$100 Blogging Challenge – November 13th Update

how to start a blog

This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my disclaimer for more information.

This is the second post in my $100 challenge series, if you haven’t read the first post yet, it can be found here.

This is going to be WAY harder than I thought it would be.

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

10 hours per week is a metric crap-ton of time to put into a business. There’s a lot going on right now including:

  • 3 kids
  • A marriage
  • Cars that need repairing
  • Netflix shows that I’m halfway through (honestly, sometimes it’s tough to choose writing over Blacklist)
  • A kitchen renovation that still needs finishing touches
  • Halloween
  • Christmas
  • Oh, and a full-time job

Despite all of that, I got a lot of work done this last couple of weeks. The thing is though…

Everything I Thought I Knew About Blogging Is Wrong

I’ve always thought that blogging is about having new ideas and thoughts that nobody else has published before. Part of what’s held me back from thriving is that I didn’t think I had anything new to offer.

Every topic under the sun has been beat to death by bloggers over the last two decades.

Blogging is not about unique, new ideas and cutting edge stuff; it’s about me. The value is in my voice, my take on the topic, my experience. Some people are just going to resonate with me more than others.

My voice and view are unique. That’s my selling point.

For example, I’ve noticed that lots of people in the personal finance/budgeting/saving space often say things like:making income from a new blog

  • Amirite?
  • Thebomb.com
  • Amazeballs
  • OMG

I don’t know anybody who talks like this, and reading it makes me want to pull my hair out, but some people love it. That’s the point – some people will resonate with me and other’s won’t. The key is to follow the formula for success while appealing to the readers who think I’m awesome.

As an example, check out my new friend Pete over at Do You Even Blog. The guy has started a blog in the most crowded space there is – Blogging.

I found Pete through an interview that he did with Bobby from MillennialMoneyMan (Bobby’s blog is awesome btw – his site motivated me to start my own PF blog). Pete didn’t get my attention with some new mind-blowing SEO or email technique that I’ve never heard before.

I just like the dude. His tone and viewpoints resonate with me. He’s the same demographic as me; 30s (I think), has a family, and wants more from life. He gets me.

That’s what he’s selling – his voice. There are a thousand blogs about blogging out there and he’s still going to do well building his own tribe of followers that want to read his stuff, in his voice, and that’s awesome.

I had another important takeaway from this week’s research for the challenge:

Every Post Needs A Defined Purpose

Every post must offer something valuable to the reader, that’s a given. But what value does the post have for you? What action do you want readers to take after they read your post? Some common answers might be:

  • Sign up for your email list (that’s the action I’m hoping you’ll take on this post, I’ll go ahead a drop a form right here)
  • Purchase a physical or digital product
  • Direct readers to an affiliate
  • Follow you on social media
  • Join a mastermind group

Follow Along With My $100 Blogging Challenge!



There are many more. The point is, from now on I’m going write posts with an action in mind, and track how effective I’ve been at getting my readers to complete this action.

Defining Priorities For My Blog

This challenge has been really beneficial in helping me define what my priorities are. This means what type of content I want to provide and who I want to provide it to. It’s easy to get my priorities mixed up in with the noise of tens of thousands of other personal finance bloggers out there.

The truth about me? I don’t like the word ‘frugal’. I don’t think that a responsibly used credit card is necessarily a bad thing, and I want to focus on the larger, more meaningful financial wins.living a frugal life

Everybody knows that you can save a couple of bucks per day by drinking your coffee at home or tearing your dryer sheets in half, I’m not going to focus on that stuff here.

That said, I thought this would be a good opportunity to write my mission statement. One sentence about the Ninja Budgeter, who I am, and what I’m about. 

NinjaBudgeter’s Mission Statement

Ninjabudgeter.com is a resource to help families learn how to get out of debt, increase their income and learn to use what they have more wisely. My goal is to help people get control of their finances so that they can do the work/play/travel/service that is most important to them. 

I believe that money is a tool, and just like a hammer, if used wisely, it can build a beautiful home. If used poorly, it can hold you back or worse, destroy things.

