2011 Mid-Year Review: Online Endeavors And Building A Community

Half the year is done and it has neither felt too fast or too slow.  A large part of the reason why I feel time is going just about the right speed is because I’ve taken two, 10 day long trips overseas for work already.  Both were very busy, but also very rewarding.  I also went on two one week vacations as well.

I’ve crammed so much into 6 months, that I am mentally exhausted to think about cramming the same amount of work and experiences in the 2nd half of the year!  I’m kind of scared because I know there’s a lot to do, and I always want to run through first base and finish strong.  Generally everybody says, “Boy, the year sure flew by!“  Not me.  Not this year.

A good practice to make sure our New Years resolutions are on track is to provide a mid-year update.  I’m curious to see how I’ve done, so I’ve copied and pasted the words from my 2011 NY resolutions post and critiqued my progress in blue.  What started off as a general summary, turned into a 6,000 word post.  As a result, I’ve broken my mid-review into three posts: Online Endeavors, Personal Finances, and Lifestyle.

MID-YEAR REVIEW: ONLINE ENDEAVORS

* Maintain and grow Yakezie.com into one of the largest networks on the web. By the end of the year, we aim to generate $100,000 a month in revenue for all Members.  Stretch goal, but a possibility for sure.  We will host at least 6 Scholarships and award at least 18 Yakezie Scholarship winners.  Yakezie.com will also build out its Lifestyle Vertical with 10 new Lifestyle Members and plenty of content.

Yakezie.com is the largest personal finance network on the web.  If you know otherwise, let me know.  The Network is full of amazing individuals who’ve all stuck with building their sites, collaborating, and doing amazing things online.  I’m proud to be a part of it!  We’ve decided to make the Yakezie Writing Contest (Scholarship) a 2-4X a year endeavor.  It takes A LOT of planning.  I’ve got to come up with the questions, market the contest, review the essays, find sponsors, choose the best essays with the committee, schedule the posts, write post updates myself, encourage readers to vote, answer all the applicant’s questions, and announce the winners.  It’s funny how we are always so gung-ho about a project in the beginning, only to realize holy crap, there’s a lot of work!  That said, I’m very proud of the team for coming together and hosting this charitable endeavor to help others further their education.

I’m not sure if the Lifestyle Vertical will grow a life of its own.  My original thesis was that a lot of lifestyle bloggers like to travel around the world and don’t need much to survive.  If they can earn $1,000/month, or an extra $1,000/month through blogging, it would be a home-run.  Many Yakezie Members make that or much more, so I thought it would be a no-brainer for the Lifestyle blogging genre to latch on.  Alas, it hasn’t been the case, which I find strange.  Sometimes even the best opportunities need to be marketed better.  The other definition of the Lifestyle vertical is to also say that once we have our personal finances down right, we can lead the lifestyle of choice.  We aren’t just all PF blogging robots, and many of us have other hobbies and things we like to do.

As for the Yakezie Network of Members making $100,000 more a month by end of year, it’s possible!  I continue to read about Members sharing they’ve gone from just $100 a month to $600/month and from $1,000 a month to $1,800 a month.  Several Members have quit their jobs because their online endeavors have been so lucrative that its surpassed their day job income!  The progress is real and very tangible.  Furthermore, if I implement a new project by end of year, there’s no doubt we can achieve this $100K goal sooner or later.

* Make you believe that I blog full-time. In other words, readers of Financial Samurai will be treated to consistent (2-4 posts), quality content every week of the year.  Readers will forget that I work 55-60 hours a week running another business because the quality of the site will remain high.  Comments and e-mails will be responded to, guest posts will be welcomed, product reviews and giveaways will be conducted.  Like eating the most scrumptious chocolate cake, you’ll develop an urge to keep coming back for more without gaining any weight.

The writing schedule on Financial Samurai has been consistent.  Yakezie.com requires a lot of my time, but I have never neglected this site.  If I have to travel for a week, the 2-4 posts are still scheduled and I will still respond to all comments that require responding to.  I might miss an e-mail here and there, so please feel free to e-mail me again and remind me.

I suspect that in order for me to make you believe I blog full-time and forget I work 55-60 hours a week at my day job, I think I’ve got to post even more frequently. On any given day, I have a queue of some 20-25 fully written posts.  However, there generally is a lot of discussion in each post, and I like to comment back.  Hence, if I were to increase the posting frequency to 4-5 times a week, I think I would be overwhelmed and start hating blogging.

