Q2 2020 was busy at Eat Sleep Breathe FI and Explore FI Canada! There’s lots to cover, so let’s get started…
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The second quarter of 2020 was a flurry of activity at Eat Sleep Breathe FI! Here’s what happened from April to June:
A change to my monthly updates
These updates were published only days apart because I was too busy in March to format my February update. While it was interesting to read about life pre and post-Covid one post after the other, it was also a bit jarring.
I’ve since decided to handle my updates differently. From now on, if I ever fall behind with a monthly update, I’ll combine it with the next month’s update. This will make it easier for me to keep up when life gets too crazy.
No time to blog
May was very busy for me personally, so I had very little time to blog. That’s why I only released two blog posts for the month. Despite this, May turned out to be Eat Sleep Breathe FI’s best month ever! Read on to find out more…
New pageview records
May was a record pageview month—both for monthly and one-day pageviews. Eat Sleep Breathe FI hit 12,042 pageviews for the month of May, and 1,963 pageviews on May 13!
These beat my previous records of 10,017 in March and 1,679 for my Rockstar Finance feature on February 16, 2019. Pretty wild!
The one post that did it
The one blog post that brought those crazy-high pageviews to my blog were… drumroll, please… my coming out post! Crazy, right? When I posted it, I figured a couple hundred people would read it, send their congrats, then move on.
I had no idea people were that interested in a blogger revealing their identity. (I guess we’re all pretty curious about the people behind the words we read.) The outpouring of support and kindness was totally unexpected, and so touching.
Thank you to everyone who welcomed me (again) to the personal finance community—this time as non-anonymous me. 🙂
I finally made it into Monumetric!
If you read my previous blog and podcast update, I mentioned that I applied to join the Monumetric ad network in late March. At the time, their auto-reply said it could take 2–3 months for me to hear from them. Argh!
After two months, I started getting impatient. I also wanted to take advantage of my recent pageview record, so I looked up their phone number and left a voicemail to follow up.
Within a day, I received an email reply from Jeff, who’s part of Monumetric’s onboarding team. He told me that they’d received my voicemail, and now needed me to send a screenshot of my previous 30 days of traffic.
I sent it right away, and Jeff replied to let me know that they were officially ready to move forward! I couldn’t believe it—I’d finally made it in! This is a huge milestone for my blog, but I couldn’t have reached it without your readership, so THANK YOU!!!
Can you tell I’m thrilled to be working with Monumetric?! If you’re also interested in joining, you can apply here.
Things to keep in mind
You’ll need at least 10,000 pageviews to apply, and if you’re accepted, there’s a $99 USD setup fee. (For me, the fee will be more than worth it. So far, my ad earnings are 10x what I made with Adsense.)
Also note that Monumetric is currently experiencing onboarding delays:
We are experiencing high volumes of applications and wait times can be up to 3 months for Propel-tier publishers. We have had a large influx of people hoping to supplement lost income due to Covid-19.
This is creating a backlog for our Ad Provider Approvals. We are working diligently to onboard as many as we can with the support team we have, but, again, it may be a longer wait for some who wish to join Monumetric.
You should still apply
Despite the wait time, I’d still suggest that you apply now and get your name on the list. There’s no other premium ad network at this level of pageviews. (The next one is Ezoic, which requires 10,000 sessions.)
I have nothing but great things to say about Monumetric. It’s an amazing company with equally amazing people working behind the scenes. They receive my full recommendation!
More time to blog
Life was a lot less hectic in June, which meant I had more time to blog. It turned out to be a very productive month! On top of dealing with the Monumetric onboarding, I also published four posts and wrote a guest post for another blog.
I wish I could blog this much every month! But I know it’s simply impossible sometimes, so I’ll continue to stick with my ‘blog when I can’ schedule. 🙂
For most of June, not much happened on the frontend of my site. However, the Monumetric onboarding team was busy working on things in the background. (There were also plenty of emails and a few minor tasks for me to take care of along the way.)
I have to say, the onboarding experience with Monumetric has been amazing. They’ve been friendly, helpful and attentive the whole way through. This is a huge improvement over Google Adsense, where there’s ZERO support.
I also enjoyed listening to Monumetric’s informative ‘pubcast’. They suggest all new publishers listen to it, but I’d also suggest it to any blogger who’s interested in placing ads on their site.
I especially appreciated the Seasonality episode, which helped me understand the cyclical nature of traffic and ad revenue. (And feel less disappointed when I see traffic dips throughout the year.)
On June 24, my new Monumetric ads finally launched! I was both excited and nervous—would they look okay? Would there be any glitches? I wish I could say everything looked perfect right from the start, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
The good news is Monumetric’s publisher support team is very responsive and helpful. They worked hard to get the ads looking just the way I wanted. It took a couple of weeks of back and forth, but we’re finally there!
I tried my best to balance the number of ads with esthetics and readability (both on PC and mobile). Because of this, I rejected a few ad placements, even though they would’ve earned me more money.
I hope you like the ad layout I finally settled on. Let me know what you think!
My Google Analytics ban
Okay, it wasn’t a total ban—I still let myself check my monthly analytics! My tweets explain further:
Any other bloggers out there find themselves checking Google Analytics a little too often?— Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI 🍁 (@ESB_FI) June 25, 2020
Guilty as charged. 🙋♀️🤦♀️
I just deleted the app from my phone, and I'm already feeling so much lighter! Getting my focus back to the stuff that really counts...
