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Weekend reading: Opinions, like markets, will fluctuate

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What caught my eye this week.

Back in March 2020, I got more than a dozen texts and emails from family and friends worried they were going to lose a lot of money from their investments.

As it happened, their portfolios quickly bounced back.

Many markets are now at all-time highs, and certain individual stocks – not to mention Bitcoin – are flying into the stratosphere…

…and I’m again getting text messages and emails from friends worried they are going to lose a lot of money from their investments.

If this is euphoria then it’s with a peculiarly masochistic kink.

By this time next year, Rodney…

The debate rages. Are we in a bubble or set for a roaring Twenties of high returns?

There surely are portents of market madness out there.

Take this Tweet that did the rounds on Twitter this week:

Jason’s mega-gains from Tesla are one thing – and good for him. It was his follow-up comment that rings alarm bells:

Soon I’ll be able to margin borrow about $3 million at less than 1%, but I will probably only borrow up to 8% of the value of my liquid assets. This way I never have to sell my shares.

Borrowing $3m against $12m in a volatile stock like Tesla isn’t something you see in a bear market, that’s for sure.

Then there’s Bitcoin.

I was discussing whether Bitcoin was over-priced with a friend on Friday morning. Its price was approaching $40,000, after all.

We couldn’t agree on whether it was a classic Ponzi scheme topping-out or the world waking up to the future of money.

By the time our text chat was over the price was nearer $42,000!

Don’t ask me

I don’t have much appetite for debating short-term market moves – and definitely not for giving my friends advice, other than to use index funds.

As blogger Michael Batnick writes:

Nothing good can come from giving casual investing advice. Nothing.

Especially when it comes to the future direction of an individual security.

They won’t remember what you said. They’ll only remember what happens.

There are four possible scenarios to the question, “Should I buy x?”

  • You say buy, and it goes down. You were wrong, and they’ll never forget.
  • You say buy, and it goes up. You were right, but they’ll forget.
  • You say don’t buy, and it goes down. You were right, but they’ll forget.
  • You say don’t buy, and it goes up. You were wrong, and they’ll never forget.

In the words of Adrian Balboa, “You can’t win!”

This is my experience in real-life, and in 99% of Internet discussions.

Calling tops looks easy. Monevator is riddled with thousands of comments from confident-sounding readers wrongly declaring this or that is overvalued, cheap, a bubble, or doomed to go to zero.

I remember a wager made here in 2012 that gold would beat the S&P 500 by 2020. The price promptly crashed and it has barely broken even since.

I recall that US shares were “obviously” doomed to crash (2015–) or that government bonds were “guaranteed” to lose money (2010–).

Oops.

Vanishingly few of these people stand up to be accountable for their comments years later.

So be hyper-wary of any tips or warnings you read on the Internet.

Or anything that you hear in the pub (or on a Zoom call these days).

And be wary of getting caught up in the debates.

It’s infinitely more important that you have a solid financial and investing plan than that you have an opinion.

Meanwhile if you’re paying somebody for advice or stock tips – or even just following them freely on the Internet – then judge them over the long-term.

That means years.

Not the last 12 crazy months, let alone their last Tweet.

One-off statements on Twitter or in a blog comment can be discounted to near-zero.

I say, I say, I say

Of course I’ve got plenty wrong, too, during my time spouting my thoughts.

However sharing your views on the same website for 13 years does make you somewhat more accountable.

If you’re paying attention to yourself, it makes you (slightly) more humble, too.

You eventually come to know that you don’t really know. Nobody does.

I have long believed Tesla is likely to be a $1 trillion company some day.

But after its recent vertiginous gains I’d agree it looks more likely to go back to $500bn before it gets there.

Will it? Who knows!

Bitcoin’s speedy price rise is equally astonishing.

It’s up 30% since New Year’s Day, and more than eight-fold since its coronavirus crash lows.

Bitcoin is weird. To my mind it gets more valuable as the price goes up. This should attract more people to the network, and also increases trust in it as a store of value. Which, in turn, are both supportive of the price.

Obviously this virtuous circle can’t go on forever.

However there’s around $10 trillion of gold out there, compared to Bitcoin’s $700bn pseudo-market cap. If we are seeing the birth of ‘digital gold’ then there could be a way to go.

Might it crash tomorrow, though? Wallow in the doldrums for years?

Absolutely.

As for stock markets generally, most do look superficially expensive – but that’s on the basis of depressed sales and profits.

If we see off Covid, earnings should bounce back. I believe rising bond yields are much more of a worry than high P/E ratios for global stocks.

But shares can do anything they fancy over the short-term. They could slump on Monday and not come back for years.

You see? Having opinions is easy.

You’ll know if you were right

All of this speculation is fun if you’re an active investor. Perhaps it’s even more fun if you’re a passive investor munching popcorn from the sidelines.

But what it isn’t, for me, is an argument.

Indeed I’ve probably debated politics more than this or that share in the Monevator comments over the years.

Investing is a wonderful hobby for me exactly because opinions come and go – as do those voicing them – but the market always keeps your score.

Have a great weekend, wherever you’re locked down.

From Monevator

The Slow and Steady passive portfolio update: Q4 2020 – Monevator

Should you sell your global tracker fund for UK shares? – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Nine underrated tools to help you achieve financial independence – Monevator

News

Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

Housing minister announces reform of ‘medieval’ leasehold laws – Financial Reporter

Halifax: soaring house prices in 2020 likely to slow this year – BBC

Consumer finances at risk as 4,000 City firms face collapse in Covid crisis – Guardian

London unlikely to recover lost EU share trading [Search result]FT

Customers in Europe hit by post-Brexit charges when buying from UK – Guardian

[Click to enlarge]

Why Vanguard expects US stocks to underperform over the next decade [Research, PDF]Vanguard

Products and services

What you need to know about moving home in lockdown – ThisIsMoney

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200 – Freetrade

Lockdown to get dearer with Netflix and Disney Plus price hikes – ThisIsMoney

Harry Potter and Michael Bublé fuel UK online reselling boom – Guardian

Homes to beat the stamp duty deadline, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

10 market predictions to count on in the new year – The Evidence-based Investor

Today’s bond markets are in uncharted territory – Morningstar

The state of portfolio construction in 2021 [Podcast]Animal Spirits

Those messy humans – Humble Dollar

Chasing returns will always involve some risk [Podcast] – via aCast

The surprising effect of a one-time cash gift – Reasons to Be Cheerful

Factor Olympics 2020 – Factor Research

Naughty corner: Active antics

Morningstar’s influence on style returns – Klement on Investing

What the shipping industry can teach investors about cycles – Verdad

Jeremy Grantham says he’s certain the stock market is in a bubble – BI

An investor’s 2020 portfolio review, via seven key questions – FireVLondon

Another investor reviews his 2020 stock picking returns… – Maynard Paton

…and here’s how a portfolio of investment trusts performed – IT Investor

Reflections on 40 years in the markets – Man Institute

As I age: active portfolio management in retirement [US but relevant]Mutual Fund Observer

Bitcoin mini-special

What’s driving the Bitcoin price boom? – Axios

Is it a mania, or the new gold? [Search result]FT

Bitcoin’s biggest fans are hedge fund managing baby boomers – Bloomberg via Yahoo

Bitcoin is not the 9th most valuable asset in the world [Search result]FT

Why I’ve changed my mind on Bitcoin – Of Dollars and Data

More UK Coinbase customers see their accounts locked for weeks – ThisIsMoney

Covid corner

18.9m vaccination shots given so far worldwide – Bloomberg tracker

Covid “out of control” in London, up to one in 20 infected – BBC

Why is it so bad now and when will cases decline? – Guardian

The scientific basis for delaying the second Covid shot – Guardian

Tim Harford: Is ‘first dose first’ the right strategy? [Search result]FT

‘Risky’ to delay second shot, says former FDA director – CNBC

Britain has two key advantages in the vaccine race – The Spectator

The secret sauce behind Israel’s successful vaccination program – Brookings

China hits city of 11 million with tight restrictions as more than 100 COVID cases discovered – CBS

“Nationalism has consequences” as patients reject Pfizer vaccine to wait for ‘English’ jab, warns doctor – The London Economic

Politics and insurrection

Inside the US Capitol as Trump supporters storm building: excellent ITV News report – via YouTube

The siege of congress, seen from inside – Politico

Twitter permanently suspends Donald Trump’s account – BBC

Deep risk in the United States of America – A Wealth of Common Sense

Trump fans cry betrayal as he rebukes Capitol violence – Guardian

BBC fact checks its own interview to highlight Boris Johnson’s bogus Brexit claims – BBC

As the US descends into chaos, what better time for Britain to go the same way? – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country by John Kampfner – £1.69 on Kindle

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – £0.99 on Kindle

The Organised Time Technique: How to Get Your Life Running Like Clockwork by Gemma Bray – £0.99 on Kindle

The Wealthy Retirement Plan by Vicki Wusche – £0.99 on Kindle

Don’t have a Kindle? Buy one – they’re great and save a ton of space!

