This is a guest article from Elle Martinez, who helps familes at Couple Money and the Couple Money Podcast achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second.
For the last eight years, I’ve been blogging about personal finance. I started because I had a specific goal in mind: getting rid of my credit card debt before my wedding. Part of it was due to realization that I could do a better job of handling my finances and part of it was just a competitive spirit.
I had just had a heart-to-heart with my fiance and discovered that the only debt he had was one semester’s worth of a student loan (which he planned on paying off as soon as the grace period was over). I, though, had a bouquet of debt consisting of credit cards, a car loan, and student loans for the last two years of college.
To help me speed up the debt pay off process I started reading personal finance blogs like Get Rich Slowly and Being Frugal, and seeing what worked and what didn’t for others in similar situations. Happy to say I not only got rid of my credit card debt, but along the way I discovered an outlet to bring in some extra income.
As I transitioned from a hobby blogger into self-employment, I experimented with various writing methods and systems to avoid burnout and to make my personal finance site more resourceful for visitors and regular readers. My goal with Couple Money and the podcast is to provide useful content for spouses looking to build up their net worth and marriage.
That hasn’t always been the case — in fact it took me a few years to get the hang out of it.
My money, my problems.
After some time writing about college and finances, I found myself becoming less interested in writing. Part of it was due to the corner I had written myself into. Once I was out of college, I had a more difficult time coming up with topics to write about.
I began relying more on what readers wanted to learn about, and for a while it seemed to work. Understandably I eventually became tired of writing for others and missed sharing personal stories and digging into topics that excited me. I eventually sold my first blog and focused my attention on a new one, Couple Money, where I discuss building up a marriage while improvising our net worth.
Over the last five-plus years, I had my share of ups and downs, periods where I was either enthusiastically exploring how to work together through financial issues or being burnt out and seriously contemplating selling the site and moving on.
Thankfully encouragement from my husband and readers kept me going. It gave me a chance to try out and discover a way to keep me involved and excited by both covering our personal finances and looking at how other couples are dealing with money. I even expanded into a podcast last year to specifically reach out to more couples.
Finding the balance.
I now average about one or two posts a week on Couple Money, one weekly “full-length” podcast episode, and a smaller follow-up show. While I’m posting less, I’m still seeing new visitors and returning readers coming to the site.
Instead of feeling burnt out on personal finance, I’m enthused about coming up with different posts and episodes. The mix of media has been a huge help for me as I get to explore topics on the show and go into more detail on my blog.
Being a work-from-home mom has meant that my time is constrained, so I’ve learned to be more efficient. As someone who would rather focus on content than constantly analyze every bit of data, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful of tools that quickly give me the information I need.
I’ve tried out a ton of tools to gauge which topics are the most popular with readers and other couples as well as keeping tabs on how my site is doing on the whole.
Google Analytics dashboards. There’s a ton of information here so I was easily overwhelmed and only visited it occasionally. Thankfully a fellow blogger showed me a dashboard template that tracked Pinterest pin sharing and I saw that I could have a much more manageable system.
Digging more online, I stumbled across more dashboard templates and I found these to be extremely useful:
Basically I use the social media information to see what people are engaged in and then use SEO dashboard to polish up and hone in on keywords. Let me give you an example.
I noticed that one of my more popular posts was about how far to space out having children. I wanted to reach a wide audience so I created a small snippet of a podcast just addressing that one question. When constructing the script, I made sure to use keywords that were the most searched for.
Once the show was released and the show notes were published, I then went back to my original post on Couple Money. I refined and updated it with the goal of helping parents get the information that wanted.
SEM Rush. I started playing around with SEM Rush because I wanted to see how others in the personal finance niche were driving traffic organically.
I love the site audit feature. After the effort I put into writing, I want to keep it simple for new and long time readers to get the information they need. That means removing dead links and seeing if I can include updated information whether it’s a more recent post on the topic or linking to another site.
BufferApp. This is a handy tool for me to get some immediate feedback on which posts and topics people are interacting with. If I share a post from another site and it takes off with retweets or clicks, I will look at Couple Money and see if there is a relevant post I can share to continue the conversation.
Something I’ve done recently is comparing tweets between my blog account and the podcast so I can find the best time to reach others.
So what about those topics that are on other couples’ minds, but I have either no interest, knowledge of, or experience? I used to stress out over this, feeling that I was being selfish, but I’ve come to understand that one of the best things I can do for those readers is to point them in the direction of someone who does have answers.
No blog can be everything to everyone, so there’s no real benefit to myself or them to try. I instead link to, and share across on my social media channels, great content that addresses what they are looking for. It has freed me up to focus on content that I do enjoy writing about.
I no longer feel pressured to produce something, I’m excited about my posts and I have more time to write them and interact with readers in a more meaningful way.
Your thoughts on writing.
Enough from me — I’d love hear from you and get some of your thoughts. How do you balance writing about what matters to you personally and addressing your readers’ needs and questions? What system do you have and tools that you use for brainstorming ideas and creating posts?
Thanks to Elle Martinez for sharing her story. If you would like to share the origin of your successful blog that’s managed to positively affect readers’ lives, contact Luke.