Category Archives: Blog Reports

FinanceSuperhero Turns One – 10 Blogging Lessons From My First Year

This is not an April Fool’s Day joke! FinanceSuperhero.com celebrates its first birthday today, April 1, 2017. I can hardly believe that I started blogging one year ago. It has been quite a year of ups and downs, successes and failures, and lessons learned for both me -the author of this site- and you -the reader (at least I hope you’ve learned a few useful things to help you Take Back Control of Life and Money).

I started this site on a whim after finally listening to the encouragement of my wife, Meg, during the last week of March 2016. “Why not?” I figured. I had plenty on my mind about money that I could share with others. Starting a site was really inexpensive, so I had little to lose. And I already had a few adoring fans – I could count on my wife, mom, and a couple others to read my blog!

Since then, working on and building FinanceSuperhero has been a wild ride. At first, I set out to “Restore Order to the World of Finance” but I realized I wasn’t really sure what that even meant. But I kept writing, continued learning, and eventually refined my focus. I wanted to quit and shut down this whole site a few times – and I almost did once or twice – but I’m glad I pushed through the dark times when it felt like nobody was reading.

Today, I am more committed than ever to helping as many people as I can to “Take Back Control of Life and Money” one post at a time. I still don’t have all of the answers, but I now know that I do have the ability to help readers form a game plan to win with money.

The 10 Biggest Blogging Lessons I Learned in Year One

In the one year that FinanceSuperhero has been live, I have learned a lot about blogging. I’ve learned through trial and error, seeking feedback from more seasoned bloggers, and a few helpful guides and courses.

If you’re a newer blogger or a veteran blogger who feels like you’re spinning your wheels, I hope the following lessons I learned will help you.

1. Never be embarrassed to tell others about your blog

Some people prefer the anonymity that blogging allows, and some people are just plain too shy or embarrassed to tell others about their blog. I found myself in the second camp for the first several months after launching this site. Now I tell almost everyone I meet about my blog, share a short elevator pitch, and move on to other conversation unless they express interest.

I spent far too long keeping FinanceSuperhero a secret and trying to be somewhat anonymous about my identity. A certain amount of mystery works and is even charming for some bloggers (like Mr. 1500 at 1500Days), but it’s not for everyone. Your readers want to connect with you, and if you’re going to build a relationship with them, a name and a face are a great start.

2. Other Bloggers Are Your Friends, Not Your Competition

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but collaboration and helping others has always come naturally to me. But I have seen some bloggers fail because they kept to themselves too much. There are two reasons why I think this is a major mistake.

First, you probably aren’t writing anything that hasn’t already been written. So keeping everything to yourself and never engaging with other bloggers isn’t helping you keep any grand secrets. It just makes you look anti-social.

Second, the internet is a vast, massive frontier. There is more than enough space for everyone. So you should be selflessly promoting the heck out of others’ work even if they don’t do the same for you. People will notice your altruism, and eventually people will help you, too. And if they don’t? You’ll still be a better person.

3. Have Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

When you start blogging, few people will get it. Don’t let them squash your dreams. You should create a list of short-term and long range SMART Goals to help you stay on track. Some of your goals should be attainable, but a few big stretch goals are good, too.

Related: The Power of Setting Financial Goals

4. Writing is Only Half the Battle; Marketing is the Other (and More Important Half)

Here’s a riddle for you:

If a blogger writes the best blog post ever and nobody is around to read it, does it really matter?

Maybe the riddle doesn’t exactly parallel the philosophical though experiment of the tree falling in the woods, but you get the idea: People won’t find your blog on their own. You have to help them find it.

Social media is a blogger’s best friend. Use Twitter to connect with other bloggers, make a Facebook page for your blog, and join as many blogging groups as you can on Facebook using your own personal account.

And please, don’t make the mistake I made for about the first 9 months of this blog’s life. DO NOT NEGLECT PINTEREST. Learn the ropes right away. Create beautiful pinnable images for each of your posts, join group boards, and help others share their content, too.

Small Business TipsWhen I first started using Pinterest, my pins were atrocious (see the image to the right). I probably thought pins like this would appeal to Pinterest users. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t even read the text under the main title on the image to the right. And the color scheme is ridiculous. And you’ve probably seen that stock photo in the background a million times.

Today, my pins have improved greatly. I search far and wide to find unique and relevant images for my pins without violating any copyright laws. All of my pins use complimentary colors, text overlays, and are fully readable (see the pin below). I create my pins using Canva, but you can use PicMonkey, Powerpoint, or any other program that suits you.

With Pinterest, you only have two or three seconds to make a good impression and convince a would-be reader to click your pin and get them to your site. If you have attractive pins and awesome content, you have a good chance at landing a new subscriber. If you pin awesome content to solid group boards – I recommend BoardBooster to help with this – you will gain new readers every day.

