She Picks Up Pennies turns one this week. While many bloggers are able to share impressive, jealousy-inducing numbers in terms of income and views, I cannot. Just like all those spam commenters aptly note, I did not monetize my blog. And I’m not entirely sure how to get back to the view in WordPress that shows you how to find an in-depth look at your page views. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. More on that in a moment.
Beyond that, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I wanted to quit repeatedly. Cut my losses and find another hobby. Or watch cable that I’m still paying for. But I got so much more out of this year of blogging that I can’t imagine my days any other way. Through the insights and interactions, dialogues and debates, comments and tweets with all of you, I learned so much about finance and mindfulness. And I had a ton of fun along the way. That’s something worth hanging onto.
An Honest Look at Blogging and Twitter
I have no idea how to get page views besides writing interesting content. In fact, the only thing I really want to do is write interesting content. I might wade into the waters of learning SEO eventually, but I don’t know that will change much about this blog. The truth is, I’ve never gotten 10,000 page views, let alone 100,000. And that’s even with the help of three different features on Rockstar Finance (thank you, Cait & J$).
The first two months of blogging, I would check my page views compulsively. Every break I got, I checked. Then, I’d send threatening texts to my husband to make sure he wasn’t reading it and skewing my numbers. The first time I cracked 100 views? He heard me so excited at 97, he snuck down in the basement and clicked a bunch. Once, I even clicked enough times to go to that page that showed me someone in the Philippines read my blog. Now, I don’t even look at the dashboard at all if I can help it. You see, it’s not that I don’t care about increasing my blog traffic. I do. But if I’m going to put precious time into my blog, I’d rather interact with the readers who are already commenting rather than obsess over the fluctuations in numbers. I wish I felt the same about my Vanguard account.
The same is true for Twitter. In my eyes, my Twitter following is huge — more than I ever could have dreamt. Compared to many bloggers, though, my Twitter following is less of following and more of an f. It’s like we’re playing a game of PIG, and I’ve only shot well enough to get the first letter. I could blame the fact that I had never used Twitter–aside from creating an account many moons ago to be notified by Target of the after-midnight launch of the Jason Wu designer line–prior to creating my blog. In fact, when I first started tweeting, I had no idea that Tweetdeck or Twitter Feed* existed. Instead, I thought people who worked from home literally tweeted in the wee hours of the morning, and I sleepily told my husband at 3 AM one day that I needed to go send some tweets. Don’t worry. It hasn’t really gotten better.
One day, I started using Crowdfire, but then I was reading about Buffer, Hootsuite, and 91 other tools I’ll never use, and I felt like blacking out. I know there are ways to track your follows and unfollows, but you know what? I don’t care. I used to try to keep up with every new follower–not in the spam-lite auto response message kind of way–but by actually interacting with them. Most times, by the time I saw the notification, many of the people had already unfollowed me. I’m not interested in playing a numbers game. I don’t have the time or the ability (you read the first few paragraphs, right?). I also don’t have all the answers on Twitter. But if you want to see some poorly-executed GIFs and day-to-day musings about my lack of coordination and blunders in investing, you can find me here.
*I set up Twitter Feed so long ago, I seriously had to spend 15 minutes Googling trying to figure out what it’s called.
And do you know how many sponsored posts, affiliate links, and advertisements through Google Adsense and otherwise I’ve landed in a full year of blogging? That would be zero. In fact, I still haven’t even taken Bluehost up on their offer to create a ubiquitous How to Make a Blog post. I am so awful at monetizing my blog, I didn’t even use my own affiliate program to create a new blog with a fellow coworker. It’s not that I don’t want to monetize my blog, it’s that if I ever do, I’d like to do it well (read: unobtrusively). I’d love to work with other people or companies that share the same values as me one day. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Or maybe we won’t. For a blog based on money, I’m surprisingly OK with that.
A Look at Me
When I look back on who I was last summer and compare it to who I am now, I hardly recognize myself. Actually, that’s a cliche. I recognize myself because I think it’s been that long since I got a haircut and I know it’s been that long since I changed up my clothes or my shoes. Because. Oh, the shoes. All the shoes. But I have changed in really incredible ways thanks to this blog and the personal finance community.
I have miles to go before I cross the finish line of any major milestone, but I’ve thought a lot about my mortgage, both good and bad. I’ve also learned how to stand up for myself and walk away from side hustles that no longer suit me. Most importantly, though, I’ve maintained a hobby and opened myself up to a whole new world. Teaching can be insular and all-consuming. Now, I’ve realized how beneficial and rewarding it is to pursue other passions and how to blend the two.
