Time flies when you’re having fun!
It was exactly one year ago today that this blog, under the name of How Do I Get Rich Quick (dot com) flickered to life on the web and over the course of the next 364 days it has evolved into what you’re looking at right now.
I keep a timeline that shows some of the highlights from the past year, but today I’m going to dive a bit deeper and take a quick trip down memory lane to reflect on my first year as a personal finance blogger.
Table of Contents
READY. FIRE! AIM.
You know those radio shows where a nervous voice gets on the air and says something like “long time listener, first time caller“? Well that was me with the personal finance blog world.
I lurked for years, even commenting from time to time on various blogs. Like so many others, my first introduction into the world of early retirement was through the Mr. Money Mustache blog, and after I found that site it didn’t take long for me to catch the FIRE bug (FIRE = Financially Independent & Retired Early).
Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of this topic that I’d recently never even heard of before, and I became a voracious reader of blogs and all things personal finance.
Through Mr. Money Mustache I found the Jim Collins Stock Series. Through Jim I found the Mad FIentist and got hooked on his podcast. Somewhere along the way I thought to myself that I’d like to give this blogging thing a try, but I had no plans.
I’ve always been the impulsive type. I tend to follow the Ready. Fire! Aim. approach to life: act, then adjust later.
HOW TO NOT SET UP A BLOG
And so it was with my blog. One day, for no real reason at all, I found myself buying a domain name. It was very impulsive and I didn’t know what domain name I wanted, I just knew that I’d need one to start my blog, so I asked myself ‘what would someone type into Google if they wanted a bunch of money really fast?‘ A few minutes later I was the proud owner of HowDoIGetRichQuick.com.
I started blogging on Blogger (I’m now on WordPress) and I was in such a rush to get going that my blogger sub-domain ended up with a typo: HowDoIGetRickQuick.blogspot.com.
That’s Rick. Not rich.
Ready. Fire! Aim. right? 😉
I blogged under HowDoIGetRichQuick.com for my first three months or so before I decided to switch my name to Get Rich Quick’ish. Around this time it became clear to me that blogger wasn’t going to be a long term solution for this site, and being the impulsive guy that I am I decided to shut it all down and migrate everything from blogger to WordPress.
My first few months as a blogger are a lesson in how to not set up your blog.
- Blogging under HowDoIGetRickQuick.blogspot.com was embarrassing.
- Switching from HowDoIGetRichQuick.com to GetRichQuickish.net was painful.
- The migration from blogger to WP was painful.
- The migration continues to be painful since all of my original post formatting was lost. Today I still find old posts that just don’t look right.
- I lost most of the comments that were made on blogger – I really wish I had those original interactions with my readers
My first (and ongoing) lesson with blogging is to s l o w d o w n. If you’re considering whether or not you should start your own blog, my advice to you is absolutely yes! Start a blog, but don’t be in such a rush that you have a typo in your name. 😉
Even today, one year later, I’ll get an idea for a post, crank it out, give it a quick once over then publish it. Later my wife will hand me a list of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors for me to fix.
Ready. Fire! Aim. What can I say – it’s how I roll.
JUST KEEP BLOGGING
There have been many lessons learned and experiences had during this first year. Mainly I’ve used the past year to find and refine my voice, but hitting publish on those first few posts was SCARY! I had zero confidence in my writing ability. I was terrified that someone would come along and point out how wrong I was about something …. and that’s EXACTLY of what happened. Three of my first four comments were negative.
- “I disagree with you … “
- You have a flawed understanding … “
- “I love this … “
- “You’re doing your readers a disservice …”
Worst fear realized, but guess what? It wasn’t a big deal. So what if someone doesn’t agree with me? Not everyone has to. Besides, did you see comment #3? Someone loved my post!!
Those first few comments were like getting the first door ding in a new car. It sucks, but once you have the ding it’s out of the way and you can move on and just kept blogging.
It also took over two months before anyone commented on this site at all. Well over 60 days of silence. It would have been very easy to just call it quits, but my momma didn’t raise a quitter, so I just kept blogging and then a funny thing happened.