Off our beat

How [a few] YouTubers make [a lot of] money – Business of Business

The lost history of Yellowstone – Smithsonian

Fishing boats bottom trawling protected seabeds around the UK  – iNews

OpenAI’s DALL-E creates plausible images of literally anything you ask it to – TechCrunch

How Europe’s economy changed after the Black Death [Podcast]OddLots

And finally…

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
– Alexis Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday! Like these links? Note this list includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon, Unbiased, and Freetrade. We may be  compensated if you pursue these offers – that will not affect the price you pay.

  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []

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{ 85 comments… add one }
  • 1 The Rhino January 9, 2021, 12:15 pm

    Did someone once say, ‘Opinions are like assholes… Everyone’s got one.’?

    Sort of summarizes the situation pretty adequately.

  • 2 Richard January 9, 2021, 1:28 pm

    Is it just me, or is this article full of adverts after nearly every paragraph (on mobile). I guess I will get used to it, and you need to pay the bills, but it is quite distracting. Esp the trick of putting an advert straight after an image related to the article. Have to work hard to understand if each image is related to the article or just another ad.

  • 3 spacebadger99 January 9, 2021, 2:05 pm

    Yeh theres seems more adverts. Hopefully more money for guys.
    Its easy to forgive adverts when the quality of articles and discussions are high. Just finished reading the midweek article and comments which was a thoroughly good read and great free education.

  • 4 KeepOnKeepingOn January 9, 2021, 2:14 pm

    S&S updates always an interesting comparable portfolio, views on UK interesting – meanwhile just done my annual rebalance. Not deviated from original course – shaved off US gains into bond fund – 4 years to go.

    Control the controlables – and I avoid throwing rocks, as invariably they get thrown back at you! Each to their own.

    Keep on keeping on – and tuck into popcorn from the safe sidelines.

  • 5 Grff January 9, 2021, 2:23 pm

    Dunno about rising stock markets. I’m still 12 % down on last Feb.

  • 6 ian January 9, 2021, 2:37 pm

    I got lots of ads too on mobile. I guess the ad free world was good while it lasted…

    It’s only human nature to want to make more money?

    I would simply question the ethics of putting investment ads on a site which gives financial advice, eg top 10 stocks to buy etc. Dangerous trap for a new reader?

  • 7 The Investor January 9, 2021, 2:52 pm

    Okay, a quick update and background to monetization, for the interest of (a few) regular readers.

    It’s true we have switched to a new advertising system.

    The old advertising solution consisted of a few fixed adverts at the top of the page, and one after articles. Income from this set-up has gradually collapsed.

    Following its takeover, we also lost our one loyal and supportive advertiser (The Share Centre) which ran a leaderboard ad with us for many years. (The likes of Vanguard have always declined to support us directly, despite us directly sending them thousands to tens of thousands of customers over the years).

    Platform mergers have also been a factor in reducing affiliate sales (the money we make if somebody signs up via a link from here).

    For a while Ratesetter referrals filled this hole, and were – contrary to the complaints of a handful of usual suspects – a good win-win. Readers got free cash for signing up and higher rates, and we made a nice windfall.

    Unfortunately that has gone away now, done for by the coronavirus crisis hitting that platform and it being harder to recommend anyway as liquidity on the platform has dried up (although importantly I’m pleased to see all capital being returned to savers so far).

    The result of all this is Monevator at the end of 2020 was making about 25% of what it was making back in 2015-ish… and that’s despite us having a few more readers!

    But it wasn’t really making truly sustainable money even then.

    A senior industry insider estimated to me last year that Monevator had conservatively saved readers at least £10m (lifetime) from helping to shift their habits, especially in the early days when indexing was rare.

    This figure doesn’t include any influence we had on money managers and the like, in playing our part in pushing people towards passive / index investing. (Of course new readers may think indexing is a no-brainer. But ten years ago coverage in the UK was *much* rarer, especially in the mainstream UK press).

    Set against that, I estimate doing this website has cost me £100,000 to £250,000 in opportunity cost over the past 13 years. And when I say opportunity cost, I mean just compared to if I had spent the time on my everyday work/career, let alone setup a business designed to actually make money. 😉

    It’s not all doom and gloom. I’m EXTREMELY pleased to say nothing else I’ve ever done has ever generated as much positive feedback as Monevator has. For example I have an email folder with 500+ positive thanks/comments from readers, some quite striking. And readers are kind enough to say thanks on the site, too.

    So that’s mostly why we’ve done it to-date. But for various reasons, that can’t go on indefinitely.

    It’s put up or shut up time in 2021 for this website.

    To be clear, for at least 5-6 years we have made money from the site. But it isn’t enough to justify carrying on really.

    Monevator’s ‘gentlemanly’ approach to monetization therefore needs to step up.

    I resisted switching the ad setup for a long time, but steadily nearly all the sites I myself read have changed to a dynamic sort of ad system. So we have now done so, too.

    The upside is less ad structure at the top of the site. Regularly readers probably don’t notice this benefit because we all become ‘blind’ to fixed ads over time.

    The downside is a bit more cognitive overhead when reading articles, I agree.

    Our ad loads is still below the level of mainstream sites like, say, ThisIsMoney, which regularly crashes my computer if I open multiple tabs.

    Nevertheless I will be monitoring the metrics and seeing if the ads put off readers, and will dial back if they do. My strong suspicion is they won’t.

    Incidentally, I’ve already petulantly deleted a comment on how to avoid seeing ads. (Remember the Monevator comment policy is a benign dictatorship: I delete whatever I like, but usually very rarely).

    Yes it can be done, but if you’re hellbent on us not getting any money for our efforts please quietly do so yourself. 🙂

    Or better yet sign-up to read Monevator via email. That doesn’t make us any money directly but an email list has value as a base we can build off.

    There will be further changes over the next year as we try to make the site pay its way.

    — We’ll probably introduce a cheap membership model by Spring. Many people have kindly offered to literally give us money over the years, either as a donation or via Patreon, but this doesn’t sit quite right with me. The membership model will be pretty cheap, and will mostly be a way of showing support. But it will include extra content, some perks, and perhaps an ad-free browsing experience.

    — I may also create a premium ‘active investing’ membership tier. I love writing about active investing, but I don’t like encouraging passive investors to become active! (Most shouldn’t). That is the main reason I so rarely write about active investing ideas on the site these days. This would probably be something ranging from a slightly higher-priced membership model to a Seeking Alpha style subscription service. (Depends how many years I want to dedicate to it!)

    — Our book will come out. Yes really. It will be slightly more expensive than you’d like, purely to try to get us some money. Please buy a copy for yourself, and another for a friend!

    — I hope to re-design the site. This won’t just be for monetization efforts, but also to help people actually find useful articles rather than read 2,000 words of esoterica on whatever me or @TA have a bee in our bonnet about that week. The main difference will be a home page that looks more conventional and static/structured, with links to various other things. There’ll almost certainly still be a classic blog archive somewhere for the regular readers. 🙂

    I’ve considered other stuff like doing videos or a podcast but I am not sure at this point we want to go there. (Plus it’s more likely to hurt the monetization effort, by the hour rate).

    Judging on what I read on other financial blogs, making Monevator pay should be the least of our worries. This site should be borderline lucrative! So we’re going to take some steps in that direction, in order to make it something we’re happy to keep doing for another 13 years. 🙂

    Sorry for any choppiness on the way but it has to be done I’m afraid.

  • 8 The Investor January 9, 2021, 2:55 pm

    I would simply question the ethics of putting investment ads on a site which gives financial advice, eg top 10 stocks to buy etc. Dangerous trap for a new reader?

    Well this sums it up really, doesn’t it?

    We either create the site as a charity / humanitarian effort, which is more or less what it’s been for ten years.

