Hi! Welcome to my “A Final Note” series.
I am so excited to be writing this.
Starting in 2017, I am going to be sharing a monthly goal post that I’m calling “A Final Note”. I’m calling it A Final Note because that’s how I end a lot of my other blog posts, so it’s already a phrase I use. I’ll write “A Final Note” on each month to review and reflect how the month went.
Why I’m Doing This
I read blogs because of the blogger behind the blog. It’s the voice of the blogger – their story – that draws and keeps me coming back for me.
Since I’ve been blogging (3 years in a couple weeks!), it’s been hard for me to master “my voice” on my blog. I’ve gone from professional to casual to list-oriented to storytelling. I think it has something to do with going from lawyer to casual blog writer. The writing for each is so different.
I’m constantly battling the urge to provide good, useful content with sharing my stories and making things personal. I want to provide realllly good content. I want to help people. So, I err on the side of educational posts. This is all fine and dandy, except sometimes I do it to the point of not including enough personal stuff.
So, I’m writing the A Final Note series with the intention of making these my personal posts.
Since I love the personality and life of the blogger behind the blog, I want to make sure you know who I am, too. ☺
What To Expect
The first week of every month, I’ll publish “A Final Note” blog post going over how the previous month went.
I’m going to talk about what’s going on in my life, and how I’m doing with my goals.
I think about setting goals in the 8 life categories: health, career, finances, relationships, environment/organization, spiritual/personal development, recreation/fun, and service. Then, I decide which areas to focus on that year. I don’t actually set goals for each area – I only set them for the areas that need the most work. This is usually finances, health, and relationships for me. I set goals in the areas I need the most work in and leave the rest alone.
So, that’s the gist of it! Here’s a look at January 2017…
January was a whirlwind. I love the energy around reflecting and goal setting. And this January was no exception.
But I also like to have fun, which doesn’t always come across on my blog. In fact, people are usually surprised when they meet me in person how extroverted and outgoing I am, so here’s a pic from January from Snapchat ( @NatalieRBacon) on New Years Eve for further proof. 🙂
Work hard, play harder is my motto right now.
Okay, here’s a look at how January went…
My blog is the area that I have the most goals for in for 2017. I want to increase my income significantly because I want to repay my student loans ASAP. And let me tell you, January did not disappoint.
Here’s what I did in January on my blog…
- I rebranded and updated my trade name information (Financegirl is gone and Natalie Bacon is here to stay).
- I got two months ahead in blog posts.
- I rebranded a TON of Pinterest photos (Photoshop is amazing and fun but this took forever).
- I created a new logo (because I’m more official with a logo, right?).
- I got a video lesson from Whitney Hansen and attended her webinar (but still haven’t created a video…).
- I published 1 Forbes post (I post on Forbes once a month in the millennial/career vertical).
- I published 5 blog posts (I post every Monday morning).
- I scheduled two weeks ahead for Facebook and Instagram.
- I installed FB pixel and created custom audiences based on my email list and visitors to my site.
- I ran two FB ads.
- I started “More Than Just Blog Friends” fb group for my blogger gfs.
- I created Blogging Quick-Start Guide: How to Go From Zero to Profitable Blog In One Year (super excited about this eBook!). I’m using this free eBook to grow my email list. So far, it’s already a success!
- I listened to the Perpetual Traffic by Digital Marketer podcast at least weekly (this podcast is amazing for learning how to use Facebook ads).
- I started this series! ☺
All of these things are in the name of making money from my blog so that I can repay my student loan debt. Since people are always asking how I make money blogging, here’s a look at how I do it…
First, I make money from advertisements on my blog. I have an ad agency that does the placements for me (called Ad Thrive), so I don’t have to worry about the logistics (so nice!).
Second, I make money through affiliates. The affiliates that do the best for me are:
- Ramit Sethi’s Affiliate Programs (for the first time, I earned just under $4k this month alone from this one — and the kicker is I only spent $100 on Facebook ads for it!)
- Bluehost (this comes from my How to Start a Blog blog post)
- How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging by Chelsea Lordes
- Your Way to VA (from my How to Make Money as a Virtual Assistant blog post)
- Real Life Money Plan (a money course)
- Personal Capital (a budgeting tool)
- Elite Blog Academy (the best freaking blog course I’ve ever taken — it’s that good)
Finally, I made money freelance writing — sort of. I used to make money freelance writing a lot, but now not so much. I’ve backed off a bit to focus on my own blog but I didn’t want to leave it out here since it had such a big influence on how I made money initially.
Overall, the effort I put into my blog in January was great. I’m making sure I do something (even if it’s small) every day on my blog to help me get a little bit further ahead.
