Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
Disclosure: This post might contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
Happy New Year everyone! My best and most sincere wishes for a happy and healthy 2021! My blog is one year old! Last year, when I registered this domain, I wasn’t sure where this journey would lead me to. One year later, I feel nice knowing that I’ve helped a few people with their careers and finances.
My blogging journey so far has had it’s ups and downs. Initially, it felt as if I was writing stuff, for which I was the only reader. Towards the middle of the year, I was having quite a bit of success, especially after I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) that brought lots of visitors to my website. Towards the second half of the year, writer’s block and high workloads kicked in. I picked up my writing close to the end of the year, where I found more time.
It’s generally difficult to define success when you are writing a small blog like mine. There aren’t many stats online and it’s hard to know what to expect. When I started, I had found an one year review written by Chrissy at Eat Sleep Breathe FI and it gave me some idea. Today, I want to pay this forward and help other bloggers as well.
I am using Google Analytics, in order to track the stats for my blog. For this integration, I’m using the Monster Insights plugin, which simplifies the process.
Google Analytics provides lots of stats that would be impossible to show in one post. So, I’ve decided to look at the stats that help me answer some basic business questions about my blog. I’ve tried to organize the following sections around these business questions:
- How popular is my blog?
- Why do my viewers visit my blog?
- Where do my viewers find my blog?
- Who are my viewers?
- What devices do my viewers use to read my posts?
- What was my net income?
The goal for my blog during this first year has been to create awareness and interest, i.e. to drive as many people to the blog as possible. This will definitely be the focus for my second year. I am not focusing on monetization.
- Total pageviews: 168,947
The period from January to March was relatively uneventful. I didn’t have that much content nor many readers. The blip in February was because my post “8 Critical Decisions for a Successful Investing Strategy” was featured by Apex Money. For a few days, I was getting so many hits that it was unbelievable! WordPress kept sending me notifications that my blog is on fire. However, sadly this sudden publicity died a few days later.
April was the first month, where I started posting about my blog in the social network Blind. This is an anonymous social network for professionals. Lots of people were asking similar questions about career and financial advice, so I pointed them to the corresponding articles in my blog. I got lots of positive feedback and many people thanked me for those pointers. As a result, in June I did an AMA in Blind and blogged about it. The AMA was a huge success. That’s why there is a huge spike in June.
From August to November, the blog run in autopilot. The load from work was increasing and I was going through a writer’s block. As a result, I spent very little time in the blog. Even though the graph shows a big dip in the numbers, I consider this as expected. My hope was that the blog doesn’t fall below 10k monthly page views. Honestly, I’m suprised (and very happy) that it didn’t happen.
Towards the end of November and during December, I had more time to spend on the blog. I wrote more blog posts and added a few backlinks. This helped with the traffic a little bit, as is shown in the chart.
- Total users: 109,926
Unsurprisingly, this graph follows the same pattern as the one for monthly page views. It’s fascinating to know that more than 100k users visited my blog in 2020! Wow! Thank you all 🙂
Email subscribers and social media followers
The above chart shows my subscribers and followers on 12/31/2020. I am more active on Twitter, however I have more visits from Facebook.
I am very excited about my email subscribers. I truly value each and every one. I understand that my email list is tiny, however I hope that I will provide much more value to my subscribers this year. I am very interested in growing this list. There are 2 related areas, where I am planning on improving in 2021:
- Adblock Plus was hiding my subscription form: I was using the “MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress” plugin to show the subscription form. Unfortunately, I found that Adblock Plus (one of the most popular ad blockers) is hiding these forms. As a result, I tried different subscription forms and switched to MailOptIn.
- Providing more value to my email subscribers: Until now, my incentive for somebody to get added to my list has been that they will receive a notification when I write a new post. I recently participated in the One Funnel Away challenge and learned that it would be better if I provided a better incentive. I am going to work on this going forward.
Top 12 Posts
I was initially planning on doing a “Top 10 Posts” section, however the number of pageviews for some of the posts was so close that I decided to add 2 more posts instead of removing them from the list.
Here is the list of my “Top 10 Posts” for 2020, based on number of pageviews:
- How to Prepare for Software Engineering Interviews
- How to Prepare for Product Manager (PM) Interviews
- How to Prepare for Technical Program Manager (TPM) Interviews
- 8 Critical Decisions for a Successful Investing Strategy
- How To Plan For Your Financial Independence
- Salaries for Software Engineers are On FIRE!
- Inside the Culture of the Top Tech Companies
- Is an MBA Worth It?
- What are the differences between Product Managers, Program Managers, Engineering Managers and Marketing Managers?
- Career Advice for Software Engineers
- How Much Do You Know About 401(k) and IRA?
- How To Start And Grow Your Online Business
It’s interesting to see that my top 3 posts are related to interview preparation. Clearly, this is an area that I should post more often.
