Where the heck did March go and how the heck are we already in the second quarter of 2017?
I digress. Now that March is in the books, so too is Dollar Habit’s inaugural month and my, oh my, what a month is was. March was a whirlwind with lots of learning, lots of late nights and … lots of coffee!
I mentioned in Welcome to Dollar Habits that I imagined, like many other personal finance bloggers, I would also occasionally post about blogging. Well, that didn’t take long. You are reading the first month’s blog report.
This report is broken down into two separate posts. I had originally planned to just do one post, but it was getting a little out of hand. I spent the month of February pre-launching Dollar Habits and a lot went down that month, so much that it deserves a post unto itself. Part II will be all about the first month of Dollar Habits being an actual blog.
I’ve come to realize many people who read blogs (probably blogs in any area of interest, but definitely in the personal finance space) either secretly or not-so-secretly would like to someday start a blog of their own. I know that was the case for me and I always enjoyed reading blog reports. I appreciated the transparency of the blogger and the amount of information and insights they shared.
With the Adventures in Blogging series, I hope to pay it forward, so to speak, by chronicling my journey with this blog. I plan to be as transparent as possible and offer lessons I’ve learned as well as mistakes I have made.
If you are like me, creeping on blog reports to get insight into what it is like to actually run a blog, then creep away. I hope these reports will inspire you to take action and start a blog of your own. I am just starting out with blogging, but based on what my experience has been so far, I highly recommend it.
Now, let’s get to it.
A lot of work went into Dollar Habits before it launched on March 1st. I often come across bloggers who say something to the effect of “I decided I wanted to start a blog, so that night, I started my blog and sat at my computer for 6 hours and poured out all my thoughts.” Ever seen something like this? Maybe it’s you. If so, I hate you! Okay, no I don’t, but I definitely envy the ability to take action and get started just like that.
If you remember in What’s in a Name?, I mentioned I’m a bit OCD in nature (thanks, Dad!). Part of this includes researching to no end. For example, if it were not for the swift kick in the pants I needed from my wife (thanks, Babe!), I would probably still be researching how to start and grow a blog. No joke, I literally could have launched February first, if not January first (even with a one month pre-launch), but instead I spent far too many hours reading far too many articles about starting a blog. Lesson one – don’t do that. Starting a blog can be overwhelming, but don’t let analysis paralysis prevent you from taking action.
One good thing that came from reading all those articles was the idea of doing a pre-launch for my blog. I don’t remember the exact article, but it basically equated starting a blog with starting a product-based business. A product-based business would be well-served by spending some time building momentum and gaining exposure prior to launching its product, lest it have no one interested in its product. Ah, the light bulb went off …
Let’s be honest, when starting out, it takes a while for some new bloggers to find their stride, in terms of content and otherwise. However, there are some bloggers who start out with a bang, at least in regards to the content they are writing and publishing on their new blog. I am always saddened to see a new blogger post really amazing content to … no readers. It is incredibly unfortunate because their content is good, like really good, and is full of valuable tips and perspective, but because they have no momentum, it largely goes unread, with the exception of the occasional passerby or their mama or better half. Quite frankly, I did not want this to be me.
A Month of Building Momentum
After realizing all this, I decided I would spend the month of February pre-launching Dollar Habits. This turned out to be a fantastic idea and one I would recommend to anyone just starting out.
I came up with two objectives for the month. The first was to network. The second was to write and build up a content bank (with little ones in tow, you never know what the next day will bring). If I don’t say so myself, I was pretty darn successful with the first endeavor, but failed pretty miserably with the second. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wrote some during this month, just not nearly the quantity I had hoped to write. It turns out, networking can take a fair amount of time and I got a little too caught up in that component of my plan.
In addition to creating the two macro goals, I also developed a pre-launch process to follow. I found having a plan to follow made all the difference in the world. Had I not taken the time to sit down and come up with a process and plan to follow, I don’t think the pre-launch would have been nearly as successful as it was.