    Or some readers pay for the whole site to be free — but when some readers have mooted Patreon other regulars have loudly proclaimed they will never pay us a penny.

    Or we run ads et cetera.

    Or we stop doing it.

    Some company like Vanguard might have funded the whole site out of their petty cash, but they can’t be arsed.

    Those are the options.

  • 9 MrOptimistic January 9, 2021, 3:40 pm

    Thoughtful article. Looking forward to the book. I have no issues with the adverts. If someone can’t recognise an advert, and understand their purpose and motivation, then even monevator won’t be able to help.

  • 10 xeny January 9, 2021, 3:58 pm

    I’m philosophical about advertising – you need to see some monetary reward for creating this content, which is significantly better than a lot of what is out there.

    I’m slightly surprised you see videos as hurting the monetization effort. My understanding is that for technology sites video content is considered far more profitable than text content – presumably you can get better advertising rates for static content than they can?

    With regard to site restructuring, I’d really like a good tool for reading/searching weekend threads and especially the corresponding comment threads – there is some exceptional material in there.

    Is there any chance you could expand on:

    >an email list has value as a base we can build off.

    It somehow sounds unsettling as to what one might receive in one’s email over time.

    Good Luck.

  • 11 Richard January 9, 2021, 4:02 pm

    Hey, don’t get me wrong I have no issue with you guys trying to make the site pay. It was just a sudden change in congantive load and if I am honest, far more adverts than I see per word on other blogs (for example Simple living in Somerset has had these ads for a long time, but they are well spread out through the text, not one per viewport of text). Of course I will keep reading, I just need to learn to tune the adverts out as I go.

    Anyway, it is your site and you need to make it work. This is merely my feedback on what I saw today. No one likes change 🙂 The stats will tell you if my feedback is worth the comment space it is written on.

  • 12 W January 9, 2021, 4:15 pm

    For heaven’s sake give these guys a break! Week after week, for years this site gives valuable content, well written, and entertaining content. Free. And people just have to moan about some ads appearing.

  • 13 The Investor January 9, 2021, 4:30 pm

    Cheers for the thoughts all.

    I do understand the issues about advertising and intrusiveness. But there’s not really a silver bullet here, short of charging / a paywall.

    For many years The Motley Fool UK discussion forums (where I was a very active member) saw debates rage about various advertising options they tried, to varying success. In the end none worked and the cost and hassle of running the boards outweighed the small amount of income. So they were shut down, and all that archive knowledge lost.

    (Some made it to the forum Lemon Fool, which is well worth a Google / peruse. But it’s a fraction of TMF at its height, and seems more like a social club for friends).

    Re: Other sites, I’m not really comparing to hobbyist blogs. With respect to SLIS we have published, conservatively, 50-times as much content he has over the years. We also deal with far more traffic (emails, comment moderation etc). Not asking for tiny violins and readers can make up their own mind on the relative value (I for one read everything he posts 🙂 ) but the comparison I am more making is our small indie low-tier indie site versus a mainstream site like ThisIsMoney, rather than our big footprint blog versus a smaller blog like Quietly Saving, say.

    I’m a big fan of small blogs, which is one reason I’ve done what I can to support the best ones in these links for many years. But our challenge as we see it is now slightly different.

    As I say I will monitor the ads and metrics. A comparison with the first week of the ads and the same period last year shows average time on the site down by three seconds, but bounce rates down too. It’s possible the site even looks slightly more professional to a casual reader, given what the rest of the Web now looks like. (My younger friends deplore Monevator’s ancient 2010-style design).

    Regarding the email list, I don’t mean anything heinous like selling your email address, which is nowadays not allowed anyway.

    I mean for instance if we wrote about Freetrade and then you signed up for a free share or whatnot. Even the Amazon links in Weekend Reading.

    Something I didn’t mention is boosting the affiliate-related content on the site. Many US blogs that make (incredible) money have dozens of product-related posts a month.

    I have no intention of going anything like so far, but we may well look to do say one a week, if it can also add some sort of reader value.

    Lots of articles on big money sites such as “X launches a new bank account” are affiliate-related. This might be a way to sneak some extra revenue into the mix without being offensive, we’ll see.

    It’s worth remembering that regular readers make up about 10-20% tops of the monthly traffic to Monevator. You guys are the readers closest to our heart, and many regulars add a lot of value in the comments nowadays, too.

    But there’s a wider audience out there that is (so far) mostly what butters the parsnips around here.

  • 14 JP January 9, 2021, 4:37 pm

    Agree – the amount of time and effort spent on content over the years must be huge. Its not easy to write this stuff. So many people will have benefitted.

  • 15 The Investor January 9, 2021, 4:42 pm

    p.s. Just to add we were getting some complaints a few weeks ago about some truly scammy ads that readers didn’t like the look of. I agreed. This new network should be of slightly higher and more targeted quality, though I’ve no doubt some dubiousness will make it in. (I don’t mean “this active fund is great!” dubiousness. I mean MLM schemes and whatnot).

  • 16 Richard January 9, 2021, 4:46 pm

    @TI All fair points. Agree, regular readers are unlikey to ‘need’ the ads and will soon tune them out like I already do on this is money. But I can see them adding value to new / casual readers and this being mutually beneficial. At the end of the day it is the metrics that matter – not some crackpots opinions in the comments.

  • 17 Simon January 9, 2021, 4:51 pm

    Complaining about ads on a free website is like moaning your belly is full after a free buffet. Naïve and churlish.

    This site provides me with a huge amount of value. The quality of the writing, the depth of the reflections and the variety of the content is superb.

    Thank you for what you do.

  • 18 Richard January 9, 2021, 5:21 pm

    In case these comments about ‘complaining’ about adverts is being directed at me. I don’t think I ever said Monevator shouldn’t have adverts. I don’t think I ever said Monevator shouldn’t monetise. My comment/feedback was purely usability related. I found the article much harder to read than normal due to navigating a lot more ads within the text on mobile. Desktop users are less affected, there are like 7 ads total compared to around 12 ads on mobile. My comment was merely feedback, I said in the first comment that I would get used to it. Most site owners like to get feedback, even if they will do nothing with it / disagree with it. And I appreciate the fact @TI engages on this feedback.

    I certainly hope Monevator knows how much enjoy their site and at no point was my comments on adverts meant in a negative or troll like manner

  • 19 Laurence January 9, 2021, 5:28 pm

    I have enjoyed reading monevator for many years, you should be making some decent money for what you contribute! best of luck and I hope you earn enough to make it a worthwhile endeavour so it continues for many years yet!

  • 20 Whettam January 9, 2021, 5:43 pm

    I occasionally have to write blog content for work and it takes me ****** ages, the amount of time @TI and @TA put into this is much appreciated.

    Please just publish the book and I shall buy it 🙂

    Adverts are easy to ‘tune out’ from, although I must admit the Farage one a few weeks back made me smile.

  • 21 The Investor January 9, 2021, 6:05 pm

    @Richard — No worries. I knew some feedback was coming, and I appreciate the constructive approach.

    I also appreciate the generous comments of everyone else, of course. 🙂

    12 adverts does sound a lot, but keep in mind our articles are extremely long. Before the ads were all at the top of the article, so we were getting only a small potential ad hit (/monetization).

    The obvious answer was to cut long articles into 10 parts or whatnot. But experiments proved this to be a subpar reader experience, generally.

    Inserting ads into copy gets around this, at some cost to cleanliness etc.

    I’ll have a second look on mobile and see if it seems like too much. But I expect they’re just extra scrolls, rather than too much ‘baggage’. So it’s probably mostly a matter of getting used to it (assuming the metrics don’t say otherwise).

    Cheers all, appreciate the general air of understanding very much.

  • 22 Richard January 9, 2021, 6:14 pm

    @TI appreciate you taking a look, but you are absolutely correct that individual opinions don’t matter, the proof is in the data. Do you have A/B testing capability? This sort of thing feels prime for testing – maybe more ads means more money and no negative but perhaps there is a sweet spot.

  • 23 David January 9, 2021, 6:18 pm

    I’m happy to ignore the ads and will continue to enjoy Monevator all the time it remains an impartial guide to investing. People expect everything online to be free these days, which I’m sure makes it very difficult to make a living. If you’ve found a way to make it work then good luck to you.