The first year of blogging is the hardest. These 10 blogging lessons will help you grow and build your site whether you're a new or struggling blogger.

5. Your Site’s Appearance is Important

Many bloggers, myself included, tend to focus a lot on content, which is good. Strong content will keep readers coming back for more. But your site’s appearance is just as important – if not more important – as the quality of your content.

Spend time creating a logo. It doesn’t require any fancy skills to create one using Canva. It will likely be the first impression you make upon your readers.

My first logo and tag line were very vanilla.


Several months later, it got a little better.

Today, it has improved even more.

Also, be sure to spend some time working out your navigation menu. If doesn’t make sense to new readers and help them find what they’re looking for they will never come back.

6. Find Your Voice

Every blogger has their own unique voice. Find your own voice as soon as you can and stick to it. Don’t try to emulate other bloggers. Most of us have done it here and there, and it’s not helpful. Be yourself.

7. Give Your Readers What They Need

When a reader visits your site, they are usually looking for one of two things: to be entertained or to find solutions to their problems. If you’re not providing what they need, they’ll move on to find it elsewhere.

For example, if I spend half of a post talking about myself without providing awesome entertainment or a good reason to keep reading until the practical advice payoff point, I’m failing my reader.

8. Write for the Right Audience

On a related note, be sure you are writing to the correct audience. It is important to know to whom you are writing, how they need help, and how your experience and knowledge bridges that gap.

9. Find Your Focus

When you start a blog, it is important to find exactly what you want to write about. This may take a while, but for me, writing became a lot easier once I realized that I want to help people Take Back Control of Life and Money by helping them Save Money, Make Money, Invest Money, and manage all of the complexities of Life and Money.

10. Remember That You’re Always Helping Someone

Even if it seems like nobody is reading, you need to remember that your blog is always helping someone. You never know when you’re making a difference for someone who is reading your blog.

Over the past year, I have had many friends, family, and strangers reach out to share that something I have written helped them win with money. In the first year of this site’s existence, people from over 150 countries on six continents visited and have read articles. The internet is amazing.

You Have What it Takes to Start Your Own Blog

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re not a blogger. I was like you for a long time. I read sites like Financial Samurai, Mr. Money Mustache, Budgets Are Sexy, and a few others and often wondered if I could do it myself. (Then a few months later I was featured on Budgets Are Sexy.)

If you’re not a blogger but think you have something to offer the world, don’t wait to start your blog. Do it right now. It's easy and it only takes 20 minutes. You can choose a domain, set-up hosting with Bluehost, and integrate Word Press and start writing today all for less than the cost of your weekly breakfast at Starbucks.

The Journey Continues

Blogging is one of the most rewarding projects I have taken on so far. Starting this site helped me recapture my love for writing, find purpose, and fill my desire to help people Take Back Control of Life and Money. The journey is just getting started here at FinanceSuperhero, and if you’re still reading, I thank you for being a part of Year One. And if you’re just getting started with your blog or struggling to gain traction, I hope the blogging lessons above resonated with you and helped you realize that YOU CAN DO THIS!

Here’s to an exciting and eventful Year Two,

David


Bloggers, what lessons did you learn during your first year blogging?

The first year of blogging is the hardest. These 10 blogging lessons will help you grow and build your site whether you're a new or struggling blogger.

September 2016 Blog Report

Today’s post is the sixth monthly blog report on FinanceSuperhero. So it only seems fitting that we celebrate with a half-birthday cake.

A blog report for FinanceSuperhero.com for the month of September 2016, including reflection, statistics, and a look ahead to the future of the website.

It is hard for me to come to grips with the fact that this little website has been around for 6 months. I launched it rather reluctantly at the urging of Mrs. Superhero on April Fool’s Day 2016. In spite of what some may think of the articles, this project has not been one big joke to me – I have loved every second of time spent on crafting articles, engaging with readers and other bloggers, and learning new things about the world of finance.

If you are reading this, thank you for your interaction, kindness, constructive criticism, and support, all of which have helped this little blog grow. I began this website with a lofty goal Restoring Order to the World of Finance – but also for my own personal entertainment and enjoyment.

If I have helped even a small handful of people restore order to their financial world, I consider my mission accomplished. Yet, as Oprah Winfrey said, “This is a great day, and we’re just getting started!”

September in Review

Back in early September, I established a simple and singular goal for the blog:

GROWTH.

I didn’t shoot for any specific numbers, dollar amounts, or new subscribers. I just wanted to see growth. The concept of setting such a vague goal was very uncomfortable for me, yet it just felt right.

