A Cash Fasting Retrospective: How is this blog doing?

I started this blog over Labor Day Weekend in 2016. At the time, all I had was a passion for personal finance and no outlet. Thus, Cash Fasting was born. As some of you may know, I do numbers in my day job (for a large media company). Seems blogging-relevant, right? Well, sort of. The more I learn in my day job, the more I realize how much more there is to blogging other than just putting my words out on the internet. That should seem obvious, but when writing posts take up 90% of your time, well, what bandwidth is left for self-promotion?

This blog has come a long way since Fall 2016, and this post is a way for me to highlight some of the things I’ve been disappointed, pleased, frustrated or elated by (any and all the feels, thank you). Cash Fasting is my baby, and this is my 98th published post(!). Just think of how many words have been typed!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclaimer here.

Traffic, Traffic, Traffic

Alas, the main metric of success.

From a traffic perspective, Cash Fasting is still teeny tiny. I now regularly surpass 1K monthly pageviews, but I’ve only made it past 2K once. That’s due in part to the decline in posts lately; I went from consistently posting twice a week through the first half of the year to sporadically posting once a month (or less) over the past few months.

A full third of my traffic comes from Twitter; that’s where I’m most active. I love Twitter, but I need to better diversify my traffic sources. My visitor engagement from twitter is 1.7 pages/session, compared to 2.3 across all sources.

My most engaged visitors (people who read a lot of posts when they visit) come from other personal finance blogs. Minafi, Frugal Asian Finance, and Zero Day Finance drove the highest combo of traffic and engagement, with visitors from those sites averaging over 4 pages each visit (thanks, friends!). Any traffic referred from another blog, though, did better than the site average; our niche knows how to spread the love across sites. ❤️

While I’m hitting 1-2K pageviews, I’m only averaging ~400 unique visitors a month. ☹️
Since my search traffic is low and I haven’t gotten any features, there’s been no way for new people to really discover this blog. Pageviews is the overall goal, but unique visitors tell me whether I’m actually reaching a larger audience.

Anyone else using Google Analytics and want to chat data? I’m super nerdy when it comes to GA, and I’d love to talk about benchmarks/usage tips/etc. Message me if you’re interested!

The Top Cash Fasting post:

How I paid off $35K in 3 years

No huge surprise here. Everyone loves reading a debt payoff story, especially a recent one. I was so excited to publish this over the summer because this post indicated a huge change in how I approach personal finance. With my final payment, I shifted from a position of paying off my past to saving for my future. 🙌🏼

The majority of traffic to this post came directly from Twitter, where it was widely shared immediately after being published and also from being pinned to my profile for multiple months. It’s also the most internally linked post on my site, which also drove additional eyeballs.

Social Media

Earlier this year, I passed 1K followers on Twitter! Definitely one of the most exciting blog-related things for me. I’m at 41 page likes on Facebook and 39 follows on Pinterest (lol). These will get more attention in 2018, but up through now, all my growth has been pretty organic. No aggressive follow/unfollow campaigns, no like-for-like requests.

Around late summer, I started to feel a little blogger burnout. When looking into scheduling options before my two-week vacation to China, Chris over at Debt Free Geek suggested I try ReviveOldPost, a free WordPress plugin. I use it for Twitter and can choose how frequently it posts to my page. At the time of this writing, it publishes a tweet for me once every 20 hours. I don’t want my social feeds completely automated, but I want it to be active enough so that I don’t go completely dark. This plugin has given me significant peace of mind, and in the latter half of the year, I’ve pulled back a little from the blog so that I could deal with real life.

In the Blogosphere

Shoutouts to some cool bloggers I’ve interacted with this year, in no particular order:

  1. Chris at Debt Free Geek launched a course on Cryptocurrencies! If you want to learn more about this hot “new” market, check out his guide, which he’s put a ton of hours into. (Not an affiliate link; I’m just super psyched about the work he’s done.)
  2. The Luxe Strategist got featured everywhere, all the time. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not by much. I’ve been following her since her first post (actually it may have been her second), and damn, can she write. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already aware of her site, but if not, GO CHECK IT OUT.
  3. Zero Day Finance launched the Zero Day Challenge. It’s catchy, it works, and it’ll save everyone money. Plus, he’s been featured by CNBC multiple times this year. Have you tried taking the zero day challenge?
  4. We’re All Poor Here launched WFH Office. I love seeing other bloggers create new projects – it makes me a little jealous, actually. I’m still searching for my side hustle, but Matt’s dived in, and that rocks.

$$$?

