One Year Blog Anniversary: Highs, Lows and Surprises
It’s has been one year since we launched this blog! Wow!
And what a year it has been. When we set off, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.
We knew why we did it but as I’ve said a few times before, this website is an experiment.
Part of what I set out to prove was that something worthwhile could be created with 1.5 – 2 hours a day of time.
As a family man with a full time demanding job, I felt I also needed a creative outlet, doing something I had never done before.
A series of thought processes emerged, Mary suggested a name and ‘The Humble Penny’ was born.
This year has been phenomenal for many reasons, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
There have been low times as well as surprises that really challenged our belief in what we are trying to do.
On a very personal level, I thank God for this year.
It’s my hardest working year ever!
Our marriage and faith have grown immensely as a result of setting off on this journey.
Although you read these blogs and possibly never imagine how they get created, many of them have been mini miracles.
One thing we never imagined when we started off was the potential ripple effect this website would cause.
We get many messages via email, text, face to face; with many people saying how much this site has meant to them.
The feedback has been overwhelming in a positive way.
Many have taken action in their financial lives, started businesses, changed jobs, invested in their marriages etc.
It really has blown our minds just how life changing positive words can have an impact.
We have so much to share in this first year, but only so much we can write.
For now, let’s dive into some of the detail on what this year has been all about:
This year has seen us go on a journey of authenticity.
One major revelation I had in the year was that many things we write about can be replicated by other people.
However, there are certain things that cannot be replicated:
- Our stories
- Perspectives & Experiences
I needed to tell my story and tell it fearlessly. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t have any fear.
Ofcourse I did. However, I chose to face up to it and use it to my advantage.
Telling my story and journey of transformation has become my advantage.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I often say that our perceived disadvantages are really our advantages.
It’s often the things you hide away from everyone else, that will help you to soar.
Values are very important. Early in the year, I decided to start communicating important values we live by.
I call them H.I.T Stories i.e. doing life through Honesty, Integrity and Transparency.
Having these values ties very closely with our decision to do all things in an ethical way.
And tied to that are our personal beliefs and faith.
You see, we could have set-off being like everyone else and essentially become plain vanilla.
We didn’t and wanted to be as true and original as possible.
Whatever you do in life today, stay authentic. Not everyone will like you, but most people will respect you.
Consistency & Productivity
I mentioned earlier that I really only have 1.5 to 2 hours a day max to create content and run this site.
That slot I found from completely shutting down our TV for ~95% of the year. If you speak to me about TV shows, I can’t have much of a conversation.
I do make an exception annually for Game Of Thrones though. Don’t ask!
Anyway, a big win this year has been staying consistent with 2 pieces of content per week.
We started off with 3 per week, and it proved too challenging and we settled for 2.
The success in this area came from:
- Batching – We work vertically not horizontally. I.e. we do all writing, then all editing, then all marketing etc.
- Having Structure – We create content in categories in Excel. Each category has a specific date in the calendar and a specific blog post. We fill this up as we go along.
- Shared Work – We have specific responsibilities. More in the “Team Work” section below.
- Scheduling The Week – We use Google Calendar to Schedule specific slots for work in the evenings and mornings.
- Fighting The Resistance – We say ‘No, thanks’ to most things. We accept only a handful.
Following the above means that whether it’s raining or sunny, we deliver 2 pieces of content per week.
This year has been a phenomenal year for collaborations.
Choosing to collaborate with others is a mindset thing, and the quicker you adopt it, the quicker you’ll see success.
One of my most successful collaborations this year was with Barney Whiter from The Escape Artist.
He did an interview on my site to talk about Fear and Financial Independence.
Then I got invited to tell my story as an immigrant in a raw way on his website.
This collaboration has led to a good friendship and we now regularly share thoughts and ideas.
It’s through this collaboration that I first got featured in the media and then a domino effect kicked off.
I’ve also collaborated with others such as Alan Donegan from The Pop Up Business School .
I did a talk at a PopUp event on ‘Confidence and Retaining Customers’.
Then I’ve worked with and spoken on the panel for Steps To Investing, which was my first ever live event.
