September 2018 | Our First Month Blogging – What was it like?

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What was our first month of blogging like?  It was scary as hell!

I wish there were a better way of describing our first month of blogging, but there isn’t.  Just thinking about writing this post is a bit mind-blowing as I think of all of our challenges accomplishments this month.  Starting something new is always a growing experience.  Starting a blog is a growing experience that you are publishing to the world.  Hence:  SCARY AS HELL!

One of the things that Rob, and I put into action when we were paying off our debt was to set goals and document those goals.  It is this simple process that allows us to appreciate where we are and see all of the possibilities of where we can be.

Our Emtpy Nestin’ Blog will be no different.  This segment of our blog will track all progress and setbacks, establish baselines to measure development and serve as our accountability tool to ensure we are achieving our goals and we are fulfilling our responsibilities to our online space.

Welcome to our Empty Nestin’ Diary | Our chronological log of how we made it from point A to point…

When Rob and I went through the life-changing events that took place when our baby moved out in December 2017, we went through moments of panic.  We scrambled to come up with a game plan on how to survive and make our focus on each other and where we want our lives to go.  Both of our children are on their adventures and now is our time for us to experience an adventure of our own.

One of the best parts of an adventure is the mini celebrations along the way.  It is also those moments in which we step back and reevaluate where we are and where we want to be.

Over the past month, Rob and I have probably watched around 200 YouTube videos and read countless articles about blogging.  We came up with a domain name, the name of our website, and we selected a host, the place where our website lives on the internet.  Then came the decorating!  Website design and writing posts – yikes!

Damn, Rob and I found one challenging hobby.  September 2018 has been a month to remember.




So here we go…these are the crazy things that September 2018 had in store for us

Research

Everything that we did this month was at the recommendation of someone else!

It was mid-August that Rob and I came up with the idea of sharing the process of our kids moving out and preparing for retirement through a blog.  The spark of inspiration is always fascinating.

For us, starting a blog came from so many influences over the years; from passions that we have, to dreams we never chased, it always seemed like pursuing the unknown just did not fit into our lives.  We had responsibilities, life milestones that we needed to meet, and of course children to raise.

Now that our children have moved on, we realize that now is our time, and we plan on making the most of it!  Rob and I have been using every second available, outside of the time we spend at our day jobs, consuming as much information as possible.

I can tell you this…now is an exciting time.  Now is the time of so much free information as there are so many individuals out there sharing their experiences, telling their stories and giving advice.  They are letting us know what worked for them and allowed them to turn their dreams into realities.

Creating a name

It took us about two weeks to come up with the name Empty Nestin’.  In all of our research, the advice from experienced bloggers was to not spend too much time in selecting a name.  Examples of Google and McDonalds are used over, and over to supports insignificance of a name.

For us, selecting a name was so much more than just a name.  It was our conversation starter that allowed us to dream with one another.  To share a level of creativity with each other that we have not done in our twenty-six years of marriage.

Rob and I have spent so many years running a business day in and day out.  Our business:  getting our children prepared to go out into the world fearlessly.  We did our best to balance parenting with friendship, and work with reward; everything that we accomplished was child-centric.

Although Empty Nestin’ includes our children, as they are part of our story, the basis of our blog is for our personal growth with the intent of helping others grow with us.  Empty Nestin’ may not be the best name, but it was the name that made both of us smile with the possibilities of what it can become.

Selecting a host

So, what’s a host?  A host is pretty much a group of mega computers and servers that houses our website.  Sounds impressive…right?  Well, we are impressed with the thought of it.  The hosting fee was our first expense associated with starting our blog….Empty Nestin’ est. August 29th, 2018.

Selecting the host was a reasonably straightforward process.  Nearly every blog we read recommended Blue Host.  So far our experience with them has been great.  When we first signed up, we received login information and their intro email made it easy to hit the ground running.

It was about one week into our setup of that I began questioning when we would be out of what their site called provisioning.  I was able to work on the configuration of our website; the domain name just was not emptynestin.com.  About a week into it, I jumped on a chat with them.  Within five minutes the problem was resolved, and I haven’t had to chat with them again.

It was impressive to see their responsiveness.

So, we are all in!  The initial investment for our name, emptynestin.com, and for 36 months of hosting:  $178.20.




Website design

Other than researching, the website design process has been the most rewarding.  It is exciting to see your creativity, or lack thereof, coming to life.

To get you started, Blue Host installs a program called WordPress.   WordPress is a free online tool that makes website creation an option for those of us who have no clue on how to write in code.  WordPress is a platform that makes creating a blog post as easy as typing a word document…kinda.

I am not trying to sell WordPress as an open the box, and tada you have a website type of thing; but for the most part, it is a pretty intuitive tool that is laid out in a very comprehensive way.   WordPress has all kinds of designs to choose from that you customize.  In the WordPress world, these designs are called Themes.

Okay, I am almost thinking I am speaking to something that I really shouldn’t because I am still learning.   To get a theme we wanted to use, we made another investment in our blog.  We purchased an 18-month theme for $39.99.

Post writing

We are throwing all of our insecurities out there, reading our words, cringing, and then throwing some more out there.  All I can say is we are learning; we are finding our voices.  What a terrifying experience!  The idea of a blog was so exhilarating, so empowering, and the action of writing allows us to filter through our thoughts, to share our words with each other with the idea that maybe our words will be seen by the world.

It is bravery and cowardice all rolled into one.

