Blogging

One Year of Blogging: Wins, Fails, and Lessons Learned

Original photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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!

Related: Six Months of Blogging: My Honest Experience

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

In my six-month post, I listed some of the blog goals I’ve had from day one:
 
  • 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:

  • Traffic.
  • Email subscribers.
  • Social media followers.
  • Income.
  • 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! 

For now, you can check out my six-month stats here. And I’ll let you know when my 1-year stats post is live. (Sign up for my email list if you’d like to be notified of all my latest posts.)

Thank you

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.

Closing thoughts

Thought bubble image by rawpixel; Watercolour texture created by kjpargeter—freepik.com

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!

Support this blog

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!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    January 1, 2020 at 8:10 am

    Thank you for the honest look at your first year. I think that you’re doing great. I love your content and writing style – keep it coming (at whatever pace works for you).

    As someone who is often juggling many demands on my time I find having a system to be super hopeful. I’m currently playing around with a block like system for blogging and am finding it very helpful.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 10:37 pm

      Maria: Thank you for the encouragement and support. It means a lot! I’d love to know more about this block-like system you’re using! I’m intrigued…

  • Reply
    The Twin
    January 1, 2020 at 10:40 am

    🥳🎉Happy one year blogiversary! 🎉🥳 Congrats on reaching this major milestone, sis! I’m so, so proud of all you’ve accomplished in just one year and so excited to see what 2020 will bring for you. Here’s to a fantastic year two for EatSleepBreatheFI! 🥂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Thanks, sis. I can always count on you to cheer me on! Maybe this year, I can convince you (as Mr. Engineer suggested) to come on the blog or podcast for an interview! Let’s see…

  • Reply
    Chris @ Mindful Explorer
    January 1, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Keep up the great work, have fun and just do what feels right along the way. I have zero format and no schedule, I just posts something when I feel inspired. Instagram stories is just fun stuff so make it that; it should be a day in the life stuff such as walking the dog, a cool website screenshot of an article you liked or maybe a eco-conscious item at the grocery store? As for pinterest I put zero effort and just share my blog posts over there when I publish them. Twitter is where I go for news articles and to interact with bloggers, Facebook is for followers and where I can interact with those who don’t go to my blog. I’m at 6 years now and dont have jack figured out, often think my blog sucks or needs to improve and is so off topic all over the map but well, I guess it is just me.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      Chris: You really have a knack for simplifying and clarifying! Clearly, you know what you’re talking about: your free-form blogging style has worked out well for you. I’ll continue to look to you for inspiration when I’m feeling the pressure to publish. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • Reply
    Tawcan
    January 1, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Keep it up. You’ve done great the last year. Blogging is not easy but just remember that blogging is supposed to be fun! I aim to have a few more meetups this year to encourage each other haha.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 10:53 pm

      Bob: Thank you for the support. You’re an inspiration to me as a blogger, and I was honoured to have had the chance to learn from you this year. Thanks for being a patient mentor to this newbie!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Money Hacking Mama
    January 1, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    I appreciate your honesty with all of this. I started blogging over the summer and I slowed down a lot during November and December. Life just got really busy, but then I found myself disappointed that I couldn’t keep up. Reading your post helps me know I’m not alone and that a lot of bloggers struggle with the same stuff. Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Rachel: Your blogging journey sounds so similar to mine. I knew there had to be other bloggers out there like me! It’s therapeutic for me to share my struggles, and I think it helps all of us when we can show how imperfect we all are. Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to checking out your blog!

  • Reply
    Brian
    January 2, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I think you’re smart to move into Podcasting. While blogging will always have a place, podcasts and youtube are exploding.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 11:08 pm

      Brian: Nice to hear from you again! Podcasting was something I’d always wanted to do, and I’m so grateful that my co-host Money Mechanic thought to ask me, and that my other co-host Ryan also agreed to join in. It’s been such a fun and rewarding experience. Let’s hope it continues to expand!

