Hello and welcome to the celebration of my blog, My Money Design turning 2! This week marks the second year since we first hit the Internet and I started putting my thoughts out there for the world to read. You can catch my write up for my first year blogging anniversary here.
Since last year a LOT has happened – both personally and on the blogging front. Although my website still isn’t as wildly popular as some of the other personal finance sites out there, I did enter the second year a little wiser having made so many mistakes the first year. And therefore half of this post will be dedicated to helping you by sharing some of the SEO tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. More on that below.
Thank You My Readers:
When I first started My Money Design, I honestly had no idea how far I was going to take it. Maybe I’d just write for fun. Maybe it would go really good and I’d make a lot of money. Maybe the site would be a total bomb and I’d quit after a few months.
One thing I can definitely say about this whole process: It’s been a lot of fun. Almost therapeutic if you will. I never imagined that pouring out what was on mind would receive such strong attention and feedback. That’s been one of the best things about writing for this site: It can give you that instant gratification that you need to know that you’re doing something right. That you’re making a difference.
Engaging you, the readers, has been the single best thing about this entire process. And for that I thank you.
I can still remember the first six months of starting this site when I had no readers, no comments, no traffic, and no ranks. Hell, I didn’t even know what a Google Pagerank was.
For that reason, I treasure the feedback I get. I like seeing comments. I like getting emails from people who have questions or just want to let me know that my advice helps them. When I see links pointing to my site or quotes of something I said that other bloggers posted on their sites, it gives me a feeling like nothing else that what I do actually matters. And perhaps that’s why this hobby has been so addictive. If you are interested in joining the blogging crowd online, check out this resource on how to set up a blog.
A Year of Progress:
Over the last year a lot has happened to me personally that I am very happy for:
- My two kids are growing older and more beautiful every day
- My wife and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary
- Our personal net worth has seen a big boost. Ever since the stock market kicked back into high gear, our 401k and IRA accounts have really ramped up. On top of that we’ve started boosting our efforts with our dividend stock fund.
Blogging in Review:
During this last year and since I’ve started blogging overall, a lot has happened. Some really great blogs were started and even more of them crash-and-burned to the ground. Sites that I used to visit religiously and email the writers at would suddenly go radio silent. Other sites got sold off and harvested into real estate for advertising. At least once a month I check Flippa and recognize a personal finance site that I used to visit.
But it has been really cool to interact with a few select websites and watch them grow and prosper over the years. You can almost start to tell by the writing and involvement which ones will really plan to stick with it. I don’t blame anyone for quitting or getting out while there’s something more important going on in your life. But a blog is almost like its own entity, and I’m starting to believe that it really takes a special person to mold and shape that presence into something that will sustain itself over the long haul.
One thing I never expected throughout this experience is how much I’d learn from my fellow bloggers and readers. I’ve learned so much more than I ever could have imagined about alternative retirement strategies, making money, living my life, etc. not to mention seo tips and tricks that have helped me to improve my site. Trust me – if you think you know what you’re doing and don’t have anything more to learn about personal finance, start a blog. It will kick your butt and you’ll find out that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did. By forcing yourself to learn from others and just listen to what the readers have to say, you’ll learn ten times more than you could have ever imagined.
And what about the money, right? After all – This is a website about money.
I’ve purposely never really revealed how much money my site makes in a given month. But I can tell you that since starting this little venture my efforts have brought me just over five figures. And most of it was during the second year.
I originally started this website after making a long list of ideas for ways that I could make some decent money on the side. I’ve got to say – out of all the other things I’ve tried (outside of just simply investing), this one has been one of THE MOST profitable ventures I’ve taken on. Just think about it – what other business model is there where the initial investment is so ridiculously low and the overhead cost is almost nothing. It cost me $58 to signup on iPage and start My Money Design. And other than the time I’ve invested in writing and networking, look at all it has done for me both directly in terms of income and enhancing my personal finances all around.