While exploring this hobby, I crossed paths with Tip Yourself. While I can’t claim to have monetized my blog, my interactions with this app helped me land my first gig that let me develop the delusion that I am now a professional writer and content creator. Nailed it. If you listen closely, you can probably hear the entire Tip Yourself team laughing right now.
When I started blogging, I said I wanted to try to give one person one good money idea. Throughout the course of this year, I’ve crossed paths with teachers, volunteers, and other individuals who need to become more adept at using search engines to find the professional content. And I’ve loved every second of that. Those comments make my day and consume our dinner-table conversations.
Those readers are incredible, and so are all of the bloggers who read She Picks Up Pennies. I’ve been lifted up on the shoulder of giants by veteran bloggers and fellow newcomers alike. In fact, I started to try to include links to all of the different bloggers I love, but I realized two different things. That information would be better suited for a blogroll, and it’s been a year and I have yet to create one. Instead, I’ll spend the week going back to school* and giving shoutouts on Twitter to all of the amazing bloggers who support me.
While I know there are dozens of missteps that are yet to come, as someone with an incredible propensity for awkward moments, I’m savoring the prospect. I promise this year will bring with it more honest stories about money, consumerism, and mindfulness. I’m not perfect. I never will be. But if you’re willing to come along for the ride, I’ll keep chronicling it.
*Because who doesn’t decide to finally pull the trigger on creating a blog the WEEK before a new school year? Fail 179,234. Actually, that was probably the first fail.
Happy blog birthday, Penny! You poke fun at yourself, but the quality of your writing is why I subscribed. I appreciate that you have the mechanics of writing on lock *and* you know how to translate your worthwhile ideas to (virtual) paper. Not every blog has both.
And have a lovely start to the school year!
Can I print this out and show my students? Ha! You may have just paid this English teacher the ultimate compliment. Thank you so much, Basil!
Ha! You’re funny!
Don’t worry. I actually think too many people try to monetize early. It’s never to late to learn and get started.
Also, I HATE apps and basically ignore all of them. All of the different ones bloggers use give me a headache. I cannot keep up. All I want to do is work and get paid. Researching and trying out apps isn’t fun to me at all. In fact, it pisses me off.
I love your candor, Holly! And talk about being an inspiration. Yours was one of the first blogs I found, and I still check it daily.
Emily @ JohnJaneDoe
Congrats on your blogoversary! I’ve really enjoyed reading your work over the past year. If for no other reason than one of these days I will hit Vegas!
Oh, yes! Go, go, go! I actually think we should campaign to have FinCon there. Travel hackers paradise!
Congratulations on hitting one year! Love reading your blogs and your thoughts on finances.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You made my day!
Matt @ Optimize Your Life
Congrats on the anniversary and thanks for the look back! I’m glad that you are enjoying your journey.
Also, thank you for continuously producing content that informs and entertains even without a monetary benefit to yourself.
I’m just holding out for my book deal. Kidding! Thank you, Matt. That’s awesome of you to say.
Looking forward to another year meaningful year. 🙂
Am happy to do with free blogger hosting because I too do not blog for money (although I may blog my job away from being too into-it ouch?) . I did set up Adsense but I don’t see it as an income substitute, just for coffee maybe.
I love that thinking. If I ever figure out what Adsense really is and how to use (install?) it, maybe it could be my chai tea fund!
This was so good. I had to laugh at the spam comments about not monetizing. I think those are 50% of my comments! That should be a personal goal of mine: more real comments than spam comments per day. But at least they are generally very flattering. Nothing like reading spam comments for a pep talk.=)
Spam comments make me laugh so much! Every once in a while, I’ll get one that says something like, “This wasn’t your best work.” Keeping me honest! 😉
I love how honest this blog post is. I am the same, I write on my blog for fun and in hopes that someone else can enjoy my writing. I haven’t monetized through the actual site, but I have done a lot outside of that because of my blog. Congratulations on your one year, and please never stop writing. You have an amazing talent.
PS: your tweets are also AMAZING
As far as tweets go, I’m only trying to keep up. I still don’t have your GIF game! Your blog is so refreshing and intelligent. Thrilled we connected, Alyssa!
Graham @ Reverse The Crush
Congrats on making it through your first full year of blogging!
I really like your point on how it’s better to engage with current readers and respond to comments then it is to check stats every 5 minutes. I could definitely learn from that point. And just like you, I haven’t been too successful montenizing the blog in the first 10 months (all the stats and income are included in this report http://www.reversethecrush.com/?p=3544 if you’re interested). I’ve got a little adsense here and there…very limited affiliate income. I really do want to make money from it, but not because I’m greedy. I just want to be able to work on the blog full time.
