State of the Blog: November 2016

Welcome to State of the Blog for November 2016. In this month’s roundup, we discuss hitting some pretty awesome blogging milestones, a family vacation, and a number of post updates.

November whirled by for me. Little Bit has a 3-week track out starting around Veteran’s Day, so I’m a bit more distracted than usual. This year, we went to Orlando to visit the Mouse. I came back with a lot of happy memories and a head cold. I knocked out large chunks of Christmas shopping online Thanksgiving weekend.

Finally, I got to celebrate birthday #49. 

One year away from birthday #50. For some reason, that bothers me a bunch. Surely, I can’t be that old?

Still, Jon gave me birthday Bojangles and a two-year subscription to one of my guilty pleasures, Entertainment Weekly. Plus, my in-laws threw me one of their standard family parties, complete with pound cake. As birthdays go, this was one of the better ones even if the age factor gives me pause.

Blog Stuff

So we hit two big markers this month. First, we earned our first revenue from the Amazon affiliate program. Yay. $1.12.

Second, our post on Dollar Store Holiday Purchases that Won’t Make You Fell Scroogish became our first post to hit over 1000 views this month. Evidently, Pinterest users really liked that one, because that’s where the vast majority of our clicks originated. Really odd, because the day we published it, I didn’t do anything with the post. I didn’t submit it to Pinterest, I didn’t promote it on Facebook, I barely tweeted it until the next day.

Instead, I spent the day of our biggest blog success riding rollercoasters, watching parades, and drinking butterbeer on Diagon Alley. Well, the Orlando version, anyway. I did do some promotion the next day, but mostly others did it for me.

Now I just need to come up with equally shareable content. No biggie, right?

I also made a major investment in my blogging by buying a bunch of blog classes that I have yet to take. Needless to say, I look forward to some Pinterest strategy and content generation classes, as well as graphic design, SEO, CSS, and more social media.

I’m still looking for collaborators for two Pinterest boards: Paying for College and Raising Financially Savvy Kids. If you’d like to be part of one or either, let me know.


State of the Blog: November 2016

A Visit to the Mouse and the Wizarding World

We bit the bullet. We went to see the Mouse (Magic Kingdom) and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios) and it was awesome, but not cheap.

Though this wasn’t intended to be a budget vacation, we did a few things to save money. We drove and spent a couple of nights with Jon’s aunt and uncle. We ate meals before and after the Universal visit, and packed in snacks. (Unfortunately, we were less diligent at Disney, which was a mistake because we stayed twice as long.) We limited the souvenirs to a set amount, and picked up our nice, extremely convenient hotel via Groupon.

Our biggest savings came because we limited our park days to two, with a “Middle Aged Parent Recovery Day” scheduled in between our park days. One day for three of us at either park cost more than all three nights at our Disney Springs area hotel. We had offered Little Bit her choice of a second park, and she weighed her choices carefully for a couple of weeks before finally settling on Universal and Harry Potter.

There’s an age for seeing Disneyworld, and 6 is pretty optimum…Little Bit’s old enough to remember the vacation fondly while being young enough for the magic. She could go on Space Mountain and Escape from Gringotts with more excitement than fear, and was only too short for one ride (which I wanted to do, but she and her dad really didn’t anyway.) She hadn’t aged out of the character Meet’n’Greets, and mostly would go along with what her Dad and I decided.

That said, I’m really glad we have ONE kid. Tickets are expensive, even if you avoid most extras. Plus, navigating the huge crowd with Little Bit wasn’t easy, though she did a pretty good job of sticking with us.

That makes 3 vacations this year: 2 beach trips and our Florida jaunt. I don’t regret any of our travels, but next year should be much more moderate in terms of vacations. Camping, maybe?

Disney and Universal shots

Article Updates

I made some of the decision about keeping my RAI stock after the merger with BAT was announced, and sold all the RAI that sat in tax-advantaged accounts. Since selling the stock in my taxable account will mean reporting a sizable gain, I’m holding on to it at least until next year. That said, I took the dividends off reinvest mode for now. I may regret selling the stock, but I’ve pretty much decided to invest my money elsewhere.

My final total for Christmas gift cards and rewards? $25 from Ibotta, $75 from Swagbucks, $10 (and a free bag of coffee) from World Market Explorers, $15 in Kohl’s cash, and $262 in rewards from our Amazon Visa. (If you haven’t already joined Swagbucks or Ibotta, you can get $5 for joining either by using my referral links, They’re both great ways of earning gift cards for next Christmas! I can tell you almost $400 in rewards helps a bunch to augment my holiday budget!

We also cut our adult Christmas list down as my side of the family decided to only buy presents for the kids this year. I’ll still do some cookies and bread for everyone and our annual picture calendar for my dad and stepmom, but that decision should cut our gift buying down by $100-150.

You know that couponing class I discussed last month? Yeah, I’ve applied none of it, other than being able to tell a good BOGO from a minor deal that shouldn’t initiate any extra purchases.

