August 2016 Giving Report, with references to Hamilton, Social Media, and Late Nights Writing

Angelica
     My name is Angelica Schuyler.
Hamilton
     Alexander Hamilton.
Angelica
     Where’s your family from?
Hamilton
     Unimportant. There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait, just you wait…

 

Since we finished our first month of blogging, we’d like to spend some time sharing with you our progress in accomplishing our giving goal as well as perform a Review of what we did right and what we can do better.

We’ll start with the punchline: We gave zero.

… because we made zero. JMC started in August 2016. We are still in process of learning and exploring the various side hustles (and of blogging), so we haven’t generated any money yet. In fact, we’ve been losing money due to the web hosting and WordPress fees, though small. We expect our next few monthly reports to show a zero, then one fine month, a few bucks, then hopefully more. Our end goal is to build something strong and sustainable, not cash in on a quick dollar.

August 2016
Monthly Giving: $0
YTD Giving: $0
Giving Since Inception: $0
% Toward Goal: 0.00%
Page Views 1,133

JMC is a vital piece to making our vision about giving work, since we can share with and hopefully inspire our readers to take what we learned and avoid our mistakes to create a better financial future for themselves, teach it to their children, and give more radically.

To refine and improve how we do that, we want feedback. And one of our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is our page views. Are we providing advice that is valuable and helps improve lives? While we’re not sure if this is an accurate gauge or not, we use page views, Facebook shares, and number of followers as a proxy for how we’re doing. We had 1,133 views in August.

Monthly Review

(For readers who have been following us from the very beginning—like 6 weeks ago—you’ll see that we value process and review, and it’s no different when it comes to JMC. We’ll even share ways we fell flat on our face.)

What We Did Well:

  • We started! That was the biggest win for me. Too often ideas, most of the time rightly so, get left on the cutting room floor. But in this case, thought became action. We actually spent money to get a domain name and WordPress account. Spending money, even a dollar, on something like this felt risky because I had no idea what I was doing and if anyone wanted to read my writing. For the first few days, I had technical difficulties but the folks at Hover.com, Hostgator.com, and WordPress.com were fantastic to work with and help problem shoot. They have “Happiness Engineers” that are available to help via instant messaging or phone. They were indeed very helpful (and happy)!
  • We got 1,133* views! Honestly, that’s 1,132 more than I was expecting (I assumed my wife would view it at least once in support). For someone like me who is really private and social media averse (until recently), it stretched me to the very edge of my comfort zone. It’s like holding an open house for your brain (and heart) that never closes, and allowing people to stomp around it however they wish. I don’t naturally like this feeling, but I’m not going to run away from discomfort either.  
  • I somehow convinced Connor to help me edit my writing! Ever pray for someone and they actually show up? (True story!) That’s Connor. Once Connor agreed to come on board, that’s when I knew I should start writing and spending money to get JMC started. She magically turns my poor grammar and reasoning into something legible and coherent, like those before and after pictures where they turn a 90 pound weakling into Mr. Olympia. She’s JMC’s protein bar. 

What We Could Do Better:

  • “We need to talk about your social media approach.” This is a verbatim text from Connor (who also set up the JMC Facebook page because I know nothing about that—thanks Connor!) to me. Here’s why.

I’m a dolt at social media. As I said, I’ve spent so many years avoiding it. But since I write about embracing technology and new ways of doing things, I decided to join Facebook. And because I’ve chosen to create a pseudonym to protect my children’s identities, no one knows it’s me when I invite them to be my “friend.”  Since Facebook has become the biggest reason people visit the site, creating a Facebook profile under this pseudonym (“Jay Tea”—feel free to add me!) has severely hampered my ability to make online friends.

Speaking of which, I don’t think I know how to add you, either (you can stop laughing now). 

By now, you’re probably thinking I’m some socially awkward hermit. I’m actually quite social and love chatting with people in real life—I just don’t get the whole Facebook thing.

Takeaways: Get less socially (media) awkward. Explore joining Twitter or LinkedIn or any of the other icons that pop up at the bottom of blog posts, whatever they are. Learn SEO (search engine optimization).

  • Not take so darn long writing my posts. Every time I write, it feels like I’m swimming against the current. I find it cathartic, but I’m not a natural writer. I read other blogs and it looks as if the words just spilled out so effortlessly. When I read my own writing, it reads like what it is—someone grinding it out. Grinding it out enthusiastically, mind you, but still rather stilted and forced around the edges.

