Hi! Welcome to my A Final Note series.
If you’re new here, in 2017 I’m 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’m writing this post every month to review and reflect how the month went with my goals. You can read more about why I’m doing this in my January 2017 post here. I’m posting A Final Note on the first Friday of the following month.
The categories I break down are what I call the “main eight life categories” that I consider for life planning: health, relationships, finances, career, personal/spiritual development, recreation/fun, environment, and service. (If you’re interested in goal setting around the life categories, check out my Goal Setting Action Plan.)
I don’t follow these categories strictly in this post. Instead, I break up personal development and faith, and I keep my blog and my day-job separate. I just like to use the categories as a reference point.
I also list the “peak” and the “pit” of the month at the end of the post, too, just for fun! J
So, let’s take a look at how July went!
The progress I made on my blog in July was good, considering it’s summer time and I love the pool. J
ON MY BLOG THIS MONTH:
- I published my regular blog posts on NatalieBacon.com every Monday morning in July (like usual) and I published my June Final Note post the first Friday in July.
- Here are the popular blog posts from July:
- I started my YouTube channel in June, and I’m going strong with it in July! I’m posting a new video every Thursday. I’m loving it so far, but it’s so hard! Video is just a whole new space that I’m still getting used to.
- In July, I posted these 4 videos to my channel:
- Doing video was one of my goals for 2017, so I feel really good I’m finally doing it! It’s so much harder than it looks, which makes me appreciate the accomplishment that much more.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
- I continue to schedule enough posts on my blog to stay 2 months ahead (I write one new post every week and publish one new post every week). I also stay about 1-2 weeks ahead on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.
- I’m active in my Facebook Group for bloggers called The Blogging Mastermind Community. Facebook groups are hidden gems for bloggers. I get so much information and also get to give help – it’s a great place to connect.
- I started a Facebook Group for my blog readers. This group is a place for young women to talk about money, career, and personal development. I’m super excited to have this new community!
- I updated my Blogging Quick Start Guide this month, so if you want to start a blog, and haven’t, I highly recommend it!
- I added a free download about student loans! I was a part of the Money Summit with Whitney Hansen. It was a Facebook Live event and I presented on Student Loans, which was awesome!! I saved the presentation and you can download it as a freebie by joining my email list.
- I also have a Freebies Page where you can find all my downloads.
MY CONTINUING BLOGGER EDUCATION:
- I stopped running ads on Facebook. I’m done with my coaching – thanks to Monica Louie – she’s the best! J I’ve gotten my strategy down really well in terms of making the ads really affordable. However, I didn’t get the conversions to make it worth it (and it gets sooo expensive fast)!
- In July, I didn’t get back into Elite Blog Academy because I was so busy with other priorities. And oddly enough that came in the form of a new blogging course. It all started when I was listening to Create And Go on YouTube, which led me to their course, Six Figure Blogger. I’ve ever seen a course with such a specific, detailed outline of how to make money blogging. I’m obsessed with it and cannot wait to implement the strategy.
MY BLOGGING GOALS & MAKING MONEY:
- My biggest goal with my blog is to make money from it. I desperately need to repay my student loans. If I didn’t make money blogging, I would be -$1k in my budget every month because my student loan payment is at a minimum $1,500/month (and I refuse to go on an income-driven repayment plan). I heard a good phrase this month and it was “popularity > profitability” – I’m trying to remember this as I shift my focus from being popular online to being profitable (at least as the top priority).
- Since people always ask 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, so I don’t have to worry about the logistics (this is so nice!). I took one of the biggest ads off my site this month (the one that moved along the fold). It was so distracting to me, and I don’t want my readers to feel that way. Fingers crossed the ad income doesn’t drop dramatically from that.
- Second, I make money through affiliates. I learned how to do this through the online course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing– a course that teaches you how to make money online with affiliate marketing.
- A third way to make money blogging is freelance writing. I don’t do this anymore because I want to focus on my own blog instead of writing for other people’s blogs. Freelance writing is really good for making money on the side. If you’re interested, check out Earn More Writing.
- In the future I am focusing more on affiliate marketing and on creating my own digital products. Six Figure Blogger is teaching me how to do this, and I am super pumped about it.
OVERALL PROGRESS THIS MONTH:
- As far as stats go, my traffic was down a bit because I stopped Facebook advertising, but still typically above 5k+ pageviews / day.
- Income was about normal.
- I feel realllly good about having a specific strategy for monetization going forward. This is why investing in yourself as a blogger is so important. I wouldn’t have learned about this strategy without taking Six Figure Blogger.
- If you are interested in starting a blog, you can join my 5 Day Blogging Bootcamp below (it’s a free email course). It’s everything you need to know to launch a blog.
Money was better in July than it was in May and June.
I budget every month, and I use my budget templates from my blog for this. I don’t have a credit card, and I never have, so I can’t really go over budget unless I have an emergency and have to dip into my emergency fund. I love not using a credit card because I’m naturally a spender, so I like not having the temptation there.
Every month, I contribute 10% of my income to my company’s 401(k) (I contribute to the Roth 401(k) so it grows tax free, which is really nice). This is more out of “because if feels good” than it is out of making sense financially. The money is probably better spent going toward my debt, but I feel better knowing I’m saving for retirement, so that’s what I do.
