State of the Blog – 2020 Edition

Here’s the second instance of the state-of-the-blog post. My 2019 edition is here.

Blog Stats:

  • 298 WordPress / email subscribers
    • 33% growth from last year (224)
  • 288 Feedly subscribers:
    • 16% growth from last year (248)
  • 136,970 pageviews this year
    • 2020 cumulative pageviews: 316,223.
    • 2019 cumulative pageviews: 179,253.
  • Posts/month: ~3.5.
  • 2020 Profitability:
    • Amazon affiliate revenue: $104
    • Personal capital referral bonuses: $100
    • Blog costs (domain + digitalocean hosting): $72*(1-5.25%) = $68.22
      • $5/month VPS hosting at digitalocean
      • $1/month for domain name at google domains
      • 5.25% cash back for “online” category at BoA
    • Profit (ignoring home internet costs, etc): $135.78
    • Profit/hr (assume 1hr/post): $3.23.


Pageviews by month. I’m not sure why, but some posts become popular by algorithmically hitting “recommended” pages on phone apps like the android swipe right news feed (and even Google News this year). As part of my effort to minimize mindless phone usage this year, I disabled the android swipe right news feed on my phone and have been pleased with the result.

 


Most popular posts during 2020. I’m somewhat surprised/demoralized by the negative correlation between posts I think people should read and posts people actually find through Google. Choosing the right cell phone plan indeed can save someone $100/month. But choosing the right asset allocation and tax management strategies will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars of increased wealth over one’s lifetime. Given the human tendency to ignore the decades-long horizons, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that my technical tax/investing posts are relegated to the bottom of the heap.

 


Traffic sources. I refuse to use social media because it makes me dumber. I am a bit surprised that the blog isn’t more frequently shared organically on social media channels like Reddit/FB.

 

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Total 2020 Amazon affiliate income. I’m not sure what a bounty is, but I think it has to do with someone signing up for a service (like audible) after reaching Amazon through my blog.

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2020 geographic dispersion of visitors. Not terribly informative, though I’m happy to have received traffic from North Dakota!

 

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My sheep dog biking video attracted 20k views, or 577 hours of watch time. I have 34 YouTube subscribers. I remain convinced that this video will be my most lasting legacy on Earth.

 

Conclusion

5 years in a phd program and 4.25 years as a professor have conditioned me to enjoy dissecting dissect data. It’s evident that blogging is an archaic media that is subsumed by the juggernauts of social media. YouTube, in particular, seems particularly impactful.

If I cared more about increasing my reach, I’d probably focus on YouTube/Podcasts to do something more useful. Since I don’t care to do anything different, I’ll continue to publish at an anemic pace the random thoughts that cross through the synapses of my brain. Maybe I’ll even capture another almost-mauled-by-an-animal video to add to the YouTube collection. For as much time as I spend backpacking in remote grizzly country each year, I sure hope that this doesn’t come to fruition.

If nothing else, this blog is serving as an entertaining journal for me to look back on and remember things that I would have otherwise forgotten.

29 thoughts on “State of the Blog – 2020 Edition”

    • I like Cal Newport a lot. I vaguely remember reading this from him. If I remember correctly, he’s also a fan of forums.

      I’m amazed at the level of expertise contained in archaic 1990’s style internet forums (e.g. Bogleheads).

      Reply
  1. Professor, you have saved me a lot of money via the 5.25% cash back posting alone, so please keep posting knowing you are making a difference.

    Reply
    • Happy to help. Hopefully BoA doesn’t take away the 5.25%. I cashed in $3k of tax-free rewards in 2020. It really adds up!

      Reply
    • EITC optimization is a huge opportunity for some smart tax planning. I’m happy that someone has benefited from my obsession on the topic. 5 years in grad school taught me to optimize the heck out of it.

      Reply
    • Agreed – immensely grateful for your EITC post on GCC – opened my eyes to pre-tax retirement contributions as a tool to benefit my family via tax credits.

      Reply
  2. Love the detail here. How do you find the number of Feedly subscribers and what software does the US map by visitors?

    Reply
  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Lots of good information and data! With so much data included in your posts, did you really use just one hour for each post? This is a great blog. I personally prefer blogs over social media. I hope you are going to do it for a long time. Hava a great year!

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by!

      The marginal time spent on each blog post is relatively small. I’m already on the internet reading the news and listening to podcasts. Some people use Evernote to save stuff they like. I use this blog. When I read/listen to something interesting, I spend a minute writing it up.

      Hope you have a great year as well!

      Reply
    • I plug in my laptop (with uBlock origin) via HDMI when watching YouTube for this very reason. I refuse to use the native Roku app with ads (I have a Roku TV).

      Reply
  4. Hello. I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now after a frugal friend shared it with me. It felt odd to know so much about your life without ever introducing myself so I decided to finally post. My wife and I regularly use the phrase “what would FP do?”. I’m not sure if that motivates or scares you.

    My resolution for the year is to more rigorously track our finances. We have been living a frugal lifestyle but with no real direction. It’s becoming more unnerving to not have a plan. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Also, I noticed you said you do not use social media. Did you know Facebook has a thriving marketplace of people trying to sell used items? My wife and I have used this to both sell items (wedding decor, washer and dryer, my car) and buy things. It may be worth considering an account just for access to this.

    Thanks again for doing the blog and I am looking forward to continuing to read in 2021!

    Reply
    • Adam,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Just yesterday I had an email exchange with a student that I’d taught a couple of years back during his Sophomore year. He’s about to graduate and start a good job. In closing, I joked with him that he should ask himself “what would FP do” every time he pulls out his wallet. I was being mostly factious, of course, but in my course I talk a lot about investing and personal finance. He responded by saying that his significant other jokes about the fact his former professor has a more meaningful influence on his spending behavior than does his significant other. He even mentioned the acronym WW(FP)D?. It made me smile.

      Good luck with your resolution to more rigorously track your finances. Tracking every penny of income, spending, and wealth every month has been helpful to me. I hope it is similarly helpful to you. Please use my spreadsheet as a template. It’s the most comprehensive way I can think of to track the whole picture of one’s financial life.

      I indeed don’t have a FB account, though my wife does. I used to use Craigslist extensively when we were buying tons of baby/kid gear. Since the kids are older now, I rely on it much less. I’ve become vaguely aware of FB marketplace over the years, but only recently have realized that it’s quite the juggernaut. My wife recently used it to find a Christmas gift for FC2, which worked out great. I appreciate your suggestion and will maybe use it more readily in the future. When I sold my $1,350 ebike recently, it didn’t even occur to me to post it on FB marketplace.

      I hope you have a great 2021!!!

      Reply
    • Thanks for fueling my notoriety! That sure was a weird experience. I can assure you it was much scarier in person than it appears on video.

      Reply

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