  • 24 Vanguardfan January 9, 2021, 6:21 pm

    So I read Richard’s comment and thought ‘hey wait- there are ads??’ Scrolled back a bit more slowly and realised, oh yes, there are…. I guess we get so used to tuning them out they become invisible. Mind you, even the Lemonfool has an irritating amount of ads now including some that pop up when you click into a post. (Of course I’m now wondering who TI is/was there – I agree it’s a sad declining place these days, but it’s still occasionally useful for some great technical information and discussion, some posters who really know their onions. Probably the second most educational internet source for me in the last decade).

    Great to hear that the book may be surfacing soon!

  • 25 Vanguardfan January 9, 2021, 6:26 pm

    Weirdly, I’ve just had a look on my phone for comparison with the iPad, and there aren’t any ads in text there? Just something at the bottom. In the iPad there are maybe 3 or 4.
    It’s the same whether I click through from email link or just use the screen shortcut to the website..

  • 26 WhiteSheep January 9, 2021, 6:50 pm

    Perhaps we can have a more expensive tier in addition to the “cheap membership model”? It can have the same content as the cheap tier (or the free content, minus the ads) as far as I am concerned.

    Keep up the great work. I don’t think any mainstream site comes close to what you are doing, so I think mainstream subscription prices can be a guide.

  • 27 Richard January 9, 2021, 6:57 pm

    @Vanguardfan – it is possible that it is device related. On my iPad I get one ad on the right hand side and nothing in the text. So no disruption at all. Maybe Apple block it or maybe it is something TI setup. Maybe my mobile provides the worst ad experience and that is the issue…. It could be related to how the device breaks the content up or recognise ‘scroll’ and how the ads then insert….

  • 28 Far_wide January 9, 2021, 7:00 pm

    FYI, the adverts I’m seeing are from Vanguard (oh the irony, given comments above about their reluctance to fund Monevator).
    Oh, and Nicorette, but I think that’s just because I’ve used the word ‘cigarette’ near my phone/alexa too much, so it cleverly thinks I might be trying to give up when in fact I’ve just been having a small moan about smelling someone’s smoke from upstairs!

  • 29 ermine January 9, 2021, 7:04 pm

    Blimey. I have no ambition to be Monevator. I am not worthy of the comparison. FWIW there are ads on my site because I am too tight to use the paid version of Wordpress, and I moved to wordpress.com because they get to worry about the security on Wordpress, which isn’t something I want to worry about here. I don’t see ‘owt of the ad income, but I don’t expect to. I used to do AMZ affiliate stuff but came to the conclusion that a) I CBA and b) I was not living my values. I think that was when I saw an ad for a payday lender next to a long rant about why did we have money shops in the High Street. Back in the day when we had money shops. And High Streets…

    There are ads on this site? News to me 😉

    I love writing about active investing, but I don’t like encouraging passive investors to become active! (Most shouldn’t). That is the main reason I so rarely write about active investing ideas on the site these days.

    I used to love that too, and I have an admission to make which is that I have never lost money following a Monevator recommendation. You had to read seriously between the lines for ’em, they were never explicit, I still have some of these holdings. Yes probably the greater win was being slapped around the chops enough to stop doing stupid stuff, but hey.

    I have an email folder with 500+ positive thanks/comments from readers, some quite striking. And readers are kind enough to say thanks on the site, too.

    I for one charted a route out of the storm of the financial crash from the distant lighthouse lit up in one particularly apposite post at the low-water mark of the GFC. It enabled me to give The Man the middle finger, I am eight years retired as a result, and numerically higher networth that when I cast the rope adrift from the world of work. This shit works – well it did for me 😉 Thank You

    Making money on t’internet generating content is a tough game. It’s always an evil dynamic balance between being true to yourself and making n’owt and chasing the clickbait, advertising and SEO dragon. Google gave up their Don’t be Evil motto when they realised that being evil was where the money was.

    I have no idea what the right answer is for Monevator, sorry you’re having grief here. Good luck with finding a solution that works!

  • 30 flotron January 9, 2021, 7:06 pm

    Just some feedback in terms of what i see:
    No adverts appearing while browsing on the desktop, however 12 on the mobile for the same JP Morgan Investment trust and also 8 random blank spaces where I assume an ad should have appeared.
    I tend to view on the desktop so didn’t notice the change initially

  • 31 Jaygti January 9, 2021, 7:47 pm

    I didn’t notice the extra ads, until it was mentioned.
    Please do what ever you think is best, I’ll still read and enjoy monevator each week

  • 32 Richard January 9, 2021, 8:02 pm

    @Ermine – don’t worry, the comparison was one of user experience when reading the content ;). Though I enjoy your rants very much so don’t do yourself down. On my mobile, your rants tend to be very long yet I get maybe 3 or 4 adverts which feels about right (in fact I actually look at them as they pop up infrequently). Today, here, I got like 12 ads in a much shorter article which just felt over the top. But reading these comments, I am starting to think it is my device rather than Monevator turning into Dr Evil….. just waiting to see if there will be sharks with frickin laser beams on their heads next week ;)….

  • 33 Aron January 9, 2021, 8:07 pm

    @TI

    Was this posted the other week? https://www.evidenceinvestor.com/social-trading-platforms-are-bad-for-your-wealth/ – Social Trading Platforms Are Bad For Your Wealth

    All those r/wallstreetbets Elon Musk simps are rife in there. That guy is probably one of them.

    Re bitcoin my mate Jez did an excellent talk at ACCU Conf 2019 about Bitcoin and Blockchain (which when implemented in the right situation is very useful) in general – https://youtu.be/vw0H16rZW18

  • 34 The Investor January 9, 2021, 8:15 pm

    I don’t know that it’s your device that determines ad frequency, you might just be a high value target! 🙂 Currently mobile ads is set for me to the default setting of “high”, which means about 28% of content is ads. So for just over every two screens of text, you’ll see an advert.

    Is this too much? I’m not sure. I just scrolled through on two devices and it didn’t seem very onerous to me, but then obviously I’m biased. I’m more annoyed that ads appear in, for example, bulleted lists. Not sure if we can do much about that.

    Monevator articles are routinely very long by blog standards. This is probably one reason we’ve so under-monetized (because the articles leave the ad zone very quickly). Running ads in-copy is a way of monetizing long articles, which I prefer to write/run from a reader perspective anyway.

    The other issue is mobile traffic hasn’t been monetised by us for 4-5 years now, so it’s gone from zero to a lot. Hopefully people will get used to it.

    It’s interesting that people are annoyed at seeing the same advert again and again. I would have thought it’d make them easier to filter out. Reading Humble Dollar this week I had a stack of 8-10 identical ads on top of each other in the sidebar (i.e. no text in-between). That was glaring, but it was literally all the same ads on the screen which shouldn’t happen here. (Max two I think, and in different screen areas).

    Cheers again for all thoughts and comments.

  • 35 Richard January 9, 2021, 8:29 pm

    @TI – 🙂 love it. If your ad server could see my bank account it may think differently, but who am I to complain about being seen as high value. Don’t worry, I know that what the ‘customer’ says they want vs what they actually want / will put up with tend to be far apart. And if I storm off in a huff but you get this site profitable – well that’s the reality of business. You have to be sustainable. Follow the data. Not that I plan to storm off in a huff over this….

  • 36 Aron January 9, 2021, 8:35 pm

    Out of interest what is the average monthly bandwidth usage and hosting costs?

    I personally don’t see any adverts as I use adblocks on my PC / laptop and Blokado on my phone. But happy to turn them off for this site as I do on a couple of others.

  • 37 The Investor January 9, 2021, 8:46 pm

    @Aron — Appreciate the thought, but bandwidth and hosting isn’t really the issue.

    It’s time / opportunity cost.

    Just in terms of writing alone there are well over 1,000 quality articles on this site. (I am not counting several hundred more Weekend Reading ones, which take about a day or more to create and are valued by readers, but aren’t really publishable).

    I would argue the majority of our articles are closely +/- the quality of magazine content.

    Apply your rate of choice but that’s easily £100,000 to £250,000 that could have been earned just writing for a third-party publication.

    Then there’s the time spent running the site, fixing it when it breaks, dealing with spam bursts/hacks, keeping it up to date, working with the various contributors that have come and gone over the years, social media, moderating comments etc.

    Conservatively that’s five hours a week (often less but sometimes a lot more — think a weekend) for a total of 10-20 hours work a week for me, depending, with some weeks a *lot* more and some less, and perhaps half that again for @TA.