Making money through blogging is a tricky thing. If you start a blog to get rich, things aren’t going to work out well for you. I would compare blogging to most startups; if the passion and work ethic isn’t there, it’s not going to work out, because it takes a while to make money.

That said, I’m rolling deep; I’m in the blogging leagues now! 💰

Just kidding. I’ve made $20.52 over the course of this year. You know what? I’m really excited about that because I really didn’t expect to make money going into this project (despite having lofty dreams).

My Amazon Affiliates dashboard

I joined Amazon Affiliates back in January but didn’t make my first ‘sale’ until March, on something I didn’t even link to! (That’s the magic of Amazon’s sales funnel, I guess). In fact, until this month, I didn’t make enough to meet the minimum payout amount. 70% of my earnings for 2017 have come from December alone, and I know that’s not because I upped my affiliate game. I posted a budget gift guide at the beginning of December, and that’s where the majority of my clicks and earnings came from. My earnings boost definitely came from people purchasing things from Amazon that they were going to buy even before they clicked on my links.

What are people buying?

The most frequently purchased item was this charcoal peel off mask (I even bought two for myself). For $5, it’s a total steal. It’s not only the most frequently purchased, but it was also the highest converted product, meaning that across all link clicks, this product had the highest purchase rate out of anything else I linked. GUYS, ISN’T DATA COOL??

The product that made me the most in affiliate revenue this year was this fun silicone light that’s technically intended for children, but because we’re all children at heart, there’s no limit as to who can make use of this wonderfully squishy light thing. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but this thing changes colors, btw.

Two amazing readers purchased this light with my link, giving me two whole buckaroos (at no cost to the readers).🙏🏼

I know December was a bit of a fluke, but it was fun while it lasted. I’ll continue to create posts with a few affiliate links, and SEO the crap outta them. My short term (2018, perhaps) goal is to cover the costs of running this blog. The amount of work required to fully replace my salary at this rate is ridiculous, and my writing voice would get so diluted that it’s not worth it.

As a side hustle experiment, Amazon Affiliates has been a lot of fun. Monetizing this blog isn’t a priority, otherwise, you’d be seeing ads everywhere. That said, I’m looking forward to better understanding the affiliate marketplace. I’ll be sure to share whatever interesting tidbits I find!

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My fellow bloggers, what do your blog retrospectives look like? Do you look at your numbers in a similar fashion? What angles am I missing?

Comments

  1. I love the gif of the little girl with the money bricks!

    Also, I’m pretty sure I made an Amazon purchase using your links in December 🙂

    I would definitely recommend writing some posts from an SEO angle. I get about 3k page views per month on search alone. Just think about a topic you have a lot of knowledge about and a problem people would probably Google, and then write an in-depth article about it. It doesn’t have to be about keyword stuffing or any of that. To me, it’s a smart move because you do the work once and don’t have to promote all the time.

    1. Author

      If you were one of my few Amazon purchasers, thank you!!! You’ve made my month 😀
      I’ve always known SEO is important, but it always seemed out of reach to me, until one of my posts from earlier in the month started to get some search traction. Now that I know it’s within reach, I really need to focus on it. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thank you for the shout-out, Jane! I’m glad you got some traffic drawn from my site. 🙂

    Posting regularly can be difficult if you have a demanding job, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Here comes the new year and lots of potential for your lovely blog! 😉

  3. Nice look back! Your revenue is about $0.25 higher than I made on Minafi this year haha. I’m glad people are clicking over and staying around too, that’s a great sign!

    Getting the SEO engine working is a difficult dance (one I’m still struggling with as well). I’ve found that if I write a few “for fun” posts that are really more like journaling, then I can devote a bunch of time to a longer, more in-depth, SEO rich post. Whatever can be done to create time to write impactful articles that help solve peoples needs is a plus.

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