Also to your point on Twitter followers, I don’t play those games either. I don’t do crowd fire or any of those platforms. I figure if someone unfollows, they weren’t the right type of reader anyways. Excellent post though! Really enjoyed the read 🙂 Best of luck with the blog going forward.
I’m headed to your link as soon as I finish responding to comments! I wouldn’t even know where to begin with Adsense. I mean, I guess I could Google it 😉
Amanda @ centsiblyrich
Congratulations on a year! And thanks for sharing your journey – your writing keeps me coming back for more!
Oh, the spam comments – do they ever stop?
So, funny thing about the spam comments. It turns out when you actually use that plug-in, it gets way better at filtering them out. I didn’t activate it until about month 10. HA! Now, I get a few food comments a day that usually make me really hungry!
Alyssa @ GenerationYRA
Congratulations, Penny!! I cannot believe it’s only been one year. For the first time, I feel like I have been interacting with you via blog comments & twitter for much longer (I think that’s a good thing!). Also – I must say this is the most eloquently put line regarding awkward moments: “While I know there are dozens of missteps that are yet to come, as someone with an incredible propensity for awkward moments, I’m savoring the prospect.” This is why I love reading your content, there is much more beyond financial readings & mindfulness that I gather from your writing. 🙂 I am looking forward to continue following through your journey!
You’re so kind, Alyssa! It’s been terrific to connect with you and to learn from you. So happy to read your post today!
Your blog has been and continues to be great! Just keep up whatever you’re doing. Love reading your posts.
Congrats on 1 year!
That’s so fantastic to hear (read?). Thank you so much!
Maggie @ Northern Expenditure
Happy Bloggiversary, friend! Money does not equal a good blog. You’ve been amazing at consistently pumping out good content despite your crazy schedule and we’re glad you’re on the interwebs! Keep it up, lady!
Thank you, thank you, Maggie! For the IRA feature and for all the other motivation, kind words, and amazing ideas that you share.
Congratulations! I have always enjoyed your blog. Please keep chronicling it.
Oh, wow. Thank you so much, Bailey. It’s amazing how one comment like this feels like it could fuel the next year.
We are just new to the blogging world as you probably know. There are times when we have felt down about page views, links, ping backs. Then we realized. WTF! We are blogging because we want to, not to win at something or attracting a vast number of Twitter followers. If I see one more post on how somebody optimized their site, I swear that I will puke.
It is refreshing too read about somebody who has been blogging for much longer than we have and doesn’t care for the razzmatazz of SEO, affiliate links, income streams and all that.
Congratulations. Keep writing and blog on!
I want to learn the razzmatazz (I love this word!) of SEO, but mostly because I think it would make a solid side hustle. I’m not sure where blogging will take me, but I really like where I am right now!
The Green Swan
Love the honesty, the brutal truth! You’re not alone and I’m glad you are blogging for the right reasons. Congrats on the year anniversary! I have enjoyed following your blog and look forward to more great honest stories to come. Thanks!
Yup! That’s me. An honest look at what not to do. Ha! Thank you so much!
Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor
I also haven’t monetized my blog or grown crazy amounts of traffic, because I don’t have time to do it right. And it’s really not why I started a blog. I definitely enjoy the community, the interactions and support, and the exposure to new ideas. It’s helped me refine my own thinking for sure! I enjoy how honest & down-to-earth your writing is 🙂
That’s so well said. Why didn’t I write that?! I could have saved about 1138 words! You’re right on, Kalie. The community is the best!
Julie @ Millennial Boss
I love this post and completely agree. I’m coming up on my one year and only this month have started monetizing my blog. Since I’ve started my blog, I’ve paid off debt, sold my home, moved states. It’s about the journey for me and meeting other bloggers through my blog helped give me the motivation and support to do all those things! Great read and LOL about your husband trying to make up the 3 page views. So cute!
It’s been really great to see you talk about monetizing your blog. I wish you lots of success, and I can’t wait to celebrate your blog birthday soon!
Congrats on the first year! I think that you are doing great. I think that you are doing a swell job by not trying to monetize it and keeping it genuine to yourself who you truly are. I always laugh when I see blogs I follow suddenly have random posts because they are sponsored by some random company. The postings seem so fake.
One of the reasons I love reading this blog, is because it is from the heart. Never stop. And never stop picking up pennies.
I found a dime today. I’m totally giving you credit for that! Thank you for the kind words. They mean so much to me.