Comments began rolling in. Then someone linked to my blog. And I got some followers on Twitter. Next someone actually signed up for my email notification/newsletter. Then I was featured on Rockstar Finance and from that point on, everything changed a bit.
That single Rockstar Finance feature gave me more exposure in a few hours than I’d had in three months. So after a slow start, the validation poured in, and whether you like it or not, I’m sticking around for another year.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM GRQ IN YEAR TWO
My first year of blogging focused heavily on the Get Rich Quick’ish Formula:
- Spend less than you earn.
- Invest the difference.
- Eliminate/avoid debt.
I love that formula! Most of my posts centered around achieving financial independence through the accumulation of cash and assets, but not too long ago I had a mental pivot. A financial evolution and my focus changed. Call it a mini-epiphany or something else, but my focus has shifted.
As a result, my writing in year #2 will shift as well. My posts won’t be so much on reaching financial independence through the accumulation of cash and assets. It will mostly be about Personal Independence via Financial Independence. I’m calling it PI-FI. I had a stream of conscious post on PI-FI in this post I titled Don’t Tell Me What To Do.
GUEST POSTING ON GET RICH QUICK’ISH
Aside from my unofficial year 2 theme, PI-FI: Personal Independence through Financial Independence, not much around here will change, but there will be a few differences.
Most notably I’m going to open up Get Rich Quick’ish to guest posting. I get daily requests from people that would like to post here, but to-date I’ve politely declined them all. But I think now is a good time to give this a try, so if you’re interested, check out my new guest post page and contact me through it if you’ve got an idea for a post on Get Rich Quick’ish.
Okay, so this post is starting to get a bit long and I’ve still got a few things I’d like to share, so let’s keep this moving along …
THE TOPS & FLOPS FROM YEAR ONE
There have been several hits and a lot of misses this past year. Updating my URLs from HowDoIGetRichQuick.com to GetRichQuick’ish.net broke a TON of incoming links. Setting up redirects wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. In fact, I still have a number of bad links that I need to fix. Also, almost all of the comments I received on the blogger platform were lost when I switched to WordPress and I’m really (really) bummed about that.
But not all was bad. In fact, most of year one was awesome! I attended my first FinCon and settled on a long term brand identity – both big wins! Here are some other Tops and Flops from year one.
Five of my personal favorite posts from my first year of blogging (in no particular order):
A Tin Can, D.B. Cooper, and the Future Value of Money I loved this post when I first wrote it and I still like it today. The example of what happens to cash vs. an investment over time hits home with me
Work To Earn. Leave Your Passion For Your Hobby A somewhat controversial post and topic. I take the position that you should follow opportunity, not passion to make a living.
Why Everything You Own is Garbage If I had to rank my favorites, this would probably be #1. This post is from an event in my life that had a big impact on me (and it resonated with you as well; it’s by far my most read post).
23 Side Hustles I’ve Done In My Life Thinking back on all of my side and part time gigs was fun and I was surprised that my list was so big (I actually need to update this since I’ve remembered a few others!).
To Be Successful Sooner, Unlearn What You Think You Know This post came from an emotional place and time, right after we learned that my Father-in-Law has a terminal cancer.
And here are your five favorite posts (ranked in order, based on traffic and comments):
1. Why Everything You Own Is Garbage Hey! My favorite is your favorite – that’s a good sign. By FAR the most visited post in the past year.
2. Note to Self: Money is Just Stuff and Stuff Just Doesn’t Matter It’s funny that this post, which took me less than 10 minutes to write and was conceived while I was riding the bus into work, got picked up by RockStar Finance and became the 2nd most popular post during year 1. Hmmm, maybe I need to spend less time on my future posts?
3. How Much Money Do I Need To Be Rich? This was one of my first posts and by far the most controversial. I lost all of the original comments when I migrated from blogger to WordPress, but my take on the 4% rule struck a nerve with many! Either you love the 4% rule or you hate it – just like post.
4. Reviewing FinCon 2016 – The Good. The Bad. The Ugly By far my most commented on post (currently sitting on 62 comments). Most of the comments came from the amazing personal finance bloggers I met at the conference. I’m looking forward to FinCon 2017 in Dallas!