Connecting with my readers. 🥰— Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI 🍁 (@ESB_FI) June 25, 2020
Connecting with other bloggers. 🙌
Producing helpful, actionable, and interesting content. ✅
Sharing the #FI / #FIRE message with anyone who'll listen! 🔥
Google Analytics, I'll be back... but maybe only once a month from now on. 😉
The (semi) final verdict
It’s been three weeks since I deleted the Google Analytics app. It’s been freeing to not have it there, distracting me all day. However, only checking my stats once a month feels like I’m flying blind. I think it’s useful to check in maybe once a day to see how things are going.
This is why I may relent and allow myself to reinstall the app (with some caveats and limits in place). I’ll give it a full month, then make my decision. Only one more week to go!
Blogging tips and tools
There were so many tips and tools to mention with this update that I decided to break them out into their own section:
In June, my blog inexplicably went haywire. It looked horrible—as if it was loading without stylesheets. I tried clearing my cache and restarting Chrome, but that didn’t work. Panicked, I turned to Twitter for help, and the personal finance community came through!
Latestarterfire, Family Money Saver, Gen Y Money, and Frugal To FI all jumped in with replies. They tested my site on their devices (with mixed results) and suggested various fixes. Then Julia from Happier Freelancing said maybe it was my WordPress cache.
BINGO—she was right! It was indeed my WordPress cache! I went into my caching plugin, WP Rocket*, to clear it. Once I did that, my blog went back to normal, and the crisis was averted. Phew!
*If you’d like 10% off WP Rocket, contact me and I’ll send you my refer-a-friend link!
Revive Old Posts
I’d been searching for an automatic way to share my old posts on Twitter, but none of the platforms I tried were quite right. They all had message limits and/or required manual input to refill the queues.
This was exactly what I was looking for! It’s a one-time setup (no ongoing manual input) and offers many customizations—all for free! I’ve been very happy with the plugin so far, and would highly suggest it if you run a WordPress blog.
Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts
I always like to reach out and thank fellow bloggers for mentioning and/or linking to me. But if that blogger doesn’t contact me to let me know, I may never discover the mention.
This is where Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts come in. If you haven’t heard of these free services, they work by alerting you when your selected keywords appear on the internet. (Thanks to Robinson Smith for the Talkwalker recommendation!)
While neither service catches everything, I still find them helpful for the mentions they do catch. I’d suggest using both in tandem since they each seem to alert for different things. (Even though all my search terms are the same—go figure! I guess that’s what you get for free.)
As if blogging didn’t keep me busy enough, Q2 was also action-packed at Explore FI Canada:
I learned something new from each of them, and at the end of every recording, I wished we had another hour to keep talking! If you haven’t listened to their interviews yet, they’re all worth checking out:
I also recorded a final episode with Ryan in April, but sadly, that recording will never be released. (I’ll explain why below.)
Ryan says goodbye
As announced in my previous blog and podcast update, Ryan decided to leave the show. He tried valiantly to balance the podcast with his busy life, but in the end, something had to give.
I of course supported his decision to focus more on his family and personal wellbeing. But even so, it was sad to say goodbye. Happily, we’re still friends, and still message each other about FIRE, blogging, and other random things.
Hopefully, Money Mechanic and I will be able to convince Ryan to come back for a guest appearance every now and then.
A marathon recording
We only had one podcast recording in May, but it was a marathon! Kari and Court came on to talk about RESPs, and they brought their A-game! We were on our recording for over two hours, going in-depth about RESPs.
I can’t thank Kari and Court enough for coming on to share their knowledge and expertise. (Special thanks to Court, who spent a lot of time typing up the list of questions for Kari!)
If you’re looking for RESP info, from the basics to advanced tactics, you’ll find it all in our two-part RESP discussion:
A new sponsor
In June, we debuted a new show sponsor: PolicyMe. They’re a fitting pick as a sponsor right now, with the increased interest in life insurance due to COVID-19.
PolicyMe has been a pleasure to work with, and we hope our ads help them grow their presence. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my PolicyMe review. In my opinion, it’s the best way to buy life insurance in Canada!
Time for an upgrade
As we neared our one-year podiversary on July 1st, we thought it was time to upgrade our recording platform to something more reliable.
Previously, we’d used Zencastr because it worked okay and was free to use. But we had a number of frustrating technical issues we couldn’t resolve. The final straw came when we recorded a full episode, but it would not save. OMG.
That was a horrible experience. The only saving grace was we didn’t have a guest on—it was only the three of us on the recording. That experience spooked us badly, and we never trusted Zencastr again.
We decided to switch to Zoom, which was more reliable. Unfortunately, the audio isn’t great, and the free version limited us to 40-minute meetings. It was a little hokey and awkward to have to ask our guests to log out then log back in to extend our recording time.
It was time to bite the bullet and go for something a little more premium. I was listening to one of Jessica Moorhouse’s podcasts when I heard her mention Squadcast. I looked into it, and it was exactly what we needed!
But it came at a price…
Podcasting is expensive!
Blogging is relatively cost-efficient. All-in, you can have a blog up and running for less than $100 per year. While this was also the case for our podcast in its first year, it won’t be so in our second year.
As mentioned above, we wanted to move to Squadcast for our recordings, but it’s not cheap! The $200 USD/year Creator plan was what we needed, but our show had yet to break even, let alone add more expenses!
$200 USD is $270 CAD—way more than we wanted to shell out. Fortunately for us, a guest of ours came forward with a very generous offer, and is going to sponsor our show by covering our Squadcast costs for a year!
Stay tuned for our next Explore FI Canada episode to find out who our generous benefactor is. 🙂
And that’s a wrap!
Well, there goes another busy quarter at Eat Sleep Breathe FI and Explore FI Canada. I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes. Let me know if there was anything I didn’t cover or if you have any questions. As always, I love hearing from you and am happy to help!
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