I’ve been blogging for a little over three years now. The idea for the blog was born as a phd student as I was flying around the country desperately trying to get a job to provide for my 5 kids and justify the 7 years away from the workforce (2 years mba + 5 years phd). At the time, there were plenty of blogs out there documenting the benefits of having millions in the bank and living frugally (i.e. Mr Money Mustache, GoCurryCracker, MadFientist, etc). But I thought I could add something to the discussion. It’s one thing to blog about the easy life of millions of index funds in the bank. I thought it’d be novel to document the path to that point (not realizing that a trillion other bloggers were doing the same). At the time, I was a 35 year old college student making $30k/year with $250k in the bank.
A little over three years later, here’s my assessment on how this grand experiment is going. It’s been good on some dimensions, bad on some dimensions, but I’m having fun so I’ll stick around for a while.
The good of blogging:
- I like having a place to put my thoughts into the ether.
- For example, it’s nice to be able to share a link to my cell phone hacking post instead of re-explaining each time I think I could help someone.
- The blog has somewhat tempered my inappropriate and in-your-face desire to discuss personal finance with people in real life. Given that I’ve written the contents of my brain onto an obscure corner of the internet, I feel like I’m doing my small part to pay it forward.
- I’ve had fun internet interactions with some cool people. I’ve met a couple in real life at the Berkshire meeting.
- It has disciplined me into learning more about taxes than I would have without the blog.
- It functions as my monthly journal in which I reflect on what I learned/read/liked/did over the month.
- I have a notoriously crappy memory. I only vaguely remember the last 15 years of my life. Writing stuff down seems to help preserve the memories.
- Posting our spending on a monthly basis has disciplined me into 1.) tracking our finances in a regimented manner, and 2.) changed the way my brain operates. I understand how every single transaction flows through the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows. Want to learn accounting? Generate monthly financial statements. It’s truly empowering. Want some accountability with your spending? Publish it to random internet strangers.
- It’s oftentimes hard to see the impact of my research (excluding token citations from other academics). It’s oftentimes hard to see the impact of teaching students who sometimes don’t want to be in your class. But it’s incredibly rewarding to write content that could occasionally help people in the real world.
The bad of blogging:
- I think the annual net earnings of the blog are in the neighborhood of negative $100. If I’ve spent 50 hours on the blog this year, this amounts to negative $2/hr. I’m probably underselling the time spent on the blog.
- I showed my 9-year-old son my Amazon affiliate revenue the other day. He laughed hysterically at how small it was. He couldn’t catch his breath.
- It’s really hard to stay motivated. Most blogs languish in obscurity. It’s hard to differentiate yourself. There are 1,000,000,000 personal finance blogs, each of which tout the benefits of index funds and frugality. It’s hard to make a marginal impact.
- It can be a timesuck.
Should you start a blog?
- If you want to blog to make money, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll burn out long before you make a buck.
- On the other hand, if you want to blog because you obsess about a subject to an unhealthy level and care to share your passion with the world, go for it. But be prepared to languish in obscurity for a decade before anyone other than your mother reads your blog. Only your love of the material will be sufficient to carry you through the years of obscurity – at which point your grandmother will also subscribe to your blog, increasing your blog readership by 100%!
Reservations with the blog:
- I was approved as a credit card affiliate a few months back but found out afterwards that they didn’t offer the BoA suite as part of the affiliate program. I didn’t feel ethical pushing anything I don’t personally have in my wallet. Maybe I’ll reconsider?
- It’s weird posting our finances since it’s taboo to talk about one’s personal financial situation. I hope breaching the taboo is worth the personal cost.
- 224 WordPress / email subscribers
- 248 Feedly subscribers
- 8k pageviews/month as of late
- Seems to be growing somewhat despite my anemic publishing schedule.
- Posts/month: 2.167.
- $49.90 2019 revenue (hosting + domain costs exceed this by around $100)
Monthly pageviews as of Dec 2019
Most popular posts. I’m 99.9% sure the dumb golf ball post was anomalous bot traffic.
Traffic sources. I refuse to use social media because it makes me dumber. My blog traffic surely suffers as a result. Most other bloggers promote themselves on Twitter. Twitter has never made much sense to me since it seems redundant to RSS feeds, though I acknowledge that I’m in the minority here for my deep love of RSS feeds.
Total 2019 affiliate income.