Birthday candles showing Nr. 5Yup that’s right, Stumble Forward has turned the ripe old age of  5 and it was on this very day that I wrote my first article and posted it on my site.  So today I thought I would share with you all the things I’ve done along the way and what I learned.

Specifically I’ll be sharing things like my traffic stats, earnings, some of my top articles, and even a few pictures of what Stumble Forward actually looked like back in the early years.  So let’s jump right in.

The Early Years

In the last weekend of August 2008 I finally put my foot down and said I would start my first website. I had no idea if things would work out or even if I’d be blogging a year from now.  All I knew was that I needed stop wasting time and just do it.

I can also say things have changed a lot since I’ve started.  When I started in 2008 I felt like I was getting in the blogging game a little late but looking back realized now is always the best time to start and I’m glad I did.

Quick Tip: Don’t talk yourself out of doing something just because you feel you are getting in the game late, because now is always the best time to take advantage of an opportunity.

My whole goal for starting my site was to share the financial mistakes I’ve made and give insight into how I got past those mistakes.  What’s great about this is that I’ve helped a lot of people along the way with tips and advice and to me this is the greatest reward my site has given me.

Pictures From The Past

Now that you have the WHY behind my story let’s look at some of the alterations Stumble Forward has gone through in that time.  Below is a picture what my site first looked like when it first launched in 2008.

Stumble_Forward_2008

As you can tell Stumble Forward didn’t look all that great when it first started but I had a site up and running and that’s all I cared about at that point.  A few months after that I changed the theme to something a little more desirable.

SF_2008_Late

In 2009 I also made another theme change as well.

SF_2009_A SF_2009_B

In 2010 I made yet another change but this time I switched to Thesis theme and this version of Stumble Forward stayed there until the spring of 2012 as which time I switched to the Genesis Framework.

SF_2009Traffic Stats

As far as traffic goes there has been a ton of traffic that has come and gone over those 5 years.Traffic_Stats

First off, I’ve had almost 300,000 unique visitors to my site in that time which is pretty cool considering I never thought I would ever bring that much traffic to my site in that time.

Secondly, the average visitor has stayed around 1 minute on my site but I plan to increase this over time.  I also plan to work on lowering my bounce rate as well.  For those of you who don’t understand bounce rate it’s a basic measure that tells you how many people engage and click on at least one link on my site when they land on it.  As you can tell around 80% of the people that come to my site tend to bounce and leave.

I think the main reason for this is because my site is nothing more than a content site which basically means most people will skim my content and not truly read the article from beginning to end.

To fix this I’m working to make my content easier to read and make it more engaging.  If you have any tips make your content more engaging I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Top 10 Articles

Over the last 5 years there have definitely been a few articles that have stood the test of time and continuously drive in traffic through their popularity.  One common characteristic that I seem find with all of these articles is that they are almost all based on some type of experience I’ve had.

Earnings

Now we make it to the part everyone wants to know, income.  Honestly, the income has been very rewarding for this site, more than I could ever imagine.  I’ve been able to do a lot of things from attending conferences, vacations, to building my my new house.

Below is what I’ve managed to earn since starting my blog.

  • Adsense Income – $25,342.68
  • Affiliate Earnings –  $2730.50
  • Other Earnings –  $1500.00

In total I’ve earned around $29,573.18 since starting Stumble Forward.  That’s nearly $6000 a year on average.

Future Plans

With all the things I’ve done over the last 5 years I thought I would also include a section on what I plan to accomplish going forward.  Doing this would allow me to look back on this in 5 years and see exactly what I did accomplish and determine exactly how well I did in that time.

Here is a short list of things I plan to do.

  • Publish 1 Article A Day –  One thing I’ve lacked over the last 5 years is keeping a consistent content schedule going and at some point I plan to start publishing anywhere from 5 to 7 articles a week.
  • Start A Mailing List- Next I plan to start a more formal mailing list along with a free giveaway.  I’ve been building up a mailing list on Feedburner over the last 5 years but I plan to go more all in and ramp things up to build a bigger list.  This would also give me insights to my subscribers and help me make better decisions as to what my true readers are looking for.
  • Create More Videos – Third, I plan to create more videos for my site.  While blog post are still good, video is another way for people to engage with my site and learn more about me and my brand.
  • Start A Podcast – Starting a podcast has been on my mind for the last few years and I’ve been seriously considering the idea of starting one soon.
  • Create A Product- Finally the last thing I want to accomplish is to build my own product.  I have no idea what I want to build yet but I know it’s going to be something big.  Of all the things on this list this one may take the longest to do since it involves find a need and developing a something that people want.

Final Thoughts

As final thought I’d like to talk about achieving success.  If you would have told me five years ago that I was going to have everything that I have right now and I would have thought you were kidding.  In fact, I nearly gave up after the first year but I stuck with it and think of all the things I wouldn’t have today if I did quit.

