One year of gathering little by little
Photo by: ritchielee
Exactly one year ago today, I brought Gather Little by Little online. I had been blogging for about two months on a personal blog that I started just so I could play around with two blogging software packages (WordPress and Drupal). I wrote articles about various things, but mainly personal finance topics, more to document what I was learning than to share any insights with anyone.
Sometime around the end on June, I stumbled across both The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly and was truly amazed at the sheer number of readers those two blogs had. As I read deep into the archives of both blogs, I felt a calling of sorts to share with people the things I was learning about my financial life in hopes that they might benefit. I thought that perhaps by sharing they might not have to learn the hard way like I did.
But I’m jumping ahead. Let me start from the beginning…
How it all started
In November of 2006, our lives got turned upside down. My family and I faced a personal situation beyond anything we had ever faced before. I was out of work for 3 months with no pay. We had no savings, consumer debt in the range of 60,000 (excluding our mortgage), 6 child, and one that during that same month was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. To be very honest, only through the grace of God did we survive. I sold all the stock I had. We took a ton of stuff to some pawn shops and sold some things at a garage sale. I also got a very fortunate break in that my mortgage had a clause that allowed us to skip one payment a year with no penalty. Between those things, we survived. We even managed to provide our children with a reduced but reasonable Christmas.
I have never been so scared in my whole life, nor have I ever felt so irresponsible for allowing myself and my family to get in a financial situation like we were in. By another act of pure grace, I received short term disability, a few months later, but just in time to literally put food on the table, some clothes on my children’s backs and just a few days before our next mortgage payment was due. Throughout the entire 3 months, we never missed or got behind on a payment. We were blind, but now could see.
Gather Little by Little
During that time, I began to look forward. I began a quest to never be in a situation like that again. I wanted to have some savings, get rid of our debt, and have multiple streams of income. As I mentioned, I started writing about this on my personal blog. I was reading lots of books, including one that really made me see the errors of my ways and realize there was a path to getting out: The Total Money Makeover. Many people critic Dave Ramsey for being too blunt and downright rude. I disagree, Dave is just in your face honest, and sometimes that is exactly what people need. Someone who is willing to just lay it out on the table, exactly the way it is. That was what I needed.
Around that same time I found The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly. A few weeks later I realized there were a bunch of other people blogging about their financial journeys. I decided to join the ranks and provide information about my personal journey. But what to call my blog? What niche did I want to fill?
During our personal crisis, I decided it was time to read the Bible from start to finish. In June of 2007, I was reading the book of Proverbs and learning tons about money management from King Solomon. The evening I decided to start my own personal finance blog, I read Proverbs 13:11 – “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” In this one verse I found not only the name for my blog, but the calling for the niche I needed to fill. The blog would be called Gather Little by Little, and would discuss personal finance from a Christian perspective.
On July 1st at 12:59pm I published my very first post on Gather Little by Little. I never really expected anyone to read it. Little did I know at the time, how quickly it would grow, the positive impact it would have, and the number of wonderful people I was yet to meet.
The first few months
My very first few articles were an in depth series documenting exactly what I had learned over the past few months. I started a series called How to get your finances under control, one small step at a time. The article was an introduction article for a series I planned to do that would walk readers through a step by step process for getting their financial lives turned around. The series documented the steps that were working me.
Reading the articles again is strange for me as I recall vividly writing every single word. I knew little to nothing about blogging, search engine optimization, advertising, or any of the other important blogging concepts. I just knew I wanted to make a difference. I always said if one person changed their financial lives around due to my writing, it would all be worth it. I hope I have done that.
My writing style was a little shaky then (some would argue it still is). My writing voice hadn’t found me just yet, but it was decent. I tried to write like I talk and keep it personal, sincere, and humorous. I like the series enough that I’m working on converting it to a free eBook I’ll be publishing later this month if things go as planned.
In August 2007, I was averaging about 60-100 visitors per day, had 26 readers (I thought that was huge!), and had 42 articles published. Some of the articles were great, and some I’ve almost deleted a few times due to being so bad. Around that time, I got an email from this guy named Pinyo who asked me if I wanted to form a blogging network with him and a few other new bloggers. I really didn’t understand what a network was exactly, but I thought it sounded like a good idea. So Pinyo, myself, plonkee, and another blogger who is no longer blogging formed the M-Network. Turns out, this would be the single most important thing I did to get Gather Little by Little where it is today. Thanks Pinyo, just in case I never thanked you for that email.
The M-Network is a little bigger now, 10 blogs in total and together we have more than 13,500 readers and receive more than 11,000 unique visits per day!
Fast forward to today
A year later, Gather Little by Little has more than 1600 subscribers and receives more than 1,000 unique visitors per day. In total, I’ve received 245,000+ unique visitors and had 424,000+ page views! Wow. Gather Little by Little has come a long way since 26 readers and 60 visits per day. To be downright honest, knowing that at least 1600 people read your blog everyday is quit overwhelming and a bit scary!
From a personal finance perspective, my wife and I have paid off more than $20,000 in debt, have an emergency fund, control our finances through the use of a written monthly budget, and meet weekly to discuss our finances and budget. We aggressively look for opportunities to reduce our expenses and increase our income, including making sure our income comes from multiple independent sources.
I am in awe at how big Gather Little by Little has grown. I’m frequently listed in the top 25 or 30 personal finance blogs, receive lots of great comments from readers everyday, and get links from the blogs that got me started and I still admire to this day. Two of the big high points for me was having a guest article I wrote featured on Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar linking to one of my articles for the first time.
I am so thankful for the difference Gather Little by Little has made in my life, and the difference I sincerely hope it is making in yours. I have learned so much about blogging, personal finance, and about myself over the journey of the last year, that can’t wait to see how much more I’ll learn over the next year. The one unexpected thing that I’ve also gained is a group of friends that support me, hold me accountable, question me when I might be wrong, and help me daily make Gather Little by Little a better blog.
Who are these friends? You. You the readers who come here daily to read my ramblings. You the other bloggers who link to me, write great stuff for me to link to, and share your knowledge to help us all make our blogs better places for our readers.
Thank you for the past year. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for holding me accountable, and for all of your emails that support and encourage me to continue writing. You cannot imagine the positive impact you’ve had on my life. I thank God for each of you daily. You are why I get up every morning to write and share the things I’ve learned.
I look forward to the next year and the journey we’ll have together, gathering little by little.
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