What Are My Blogging Goals

I want to grow this blog big enough that it can be a useful resource and source of entertainment for parents around the world.

Honestly, it’s hard to dream big while I’m still plunking away on my keyboard in a tiny coffee shop in Saanichton. Google it, I dare you.

I’m virtually unknown to 99.9% of my target audience at this time, but here’s where I want to get to.

By January 1st, 2018 my goal is to be getting an average of 200 views per day on this site (I’m currently at around 40). I want to have made my first $100 and have been a guest on one podcast.

Too much? Maybe, but I don’t want that to stop me from trying :D.

Anyhow, back to the challenge. Just to recap, the 5 steps are:

  • Decide what you want your blog to be about
  • Set up your blog, if you haven’t already
  • Write Your First Blog Posts
  • Pick ONE social media network and OWN it
  • Begin monetizing your blog

As I mentioned in the first challenge post, I’m going to start on step 3/5. My blog is up and I have a small audience of amazing readers. I have articles (30 or so) on the blog, but I did not write them with affiliate conversions in mind.

Related PostHow To Make $500 Fast – 15 Ways To Make Extra Cash This Week

How To Find The Most Popular Blog Posts In A Niche

This is what I spent most of the last couple of weeks on.

All of my research was done one of two ways:

  • Entering search terms into Google
  • Entering search terms into Buzzsumo

If you’re not familiar with BuzzSumo, you’re missing out on an awesome opportunity to write content that’s more likely to get shared.

Here’s how it works: you enter in a url, and it will produce a list of the most popular posts on that site by social shares. It can also do the same thing with keywords. Enter a key phrase in and it will produce a list of popular posts based on social shares.

how to make money with a new blog

You get a limited number of searches per day with limited results for free. They also offer a free trial that doesn’t require a credit card.

Here’s what I found: popular posts follow a pretty predictable trend. They are formulaic, and that’s cool. They all have their own unique spin, but for the most part, the articles that go ‘viral’ or have a really good run on Pinterest follow a format.

  • (Insert Number Here) Ways To Do (Insert Thing Here) That Will (Insert Result Here)
  • How To (Insert Thing Here)
  • How I (Insert Thing You Did Here)
  • Some sort of personal story

I’ll be honest, this annoyed me at first. How many articles like these does the internet really need? Then I remembered that my voice will resonate with some people, and it won’t resonate with others. All of those articles are written in a unique voice, from their unique viewpoint.

I was a little surprised to find that often, the posts that were ranking best, were not the money making posts on that particular site. Usually the ranking post contained links to the money-maker though.

How To Find The Most Popular Affiliates In A Niche

This week, I spent some time researching top affiliate-promoting content from personal finance blogs around the web. Here’s how I did this; you can apply this to your blog, no matter what industry you’re in.

First, I googled “personal finance income reports”. I checked probably 15-20 different income reports on different sites. I tried to focus on bloggers who are making less than 15k per month.

Why? Because there are way more bloggers out there earning $100-$15,000 per month than there are making 100k. These are the people to learn from. They’re just beginning to get it figured out. They’re one or two steps ahead of me, not twelve.

“Oh you’re making 100k per month? That’s awesome, let’s talk about that after I wait to see if my account will clear this coffee and donut.”

When I saw which affiliates were earning these bloggers the most income, I did a site search for the name of the affiliate. This gave me a pretty good idea which posts were converting for that affiliate.

Of course that’s not the only way bloggers earn affiliate income. They may also be promoting these affiliates other places like in their email newsletter, but it’s a good starting point.

What Kind Of Content To Write

I want the content that I write to be two things:

  1. Incredibly valuable to the reader.

Ultimately, this is the only thing that matters. Without awesome content, all promotional efforts are in vain. There’s no point in promoting junk.

       2. A source of income.

The content I create needs to be awesome, but I also want it to be income-producing. That’s the whole point of this challenge, to make my first $100.

Below, I’m going to reveal the content that I plan to write based on my research.