Add to that, I had some phenomenal guest posts:
Dr. Nikki Ramskill from The Female Money Doctor wrote a brilliant piece on:
Rob from Mustard Seed Money told his amazing story on:
Sara Williams from Debt Camel brought a unique perspective on:
Perry Wilson from Stupid Is The Norm told his life story and lessons on:
Araminta from Financially Mint wrote a brilliant piece on:
Maria Nedeva from The Money Principle wrote an original on debt and wealth:
Lynn James from Mrs MummyPenny kept it real about her business journey:
A big lesson I’ve learned about collaborations is that you should “dig your well before you’re thirsty”.
I.e. Build a relationship before asking. Give something first whether it’s an idea, a solution or even buy them a coffee.
Reciprocity is a timeless principle and always works in a circular motion.
E.g. I have linked to the guys above deliberately to return the love.
Massive thanks to all the other bloggers I didn’t get to mention above.
John at ESI Money, Scott at Making Momentum , Sara at Gathering Dreams , Bob at SeedTime etc.
You’ve all been extremely supportive.
My partner on this adventure is my wife, Mary. She’s been phenomenal in ways I can’t write about.
Her areas of responsibility are creating beautiful images for our blogs and Pinterest Profile.
She is also Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Editor and Chief Moral Support Officer.
Then we have Sara, who is our brilliant tech wizz.
It is credit to her that we won The Best Designed Money Blog Awards at the SHOMOS.
She brought our design dream to reality after many iterations.
The really important point to make about teamwork is that there is no growth without an effective team.
You need people who are properly incentivised and understand the vision.
A really good example of this is the decision to appear in the media.
If this website was going to become known, I really had to get outside my comfort zone.
Key for me was making sure that I told H.I.T Stories and stayed authentic.
Taking this risk has paid off as the traffic to the site rocketed and continued to grow.
It also comes at a cost as there are people who naturally might not like what we do.
I also took a risk with adding my face to the homepage of the website as well as my full name.
This took quite a while for me to take this leap. I had privacy concerns and also a fear of judgement.
Related post: Your Name Is Your Asset. Embrace It.
Taking this risk has meant that in addition to UK, USA, Canadian, Australian, Indian, European etc readers, we also now have Africans.
Support from my wife and family has been invaluable.
Very close friends were a bit weird for the first few months but have gradually embraced what we are doing.
I still can’t explain why close friends don’t support you from the get go…
The feedback from the readers of the blog all over the world has been phenomenal. There is no way we could have predicted any of it.
If you’ve sent us emails of appreciation in the past, we really value them. Thank you!
We’ve gone from novices at running websites to having some expertise.
When I calculated mine and Mary’s time on this website in one year, it is in excess of 1,500 hours.
Guess what happens in that time? You become an expert ofcourse.
My recent talk at the PopUp Business School on all I have learned blogging was a huge hit!
I went from possibly only speaking for 15 minutes, to speaking for over 2 hours.
Many people had many questions and I answered them all. So much learning to share on this journey.
In addition to taking action, we’ve been reading books and learning from others face to face.
I typically meet one person once a week to not only to learn from them but to give back somehow.
LOWS AND CHALLENGES
Lack of Sleep
This has by far been my biggest weakness in the last year.
Although we have great plans about what we want to achieve, our kids have theirs too.
They ofcourse take priority at all times.
So when one decides to sleep and the other doesn’t, all plans have to wait.
And in order to stay consistent, we’ve had to find the time from sleep time.
This has gotten better though, although it’s still not perfect.
Having No Friends Who Understand
Blogging and all things related to it may as well be a different language.
My oldest friends are professionals who work in the City.
They have little idea about using the internet as producers of content.
As such, this journey has been a lonely one in parts as I’ve had to figure things out.
It has also forced me to make friends with internet skills. People who run digital businesses.
So in a way, although this has been a low, it has turned out well.
For example, I now have friends with just expertise in Pinterest marketing.
We essentially barter trade our expertise.
Investing Without Knowing If A Return Will Come
I’ve invested a lot of my own money and time into this platform.
A lot is spent on technologies that you don’t see and various things that keep this site running seamlessly.
This has remained a challenge as there is always an opportunity cost with money spent.
And what is my reward? Well, knowing I’m doing something purposeful.
More on money below.