5. Living the FI-Life: My Time Before and After FI This is a recent post that got both good traffic and a decent number of comments. In it I take a look at where my time goes today while I’m still dependent upon that paycheck vs. where my time will go once I reach financial independence. It’s an interesting way to look at how you spend your time.
My three least favorite posts from year one (in no particular order):
The First Step to Get Rich Quick’ish: Spend Less Than You Make Once again we’re on the same page. My least favorite is also your least favorite. So if you hate it and I hate it, should I keep it? I don’t know the right answer, but I’m going to keep it. It’s part of the evolution of my site, so good or bad it’s here to stay.
Gift Ideas for the Men in Your Life. This was me succumbing to the temptation of the almighty affiliate dollar. This post doesn’t have anything to do with Getting Rich Quick’ish or with PI-FI, so I’m disappointed in myself for posting it. To add insult to injury, the Amazon sales this post generated didn’t quality for a commission, so in the end I didn’t make a penny and sold out for nothing!
Teaching The Kids About Financial Independence. Good idea, bad writing or something. I just don’t care for this post.
And here are the five least popular posts on this site (based on page views and comments, or lack of thereof).
1. The First Step to Get Rich Quick’ish: Spend Less Than You Make My second post on this site. Guess there was nowhere to go from here but up.
2. Why I Blog Obviously nobody gives a damn.
3. Payback is a You Know What I really like this post. It almost made my top 5 favorites but it didn’t get a lot of traction on the site, so I guess this is one of those times when we’re not on the same page. For the official record, this post is awesome which means I’m right and you’re wrong. Give it another chance!
4. 10 Lessons of Parenting From One Wise Guy Who’s Done Doing the Dad Thing I LOVE this post as well, but it wasn’t written by me & doesn’t have a lot to do with FIRE, so I get why it’s not wildly popular on the site.
5. What is an Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP)? Of all my posts, this one took me the longest to write. I thought it would be really well received. Guess not.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
For me personally there has been a lot of good this past year but also a couple of body blows that we’ve had to deal with.
Some of the low lights:
- Cancer F**KING sucks. My father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
- My wife’s grandmother also passed away last year on my wife’s birthday.
- My parents sold their home (my childhood home) and for some reason that has bothered me more than it should. Odd how we get attached to stupid things like wood and bricks when it’s really the memories from that home that I love. And I still have those memories …. so what’s the problem? I don’t know, but it still bothers me. And I’m bothered that it bothers me. This is a vicious cycle.
Some personal highlights:
- Shortly after launching this blog I received a promotion at work which equaled more pay and a bigger bonus. That brings my FI date just a little bit closer!
- My net worth grew 86.64% since launching this blog. If I can duplicate that in year #2 I’ll be one happy camper.
- I also turned 40 a few weeks ago. The big Four-Oh! This is the decade that I’m planning on retiring early in, so worst case scenario I’m T minus 9 years to FI. Not bad considering we’re basically starting over from scratch after our Dark Year.
SOME BLOG STATS
Here are some key blog metrics from year one. Let me know if you have a specific question and I’d be happy answer it for you.
- TOTAL BLOG POSTS: 65 (here’s the archive of everything I’ve written to-date). I know some bloggers crank out blog posts like a Pez dispenser, but I’m happy with my average of about one post per week for now. For me, this is manageable with my current work/family/blog life balance. I’m under no pressure to write or grow this blog, so taking my own sweet time is just the way I like it.
- TOTAL SITE VISITS: 26,931. That’s almost 74 views per day and traffic is growing faster than ever – I hope to see this momentum continue throughout year 2. (Note: I didn’t start capturing traffic data until 3/28/2016, so I’m missing about two months worth of numbers. Most notably I’m missing the traffic from a Rockstar Finance feature. My guess is that my volume is low by 5,000 – 10,000)
- TOTAL UNIQUE VISITS: 21,910.
- TOTAL COSTS: $1,003.86. Woah! That total is way more than I thought, but 73% of that money has gone to FinCon ($369.78 to attend FinCon 2016 in San Diego + $358 for two tickets to FinCon 2017 in Dallas). Actual money spent on this blog comes out to $276.08. The majority of that money was for 3 years of hosting with SiteGround. The rest went towards my two domain names, WordPress Genesys framework, and email. Actual blog expenses should be minimal in year 2.
