2 Year Blog Anniversary: Highs, Lows, and Surprises
Wow, I cannot believe it has been 2 years since we started running The Humble Penny.
If there is one word that I could use to describe year 2, it would be – influence.
That’s because the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it pays to put yourself out there as much as possible.
This year has been extremely exciting and rewarding but as ever extremely challenging.
I feel like we’ve been pushed to the limits this year on all levels.
Saying that though, I’ve complained a lot this year about things not moving as quickly as I desire them.
But I keep getting reminded by my brother whenever I complain that most people consider problems vs opportunities, but all he sees for us is opportunity.
Although I hate to admit it, I agree with him.
All there is out there is opportunity and we are here to ride the opportunity wave.
Anything and everything is possible.
With all the excitement though, there have been dark times.
On 31 December 2018, regular readers of this blog will know that I had a catastrophe in my life.
My year started abroad when my mum suffered a terrible brain haemorrhage whilst we were on holiday.
This meant that my life got turned upside down.
I didn’t start blogging life in 2019 with any plans written down. Blogging was the last thing on my mind as my mum struggled to live.
However, somehow, we carried on delivering content to this site weekly without fail.
I shared more about the importance of consistency in The Case for Commitment.
Q1 of 2019 was a write-off emotionally.
By that, I mean that I was extremely tired, mainly because of ‘real-life’.
Most of my energy was spent on supporting my mum through this issue and arm wrestling with insurance companies.
More on all this on my personal reflections on the ‘100 Things That Made My Year – 2019’ post soon to follow.
On the blogging front though, this year has been a year of influence.
I put myself out there big time, and this post will not even cover all I did just because I cannot remember them all.
Below are my highs, the lows, and surprises for the 2nd year of running The Humble Penny.
When I look at this, it makes me wonder what I would achieve if I worked on this blog full time.
I still work as a CFO in London as part of a small team of investors. A job I really enjoy.
Hope this chapter of my blogging journey serves as an inspiration to other new bloggers and digital entrepreneurs.
In case you missed it, here is a link to our one year blog anniversary post to read also.
BLOG HIGHS OF THE YEAR
Here are the highs for 2019. Various interesting things that I thought helped us to move forward.
Mary Went Full Time
This time last year my wife Mary was working part-time for the humble penny and putting in an hour or two here and there.
This year though, she went full time and this has been game-changing for us in so many ways.
It is taking a fair bit of pressure off me but at the same time, it has given me someone to share ideas with.
Mary has the ability to learn new skills very quickly.
One of those skills has been the ability to learn video editing, which has been invaluable for Our YouTube channel which I cover below.
Key to having her work on The Humble Penny full time was getting our operation to a place where it could afford to have her work full time.
This has been amazing for our relationship because it gives her the flexibility she has always wanted.
In addition, she brings with her the skills and the perspective of a woman which has been very useful as the humble penny attracts both men and women from very diverse backgrounds.
During the year I invested some time and money in studying SEO a lot more closely.
This led to a change in our content strategy with a focus on creating epic content driven by competitor analysis.
Whilst it is nice for me to often write blog posts that are casual and fun, there also has to be a business case for creating content.
This is because there are fixed and variable costs related to creating content.
As such, for every 5 pieces of content that we create, it is likely that 4 of them will be created with a business case.
This has led to The Humble Penny becoming a lot more sustainable as a platform.
All the income that we generate is reinvested into our operations in order for us to grow.
We currently create one piece of high-quality content per week but you can expect to see two to three pieces of blog content from 2020 onwards.
We’ll be able to achieve this because we will be reinvesting the income that we generated in hiring a virtual assistant to help us deal with some of the administrative aspects of creating content.
We have gone from a team of 1 to a team of 3:
- Me – Accidental CEO – Chief Everything Officer.
- Mary – Marketing and Operations.
- Sara – Tech.
I am currently doing too much in my role in running this website.
In the next couple of months, we expect a fourth team member to join us as a Freelancer.
This person will be a virtual assistant and their role will be to take some of the administrative responsibilities away from me.
Lesson: I have been able to get so much more done by growing a small team.
YouTube Channel Launch
We launched our own YouTube channel at The Humble Penny TV.
It was one of our goals from from year one.
This is by far one of the most exciting things that we have done and was made a lot easier by applying a lot of our learnings from running this blog itself.
Video is certainly a much more powerful medium for building trust and likeability.
It has been interesting to learn that people who typically blogs don’t always end up being the same people who watch videos.
So we essentially have a totally different audience on YouTube, and a lot of them have no idea that this blog exists.
I’ve grown to love creating video content. It took a lot of practice though.
