Happy 2nd Birthday Action Economics!

It’s hard to believe I have been doing this for two years! It seems like it was only a few months ago when I was sitting at the break table at work having a financial discussion with one of my friends who suggested I should go into financial planning as my career.  A couple weeks later Action Economics was born.  So far I have published over 160 articles with a total word count of over 155,000.  I have learned a lot over the last couple years and am excited to see what the next two years will bring me and this website. It’s also hard to believe that my website used to look like this:

Action Economics Wayback

Traffic:  It seems that everyone loves traffic reports, so I won’t disappoint.  I did not sign up for google analytics until I was about 6 months in, so that data doesn’t exist, from the looks of it, I didn’t miss a whole lot of information though! I signed up in March of 2014.  It looks flat, but I had 2 search visits in March and 9 search visits in April, this has grown to 1,097 in August of 2015.

In General, I have recently surpassed 1,000 organic search visits per month and a total of 3,600 page views per month.  Overall traffic is growing, but at a relatively slow pace. My top post Building A Cheap Tree House accounted for 30% of my organic search results until August when my article How To Build Backyard Monkey Bars overtook it when it accounted for 21% and Building A Cheap Tree House accounted for 20% of search traffic .  Perhaps I should focus writing more on building stuff than finance lol.   I have one month, back in January of this year that was an outlier on search engine traffic, which I think was a result from a guest post on Budgets Are Sexy.

Note: I am currently working 72+ hours per week and travelling for work, so these charts were made ahead of time and thus only cover through August.  

Search Traffic 2 Years

I also FINALLY got rid of the referral spam that was clogging up google analytics.  It grew slowly but got to the point where over half of my traffic was from referral spam.  There isn’t a way to truly get rid of it, but you can block it from appearing in your data by creating a segment that excludes the spam websites.

 

Articles: I’m settling into a post a week schedule, publishing a post every Monday.  For a while I was trying to post 2 -3 articles a week and with how busy the 4 kids keep me I was having a lot of trouble finding the time to write that many quality posts.  A post a week seems to be fitting fairly well for me right now.

I work a bit on my blog in the morning before the kids are up and in my down time when I am travelling for work.  Blogging gives me something productive to do on days off or delay days that we run into; much better than just watching Netflix in a hotel room.  I like to keep around 2 months of articles ready to publish with the click of a button. This allows me a lot of flexibility in managing the blog so that if I have a week or two where I don’t have a chance to write I won’t feel pressured to churn something out.

Blog Income:

Income follows traffic and since my traffic is still very light expecting any real income would be overly optimistic.  So far I have earned around $45 from click ads on google adsense, $22 from sales of my spreadsheets, and just this past month I started earning a bit from the Amazon affiliate program, currently totaling just under $20. I originally did not set out to make any money from this endeavor, so this isn’t disappointing news to me. In real dollars I have spent around $250 on the website for 3 years of hosting and domain registration at GoDaddy.com. Currently you can host a website for $5 a month ($60 for the year and get a free domain name). The big cost of this website is my time, I have spent an approximate 2,000 hours of time to build the site and write all the articles. Valuing my time at $20 per hour means I have invested over $40,000 into the site. Even if I start making $1,000 a month, it would still take over 3 years to pay me back.  This site is a labor of love, and that is why I donate my time to it.

Although….when I read income reports from other blogs I can’t help but feel like I am doing something wrong and missing a great opportunity.  A few hundred bucks a month would make a big difference and I am consistently seeing other blogs pulling in a few thousand dollars a month.  Over the next two years I plan on learning how to properly monetize my blog, which will include finding ways to increase traffic as well.  Even building an income stream of $500 a month would be a major game changer for our family. (Feel free to email me some helpful advice 🙂 )

If I never make a dime of realized profit, I will still continue to write for the next several years.  As I stated above, income was not a primary motivator for me in regards to this blog.  I have over a dozen articles ready to publish and over 50 article ideas I am ready to run with (and the list keeps growing).

Changes To The Blog:

I recently added a popup email subscribe form to the site, which should only appear the first time someone reads an article.  In addition to adding the pop up, I am also including a free copy of our house payment spreadsheet 2.0 with all subscriptions.  If you like this blog, please subscribe here.

As mentioned earlier, my posting frequency has reduced to 1 post per week over last few months.  Occasionally I get 6 in a month, but on average I will make a new post once a week.  Overall I feel the quality of these posts have increased as well; the length of them certainly has.  Of my last 16 posts, only 2 have been under 1,000 words and 4 have been over 2,000 words.

Behind the scenes, I FINALLY did a backup of the site and now have it scheduled to backup on a weekly basis automatically using WP-DB backup; a free plugin.  I had been dreading how difficult of a process this was going to be, which is why I put it off for so long.  I was amazed that it only took a couple clicks and about 2 minutes of my time to backup my site. I can’t imagine losing everything I have built because I was too lazy to make a backup.

My Finances:

Mrs C. and I have increased our total net worth by 72% since I started this blog. This includes a 250% increase in retirement savings, a 100% increase in cash and a 66% increase in Home Equity.  As these numbers show home equity is a much larger portion of our net worth than cash and retirement savings, however that is changing dramatically as well.  When I started Action Economics 76% of our net worth was our home equity, now only 65% is.  Of that home equity, 27% is our rental house and 73% is our primary residence.

For the last couple of months we have been using Personal Capital to track our finances and love it.  One of our major goals right now is to pay off our home.  Right now the chart doesn’t look too impressive, since only $200 per month extra is being put on the principal.  By the end of the year this chart should have a major dip in it.  I am waiting until the end of the fall season to make a large payment on the house.

Personal Capital Home Loan

Our investment account includes out Health Savings Accounts, and any large reductions in our investment accounts are due to withdrawals to pay for current medical expenses. As time goes on and our balances increase these withdrawals will become a smaller percentage and will be largely unnoticeable.  Personal Capital links all five of our investment accounts together and shows us the asset allocation and performance of them as a whole. It’s a very convenient service and the price is right (It’s FREE!).

Personal Capital Portfolio Balance

 

What do you think of the first two years of Action Economics? Any advice on changes I should make to the site?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John uses the free tool Personal Capital to track his net worth and posts quarterly updates on his finances. Check out the Action Economics archives section for all past posts.

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