On September 1, FinanceSuperhero’s Alexa ranking hovered around 490,000 globally. I was very happy to see this number grow organically over time. To be quite honest, I didn’t think it would be possible to reach that ranking level without a feature in Forbes, Business Insider, or Rockstar Finance. So I really didn’t expect to see that number improve much.

As of October 4, FinanceSuperhero’s Alexa ranking has improved to 326,929 globally and 49, 978 in the United States. Cheers to growing in popularity within a country well-known for its mishandling of money, I guess! Again, this occurred without any of the aforementioned features. On a side note, on the off chance  you’re a Forbes editor and you’re reading this, let’s talk!

via GIPHY

In other news, FinanceSuperhero continues to be profitable. I’m not ready to quit my day job or evening job at this time, but I’m pleased with the income generated by this little project. And as Matt at DistilledDollar has so eloquently pointed out time and time again, I have profited financially from this project in ways that are in no way related to blog-based revenue.

Looking ahead

For October and beyond, I’m going to stick with what is working: I hope to see more GROWTH. I hope to keep learning more and more each day. And I hope to make you, the reader, think a little bit differently about life and money.

In the next week, I am counting on inspiration to strike while Mrs. Superhero and I enjoy a much-needed respite in Las Vegas. If I don’t gamble away our life’s savings –OK, who am I kidding? That’s about as likely as Donald Trump releasing his tax returns today– I should return next week with a slate of new articles. By the way, make sure you come back Friday for an intriguing guest post!

Here’s to the future of FinanceSuperhero and Restoring Order to the World of Finance!


How was your September? Did you accomplish your goals? What goals do you have for October and beyond?

July 2016 Blog Report

Today’s post represents the fourth FinanceSuperhero Monthly Blog Report. In many ways, I cannot believe this site has been around for four months; in other ways, I cannot believe this site has only been around for four months.

July 2016 Blog report

If you are reading this, thank you for your interaction, kindness, constructive criticism, and support, all of which have helped this little blog grow. I began this website with a lofty goal – Restoring Order to the World of Finance – but also for own personal entertainment and enjoyment; to be honest, I did not expect to join such an outstanding community of like-minded writers and personal finance enthusiasts.

When I published my first article on April’s Fools Day, I was excited when around 50 people found their way to this site and read it. Life has been a whirlwind since that day, and it is very interesting to look back on those first articles and see how much I have learned from other bloggers in such a short amount of time.

Again, thank you to everyone who has stopped by this site to read an article. If you’re a lurker, especially a non-blogger, please don’t feel too intimidated to leave a comment or ask a question. I would love to see the sense of community here continue to grow each month.

July in Review

In my June Blog Report, I lamented that I had fallen short of four out of five goals for the month:

1. Reach a minimum of 3,000 new page views in June – FAIL
2. Reach a minimum of 3,000 total Twitter followers in June – FAIL
3. Officially join the Yakezie Challenge – SUCCESS
4. Grow my Alexa ranking into the top 900,000 globally by July 1 – FAIL
5. Publish 15 new posts in June – FAIL

Even so, I did not allow the discouragement to hold me back from upping the ante on my goals for July:

1. Reach a minimum of 5,000 new page views in July
2. Reach a minimum of 5,000 total Twitter followers in July
3. Be a more collaborative member of the blogging community by guest posting on at least 3 other blogs.
4. Grow my Alexa ranking into the top 800,000 globally by August 1
5. Publish 16 new posts in July

The results are in:

1. 6,895 new page views in July – SUCCESS
2. 4,470 Twitter followers – FAIL

Ordinarily, I would be very disappointed at missing this goal. My disappointment was somewhat tempered by the fact that I started a Pinterest page and quickly gained 762 followers in no time, thanks largely to the help of Mrs. Superhero. I’m still learning the ropes with Pinterest, but I plan to get started with Tailwind and BoardBooster in the next few days.

3. Four guest posts – SUCCESS +1

First, Michael at SuperMillennial offered to help me get the ball rolling on my goal. As aside, if you haven’t checked out his guest post here, Tracking Your Net Worth, I highly recommend it.

The next guest post, How to Quit Your in Style, was far and away the highlight of my short-lived time as a blogger, as it was published on BudgetsAreSexy, one of my favorite personal finance blogs. As one blogger friend put it, “that’s pretty much the Holy Grail of guest posts.” I remain very grateful to J. Money for the awesome opportunity.

My guest post on Budgets Are Sex was the highlight of July for FinanceSuperhero
My guest post on Budgets Are Sexy was the highlight of July for FinanceSuperhero

Two days later, I decided to stick my neck out a bit and declared A Guaranteed Stock Market Prediction at DistilledDollar; thank you, Matt, for the opportunity.