I’ve been saying yes to any opportunity that gets me in front of the camera.
All part of building up my confidence to communicate without fear.
Some of this you can watch on our Media Page.
We now create 2 YouTube videos per week and publish on a Tuesday and Thursday.
In addition to publishing once on this blog, we produce 3 pieces of content per week.
Not an insignificant task especially if people expect quality!
As at the time of writing this blog post we have about 2,730 subscribers that we have built up in our first 4 months on YouTube YouTube.
Apparently, in one year from now, it is predicted that we will be at around 29,824 subscribers based on our current growth rate.
Now that would be totally nuts!
It will be very interesting to see how that turns out in one year.
If you’re interested in starting a YouTube Channel and want to learn from our journey, join our free workshop here.
Over the last 12-months we have gone from having no courses at all to creating the following 3 courses:
- FIRE SuperPower – A course to help you create a personalised plan for financial independence. It is the first Financial Independence course that I am aware of in the UK.
- Super Simple Investing – course to help you achieve your investing confidence in 12 days.
- Budget For Life – Budgeting tool for non-Excel users. the only budgeting tool you will ever need.
We had actually set ourselves a goal of creating 4 courses in the year.
However, that would have been quite a stretch.
We instead focused more of our time on re-imagining the academy. More on this below.
Lesson: Only create courses that people really want. Presell courses before creating them.
We had a number of notable guest post collaborations in the year. Here is a selection:
David Sawyer writer of RESET – Self-publishing a book: The Good The Bad and The Money
Eva from Ipsres – Inheritance tax planning; how should you prepare?
Jeni Crane from Yum Nutrition – How a Health Experiment Led Me To Financial Independence
Vivian from Actif Pets – How To Start An Amazon FBA Business
Ian Shadrack from UK ETF Investor – What Is An ETF? A Beginner’s Complete Guide For Investing
Paul from Cutting Through Chaos – The Not So Simple Path To Financial Independence
Lara from WellBeing Hub – 9 Ways To Live Well and Increase Wellbeing
Jeni Crane from Yum Nutrition – How to Save Money: How I Saved My First £100k
Ian Shadrack from UK ETF Investor – Ethical Investing: How To Research and Start Investing
Lesson: Engage with others to bring their expertise.
I LOVE podcasts! I enjoyed every single one I did this year.
In fact, I have been told so many times that I have a “podcast voice”… whatever that means.
Here are the podcasts I did in 2019:
Over The Bridge Postcast – Financial Independence With Ken Okoroafor
Dope Black Dads Podcast – Dads: How Can I Make Money? I Am Broke!
Cash Chats Podcast – Financial Independence Retire Early UK
Shades of Black Parenting Podcast – How to Make Your Child a Millionaire
Informed Choice Radio Podcast – Financial Independence Is a SuperPower
I had a few appearances on UK radio stations for everything from parenting to more recently on BBC Oxford talking relationships!
The one notable appearance was on BBC Radio 4 – You and Yours Show. Some 3 million people listened to that interview.
Listen to the interview in the radio section of our Media Page.
I featured in a BBC 2 Politics piece on what would you do if you were financially independent?
They came to film this at our home, which was quite fun. Part of the camera practice I told you about before we launched the YouTube channel.
This was a truly special occasion. One that I will probably never forget.
It took a ton of effort to organise this event at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Biggest highlight beyond the really good film was meeting a whole host of big blogger names:
Kristy and Bryce from Millennial Revolution
Carl aka Mr 1500 of 1500 Days
Brandon of Mad Fientist
Beyond meeting these guys, it was a pleasure to meet the film director, Travis Shakespeare in person and hear his WHY for making the film.
Pics here on Instagram:
Lesson: Hanging out with other influencers is positive social proof.
Public Speaking & Giving Back
This is really just a fraction of the things I have done this year on giving back. This is the aspect of blogging that I LOVE.
1. SHOMOS (UK Money Bloggers Conference) Panel
This was one of my highlights of the year.
Sitting on a panel with CEO of PensionBee and CTO of Habito on the subject of pay off mortgage vs Invest in a pension.
It was particularly special as the room was filled with my fellow UK Money Bloggers and something about the atmosphere was very positive.
I was invited as a panel member for the SHELL x BBC Embrace Black History Month event.
This was a truly special moment for me.
There I was, sitting in a room that I could never have imagined being in had I not started this blog.
I was moved to speak with passion and I poured out my heart on that panel.
At the end, a lady walked up to me and said, I never quite expected:
“Ken, You were excellent! I work for BBC Worldwide Service… Would you like to come and run a workshop for us?”
I’ll let you guess the answer to that one.