Our Posts for the Month:

Social Media

What a spontaneous method of communication that is so powerful.  It is one that I have held a great deal of respect for throughout the years.  I have seen the misuse of the platform and the impact it has on lives.  I see the influence that this instantaneous communication has on our politics and on the lavish lifestyles people strive to live, and I feel reverence.

For us, social media is one to respect.  It has a way of touching lives in ways that are easy to underestimate.   Unlike most these days, Rob and I have minimal experience on any of the social media platforms.  We now have a Facebook Page, a Twitter handle, a bunch of Pinterest boards full of pins, and an Instagram thing-a-ma-jig.

Oh my, we are so connected now…right?




Total investment to date

About 160 hours total time and $218.19 to get our name, website hosting, and site design (theme).

The benefit of paying off our debt is we have the money to invest in our future!  Our blog!

So what’s next?

From our experience, our next depends on the goals we set.  When we set out to pay off over $50,000 worth of debt in 2018, we knew that we needed to set some goals.  Our goals were specific and time sensitive.

  1. Pay off home improvement loan and auto loan by November 2018: 11-month goal (Goal achieved 6-months)
  2. Build an emergency fund of 6-months of expenses by April 2019: 16-month goal
  3. Budget for a single income home by December 2019: 2-year goal (Goal achieved in 8-months)
  1. Pay off the mortgage by the time Rob is 50: 5-year goal
  2. Retire when Rob turns 60: 15-year goal
  3. Stop Smoking: We talked about this one for about two months.  It was an intense process telling our old friend we were going to leave it.  That was seven months ago, and we remind ourselves every day that we are not going back!

Goal setting!

1.  Pageviews

Goal setting without any historical information almost feels like going to Vegas, picking up some dice and throwing them out there and finding out that the game that is everyone is playing is poker.  In the world of blogging, our blog’s success or failure is all determined on how many people view our pages.

I wish I could explain the pageviews on our site.  It started out exciting and ended flat!  Literally! We are coasting on zero views.  I am not sure if we did something wrong or if this is indicative of a new website.

Rob encourages me to have patience.

FIRST MONTH BLOGGING

2. Social Media

As mentioned earlier, Rob and I are not social butterflies.  We are currently in the process of learning the rules of each social media platform.  It is a bit of a learning curve, but then again, this whole experience is a process unlike any other.

Below is what we are hoping for as far as followers go.  Hell, this may be the wrong metrics to use, but for now, this is all we’ve got.  😊

3. New Posts

Consistency, consistency, consistency!  Rob and I have both found that our success in our careers is all due to our work ethic – – – we show up, we work our asses off, and we do this consistently.

During our first month, we published 18 posts without a publishing schedule.  By the end of September, it became apparent that we needed to start scheduling our posts rather than create and publish immediately.

Over the next six months, our goal is to create the content for our blog and schedule two posts a week.  We understand that we are at the “new” stage.  Everything that we do is doing it for the first time, and we have so much to learn.  To offer ourselves the opportunity to research and discover the opportunities available in the blogging world, we are going to limit ourselves to two published posts a week for the month of October.  As of today, our posts are scheduled all the way to the 18th of October.

4. Create an email newsletter

Creating an email newsletter is a goal for our future.  It is one is a mandatory inclusion for the section of our post.  With the monthly costs associated with a robust email marking software, this one is a goal that consists of a trigger point.

Before launching an email campaign, our trigger point for action will be 1,000 monthly pageviews.  As you can see from item 1, we have time to research and plan.

5. Release Printable Budget Sheets

When Rob and I found ourselves deep in debt and in need of a way out, my first Google search was for how to create a budget.  It was to tools available online that helped us to get our finances in order.  If it weren’t for our budget, we would still be in debt!

I love using Microsoft Excel, but before I started writing formulas, we started writing it all down with a pen and paper.

So that’s my goal, design a series of printable budget sheets that add value and simplify household budgeting.    The target release date for the initial printable is mid-October.

Wish me luck!  😊




6. Release a Trackable Budget Spreadsheet

As mentioned in item five, I love MS Excel!  It is a tool that I use daily in my professional and personal life.  It is a program that I have used for roughly twenty years. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new solutions to problems using this powerful software.

My search for free budget tools took me to so many great spreadsheets.  The problem?  I needed something to track our budget automatically.  Following a successful launch of a series of Printable Budget Sheets, Empty Nestin’ will release an Excel Spreadsheet that will include an annualized trackable income and expense totals and averages.  From experience, I know this tool will help our readers know how much they should expect to budget for any given category.

A successful budget hinges on learning from your spending habits and I want to make sure that our readers have a spreadsheet to help out!

Trackable items

The one thing that we learned when we were paying off our debt is that keeping track of our progress kept us pumped.  We went from not budgeting at all, to watching where our money was going and keeping track of it.

The act of being engaged gave our actions purpose!  Weekly regroups allowed us to review where we were, where we had been, and remind ourselves of where we want to be.  Being intentional allowed us to reach our goal ahead of schedule.

During that time, we established habits that make us the savers we are today.

With that same intensity, let’s review our trackable numbers for September 2018 and our goal stats.

2 thoughts on “September 2018 | Our First Month Blogging – What was it like?”

  1. Hi Rob & Heather,
    Thank you for visiting my blog! You guys are off to a great start, I am so impressed by all the progress you made. You published a lot of posts! Best of luck with reaching all of your goals!

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