My second most popular category is about how to increase income. This includes posts #4, #5, #11, #12. This is obviously something that is very important for everybody.
The remaining posts in this list (#7, #8, #9, #10) are related to career advice.
The posts that did not make to this list are related to decreasing expenses and my expense reports. I view my expense reports as my personal journal, where I monitor my expenses and force myself to analyze them in detail. However, if any readers have specific comments on how to make them more valuable for you, I’d be happy to make any adjustments.
Note: the numbers in the above chart reflect users and not pageviews
Unfortunately, this is not a very helpful metric. It shows that the vast majority of my viewers came from Direct traffic. This attribution is mostly used when the actual source cannot be determined, so it’s similar to a user directly entering the website url in the browser, clicking on a bookmark, etc.
My organic search numbers have been really small throughout the first year. As expected, almost all the traffic is coming from Google. SEO is a very important traffic source for each blog. I took the Stupid Simple SEO online class by Mike Pearson and I learned a lot. Hopefully this will translate to better SEO numbers in 2021.
Obviously my social media traffic is really low. However, it’s very interesting for me that most of this traffic is coming from Facebook. Even though, I have 6x more followers in Twitter than in Facebook, the traffic from Twitter is low. Also, I’ve seen lots of other bloggers that have vast success from Pinterest, however I still haven’t managed to utilize it efficiently.
As expected, the vast majority of my users are from United States.
It was interesting to see that the second country in the list is India. Namaste to all my Indian friends!
Also, there are lots of European countries in the top 10 list.
Mobile vs Desktop users
It was interesting to see this split of 60/40 between mobile and desktop. Also, tablets are being used by almost 1% of the users. Since I expect that my mobile viewership will grow, I need to focus more on how the site is experienced from a mobile phone.
As I mentioned above, my goal during 2020 was to create awareness and drive traffic to my blog. My focus was to provide advice on personal finance topics and career, in order to help other engineers reach financial independence. I was not trying to use this blog as a source of income.
- Total income: $2,157,75
In my blog, I don’t have ads, don’t offer any paid services and my advice is totally free. The above amount is from affiliate income. It doesn’t cost anything to the readers. Also, all of my affiliate links are from providers that I would recommend anyway:
- Educative.io: Multiple courses targeted specifically to SWE interview preparation. All of them are great classes, especially if you are starting with your interview preparation. They are best known for Grokking the System Design Interview
- Lively HSA: They are one of the top HSA providers. I wrote a detailed review in my post “Lively HSA: Excellent Provider, No Hidden Fees“
- Ace the Technical Program Manager Interview by Mario Gerard: Best preparation class for TPM interviews. Provides answers to 100+ TPM interview questions related to project management, Agile/Scrum and system design
- Direct expenses
- Web hosting from Bluehost: $36.16
- Indirect expenses: Paid courses to help me grow the website
- Stupid Simple SEO: $497.00
- Pinterest Ninja: $112.50
- Pinteresting Strategies: $52.00
- Make It Stick: $47.00
- Big Pin Energy: $34.20
- Total expenses: $778.86
During the first year of my blog I made $2,121.59 (total income minus the web hosting). If we also include the indirect expenses for the courses, then my net income was $1,379. If we divide this amount by the total hours that I spent on this blog, my hourly earnings are tiny.
However, to be honest, I’m happy that the result is positive. When I started the blog, 1 year ago, I was not expecting that I’d make any money from the blog. However, the most important result is that I helped other engineers with their careers and their finances. That is the most important result for me.
What a year! Love seeing your growth! Thank you for your transparency sharing your blog income and expenses as well. Looking forward to what the future has in store for us!
Wow you are crushing it! My blogiversary isn’t up yet but I’m looking at about $20 in gross revenue haha. Good to see someone kicking butt!
Congrats on your first year!! Way more successful than many of us in the community! 🙂
Thank you, J. Money. Coming from you, this means a lot! I wish that one day I’ll be able to have similar success like yours 🙂
Wow, these are incredible first-year stats! Seriously—it’s very unusual for a brand-new blogger to see traffic like this. Congrats on all the success!
You’ve also done amazingly well with your income. Bravo on that! Most bloggers make little to no money in their first year (as you’d initially predicted). Coming out as far ahead as you did is outstanding!
Even more incredible for me is how your traffic sustained itself despite the decrease in new content later in the year.
I need some of your blogging mojo, ha ha. My traffic totally dies whenever I blog less. Good job on continuing your momentum through thick and thin.
It sure would be nice to maintain 10k+ monthly pageviews as you have. I’m inspired by your success and will continue to work hard on my blog. Thanks for sharing! (And for the shout out as well!)
Thank you very much for your support and encouragement, Chrissy! I’ve learned a lot from you during my first year 🙂
You have done an amazing job with your blog as well. And you’ve managed to keep blogging throughout 2 years! Great job with your second blogo-versary 🙂