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Monevator: Blogging in 2010

Monevator goals for 2010

Unlike most money bloggers, I’ve not talked much about the blog’s progress with you. I’ve reasoned you’re here for thoughts on personal finance and investing, not for updates on my tiny media empire.

On the other hand:

  • It’s January, a time for New Year plans
  • I want to keep regular readers in the loop
  • Monevator is finally getting some traction
  • Some of those other bloggers have many more readers than me, so they must be doing something right!

So here’s a run through how the blog is going, and what to look out for in 2010.

Monevator: Where are we now?

Monevator is now over two years old, although it was only in mid-2008 that I really committed to regular posting. It remains a rare UK-based money and investing blog.

As 2009 began, I aimed to write at least three posts a week, including my weekend reading digests, and I nearly always did. Readers seemed to approve – RSS subscribers grew from about 30 to nearly 700 over the course of 2009. (The number dropped in mid-late December, as I think all my readers have jobs!)

You can see this step change in the following graph:

Green line shows RSS numbers ramp up with regular posting (I don't know how to turn blue off!)

Green line shows RSS numbers ramp up with regular posting

A 20x increase in subscribers in a year is gratifying, and I’m proud of every one who signed up. It’d be fantastic to do the same in 2010, but I suspect that may be wishful thinking!

In terms of visitors, I’m still not at a stage where I’d feel comfortable sharing numbers. I don’t want people to think of a number and Monevator until that number is a decent one, which gives a hint that I don’t think we’re there yet.

I can reveal that monthly traffic tripled between January and November, however, before tailing off for Christmas:

Visitor numbers tailed off in December, but happily they're already back

Visitor numbers tailed off in December, but happily they're bouncing back

What about making money from blogging?

I really didn’t start Monevator to make any money and good thing, too, as for a long time I didn’t. However in autumn 2009 the pitiful Google Adsense income started to become mildly less pitiful.

There’s still a very long way to go until the site pays for my time, let alone makes a profit: Monevator revenues are about 5% of my total annual income.

While Monevator will likely always be a labour of love, I do need to make a little more from it, as the 10-20 hours a week it eats up undoubtedly curbed my earnings elsewhere in 2009.

More money, more posts, less waffle

Believe it or not, I’ve tried to write shorter posts all year.

One trick I discovered was splitting large posts into series, as I did with the focus on investing in bonds. But I need to be more disciplined.

I will always write 1,000 word articles – maybe every week – but it’s not sustainable for every article, either for you, my long-suffering readers, or for me.

Those longer articles can take 3-6 hours to write, and it probably feels like they take the same amount of time to read sometimes!

In an ideal world I’d write more pithy 500 word articles like my blogging chum Oblivious Investor, or the fabulous Frugal Dad. Writing shorter articles will also enable me to write more personal finance and income-related posts. The focus will remain on investing, but I always planned to have a wider brief.

I’d also like to sometimes highlight an interesting story, with a link and an opinion. This is how blogging started and it’s the mainstay of many blogs, but I’ve been too precious to do it.

I’d like to find time to cover some financial services, too, like cashback credit cards, brokers and savings accounts. These can be a useful heads up for you, and they offer a chance for me to make an affiliate commission if you follow the link, which is how all the U.S. money bloggers cover their costs.

Obviously I’d only say I liked a product if I liked it, as anything else would be shooting myself in the foot!

More community on Monevator

I added comments to Monevator in mid-2009, with mixed success.

A few regular commentators pop up now and again, as well as a couple of bloggers like my new chum Financial Samurai, but there could be more.

I’m not sure how to improve this. Many US blogs have lots of comments that are just other bloggers spreading their name, but a handful such as The Simple Dollar have a big base of readers adding real insight. I think Monevator would benefit from the same, but we seem to be a shy bunch.

It may be that the UK is already well-served by the likes of Money Saving Expert and The Motley Fool, but I’ve a few things to try out before giving up.

New for 2010: A ‘product extension’!

Nifty business jargon, eh? Yep, I’m going to push the Monevator brand envelope thing-ummy this year. You just watch me think in a blue sky outside of the box.

I think it’s most likely to be a Monevator book, but I’ve also had an interesting approach about a podcast, and I’ve even thought about Monevator TV.

Goals and targets for 2010

If you read my article on making New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll know I believe in turning vague hopes into actions.

Goals

  • Post every weekday, plus the weekend reading roundup
  • Write more (but not exclusively!) shorter posts – at most 3 a week
  • Do at least two longer posts a week
  • Take Monevator into new frontiers
  • Improve community by helping promote discussion

Targets (all by end of 2010)

  • Monthly visitors to triple
  • RSS subscribers to reach 5,000
  • Posts to have on average 20 comments after two weeks
  • Blog income to be 20% of my total income

How you can help (please!)

If you’d like to see me hit these targets rather than fall on my face, I could use your help:

  • Comment on any post that takes your fancy
  • Suggest relevant friends subscribe by RSS or email
  • Updated: Use the Tip’d, Digg, Stumble and other buttons below if you like a post
  • Spread the word by re-tweeting @Monevator links on Twitter
  • Email me any ideas or thoughts you have

Thanks in advance for anything you can do – and also for reading and just being around. I would probably keep writing without any readers (in fact, I used to!) but it’s infinitely nicer now.