I also pay half my take home pay from my job to my student loan debt, which is $1,500. I really want to put more toward my debt, but I haven’t been able to lately (which is why I have been trying to find new ways to make money blogging). I seriously cannot wait to get out of student loan debt!
Last month I told you I stopped eating dairy and meat products. I’m still living this way, and I love it.
I call myself vegan for the sake of not having to explain it in more detail to people, but it’s really more of “not eating dairy or meat” lifestyle. For example, I still eat honey or other types of things that vegans technically don’t eat. And I haven’t given up sweats completely either and they’re often made with egg or milk. But if it looks like something you’d call dairy or meat, I’m not eating it.
The health benefits are crazy. I feel better, have more energy, and I know that I’m setting myself up for the best future health I can control.
I highly recommend watching Forks Over Knives and What The Health (on Netflix) if you want to learn about eating a plant-based diet and why eating animal products are so bad for your long-term health. It’s insane!
The hardest part is going out to eat. The culture I’m in is 100% not on board with this, so it’s very difficult for me to order food out.
I haven’t tried Thrive Market yet, but this is something I’m very interested in. I am slowly making my way into more traditional vegan foods!
I’m also down to 125lbs (from 130lbs), which is amazing! I would love to get down to 120lbs or so. I feel a lot better at 125lbs and hope to lose a few more.
Personal development is always fun for me. I focus on reading, listening to podcasts, and doing other things (like practicing gratitude and journaling) to keep growing.
I love learning so much, and I love growing. I believe in personal growth as a life practice and think that’s one of the main purposes of life. The thought of not growing over time is awful to me.
- I set a goal to read one book every month in 2017. So far, I’ve read 17 books in 2017!
- A few months ago, Tyler and I started our own little book club where we rotate who gets to pick the book. We read them separately but then get to talk about what we’ve read and learned. It’s really cool to do together!
- In July, I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This is a good book for anyone interested in success and what makes the most successful people successful. It’s filled with research, but it’s not boring, and it will make you think a lot. I highly recommend it!
- I kept up with my gratitude jar this month. Every Sunday I write down something I’m thankful for from the prior week and put it into a mason jar. The idea is that you re-read these at the end of the year to remember and reflect on how much good came from your year. I’m excited to go through all these at the end of the year!
- My friend Miriam gave me The Five Minute Journal as a gift this month. This was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. So special and sweet of her to do! And I am obsessed with this thing! I switched over from journaling in my regular journal to using this one. (Here’s a freebie PDF to take a look at how it works).
- Miriam’s gift led me to think about what else is out there for journaling and planning. So, I decided to research, purchase, and use 8 different planners and journals (review is coming soon!). All that is to say, I started using the Productivity Planner, which is by the same guys who created The Five Minute Journal, as a daily ritual. I’m equally as obsessed with it. This planner is for task management, whereas The Five Minute Journal is for practicing gratitude and happiness.
- I listen to podcasts every month. This month, my favorite came from Create And Go on YouTube (not a podcast at all, actually, but I can listen to it in the background without watching the video, so I count this as my listening to content time). I don’t know of a better, more useful blogging channel for learning how to launch a blog, increase traffic, and monetize.
Personal development was so good this month! One thing I learned from my journaling with all the eight planners is that I’m really good at productivity and discipline, but I’m not so good at focusing. So, I’m going to cut some of the random things out of my routine that I like but that don’t move me toward my goals. This will help a lot I think!
I feel centered and more grounded. I feel happier and content, too.
Faith was kind of bad in July. I only went to church twice. Summer months are a killer with being out of town on the weekends or having weddings, which makes going to church hard sometimes.
I listened to Andy Stanley’s Your Move Podcast this month (like I normally do). It was a 4-part series about decision-making. Again, this series isn’t specifically for religious people, although if you’re someone of faith, you’ll like it that much more. What it was about was learning how to make the best decisions for you (not anyone else). I highly recommend this one!
Relationships were busy in July.
The first weekend this month was the 4th of July, and I went to four different cookouts with different groups of friends. Definitely fun to be outside and enjoying each other in the summer. I love the fireworks, too!
The second weekend I was in Cleveland for a high school friend’s wedding. It was soooo amazing to see all the people from my past. I’ve known these people for 15+ years. It was a ton of fun.
The third weekend I was super productive at home getting lots of blogging things done, recording videos, and creating the student loan presentation for The Money Summit. I did get to the pool for a couple hours on Saturday, but that’s about it!
The last weekend in July, I went to a wedding with Tyler for one of his friends. It was a gorgeous day! Here’s a photo of us from the wedding!
Overall, relationships were good this month. They were a bit busier than I’d like. I’m really more satisfied with deeper relationships that have the biggest impact on my life (quality over quantity for sure).
THAT’S A WRAP!
Overall, July was pretty balanced considering I’m not a huge proponent of balance. I saw friends, spent time enjoying the sun, and made good progress on my blog.
My peak this month was my friend’s wedding back home in Cleveland.
My pit this month was not having enough time to blog with the weekend activities I participated in.
Going forward for 2017 my biggest priority is still to increase my blog income to pay down my student loan debt. (Side note: the Productivity Planner made me realize how important it is to prioritize my time in this way. Super helpful!)