Gary @ Super Saving Tips
Happy blogiversary!!! Also, “…91 other tools I’ll never use, and I felt like blacking out” is universally true for bloggers. It’s crazy the amount of tools and resources that are out there, and I bet they could save me a lot of time…if I ever had time to go through them all and figure it out. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed your first year immensely and I can’t wait to read what’s next. 🙂
Thank you, Gary! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed. It could also be that I’m 30 going on 300. 😉
Congratulations, Penny. I thought you were a lot “older” than us – blogwise that is. Ha, Ha. Seriously, the eloquence and multi-layers of your posts convinced me you’d been doing it for much longer. Funny how there’s a concentration of PF bloggers who started around the same time. Looking forward to your next year.
I’m so happy to have found both you and Mr G! You have been indispensable in terms of the insight and wisdom you share in your blog and even in comments here. And it’s so funny to me how everyone pulled the trigger at the same time. Guess Bluehost knows what they’re doing after all?! 😉
Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions
What an awesome post and you made it through a year! I keep wondering if I’ll make it through the week! Thanks for sharing your world with us! You writing is wonderful – and I certainly connect to much as a fellow educator 🙂 Blogging is a total “stretch” for me, so finding this community has been an amazing experience. Here’s to your second year!
Thank you, Vicki! I’m so glad we’ve connected. I cannot wait to read about your new (and unexpected!) school year.
Congrats on your first blogging anniv! More to come. I’m not good at monetizing my blog, either. I just write and share content which I hope my very few readers find valuable. I’m one of your readers from the Philippines! 🙂
Oh my goodness! Hello, there! 😉 Sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself, so it’s thrilling when you comment. I agree with you. It’s all about trying to produce good content.
Claudia @ Two Cup House
I’m glad you elected to keep blogging. It’s been a learning curve for us, too, but incredibly fun. You have definitely given me tons of ideas this last year, making me pause and reflect. Thanks for the shoutout! Let me know if you have any questions. Have a fantastic school year! ?
As soon as the dust settles, I’m going to dive into SEO. You’re not through with me yet! 😉
Claudia @ Two Cup House
Woot! That’s awesome! *insert your favorite GIF of the kid dancing here* 🙂
Another reader from the Philippines here!
I’ve been blogging about personal finance much longer than you, but I haven’t successfully monetized my blog either. I find that it’s too much work with too much expectations from advertisers, so I’m happy earning nothing from my blog about money. As long as I can voice out my thoughts and reach out to a few other like-minded individuals, then I’m a happy camper.
Hello, there! This is such an exciting comment. I’m going to swing by your blog now!
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I love what you do here, Penny. It’s really valuable work. You definitely made me a more thoughtful person. And I totally agree with you about monetizing the blog. Mrs. Groovy and I pulled the plug on our Google Adsense and Amazon affiliate a while back. It just didn’t seem right. Our main goal, like you, is to help and connect. So congrats on a fabulous year. I really look forward to what leaps from your keyboard in year two.
It does quite literally seem to leap. Word vomit 😉 You two have taught me a lot. I love your blog and your message!
Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope
Happy birthday to your blog! Thanks for all of the great content. It’s been really nice “getting to know you” and reading your story. Here’s to many more years of personal finance blogging! 🙂
That means so much to me, Harmony. I agree. It’s been wonderful connecting with you!
I agree that a lot of blogs monetize too early. I love your voice, and I would love for you to create more of a productized blog rather than one rife with ads. I think it would fit you more. Maybe a PF curriculum?
That’s such a fascinating idea. I’ve tinkered around with idea of getting an endorsement in FACS/consumer ed. Sadly, though, most districts see those positions as expendable. Sounds like you’re onto something, though! Thanks, Hannah!
Congratulations on turning 1! I barely turned 3 months in 2 weeks. I understand how frustrating when no one visits your blog, especially in the first couple of weeks starting. I became so happy when my blog would reach 40 views one day and would reach 0 views the next day. I almost felt confused, even.
I don’t have impressive numbers to tell, as well but the fact that you are consistently writing shows that you have grit! So many bloggers quit well before that and the key is just going and not caring about the noise along the way. At least, I hope so cause that’s what’s guiding me to go forward!
That’s so fantastic that you’re still writing. It’s hard sometimes! But ignoring the numbers has worked well for me so far.
Colin @ rebelwithaplan
Happy blogiversary! I love your writing style, feels like I’m listening to a witty wisdom-filled friend, haha. It’s funny because I haven’t done one of those ‘how to start a blog with bluehost’ posts either, except several people in real life and online keep asking me how to start one.
side note and kinda off topic, when you moved your IRA into Vanguard, what target date fund did you select?
