Look what you’ve done for all these kids! The donations your readership has made possible. And some thoughts on where the blog is going in the the year ahead.
When I started this site almost two years ago, I knew that I wanted to create something valuable – a knowledge base that could help others achieve the freedom of early retirement. As someone who had her life changed by finding the right authors and experts with the right knowledge, I wanted to be that same person for others. There was something exciting about that for me – coming full circle, if you will.
I’ve always wanted this to be a place where getting ahead yourself helps others get ahead as well. Maybe that’s through readers sharing their knowledge with other readers. Maybe it’s through readers sharing the early freedom mindset with others in their lives. Today I found an even more exciting way to complete the circle.
After footing the bill for the site myself for half a year, I experimented with a few affiliate relationships to try and support the costs of the blog. Those channels created a lot more profit than I expected. While it’s nice to see that extra income source, it’s not exactly the real reason I started the site. (Really, you don’t leave finance to start a blog thinking you’ll make more money that way)
I’ve been looking for ways to take the profits of the blog, and invest it into causes that will help others in their money journey. So here are a couple of ways your journey here on this site has helped others get ahead. Every time you loaded a page with an ad on it, or every product you incorporated into your financial life at the recommendation of this blog where we had an affiliate relationship has contributed to the following:
$10,000 Water Well In Kenyan Village
Your efforts to improve your own financial life have built a well in a village in Kenya. Prior to this, the approximately 300 residents of the village were located more than 4 hours’ walk to the nearest clean water source. With a clean, reliable source of water, families can practice agriculture, provide water to livestock as well as their families, and also make soap to sell to others.
Winter Coats and School Supplies
Ignore Money Habit Hound. He likes to sit on soft things.
There is a huge socioeconomic divide in our city.
Our local elementary school has a lot of kids from low-income families. Their parents can’t necessarily afford school supplies or winter coats. Because of your activity here on this site, dozens of kids are getting brand new backpacks and warm winter coats so they are set up for the best learning experience this school year!
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to stretch this site’s dollars to make the most impact. As this site scales, my hope is that we can continue to make even more of an impact with the revenues of the site. I’m big on data, which means GiveDirectly is appealing. I’d very much like the causes we support as a community to be tied to bettering others’ economic lives, as that’s the thread that connects everyone who shows up at this site. If you have thoughts as to where our money might do the most good, please share it in the comments below.
And Now The Future Of The Blog
I’ve been somewhat absent the last few months. In truth, I’ve had a lot of thinking to do.
If you’re part of the broader FIRE movement, you have probably seen the major changes happening in the space. As the biggest sites get bigger, their content gets incredibly shallow. Everyone talks about the same 10 subjects. Even the titles of the posts start to sound identical, because they all follow the same SEO best practices.
That’s not all. Big companies are gobbling up the largest blogs and websites in the space, with plans to build a giant commercial empire. These days, to be extremely successful, it’s all about ranking well on Google, finding and leveraging lots of profitable affiliate relationships, and being omnipresent on every social media channel known to man.
I’ve been struggling to determine how I want this site to fit into that picture.
Up until now, I’ve gotten by just focusing on writing what I want to write. I promote maybe 2-3 products seriously, things which I truly believe in and would recommend to my own parents. I couldn’t tell you what words my site ranks for. I am probably the most social-media phobic millennial in the world. I mean, I’m anonymous! You don’t get much more private than that.
And yet, I also wonder whether I’d be doing this site a disservice if I ignore what I’ve learned about the space. If I just hang out in my own world, the reach of my content will be smaller. It will help less people. Last year, the blog had 1.2 million page views and 250,000 unique visitors. That may seem large to some, but in many ways it’s just a tiny speck. After all, how many people do you think could use new ideas and strategies to boost their financial lives?
So I’ve been asking myself a few questions. What’s the right balance of playing the game and staying authentic? Do you play the game for a while, then switch back once you have gotten the reach you wanted? What guarantee exists that the process of climbing won’t change you (for the worse)?
This is a long way of saying that change is a’coming.
I’m going to be trying out new things.
Some of them will hopefully help make this site an even better resource. Some of these changes will suck, and I hope you will be patient with me while I make mistakes and then have to put things back to rights.
Changes You Can Expect
- Longer Posts, Fewer Posts: When I get a question from someone and realize I didn’t answer it in a previous post on the subject, it bugs the crap out of me. If one person had the question, doubtless others do, too. I’ll be trying to make my posts more comprehensive. My goal is to double the average length of an article from 800-900 words to 1,600-2,500.
- Updating Old Posts: This site now has over 100 posts. I find myself referencing my old articles frequently, and as I read back through some of them, I see holes that need to be filled. I want the posts on this site to be comprehensive where possible. Rather than have four articles about what investments to put in which accounts, I want one comprehensive page where you can have all your questions on the topic answered.
- Different Platform – I realize not everyone likes to consume their information in the form of a blog post. And as it turns out, putting all your ideas in a blog post isn’t the fastest way to get ideas out there. I have a list of post ideas that is over five pages long. I’ll never get all my ideas out there if I stick to one post a week. I’m not sure yet exactly what format some of my new content will take, but a podcast or videos are both a possibility.
- Co-Creating: I have been thinking a lot about collaborating with others in the space. I think there’s a general cautiousness writers in the space exercise because they’re afraid someone will cannibalize their audience. I’m not entirely sure how to navigate this, but given that I’d like to build useful things with impact at the forefront and profit secondary, I think there are plenty of ways to do this. There’s something motivating about having to get stuff done by a certain timeline because you have a partner waiting for your work.
- Courses – I saved the best for last!!! I have wanted to build a course for ages. I’ve had readers ask me about a book or a course since the first month I started the blog. I have folks constantly emailing about one on one sessions which I don’t do, and I keep thinking “man, I want to be able to direct them to a course that will answer all the questions they have.” I’ve been putting it off because building a course takes a ton of time to do right. I’m probably 65-70 hours into building the first course (maybe only course?) and I can confirm that I was right. It is a lot of work. So much work. I still have a ton of editing and support issues to figure out, but the good news is that the course is looking like a reality.
Onward and Upward
I hope as you look back on the last 8 months of the year that you feel you’ve made some concrete changes to your financial life. If you haven’t, know that you’ve made a difference in others’ lives above, and don’t forget you still have four months to wrap up the year with some real progress to your name.
Hope you’ll stay with me for the wild ride ahead. The best is yet to come for us both.
How are you feeling about your financial progress so far? Any areas in your life which you also feel the need to completely revamp? Share your comments below.