Year-End 2013 Blogging and Personal Goal Review

Back in January of last year, I laid out some personal goals for my life in general and blogging goals for My Personal Finance Journey for the 2013 year.

As I experienced in 2012, (click the following link to view my 2012 blogging goals and year-end progress updates) by tracking these goals periodically, it provides me with more accountability and visibility to what I am doing and where I want to go with this community/blog and in my life. As such, the purpose of this post is to review how I did in 2013 in reaching the aims I set up for myself.

As far as life goes from a personal and blogging perspective, 2013 was a mixed year, with both successes and moderate shortcomings on my goals.

  • Personally, it went very well, with me making good progress in my PhD program, doing a lot of bike riding to stay in good shape, and getting engaged in March.
  • From a blogging perspective, we had some great successes, with record levels of blogging income/charity give back, very consistent content from our staff writing family, and some great asset allocation and asset location (Three-Legged Stool for Retirement) analyses being conducted.
  • However, as usual, graduate school has taken quite a bit of time/effort, and as such I wasn’t able to spend quite as much time on my blog (and we’ll most likely see this reflected by a good number of “Did not accomplish” status updates below). In addition, Google made some algorithm changes that I believe kept down my overall traffic levels. But, such is life I suppose, so I’m not too disappointed about it all!

So, here goes! An update on how I did in 2013 for my blogging and personal goals, with updates highlighted in bold text below. This should be fun!   

The blogging goals for 2013 were as follows:

  • Read and interact with (comment) 25 partner blogs per week.
    • Did not accomplish.
    • For the first part of 2013, I had a great Virtual Assistant (VA) that was helping me with commenting. However, she went MIA about half way through the year, and I haven’t heard from her since.
    • I have since been trying to find another VA to fill this role so we can continue with this goal.
  • Continue active participation as a proud Yakezie Personal Finance Blog Network member.
    • Done.
    • However, I could stand to do a little more interacting in the forums in the next few weeks.
  • Publish 3-5 blog posts per week.
    • Done, thanks to MPFJ’s great staff writers! Thanks everyone! 
  • Obtain 600 unique visitors per day average by end of 2013.
    • Did not even come close to accomplishing. 
    • I was hopeful at mid-year that moving to WordPress would magically increase my traffic since everyone had told me that it improves your SEO, etc.
    • In general, I have been very satisfied with the move, and I feel like my reader engagement has increased. I even recently got an increase in Page Rank as well.
    • However, I think that due to some Google Search Algorithm changes that were made in 2013, my search engine traffic decreased. Since that is the biggest driver to my overall traffic levels, I believe that’s what caused overall traffic to be lower.
  • Host all personal finance blog carnivals (Festival of Frugality, Cav of Risk, Carnival of Personal Finance, Totally Money, Carnival of Retirement, Carnival of Financial Planning, Carnival of Passive Investing, etc).
    • Done. This was fun!
  • Continue organizing Carnival of Passive Investing in 2013. Offer hosting of the 12 editions for 2013 to guest hosts. If you’re interested in hosting, shoot me an email! You can view the schedule by clicking here. Also for the Carnival in 2013, my goals are to a) continue getting passive investing authors involved and b) start reaching out to financial journalists (maybe from Kiplinger’s or Money Magazine, etc) and/or financial reporters on TV.
    • Done. Thanks to all of our guest hosts so far this year! We were able to fill up all of the slots. 
  • Continue to spread word about benefits of passive investing over active investing. Get involved in BogleHeads forums as well.
    • Done.
    • I did pretty well on this one in the 1H2013, but ran out of time in the last half of the year. Hopefully, I can improve upon this next year.
  • Write 1 guest post for another blog per month to expand reach of my ideas.
    • Did not accomplish.
    • I slacked badly this past year on the guest posting! 
  • Create an eBook on one of the following topics – a) Ways to be Frugal, b) Investing Strategy, c) Steps to Buying a Home, d) Getting out of Debt, or e) Financial Prioritization / Account Hierarchy. Once create book, market it afterwards.
    • On track.
    • I made quite a bit of progress putting together an e-book on “31 Days to a Financial Revolution” over the 2013 Christmas Break.
  • Possibly transfer blog to WordPress hosting. First, migrate Carnival of Passive Investing for practice before do My Personal Finance Journey.
    • Done.
    • I transferred MPFJ.com to WordPress self-hosted back in June 2013. It was quite a bit of work, but I am very satisfied with it so far. I may switch Carnival of Passive Investing at some point, but since it isn’t my main site, I don’t feel as big of a need to move it.
  • Create and publish monthly newsletter – “Intelligent Financiers Newsletter.”
    • Did not accomplish/did not have time. 
  • Attend blogging, marketing, finance, or real estate classes at local community college or nearby conference locations. Particularly, I would like to take a class or two to learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also how to publish a book in hard-copy.
    • Done.
    • I attended a local blogging conference in the Spring of 2013 called BlogVille 2013. I learned a lot of cool things!
  • Submit blog posts to blog carnivals every two weeks to expose my blog to new audiences and build links.
    • 1/2 Done / 1/2 Did not accomplish.
    • However, here lately, I have not been doing so well with this because my fiancé, who was helping me submit articles to blog carnivals, ran out of free time to help me. So, I have since found and have been training a Virtual Assistant to help with this activity. Has worked well so far!  
  • Successfully execute Tour de Personal Finance in July this year. For 2013, plan further ahead of time to gather more entries (max = 64) and get some sponsors involved.
    • Done.
    • The event went amazingly well this year!
    • $1400 in cash prizes were doled out to the event winners and the charities they selected.
    • I was also very glad that we were able to get 64 participating blogs this year and also had Debt Free Direct on board as our platinum sponsor!
    • You can read all the details in the recap post by clicking here.
    • I look forward to hosting the event again this year in 2014!
  • Do Easy Like Sunday Morning Roundup and Recap 1X per month minimum.
    • Did not accomplish.
    • Ran out of time for this one!
  • Continue social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. I would also like to try to incorporate some use of Pinterest as well.
    • 1/2 Done / 1/2 Did not accomplish.
    • Similar to the blog carnival post submitting goal above, I haven’t been executing as well lately because my fiancé ran out of time to help me do this. However, I am in the process of screening a Virtual Assistant to help me with this promotion.
  • Feature one Cheapskate Jake Frugal Ramblin’ per month.
    • Did not accomplish. 
    • Did not have time for this one.
  • Run 10% Blog Income Give Back Project each month. Continue teaming up with local charities to build relationships. Focus on visiting the charity personally after each give back concludes. Try to get other sites interested in doing something similar and also begin to look for sponsors for 1-2 of the giveaways.
    • Done.
    • The current cumulative total given to charity = $2,298, and the current cumulative total given to blog readers = $1,028
  • Start and grow personal finance group speaking service. Generate ideas for speaking topics. Offer to local community first and build from there. Create page promoting service on My Personal Finance Journey.
    • Did not accomplish/did not have time.  
  • Continue to try to find other ways to help people with their finances away from the blogosphere. One thing I’ve applied to do is become a volunteer credit counselor with Credit Education.org. However, I have not heard back from them, even after submitting my application multiple times. Another option I could pursue is offering general advice on finances from a life coach perspective – lifestyle, frugality/money-saving tips, life values and dreams, etc. You have to be very careful in making it clear to not offer advice on specific financial instruments since you must have the correct certifications for that (which I do not have). This might be hard for me to resist delving in to the specifics, but it could be fun! I would definitely need to learn more about the legal aspects first though.
    • Did not accomplish/did not have time.  
  • Start building my family’s genealogy as time allows (this is a lower priority goal).
    • Done. I was able to get several posts up on this site.
    • I decided that my day job is such that I don’t think I will ever have enough time to focus on building the content on secondary sites in any significant way (at least for now). As such, I want to just focus on MPFJ /Carnival of Passive Investing, and the family genealogy site as time allows.
  • Network with other bloggers, with a particular focus on physically meeting them to build relationships. The bloggers I have met in person so far are really interesting people!
    • Done.
    • I attended a blogging conference in town earlier this spring, and got to meet some very interesting bloggers and social media / website experts.
  • Incorporate affiliate resources in to posts where relevant.
    • Done. 
    • However, I still haven’t found a way to discuss affiliate-related content very often on this site, and to date, really haven’t made any money with this.
  • Negotiate advertising deals for other sites.
    • Done.
    • I’ve been enjoying doing this quite a bit!