“But Mike, aren’t you concerned people will copy you?

I hope they do. I want this challenge to help people and help make the internet a better place. None of this info is proprietary, and I’m sure I’ll be the 1,429th person to write about each of these things.

Remember, what I’m selling is my voice and my experience.

  • How To Start A WordPress Blog
  • (Insert Number Here) Ways To Earn Extra Money [Online, From Home, Today, Etc.] – Many popular sites have several posts of this type. I will probably write two or three based on my experience.
  • A relaunch of an older post titled: How I Made $10,000 Selling Appliances On Craigslist

Hold up a minute, did I just suggest writing about how to start a blog? Aren’t I the same guy who poked fun at bloggers who do that on Twitter?

Well this is awkward.

Uh yah, that was me.

Why Did I Change My Tune?

Literally almost every single successful site has some version of this post.

Some of them recommend a hosting provider such as Bluehost or HostGator as well as a variety of themes and tools.

The point is that they are offering their readers something: that person’s unique opinion on why they might want to start a blog, and showing them how to do it.

I use and recommend Bluehost to my friends, so as an affiliate it’s a good fit for me. My wife and I have been with them for more than 7 years. They’re affordable and simple, which is what most new bloggers want.

They’ve also helped us through a couple of major website problems, and they’ve been keen to help us out every time – plus they’re cheap!

That said, I think I can offer some real value to my readers. Most of the posts there are out there right now focus on how to start a blog. I want to show my readers why they should start a blog, and what to realistically expect.

There are a lot of benefits to starting a blog, beyond just trying to become a big-time blogger. Blogging can help you further your career as well as open up other opportunities. It’s a great way to establish credibility in a niche, sell physical products and much more.

All that to say, even though there are lots of ‘How To Start A Blog’ posts out there, there’s not a single on with my voice and my experience behind it.

How To Promote My Content To Get More Views

As I’m writing these posts, I’m going to be actively promoting them. Most people agree that Pinterest is the way to build traffic right now. It’s not just the guys at BreakingTheOnePercent.

Up until now, I have been splitting my efforts between Twitter and Pinterest, with the majority of my time invested in Twitter. Following BTOP’s advice, I’m going to focus on Pinterest from now on. I’ll still be on Twitter (I’ve actually met some pretty cool people there), but I’m not going to spend as much time there.

Related Post: Where I Found An Extra $718.05 This Week

Is Pinterest as good for traffic as everybody says? Time will tell. I haven’t seen amazing results but I’d say they’re probably in-line with the amount of effort I’ve invested. Right now I’m currently a contributor to 7 group boards. Follwoing BTOP advice, I have started making a list of around 50 boards that I’m going to apply to.

This is incredibly time consuming, but I’m hoping it will pay off.

how to find pinterest group boards

I’d actually be interested to know how my 7 compares with the number of boards you contribute to. Leave a comment and let me know!

Traffic Numbers

To wrap up this post, I’m going to share my current traffic numbers with you.

I figure I’m averaging out 40-45 views per day at this time. That’s with a bit of promotion on Pinterest and a bit on Twitter. I probably pin to group boards about 8x per week. As for Twitter, I tweet out a link to my posts an average of 3x per day.

how to grow traffic

The day that spiked was when I posted the first time about my challenge. There’s definitely a good bit of interest. I’d like to keep the momentum going. If you find this post useful, I’d sure appreciate a share!

When you look at the weekly stats, it gets a little more interesting. Though day to day can range dramatically, I’ve been growing week over week for a few weeks now. Of course I will have some down weeks as well, but I’m happy with the way things are going right now.

tracking traffic in wordpress

So that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, it was a long one. I’ll keep you all updated as I soldier on in my effort to make $100.

Want To See How This Pans Out?


15 thoughts on “$100 Blogging Challenge – November 13th Update

  1. Love the openness and straightforward tone to this post! It sounds like you’re doing a lot of self discovery with this challenge.