This event confirmed something important to me –
Lesson: Only those who face fear and take risks in life win.
I could have made an excuse and avoided that panel. But instead, I spent hours preparing and went in expecting hard questions.
I came out of it with authority and more opportunities.
3. Pop Up Business School
My friendship with Alan Donegan (Co-founder of Pop Up Business School) continues to grow from strength to strength.
I had the opportunity of collaborating with him on the very first Pop Up Business School Financial Independence Workshop.
This was made more fun as the collaboration was with my other good friend, Barney Whiter (The Escape Artist).
It was a ton of fun.
Intro video here on Instagram:
4. 2020 Change
The Humble Penny partnered with 2020 Change to help to empower young Londoners.
We don’t get paid a penny for this. Every 3 months, I rock up and teach Financial Education to a cohort of about 20 – 30.
These are some of the best experiences of my life.
Here I am with the most recent cohort who had a zeal for learning investing:
5. Faith & Finances
This event was the beginning of a lot of my public speaking in 2019.
I was invited to speak about Faith and Finances at a Church in London as a panel member.
Little did I know that sharing my story would connect with so many people.
This one event has opened more doors than I could have ever imagined.
It is fitting that talking about this topic led to such open doors.
6. Women of Purpose & Influence
Mary and I were invited to speak on the same platform for the first time ever.
Thanks to this blog, we enjoyed an all-expenses-paid experience where we spoke about the important topic of generational wealth.
It was one of the most memorable experiences of our year.
Women of all ages from their teens to their 60s were there and they all connected with what we had to share.
Lesson: Putting yourself out there on various platforms opens doors and gives you authority.
Blog Posts of The Year
There has been a lot of content created this year. If I had to pick 3 blog posts, it would be these:
- The Real Cost of Raising a Child
- 27 Legit Ideas On How To Make Money Online
- The Not So Simple Path To Financial Independence
Videos of The Year
If I had to pick 3 videos from our library, it would be these:
1. Filmed in St. Lucia and I had so much fun making this video:
2. I enjoyed actually teaching on this video. It has proved to be very popular.
3. Best times ever making these YouTube videos with Mary
BLOG LOWS OF THE YEAR
Here are my blogging lows for the year.
Although “wellbeing” was my life theme of the year, I suffered a lot from little sleep.
I worked way too hard this year and it cost me some sleep.
This is an ongoing work in progress and the result of loving what I do too much and needing more boundaries.
I respond to far too many emails and too many comments on YouTube.
I’ve also said yes too many times and come home late far too many times.
With a new team member in 2020, this will change for the better.
One of my many frustrations is when I get time wasters who contact me for coaching/mentoring.
They express a deep interest, and when I engage and even diarise a time to meet, they flop!
Highly frustrating. As such, I am now super selective about who I even reply to via emails let alone accept for coaching.
No offense to anyone, but I have more important things to do with my time than waste it.
The money is not that important to me.
If you’re going to contact me for any form of coaching or mentoring – Pretty please, do not waste my time or yours.
BLOG SURPRISES OF THE YEAR
Below are some of the things that we had to think of differently this year:
I took some coaching from a lady I admired in the business world in January 2019.
After speaking with her for about an hour one of the big takeaways from that conversation was said I needed to act more in my capacity as a CEO.
I have to gradually find a way of ejecting myself from today admin of running an online business and give others some of that responsibility.
This will free me up to think more about the vision for what we’re doing and what resources we need to be able to make that vision a reality.
We started this blog to have fun and to educate and inspire people.
That still remains the case.
However, we have learned in the second year that The Humble Penny is becoming a vehicle for change in many people’s lives.
To grow and have more impact, The Humble Penny has to be more sustainable.
This means that it has to generate its own income and stay profitable.
That way those profits can be reinvested in more resources so that we can do more.
The surprise this year is that we have had a shift in how we see what we are doing.
Rather than say we are running a Blog, we now say we’re running a sustainable and impactful Financial Education business.
Doing this has given us a lot more motivation and Scope for growth.
Lesson: Focus on impact (people and solutions) first and the money, relationships, etc will follow.
One big epiphany in the year is a shift from just seeing ourselves as operating as a Blog within the UK…
…but instead as a financial education business with the potential for global impact one day.
Scary thought, but one that is possible.
We are currently a small and growing operation but we now see the opportunity of reaching beyond the UK and reaching a bigger English-speaking world through the internet.
In addition to thinking bigger, we now see a big part of our role as having positive local influence.
So, for example, you are more likely to see us lending a voice to issues in the UK that affect groups that are marginalised in one way or another.
A recent example of this is my contribution to the Metro article on the racial debt gap.
