Well, year one is officially in the books!
What started off as a little-known weekly blog roundup on Get Rich Quick’ish has become a recognized and go-to site within the FIRE movement for financial independence and early retirement content. This is a quick & dirty recap of our first year, including our strategies and some of the tools we’ve used to make it happen.
A year after ditching Get Rich Quick’ish to focus on Camp FIRE, I’m still not sure what to do with this site? Any ideas would be welcomed. As of now I’m using GRQ to give periodic updates and behind-the-scenes looks at Camp FIRE. Nobody’s complained so far, so let’s stick with this approach.
… And by the way, these posts are going to be raw. I’m not going to write for SEO, or overly edit them. I’m just sitting down and cranking info out. So keep that in mind as you spot my tpyos 😉
Table of Contents
Camp FIRE growth has happened almost entirely organically over the past year. That is to say, we haven’t had any features on major traffic driving websites. I love this!
Organic growth is the best kind of growth because it’s real. The people that have found Camp FIRE Finance and that keep coming back are genuinely interested in the content that we write and feature.
And the majority of our traffic is organic, meaning we’re reaching ppl outside the #PF blogging world.
— Get Rich Quick’ish (@GetRichQuickish) February 5, 2019
Organic traffic is also consistent and regular. There are no major spikes in our traffic to inflate or distort the numbers, just old fashioned slow and steady growth.
And the traffic continues to grow!
- January was our highest traffic month to-date
- February produced the highest even daily average (had it been a full month, Feb would have been the best month ever in terms of views)
- March had kind of exploded on me … this will be BY FAR our higest traffic month and the average views per day is up nearly 50% – I’m liking this growth trend!
Here’s How We’ve Build This Slow & Steady Traffic
Before anything on Camp FIRE ever launched, we took time to set up an SEO strategy. This seems to have worked since over 45% of our traffic comes from organic search. If you’re not already doing so, take some time this weekend to read up on SEO and then slowly and steadily start to improve your site. It makes a difference, and sometimes the results show up very quickly.
Our strategy involves going after some key FIRE-related keywords and phrases and all of our exclusive articles are written for these. We also took time to set up some category pages and SEO-optimized those (here’s an example: https://www.campfirefinance.com/category/fire-movement/). Our domain has a FIRE keyword in there.
Basically, Google knows exactly what we’re about and we show up well for many of our targeted words and phrases. Given enough time, I’m confident that we can rank well for all of them.
We’ve been consistent with our content. We’ve posted or featured THREE posts Every. Single. Day. That’s a lot of work, but it also means the site is never stagnant, and readers get something new each time they visit.
Maintaining this posting schedule took some planning, especially when I was overseas for nearly three weeks with my wife late last fall. We were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary and there was a 0% chance that I wanted to work on the site during that time, so we planned ahead. We scheduled out featured posts 30 days in advance.
It would have been easy to just take that time off, but creating something successful is rarely easy. If you want success, you need to put in the effort … even when you’d rather not.
An email list is a great way to proactively let readers know that you’ve got something new for them to read. Without these proactive notifications, you’re dependent upon readers coming to you own their own, and let’s be honest, there are a million other things most people would rather be doing that reading your blog, or mine. These million other things end up pushing our websites out of our reader’s mind. Email is a great way to say ‘hey, we’re still here and we’ve got something new for you.’
That said, building the Camp FIRE email list has been extremely frustrating for me because we get a lot of opt-outs. I don’t think the email sucks, but I do think a daily email is just too much for many people to handle. So far we’ve been able to outgrow the churn, but our growth is slow and it’s driving me crazy.
Part of my 2019 Roadmap is to implement some systems to combat this, like giving people the option to set their email frequency to something other than daily. We’re also trying to make it easier for people to get our content via social media rather than email.
By the way … you can sign up to get Kindling (our daily email) right here. Thanks in advance for signing up 🙂
Appearing as a podcast guest is hard for me. I don’t enjoy doing them (because doing them gives me anxiety), but it also helps Camp FIRE reach new audiences and it lets people get to know me personally. And when there’s a personal connection, people connect. Go figure.
In the very early days of Camp FIRE I reached out to Women Who Money and we partnered up. Each day they would send over one post, written by a female, for me to feature. I did this because I wanted Camp FIRE to feature diverse content, and I didn’t want it to become a place where I was only featuring the blogs that I was reading regularly.
I think this partnership worked well and it was very eye opening because there were times when Vicki and Amy would send over a post that I’d raise an eyebrow. There’s no way I would have featured some of the content the sent over on my own, because I didn’t’ think it would resonate.
Many, many times those posts would do extremely well. I quickly learned my lesson and that shapes they way I curate posts to this day. Now I regularly feature posts that I don’t necessarily agree with. I do this because I know that somewhere out there, some readers will agree with the content. Just because I don’t like or agree with something, doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same. I want Camp FIRE Finance to be a big tent, welcome to everyone!
This has been my most valuable lesson learned during year one.
