships, built new ones, and continue to meet new people all the time. It’s crazy to think that introverted me could enjoy socializing as much as I have!
I look forward to another year of building old and new friendships—both online and off.
4. I met my goals
- Quality before quantity.
- Balance my perfectionism.
- Fit the blog around my life.
- Get enough sleep.
I’m happy to report that I improved on all those goals in my last six months of blogging. While my posting frequency took a hit in order for me to meet these goals, it helped me to meet the most important blogging goal of all—continuing to blog.
I think it was a worthwhile tradeoff. 🙂
5. I moved hosts and sped up my site
I hadn’t expected to take on both of these tasks simultaneously, but I did it and survived to tell the tale! Since completing both these tasks, I’m happy to report:
- My page speed is up.
- I’m a lot savvier about the resource-hungry elements I include in my blog posts.
- I have the know-how to keep my site running efficiently.
- My blog and podcast are cheaper to run (now that they share the same hosting account).
I still have some work to do to further improve my site speed, but now I have the tools and knowledge to do it myself. I just need to find the time to get to it!
6. Everything grew
Over the course of the year, everything trended up:
- Email subscribers.
- Social media followers.
- Domain authority.
- Alexa page rank.
While I try not to get too hung up on the numbers, they help to give me some indication that I’m on the right path. It’s nice to see everything growing slowly but surely.
(All the juicy stats will be coming soon! See Part 5: Stats for more info.)
7. The podcast is doing well
At Explore FI Canada, our overarching goal was to have fun while connecting with other Canadians on the FI path—and we definitely succeeded with that!
If you’ve ever listened to one of our episodes, I think the fun factor comes through every time. We love chatting with each other and our guests about all things FI!
We were careful not to get too ambitious with other goals (subscribers, downloads, and our competency as hosts) but we managed to do better than expected in those areas.
While I still cringe when listening to myself, I feel a little less nervous every time we hit record. As for Ryan and Money Mechanic, they outshine me in every regard, and have also done an amazing job with all the editing.
While it’s not easy fitting the podcast into my life, I’m committed to sticking with it. It’s so much fun, and it gives me an excuse to nerd out with other FI fanatics. I’m excited to see where EFIC will lead us in 2020.
Part 2: What didn’t go so well
While my second six months of blogging was overall wonderful, there were a few struggles:
1. I’m still really slow at writing
I bemoaned the glacial pace of my writing in my six-month post, and I’m still bemoaning it now! I’m nowhere near as fast of a writer as I want to be, so I’ll continue to work on this.
If you have helpful writing tips to share, please post them in the comments below. I’m open to any and all suggestions!
2. My traffic suffered
I decreased my posting frequency in the final quarter of the year—and it came at a cost. Despite reaching an all-time traffic high in October, the lack of new posts negatively impacted my traffic. This was expected, but still a bummer!
Even more humbling—my traffic for December (my twelfth month of blogging) is almost the same as my traffic in my first month of blogging!!! It’s enough to make a blogger cry! I’ll detail all the carnage in the stats (see Part 5).
3. I couldn’t find a balance
In my second six months of blogging, I found it far more challenging to find time to blog. This was mostly due to the non-stop busyness of my very full life. But it’s also because I’ve been heavily involved in my other online project: the Explore FI Canada podcast.
My personal life, blog, and podcast are all things that are incredibly important to me, and all for different reasons. I’ve struggled, and am still struggling to balance it all. In Parts 3 and 4, I’ll discuss some of the things I’m working on to improve the balance.
4. My husband was concerned
As I took on more and more with the blog and podcast over the year, my husband started to worry, and voiced his concern. As supportive as he was, it was hard for him to understand how it all made sense.
I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and he felt it wasn’t worth the stress and unpaid effort. He might be right, and I might be crazy for doing what I do, but I really feel this is what I want and need to do at this point in my life!
I also explained to him how our life always comes first. From day one, I’ve been diligent about not allowing the blog and podcast to encroach on family needs and time. And I feel I’ve succeeded in doing this—even though it makes it hard to blog the way I want!
After clearing the air, my husband feels heard and we both feel okay about me continuing to blog and podcast. I think it’ll always be tough to find a good balance. But as long as we talk about things frequently, we’ll be able to navigate the challenges.
Part 3: Lessons learned
The challenges I faced forced me to take a hard look at my life and how I fit blogging and podcasting into it. Reflecting on the past year, I’ve learned some big lessons:
1. I have to be realistic about my time
I lead a happy, full life. I have children to care for, loved ones to spend time with, a household to manage, and finances to plan. It’s a life of my choosing, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m in a busy season of life, and there’s little time left for passion projects like blogging. I’m learning to make peace with that.
2. I can’t have it all
By prioritizing my personal life, blogging often falls to the wayside. That means I can’t post weekly, conquer Pinterest, or write endless guest posts. It also means growth will be slow and inconsistent. I’ll admit that this is something that bothers me a lot. But this is the choice I’ve made. I can’t have it all and that’s okay!
3. Comparisons are unhealthy
We all know this, but we still do it. Whether it’s at school, our jobs, parenting, or blogging, we’re wired to compete with others and strive to be the best. And when we don’t stack up, the self-judgement and negative talk begins.
