Tag Archives: RockStar Finance

My First Year as a Personal Finance Blogger

My blog just celebrated its first birthday.  The Financial Journeyman was launched on April 8, 2017. It is hard to believe that my first year as a personal finance blogger has come and gone.  Time sure does go by quickly when you are having fun and interacting with great people.

When I launched this blog, I had very low expectations.  My expectations were low because I never created a blog before.  After I decided to create this blog, I did some research on how other blogs performed during their first year.

Many of the general posts that I read about initial blog traffic stated that traffic will be slow in the beginning.  Some bloggers wrote that they received zero traffic for months.  For some, the only person who read their blog was their Mom.  That had me worried because I knew that I would be in trouble if I had to rely on my Mom to read this blog.  Joking aside, I knew that creating a blog was going to take a great amount of time, effort, and some money.

Before I created The Financial Journeyman I never interacted on blogs or forums.  They have always been useful sources of information.  My approach was just to visit, read, and move on.

That approach had to change.  I did not know anyone in the Financial Independence Community.  To meet people and make connections, I had to start interacting with people who were sharing about their personal financial situations on various online platforms.

In a sense, I felt like the personal financial blogger who came in from the cold.  This blog was not about tracking a transformation that followed a psyche change about money.  I was already saving and investing for 20 years, close to being financially independent, and planning on retiring in 2028.

The Financial Journeyman was created to share what I have learned along this journey.  It is written for those who want to achieve financial independence first and then plan for an early retirement.  The content is for both beginners as well as for those how are already taking the required actions to make their own financial goals a reality.

Social Media

Since my blog is anonymous, Twitter seemed to be the best option to start with.  I keep my blog anonymous because I talk openly about my financial situation.  There are some people like my boss and extended family who I do not want to know about the details of my financial situation.  The other reason is that I do not want to be robbed.  I read the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote at a young age and I suggest it to anyone who has considered sharing about their wealth without protecting their identity.  Twitter has been a great tool for growing traffic and interacting with other bloggers.  In my first year, my list of followers has grown to over 2,700 people.

The Financial Independence Community

Rockstar Finance has been an invaluable resource.  I have had three posts featured in the past year:

How the Mob Influenced My Asset Allocation

Keep Your Hands Off My 401K

Funding Retirement with the Bucket Approach

J. Money was kind to me and greatly helped to get my blog some traction.  ESI who now owns Rockstar Finance is also a good guy and featured me as M25 in his interview series about millionaires. Being featured on those sites truly helped to get my blog some needed exposure among 1,500 other personal finance blogs.

Guest posting is also important for new blogs.  It is a way to get introduced to new readers.  My first guest post was on My Millennial Guide.  Over the past 12 months, I have written guest posts on several websites including Chief Mom Officer, Keep Thrifty, Abandoned Cubicle, and for Michael Dinich.  All those posts have helped introduce me to new followers.

It is fun to meet people and chat online.  For me, however, I like to meet people in person.  It is fun to hang out and talk with people who share the same passion for financial independence.

In the past year, I have started attending my local Bogleheads Chapter Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (120 miles away).  At that group, I have had the opportunity to meet some nice people who welcomed me to the group.  At the most recent meeting, I had the opportunity to meet Erin Arvedlund from the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Erin Arvedlund might not be a familiar name, but she was the original journalist who broke the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme story while working for Barron’s Magazine.  Yes, she is the real deal.

In November, there was a Rockstar Finance Meet-up in New York City.  This was a chance to meet some of the best personal finance bloggers who live on the East Coast.  At this event, I had the opportunity to meet Stefanie O’Connell, Josh Holt from Big Law Investor, The Luxe Strategist, and Liz from Chief Mom Officer.  At that event, I also met another Pennsylvania Guy named Church who blogs at My Mattress Money.  Like myself, Church is a big Philadelphia Eagles fan.  He and I frequently chat about the Eagles and message each other during the games.  It was fun to root for the eagles together on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

It seems like I am making new friends every week.  A short while ago I was able to meet a financial blogger who lives near me.  I had the opportunity to have dinner With Michael Dinich.  Michael is a financial professional as well as a blogger.  He is a generous guy.  He and I are currently working on a few collaborations together.

My most recent financial meet-up was the ChooseFI meet-up in Philadelphia.  There are many outstanding financial podcasts, but ChooseFI is one that I tune into almost every week.  It was fun to expand my circle of friends even more.  I had the pleasure of meeting Kait who blogs at Not Your Average Millennials. This was a very friendly and welcoming group of people who are working hard to reach financial independence.  I am looking forward to hanging out with this group again.

