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When I told my friends and family that I was starting a blog, nothing more than a look of disapproval across their faces. I knew that in the back of my mind their thoughts reflected the foresight of my failure and an ultimate test of my adversity.
The best responses were those that did not contain any direct, negative meaning, rather a negative impression. A few “that’s nice” and some “good luck, you’ll need it” weren’t uncommon from those closest in my social circle.
When their words of encouragement failed to meet my standards for increasing my motivation toward this project, I started to look toward other sources. Sources that I thought would at least reinforce what I was doing was the right thing.
Looking for tips, I searched forums and looked for other bloggers for advice on the subject matter. The replies were not much different from those that were close to me. The one that held the most impact is this one:
“You’re trying to compete in an already over-saturated niche with hundreds of successful bloggers. The competition is too high, you’re just starting and we don’t need another worthless finance blog to appear on our search engines.”
Whether it be out of stubbornness or plain stupidity, these positive words created a desperate-needed thrill that I’ve been seeking for so long.
I didn’t want to write another blog that was outside of the niche that I was currently pursuing. This is what I know and this is what I think about. Anything else would just be garbage.
I’m not really sure why, but the feedback I received only made me realize that anyone could start a blog. It made me realize that bloggers were protecting their current investment.
Of course they didn’t want any newbies into the blogosphere. It would only dampen their income from an increase in competition! They changed my perspective from “blogging is a challenge, but I could probably be successful” to “anyone can be successful to blogging with the right amount of time put into it.”
I found it strange that such negative comments could lead to such positive optimism, but I took it as a sign to begin writing my blog.
And for the record, it’s a blog about frugality, not finance.
How Many Hours I Put Into The Blog
When I started writing this blog, I really had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew at the time is that there was some type of platform called WordPress that could somehow make it easier for you to a blog up on the internet. Given the fact that I didn’t have much experience in coding (almost zero), I decided that this was my best option.
A quick search engine result showed me that all I really needed to do was find a good theme to put up a basic design, a domain and find hosting. It sounded simple enough, and within a few hours my site was registered.
My blog immediately flooded with zero hits, and it was obviously due to the lack of content (none). So I had to start writing and decided to put full-strength into creating the best blog about frugality out there.
Given that the competition was fierce with over 17,000 other finance blogs out there, I knew I had to find some way to stand out. The only way I could do that is by putting an insane amount of effort and time into my blog.
Hours became days, days became weeks, and before I knew it, weeks became an entire month. I’m not actually certain where the time went by and I couldn’t really care less. Coming back from almost two years without writing a single, decent paper put up a challenge that I couldn’t dare refuse. I was enjoying it.
My work schedule at the time consisted of only 15 hours week, providing me with adequate income to support myself and focus on my new project. Us English teachers in Taiwan have the incredible advantage when it comes to finding a job with a high salary in comparison with the local population. I was set for the time being.
Although I knew that content was king, a poorly-designed web page wasn’t going to do me any good. Visitors would deem my articles as unprofessional and wouldn’t consider me as a reliable source of information. This I couldn’t have and quickly set out on a search-engine rampage to find out what should be added to my website.
Sites such as WPBeginner had incredible information on plugins and coding that would make my design stand out. Income Diary had some of the best posts on how to make your blog successful no matter how big the competition. I owe these two sources a big thanks in my blogging journey.
The site design took me almost an entire week to finish. I started out with no experience in coding, no CSS experience, nothing but a few snippets of HTML within my brain. Extensive testing and research was taken out every day to get exactly what I wanted to appear one piece of paper.
With the exception of a few minor tweaks that I still needed to make, I had my site up and running after the first week of June. I was pretty proud of what I had done starting from scratch and knew that content was now my main focus. I needed to now draw an audience. The best I would get there was through invaluable information with slight adjustments waiting for later.
I tried to hit the ground running, setting myself a quota of writing 1 article a day. This proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought. I couldn’t even remember the last time that I had written an article filled with such research and dedication.
The first few articles turned out to be might I say not of best quality, but quickly served as a stepping-stone for the later, more professional ones. I noticed that my writing was quickly improving to what it once was, my thought process becoming sharper and my speed rapidly multiplying.
Almost every good article I wrote consisted of roughly 6 or more hours of work. Not only was research involved on the content, but I was also making sure that appropriate pictures and links were placed properly and matched the design of the website. It was more work that i had every imagined for a blog that only cost me only around $10 to register.
I never actually calculated how many long hours that were put into Frugal For Less that first month, but I would estimate a bare minimum of around 120 hours. And at this rate, it’s going to take me a lot more if I want to ever be one of the most successful blogs in my niche.
With a goal and mind and a burning passion to continue, I just couldn’t fail, no matter “how tough the competition was.”
Amount of Visitors My First Month
When a blogger writes their first article, they get this crazy inner-excitement and expectation that after putting so much effort into the first article, readers will come crawling through. However, the exact opposite almost always happens, and I couldn’t claim to be any different.