Hints and Bargains

Mr Groovy tweeted me that Aldi was selling a dozen eggs for 49 cents. I said “Let’s make a quiche,” but Jon, the eggnog fiend, immediately started thinking about this nog recipe from Alton Brown instead. Mmm, boozy holiday goodness! He wins. We were due for an Aldi/Trader Joe’s trip anyway to pick up wine, pecans, and other holiday necessities anyway, but 49 cent eggs have sped up the timetable.

Disneyworld’s Main Street Starbucks was only about 20% more expensive than the one in our neighborhood. For park food, that made it a bargain (and cheaper than our hotel coffee shop.) Plus, if you go there, you can brag that you’ve been to the busiest Starbucks in the world (at least that’s what the baristas said.)

When you send your hubby for Nyquil and he brings home the Zzzquil knockoff, don’t take it.

Thanks for coming by! You can follow us on  TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and StumbleUpon. Also feel free to let us know if you have a topic you’d like us to cover. or just want to say hi!

How did November go for you?

This post includes affiliate links!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich. *< and Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden. *

27 thoughts on “State of the Blog: November 2016

  1. Great job!
    I just made my first Amazon affiliate sale last month too. It was like $2 or something – but hey, it’s a start!

    Was that the Genius Bloggers bundle you bought? I got that too and it’s been pretty good so far.

    Pinterest has been my top referrer for the past several months since I started getting on it. I bought Rosemarie Groner’s Pinterest cheat sheet and that helped a ton with strategy, but for me the most important thing was getting the images right. I had UGLY ones at first and no wonder I wasn’t seeing anything!

    I still haven’t seen my site traffic explode from Pinterest like some bloggers have noted (even though they are my top source now) which makes me wonder if my pins are still less-than-optimal. And it seems to be random sometimes – if a big-name blogger pins one of my pins, I see a HUGE spike in traffic from other people repinning it and visiting my site. It just seems like luck of the draw a lot of times, which is another reason I’m constantly worrying about tweaking my pins to make them more attractive.

    • Oooh, Lindsay, maybe we need a Pinterest strategy chat. Other than that one post, I haven’t seen huge numbers, and I’m not sure I can say why that image is much better than a lot of my others (although I think I did a better job with the headline than I usually do.) If I can nail Pinterest, I’d love to offer basic pin design and repinning as a VA service, if for no other reason than there are so many great articles that I want to save and share that don’t have a decent pinnable image. Drives me nuts.

      Yes it was the Genius Bloggers bundle. I haven’t done much with it yet. I bought it on the last day it was offered and then got caught up with vacation and all the extra time with Little Bit underfoot. So other than going through the initial prioritization and setting up the backup service that was included, I haven’t touched it. It’s a high priority next week when Little Bit’s back in school.

  2. Congrats on the blog milestones and also the birthday! My wife will be getting her annual subscription to Food magazine for Christmas! 🙂 Magazines can be fun gifts!

    Sounds like a great November with such an awesome family vacation. We did a little travel for Thanksgiving but that was it. We too completed lots of our holiday shopping though and also got our holiday decor up. Always fun!

    Thanks for the update.
    The Green Swan recently posted…The Swan Life: November 2016My Profile

    • My Mother in Law gave me subscriptions to Food magazine for years and really enjoyed it. (And we gave my nephew a subscription to Mad Magazine last year.) Subscriptions really are a gift that keeps on giving.

      After getting a little feedback from Jon yesterday I think I’ve ordered my last gift last night. I’ll pick up stocking stuffers somewhere around the 20th-21st, and have treats to make, but I think otherwise I got done in November this year. Scary! On the other hand, we’ll wait on the decor for another week, I think. It’s a nice weekend activity, but last weekend and this were packed.

    • Thanks Matt.

      I think the two keys to get started on Pinterest for me was using the Pinterest image template on Canva and pictures from Pixabay. (I use a lot of my own pictures too, but using Pixabay means I always have an image of some sort.) That way I have a Pinnable image if someone wants to pin. And then I pin them on my relevant boards. I share as many good articles as I can, but don’t like pinning good articles without images (I’ve been trying to add those to StumbleUpon instead, because that’s less of a graphics-oriented site, but I’m less in the habit of stumbling than pinning and so some stuff doesn’t get saved even though I’d like to.)

      Once I had the basics in place, I joined Pinterest Pals on Facebook and usually join the daily pin thread (you can share one pin per day, but you have to pin 6 images from other users on the thread.) And I joined 3 regular group boards (I belong to some others but don’t pin on them regularly because they aren’t really my niche.) I’ve tried scheduling and repinning with Boardbooster but gave it up after the free trial ended. I may go back to it later, though, since the channel is growing pretty well.

  3. Belated happy birthday! Facing 50 is not so bad, just wait til 60! Congrats on the earnings (I wasn’t able to make anything as an Amazon affiliate when I was signed up) and on the Pinterest traffic. I’m on Pinterest, but just barely…guess I need to work on that. Glad you enjoyed your Florida trip. Sounds like Little Bit is at the perfect age for Disney, and I’m sure she’ll treasure those happy memories.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Follow Your Passion and Make Some Money TooMy Profile

    • Thanks Gary. I really want to start thinking about 60 now (rolls eyes.)