What I want to focus on more now that the rebranding is done is affiliate marketing and increasing traffic. I’m going to re-take Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing for a boost, and I’m going to read SEO 2017 in February. I’m hoping these two things help a lot with increasing income.
I have two health goals for 2017: 1) lose 10lbs and 2) cook at least one new meal every week.
I want to lose the weight because I gained 10lbs over the last couple of year (crazy how it snuck up on me)! I started 2017 at 130lbs, so I want to get back to 120lbs.
I also really want to keep learning how to cook more, so I’m cooking at least one new recipe every Sunday.
Here’s a look at how I did…
- I ran 2 times per week.
- I didn’t eat after 7pm (most of the time…).
- I lost 2 lbs.
- I cooked 1) Tuscan shrimp soup and Greek salad, 2) Stuffed peppers and Cheesy Potatoes, 3) Lasagna and House Salad, and 4) Tomato Soup and Fancy Shmancy Grilled Cheese.
Overall, health was pretty good in January. The cooking is easy because I am in the habit of it now, and I enjoy it. The hard part for health is cutting back on the portions I’m eating. I know the gym is great to tone, but weight loss happens with the food intake, so I’m still working on that!
My financial goals are the hardest for me. After starting a personal finance blog and leaving my career as an attorney to become a financial planner, I’ve learned 100% of everything I know about personal finance over the last 3 years. Yet, I find it so hard to implement in my life because I’m not there yet – my student loan debt is in the way. Booo.
My plan is to make more money so that I can repay my student loans ASAP and then move onto other, more sexy financial things, like maxing out my 401k or IRA.
Here’s how the finances went this month…
- I got my credit reports (I do this first quarter of every year – here’s a post that shows you how to get your credit reports).
- I paid $1,500 toward student loan debt.
I am looking forward to making more money this year, so I hope my student loan payments increase by the end of the year (at least double, if not triple, in a perfect world).
I had my annual review at my day-job in January, and I was promoted. This was pretty exciting. The only other area of my job that is relevant here is that in 2016, I passed the CFP® examination. I still can’t “use the marks” as they call it until I have met the experience requirement. Basically that’s a way of saying I’m not officially a CFP® professional until June 2017, which will be exciting later in the year.
- Related: How to Land Your Dream Job
My personal development goals include reading, listening to podcasts, and growing as a person.
I set a goal to read at least 1 new book every month in 2017. I keep a note in Evernote where I track the books I’ve read (side note: Evernote is God’s organizational gift to mankind). I did this for 2015 and it’s cool at the end to see everything you’ve read (in 2016 I didn’t do it because I was so busy with CFP® examination studying).
In January, I read:
- The 7 Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder (I do not recommend this book. It was very dry, and I couldn’t seem to connect with it at all).
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser (I highly recommend this book to anyone who plans to write anything).
I also did these cool things:
- I started a weekly gratitude jar where I write one thing I’m thankful for each week and put it into a jar.
- I listened to Knowledge for Men and The School of Greatness podcasts weekly (yes, I listen to a podcast primarily for men – it’s really good!).
I’m Catholic, and as I get older, I have been more focused on my faith and setting goals for religion (I’m also a philosophy nerd and love learning about this stuff).
So, here’s what I did for faith in January…
- I attended church weekly.
- I listened to Andy Stanley’s Your Move Podcast every week.
When things slow down with my blog (i.e. when I’ve repaid my student loans), I’d really like to read more books about philosophy and religion. It’s so interesting to me. For now, these two habits are good enough.
A lot of the podcasts I listen to and books I read emphasize having relationship goals. Basically, this means you plan the direction of your relationships – friends, family, etc. (not just romantic).
At first this sounded weird, but it was best explained when I heard someone say, “you wouldn’t start a business and expect it to run perfectly without a business plan, would you? Then, why would you expect your relationships to be perfect without a plan, too? You need to put in the same amount of effort into the relationships that you want to see grow as you would your business.”
I’ll admit, the ENTJ-achiever-hustler in me finds it hard to focus on relationships because I want to get out of debt so bad, which means I constantly want to find ways to make more money (focusing on career, money, etc.). But, I truly believe it’s the relationships in life that are the most important.
So, here’s what I did in January for relationships…
- I had date night for Restaurant Week in Columbus (went to a bomb restaurant called Lindey’s).
- I had Sunday dinners with my boo every week.
- I went to happy hour with four different friends (once a week).
- I had a few weekend nights out this month with friends (check snap for proof 😉 @NatalieRBacon).
That’s A Wrap!
January was a success overall. That’s not surprising given the energy around goal-setting this time of year.
Going forward, my biggest goals are still to increase my blog income (to pay down my student loan debt) and lose a few more lbs.
How did your January go? Do you have any questions for me? Anything you want to know about that I left out?! Let’s chat about it… ☺