Oh, and for the record this article was 1076 words. Damn, 1080 now. Gah! The new regime officially begins tomorrow.

Note: If you have any thoughts on how Monevator can scale dizzying new heights in 2010, please let me know in the comments below.

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{ 23 comments… add one and remember nothing here is personal advice }
  • 1 ermine January 4, 2010, 9:03 pm

    I discovered your blog mid 2009 after some particularly evil behaviour from my employer brought it to my attention I was sick of debt-slavery after having paid off my mortgage. I want out of the rat-race at 50, and I owe nobody.

    I had a decent understanding of ISAs, the stock market from earlier forays in the dotcom boom 🙁 and I was brought up to understand Micawber’s rule of spend less than you earn. So I’m not a PF noob.

    You won’t pick me up in your stats as I don’t use RSS and twitter etc. But I’d like to say I really appreciate what you do, you have deepened and broadened my understanding of investment with intelligent writing and you’re probably my favourite PF blogger.

    My aim in the next three years is to save up enough with a combination of yield and AVC contribs to have enough capital to live off. The principles of how to do that are reasonably well-known and widely agreed on in PF circles, but monevator has helped me get a perspective on the need for diversity, even though I still can’t stomach anything to do with bonds.

    So Happy New Year to you and I wish you good results in the coming year!

  • 2 swebb January 5, 2010, 12:19 am

    well done. this is a great blog. thanks for taking the time to set up and maintain this blog.

  • 3 OldPro January 5, 2010, 12:44 am

    If you want your income from this site to be more than 5% of your annual income then I propose an easy way to achieve it:

    Take a 50% pay cut! Hey presto its 10%!

    Probably best to employ a more positive strategy though… eh?

    Best of luck in 2010. Regular stop for me on my Internet travels your musings.

  • 4 Lemondy January 5, 2010, 2:47 am

    Good luck and happy new year from this feed subscriber. I’ve found your blog to be both entertaining and informative.

  • 5 The Investor January 5, 2010, 9:52 am

    @ermine – Thanks for your long and generous comment, which is exactly the sort of thing that keeps a man blogging! 🙂 I’d like to get back to some of the wider-angle posts on early retirement and financial freedom — to an extent that aspect of Monevator became overshadowed by the noise in the markets. Good luck with escaping over the walls early!

    @swebb – Many thanks for stopping by, and your kind words.

    @OldPro and @Lemondy – You guys were amongst those I had in mind when I mentioned regulars. If this was a pub I’d be buying you both a round, but as it’s a blog I can only say “Cheers!”

  • 6 Chen January 5, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Shorter articles are good as long as you don’t start writing about your cat or your bad day at work – stay on the topic of money and investing!

    We readers can always skip articles we don’t want to read after all.

    It’d be good if there were more ways to find the big old articles though as sometimes I find Monevator articles I’ve never read when I do a Google search.

    Actually, why don’t you have a Search bar on this site?

    Good luck anyway from an long time (female) reader and lurker.

    x. Chen

  • 7 Mike Piper January 5, 2010, 2:11 pm

    Exciting goals for the new year!

    Random thought: Have you considered including “UK money and investing blog” in the title of the homepage? Probably couldn’t hurt for search traffic. 🙂

  • 8 The Investor January 5, 2010, 2:27 pm

    @Mike – That’s a good idea, I’ll investigate!

    @Chen – Thanks for your thoughts, and for reading. 🙂 Re: The search bar, I took it off when the site was young after blog expert Chris Pearson said Search bars were pointless. Perhaps we’re getting big enough around here now that it’s worth adding back, however.

  • 9 Rob Bennett January 5, 2010, 2:47 pm

    If you have any thoughts on how Monevator can scale dizzying new heights in 2010, please let me know in the comments below.

    I’d like to see you run a series of blog entries taking a critical look at the Buy-and-Hold investing concept, Investor. I don’t mean “critical” in the sense of being negative. I mean “critical” in the sense that you would examine fundamental beliefs to see if they hold up to scrutiny.

    I know that you believe in Buy-and-Hold. That’s of course fine and millions of other smart people do. But we all should reexamine our beliefs from time to time. Buy-and-Hold has come under challenge since the crash. So this would be an appropriate time.

    I’ll help! I’m happy to serve as the Lead Voice for the Anti-Buy-and-Hold Forces.

    That last line is a bit of a joke. But I am entirely serious about the idea. It would generate controversy, which would help to build the blog (viral marketing is all about getting people talking — I can guaranty that this would get people talking if done right). It would also upset some of your regular readers (I can guaranty this as well). But, if Buy-and-Hold is a strong enough concept to stand up to scrutiny, any upset would be temporary. And, if not, well….