SEO Tips and Tricks for My Fellow Bloggers:
To anyone who would like to hear the wisdom (and sometimes lack thereof) of someone who has crossed the 2-year mark, here is the continuation of my tips and advice on making your blogging experience better. It may be helpful to start by reading my first set of blogging tips from my first year and then come back to see my more advanced ones below.
Keyword research is extremely important. EXTREMELY!
Highlight the word “extremely”. By far keyword research has been one of the single biggest changes I’ve made to my blog efforts over the last year and it has paid off handsomely! Man – what a change it has made to my traffic numbers, income, and overall promotional effort.
I can’t believe how “in the dark” I used to be on this topic. Before when it came to writing posts for this blog, it was almost as if I was taking a bowl of wet noodles, throwing them against a wall, and then hoping that one of them sticks. If that sounds familiar or something like what you’re doing to get people to notice your posts, then let me humbly remind you: THAT IS NOT A PLAN!
Because of the way the Internet works, you HAVE to write according to the rules if you want to get noticed organically by people who naturally search for your topic. And that’s exactly what I do now. Before I write each post, I spend some time on Long Tail Pro seeing which phrases actually receive some attention and have low competition. You’d be very surprised at how one small variation in a keyword phrase can make or break your chances of getting noticed in the search results.
My success with this SEO strategy has been demonstrated time and time over on both this site and my two niche websites. With My Money Design I used to comment ten thousand times a day and work like mad just to build up my traffic. Ironically my first niche website (NS1) actually receives just as much organic traffic as My Money Design these days, and I do it all with little to no involvement from me! I attribute that ALL to careful keyword selection and quality content writing!
Remember: If no one searches for the keyword in your post, then NO ONE will ever find your post naturally and organically when they search for something in that topic. No one. You might enjoy some temporary success on a social media site or other bloggers may quote you, but that will fade with time. The only way to position your content for day to day success is to write strategically and write well.
And as you can guess – increased targeted traffic can also lead to more income opportunities …
Don’t waste your time.
You DON’T need to comment on ten thousand blogs per day. If you find that your blog traffic is proportional to the number of comments you leave each and every week, I’ve got bad news for you: What you’re doing is not going to work for forever. It’s temporary at best.
Since last year I’ve dramatically cut back on how much and how often I comment on other blogs. It’s not that I don’t value the connection or want to be selfish. But understand this: Your time is limited. You’ve got a lot of other things you need to do if you want to make money and make your website a success. And commenting on ten thousand blogs a day is not the solution.
Plus from an SEO perspective commenting is not very effective. Most comments are nofollow and so you receive no link juice. While you need a few for a natural link profile, they are far from top on the list of links you want to go after for your site.
Instead prioritize your time according to activities that will aide your monetary strategy, keyword research, and content development. If you’ve got time left over, then feel free to comment all you want. There are a lot of good blogs out there.
Have a monetary strategy.
If you wake up every morning to check your email like a dog going to his food bowl and expecting to find food, and then you’re disappointed when no one sends you a request for advertising, then you’ve got a problem: You have no monetary strategy.
If money is important to your site and something you plan to make from your efforts, then you need a plan. A blog all by itself is NOT a business model. You can’t just “hope” people will offer you money. In my two years of blogging, I have seen the gravy train of private advertising decline and decline.
Instead, do this:
- Write down all the ways you could potentially make money from your website.
- Decide which ones you are comfortable doing.
- Then start doing something to make it happen.
It might be getting more traffic and hits on Google Adsense. It might be creating a signup form for an affiliate. It might even be to sell an eProduct or the website itself. The point is to figure it out and then DO IT!
One of my biggest developments to my monetary strategy was getting involved with the development of niche sites. I’ve been incredibly inspired by blogs like Niche Pursuits or Smart Passive Income and was amazed by how much money they make from their niche sites. Though I’m no where close to making as much revenue per month as they do, I have been learning a lot and can see my efforts heading in the right direction. Hopefully my Anniversary Year 3 I’ll have lots of great news to report on this front.