I had to find a way to promote my site somehow, at least to get some general feedback on my writing. The only source I knew to turn to at the time were my friends and family. Sure, it only brought me a measly 10 visits a day at most, but it was a start, and I could see what their opinions were regarding design and content.
But it wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be successful in every aspect possible as quickly as possible. My desperation quickly turned into spammed messages on forums and blogs (I’m sorry), which added an extra 20-30 page views a day.
As it turns out, spamming all of those messages resulted in nothing more but fake page views. No visitors were clicking through my links and I came across the realization that maybe my articles weren’t as ground-breaking as I thought, as no one would stay on the page for more than a few seconds.
The light is darkest before the dawn, and I quickly ran across a website called Reddit. One post to the Frugal section of their website sent 500 visits to my website within only a few hours. People were rushing in and my site was actually getting looked at despite the little content that could be found.
Had I hit the jackpot and actually found a great way to spam?
The short answer is no. Again, I quickly learned that all of these visitors were merely mirages of what I wanted them to be: true followers. I wanted people to enjoy my content and come to my site willingly, not be tricked by some link on a popular social-networking site.
I regretted my actions and stopped spamming. Due to my guilty conscience, I even went back to most of those forums and deleted my spammy posts. I was going to have to focus on great relationships, and that’s exactly what I did.
I mostly started with Reddit, responding to comments and participating in discussion. The blogging community eventually got to know the real me and what I was involved in. Word quickly spread about their new Frugal For Less friend, and what I learned is that the majority of people were more than willing to help promote my site and get it running.
One day I put up an article called Top 20 MOOC-List – Receive a University Education Online For Free. I mentioned this to members in my community and they ended up persuading me to posting it as a link under the Frugal section.
Not only were people within my community helping to promote my new article, but random strangers were starting to see the value in my writing. News quickly spread like wildfire.That article alone has gotten me thousands of hits just within a couple of days. I guess my writing was just a little rusty afterall.
Thanks to the generous help of the online blogging community, I was able to work with others within the same niche to get my blog promoted.
All-in-all, my first month didn’t turn out too bad. The total amount of visitors that I had for the entire month of June was 8,422. Not bad considering I only started writing articles as of 20 days ago. Things were looking on the bright side my site was growing fast.
First Month’s Total Visitors: 8,422
What You’ve All Been Waiting For – How Much Did I Make?
My first month of blogging didn’t provide me with a lot of income. In fact, I was able to barely make any profit at all due to web-hosting and domain costs. I was able to register my domain for an entire year through NameCheap for only $12. Thanks to my brother, hosting came at no cost as I currently run my blog off of his personal server.
Although a solid income would be nice, I had to maintain my focus on writing good, high-quality content instead of concentrating on revenue. This was the entire reason I started the blog in the first place: to inspire others to live a frugal life while having fun doing so.
I wasn’t expecting a million dollars when I came in, and I plan to keep the same mentality throughout the entire length of my blog.
The only sources of revenue that I currently have placed on my site are from Adsense and a few other affiliate programs. I’ve thus far have only had one referral through a link to Ibotta on the article Top 10 Smartphone Apps for Saving Money at the Grocery Store. One referral gets you an extra $5.
As for Adsense, it was really slow moving, but some days actually surprised me when my Adsense graph would jump up a couple dollars in height. The most amount I ever made was on June 17th at around $6.00.
For the entire month of June, I was able to make a total of roughly $24.50. This number was both encouraging and discouraging.
It was encouraging because I knew that I had made a lot more money than most average bloggers do when starting out. I see many blog posts and forums stating that it’s not until after 1 year do people start to see any type of income at all on Adsense.
It was also highly discouraging because given the time effort that I had put in to create this blog, I’d be basically working for less than $1 an hour.
The days when I don’t do anything to my blog, I earn an average of about $.15 cents. I can’t complain since it’s a lot better than nothing, but I hope to achieve during the upcoming months.
As for the current month of July, it’s only been a few days and I’ve raked in roughly $5 from Adsense. I’m excited for what this month has to offer.
First Month’s Total Income: $24.50.
I don’t expect a high source of income or a massive amount of visitors coming to my site in the near future. I figure the best thing I can do at this point is to create as much genuine content as possible. I want to attract my readers by displaying a powerful message that will leave them unconsciously craving for more.
Despite the number of “you can’ts” that I receive, I will continue to write my blog. Anything else would just be not following my heart. Negative encouragement is just plain incorrect, and I won’t let that district me from providing the best material out there.
I’ve truly enjoyed every, single article that I’ve written on Frugal For Less, and that is why I will continue to give it my all toward making this website the best about frugality out there.
Anybody can blog who has their heart set on it.
Thanks again for reading. Please feel free to leave any comments or opinions regarding this post.
My name is Jason Wuerch and I'm currently located in Madrid, Spain running a personal finance blog called Frugal For Less. My goal is to help everyone and anyone willing to make and save money through easy and simple ways that don't require much effort. Just because you're frugal doesn't mean you have to give up life's luxuries.