This has been a lifelong struggle of mine, and something I continually work on. While it’s not easy to quiet the comparisons running through my head, blogging has forced me to face this weakness and improve on it.
4. Blogging is a long game
I wrote about this in my six-month blogiversary post, but I still haven’t internalized it! Blogging is a very long game and there’s no easy win or overnight success.
I have to keep reminding myself of this nugget of wisdom that Paula Pant once emailed to me:
“Keep working at it. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and honestly, I think a huge piece of my reach and success has been that combination of longevity + quality. If you persist long enough, your platform and skills and comfort will grow.”
I’ll also try to re-read this inspiring article by Brandon at the Mad Fientist: Why Everyone Should Have Their Own Business. It never fails to pick me up and get me going again. (I especially love his ‘potential energy’ concept.)
I’ll keep working on internalizing this lesson… and I hope by my 2-year blogiversary, I’ll have made good progress.
Part 4: Goals
As I enter my second year of blogging, I plan to continue meeting my original blogging goals:
- Quality before quantity.
- Balance my perfectionism.
- Fit the blog around my life.
- Get enough sleep.
But since I’ve mostly mastered those goals, I’m also adding some new ones:
1. Maintain a semi-consistent posting schedule
Weekly posts were too much for me, so my plan going forward is to post:
- Monthly life updates.
- Quarterly blog/podcast updates.
- Bi-monthly in-depth articles.
- Other helpful content as I’m able.
My guess is I’ll post 3–4 times per month when life is less busy, and 1–2 times per month when life gets crazy (around holidays, vacations, and school breaks). Let’s see how this goes!
2. Make peace with infrequent posting
As I’ve already mentioned, my infrequent posting schedule bothers me. A lot! I constantly compare myself to other bloggers and wonder why I’m so incapable as a blogger. Clearly, I need to work on making peace with posting less often!
This won’t be an easy goal to meet, but I’ll do my best. Wish me luck!
3. Work on my SEO
Up till now, I’ve only been half-hearted with my SEO efforts: I mostly follow Yoast’s suggestions, aim for 1,000+ words per post, and do the right things on the backend.
This year, I’d like to step it up by putting more effort into targeting long-tail keywords. I attempted to do this with my green Christmas post and it’s already on page 3 of Google for ‘tips for a green Christmas”!
Here’s the screen cap I took on December 30, 2019:
Yes, I’m at the bottom of page 3. And no, it’s not totally FI-related (so any Google traffic I get likely won’t stick around). But the post is only a few weeks old, and it’s not on page 10—so I’ll take it as an encouraging win!
My SEO plan going forward
My plan is to fill Eat Sleep Breathe FI with quality, evergreen content that’ll be useful for years to come. If I’m going to put all that effort into writing these posts, I may as well optimize them for Google. That way, I can continue to grow the site while helping the most people possible.
To accomplish this, I’ll continue learning about SEO through blogs and podcasts, then implement the knowledge as I’m able. It’ll be a time-consuming and slow process, but it’ll be worthwhile if I can stick with it.
4. Dip my toe into Pinterest
Unlike SEO, I’ve put zero effort into Pinterest. It sounds simple enough, but success on that platform seems to be hit or miss. Given the uncertainty of the ROI on my time, I haven’t been all that motivated to try out Pinterest.
Still, there are enough success stories from other bloggers to keep me intrigued. I’d like to give it a try, and hope to find the time to do so this year. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this.
5. Continue to grow the podcast
While this is a blogiversary (not a podiversary) post, my podcast is inextricably tied to the blog and my life. I feel it’s an extension of my blog, and another way for my readers to get to know me (and vice versa).
So, growing Explore FI Canada will also grow Eat Sleep Breathe FI (and my co-hosts’ individual projects too). We’ve already started moving in the right direction by increasing our release schedule from bi-weekly to weekly, and have other plans in the works.
Stay tuned for more from Team EFIC!
Part 5: The stats
The stats section will be coming in a follow-up post. (I promise it’ll be worth the wait!) Unlike my net worth numbers, I don’t hold back when sharing my blog stats—even when the numbers are ugly!
I couldn’t end this post without thanking the most important people in this whole blogging process—you, my amazing readers. You’re a small but mighty group, and I appreciate every one of you.
Without your comments, likes, shares, and emails, I’d have no idea if anyone cared about or read my content. Hands-down, the best reward for bloggers (and podcasters) is the feedback and interaction we get from our audience.
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all your support. I look forward to another year of connecting with all of you.
After a year of blogging, I’m still loving it as much as I did on day one. Even if my site stops growing and I never earn more than a few bucks, blogging is still valuable to me for so many reasons.
It motivates me to keep learning, growing, and connecting—and it’s just so darned fun! The rewards have been priceless and plentiful, and I’m happy to have traded countless hours of my life for them.
While I faced some challenges, blogging continues to get easier as I internalize the lessons I’m learning. I’m more committed than ever to continue, and am so excited to see what adventures year two of Eat Sleep Breathe FI will bring.
I want your feedback!
Tell me: How do you balance passion projects with your personal life? What lessons have you learned in your blogging journey? Also: are you a fast writer and/or a Pinterest pro? If so, please share your tips!
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