Write BETTER posts.
I had originally titled this section “Write epic posts”, but I’d like to one-up the blogging cliché of epic content by telling you do even better!
Stop worrying about posting 3 times a week. Stop worrying about trying to vary your topics so much. Stop worrying about what other people might think or might say. This is your blog.
If you want a blog that matters, both to yourself and to your readers, then write better posts.
Ever since I took the pressure off myself to jam out three posts per week, it has made a huge difference in my writing. I can spend my time not only exploring and explaining topics more clearly, but I can also hunt down research, crunch numbers and display them, and find graphics that help illustrate my point.
You would actually be better off from an SEO stand point to write one really long, juicy post per week than try to fudge out 3 mediocre posts. First of all that one great post will make a better and more valuable piece to read, and you’ll probably get readers coming back again and again for more. Then by using your other writing for guest posts, the links you would get from the other blogs will be far more valuable than the internal ones on your site.
If you don’t believe this is possible, just look at any of the really popular blogs. Lots of them only publish once per week and they enjoy 10X to 100X the traffic I get. Why? Because people care about what this author has to say. They link to it and quote it and eat it up!
If they do post more than once a week, notice that a lot of them will use staff or guest authors to do so. That’s because the main guy can’t do it all himself. It takes time to write quality, and you’ll burn yourself out too quickly if you try to do too much. The same goes for you!
My suggestion: Focus on a niche that matters to you and write about it. Write a lot. If the words don’t just flow out of your fingers as you type, then its probably not what you really want to write about or not going to make a good topic. This should be entertaining and come with ease. It should not be a chore.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn on My Money Design. But now that I don’t feel as though I have to hit a quota of posts per week, what a burden it has lifted from my shoulders! Not only do I feel like the writing has gotten better, but it also gives me lots of time to work on other things related to blogging as well as simply live my life. After all – I never started this blog to simply have another full time job.
Reach out to your fellow bloggers.
You heard it when you played sports and it works here too: There is no “I” in blog.
You cannot do this alone. You can’t write everything yourself. You can’t do all the technical stuff yourself. You can’t promote your site yourself. Everything is easier with a great group of friends.
My advice: Pick a handful of blogs that you REALLY enjoy and leave some quality comments. Then after a few exchanges, feel free to email them. Be a friend. Don’t ask for anything. Just offer help or encouragement; the things a real friend would offer.
This is how you build your network, and you’ll be glad you did. This blog would not be half as good or half as successful financially if it weren’t for networking with other bloggers in my niche. Through emailing and talking with them, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined about keyword research, technical stuff, building back links, financial opportunities, and lots, lots more.
You can learn a lot from others if you let yourself.
Get technical about SEO.
Don’t burry your head in the sand. SEO comes with a set of rules that you need to obey. And if you ever want to increase your chances of getting your posts found in the search engines of Google, then you need to learn what to do and what not to do. It WILL make a difference.
Here’s the good news: It’s not as complicated as you think. All the really tricky or complicated strategies out there are basically crap and don’t seem to work anyways. Or they get outlawed by Google eventually anyways.
What’s your best bet? Keep it simple and don’t get fancy!
- Get the WordPress SEO plugin and follow the suggestions it offers. Make sure your post is keyword rich, has the keyword in the title, URL, meta description, etc.
- Buy Long Tail Pro. Long Tail Pro Platinum has been one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my blog developing efforts. Don’t guess at what makes a good keyword or topic to write about. Actually KNOW by seeing the numbers in front of you.
- Work on your back links. You don’t need a ton of them or anything too crazy. Just create a little bit each month. You could do this by making a few guest posts, comments, social media posts, carnival submissions, making it into blog roundups, reaching out to other bloggers, and especially important – linking internally. Be sure to also vary your anchor text as you carry this out. Don’t always use your main keyword or blog name.