Balancing work, family life, social life and running a passion project is hard work!
Striking the balance has been tough and required a lot of prioritisation.
There is always a true cost when balance isn’t achieved.
For me, it has either been missing out on some weekend parties with my kids or saying no to opportunities.
Time is so precious and a huge focus for us currently is getting more of it back.
There was no way on earth I could have predicted that we’d have an award winning website.
We got nominated for 5 awards at the UK Money Blogger Awards called the SHOMOS.
The Humble Penny won 3 –
1st place for “Best Designed Money Bog”. 2nd place for “Best Personal Finance Blog” and “Best Money Making Blog”.
To have won these in less than 1 year of blogging has been a lovely surprise.
It has also meant that we now have the opportunity to grow further and work with certain brands.
Blogging isn’t just about producing content. It is more about traffic if you expect it to generate an income.
Although we didn’t start the blog with a traffic goal, I became obsessed with achieving 25,000 sessions in a month.
I loved this challenge as it forced me to be creative.
I used everything I had including platforms such as Whatsapp to drive traffic.
It helped that I understood how to use The Dream 100 strategy coupled with Media appearances.
We hit 25k in September and this opened up a new line of revenue for the site through selective programmatic ads.
Tied to this, we’ve seen a sharp growth in our subscriber base.
All this will help the site have more offline impact. More on this below.
I’ve been positively overwhelmed by the good media pieces we’ve been exposed to.
We’ve been featured on the BBC TV, Channel 5 TV, BBC Radio, The Mail Online, Closer Magazine etc.
We have also been featured on Podcasts with Financial Independence Europe and UK FI Pod. More to come.
Massive thanks to all the journalists and content creators. We really appreciate working with you.
Most Viewed Blog Post: How Much Money You Should Have Saved By Age
Number of blog posts written in one year: 113
Total word count for the year: 225,000
Number of Page Views: 380,000 (sharp growth from August 2018)
Countries that follow the blog: 79 (primarily UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc)
Total Users: 108,000 (now circa 20k – 30k per month and growing)
We need to do more work on Social Media:
Pinterest followers: 1,400 You can follow us here
Instagram followers: 330 You can follow us here
Twitter followers: 523 You can follow us here
Facebook Likes: 270 You can Like us here
Do I Make Money From The Blog?
Just in case you’re curious, I currently do not take any income from the blog.
However, the site does generate its own revenue and is becoming ever more sustainable.
Thank you to all who continue to support us through various means.
All income generated by the site is currently reinvested into the site re product development, technology, people, projects etc.
I don’t show off about this because it’s not who I am.
However, I do tell some insiders about it when I offer blog coaching.
I personally generate an income from my day job and from other personal investments.
Dreams – What’s next?
We have a ton of ideas for the blog and where we’d like to take it for the second year.
Most importantly, we’d like to hear your views as the audience.
What would you like to see more of?
Investing, Making Money, Saving, Budgeting, Case Studies, Side hustles, Life hacks, Relationships Financial Independence ? Or other ideas?
Please tell us in the comments.
Below are some of the dreams and ideas we have:
- Workshops – We’d like to create offline workshops for specific subjects such as Financial Independence or How to start a blog etc
- Social – Better engagement on Social Media and The Humble Penny Community.
- Brands – We’ll only ever promote products that we believe will help you. As such, we’ll seek out more brands and products.
- Video – We’ve been creating a studio at home and will start delivering more video content. Our goal is to create a proper YouTube channel.
- Course – I’ve been writing a course called FIRE SuperPower™ to help our readers take action and make Financial Independence a reality in their lives. Join the waiting list here
- eBooks – We expect to create more digital downloads to help you in bite sized ways.
- Speaking – I hope to do more speaking at live events and conferences. I would also like to do a TED Talk. So do please reach out if you’ve got an opportunity.
- Book – Dare to dream? Well, I hope one day to write a bestseller. Just an idea for now.
- Partnerships – We aim to partner with other organisations for some philanthropic impact.
All in all, this year has been fantastic. It has been very tough in parts, but overall, very rewarding.
We thank you once again for continuing to read and support The Humble Penny.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on the above or any ideas you have in the comments.
What has been your experience of reading the blog in the last year?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.