This is a little bit of a click-bait title, but it’s true.
Our 3-month blogiversary was on May 30th, and we finally feel ready to begin exploring new ventures within our business.
You see, even though we’re fairly new to this blogging thing, we have already seen a thing or two about the blogging world that we feel gives people a false impression of what blogging is all about.
While researching in the months before launching our blog, we can’t tell you how many articles we read about making money blogging, how to make money with low views, and how to work from home.
There are so many articles out there focused on making money quickly, and it seems that making money is a huge focus of many (if not most) people who start blogging. Don’t get us wrong, making money from your blog is an excellent goal (one we also have), but it shouldn’t be the reason you begin blogging and it certainly should not be the main focus if you’re a new blogger.
Maybe we’ve missed out on a few dollars, but if you visit the blog you’ll notice one major difference between us and almost every other website out there.
We don’t have ads, or affiliate links, or money-making additions of any kind (yet).
Why? Because our main focus isn’t to make money. Making money isn’t the reason we started this blog. Sure, we want to recoup our expenses eventually. Sure, it’d be great if we could eventually develop our own products and services to help meet the needs of our readers, but at this stage in the game that is not our focus.
We have simply seen too much financial chaos inflicted by retailers, banks, car dealers, mortgage companies, and other corporations. Everyone is effected, from low income earners to those with six-figure salaries. No matter your income, we have a passion for chasing those readers who want to make better decisions when it comes to their personal finances. That is our goal, and if our blog deserves to make money then it will happen eventually.
We didn’t get into this venture with the expectation that we would make money right away, nor did we jump head-long into this thing needing to make money right away.
It’s just not a smart or practical way to go about blogging.
So, why did we wait 3 months to begin shifting our focus to monetization?
Glad you asked.
We Wanted to Focus on Building Content
If a blog is a business, then content is the merchandise.
Luckily, the great thing about a blog is that you can purchase the “business” for a relatively low amount, and the merchandise is all free because it comes from you!
There’s also relatively low risk with a blog because there is so little up-front investment needed.
The low-risk nature of a blog means you can take your time in building the business, but the fact that the merchandise comes from you also means you must spend a lot of time stocking up that merchandise.
This is one of the major reasons we wanted to wait to begin thinking about monetizing.
We’ve seen many different styles for content development in the blogging world. Some people write and post when the inspiration hits, while some have specific days they post. Some people write posts right before they publish them, while others write them in advance. Some write shorter posts and some write longer. Some post 2 or 3 times a week and some post only once.
Each blogger is different, and has their own style that works for them.
For our blog, we have chosen to write our content in advance and to only post once a week on Saturday’s. In fact, we determined this content strategy long before we launched the website.
1) We are both extremely busy, and knew that there would be more to running the blog than content. We knew we couldn’t keep up with a schedule where we needed to write posts right before we published them. We would have been setting ourselves up for failure if we didn’t make sure we had content ready for the months ahead.
2) We have dedicated ourselves to writing long, thorough posts. We want to provide easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive posts on each topic we tackle. This means our posts take a long time to research, write, and edit, with each averaging well over 1,000 words.
The above reasons aren’t to say that other bloggers are doing it wrong, they just partially explain why we chose to wait to focus on monetization.
In fact, “they” say quality content is one of the biggest factors in actually being able to monetize your blog, so putting a majority of your focus into building content in your first several months should pay dividends down the road.
In our case, we took it a step further and began stocking our shelves with merchandise long before we launched our blog. We had around 25 articles ready to go when we launched, and have added around 10 more in that time.
As of right now, we have enough articles to publish once a week until early October.
Quality content is the main attraction when it comes to blogging, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up with a schedule that required us to write content as we publish or to publish more than once a week.
As a result, we have used our first several months (and the months before that) to focus on building up a surplus of quality content that will provide value to our readers and keep them coming back for more.
We Wanted to Tackle One Thing at a Time
Content is the merchandise of a blog, but what good is quality content when no one is reading it?
This question brings us to the second reason we waited 3 months to begin thinking about monetization.
There is so much more to blogging than writing articles, and we wanted to tackle one thing at a time so we didn’t overwhelm ourselves.
Especially if you want to run your blog as a business, there are many things to do aside from writing content, the groundwork for which must be laid before you try to tackle monetization.
For us, there were two main aspects to tackle in the first few months outside of content: marketing and the business side.
1) Marketing, or promotion of your content, takes up an enormous amount of time. In fact, we were completely caught off guard by the amount of time that goes into promotion.
Especially in the first month, Tawnya found herself repeatedly going down the rabbit hole of social media to promote the blog, and other aspects of her life suffered as a result.
While she was eventually able to find a balance, this part of the blog was something we did not expect or plan for.
