Welcome to my first monthly update. Originally I was planning these more frequently, however I quickly realized that on a day to day basis there wasn’t enough exciting things happening to warrant an entire blog post. Moving forwards you can expect to see just one consolidated update for the month, covering both my personal finance progress and the progress of this blog.
Personal Finance Progress
We made less progress this month than expected with reducing our mortgage. Our offset account has grown by $2756 to bring it to a total of just under $22,000. My partner had to pay for a $1,300 course for her job which will be reimbursed, but it hasn’t come through yet. Once we factor this back in, we were pretty much on target. Our interest rate has dropped 0.25% to 5.08% effective of the 19th, so we should start to see the savings from this next month.
Although reducing our debt is my number one priority, I have been considering contributing a small amount per month towards an index ETF. I am considering either an S&P500 Index ETF or an ASX 200 Index (my domestic equivalent). Both have far outperformed my mortgage interest rate over the last 12 months, however it is important to consider that I do not want to sell stock back to pay off the debt. Nothing has been decided as yet, but keep an eye out in next month’s update!
August marked the one year anniversary of moving into our home. While the inside has come together respectably, our backyard still looks pretty horrific. My number one goal here is to pave a few unused garden beds and potentially re-pave some of the existing area, which has significantly shifted due to sandy soil and poor workmanship to begin with. Unfortunately I’ve got zero paving experience – I can’t even find a supplier for pavers that match our existing ones! For this reason, we might need to get someone in to help us out but I’m not expecting it to come cheap…
Erecting a small garden shed, planting something in the remaining garden beds and trying to tame my weed-infested lawn are all on the cards for the future – but it’s one step at a time as everything costs money which we can’t justify at this stage.
After launching in late July, August was the first whole month that Financial Independence has been online. The month has been full of changes and learning – while I’ve run small sites in the past, I have quickly discovered I know very little about blogging!
When I originally started writing posts for Financial Independence, I was aiming to produce a 500 word article every few days. This plan changed midway through the month when I decided I would rather focus my energy on a couple of quality, helpful posts than half a dozen average ones. Since making this change, I’ve been able to produce two 800-1000 word articles per week. The feedback on these longer articles has been encouraging and I will be aiming to stick to this post schedule moving forwards.
At the start of the month I installed Google Analytics. This is a free service which provides me with (anonymous) user statistics for visitors to my site. It allows me to see where my visitors are coming from (search engines, other blogs) as well as which pages people are reading and how long they spend on the site. For the first 8 days of August I didn’t receive any visitors to my site at all (my own pageviews are excluded). Around August 9 I started to see a trickle of traffic from my first back links, averaging under 10 visitors per day.
On the 20th, Retired Syd was kind enough to publish one of my posts on her blog which lead to a (relatively) massive spike in traffic for a few days. It also appeared to be the tipping point to having enough back links to start seeing a few visits from search engine traffic. This has meant that I’m now seeing around 30 visits per day. While this is nowhere near the levels of traffic seen by some of the successful financial bloggers, but you’ve got to start somewhere. I have been lucky to receive a few links from Pauline at Reach Financial Independence and Len Penzo - thank you both for your support.
Off of 772 visitors you can’t expect to be generating much revenue, but I managed to scrape in just over $8 for the month between Adsense and FlexOffers. Despite this being less than the cost of a Big Mac meal, I’m actually pretty happy with this. Monetizing the site isn’t a priority for myself at this stage, however I do have domain, webhosting and theme costs that I would like to earn back. Right now the focus is on building a valuable resource providing advice for those seeking to better themselves financially. Until this goal has been met, revenue takes a back seat.
September Blog Goals
For the upcoming month of September I’d like to reach 1,000 blog visitors. While this is a 30% increase I believe it is definitely possible with a bit more search engine traffic and networking. I’m in the process of organizing another guest posting this month. I believe that building relationships with other bloggers is much more valuable than just building links.
Along with an increase to visitors, I’d like to nearly double my blog earnings to $15. For the first half of the month I had virtually no traffic, so a full month combined with increased traffic should get me there without too many hassles. I will continue to post twice per week, however I’d rather cut this back to once per week if I have trouble rather than pumping out content for the sake of it.