    Like I said I don’t expect sympathy as such. It’s our choice and we’ve loved doing it mostly. I did it when it was for zero. But I’ve been at it for 13 years now… 🙂 Which is why we do need to monetize the site.

    Perhaps you’ll consider becoming a member or buying the book when we get those options done. 🙂

  • 38 Thanking you January 9, 2021, 8:52 pm

    Thank you for what you do, for everything you’ve published over the years and the stimulating thoughts you write. I truly appreciate it on a huge scale. The only website I now read on the internet regularly. If you need paying for your work, I for one would happily pay a small amount – whichever model / route of receiving money you choose to utilise. Please just don’t sell out by increasing the volume of posts or watering down the quality of content in the process. As for the £10m saved figure, this is far, far off the mark and well understates the reality. Once again, thank you.

  • 39 Steve B January 9, 2021, 9:12 pm

    Classic “long time lurker” first time commentator here. Could have broken my duck on the excellent financial origin post comments but decided I was pretty boring!

    Simply thought I’d add my note of thanks for the Monevator content over recent years in terms of developing my investing knowledge and awareness. When I stumbled across MV my ISA didn’t stray far from the H&L 150 funds with pensions a muddle of active funds. Happy to say I’m now 70% passive with very much a “Give me an ETF, or give me death!” approach I’m in my late 30’s so will hopefully benefit from the greater knowledge for a few decades at least.

    Ads are absolutely fine by me – unless they are the pop/fold up or audio auto play they truly are background noise to me and happy someone pays you for my eyeballs, it’s a win-win. Will be very happy to buy the Kindle book to put some money where my mouth is too.

  • 40 Aron January 9, 2021, 9:24 pm

    @TI – Clearly I over thought the amount of visitors the site gets 😉

    I’ve no problem with monetization. I’ve written blogs in the past successfully and woefully so I know the time and effort it takes, especially creating new content to keep people interested.

    I imagine it’s even harder in a niche sector which rarely has some incredible new product or thing to talk about and therefore in turn probably hard to make money from that.

    One blog I read is https://www.headforpoints.com and they actually employ multiple people. But even though it’s free and there’s 3 or 4 daily articles people lose their heads in the comment section when they publish a sponsored article. Though that’s a completely different market which always has something happen so there’s an abundance of content it seems like a fine balance keeping the readership happy with the content you publish.

    Guess as you alluded too earlier you couldn’t exactly go doing a sponsored article for eToro telling your readers how amazing their CFD platform is!

    Re membership that might work well. Ghost – https://ghost.org now has a membership functionality and it’s a great platform really easy to host and manage on a £5 Linode server, as I do with my blog… Oh wait I haven’t even started writing any content again yet. Specialist investing series, maybe more active (ahhhh) based gets the kids signing up or the dividend stuff and guest authors might always get people paying. I’ve always thought Lars’ articles and Mark Meldon’s insurance articles really useful. Would someone pay to read a series by xxxxx (insert big name), probably, but then would xxxx do it for free or expect something in return or be happy it’s going behind a paywall.

  • 41 Nearlyrich January 9, 2021, 9:34 pm

    I vote keep it free otherwise the folk who need this site the most won’t use it. The ads are fine and big screens are better for your eyes anyway (I too had to re-read in order to notice them….. sorry no I mean it is highly effective advertising worth twice the price). I like the ability to ‘buy a coffee’ for the author as used for example by Tyler at Portfoliocharts. Oh and come on Vanguard, you tight …. , otherwise I’ll sell the Vanguard funds I own purely as a result of reading this site so there. Keep going lads!

  • 42 Marco January 9, 2021, 10:23 pm

    Weird. I didn’t even notice the adverts and went back to check after reading the comments and then noticed them. Maybe I’ve become immune to advertising? I think Monevator deserves high compensation for their great work. I couldn’t even begin to calculate but I’m guessing I’m several hundred thousand better off thanks to this site, so huge thanks from my family!

  • 43 Stefan January 9, 2021, 10:44 pm

    Looking forward to becoming a member when you launch membership – and buying the book. Your valuable articles have educated and entertained me for years.

    First I came to learn about ISAs, then I read into the more in-depth articles on passive investing and taxes. Now I enjoy the weekend reading links as a way of staying up to date.

    You guys are incredible. Thank you x 1000

  • 44 ian January 10, 2021, 2:52 am

    Just for the record I counted 15 ads on my android phone. Israel Bonds anyone?

    Clearly not the same experience for all, and people seem more tolerant than me!

    Keep up the great work fellas

  • 45 Phil January 10, 2021, 7:12 am

    I had the same experience as Marco. I read the post and hadn’t noticed any ads. Upon reading the comments I actually had to scroll back to see if they appeared on my mobile. Sure enough they’re all there. Bizarre.

  • 46 JimJim January 10, 2021, 8:18 am

    Firstly @TI
    “You eventually come to know that you don’t really know. Nobody does.”
    Wise words.
    If the years of investing I have done have taught me anything, it’s that, in a nutshell. The sooner I got to realise that, the richer I became, I was fortunate to lose money when I first started, I was more fortunate to discover that passive investing worked better for me. I have you to thank for that. (I still have an active part to my portfolio, but I am under no illusion that gains and losses are nought but luck and a following wind, I tend to concentrate on the known and avoid the speculation and hype now, and I’m happier for it!).
    As for the advertising, Bring it on, I’ve been waiting to buy the book for so long I can’t remember where I stuffed the twenty quid note I put aside to buy it! 🙂 .
    I have never taken up an affiliate link – Ratesetter is not in my ethos and the free trading site was another layer of complexity to my life that I don’t need. Your pay for content intrigues me, – and goes against my “low fees” mantra, – however with the knowledge and trust of this blog I have over years of reading – and barely a week goes by without me doing so- I’m very tempted, if it keeps you afloat and posting.
    If the ads give you money, how do we maximise this for you at our end?
    If you ever decide enough is enough it will be a sad loss for us all. Please keep up the good work
    JimJim

  • 47 eagleuk January 10, 2021, 9:34 am

    @TI
    Hi Good Morning
    Thanks for all the help.
    I have saved a lot of amount by following the simple advice .I couldn’t believe it that my portfolio has reached to this level. Each monevator reader by their retirement would save 30 to 50 percent more amount than a normal saver who is investing via expensive dynamic funds.
    Everyone stay safe and Have a nice weekend.
    Also NB medical has posted a nice description of the vaccine efficacy in terms of evidence.Here is the link
    https://www.nbmedical.com/blog/covid-vaccination-how-effective-is-the-single-dose

  • 48 Dazzle January 10, 2021, 10:44 am

    I was wondering what all the fuss about ads was. Scrolled up and only had 2 ads, 9 were empty place holders, no wonder I hadn’t known.

  • 49 xxd09 January 10, 2021, 11:50 am

    Can I add my support to your efforts-keep it up-keep it free with ads
    I too was a Motley Fool avid
    They got my wife and I out of Equitable Life with capital intact with a tip about if you retired your whole capital could be realised and transferred out with no costs
    My wife and I retired that day and “rejoined” the workforce as soon as the monies were safely in our accounts !
    Equitable closed the loophole shortly afterwards!
    My first serious financial lesson!
    An avid reader of financial blogs ever since
    The Vanguard Diehards now Vanguard Bogleheads were and still are a great resource but US based but great for general investing principles which are the same where ever you are
    Sheepdogs post-link? -remains a classic on coping with a crash or not!
    However a U.K. equivalent is needed and Lemon Fool/Citywire do well but you certainly have assumed the U.K. Motley Fool mantle
    You are now indispensable to our financial lives
    Do what you have to do to keep the ship afloat
    You have our backing-to the hilt!
    xxd09

  • 50 Squirrel January 10, 2021, 11:53 am

    “You are now indispensable to our financial lives”
    I second that 🙂
    Can’t wait for the book!

  • 51 Weenie January 10, 2021, 12:01 pm

    Don’t mind ads, it’s pop ups which fill the screen which are my bugbear.

    That said my Blackberry is so slow that the only ad I see is the one at the bottom of the screen, all the others are blank spaces so I just scroll past them.

  • 52 The Investor January 10, 2021, 12:29 pm

    For the record I hate pop-ups too. There’s very little chance of them.

    I’m already making choices that reduce income for reader benefit.