Outsource. It’s Okay.
You can’t do everything yourself. This is another hard lesson I’ve learned this year as I’ve tried to develop My Money Design, two other niche websites, and plans to build many more.
There are lots of quality people out there who are ready and willing to write for you, post your content, create back links, and do all those other routine things that you either don’t really want to do yourself or simply don’t have time to do. And the good news: It’s cheap. You can find great writers and virtual assistants on eLance and oDesk that are willing to do all this for a very low fee.
This is something that I am just starting to warm up to and explore further as I expand my portfolio of money making websites. The business model is simple: Pay one fee to have some articles written, and then spend a few bucks per month to maintain the site. The potential income you could make from advertising or eventually selling off the site is significantly higher than the initial investment (or risk).
The most important reason: It turns blogging into an actual passive income opportunity. When someone else does these things for you, you have more time to return back to your life and do the things you actually want to do with it.
This has been the biggest and most important thing of all. No amount of keyword research, blog income, or anything will make a difference if you are no longer having any fun.
From time to time I hit a “what’s the point” phase where I don’t want to write. I don’t want to respond to comments. I feel overwhelmed or drained. I’ve got too much going on in my normal life to deal with all that right now.
What turns me back around and puts me back in the driver seat is to feed off the success of others. I love reading other great blogs like Niche Pursuits or Think Traffic where the people have similar goals as me and are actually finding ways to make it worse. When they succeed, it gives me hope. It gives me ideas. It gives me things to try.
Even though it’s great to read blogs and network people that are at your same level, make sure you pick a few really successful ones that you can truly learn from and use to inspire you. I’ve got a few of these that I read each week and I get a TON of great information from them. They are doing what I hope to be doing for you.
I think the thing to keep in perspective is to find things that matter to YOU to write about. If you think that it’s important, then research it and write about it. Who cares if anyone else will take an interest in it. As long as you give it a keyword / SEO upgrade before you publish your thoughts, then I’m sure that someone else out there is bound to find your post and care about it too. What matters is what YOU get out of it – what you learn from it. Chances are that if you draw a lot of value out of what you research and find out, then others will naturally follow.
Thanks again for being a loyal reader and keeping my blog going. Here’s to doing even better by Year 3!
My Favorite Posts This Past Year:
1) My Money Design for How to Achieve Financial Freedom – November 2012 Update
2) Believing In Yourself After Finding Out That You Suck
3) Motivation In the Workplace and My Thoughts on Mind Control
4) Is the Conventional System to Create Wealth Rigged?
5) Want Some Financial Motivation? Get Off Your Computer and Go Outside!
6) When Can I Retire – It All Depends On How Badly You Want To!
7) The Value of Time and Money
8) Reader Debate – Would You Borrow Money to Invest in Stocks?
9) Practicing Entrepreneurship the Fraidy-Cat Way – Using Your Job
10) Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Early or Look for a Better Return?
11) Wealth Creation Strategies That Are Within Your Reach
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have actually been thinking about cutting my posts back. I always have ideas and I can always sit down and write but sometimes I just don’t feel like my ideas are great.
Congrats to your two year mark! I have long tail pro but I don’t use it for my blog as much as I should. I usually just go with the idea that pops in my head and don’t even bother with better optimizing it. I am going to take your advice and put it in use!
Congrats to you and good luck in the future!
Thanks Alexa. I highly encourage you to keep up the writing; regardless of whether or not you optimize it. Although the SEO and keyword business has been beneficial, I still think that writing and getting others to like your work ranks number 1 above all.
If you feel the need to cut back or are just plain getting burnt out, I would say do it. No one will blame you. And you’ll probably end up feeling better about your posts in the end.
[email protected] says
Great SEO tips! Also, happy second blogiversary!!
