November 2018 | Month Three – What the Hell is Blogging?

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Blogging.  What the hell is blogging?  I think that is generally people’s response to Rob and I are chasing this crazy dream of becoming location independent through this blogging platform.

That is for the few people that know that we have started this site.

It is a logical question that I struggle with answering.  Yes, three m
onths in and I really cannot explain our blog to others nor, can I tell you exactly where Rob and I are trying to take this blogging thing.

It can be scary sharing your dreams with the ones you love sometimes.  The fear of letting them down or embarrassing yourself can be pretty intimidating.

I can tell you this…what we have done accomplished over the past few months has been exhilarating, frustrating, confusing, liberating, defeating, and so many other crazy things all rolled into one.

Prior posts from our blogging series:

The Unexplainable Realizations of Blogging

With a headline of what the hell is blogging, I guess should let you in on what a blog is.

A blog is a website, just like the one you are on now.  It is a website that is everchanging as writers continuously post new content — kind of like a magazine.  The format is a bit unlike the typical website that is designed to sell or present some static information; a blog is an ever-growing digital library of information.

When Rob and I started our blog, Empty Nestin’, we did it based on the inspirational story of another blogger.  The thing neither one of us were able to prepare ourselves for is the personal journey that this project would take us on.

Silence

To sit in silence, with nothing but your thoughts and the sound of your fingers hitting the keys on your keyboard.

There is a faint voice in the back of your mind making you question every character you type.  The voice that is reminding you of the next step you must take – you must click the Publish button.

It is this moment that you realize your thoughts have escaped from your world and have hit the world.  Although it is an exhilarating and humbling feeling.

It feels like with each word I key, I learn more about myself and my ideas become clearer.

The first three months of blogging have been learning my written voice in a world that has no rules.

It is a bit overwhelming when the thought hits: this is our blog, our platform, and it is entirely up to me what I decide to write next.

It is an unrestrained free-flowing environment is both liberating and intimidating.

Liberating in the ability to write what suits my fancy, yet intimidating because my publication schedule is up to me.

Where in the Heck Did November 2018 Go?

The holidays came and went and were pretty uneventful.

This is the first year that we had to spend the holiday away from our daughter.  Although we are proud of her serving our country, the idea that we won’t see her until 2019 is a little sad.  We were just grateful that our boy was able to make it home.

Blogging for November

We were able to successfully meet our goal for the second month in a row of publishing two posts a week even with me getting a cold that took me down for a week and Rob working the wonderful 60-hour holiday weeks.  Not too shabby for two old people who work full time and struggle with explaining what a blog is.

This month we did an intense push to put more time into each writing.  We are also really focusing on the technical aspects of writing for the Internet that I will go into a bit later in this article.

This month I also put together two collections of quotes with pictures.  Why?  Because who doesn’t love a good quote and I am enjoying getting to know the graphics software.

Pinterest has all been one of our most significant traffic sources, and so I have been working on making all of our posts Pinterest pretty.

Posts for November 2018:

Focusing on the Technical Aspects of Writing for the Internet

It would not do the story of our blog any justice if I left this section out.  It is a section that I will tread on very lightly as it can make me sound like a total asshole.

I am a firm believer that a successful element of a relationship is knowing that you and your partner have opposing traits, yet somehow you can make something beautiful out of all of the differences.

If you have ever listened to Dave Ramsey speak, he always says there is the nerd of the relationship, and then there is the free spirit.

I am the nerd, and Rob is the free spirit!

I am obsessed with learning the technical aspects of blogging.  Obsessed may be an understatement.  Once I get something into my mind that I need to learn the ins and outs of, I quit sleeping.  I drive myself and everyone around me nuts until I am satisfied with that I have learned.

Rob is the free-form writer that makes you feel.  He is the poet that makes you feel.  For him, the rules and boundaries I am learning about are confining and uncomfortable for his free spirit.  He tries to take it all in, but it is as if the rules are stealing his soul.

With all that being said, I am sure that you can tell the last month was pretty wicked in the blogging realm for these two empty nesters.

Search Engine Optimization:  The Structure Heather Likes, the Restraints Rob Hates

Last month I briefly touched on all of my woes with trying to filter through the advice available online.  Focus on content, content, content…but only spend 20% of your time on content and the other 80% on marketing.

That one still confuses me.  I really cannot imagine paying for any advertisement when we have nothing to advertise 😊

The online technical writing stuff the nerd and free spirit have been batting around is our attempts of meeting our goal set last month of learning more about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

The process of trying to weed through the sketchy, snake oil salesmanship stuff that is published out there is quite challenging.

