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. 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 that I break down are what I call the “main eight life categories” that I consider for life planning, and they are: health, relationships, finances, career, personal/spiritual development, recreation/fun, environment, and service.
As you’ll see below, I don’t follow these categories strictly — I break up personal development and faith and I keep my blog and my day-job separate. I just like the list of categories as a reference point.
I list the “peak” and the “pit” of the month at the end of the post, too – just for something to highlight!
So, let’s take a look at how June went…
The progress I made on my blog in June was okay. June was still a lot of fun, like May, so I didn’t do a ton, but I was still able to make some progress.
I published my blog posts Monday morning (like usual) and my May Final Note post in June.
June’s blog posts were:
- How This Mom Created A Six-Figure Freelance Writing Business
- 56 Motivational Quotes About Life That Will Inspire You
- How To Get Your Finances In Order By Committing To 20 Minutes A Day
- 100 Blog Ideas
I also published a guest post on Making Sense of Cents this month – thanks for having me, Michelle!
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’m thinking about starting a Facebook Group for my blog readers. Haven’t pulled the trigger yet, so we’ll see! Let me know what you think!
I spent a lot of time January through April creating and updating freebies on my site. These are the best way I know how to give you everything I know about money, personal development, and blogging.
The freebies are:
- How To Go From Zero To Profitable Blog In One Year (blogging eBook)
- 5 Day Blogging Bootcamp (blogging email course)
- Budget spreadsheets (printables and excel format)
- Goal Setting Action Plan (eBook)
- 5 Day Goal Setting Bootcamp (goal setting email course)
I also have a Freebies Page where you can find all my downloads, eBooks, printables, and courses.
In June I didn’t get back into Elite Blog Academy because I was so busy with other stuff. But I knew that May and June would be crazy, so I’m looking forward to diving back into it in July.
I took comments off my blog in May. I brought comments back at the end of June. My goal is to have more engagement and interaction on social media instead of below posts, but it just feels sooo weird not having the opportunity to connect with readers on my posts. So, they’re back!
I also updated my footer! It was sort of disorganized if you viewed it on desktop before. Now, it’s very organized in three columns exactly how I want it.
I think the footer is a very underrated place for some bloggers! Most readers scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page they’re on, so I really wanted to have a good strategy knowing people would be there a lot. My favorite links are there now and a subscribe box is there, too because I’m focusing a lot on growing my email list.
But somehow my updated footer caused a coding problem that shifted the site container. I mention that here because it was such a relief to use Grayson Bell from iMark Interactive. I use him for all my tech needs, so if you have any blog issues, I highly recommend him!
Okay, now for the biggest news for this month… I started doing video!! I have had the goal to start doing videos all year (I wanted to start in January). So, after much preparation and finally making time for it, I started my YouTube channel! I’m so freaking excited about this. Please subscribe to stay up to date with my weekly videos!
I’m going to post videos there and share them on Facebook and social platforms. I think I’m going to post every week on Thursdays. I personally find that I am a bigger follower of people I see on video because I can get to know them faster. It’s instant with video for me. I love watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts on YouTube, so, I’m hoping that my readers can get to know me better with video. Shout out to Whitney Hansen for coaching me through the technical side of it.
In other news, I continued with FB coaching this month. The learning curve is becoming more manageable, which is good. I love the accountability of a coach! Thanks, Monica Louie – you’re best! J I will say that the growth from my ads hasn’t been incredible, despite having really good stats for the cost per click of my ads. I’ve learned how to get the CPC down in the $.04-.07 range, which I’m happy with. But I haven’t seen the type of affiliate conversions yet to make it worth it. So, I’m kind of on the fence with whether to continue with FB ads or not!
As I’ve said before, blogging has become a side business for me so I can repay my student loan debt and work at a job I love. 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).
This month, I focused on keeping better track of my affiliate income. Facebook Advertising only works if you make money from the ads. So, you need to know how much money you’re making to know if your ad money is worth it. I think this will end up being really helpful for me as I try to grow my blog income, too. It’s like budgeting – you know exactly what money is coming in and going out.