Especially in the beginning, you’re going to need to dedicate the majority of your time to promoting your content in order to build up a following, while also learning to find that balance between promotion/social media and other parts of your life. It’s a tricky tightrope, and something that definitely takes a while to figure out.
2) The other main thing we wanted to tackle in the first several months was setting up the business side of things. We began this venture with the idea of turning it into a business, and we have run it as one from the start.
Luckily, Sebastian has a business background and was able to take the lead in this area.
There are several things that go into running a business that many new bloggers may not be aware of. Just like a financial foundation, it is important to lay the groundwork for the business early on so that it’s ready to go and expand when you are.
To lay the foundation, we needed to first register as a business with the state of Oregon, set up a business bank account, write a business plan, and write our Articles of Business (guiding principles and structure of the business). We also schedule and conduct weekly meetings (complete with meeting minutes), and have a running account of expenses and revenue (revenue has yet to make an appearance).
Again, conducting your blog in this manner isn’t for everyone, but treating our blog as a business from the start and setting up the business side has kept us focused, accountable, and will allow us to hit the ground running when we do turn to monetization.
With so many things to learn and set up to begin building your blog, it just makes sense to focus on one or two things at a time to avoid overwhelm, burnout, and potentially giving up.
Our Goal is to Teach and Inform People, Not to Make Money off Them
Last but not least, the biggest reason we waited to begin thinking about monetization is because our goal is to teach people about finances, not to make money off them.
This is not to say that other bloggers are wrong for monetizing right away, or in attempting to sell products and services to their readers. However, we have been around long enough to see many instances where bloggers (especially bigger bloggers) are clearly pushing sales in order to draw in a good profit.
Again, we want to emphasize that we don’t begrudge anyone from trying to sell products and services.
Having said that, what we do not appreciate is how many bloggers turn into car salespeople when it comes time to promote some course that either they created or will be getting a kickback from in affiliate sales. It may be harsh to compare bloggers to car salespeople, but the tactics they use are pulled straight from the marketing tricks that they often profess to help steer people away from.
You’ve all seen it.
Suddenly you’re getting an email at least once a day gushing about this product/service/course and how it will change your life. There is usually something about how this is a discounted price that won’t be seen again, along with some arbitrary values given to the product for what you’re getting and what you’re actually paying.
As the deadline approaches you get emails counting down the days, or even hours left to sign up. The final emails are usually heavily pressured, reminding you that this is a once in a lifetime deal and that the doors are closing for months, so don’t wait!
And the worst one we saw?
This really hit both of us hard. We will not name names, but a big time blogger who has built coursework on how to blog actually suggested people sign up for PayPal credit cards to be able to “afford” to pay for the course.
You know what they told people? That although the course is expensive you will never regret investing in yourself.
Who knows how many people, who were so desperate to start a successful blog and were drawn in by this person, actually put themselves in debt to take this course at the suggestion of this blogger.
To put it another way, how many people were pushed to “invest in themselves” by lining the pockets of this blogger, who probably made close to a $500k on this course sign-up.
We’re all about creating great products and services to meet the needs of your readers, but using marketing tricks to push your readers into bad financial decisions is irresponsible and unethical. If you choose this route to line your own pockets, you are no better than the big corporations and consumerist ideologies that we are trying to help people escape from.
As personal finance bloggers, how can we ethically try to pressure people into spending money to make us wealthy, when the reason they came to us in the first place was because they’re already struggling with money?
Sebastian has volunteered as a personal finance coach for Catholic Charities for the last four years, and has seen first-hand the damage done when people are taken by companies, usually with many of the same tactics described above.
Forgive us for the long rant, but the above example sums up what we mean when we say our goal is to teach and inform, not make money off people.
It’s the biggest reason why we have waited so long to even begin thinking about monetization.
Now, as we do begin to shift our focus to monetization, we do so with a very clear focus on what we will pursue and for what reasons.
- Only recommend products and services that we have personally used and benefited from
- Create products and services that we think can benefit many of our readers
- Never pressure anyone to purchase a product or service
- Never use tricky sales tactics to try and manipulate people into buying products or services
- Never advocate bad financial decisions in order to further line our pockets
Moral of the Story
There are many things that go into building a successful blogging business, most of which we were completely unaware of when we started.
These unknowns, and the groundwork we knew we needed to put in, make up the main reasons why we have waited 3 months to begin thinking about monetizing our blog.
We wanted to focus on building up a surplus of quality content, as well as the promotion and business side of our blog.
But more than anything, we started this blog to teach and inform people about finances, not to make money off of them.
Sure, we would love to recoup our expenses and eventually build this business into a nice side income, but that would only be the cherry on top.
What would truly make us happy?
If we could help just one person avoid serious financial pitfalls, or pull themselves up out of the money pit.
That would be enough.
Our goal is Money Saved.
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