And last but not least, Travis graciously allowed me to write about one of my favorite personal finance topics – budgeting – in a piece titled How to Turn Your Finances Around In One Day at MillennialMoola.

I am excited to have a few more guest posts in the pipeline for August.

4. Alexa rankings as of August 1, 2016
Global: 594,014
United States: 71,920

SUCCESS – very excited about this growth!

5. 15 total posts in July – FAIL – close, but just fell short of the goal

Reflecting on My Goals

I have always been a highly goal-oriented person, even as a child. Moments after being challenged by my Grandpa to hit my first home run on the opening day of a new little league season, I belted a three-run homer into the tall pine trees overlooking right field. Goals motivate me.

That said, I am learning that being too goal driven can be detrimental. In this blog report, for example, I framed my pursuit of the above goals using two metrics: SUCCESS and FAIL. Specifically, the latter metric fails to account for the positive progress that was made in spite of missing my established benchmark. Reaching nearly 4,500 Twitter followers and publishing 15 posts are satisfying statistical benchmarks.

Moving forward to August, I am going to refrain from establishing any kind of measurable, statistical goals; instead, I plan to focus more upon a qualitative evaluation of the progress made with the blog by asking myself questions, such as:

Am I providing and facilitating quality interaction and communication?

Am I building a greater sense of community?

Am I selflessly promoting others and helping them grow?

Am I writing thought-provoking, growth-oriented articles?

By shifting my goal-setting process in this manner, I hope to see the blog grow in new and exciting ways.

yakezie badge


How was your July? What blog-related (or overall) goals do you have for August?

 

May 2016 Blog Report – Steady Progress

Welcome to the second FinanceSuperhero Monthly Blog Report! As was the case with the April 2016 Blog Report, I am crafting this post in the interest of transparency and accountability.

Lesson 1 – Self-Promotion Is Tiring

When I launched FinanceSuperhero via Bluehost, I was pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of setting up my own domain and the overall process of formatting a website. I recall sitting back at my desk, striking a self-congratulatory pose, and enjoying the moment.

The process of selecting plugins, creating Twitter and Facebook handles, and even publishing my first post all came rather easily. Probably too easily, I am afraid.

Build it they will comeAt the time, I am sure I thought that the hard work had been done. After all, I had built a website, by golly! But in the days ahead, I quickly learned that building a blog is not much like Field of Dreams. Fear not: No spoilers ahead.

In the 1989 hit movie, Kevin Costner plays the role of Ray Kinsella, a man who hears a faint prophetic voice and opts to transform his corn field into a baseball diamond. Of course, the plot is not simple, nor cut and dry, but Kinsella’s ball field eventually draws visitors.

Unlike Kinsella’s diamond, a blog like FinanceSuperhero requires constant promotion and upkeep. As someone who does not enjoy self-promotion, this quickly became a problem. Thanks to the advice of several other personal finance bloggers, I discovered the beauty of Twitter and Facebook automation via platforms like Buffer and TweetJukebox; after setting up a simple posting schedule, I had solved a significant problem. I am still working out a few kinks related to the transition to TweetJukebox at this time.

Lesson 2 – Quality Content Remains King

To make a long story short, my most unique posts are the ones which receive the best traffic and most comments. If I write a mediocre post that does not provide great value to readers, I can immediately tell by looking at my site statistics over the next several days.

I know many bloggers who strive to hammer out short posts several times per day, but that will never be the norm for me. I will continue to post two or three times per week and do my best to provide articles and rationales supported by research.

Note: This is a classic example of Effectiveness vs. Efficiency. Matt at DistilledDollar wrote an excellent article on this subject a few days ago.

Lesson 3 – Goals and Targets Are Critical to Success

At the end of April, I established two simple goals for the month of May:

  1. Reach a minimum of 1,750 new page views in May
  2. Reach a minimum of 1,750 total Twitter followers in May

As of June 1, I achieved Goal 1 (2,043 page views) and fell short of Goal 2 (1,499 Twitter followers). My only regret with regard to these goals is that I did not seek greater accountability in my pursuit.

Therefore, I am making public my goals for June 2016:

1. Reach a minimum of 3,000 new page views in June
2. Reach a minimum of 3,000 total Twitter followers in June
3. Officially join the Yakezie Challenge
4. Grow my Alexa ranking into the top 900,000 globally by July 1
5. Publish 15 new posts in June

Some of these goals represent a natural progression for a newer website, while others resemble stretch goals. Fortunately, I will have more time to rigorously pursue these goals, as I will be transitioning to a new position and gain several weeks of “vacation” time in the process. I will plan to share brief updates on my progress at the conclusion of several posts throughout the month of June.



Readers, how do my site statistics compare to your statistics in your second month blogging? What other goals should I establish for June?