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. Here’s a look at some of the affiliates I make money from…
Bluehost – learn How to Start a Blog
Studiopress – where I get my blog themes from
Beginner Blog Accelerator – A course that teaches you how to start a money making blog
Elite Blog Academy – an in-depth blogging course
Zero To Launch – A course that teaches you how to launch an online business
Your Way To VA – a course that teaches you how to make money from home as a Virtual Assistant
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – a course that teaches you how to make money with affiliate marketing
How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging – an eBook by Chelsea Lordes
Strategies Worth Sharing – an eBook about Facebook strategy
Deposit Photo – a site that sells stock photos
Haute Chocolate – a site that specializes in stock photos for female entrepreneurs (I use these photos on my site a lot)
Planoly – an Instagram scheduler that I’m obsessed with because you can see the order of your photos ahead of time
Long Tail Platinum – a tool for optimizing your blog’s search engine optimization
Real Life Money Plan – a money course
Personal Capital – an online budgeting tool
Budgeting For Budget Haters – a budgeting course
Policy Genius – an online tool for finding an insurance company
Uber – One of my fave side hustles!
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 would like to make money from my own digital products (like eBooks) but I’m not ready yet!
As far as stats go, my traffic was down a bit.
If you are interested in starting a blog, you can join my 5 Day Blogging Bootcamp for free below. It’s everything I would teach you in person if I was coaching you, so I personally think it’s very valuable.
Overall, blogging was decent this month!
Money was tiiiiiiiight in June, just like it was in May. This is why I’m so happy I don’t have a credit card (I’ve never had a credit card, as most of you know!). I don’t need that temptation! It was tight because I traveled a lot. I had planned this, so of course I could afford it, but I had less room than normal.
I paid $1,700 onto my student loan debt. Every little extra bit counts. I’m still waiting for bigger blog income months to start really plowing away at my debt. I’m down to $104k in student loan debt – the interest makes it hard to see big decreases in the principal with such a high balance and only making the payments I’m making.
I still really want to repay my loans in the next 1-3 years, so I’m more motivated than ever to make more money to make this possible.
Here is the other BIG news this month… I’m officially a CFP® Professional!
I completed the two year experience requirement June 18, 2017, and I was able to apply and get my marks shortly after that. (I had already passed the examination July 2016.)
All this means I’m now a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. I can put the marks after my name, so I’m officially Natalie Bacon, JD, CFP® — super exciting!
Oh, and I will not be getting any other designations – ever (in case you are wondering)!
My health overall was realllly good this month. I didn’t work out a lot, BUT I changed up my eating completely.
I stopped eating meat and dairy this month. I’m not full-fledged vegan (still wearing my leather and eating certain oils and sugars). But I am not buying any meat or dairy products at the grocery store, and I’m avoiding it when I go out.
Basically, I’m just being waaaaay more food-conscious than I was before. And I may even bring meat back in but cut out gluten (not sure yet – but I’m positive dairy is not coming back)!
Can I just tell you how much better I feel?! Dairy was never my best friend, so stopping it altogether has really helped me feel better – much better than I expected.
The hardest part isn’t the discipline of it, surprisingly. The hardest part is eating out. If I’m out with friends, on a date with Tyler, or at an event, it’s almost impossible to get something that’s dairy-free and does not have meat. So, I’m a little stuck on where I’m going to go with this.
But funny how the world works, because during this time, someone randomly told me about Thrive Market. I hadn’t even heard about it. Any of you use it? Let me know in the comments! I am thinking about using it because you can get really good food on the cheap.
Like I said, I’m not committing to being vegan, but I do want to be more health conscious. For now, I’m going to continue to not buy any dairy or meet and limit my exposure to it when I’m out. I’m considering myself moving toward a plant based diet, but time will tell!
This food makeover has been a long time coming. I just finally felt motivated and inspired enough to pull the trigger.
Oh, and if you’re following along, you know I haven’t cooked in May or June. This was sort of expected since I’ve been traveling so much. I haven’t made the time to do my normal Sunday dinners. I expect that to pick back up soon, though. Stay tuned! 🙂
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. Whenever I set the goal of reading one book per month for the year, I always exceed it. I set a habit of reading at least one hour per day (usually during lunch), and I’m always surprised how much more I read during this time than I think I can.
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 actually really cool to do together. I highly recommend it!
In June, I read two books by Grant Cardone. I had picked the first book and Tyler picked the second.
I read The 10x Rule, which is a book was about success, motivation, and just crushing it in every way possible. The premise of the book is that in order to get the results you want, you need to do ten times what you think you need to do. So, if you’re in sales and you want to make 1 sale, instead of making 5 calls, you need to make 50. You can apply this to every area of your life, too. It really made me think about blogging and my student loan debt. I felt inspired to blog more and spend less money in order to reach my income and debt goals after this book. Gotta love the extra motivation! 🙂
I also read Be Obsessed Or Be Average. This book was about becoming so focused on what you’re doing that you are obsessed with it. Cardone gives background about how society won’t support you while you do this, but if you want to be great at what you do, you have to be this way. I already do feel obsessed, so I was more glad that this book was written so other people can read it than I was glad that I read it. I already feel that way!