John S @ Frugal Rules says
Great tips MMD & congrats on year 2! I have been wrestling with a few of these areas myself as I hit the year mark in a few weeks and thinking about what I need to do in order to take the site to the next level and be wiser about it. Keep up the great work MMD and here’s to a great year 3!
Thanks John! I wish I had some advice for a popular PR4 blog like your’s to help it get to the next level, but unfortunately I think I’m in need of some help myself. Good luck with your efforts as well!
Matt Becker says
“One thing I never expected throughout this experience is how much I’d learn from my fellow bloggers and readers.”
Amen to that! It’s amazing collection of people out there with tons of fascinating ideas on things I had never considered. Congrats on the awesome progress. Yours is definitely a site I look to for ideas on how to improve on the technical side of blogging. I’m definitely starting to think about how to make this more than just a little hobby, and I agree with a lot of your points on how to spend time wisely. Thanks for the useful thoughts as always.
Thanks Matt! Hopefully I can entertain you on the non-technical stuff as well. Before about six months ago, most of my posts were pretty much 100% financial planning related. It’s funny how the themes of our blogs change as our interests do.
Grayson @ Debt Roundup says
Congrats on hitting the 2 year mark MMD. I am about to hit the one year myself and I have learned so much in the process. You have provided some great tips here and I wish you continued success going forward.
Thanks Grayson! I can’t believe your site is only one year in. It feels like much longer than that!
Great post! Congrats on 2 years 🙂
Thank you Michelle!
Budget and the Beach says
Great informative post. I’m always looking for new ways of doing things to grow my own blog, manage time, etc. Congrats on the 2 years! Here’s to many more!
Thank you Tonya! That special relationship between growth and time management has always been a fine line for me. I could work for hours to make this site better, or blow it all off in the interest of making this a truly passive activity. It’s a struggle for sure!
Todd @ Fearless Men says
Congrats on 2yrs and your 11th anniversary!!
Those are both things to celebrate big-time!
Man, I impressed on the thoroughness of your post. I like your encouragement to spend more time writing really quality content–such as this post itself.
Best of you for another 2 years!!
Thanks Todd! What’s funny is I just started writing this post, did a few edits, and then realized it was over 3,000 words. I didn’t even really plan it. I just felt that this was what would benefit the readers and went with it.
Adam Garcia says
I couldn’t agree more that keyword research is incredibly important. I am amazed at how many of my competitors are targeting keywords with very low search volume.
I wouldn’t discount those competitors too quickly. If those are truly low competition keywords, then they might be on to something. If you can write a few 500 word posts for keywords that target +100 searches per month, you could easily corner the market for a certain niche.
Plus don’t forget those search numbers change frequently. I targeted a keyword that only used to get 50 searches per month. But after about 6 months, it actually became a large traffic draw for me bringing in hundreds of visitors each month.
Congratulations mate on year two of the blog. I like how you had a plan from the beginning. I sort of did and wrote it all down like you did but it just keeps expanding. The SEO tips are great and I’m thankful that just shortly after I started the blog I was reading as much as I could about SEO.
Actually, in my Year 1 Anniversary, I tell the embarrassing tale of how I really didn’t have a plan at all. In fact, pretty much everything I started doing with this blog I eventually stopped or did completely differently after the first year because it was not working or dumb. It’s okay to have a plan as long as you know that the plan will change and you go into learning and understanding that you aren’t going to do everything perfect.
Now that I’m a little better at blogging and know what to do, when I start a new site, I do go into it with a plan. The plan is still free to change, but I can usually do a better job hitting my goals because I know what to look out for and how to correct problems.
Brian @ Luke1428 says
Congrats on the anniversary and thanks for this write-up, especially the blogging tips. As someone just entering year two of blogging, this was very helpful. I still feel I have a long way to go with my knowledge about the blogging process.
Don’t sweat it Brian. You’ll be there. Honestly by the end of Year 1, I still really was pretty green to the technical side of blogging. It’s amazing how much you can soak up in one year.