One thing that I have figured out is if an article or YouTube video uses the term “hack” in their title, the subject matter isn’t going to be something to simplify the process.  It is going to be doing some shady shit trying to trick Google.

Miles Beckler…

I did find a YouTuber that has passion galore!  His name is Miles Beckler, and he is a fanatic about content and SEO being the answer to a successful website.

He and his wife have been operating a successful angel-meditation site since 2009, and then in 2016, he decided to start sharing what he has learned.

The thing makes Miles information relatable to me is his level of intensity and unscripted quirkiness.  It speaks to my obsessive nerdiness.

His wife appears on his channel now and then and I, find the dynamics of their relationship fascinating and inspirational.

Since this is Rob and my first attempt in our 26-year marriage of working with one another, seeing another couple make it work provides hope.

Just so you know a bit of what I am talking about, here is one of my favorite videos from Miles.

He is teaching about the basic principles of SEO on a blog post and then providing examples of how to apply the techniques out on our own blog.

He also provides a ton of no bullshit advice which I am always a fan.  So often the message is how easy this blogging thing is so it is refreshing to hear the that is not an easy process and you are going to have to work your ass off to be successful.

Raw realism always speaks to me.

Empty Nestin’ Taking Form

Every week we have consistently posted two articles over the past nine weeks.  To date, we have published 37 articles.  Each post is a piece of us and a piece of our life.

We have thrown out there our relationship, our finances, our family, our strengths and our fears.  We have done this without having a true vision of where we want to take this blog.

At the core, we know that we want more from life.  We no longer want to be chained down.

We throw our experiences out there with the intent of sharing who we are and hoping that one day we can turn this blog into an income stream that will allow us to see all those things we want to see.

Blogging is a learning experience for us as we try to form our site into a helpful resource for others.  This world is such a big place that I know that are those out there that can benefit from all of our wonderous wonkiness.

We invite you today to follow us down this crazy rabbit hole of self-discovery, and we will polish our corners and organize our thoughts as we go forward.

Total Investment to Date

This month we committed to trying two new tools out to promote our site, and we finally picked up a Black Friday laptop for Rob. 😊

With the crazy cost of advertisings, Rob and I are working on the what seems to be the core message out there that SEO and list building is the long-term big reward investments and Pinterest is the instant injection of traffic.

This month we tried out two products for advertising:

  • Tailwind: A Pinterest auto posting tool
  • ConvertKit: A list building email marketing software
INVESTMENT TOTAL SINCE 8/29/18
Advertising $74.88
Education $294.00
Equipment $209.98
Hosting $178.20
Graphics & Design $188.35
Total $945.41

Tailwind

Well, we invested another $74.88 for an annual subscription to a service called Tailwind on November 11, 2018.  With our purchase of the Genius Blogger Kit from last month, we received a credit for $45 off the annual prices of $119.88.

After seeing a 100k monthly viewer increase to our Pinterest stats, we figured it was worth it to commit to Pinterest more than we had been.  Since time is not something that we always have available, automation seemed like the way to go.

Tailwind not only provides us with the automation we needed, but it is jam-packed with information about our Pinterest account.

  • Monitory our profile performance
  • Boards with the most engagement
  • We can see the pins that are performing the best

My assumption is after time passes, this info will be super helpful.  😊

Here are some snapshots of our available data for November:

ConvertKit

On October 21, 2018, we published our first give away:  43 Free Budget Printables | Get Organized & Pay Off Debt in 2019.

For delivery of the freebie, we signed up list building email marketing software: ConvertKit.  The reviews of the product are promising, and we had a two-month free trial from our Blogger Bundle purchase.

The success of this campaign has been incredible.

We currently have 18 days remaining of this free trial, and we are deciding how we want to proceed.

Expense wise, if we choose to keep this product, it will qualify as our largest financial investment in Empty Nestin’ to date.

With a minimum annual investment of $288, we are exploring our options as there are more economical and free solutions out there.

ConvertKit Cost

Finding the balance and avoiding spammy email campaigns…

In addition to the cost, we are still working on concepts and ideas for non-spammy email campaigns.  The guy Miles that I mentioned about emails his list every day and has had a good response.

Miles gives his wife all the credit for her skills in engaging with her email list daily.  He brought her on to his channel so that she could tell the YouTube world about her email style.

While Miles refers to it as email marketing, his wife Melanie made the distinction that she does not view her emails as marketing.  She is 100% aware that she is emailing real people.