 

In addition, my personal goals for 2013 that I set were as follows:

  • Get to bed at midnight or earlier.
    • Done.
    • Been doing very well at this! I don’t seem to have the energy to stay up until 2am every night anymore! haha
  • Take 1 day off per week (Saturday or Sunday) completely from doing work on my blog or from my graduate research job to keep my mind feeling more “fresh.”
    • Done.
    • Instead of taking an entire day off each weekend, I’ve been focusing on getting out and doing a big bike ride or hike once per weekend. Afterwards, I generally am pretty tired, so even though I might answer a few blogging emails or do a few things, I don’t work all that much.
    • However, with the weather lately being colder, I haven’t been able to get out as much. But, that is pretty normal.
  • Become better at following the Getting Things Done email/work flow management system to focus my time and energy on high value projects first and avoid distractions.
    • Done, but could always stand for some continuous improvement/reminder to do this. 
  • Hike or bike ride 1 time per week with a group.
    • Done. 
  • Do a bike race if my Achilles starts to feel better.
    • Did not accomplish/delayed.
    • At the end of the summer, my Achilles was feeling much better after getting a new custom foot orthotic made for my flat feet. I could ride for 6 hours a single day on the weekend and not have it hurt. However, I would feel it slightly the next day, and would have to take several days off before biking again.
    • Because of this, I decided it was time again to go in for another bike fit since I hadn’t had one done since 2006 in Boulder, CO (and after all, technology probably has improved since then!).
    • I was pretty satisfied with the bike fit, as the guy was able to confirm that I didn’t have any leg length discrepancies or other biomechanical defects except for a crookedly-healed dislocated shoulder I got back in 2005 at a college party.
    • After making some pretty big changes to my position during the bike fit, it took me a couple weeks to figure out that the position he prescribed would not work for me. Therefore, I set about changing my position to a point where I could ride again.
    • After making some changes again, I found a good position I could live with. However, the cold weather soon hit, and I haven’t ridden much since then.
    • Thus, all of this is to say that this goal will have to be pushed off to next year!
  • Hike more with the Charlottesville Hiking Group.
    • Did not accomplish since I mostly did biking on the weekends during the nice-weather months.
  • Read one personal finance book per month.
    • Done and surpassed.
    • I’ve probably averaged about 2-3 personal finance books per month over the course of 2013.
  • Go backpacking one time per month in warmer months.
    • Did not accomplish since I was so involved with bike riding on the weekends this year.
  • Take a trip out-of-town 1 time per month. Visit sister’s new home in Raleigh. Visit one of the beaches in Virginia.
    • Did not accomplish.
    • As usual with the biological/cell-based nature of my experiments in graduate school, it’s been hard to get totally out of town during the weekends.
  • Learn how to build a group speaking business.
    • Did not accomplish.
    • However, I did recently purchase a book that discusses the ins-and-outs of building a group speaking business.  

How about you all? How did you do in accomplishing your personal/professional goals you set for yourself in 2013? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!