This has been one of my biggest surprises this year.
It’s one of those areas that I never actually thought we would get started at.
The thought of moving from creating a weekly high-quality and thoroughly researched blog post and then creating a video on YouTube is overwhelming.
I never ever thought we would be able to do it.
However, in June 2019 we started producing content on YouTube.
Our first experimental video was on how to start a blog step by step.
Then we created our first proper video on YouTube in July 2019 on how to invest £1,000.
Feel free to check those out and let us know what you think.
The other big surprise with YouTube is that we started studying how YouTube works and found a way of becoming more efficient at our process.
This has helped to increase our content output to 2 videos per week delivered on a Tuesday and Thursday.
It has helped to grow our YouTube channel a lot quicker than we were able to do it with just one piece of content.
This also means that we are able to repurpose some of that content on YouTube to increase the amount of traffic that we have coming to the blog itself.
i.e. we can convert some of the video transcriptions into blog posts.
BLOG DREAMS – What’s Next?
Here are some of our goals for the near future:
Financial Joy Academy will be our major focus for the New Year of 2020 and beyond.
This is in addition to running this site.
Our online school is having a complete makeover at the moment.
From January 2020 we will be serving our audience in a game-changing way.
We can’t reveal too much at the moment but let’s just say that we have been listening to our community and we are creating what they want.
In particular, we are re-imagining the online School with a focus on a specific group of people in our community that we have identified as our ‘Dream Makers’.
This group is moving beyond being ‘Fearless Dreamers’ and want to take a leap to change their life circumstances.
We will go beyond just serving them with high-quality premium courses.
But instead, create programs and work with them hand in hand to help them achieve their goals in 2020 and beyond.
More info on this will follow if you’re on our email list or Community. Watch this space.
It is highly likely that we will do more live events.
Many are asking for this, so we’ll likely do more of this as the interest grows.
We see this as a path to greater influence and growth.
I’ll be seeking these out and I’ll be knocking on more doors.
These will not only be in the UK but in the English speaking world.
Special thanks to my wife (Mary) for a truly amazing year of teamwork and collaboration.
Hard to put into words the level of support that Mary has been to me on this journey. Some of our best years together.
Huge thanks to my very close friends and family for their ongoing support. I deeply appreciate you!
Massive thanks to all the brands that we have collaborated with this year. It has been an honour working with you.
To my sister, Pam at PamObasa.com – You’re a fearless entrepreneur and I’ve learned sooo much from you. Much love <3
And to my brother, Kingsley at CodeHance – You’re living the dream bro. So inspired by your drive. I can’t wait to watch you at the Tokyo Olympics next year!
I’d also like to thank a list of bloggers and vloggers who I’ve learned from and had some interesting conversations with in 2019:
Sara from Gathering Dreams – One of the most generous hearts that I know. Hugely knowledgeable and kind. She challenges my preconceived ideas and is a dreamer!
Jennifer from MamaFurFur – Graceful and determined. A YouTube master! We WhatsApp each other often and learn from each other.
Barney from The Escape Artist – We have some long and deep conversations and laugh about many things.
I’ve probably had more opportunities from Barney than anyone else.
Catherine from The Money Panel – Generous heart, kind and very knowledgeable. I’ve learned some new business ideas from Catherine.
Ros from My Boey Bear – My good old friend whom I share much history with. Intelligent and determined to succeed. Long may our friendship grow!
I trust her so much that I allow my kids to watch her preschool YouTube Channel.
Bob and Linda Lotich from SeedTime – I love these guys. When I think authentic, I think of them as a couple.
John from ESI Money – Highly knowledgeable and always willing to share. He does some very inspiring things. Good heart.
Jillian Johnsrud from Montana Money Adventures – A new friendship. I’ve never met Jillian, but I love her energy and vibe. Interesting instagram convos.
Jim Collins – A new friendship. Mary and I had the pleasure of meeting Jim and his wife for lunch for nearly 3 hours in Reading.
A lot of wisdom shared and experienced. A big highlight of my year.
Alan Donegan – A fearless spirit of adventure. Hugely knowledgeable and ambitious. Love the guy.
That list continues but I’ll stop there for now.
OK, that is the end of year 2 of The Humble Penny. A hugely exciting year of many leaps. Long may the fun continue 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading that. In case you didn’t read it, here is our one year anniversary post.
- How To Start An Impactful Blog: Step by Step Guide
- Should You Be Blogging For Money Or For Craft?
- 27 Legit Ideas On How To Make Money Online
- My Personal Story On Why I Started This Blog
What surprised you about our 2nd year of blogging? What have you found interesting about this blog? Where can we improve?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.