Des @ Half Banked
Hi hello yes I am way behind on this comment but HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY ONE YEAR FRIEND! Your Twitter following IS huge, you DO produce great content, more frequently than I could literally ever hope to, and you are the bomb dot com.
I am SO glad we connected and are friends and that you continue to write some of the hands-down best stuff on the whole internet. Thanks for being you, and here’s to another amazing year!
Thank you so much, Des. Your support and inspiration and guidance are absolutely the best. We are going to make this Vegas meet-up happen one day! <3
Happy Birthday, blog friend’s blog! I didn’t realize we had started at almost the exact same time– you seemed to be the one that had it all figured out, what with my future Mrs. already being a fan and all… well, I wish you all the success in the world, by whatever standard you choose to measure it by!
I have next to nothing figured out. Ha! I’m so excited for this next year. Not just for me, but for you and so many other personal finance peeps.
Happy blog anniversary! I am also enamored of all the ways that blogging is impacting my life and focus. My views are low, but steady, and more than I ever thought I’d receive for my thoughts and struggles.
Any “error” is just a chance to learn what you value. That’s good, too.
You’re so right, ZJ. They’re all learning opportunities, aren’t they?
Melissa @ Simple Mountain Mama
Thanks for this post! I started blogging with the intention of making it a side hustle and bringing in $$, but as I put more time into it, I realized that I’d much rather put out quality content that I can stand behind than focus on the dollar goals. Thanks so much for the reminder/reassurance that it doesn’t have to be all about the money!
That’s so awesome to hear. I feel like a PF fraud saying I’m happy you didn’t chase money. But I’m happy you didn’t 😉 I also believe that quality and monetizing can go hand in hand.
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
Super late coming to say this, but I’ve been THINKING it: Happy blog-birthday!!
You’re one of the few blogs I make time for with any kind of regularity and that’s down to your ability to think and write at the SAME TIME. Love it. Stay cool, never change! 😉
Honestly it’s very refreshing to read a blog like yours. I feel like I’m being sold to all the time on PF blogs and some of the products being pushed aren’t very good.
It’s almost as if people can’t blog for fun, there is so much pressure to make blogging a job and be “successful” and make $10,000+/month blogging and produce blogging income reports.
Thanks for being honest. =)
Happy belated blog anniversary!
Your’s is one of the best PF blogs I read on a regular basis. You have an honest, non-judgmental, unpretentious, and funny outlook on everything. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your content for many years to come. 🙂
I cannot thank you enough for these kind words. Truly, Michelle. Thank you, thank you.
Diane W Capile
Hello from the Philippines! :* Started reading your blog a couple of months ago, and I never looked back 🙂 I completely reading about personal finance and life matters in your refreshing voice. Belated happy blog birthday!
Diane, that’s incredible! Thank you so much. You made my Friday. Cheers!
Great article Penny. I currently have 185 followers and it feels EPIC! So over 1,000 is like dream territory to me. Maybe I should aim higher.
Did you ever get into SEO? I tried and OMG what a pain it is. I have a plugin that tells me if I tick all the boxes for strong SEO. Most of them are unrated because I haven’t picked a key word. Some are amber because I refuse to bend an article around saying the same thing a billion times. I think just 3 are green, and it’s mostly because they’re lists rather than actual writing (you know, the stuff you enjoy crafting). And so I’m in the territory of writing what I want. Who knows, 1 day soon I might get 100 views 😉
You can aim as high as you want, Sarah! But don’t judge yourself based on followers. There are so many people who play games with followers that I find there are weeks when I go up 50 or so and then lose just as many. Honestly, I can’t keep up with Twitter while I’m teaching, so some people follow me and unfollow me by the time I see the notification. Oh well!
You will totally hit 100 views. Keep writing good content. That’s the hardest part for me! I don’t do much with SEO. If it fits in my voice, great. But I wonder how many fantastic writer voices are silenced in favor of turning boxes in a plug-in green. I suppose it all depends on the purpose of your blog. If you hope to monetize and take over Pinterest, then list-icle away and SEO it up! There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m probably doing it “wrong” if there is a wrong way to write. But it makes me happy!
I’d like to explore monetizing next year, but not if it means sacrificing writing in favour of lists. Lists are great for sharing ideas, but it’s not the kind of thing I enjoy writing the most.
Although I do love a good to do list (usually starting with ‘write to do list’) 🙂