I also 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!
I am journaling every week. I have always journaled, but have done it only when I feel like it. The problem with that is, I only journaled when I wasn’t feeling that great, and lately, that meant I wasn’t journaling much at all (kind of a good thing). But I was missing the habit of journaling and the benefits that come from it. So, I’ve started journaling for about 15-20 minutes every Monday evening.
I also listen to a lot of podcast episodes every month. This month, my favorite didn’t actually come from a podcast, although it was something I listened to. Instead, it was a YouTuber that I spent time listening and watching. Her name is Sarah Nourse, and she is a YouTuber who talks about living on purpose through minimalism and frugal living. She is only 26! Sarah and her husband, Matthias, paid off their debts, saved money for three years, quit their jobs, and have been traveling the world out of a couple suitcases for the last year.
The biggest influence Sarah had on me was to understand that minimalism is about choices and not deprivation. You can still do your hair and makeup and whatnot and live simply. It’s about prioritizing your life so you don’t do everything but instead do what’s important to you.
The way Sarah talks about her clothes also inspired me. She decided to only wear neutrals in an effort to make life easier. She knows exactly what she’ll consider buying and she knows everything will match. A bonus is that it all is cohesive with her brand. I loved this so much that I’m slowly implementing it myself. I’m not going to get rid of a ton of clothes right away, but I started donating stuff I haven’t worn in a year, and I plan on only buying neutrals in the future. It’s weird how good this feels. Hard to explain, but I really love it.
The influence Sarah had on me this month made me reflect on the daily choices I’m making. I realized how much better I feel when I fill my head space with positive influences and not random stuff, like TV shows or whatever else comes up. I really am going to be ruthless with how I spend my time in the future. I loved how good I felt this month.
All that is to say that personal development was so good this month! I feel centered and more grounded. I feel happier and content.
Faith was okay in June. I went to church twice. I was out of town the other two weekends.
I listened to Andy Stanley’s Your Move Podcast this month (like I normally do). It was all about breathing room – living intentionally and making choices about your time as if you were dying (which you are). It was everything I already knew but needed to hear again. If you are working more than 40 hours a week, not spending enough time with loved ones, or feeling financially strapped, then listen to this series. It touches on adding breathing room and setting boundaries in your career, finances, and life so that you live the life you actually want for yourself. It’s an amazingly awesome series!
I spent a ton of time on the relationship and fun categories this month.
The first weekend I was in the Outer Banks for a bachelorette party. This was SO fun! It was for a high school friend and there were so many people there who I don’t get to see a lot. There were 18 girls in 1 beach house and we just hung out by the pool and beach for 4 days. It was amazing.
Here’s a picture from the trip:
The second weekend Tyler and I celebrated our first anniversary! We spent the day at the pool as a frugal day date that we both loved, then went to a nice, fancy dinner in Columbus at Barcelona.
The third weekend I was back in Boston overnight to see my brother graduate from his ophthalmology residency. This is his last graduation and my mom gifted me the ticket for my birthday, so I was very lucky this didn’t cost me anything.
Here are 2 pics! (I missed the black memo, clearly)
The fourth weekend in June I was home, which was soo nice! I had a work event at the zoo, which was so fun! The rest of the weekend I balanced getting outside some (at the pool, of course!) and working/doing YouTube videos. It’s crazy how much time video takes, so you really have to plan it out.
One area of relationships that I focused on this month was being present in them. Instead of focusing on doing more, like bringing home a gift to Tyler, I focused more on greeting him with a smile on my face and a good, kind attitude. This was also something I picked up from Sarah Nourse that made so much sense to me. Being present and showing your love and support in relationships on a daily basis is often more important than gifts or other forms of affection.
That’s A Wrap!
Overall, June was a lot of fun! Summer is in full swing, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
I had two peaks this month – launching my YouTube channel (really this was about tackling my fear of doing video), and officially becoming a CFP® professional (something I’ve been talking about doing since 2012). It feels AM.AZ.ING to have accomplished these things.
My pit this month was money. I feel better about my finances as I see my debt go down, but I still haven’t made enough to really take massive action on my student loan debt. June was tight because of all the activities going on in my life.
Going forward for 2017 my biggest goal is still to increase my blog income to pay down my student loan debt.
P.p.s. I’m also going to be doing these posts in video version every month on my YouTube channel, so definitely check it out there if you want to see the video version!