    For example, there’s a bar advert across the bottom. I have implemented the ability for this to be removed by a reader (X button) on a particular article, which is not the default setting.

    This has a quantified impact on earnings, but I know if I’m reading on a laptop where real estate is tighter I tend to X them myself. So there it is.

    Cheers again for all the encouraging words! 🙂 Hopefully we can find the right balance of all these streams over the next few months.

  • 53 The Investor January 10, 2021, 12:30 pm

    p.s. The book is great. It’s (mildly) funny! Mostly thanks to @TA. We really do need to get it out.

  • 54 Richard January 10, 2021, 1:20 pm

    It’s funny, the banner that sits at the bottom and follows the page around doesn’t bother me in the slightest on any device (though I was getting some scammy looking bitcoin advert on my ipad). Don’t personally see the need for even a cross. My thing was only the number of ads within the body of the text breaking the flow (as I was not used to them). Anyway, I apologise for triggering the takeover of the comment section into a debate on monetisation/ads and will leave it there.

    On the actual article itself, in the last few days my portfolio has jumped up. Looks like it is mainly in UK as my rebalancing sheet is saying sell UK and buy US if you can believe it. And buy bonds. Of course, I now feel very worried it is looking toppy but know I need to stay the course and let rebalancing / sell high buy low protect me and not do anything rash.

  • 55 Brod January 10, 2021, 2:32 pm

    @TI – I didn’t even know you had ads. I’m on a laptop right now and wasn’t seeing anything. I’ve now disabled uBlock for monevator.com and am now seeing placeholders for the adverts. I checked my mobile and counted 24 placeholders. I presume you don’t make money from placeholders? Or are the adverts served but not displayed by the extension? (I’m using Firefox on a Mac, fwiw.) I’ve never clicked on an ad in my life. I don’t click on ads served by a search engine but scroll past and click on the search result, even if it’s the same. Don’t mind the ads, just don’t like leaving a digital footprints everywhere. I will buy a copy of your book, promise!

    Btw, yesterday was Lamborghini day. I’m with Interactive Investor and am thinking of going into drawdown (there is now no charge with ii, I believe) just to protect me from the Chancellor’s meddling. Obsessive reading of ERN and portfoliocharts.com suggests I could retire now. Modestly.

    If I can secure redundancy from the Civil Service, I think they’d start paying my pension (about £6oo0) straight away as I’m now over 55. Though I suppose I should check 😉 That means a 4.5% withdrawal rate until my full State Pension kicks-in in 12 years when it’d fall to 2% (or potentially nothing) until I die.

    I need to get my head around drawdown, UFPLS, FAD, etc. It’s a ****** nightmare. I think FAD, pocket £1000 tax free and furgedaboutit. In the meantime, I’ll start my ERN reverse glide path and use ii’s free trades to slowly move from 33/57/10 equities/bonds/gold to an eventual 80/10/10 (or however much volatility I can stomach). The gold isn’t really a target, it’s what I’ve currently got and I’ll just let it ride. If I get redundancy, I’ll just consume my bonds for roughly the same outcome.

    Thoughts?

  • 56 The Investor January 10, 2021, 2:51 pm

    Without wanting to turn this into a thread about ad blockers, people using them better think about the economics of reading stuff without overtly paying even via advertising.

    In any particular week I get 3-10 requests to run sponsored posts. Some from credible firms, more from dodgy ones.

    I turn them all down.

    If you feel you’re being some sort of anti-capitalistic warrior by blocking ads, understand that ever more people doing so just makes media resort to sneakier ways to make money such as semi-covert product placement and sponsored articles, which no doubt triggers other concerns.

    I’m as intolerant of excessive advertising and rampant consumerism as anyone, yet I’ve managed to live without installing an ad blocker. Fine I’m biased, but content isn’t free to create. There’s clearly a demand for it, so somehow it has to be paid for. Fair enough if you exclusively read paid-for walled garden content, but I think that’s unlikely.

    With respect to all these placeholder slots, this network prides itself on speed (one reason I went with it) so it won’t hold the page to load ads ahead of content. This means if you’re zipping around just counting slots — as opposed to reading at a normal pace — you’re probably going to see empty unloaded slots. This is speculation on my part, but it may know that the previous ads didn’t load and so it is trying to serve more, which could increase the empty slots still further.

    Today’s stats show people spending on average 12.1% more time on the site than the same day last year, FWIW. Granted, maybe they’re having to spend more time to scroll past the ads. 😉 But I think it does suggest these ads are well-tolerated.

    @Brod — Congratulations on your Lamborghini day! We can’t give personal advice, but I’d say you probably shouldn’t buy a Lamborghini. 😉 Other anonymous readers might be able to give you more specific feedback.

  • 57 Vanguardfan January 10, 2021, 3:02 pm

    So I don’t even understand how you make money from these ads. Is it enough that they are there, whether or not people stop and look at them? Or is it all based on click through?

  • 58 The Investor January 10, 2021, 3:08 pm

    @Vanguardfan — It’s the same way all reasonable quality media sites with advertising make money from ads (much less than a few years ago, in general, due to social media gobbling up traffic and content farms eating up eyeballs / spreading ad budgets very thin).

    It’s a combination of what you’re describing. 🙂

    If the question behind the question is “why does it matter if person X sees them or not?” then no, it doesn’t really in one individual case.

    My comment above is just pointing out what the logical consequence of everyone trying to always get content for free – even to the extent of avoiding all ads — will be.

    Either (a) very few free websites or (b) few quality free websites (because people who can create quality will get paid doing something else) or (c) a few big quality sites with the traffic to make money via affiliate sales (something like MSE, which is great but will reduce diversity/start-ups) or (d) a further move towards hybrid ‘advertorial’ models where companies promote their products via stealth.

  • 59 Tony January 10, 2021, 3:14 pm

    “A senior industry insider estimated to me last year that Monevator had conservatively saved readers at least £10m (lifetime) from helping to shift their habits, especially in the early days when indexing was rare.”
    I would have thought it would be many magnitudes in excess of that!
    In terms of monetising, wonder if you could link up with Martin Lewis/MSE. There’s a synergy but not duplication. His readership would benefit from investing knowledge and information. Their website has a forum but their weekly mails don’t usually cover investing.

  • 60 Vanguardfan January 10, 2021, 3:16 pm

    There wasn’t anything behind my comment except factual curiosity- since I rarely click on ads (except by mistake) I wondered whether that kind of reader makes any money for the site. So the answer is yes, you (or any other ad host) make some money from the ads being presented, but more from clicks and presumably more still if clicks convert to sales)?

  • 61 The Investor January 10, 2021, 3:34 pm

    @Vanguardfan — Yep, that about covers it.

    As for what kind of readers, in general regular readers of this site make us little money, and are more supported by casual readers who come in via a Google or whatnot.

    That changes when we find a win-win (such as Ratesetter or Freetrade) where regular readers signing up does generate us some income.

    It’s also why a membership option / book would be handy! 🙂

    Of course the main message of the site is “go passive, automate, and do something else with your time than obsess about investing” which isn’t exactly ideal for building a long-term audience (and is another reason why it’d be useful to get more personal finance into the mix).

    Basically don’t start a Monevator-style blog that attracts highly-educated super cost-conscious readers, that’s my advice to any aspiring bloggers reading. 😉

    @Tony — Yes, it was presented as “minimum”. Obviously it’s hard to tell exactly. I think it’s reasonable to assume many people would have got to the same place eventually some other way, though not all and perhaps not as quickly. I agree there’s crossover with MSE but we’re too small to be on its radar.

    @all — Sorry I’m being very random today in which comments I reply to and which I don’t — trying to keep away from the screen for a day but notifications keep popping up on this and other threads. Thanks again for all the thoughts and also the generous words.

  • 62 Andrew January 10, 2021, 3:36 pm

    @Vanguardfan – the income from ads is at least 99% from clicks. There used to be a component for ‘impressions’ but I think that’s dead now. What happens after the click (sale or not) doesn’t affect a click from the ad. (It does matter for affiliate links – Amazon doesn’t pay anything unless there’s a sale within 24 hours.)

    Someone who never clicks on ads isn’t worthless though. I mean yes, in the short term. But a parasite like me who just leeches info and never contributes is moderately likely to buy the book or join the membership or whatnot. And also to click on affiliate links because of trust in the author.