People might think I am crazy to dedicate a whole Saturday to drive to these big cities to talk money with strangers.  If I was not passionate about it, I would not do it.  If I want to make new friends and expanded my reach, I need to put forth the effort and go to them.  It is not different from any other personal or professional relationship.

Writing

This post is about a blog, so I guess I should touch on writing.  My advice is simple.  The first post is the hardest.  I thought about creating a blog for a very long time.  I decided that I did not want to one day reach old age and look back and wish that I had written.

It is a craft.  It takes practice.  It is difficult, but I am striving for progress.

Reading makes writing easier.  You might be a personal finance blogger, or you might blog about something entirely different.  Read other bloggers that are in your space.  Read books, journals, and forums too.

Just keep writing.  Dedicate some time to write every day.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Blog posts are short.  Even longer 3,000-word blog posts are short compared to a book.  I have found that diction is super important in blog posts. It is crucial to be as clear as possible.  As a personal finance blogger, the logic is the easy part.  The difficult part is capturing the ethos and pathos.

Finding Balance

I post about 5 times per month.  This is a part-time blog.  On top of managing this blog, I have a full-time HR job where I manage the Recruiting for four different healthcare campuses in two different states.  That job eats up a good chunk of my time and energy.

Every morning, I try to dedicate about 45 minutes for reading before work.  Every evening, I dedicate at least one hour for writing and editing posts.  My time is limited, so I need to be efficient.

Blog Performance Metrics

So, how has this blog performed over the past year?  The Financial Journeyman was raked as the 15th fastest growing personal finance blogs over the past year.  That statistic truly humbled me.

This is the third post about performance metrics that I have written.  If you want to see some of the early stats, I wrote a six-month as well as a nine-month review.  Below are some of the metrics for the 1st quarter of 2018 as well as my total metrics for the past 12 months:

January 2018

  • Sessions – 1,050
  • Users – 724
  • Page views – 1,859
  • Pages/Sessions – 1.77
  • Average session Duration – 1:23
  • Bounce Rate – 71.14%
  • Number of Sessions per User – 1.32

February 2018

  • Sessions – 980
  • Users – 753
  • Page views – 1,699
  • Pages/Sessions – 1.73
  • Average session Duration – 1:38
  • Bounce Rate – 69.59%
  • Number of Sessions per User – 1.30

March 2018

  • Sessions – 3,956
  • Users – 3,289
  • Page views – 5,370
  • Pages/Sessions – 1:36
  • Average session Duration – 1:09
  • Bounce Rate – 84%
  • Number of Sessions per User – 1.20

April 2017 – March 2018

  • Sessions – 16, 537
  • Users – 12,300
  • Page views – 25,454
  • Pages/Sessions – 1.54
  • Average session Duration – 1:17
  • Bounce Rate – 76.74%
  • Number of Sessions per User – 1.36

Conclusion

There you have it.  That was what it is like to be a blogger for one year.  It is now easier than ever to create a blog.  If there is a subject that you are passionate about, you owe it to yourself to write.  You also owe it to others.  People want to read about what you have to offer.  It is a therapeutic process.  It is hard but rewarding.  It is your opportunity to share with the world. People want to read about an experience, direction, and what is possible for them to achieve.

It has been a pleasure to share this year with all my readers.  I am looking forward to an even more exciting second year of blogging.  When it comes to personal finance and especially investing, we do not know what is coming next.  That is why it is important to have a plan and find trusted resources that you can stick with.  My goal is to be one of those trusted resources for you.

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New York Personal Finance Meet Up

I did not have the opportunity to attend Fincon 2017.  This blog was newly created in April and in all honesty, FinCon was not even on my radar of things to do this year.  After reading the many blog posts about FinCon 2017, I am defiantly going to attend next year’s event in Orlando, Florida.  I was, however, able to attend the New York Personal Finance Meet Up (#NYPFMeetUp).

The New York Personal Finance Meet Up was not a formal convention.  There were not any vendors or presentations.  It was an informal meet-up of people from the RockStar Finance Forum and the FinCon Community.

Most of the people who attended the meet-up were from New York City.  I was one of the few people who came from out of town to attend.  To attend this event, I traveled from my home in Pennsylvania.

When you think of New York City, you normally do not think of it as a place to live if your goal is to reach financial independence or early retirement.  Don’t get me wrong, Manhattan is about making big money.  It is also about spending big money because of the high cost of housing, taxes, transportation, and just about everything else.  The group of people who I met prove that you can reach financial independence while enjoying everything that New York City has to offer.