Since we post on a M/W/F schedule, on Su/T/Th I put my kids down for bed and immediately start writing from 8pm until 2am. The next day, I spend an hour (or three) finishing it up. This is not a prescription for sustainability. I’ve gotten sick more often this summer than I ever have, including an ugly bout with bronchitis. My hope is that as I find my voice (quickly!) and reduce my writing time to 4 hours a post while improving my writing. I used to think bloggers turned their head to the side and out fell the words. So wrong…so wrong.

Takeaways: Keep writing to write better and faster. Set hard deadlines. If I’m not done by midnight, call it a night and upload post later the next day if I need to. Try to start writing ahead to create a several post buffer so that I’m not writing to a deadline. And maybe stop walking to the fridge to look inside it for no reason…

  • A little less conversation, a little more action please—or, a note from the editor: JT keeps telling me I need to add my voice to this project of ours instead of, as I call it, “curating” his, but as a college graduate with more student loans than financial sense who spends her free time either trolling job postings and searching for a full-time position or writing book reviews for another blog, it doesn’t often seem like I have much to add. JT’s the one with expertise! But he insists, so sometime in the next month or so I’ll be chiming in a bit more with some of my own words. At the very least, perhaps I can help keep him from staying up til 2AM three times a week.

 

In summary, month 1 was like jumping into a cold pool—so cold your limbs don’t move at first, but after a month, the arms and legs are starting to move and it’s starting to feel warmer (or at least less paralyzing). One day (soon?), we’ll find that we’re swimming.

There’s a million things we hope to do, but just you wait, just you wait…


*How quaint, says the veteran blogger with a huge following. To which I reply, “I’d like to learn from you. Please teach me!”


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9 Comments

  • amileinmyshoes September 14, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I love your writing style. I’m interested in what you have to say and it’s obvious you know what you’re talking about as it’s evident through your posts. I am also impressed that you take the time to read my writing and comment. It shows you’re a nice guy. I’m not going to lie, I’m not entirely convinced I will be able to teach my child how to handle money or be thrifty/save and so on. He’s a young 7 though so I’m interested in the potential for the future. Some other people not entirely understand what your message is (i don because I’ve been reading previous posts). However if they’re going into your blog for the first time they might not understand. A lot of people on here who read my posts are bloggers themselves, and they seem to be shorter on time. Looking back on my own posts, those that are long have fewer viewings and a lot less ‘likes’. I honestly think peoples attention and/or time is limited and if they see a long post they move on. I wonder if you had shorter posts with more bullets it would encourage readers to read? I do love reading your posts though and I hope this all works out for you. 🙂

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom September 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Also, your son hit the lottery by having a loving mother. The stuff I write about is (at least it’s meant to) be stuff that has worked for me and what I’m teaching my kids (and to try to understand why we do what we do), but having a loving parent like you trumps everything else!

      Reply
  • amileinmyshoes September 14, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    sorry, I meant to say others might not understand what your message is but I do.

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom September 14, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you for the feedback. I need it!

      Yeah, I think I’ll mix in some shorter posts in the future. Really appreciate it and feel grateful that you’ve been with me from the start.

      Reply
  • NothingImportant2Say September 16, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Your not alone. I think there are many new bloggers (self included) who are just jumping into the social media realm and enjoying learning, a lot! Keep going, your posts are great and it’s refreshing to see that its real people here trying new things.

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom September 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Thank you! It’s so weird to feel like you’re good at something, then totally flounder at something else kids find really simple. It’s challenging but it keeps life fun and interesting!

      Reply
      • NothingImportant2Say September 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm

        My mother is in her late 70’s and used a flip phone until just a few years ago. But she has embraced technology and is farther advanced in social media than most adults I know. She keeps up with her grandkids like she was one of the pack! The only way to learn something new, is to try something new.

        Reply
  • Bryan Stoudt September 16, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Hey JT! Love your transparency… You’ve got great things to say (content), but you say them in a vulnerable, interesting way. And although you’re definitely ahead of me in how much time you’re spending on your posts (LOL), I totally resonate with how it can be frustrating to get a post done and ‘good enough’ to put out there. And still have a life. Glad you’ve got some good help and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • justmakingcentscom September 16, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks Brian! My goal is to be transparent! And I’m really glad I have great help!

      Reply

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