  • Reply
    Darlene
    January 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Yay congrats Chrissy and Happy New year!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 2, 2020 at 11:12 pm

      Aw, thank you Darlene! Happy New Year to you and your family too. I hope we’ll be able to get together at another meetup this year. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kris
    January 3, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Happy one year blogiversary(that’s word right?!..lol), so glad you made to one year Chrissy!! Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge of personal finance, happenings with the fam and just your honesty on the blog. It makes it really genuine when they share their true feelings and really appreciate you for doing that.
    With blogging itself, you gotta remember it’s for fun. When you have the time to do it, then you should. But when you have other stuff going in your life, take care of that first and don’t worry about the blog at that time. I learned that my first six months of blogging. I would revolve most of my time on the blog. Stuff like new ideas to write, SEO, promote the blog on social media and trying to read as many blogs as I can. But I figured out that it’s not really that important to dedicate so much time into it because I got higher priorities that I have to focus on like work, family and now coding school. And so I found out when I have the free time, then that’s when I should focus on the blog.
    I know it’s not easy but once you figure out how to schedule your time on the blog then you should be fine. Congrats again my friend!!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 7, 2020 at 10:22 pm

      Kris—your wise thoughts on blogging always help to clarify things for me. I reflected on what you said: that I need to remember that blogging is for fun. I tried shifting my mindset today to put fun first (and not worry about growth)… and my frustration vanished.

      Wow, it’s really that simple! How did I not see this before?! Thank you for sharing your personal experience and the lessons you’ve learned. As you see, it was very helpful for me. (Yet another reason why I love blogging—I get free life coaching! Ha ha.)

  • Reply
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
    January 3, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Happy Year 1!

    Sometimes I think that my blog should be doing “better” in the numbers game but I realize that the reason I’ve been around for, oh, 13 years, is because I’ve been writing as much as I want and not more. You will keep having to rebalance as things change but I’m sure that as long as you make sure it stays fun and not a tedious task, you’ll last! 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 7, 2020 at 10:28 pm

      Revanche—what? 13 years?! That’s amazing staying power! I need to consult with experienced bloggers like you and Kris more often. You’re all so zen about this whole blogging thing. 🙂

      Clearly, I have a lot to learn from you! ‘Fun’ keeps being mentioned… so I’m going to make 2020 the year of fun blogging. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s helpful and means a lot!

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
        January 8, 2020 at 11:57 am

        Nah, it sounds like you are more metrics focused than I am so you’d want to consult with people who have staying power in that area 🙂 I just hope to see you stick around for a good long while and usually having fun is a key component in that longevity.

  • Reply
    FreedomFiter
    January 6, 2020 at 4:11 am

    I’m also just wrapping up a year! I decided to quit for good at about six months and then my brother convinced me to come back. My focus has changed – I’m writing because I like it and not because I expect blogging will make me rich. Okay, I never thought it would make me *rich*, but I’ve completely abandoned any attempts at affiliate links, monetizing, etc. For now, my goal is to post and see if there’s natural interest, and…that’s the extent of it. Congratulations on all your successes!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 7, 2020 at 10:46 pm

      FreedomFiter—I noticed that you were gone for a while, and I was happy to see you blogging again. I always look forward to your posts. They’re the kind of posts I love—real and honest. It’s what keeps me coming back!

      As for your blogging approach, I think you’ve got the right idea to post without big goals in mind. From all the comments here, I’m seeing some themes: fun and enjoyment come first. Growth and monetization—meh. If it happens, great. If not, so be it!

      Believe it or not, this is eye-opening and a revelation for me. Thanks for sharing, and for helping me to grow as a blogger.

  • Reply
    Ana
    January 14, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Happy Anniversary! I really appreciate your honest account of your first year blogging. Love your content and your writing style so take as long as you need to write. I’ve experienced many of these same issues from technical mishaps to that inevitable comparison to other bloggers. What I have noticed is that no two blogs have the same style or voice. And that’s pretty neat. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      January 14, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      Ana—it’s been so nice to get to know you this year. You always have such kind and insightful comments to share.

      I appreciate all the time you’ve taken to connect on my blog and yours. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging for both of us!

  • Reply
    Triple B
    March 13, 2020 at 9:53 am

    Another great post. I’m having the same struggle.. I naturally beat myself up for missing a couple weeks on my blog for the first time, a couple weeks ago. But I found thinking about having to get a post done was taking some happiness away from me. However when i start writing i have a smile on my face almost instantly. So, I remind myself that’s this is not a contest, and my reason for blogging is simply to give something back, and perhaps help others to have this smile on that I’ve been wearing for a long time. I’m gonna focus on making sure that blogging adds happiness to my life.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      March 19, 2020 at 9:59 pm

      Triple B—you are so right. When we put that pressure on ourselves to write to a deadline, it can take the pleasure out of blogging.

      Since I’ve switched to a “blog when I can” schedule, I’ve been much happier. It’s really freeing to not have to stick to a rigid schedule.

      And oddly, my traffic has only gone up since then! Just goes to show: the gurus and experts don’t know it all!

      I’ve been enjoying your blog and look forward to your new posts whenever they happen to appear. Unscheduled bloggers unite! 🙂

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