Quick Tip: Do the right things long enough and success is inevitable.  You just need to figure out what those right things are and do them until you succeed.

This tip has probably been the guiding principle in my current success.  Now I’m not saying I’ve achieved much but I know as long as I create a plan and do the right things success will always follow.

What Big Things Have You Achieved With Your Blog?

Mortgage Closing CostAre you planning to buy a new house or refinance your current mortgage.  I recently did this just a few weeks ago and one of the looming questions going through my head was how much are the closing cost going to be.

The truth is closing cost can vary by location, by loan type, and even by the lender you happen to be going with.  In this article I’m going to give you a complete breakdown of the mortgage closing cost I paid and exactly what was all involved.

Fee #1:  Appraisal Fee  $300

The first fee I had with my loan was my appraisal fee which cost me $300 in all.  This fee will vary by appraiser but I’ve seen them as low as $250 and as high as $450 in my area.

Quick Tip: Ask your bank who their appraiser is, find out what they charge, and ask to see if you can pick an appraiser with a lower fee.

Whenever you are doing a mortgage there must be an appraisal done on it.  Typical appraisals will base the value of your home on the value of 3 other similar properties that recently sold in your area, and if those properties sold fairly high the value of your home may be higher as well.

You are also entitled to receive a free copy of your of your appraisal and see exactly which properties they used to value your property.

Fee #2: Credit Report $37

The next fee I had was a $37 fee to check my credit scores.  Like the appraisal this is a required fee and the lender must pull your credit.

Quick Tip:  You are also entitled to see a copy of your credit report and score when your lender pulls it.

If you want save a little extra money on your interest cut down your debt and don’t miss a payment on anything.  One missed payment or to much debt may raise your interest rate or even worse you may not get the loan at all.

Fee #3: Flood Certificate $11

The next fee I had on my closing cost was for a flood certificate.  This is a basic evaluation done to prove that your property is not sitting in an area that could be easily flooded out.  What’s kind of interesting about all of this is their is a creek that runs through my backyard but it would take an awful lot of water to get close to my house.

On top of that I’ve seen some pretty hard storms come through since I’ve moved into my house and I’ve yet to see the water come anywhere close to overflowing the creek banks. This fee may not be included in all closing cost, and it may just be for the fact that I have a creek in my backyard that I need to have it done.

Fee #4: Daily Interest Charges $23.58

This next fee is a bit of an odd one.  When you close on your loan a daily interest charge will be added depending on the day of the month you close on your loan.

Quick Tip: Try to close your mortgage on the last day of the month so you will only have to pay one days worth of interest.

The way the daily interest charge works is if you close your mortgage on the first day of the month and there are 30 days in the month you would owe $23.58 times 30 days, adding up to $707.40.  I should also mention the daily interest charge can vary depending on your bank and the rate you have.

In my case it only cost me $23.58 because I was able to close on the last day of the month.

Fee #5: Title Services & Lenders Title Insurance $1023

Fifth on the list of fees was the title services and the lenders title insurance.  These are also standard things you will find with any closing cost.  Typically what happens here is a lawyer will have to preform a search on the deed to make sure their is no lien and that everything is correct.

Title insurance is also applied to insure that everything is correctly stated on the deed and protect in the event that something has been declared false.  The fees for these services can usually be fairly expensive and are one of the bigger cost in closing a mortgage. To learn more about title insurance check out this article.

Fee #6: Deed $156

Once the title services have been preformed the deed for your mortgage must be printed and recorded.

Quick Tip:  Make sure the property is deeded in both spouses names because if one of you should happen to pass on you will not have to go through probate to get it back.

Your deed will contain everything from a description of the property, the names of the grantor and grantee, to the proper legal language to that will actually transfer the property.  For  more in depth information check out this article.

 Fee #7: Property Survey $200

Finally, depending on the type of loan you are doing you may need a property survey done.  In my case I had to have one done since my house was brand new.  The purpose of it was to prove that my house was properly positioned on the property and that it wasn’t sitting on a property line.  In my case everything checked out OK.

Now if you are doing a refinance on your current mortgage a survey will not have to be preformed unless you have done some sort of structural improvement to the property such as adding on to your house.

Total Mortgage Closing Cost

In all my total closing cost was $1750.58 which isn’t to bad.  This is actually lower than most other closing cost I’ve seen.

Quick Tip: Larger banks and lenders such as Country Wide and Bank Of America will charge around $3500 while smaller banks will typically charge less.

Finally,  know that banks are required to show all the fees involved with your closing cost and most if not all lender will disclose these things but may not go into to much detail with them.  So make sure you take the time to ask what every fee is if you don’t understand it and in the end it will give you a better understanding of how the entire process works.

Do you listen to podcast? If you’re not it’s time to start paying attention. Podcast are becoming one of the top ways to consume content these days next to reading blogs and watching video.  In fact, millions of podcast are downloaded each and every day right to peoples mobile devices and computers.