    Rob

  • 10 The Investor January 5, 2010, 3:27 pm

    @Rob – Cheers for your thoughts, I’ll consider doing something. As I thought we’d established though, I’m not dogmatically about buy-and-hold – I just dispute that there are obvious valuation-based or other metrics that the average person can easily and consistently use to invest better over the long-term. Because of that, I think for most people averaging over the ups and downs of the market is far likely to prove more profitable than misguided timing attempts (which unlike Mike, say, I do practice to an extent, against my own better judgement!)

    Anyway, as I’ve said before I don’t want many threads to become about this debate and will take steps to prevent that, so if you’d like to reply I’d be grateful if you could put it onto our previous discussion, where I’ll reply if I’m able.

    Have a good 2010!

  • 11 The Investor January 5, 2010, 4:11 pm

    Rob, I’ve deleted your follow up comment. If you’d like me to post it on the other relevant thread for you as requested, let me know.

  • 12 Rob Bennett January 5, 2010, 4:13 pm

    If you’d like me to post it on the other relevant thread for you as requested, let me know.

    I explained in the deleted comment why I do not think that’s appropriate,
    Investor.

    Rob

  • 13 Jonathan January 6, 2010, 3:31 am

    Congrats on the growth and for sticking with it. There are plenty of readers that just read and never comment. 😉 I’m revisiting all my RSS subscriptions again in 2010 and have added you to my blogroll and followed you on Twitter. Blogs must be a labor of love at least in the beginning, that is often why many stop after realizing it won’t necessarily become an instant money machine.

  • 14 The Investor January 6, 2010, 10:30 am

    @Jonathan – Many thanks for the support. I’m going to add some sort of blogroll to Monevator in the next couple of weeks, and you’ll be one of the first names on it. 🙂 I’ve wondered before about following the lead of your blog and recounting my net worth and personal journey in more specific terms, but I think I’m just too British and reserved! Best of luck for your own efforts – both financially, and with your already hugely successful blog – in 2010.

  • 15 David de Souza January 7, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing the blogs progress, I find these posts very interesting and refreshing, though I also do love your regular posts.

    I can only reiterate Ermine’s comments, and thank you for an excellent blog. If I could only read 3 blogs, yours would be one of them. I was worried at one point that you had stopped.

    If anyone should be buying anyone a drink at the pub, it should be us readers buying you one.

    All the best for 2010

  • 16 The Investor January 7, 2010, 2:59 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts David, and not only because they were such generous ones. 🙂 It’s great to see long-time readers like yourself are still out there.

  • 17 Financial Samurai January 7, 2010, 8:21 pm

    Howdy mate, I coulda swore I commented here, but maybe not!

    Anyways, good work keeping up the consistency. Just don’t start posting so much that it feels like work. 5 days a week, + 1 on weekend is A LOT! Think about it this way, do you have time to read every single post from even just 5 blogs out there?

    Short posts are easier done than said. Just plop one out there!

    Best, Sam

  • 18 The Investor January 7, 2010, 11:43 pm

    Hey Sam, you send me a Twitter DM, but not a comment. 🙂 I take your point, certainly: I’m going to try to mix up big and short posts for a bit to see what happens, but you may well prove to be right. Hopefully readers can pick and mix the posts they want to read, like at the old Woolworth’s sweet counter.

    I’m most comfortable writing about investment but it’s good to stretch a bit, eh? 🙂

  • 19 Financial Samurai January 8, 2010, 2:05 am

    Indeed. Stretch like a gymnast right before a floor exercise.

  • 20 fatherb January 9, 2010, 4:29 pm

    just thought i’d comment and say thanks for writing your blog. i really enjoy it. Was amazed that the blog is now contributing 5% of your income. That is huge.

    couple of things.
    -make sure you always tweet about new blog posts.
    -maybe you could add some sharing tools to the bottom of each post so -we can twitter them out or whatever.
    -you could have some guest posts from other UK based bloggers / writers.
    -i’d echo the call for a search function.
    -i’d like to know a bit more about you – some sort of bio would be nice on the site.
    -what about doing some interviews with some of the city gurus (or even your colleagues) that you work with? for us normal folk who aren’t in the city, it all seems like a fairy land of fast cars, big yachts and bonuses. I’m sure you can paint a different picture of the reality.

  • 21 Monevator January 10, 2010, 12:29 am

    @fatherb – Thanks for the comments and thoughts. I’ve now added some of those buttons via a graphic.

    I was doing it via a Feedburner service before, in theory, but it seemed to be very unreliable and possibly being tampered with by the caching.

    Now my only worry is people won’t know what the buttons are for!

  • 22 Thisisnot Living March 6, 2013, 1:03 pm

    How is the site doing these days? Just stumbled across it and like it very much. Thought you were a Vanguard salesman for a while but now i’m not so sure 😛

  • 23 The Investor March 6, 2013, 10:00 pm

    @ThisisnotLiving — Site is doing much better now, but probably only up to around minimum wage levels in the UK. Still, off the poverty line! 🙂

    All our Vanguard stuff is from the heart — we haven’t had a penny off them yet. I’d happily run advertising for their tracker funds on this site, but alas the phone is yet to ring. 🙁

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