It is that response that is making us think what do we want to gain from our email subscriber list?

The more that we dig into this online world, we see more and more of the sleazy side of online marketing. (Damn, I can be so naive!)

With our primary goal being to find our voice and meet our audience, I know we have the advantage that we do not have to compromise our ethics.

We want to stay present that we are working with people and we do not want to sell anyone on the get rich quick promises of online surveys just so that we can make money.

ConvertKit Stats

Within the next 18 days, Rob and I will explore our options and decide where we want to go from here.  Here are the numbers we are looking at for November 2018:

ConvertKit Email Subscriptions

ConvertKit Email Subscription Detail

Rob’s Black Friday Laptop

With three months in, we decided it was time to make the “big” purchase and pick up a laptop for Rob.

In October Rob published The World is Changing, You Must Change with it or Be Left Behind.  When I read his post the first time, I was in awe with how he was able to capture the struggles with learning something new and adapting to change.

Now for something that you do not know about that article or any of the 16 articles Rob has published to date.  Each post was created on his Amazon Kindle Fire.  Yep, Rob is a total badass with his Kindle.  The device that Amazon created to read books, Rob was writing mini books with it!

When the Black Friday sales hit, we thought this would be a good opportunity to see what was out there.

We missed the Black Friday target date, but not to fear, there were leftover deeply discounted laptops.  As of November 30, 2018, Rob has his own laptop for a whopping $210.  Yep, Black Friday coupled with an employee holiday discount of 25% off, he was able to get all techie!

Social Media

Back to my least favorite part about starting this blog.  The changeup for November was to focus on the energy that we see the most response from.

Yep, for the most part, we ignored Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and just focused on Pinterest.

The stress related to Social Media subsided, and it has been fun focusing on one platform.

It was basic common sense that I knew I needed to focus on just one but let me tell I had to get over the internal struggle that I was neglecting something that I should be doing.

Pinterest

We do not have any the metrics from Pinterest figured out yet as we have no baseline.

The one thing I am sure of is if I allowed my emotions to be tied to our Pinterest graphs, I would be medicated and diagnosed certifiably insane!

As mentioned earlier, we saw an increase of 100k monthly viewers.  I do not know what the value is of the monthly viewer number other than making a person feel pretty badass.

Other than that, I do not think there is much value as our site traffic numbers did not increase as drastically.

Either way, we will enjoy the increase and the pretty graphs.  😊

We only increased our followers by 89, yet the monthly views increased drastically.

Goal Setting

We are still working towards our goal of meeting 10,000 pageviews by our six-month anniversary.

Considering we are already at 3,542, I am thinking we are on our way to meeting or exceeding that initial goal.

Future Dated Goals

Two goals that I have had in mind for Emtpy Nestin’ has been to have a few spreadsheets available for our readers to assist in managing their finances.

The thing that I realize about setting goals with such a specific path may not be realistic at this time.  The level of realism is based on this process off finding our way, establishing expectations for our site, and ensuring the energy spent is working to the items that will provide the biggest reward.

For now, I will put the two goals in the list below in the maybe column and work on improving our message.

  • Spending tracker spreadsheet
  • Debt snowball calculating spreadsheet

November’s To-Do List Follow-Up

  1. Ensure that every post has two graphics for Pinterest: 90% Done!  In a review of our initial posts, my time on updating images came from not only making sure that there are two graphics for each article but trying to do a bit of overhauling on some of the original images.
  2. Monetize previous posts: Done! I updated our top visited post with AdSense.
  3. Continue to post every Monday and Thursday: Done!
  4. Establish an email marketing strategy that communicates our blog posts automatically: This is another example of a piss poor goal.  Our focus is messaging and then a strategy to automate.  I would hate to automate bad messaging.
  5. Research and apply strategies that will help Empty Nestin’achieve 100 email subscribers by the end of the year:  Done!  No strategy needed.  It just automatically happened with our free budget printables.

December’s To-Do List

For December, we are committed to meet the following items for us to achieve our goal of location independence by January 1, 2021.

Looking forward to December, our primary focus will be family.  Rob’s dad will be getting married and my dad will be visiting for a couple weeks.  With that in mind, our goals will be very reflective of this scheduling.

Without family, none of what we are working on would have meaning.

  1. Meet our two blog posts a week
  2. Explore email subscription services that meet our overall objectives to be able to control costs and stay in contact with our readers.

Thank you so much for following us on this journey.  Be sure to comment below as we always love hearing from you!

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