    By the way, the 2010-era layout holds up, in my opinion! There are more attractive sites, sure, but I enjoy spending time here and can find info I want very easily.

  • 63 Mathmo January 10, 2021, 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the links this week, TI, and all weeks. Much appreciated. Love the monetisation plan — this is the leading site for this kind of regular oversight of the personal investing space and you deserve financial reward if you seek more than the self-actualisation.

    Of course when you calculate your opportunity cost, you have to factor in a discount for the luxury of the benign dictatorship — I know several who have sold their blogs/ blogging skills to publishers and found that they are suddenly not longer the curmudgeon they enjoyed, and now trudge to work for the advertising sales executive, not the temple of opinion.

    Let me self-declare as someone who resisted bonds (this is nuts, when’s the crash?) forever but then relented and went passive (and made money as they continued to rise). Once you’ve made all the mistakes, then it’s easy to get it right. Speaking of which — I can’t help feeling some familiarity in the opinion of the TSLA holder’s to mine 20 years ago, holding invincible dot com stocks such as WCOM and the like. Daily movements of more than a year’s salary were not entirely uncommon. Work ethic was suppressed. I paused a diversification decision for tax reasons which cost me more than I like to think about these days. A lesson bought…

    I wish the gamblers this time round every luck with the turn of the card and will enjoy the view away from the table.

  • 64 NewInvestor January 10, 2021, 5:15 pm

    Like Brod I use Firefox (but Windows), mostly because I like the add-ons that allow me to do things like ad-blocking. I instigated the ad-blocking a few years back when I was getting fed up with the browser being choked by ads particularly those being served up by non-performant javascript.

    I’m perfectly happy to whitelist the monevator.com site in the ad blocker because of your restrained, considered approach to the matter of advertising. But also like Brod, it’s not the ads that are the issue, but the tracking that goes hand-in-glove with it. Hence, I block third-party cookies and, in a similar vein, I’ve taken to blocking javascript too and only selectively switching it on for each site. Monevator.com has javascript from seven third-party domains.

  • 65 The Investor January 10, 2021, 5:46 pm

    @Mathmo — Been a while! Nice to hear from you. Sorry I’m rushed for chatting right now. Don’t be a stranger. 😉

    @Andrew — Hmm, interesting. I think it will be evolution not revolution. But if you imagine a new reader coming to the site — especially a new investor — it’s pretty hard to know where to start. Then there’s the fact that something really valuable like our broker table is hidden… I know people who’ve read the blog for months before discovering it! 😐

    @NewInvestor — Cheers to you and everyone else who is whitelisting Monevator. I hear you on the javascripts. This new solution should have reduced loads actually compared to old ad solution, though obviously not tracking per se.

    I actually did a Javascript cull a while back to try to get rid of redundant stuff. Perhaps some more have snuck in. As I understand it seven third-party domains is pretty restrained; I’ve read that the average site sees several dozen loaded/called. But I’ll see if there’s anything else that can go.

  • 66 Charlie L January 10, 2021, 5:47 pm

    Instead of ruining the site with ads you should just monetise with affiliate links. I’m very surprised to hear that you guys aren’t making decent money from site. You must be doing something seriously wrong.

    From a quick 5 minute analysis it seems to me that your SEO and monetisation strategy is, and I don’t mean to be rude about this, terrible. You rank on the first page for ‘cheapest trading platform uk’ and ‘best online trading platform uk’ but the piece of content you have that ranks for these terms looks like you are actively trying not to make money: https://monevator.com/compare-uk-cheapest-online-brokers/

    The table is incredibly hard to read and there is no help for the reader. The affiliate links are also completely buried. You should have a quick summary at the top of the article like ‘these are the top 5 picks – best for beginners, best for large portfolios, best for traders’ and so on with nice big buttons for people to click with (with aff links!). Make things easy for your readers, not hard!

    You can keep the table but you need to massively simplify it somehow. It’s overwhelming as it is.

    If you’ve had success with this piece of content, why have you not followed it up with related articles? ‘Best online platforms’ gets way more search volume than ‘cheapest’. Are you even aware of that? Do you do any keyword research at all?

    Why aren’t you creating content about the best credit cards, the best bank accounts, and so on? This is where the money is. Not in ads. Ads are not the future. All the big finance blogs make the majority of their money from affiliate, not ads. You are going in the wrong direction here.

    In short, with your traffic numbers, domain authority and loyal readers you should be absolutely crushing it. The fact you’re not is because your digital strategy is sub-par. Memberships and stuff – that’s great. But affiliate should be your bread and butter. You can do both, even.

    If you like I’ll buy some stake in Monveator and join the ‘board’ as an advisor. I’m confident I can 2x, maybe even 5x your revenues in a year.

    I also agree that you should re-design the site. Long overdue.

  • 67 The Investor January 10, 2021, 6:10 pm

    @Charlie L — Thanks for the thoughts. Yes, most of what you discuss has been appreciated in the past few months (as I said in my comment above, we know the table is highly under-utilized).

    We really have paid very little attention to making money from Monevator over the years, I can’t over-state that. I’d estimate it’s received 1% of attention for 99% spent on content.

    That’s changing, as per this thread, and your views are welcome. (I have no idea who you are re: your interesting offer, so will have to reserve judgement! 🙂 I wouldn’t sell a stake but if the right person came along with major chops I’d be interested in some other arrangement).

    I do agree with you about the future of ads versus other monetization strategies, too. I think ‘ruin’ is a bit harsh; nevertheless I do think ads are probably in terminal decline as an industry. Hopefully we can get some other revenue streams spun up in time now we’re giving it some attention. 🙂

  • 68 spacebadger99 . January 10, 2021, 6:55 pm

    I’m up for Monevator monetisation to make the guys money and will buy /download the book.
    But I would draw the line at membership fees, I feel the advice should be free and available to all.
    Like the idea of MSE tie up, MSE is very limited in the areas where Monevator is strong, but understand its “tricky”.

    So to my question, does Monevator make more money if I click on the ads?
    If so happy to click on a few ads after reading the articles each time I visit.

  • 69 The Investor January 10, 2021, 7:01 pm

    @spacebadger99 — Thanks for the offer, but please DON’T you (or anyone else) click on ads unless you’re genuinely interested in seeing what’s on offer on the other side.

    Lots of spammy clicks will be detected by the algo and will eventually result in our value going down to advertisers.

    Re: Free/membership, I think we can see in this thread that there are lots of different views of how people prefer to support Internet sites (or not) whether this one or any other.

    The way I see it any passive-related Monevator membership will be very stealthy and affordable and will be more like a ‘club’ than something which takes a lot of the value from the main site.

    I have a successful Internet mogul friend who says we should just slap half the copy behind a paywall, accept that traffic will crash, but then market to the however many people who would eventually be prepared to pay. He believes this would maximise revenue.

    Maybe but I won’t be doing that, for the same reason you wouldn’t like it.

    We’re very proud of how Monevator has helped change lives and we won’t want that to stop.

    (Indeed if anything I’m frustrated that our wordy, nerdy articles basically reach ‘people like us’ rather than those who arguably truly need the help. But I’ve resigned myself that’s another website, and probably different authors to be honest.)

  • 70 Jane in London January 10, 2021, 7:04 pm

    Your content is consistently excellent and I have found tremendous value in it over the years. Thank you very much for that.

    Why anyone would reasonably expect you to do all this indefinitely for little or no return on your time is, honestly, beyond me. It’s just a few ads, ffs, and I think most Monevator readers are quite capable of working out what’s part of the article and what’s not 😉

    Jane in London

  • 71 Dawn January 10, 2021, 7:18 pm

    Monevator is invaluable, please dont go! , do what you have to do. I’ve never even noticed any ads!

  • 72 Miss G January 10, 2021, 7:28 pm

    I’ve been reading this website for about 10 years now and I can’t thank you enough for the great content over the years! I’d happily support you guys by buying the book and paying a membership subscription. The ads don’t bother me… but don’t go overboard 🙂 I’ve whitelisted the monevator.com site in the ad blocker. I’d also suggest adding a ‘buy me a coffee’ button as it’s so common these days and I would have definitely used it several times by now and many others I’m sure.
    I saw an ad recently for the company I work for (ftse100 well known company) and I thought good for you, guys! Maybe you should approach them… although they’re not as big as Vanguard, you already use them and they might be more open to the idea, just saying.
    Considering the quality of the content and the comments on this website, you should definitely be rewarded for the good work. A big thank you again to yourself, TA and the commenters 🙂

  • 73 c-strong January 10, 2021, 11:34 pm

    I don’t really understand the concept of white-listing the site on an ad-blocker. If someone never ever clicks on ads and uses an ad-blocker so they don’t have to see them, why would whitelisting the site help Monevator? Asking for a friend…

    @TI – really looking forward to the book. Personally I’ll pay any reasonable price (and probably some unreasonable ones), though there must be a pricing sweet spot that maximises revenue, and I would have thought this would not be particularly high. No doubt you’ve done your research.