      Hmmm, that’s interesting about your Pinterest. You tend to have very pinnable graphics on your posts. I tend to save a lot of your stuff because of it.

      Are you on any group boards or Facebook social media groups? I get a lot of shares from being on Share the Wealth and Pinterest pals, and didn’t really get much traction on Pinterest until I started participating in the groups.

  4. Lot’s going on. Happy Birthday and congrats on the blog milestones! Looks like a great time in Orlando. We are planning a trip in the spring to Disney. We’ve got enough points to cover airline and hotel! Park tickets for a family of five will not be cheap.

    I need to do a better job with Pinterest. I drive very little traffic from it. Hope the Holidays are happy!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Net Worth: November 2016My Profile

  5. Looks like you had a blast on vacation. Glad Mr. Groovy told you about the eggs. I’ll have to turn him into a shopper one of these days.

    I don’t know if either of you would be interested in collaborating but Lila Donovan comes to mind for your Paying for College board. She’s good with Pinterest, she’s a student, and she did a post for us about getting a low cost degree. @LilaDonavanart.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…I Dropped the Ball on Thanksgiving! (Luckily My Friends Picked it Up)My Profile

  6. It looks like you had an amazing November and one that you’ll remember for a long time to come. Your daughter must have been in heaven. I still remember when I went to Disney as a 5 year old. I will never forget it 🙂

    Congrats on the 1,000 post day. That must have been an amazing feeling. Keep up the awesome work!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…What To Do With A Bonus?My Profile

    • Thanks! We did have a terrific month in a lot of ways, some planned and some unexpected. I’m really hoping Little Bit remembers the trip well.

  7. Congrats on getting your first Amazon affiliate sale! I set mine up a few months ago and so far…nothing… I wonder if they are going to cancel it soon.

    And getting 1,000 views from Pinterest is awesome! I need to focus more on that channel in the new year.

    Also, I’d be glad to join your “raising financially savvy kids” board. I have one good post now and will probably keep writing posts in this area over time.

    Thanks for the update!
    Jon @ Be Net Worthy recently posted…Three Steps to Teach Kids the Value of MoneyMy Profile

    • I think I got my sale on the last month of the probation…it only takes one to keep going, though.

      And I’ve invited you to the board, so look for the invite!

  8. Congratulations on the 1000+ view day and on your affiliate blog income. And I loved your ‘middle aged parent recovery day’ – brilliant idea. Also, Happy 49th to you!

    I’m interested to know how useful you end up finding the blogging classes. Oh and also, I’d be happy to contribute to your ‘Paying for College’ board. Hit me up if you still need contributors. I have been an extremely lazy bum when it comes to Pinterest. I put up two boards (or was it three?) with maybe 3 pins on each and then proceeded to get bored with it and ignore it roundly. And this extremely mean effort has generated 10 views, so it probably behooves me to treat this channel with the respect it deserves.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…Why I wear socks with holes in themMy Profile

    • I still haven’t gotten a thousand view day, only a thousand view post. It’s a big bump for me though. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      I’ve invited you to the Pinterest board, so look for the invite! I started my boards as private, but have slowly added as I found stuff I enjoyed reading and wanted to save. Like everything else, there’s a learning curve and it takes time to build up an inventory of pins for folks to find, connections with other users, and traffic from your own pins.

    • Thanks Vickie. Our trip was a lot of fun, but I’m kind of glad that “Disney with Little Bit…while she’s still a kid” is crossed off the bucket list. I’d been both as a kid myself and with Jon before Little Bit was born, and I’m ready to explore some new areas to vacation in.

  9. I’m an Amazon affiliate and only make about $10 a year. I’m going to try to post more in 2017, so maybe it will go up. They’ve never threatened to cancel me.

    • I think Amazon’s affiliate rules say you have to make a sale in your first 6 months on the program, but I don’t think they boot you once you do (that could be wrong, though.)

  10. Our kids are just about all adults (our youngest will turn 18 in March), but I still want to take them to Disney some day! Those are highly cute photos – thanks for including them. Thanks for the tip on Zzzquil. My husband said he was thinking of buying some. Congrats on your $1.12 : ) I got $1.16, lost my account (needed to have more action to keep it going), and then lost that cheque. Oh well.
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Thinking Bigger: Achieve Your DreamMy Profile

    • It’s a lot of fun, Ruth, even for adults (Jon and I went almost exactly a year before Little Bit came along.) I hope you get the chance to do so.

  11. Happy belated birthday! Great pictures from Disney. I would like to take the kids there someday, but it probably won’t be for a little while . . . ya know, with the twins coming and us still paying off debt.

    Congrats on the Amazon affiliate money! I’ve had absolutely no luck with that – had to open a new account because the first one got deactivated with no sales 🙁

    I’m not surprised that your Dollar Store post was a big hit – it was a really good list!
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Monday Medley: Just Trying To Do My BestMy Profile

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Harmony, and for the kind words on my dollar store article. I hope you can make it to Disney with the kids one day.
      Now to just come up with another equally shareable article.

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