    The thing that stands out to me is the unique voice we all have to offer. To be honest, I came across your blog pretty early on when I started mine and I keep coming back because your writing and tone resonate. Your stuff is stinking good!

    I haven’t been as diligent in keeping up with this challenge but I’m excited to dig in. You’ve inspired me with a few ideas and inspiration to keep developing my own voice and tone.

    And you’re spot on about Pete at DYEB. The guy is just real and genuine and his voice flows great.

    Good luck with week 3 Mike! Great stuff!

    • Thanks for the kind words MJG!

      That was the biggest discovery for me along this journey as well. There is always room for a new voice. There are some very popular PF bloggers out there who have gotten their start in the last 3 years and the space has been crazy crowded that whole time.

      Thanks for the compliment about my writing. I’m going to email a copy of your comment to my grade 9 English teacher 😀

  2. I like your challenge. Sounds like a great idea!

    It’s a tough choice between spending time promoting a new blog on social media and actually writing a post. Most of my time as a new blogger has been spent on trying to write high-quality posts that, like you said, isn’t just the same stuff that’s been written about before.

    It’ll be interesting so see your results when you focus more on Pinterest. Keep us posted! Good luck!

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      Balancing my time is hands-down the toughest challenge I have right now. There’s really no limit on how much time I can spend on making a post fantastic. That said, If I want to spend my time 50/50 on promotion and creation (I do), that means if I’m spending 10 hours writing an article per week, than I’m spending 10 more on promotion and that adds up to 20 hours per week which is just not doable for me right now.

      It’s not easy! I’ve decided that my content is going to come first. If it takes me longer to write a piece, then I’m going to be ok not publishing something that week. I don’t want to compromise.

  3. Well, it totally made me smile that the first comment I read on this post was someone about to join you in this challenge.

    Great post! You really do have valuable insight on the subject and in my opinion, you’re very good at articulating what people should do.

    For example: write posts with an action in mind & keep track of how good you are at getting readers to complete that action. SO good & such gold.

    A lot of the times we write posts, and that’s that…but we can just take it one step further and focus on a CTA at the end (for you – it worked! I’m subscribed to your mailing list to follow the challenge).

    Lastly – really interesting observation you made about most popular posts on website not being their posts mosts optimized for profit (and instead…linking to those money-making posts). Definitely something for bloggers who want to monetize to consider.

  4. Hey man! Just re-read this post after skimming it a couple of days ago. SO many great takeaways for a blogger at my level. Launched about a month ago and only have around 10 posts up.

    My biggest frustration has been feeling like I’m just regurgitating the same old stuff that has been blogged about 100’s of times, but I have to remember that its okay as long as its better or has my unique spin on it!

    • Hey PF Geek, thanks for reading!

      Look at Millennial Money Man. It’s a relatively new blog as far as personal finance goes, but he’s getting hundreds of thousands of readers per month because many people love his unique voice. You and I are no different!

      I’m going to swing by and check out your site now 🙂

  5. It’s like you’ve written down and finished the half-formed thoughts in my head!

    I’ve just started to realise that my story and my voice are probably what I should focus on, so it’s reassuring reading that others think so too.

    Must admit I’m finding it hard to figure out pinterest. More research needed!

  6. Haha thebomb.com I think some millennials do talk like that in person but I don’t know any either.

    Have you tried Tailwind for Pinterest? It doesn’t give me a huge boost compared to before but it is a time saver.

    There’s also a plug in that tweets your old posts so you don’t have to waste time tweeting it. I think it’s called revive old post or something

    As a new mom I understand the time factor. It’s huge! Hard to get down time when you have 3 kids!

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m actually using Tailwind now (the free version) and I think I’m going to upgrade as a Christmas gift to myself. I’ll check out that Twitter plugin. I like engaging in Twitter as I have time throughout the day but scheduling posts takes forever!

  7. A lot of others have mentioned this, but I’d love for you to write a blog post about your experience with Pinterest. How do you find boards to apply to? What’s your success rate at getting approved? How many pins do you make per post and how many boards do you pin to per post? How has your traffic grown?

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