- TOTAL REVENUE: $131.82. The breakdown is $71.82 from AdSense and $60 from affiliate commissions. Good thing I’m not dependent upon monetizing this site because I obviously suck at it. I need to up my affiliate game (a lot!).
- TOTAL LOSS FOR THE YEAR: ($872.04). This number includes all blog expenses as well as my FinCon expenses. FinCon numbers are included since I wouldn’t have incurred those costs were it not for Get Rich Quick’ish.
COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!
Here are the Top
10 11 referring sites to Get Rich Quick’ish during my first year*
* As I was calculating these percentages I noticed a problem. The amount of traffic coming here from Rockstar Finance is so big that it skewed my Top 10 list. A lot. So I’m very sorry J. Money and Cait Flanders but you are too good for your own good and I’m excluding your astonishingly large amount of referral traffic. Instead, you get your own special stand-alone mention in this newly minted ‘Size Matters’ section of this post.
The Top 10 (non-Rockstar Finance) Referring Sites to Get Rich Quick’ish
- The Financial Diet – 34% of referral traffic to my site came from TFD – almost all of this came from early in 2015. The Financial Diet is a referral powerhouse – thanks, ladies.
- Financial Samurai – 11%. Sam hasn’t linked directly to me, but I’ve left a few comments on his site and those comments are what drive people back here. 11% just from comment traffic? Dang – Financial Samurai has some serious cachet!
- Physician on FIRE – 9% of my referral traffic in year one came from a single mention in the good Doctor’s Sunday Best. Thanks for the shout out, POF!
- Budgets are Sexy – 9%. Making yet another appearance here, this time via his personal site, is J. Money. J linked to Get Rich Quick’ish in his first post-sabbatical blog post and it was obvious.
- Apathy Ends – 7%. AE has linked to me a couple of times; he was also one of the first to connect with me on Twitter. Thank you, sir!
- FinanciaLibre – 7% of referral traffic came from this relatively new blog which I’m a HUGE fan of. Informative and entertaining writing are what you’ll get from FinanciaLibre.
- Freedom is Groovy – 7% of my traffic was groovy. I only hope these two cats don’t lose their motivation to blog now that they’re newly retired.
- The Green Swan. 6% came from the man that saved a million bucks in 10 years. That’s awesome! Want to know how to do the same? Click on his name and download his ebook.
- Make Smarter Decisions. 6% of my traffic came from Vicki. If my principal had been this cool I’d have spent a lot more time in her office. Instead I just hang out on her blog.
- Centsibly Rich. 4% of my year one referral traffic came from Amanda, who paid off over $100,000 in debt, while still living the good life. Want to do the same? Check out her site.
Before I wrap this up I’d like to say ‘Thanks!’ to a few more people.
- Thank you Froogal Stoodent for the very first link to my blog!
- Thank you Holly Johnson (from Club Thrifty) for being my first Twitter follower!
- Thank you J$ and C$ for that first Rockstar Feature! (And for the second feature! And for the third!)
- Thank you Andrew from Family Money Plan for being the first to interview me!
- Thank you Steve Stewart for helping make my first FinCon a success, and for buying me a Dr. Pepper!
- Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods for mentoring me. I’ve incorporated nearly everything we talked about into this blog and I couldn’t be happier with how things are going!
- Last, and most certainly not least, a huge thanks to my wife, Mandy! Money bloggers are weird and you’ve put up with me like a champ – thanks for helping me pursue this. Muah!
Finally, a great big, huge and sincere thank you to YOU – the person that’s reading this right now. Whether you’re going to leave me a nasty comment, a good one, or even if you’re just going to click away I’m very glad you’re here and am thankful that you’d spend your time reading my writing.
I’m really looking forward to year two and can’t wait to engage with and get to know even more of you! Thanks for slogging through this loooong post.
So I lost more than $800 for the year on GRQ – does that surprise you? Are my traffic numbers more or less than you were expecting? Have you got any suggestions or requests for me? What can I do better in year two? What did you think of my first year? Please leave a comment and let me know!