ERA Anniversary

anniversary picWell, I actually made it a year blogging.  My first real post went live 8/16/2014 to a resounding chorus of crickets.  I did not post nearly as often as my peers, only 41 posts, but I enjoyed the journey none the less.  While it didn’t seem like much at the time, I wrote 48,736 words for an average of 1,059 words per post (some words on pages included, too).

I wasn’t sure if I would stick to it and post regularly or not (see my recent 6 week hiatus as an example).  I only managed 3-4 posts per month, which was below my goal of once per week.  While I am disappointed that I underperformed in terms of output, I did not want to create a bunch of “5 Ways to Make Money at Home” or “10 Ways to Retire Faster” posts.

I prefer to write about what is going on in my life and share the experiences and how they relate to finances.  I have moved more towards that over the last year and while the articles take longer to write, I enjoy them to a greater degree.

It is harder to come up with good, consistent content that I expected.  Sometimes I have an idea, but 400 words into writing the post it just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  I probably have 10-15 half written posts that may never be completed.  A few of them have potential, but many just didn’t pan out.

Here are a few of my favorite posts from this last year:

Learnings

One obvious questions might be ‘did you learn anything?’  The answer is a definitive yes.  It is hard to separate what I learned from writing the blog from what I gained from reading lots of content in the last year.   Regardless, I will give it a shot.

  • HSA’s are the ultimate retirement account as illustrated by the Mad Fientist
  • There is no one size fits all for cash reserves. It is a comfort level decision, not a strictly mathematical one.
  • Things might change and you might not have control over it. Just update you plan and make the best of it.
  • People come to realizations on their finances on their own schedule. You can prod them all you want, but they have to be ready to talk/plan/adjust/admit mistakes. You can’t drag them there.
  • Online people share about money, in real life it is the exact opposite and just an ongoing game of keeping up the Joneses
  • Shockingly, not everyone wants to maximize their travel rewards! Maybe you have to be a numbers person or just need a hobby to pursue it.

Moving Forward and Goals

My plans for the near future include some posts about my investments (including dividends and strategies), an update on prosper, a few case studies, and even an experiment to see if I can get all my friends to Vegas for free by helping them all earn the right rewards for airfare, hotel, and other travel costs.  I will probably update my early retirement strategy as well.

I still hope to get to that 1 post per week (still a low standard I know).  Having two small kids and a demanding job keep me busy enough already!  Some of my other goals for the next year are listed below:

  • Get at least 4 hate mails (much like Mr 1500, it is both a positive and a negative)
  • Increase the revenues for the site to slightly more above break-even
  • Increase site traffic by 5% on a monthly basis, using July’s traffic as the baseline
  • Increase Twitter followers to 1,000 (currently at 376) and Facebook likes to 1,000 (currently at 475)
  • Think about getting a custom theme to streamline and enhance the site

Thanks for the Help!

Thanks to the bloggers that have left comments and helped me out in other ways.  The list includes Gen Y Finance Guy, MoneyStepper, Million Mile Secrets, Our Next Life, among others.  I really appreciate the engagement!  There have been many others commenters as well, they participate in the process by reinforcing ideas, providing feedback, and motivating me to keep writing,

I did a podcast with Moneystepper a few months ago and his 2015 Savings Challenge has also kept me motivated to keep saving and improving our net worth each and every month.  Also, Daraius at Million Mile Secrets was nice enough to feature me in an interview post on his popular site in early May as well.  That resulted in my best day of visitors and views ever at 3,488 pageviews.

I also need to thank my wife for giving me some free time here and there to sit down and write.  I often times have a kid trying to click around or help me type, but I also get some quiet time to write on the weekends.  I have really enjoyed the creative outlet that she allows me to pursue.

Conclusion

It feels good to have an anniversary for the site.  I feel like I am making progress as a blogger.  At the same time, our savings and net worth have accelerated from learning more about personal finance by reading from posts such talented people that are already retired, paying off debt, just beginning their FI journey, or are in the home stretch to early retirement.

The online personal finance community is great and really supportive.  Here’s to another year of moving towards financial independence at Early Retirement Ahead!

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15 Responses

  1. We just gave you another Facebook like, so one step closer! 🙂 Congrats on the anniversary, and on finding your own style and speed of blogging. I always enjoy your posts, and learn a ton from them — including how to step up our travel rewards game! Good luck reaching your goals for the next year!

  2. Congrats on hitting one year. I didn’t realize that you were only 1 month ahead of my start in September.

    BTW, I am going to be working on my 1-year anniversary post, where I will finally be talking about the monetization stuff I keep promising and I know you are interested in.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers!

  3. Ryan says:

    Congrats. I started a blog in May 2014. Once the anniversary came in 2015, I had written around 60 posts I think. I had very little traffic and didn’t make any money. I like the idea of blogging and monetizing my thoughts. I couldn’t create enough original content and I despise content regurgitation. Also, being on the path to financial independence, I couldn’t justify the $120 to keep the site running another year. I shut it down. I enjoyed being a blogger but it required more time than I was willing to give. Good luck to you this coming year and kudos for signing up for another year.

    • vawt says:

      I have thought about the same things. I made some money, but posting less often has resulted in no income the last few months. I will probably keep posting when’s feel like it and see where I am at next summer.

      • At the worst case I look at the blog as a public journal with a financial incentive to write in order to justify the cost.

        To me there is no difference in writing online on a blog or buying a fancy leather bound journal. At least with the blog, others have a chance to learn from what you are doing, and you can also create a conversation.

        Cheers!

  4. Congrats! I can’t wait until my one year anniversary to look back on how much I’ve learned.

  5. TheMoneyMine says:

    Congrats for the 1y anniversary, Vawt!
    I liked your post on travel hacking, I think a series on how you plan to bring your friends to Vegas for free could be a great idea 🙂

    To find more ideas, I have spent a week-end thinking about article headlines, jotting them down, then categorizing them (case study, experiment, learning,…) and I’ve easily come up with about 50 headlines ideas, which I had no idea I had.

    When the time comes to write, I review the list and I see which one I’m more in the mood writing about. Some headlines don’t immediately make the cut for an article, but looking at them every week, I guess unconsciously I think about them until one day it clicks and I know how to make an article out of them.

    I focus on preparing a list, then as the weeks go, I pick the one that motivates me the most. The week by week finding an idea/writing about it was just too exhausting.
    This works for me, it might help you.

    Anyway, keep going man, I enjoy your articles and if you can post once a week, I would definitely enjoy it 🙂

    • vawt says:

      That is a great idea. I try to start writing it when I get the idea. I should start a list instead so that I can wait for the inspiration. Thanks!

  6. Similiar to Nick at The Money Mine, I keep a running spread sheet with post ideas. Anytime I get a post Idea I just put it in the spread sheet.

    I have found we tend to forget ideas as fast as they come if we don’t write them down.

    Here is to another year.

    Cheers!

  7. Congrats on the anniversary! The goals sound fabulous. I’m nowhere near getting there yet, but I’m plugging along in my little corner. It’s a fun process, isn’t it?

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