What’s great about this is it lets you consume content on the go without having to take the time out of your day to read a blog post or watch a video.  So whether you’re at the gym or relaxing at home you can listen to podcast and consume the content you like.

Personally I like to listen to podcast at work since my job allows me to do that.  That way I can learn about new things and improve myself all at the same time.  So here are a few podcast that I listen to.

The Smart Passive Income Podcast

Smart_Passive_Income_PodcastThe Smart Passive Income Podcast has been one of the top podcast on itunes for the last few years now and every episode is packed with tips and how to information on how to build a passive income online.

Whether it’s doing videos, podcasting, or even building a niche site Pat is very knowledgeable at building an income online and if you don’t believe me just check out one of his income reports online.

In the month of May he earned over $58,000 in net income, which is astounding for only getting in the game just 5 years ago.   On top of the great income he has had some stellar guest on his show such as Tim Ferris and other to notch internet marketing professionals.

Check out Pat’s podcast today and you won’t be disappointed.

This Is Your Life

This_Is_Your_Life_PodcastIf you haven’t heard the This Is Your Life Podcast with Michael Hyatt you are missing out.  This podcast is all about improving your life skill and becoming a better you, from becoming a better morning person to what you should do before you quit your day job.

Each episode last between 30 and 40 minutes and is jam packed with tons of great tips improving your life.  Ever since I’ve started listening to this podcast it’s helped with all kinds of things from the way I handle emotions to being more productive.

When it comes down to if you want to be successful in life you need to learn the skill to make it happen and Michael is definitely the guy to do it.   So check this podcast out today.

Affiliate Buzz

Affiliate_Buzz_PodcastThe Affiliate Buzz with James and Arlene Martell is one of the oldest podcast on affiliate market marketing to date, starting in 2003.   Covering everything from how to set up an affiliate website, email marketing, to running your own affiliate program, this podcast is your go to place to learn about affiliate marketing.

What’s kind of awesome about this podcast is that I had the chance to meet up with James and Arlene back in May of 2012 at Affiliate Summit Central and at the Share A Sale Think Tank in Austin, Texas.

I had ton of fun hanging out with them for a week.  In fact I even had a chance to go sightseeing with them and sit down with them for dinner and get a little one on one time with them and pick their brains a bit.

So if you want to learn more about how affiliate marketing works and how to improve your site this is a must listen to podcast.

Stacking Benjamins (Formally Two Guys And Your Money)

Stacking_Benjamins_PodcastOne podcast I’ve just started to recently is Stacking Benjamins with Joe and OG, also known as Average Joe and the Other Guy.  This podcast covers some great financial topics from managing your money to investing.

On top of that these guys know what they are talking about because have both worked in the financial industry.  However I haven’t had to much of a chance to listen to their new podcast Stacking Benjamins since they’ve rebranded their podcast, but what I heard so far has been very intriguing.

These guys also like to bring other top financial bloggers and professionals on to the show from Len Penzo, to Barbara Friedberg.  So take some time and check this podcast out today.

The New Business Podcast With Chris Ducker

The_new_business_podcast_with_Chris_DuckerThe New Business Podcast with Chris Ducker is probably one of my favorite new podcast around.  This podcast is designed for the small business owner to help make an impact in today’s business world.

Chris has had big stars from Pay Flynn to Darren Rowse of Problogger on his podcast and he brings tons of actionable tips for you to improve and build up your business.  I also like how Chris isn’t afraid to speak his mind and tell you like it is.

When it comes to running a business in todays world you need someone who will keep you up on the trends, so check out this podcast if you are a small business owner trying to make a bigger impact in the world today.

Social Triggers Insider

Social_Triggers_Insider_PodcastThe Social Triggers Insider Podcast with Derek Halpern covers everything from psychology to human behavior.   However I have not had a chance to listen many of Dereks episodes yet he has covered some great topics from how to make better decisions, to how to charge a 100x more than your competition.

Dereks podcast has pretty much left me speechless when it comes to the breadth of content he covers.  Even if you are not in sales or own a business this info can be so helpful to know.  Understanding how your mind works and why we do the things we do can be so helpful in building higher quality successful lives.

So take some time and download the latest episodes from this podcast today.

The Fizzle Show

The_Fizzle_Show_PodcastFinally one of the newest podcast I’ve been listening to is The Fizzle Show with Chase Reeves, Corbett Barr, and Caleb Wojcik.  This podcast is all about 3 guys and what they are doing to build their online businesses, covering topics from finding your voices to how they got started in the online world.

The thing I love about this podcast is that they get straight to the point about things and cut out all the BS.  This podcast recently just hit number one in the business category on itunes and as of this writing has just released their 7th episode.

This podcast is sure to become a big hit in time so check it out today.

Final Thoughts…

Now that I’ve shared my favorite podcast I’m up to hearing about what your favorites are.  Have you listened to any of these podcast I’ve mentioned below?

What Are Your Favorite Podcast to Listen To?