With my plan in hand, it was now time to take action on this whole pre-launch thingamajig. I had never used Twitter before (I know, I know), but I remembered seeing Bloggers mention Twitter was one of their top traffic sources so I set up a Twitter account for Dollar Habits. I also set up a Facebook page. I definitely put all my time and effort into Twitter, but wanted to start building a Facebook presence as well. I am now up to a whopping 22 likes. Also worth noting, I have been having trouble with linking to the Facebook account, so that is why the account is not linked to yet on the site. I haven’t had a chance to get that kink worked out yet, but plan to soon.
With the social media accounts set up, the next thing I did was create a landing page to attempt to drive traffic to. I should mention I have zero, nil, zilch technical skills as they pertain to design and development, so don’t let that stop you if you are floating in the same boat. There are a ton of options available which, thankfully, require very little technical aptitude. After shopping around a bit, I ended up going with Wix (not an affiliate partner) to create the landing page.
I selected Wix because they offered a free version … well, sort of. It’s free to set up the page, but if you want to use your own domain and don’t want it to be branded by Wix, you have to fork over some dough, $14 per month to be exact. I knew I would only need the page for a month since the plan was to launch the actual site on March 1st, which I am very happy to say, after many long nights and stumbling through many things, I was actually able to launch March 1st. I may have stayed up all night the night before in order to do so, but did so nonetheless.
There were two primary objectives with the landing page. The first was to begin building the DH brand. I uploaded the logo to the page and linked to the social media accounts. The second goal was to begin building an email list. Going back to all those articles I read about starting a blog, just about all of them recommended building an email list from the very beginning. I figured they are much smarter and much more experienced than I am, so who am I to ignore their (free) advice?
I spent the next month putting a lot of time and effort into connecting with people and building a Twitter presence and following. Full disclosure, I used to think Twitter was pretty dumb, but I have found that it is my new favorite social media platform. The character limit of a Tweet breeds creativity and it’s a lot of fun to try to distill down what you want to say into only 140 characters. I’d also like to offer a big, heartfelt thank you to all of you who have connected and engaged with me there. It’s been a blast.
Was the Month Spent Pre-Launching Worth It?
It could be argued I could have foregone the pre-launch month and instead spent the time writing content and posting to an actual blog. I agree, I could have … but, I am so glad I didn’t.
I ended the month of February with 10 email subscribers … to a landing page … for a blog! I’ve already thanked you guys on Twitter for subscribing before Dollar Habits was even a blog, but I’ll say it again, thank you! I was actually pretty blown away by this. I know people are protective of their email addresses, so it was pretty cool to have 10 people willing to subscribe before even reading one word of my writing. I think this goes back to the effort to connect since many of the pre-launch subscribers were people I had interacted with elsewhere.
I also ended the pre-launch phase with 1,929 Twitter followers. I followed a bunch of accounts (almost 5k) but less than 50% followed me back. I also learned what follow-for-follow means. Apparently, on Twitter (and Instagram) people will follow you and then if you do not follow them back in a specified amount of time, they will unfollow you. It was weird to watch follower numbers go up, only to go back down … and then up again. I must have weeded out all those accounts because now the number of followers seems to be steadily increasing.
Bringing it All Together
I feel like it was well worth it to spend a month pre-launching the blog. It appears a solid foundation has been laid and I look forward to working hard to build upon that foundation.
I also had a lot of fun in February. I have really enjoyed chatting and connecting with so many awesome, like-minded people. I feel like I have found my tribe. It was also all super surreal and actually still is. I have thought about starting a blog for a long time and I still have to pinch myself sometimes to remind myself this is real. Now, don’t get me wrong, blogging can be a ton of work and can also be incredibly challenging with a busy work and family schedule, but I hope I can keep it up and keep building the momentum. I’d love for nothing more than to see Dollar Habits grow and flourish.
In Part II, we will get down and dirty with page views, comments, guest posts, etc., so be sure to come back for that one.
Did you pre-launch your blog or start hot out of the gate? What would you have done differently if given the chance?
Did you find this post helpful? Is it too long? Too much information? I’d love your thoughts and feedback.