Jeremy Norton says
Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary. I wish this site would still last for many years and I am expecting to read a lot more of useful tips and insights.
[email protected] says
I feel like I just read your one year post! Your site is what I would like mine to be, personal but full of very good, well researched content.
This post is maybe the best one I’ve read about what to do and not do. I guess Long Tail Pro needs to be next on my list so I can be more efficient with my time.
Thanks for the tips and best of luck with year 3!
Thank you very much Kim! I’m flattered, but I think your site already is personal and helpful at the same time. I do enjoy the house flipping stories and struggles between working for yourself or going back to work for someone else.
If you ever do get more curious about Long Tail Pro and have questions, just email me and let me know.
Pauline @ Make Money Your Way says
Congratulations MMD! Your tips are really valuable too, I have to admit I don’t put most SEO stuff into practice because it is tedious to me and I want blogging to be fun so I don’t care if I make a bit less, I’d rather keep it enjoyable.
Thanks Pauline. Given how much impressive income your blogs make in one month, I’m not sure I’d worry too much about the SEO part. You seem to be doing just fine!
Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says
Congratulations on the 2 years mate, I think you have some really great content in this post and anyone starting out in blogging would do well to read this post first.
I think you, like me, have scaled back your main website in order to spend more time developing niche sites. I’m not 100% sure about you, but so far my niche sites are starting to do really well and one of them is almost making as much as MPB does without me adding any effort.
Best of luck over the next year and hopefully you can have even more success 🙂
Thanks Glen. It’s unfortunate, but I have definitely scaled back on content for MMD in pursuit of other projects. But as I mention here, the posts that do make it to the top are what I feel are the best content. Best of luck to you on your future site building projects as well!
Congrats MMD on the 2yr anniversary. I’ve learnt much from your site. Keep it up!
That makes me very happy to hear! I’m happy to lend what I know to the rest of the PF community.
Mrs. MMD says
Congrats, Mr. MMD 🙂 Even though I always give you a hard time for the other love in your life (that damn laptop and blog!), I am SOOO proud of you for your knowledge and commitment to MMD. You are such a great role model for our children, and me who would rather spend the money than talk about saving it all the time! I love and appreciate your hard work more than you’ll ever know! Here’s to year 3!!!
Thank you MRS MMD! You have been very patient with me as I sit there with a laptop typing away all this nonsense and talking about link-building geeky nonsense during dinner. Someday when we sell this site for a half-million dollars it will all seem worth it! 🙂
Mrs. MMD says
Sooner than later on selling it would be nice 🙂 Work your magic!
Thomas | Your Daily Finance says
Dont know how I missed this post MMD! Another great one as usual. I am not with all the post per week I just dont have time and with social media I honestly suck at it. But I do have a strategy for everything I do. I agree that comments are a big time suck but in the beginning it helps you get notice. For my niche sites I do very little and I am sure in a few it will have more visitors than my YDF site. Thing is with my YDF site I want more of a community and people want to see comments. Some of the high traffic sites still have a community and some dont. I want my niche site to get search engine traffic and referral a balance so to speak. I really like what you doing make sure to hit me up sometime when you have a chance.
Thanks Thomas! Community rather than income has become a big driver for what I do and don’t do on MMD. I’d rather use the niche sites as my money makers and leave my thoughts and ideas up for discussion here. I’m sure you will achieve the same for YDF as long as you keep reaching out to others and are supportive.
Joe Q says
From a Tweet: Passionate writers want what they get: success. “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” – W.P. Kinsella
Blogging is about making money, Congrats!
Congratulations on hitting the two year mark! Blogging is a ton of work and lots of people seem to hit a wall after a few months. As a new blogger I can easily see how this could happen. Thanks for all the tips and good luck!
Thank you and good luck with your own efforts. If you need some help or have questions with anything, feel free to email me.
Cheryl Ellemberg says
Thanks for the informative post. It’s always great to read up on what other businesses are doing to keep a good online presence.