Prior to attending the event, there were some people who I wanted to meet because I was familiar with them from the financial independence community.  There were others in attendance who I did not know.  The financial independence community is very big and it is hard to read everyone’s work.  As the result of attending the event, I had the opportunity to meet a few new people and am looking forward to reading their blogs in the future.

Stefanie O’Connell

I was the first person to arrive at Tacombi in the Flatiron Section of New York where the meet-up took place.  I was only there for about two minutes and Stefanie O’Connell arrived.  Stefanie asked me if I was there for the blogger meet-up and our conversation took off from there.  Stefanie is a big deal in the financial independence space.  She is a full-time professional blogger and has been at it for 5 years.  She has over 10,000 followers on Twitter and has been featured many times in the financial media.  Stefanie’s target audience is millennial women who want to be as confident with their money as they are in their lives.  Stefanie O’Connell has an impressive blog and is doing a great job at helping her audience reach financial independence.

Chief Mom Officer

The second person to arrive was Liz from Chief Mom Officer.  She did not have to introduce herself because her gravatar is her likeness.  Like me, Liz traveled from out of town to attend this meet-up.  Liz was one of the bloggers who I was looking forward to meeting.  I stumbled upon her blog not long after my own blog was launched.

Even though I am not a mom, I can relate to Liz in other ways.  We both attended college and graduate school the hard way.  We worked full-time jobs in the day and went to school in the evening while managing our other responsibilities.  Liz’s blog is about reaching financial independence, raising her three children, and caring for her husband who has serious health issues.  At first, I was going to write that Liz is a good role model for moms, but she is a great role model for everyone to follow.

I had a great conversation with Liz about blogging and personal finance.  As a new blogger, she gave me some solid information on growing my blog.  We also spoke about her recent experience at FinCon.  She gave me some tips and suggestions for next year’s event.

Big Law Investor

Another personal finance blogger who I was looking forward to meeting was Joshua from Big Law Investor.  As the title of his blog suggests, Joshua is a lawyer and personal finance blogger who is living in New York City.  While Joshua’s blog is about personal finance for lawyers, the principles that he writes about are useful for anyone who wants to achieve financial independence.

Even though I am not a lawyer, I enjoy reading his articles that are written for lawyers.  His posts about the legal profession are objective and educational.  He writes about the challenges that lawyers face in their career, with student loans, and as investors.  I would highly suggest his blog to anyone who is interested in personal finance or is considering attending law school.  It was a pleasure to meet and chat with Joshua.  He is a rising star in the financial independence community.

The Luxe Strategist

It was also a pleasure meeting Luxe from The Luxe Strategist.  She and I launched our blogs around the same time.  We also follow the progress that each other is making.

Luxe was one of the coordinators for this meet-up.  Luxe is living an awesome life in New York City.  She writes about saving 50% of her salary while indulging in the finer things that New York City has to offer.  Who says you cannot have the best of both worlds?  If you want to learn how to have a high savings rate while living a posh lifestyle, check out The Luxe Strategist.

Pleasant Surprises

Again, since there are so many people in the financial independence space, it is hard to know everyone unless you are J. Money.  Another new blogger who I met at this event was Church from My Mattress Money.  I enjoyed chatting with Church.  I am not just saying that because he is a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  He and I had a good conversation about how important it is to first focus on reaching financial independence before considering early retirement.   His blog is about one year old and has some great content about tracking your net worth, insurance, and how his family shaped his views about money.

As the meeting went on, I had some other great conversations.  I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman named David.  We spoke about using Pinterest to grow blog traffic, the optimal frequency for blog posts, and about different personal finance forums.

About 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to end, a gentleman named Jack walked over to me and struck up a conversation.  I was not familiar with Jack’s blog because he is not on RockStar Finance.  Jack explained how his blog is about travel hacking.  He also explained to me how he gets to take great trips for almost free by applying travel hacking strategies.  Jack and I exchanged contact information and he has provided me with some solid tips on how to implement these practices.  Thanks, Jack, you rock!

Conclusion

As you can tell from my post, I had an awesome time.  It was great to be able to meet this group of people who are working towards financial independence, helping others, and living exciting lives in New York City.

There was only one part of the evening that I regret.  As my wife and I were walking back uptown to catch our bus home, I realized that I did not get to talk with everyone who attended the meeting.  It was my fault for not taking the time to introduce myself.  It was difficult because there were 15 people at the meeting, the meeting was only 2 hours long, and as you can imagine the conversations with this group of dynamic people went way beyond small talk.  Next time, It will be my priority to talk with everyone who attends.