    I’d also happily donate via Patreon, click a “buy me a coffee” button, etc. though I appreciate you may not want to rely on these sources.

  • 74 The Investor January 11, 2021, 12:05 pm

    @c-strong — Thanks for the notional pre-order of the book! It’ll be less than £20, nothing crazy. But it won’t be the £5 say that some would hope for or expect. It basically took @TA a lot of weekends to write it (at least 50 I’d guess) plus some more input from me, so we need to sell quite a few copies before it moves from covering its own sunk costs to contributing towards the wider Monevator bottom line. 🙂

    I hope people will like it. Possibly it’s going to be a bit more confusing than we think it is (it has a slightly unusual structure) but I believe it’s in the 1% for entertainment bracket for financial books. 🙂

  • 75 Factor January 11, 2021, 2:47 pm

    FWIW I never click on any kind of ad or any other “bait”, simply slaloming past with nary a glance. As for the potential monetisation of Monevator, it comes as less than a surprise to me after your mention recently that you no longer had the benefit of part of your income in your non-blog life. Needs must, and I have no intrinsic problem with it.

    When I see the new MV version I shall do what I always aim to do in life, which is to adapt to reality, holding if I like the version and folding but not without genuine regret if I don’t.

    Will “the book” be available via Amazon, which is my normal GoTo for tomes?

  • 76 Al Cam January 11, 2021, 3:47 pm

    The link to the post from IT Investor (via his tracking my returns link contains a reference to a uk value investor post that appears to favour internal rate of return (IRR) over unitization, see: https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/10/how-to-measure-your-portfolios-returns.html/
    Unless I am mistaken, MONEVATOR seems to use/prefer the unitization approach to track performance.
    Could you please say a few words (or, of course, point to a good post) about this? Thanks in advance.

  • 77 The Investor January 11, 2021, 4:34 pm

    @Al Cam — This (below) is my post. I prefer Unitisation because it’s what the entire fund industry uses to benchmark its performance and I compare my naughty active investing returns to theirs, @TA wrote about his preference for alternative methods just before Christmas.

    Me on unitisation: https://monevator.com/how-to-unitize-your-portfolio/

    @Factor — Yep, the book should be on Amazon. We just need to bite the bullet and figure out how to get it into book form (we had approaches from publishers but decided to self-publish, likely to their eternal joy given how long it’s dragged out. 🙂 Though with that said it is 95% written so if we’d followed a trad route we’d be out now. 😐 )

    Also I’d hope there would be few big changes to Monevator from a regular reader perspective from here beyond (a) a site redesign (b) probably having to go to a new URL to see just the latest posts like now (something like monevator.com/blog) and (c) possibly once a week a more personal finance / service / product orientated post, likely on Mondays.

  • 78 Paul January 12, 2021, 9:32 am

    Here is an idea for you. Join forces with this guy to create a wider interest investing site https://www.ecf.buzz/blog

  • 79 BBlimp January 12, 2021, 10:18 am

    You may wish to step back a little and take more holistic view of this…

    Had you known ten years you’d miss out on £150k of opportunity cost by running this website you still would have done it ! Much like I do an hour of Bullyjuice HIIT videos a day I know I could use that time to work but it’s my passion or hobby… it’s what makes life worth living

    Your conundrum isn’t so much monevator hasn’t been making you money over the years, it’s that by and large the bulk of the battle has been won. When you started with your dream of exposing the ‘secret’ of low cost diversified investing it was just that. Since then Vanguard have entered the uk market as both a fund provider and a platform , with multi asset funds, and the ISA limit is £20k a year. Neil Woodfords recent press will likely play into matters as well.

    Your recent article on Uk allocation had a discussion below the line if vanguard all world or LS were better… not quite the same as a discussion where someone has all their money in Japanese tech stocks with a AMC of 5pc. And I don’t know anyone who invests in single shares. Similarly when the greybeard ran a mini series about using investment trusts I very much enjoyed it… but was left with the feeling ‘why not just use LS’. The passive portfolio was no doubt a wonder proof of concept in its day… but there are cheaper and easier ways of achieving similar results now

    I would use the following analogy for your position;

    Jamie Oliver wakes up one day and becomes passionate about schoolchildren receiving lunch with three portions of fruit/veg a day. He campaigns for it for ten years and by the end of ten years hard work schools and the government have come together and children eat three pieces of fruit/ veg two days a week and two pieces three days a week. Can he maintain his fire in this new world ? Can you ?

    As for the future… maybe monetising it is the way to go. Maybe handing it off to someone who wants to continue the good work so you can enjoy writing about active investing is? ( do so on a different site though, let your legacy live on) I would strongly strongly urge you to remove all the fx and fine art and crypto etc adverts ASAP though. Today. You’re throwing ten years reputation for low cost diversification down the drain having what are essentially gambling ads masquerading as investing ads on your site. How many lives would have to be ruined before the bad outweighed the good you’ve done ?
    With most of the public Labour was able to ruin a hundred year reputation for being an anti racist party in five short years of issues with anti semitism… protect what you’ve built

  • 80 The Investor January 12, 2021, 11:20 am

    @BBlimp — Yes, it’s true the site is more the establishment (from a philosophical point of view) than outside the establishment nowadays. When I first started (more than 13 years ago!) I was asked several times onto mainstream TV/radio financial shows. We (@TA) only ever did one, but I spent time explaining why index funds worked and were superior for most to journalists who’d sometimes never heard of them. Clearly very different today.

    I have started another business before (details somewhere in the archive) and it’s very possible I would have done something else if not Monevator, so it’s not entirely speculation. On the other hand the blog is a sunk cost. Though that cuts both ways, too.

    Regarding adverts, well that’s the rub isn’t it? Membership or Patreon is the only way to avoid all that and I don’t believe we’d generate sufficient support, we simply haven’t got the audience/traffic given that at most 1% could be expected to pay anything, and probably far fewer.

    Sponsored posts are out. Affiliate fees are decried by some as sneaky.

    The big passive providers and platforms could advertise with us directly (as Share Centre did for years — thanks!) as some of them are through the ad network, but hitherto they’ve declined. We don’t control what exact advertisers appear on the site, beyond being on a slightly more select network now (and we always tried to ban the outright scammy).

    I think you overplay the damage done by advertising though, at least by our own hand. The world is full of it, including all investing media apart from books. Starting a fightback against advertising morality on our little blog from a position of weakness isn’t really a fight I’m up for right now.

    Perhaps if the membership take-up surprises when it comes it could open another path. We’ll see.

    Cheers for your thoughts, good luck with the HIIT. (Rather you than me! 😉 )

  • 81 Al Cam January 12, 2021, 1:07 pm

    @TI:
    Thanks for your link to Unitisation – a great read and some superb comments too.
    Apologies for being thick, but I cannot locate anything that seems to match “@TA wrote about his preference for alternative methods just before Christmas”. Could you please give me another clue/hint. Thanks.

  • 82 The Investor January 12, 2021, 1:22 pm
  • 83 Al Cam January 12, 2021, 4:21 pm

    @TI:
    Doh!!
    I guess I just did not look back far enough.
    FWIW, my own take on this is if you are trying to measure your Pots performance vs a performance benchmark (like, say x% PA) then IRR is best whereas if you want to rub up your investment performance (irrespective of cash flows) vs Funds (e.g. VSWR) published data then, for compatibility, you have to use the Unitisation approach.
    IMO cash flows (both in and out) do matter and there is probably some worth in using both approaches.

  • 84 Petepool January 12, 2021, 10:21 pm

    I’m also looking forward to the book. Will I need to camp out for the book signing though?

  • 85 Xailter January 15, 2021, 3:49 pm

    +1 for a monthly membership option that removes ads (and gives Monevator some income). Ars Technica (tech website) did something similar which I support.

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