Featured posts and Contributor Articles
Our daily featured content is what most people think of when they think of us at all. But we’ve also published over 100 articles that are exclusive to Camp FIRE Finance. 80% of these exclusive posts were written by me, but the other 20% were written by 21 different Camp FIRE Contributors. This exclusive content is what powers 95% of our SEO traffic.
I’m actually really excited about our FIRE Feed. Over the past year this has slowly grown to include over 600 personal finance bloggers that focus on FI or early retirement. For me personally this is where I start my morning.
Each day we feature 3 articles written by those seeking #FIRE, for those seeking FIRE.
But did you know our #FIREfeed pulls articles from over 560 FIRE related blogs, published w/in the last 48 hrs?
— Camp FIRE Finance 🔥 (@CampFIREfinance) February 2, 2019
It’s so nice to have this page that shows me all of the FIRE related posts that have been published within the past 48 hours. It’s so convenient and I’m using this more and more as the source where I find content to feature on Camp FIRE.
- Shameless plug: if you’ve not submitted your site to the feed, use the form at the very bottom of this page to do so.
Social media is something that I have a love/hate relationship with. I love to hate it. 😉
In year one I’d say 90% of my social media time and efforts went to Twitter. However, over the past several weeks I’ve actually gone to Instagram and uploaded post images from most of our exclusive content. I just finished doing the same thing for Pinterest, except I created one pin for each exclusive post. That was a ton of work, but now that it’s done I can focus on building out Pinterest.
Pinterest and Facebook will be my main social media focuses in 2019, and I’m going to pull back from Twitter quite a bit.
Regarding Twitter, I actually have 2 accounts @getrichquickish and @campfirefinance. I use the Camp FIRE account mainly to tweet out our featured posts each day. I use the Get Rich Quick’ish account to respond and engage more. Between these two accounts (plus my personal Twitter account), I get overwhelmed with the notifications and DMs that come in each day. I’m actually thinking of not following anybody via the Camp FIRE Finance twitter account for two reasons.
- I only use that to share our featured posts
- I use the Get Rich Quick’ish account to interact with everyone, provide updates and connect with people
The tools I used most in year one are pretty common to to other bloggers. I pay for a mail chimp account to send my daily email. I used MailChimp initially because they were free, but after reaching 500 email subscribers they charge a monthly fee. Those fees actually kicked in earlier for me because Kindling is a daily email, and MailChimp fees kick in once you’ve sent X number of emails in a month, or reach 500 subscribers, whichever comes first.
I use SiteGround for hosting. I think I was actually one of the SiteGround early adopters in the PF community and was singing their praises long before I saw others convert. If you’re sick of dealing with your own blog host, then check out siteground. They are priced fairly. They’ll help you migrate your blog to their servers (they make it so painless), and their customer service is unreal. They are fast, knowledgeable and extremely friendly. They never make me feel dumb when I ask dumb questions. Can’t recommend them enough.
It seems like I’ve got a lot more plugins that this on Camp FIRE, but these are the main tools I use to run the site.
Blog Goals for Year 2
Now that I’ve got a year under my belt, I’ve got some benchmarks. For example:
- Millionaire Mob got the most traffic from me last year. I’m showing 747 clicks.
- Four Pillar Freedom sent the most traffic to Camp FIRE Finance last year. We received 667views from Zach. (#thankyou)
- Search engines sent me 32,680 people
- Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. combined) was good for 15,524 visits
Next year at this time my goal is to look back that these and realize that they’ve been dwarfed. That’s possible, but unlikely without a strategy. Which we’ve got!
Our year 2 roadmap is complete and 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As Camp FIRE Finance continues to grow, I hope that all of my fellow personal finance bloggers and content creators benefit in terms of traffic back to their sites, SEO juice and our own score continues to grow, and support from us in any way we can provide it.
Over the past 2-3 weeks I’ve launched two new projects on Camp FIRE and I’m pretty excited about both of them.
- The FIRE Directory
Both are self explanatory. I’m going to do one or two giveaways each month (you can find them at https://www.campfirefinance.com/giveaway/)
And I just published a quick post about the Directory yesterday. This has taken a lot of effort for me to set up, mainly because I’m not much of a code guy, so setting things up and customizing them for my needs what a long, tedious and painful process. But it’s now live and I’m really excited for it. I’ve got a feeling that the FIRE Directory will play a big role in Camp FIRE’s future.
🗣️📣Hey PF Bloggers, Podcasters and content creators of all stripes: Come claim or create your listing on our new directory! https://t.co/zKg2XgSxjG
Add your logo, site & social links & more. Grab those backlinks and let Camp FIRE Finance readers find you!
— Get Rich Quick’ish (@GetRichQuickish) March 7, 2019
Phew! This turned out to be much longer than I wanted. If you’re still here, thanks for reading! And thanks for supporting Camp FIRE over the past year.
PS: be sure to enter our latest giveaway and win yourself a free Index and Chill t-shirt 🙂 and please go over to Camp FIRE to either claim or create a blog or podcasting listing on the new Directory.