A fun goal is to compete effectively with full-time bloggers with only a quarter of the time.  I want to challenge myself to see if I can create equally compelling and unique content as the full-timers do.  Full-time bloggers are a great barometer to push me to also match posting frequency as well as income levels.  I’m pretty amazed how straightforward it is to make a decent living online, which is why I’m so bullish about the economy.  Anybody with enough drive can do well for themselves.

So far, it’s been a fun ride.  You’ll have to tell me how I’m doing.

* Fly just under the radar. It’s very tempting to brag about financial achievements with a personal finance blog after a certain point, and that’s something I don’t want to do.  I realize times are still tough for many, and I find it inappropriate to share specific financial successes without the proper balance of financial failures.  There are a host of other PF bloggers who publish their net worth progress regularly.  Check them out and encourage them.

I don’t want credit for anything that comes out of Yakezie.com either.  The site is for the Members and I’m careful not to impose my style and voice on the Network because I have a very strong personality that’s not suited for everyone.  I want readers of Financial Samurai to read the content for what it is and to have no preconceived prejudices if possible.  If Yakezie.com or Financial Samurai gets picked up by larger media outlet, great, thank you!  However, I don’t plan on seeking attention.  Everything I do will be guided by one word: fun.  If the interview or project or whatever isn’t fun, I just won’t do it.

Offline, I want people to see me as just another regular person who looks less senior than his job title would indicate and is very financially mediocre.  You know the scene in The Matrix where the ship is trying to avoid the attention of the Sentinels?  My goal is similar to that – to disappear while being present.  11-year old Moose, worth $3,000 will help me stay invisible.

In day-to-day life, I’m still flying below the radar and that’s exactly the way I want it to be.  I drive a 11 year old car, and I’m not flashing any bling or designer clothing.  Perhaps it’s because I look younger than I am, or never speak about any of my online endeavors that I’ve been able to lead a very unassuming life.  My poker buddies all think I’m a dummy when it comes to the internet as well.

Online, I want the focus to be on the writing and the dialogue that ensues afterward.  You can get hints from the topics of conversation and the stands I take what my financial situation might be like.  But, I’ve been careful to craft posts that should hopefully speak to many of you, regardless of what your financial status is.  Hopefully you come to FS because you find a different type of writing that makes you think.

Yakezie.com is an interesting one, because I don’t want to dominate the airwaves there.  I’d like Members and Challengers to speak up and share their thoughts and opinions through Member Articles.  I believe that if we have the right culture, the best decisions will always rise to the top.  I’m not there to police anyone.  I just want to provide some guidance, a great platform, and lead by example.  At the same time, I could probably write 3 posts a week on Yakezie.com because I have so much to say.  Instead, I bite my tongue and let democracy reign because everybody gets what the Yakezie is all about.

WRAP UP

Working online is one of the most rewarding activities I’ve ever experienced.  There’s a lot of creativity involved, as well as the assimilation of everything they taught us in business school e.g. marketing, communications, entrepreneurship, organizational leadership, pricing, and negotiations to name a few.  It feels great to utilize so many aspects of one’s brain instead of let knowledge simmer away.  I truly believe that if anybody can build a brand online, and work on it for 5 consecutive years, they will be able to do very well for themselves and quit their day jobs if they want to.  The scalability of the Internet is limitless!

Finally, I’ve got to admit that building something online while you have absolutely no need for it to generate any income is very liberating.  You begin trying new things and not worrying so much about the little things.  There’s just not that much stress involved, except for your own self-imposed standards.  You basically do what interests you and sooner or later, folks will notice and reach out.

Readers, For those of you with online endeavors, how’s it coming a long for you?  What are some of your online goals you are working on for 2011?

Photo: Door knob at a 800 year old commune in the middle of China by Sam, 2011.

Best,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter

Comments

  1. says

    I love that you’re trying to fly under the radar but your posts are rarely bland or boring. You stir up a fair amount of controversy and discussion! Keep up the good work, but make sure it’s sustainable. Burnout sucks.

    • says

      Thx mate. I’m waiting for the fuse to burnout. It’s inevitable, so I’m just waiting for it to happen, and when it does, I will at least have a 3 month post buffer. Hmmm, I guess this is parallel to having an emergency fund when someone loses their job!

  2. says

    Sam,
    I think you are doing a fabulous job. Your site and posts are really great. I am hoping to build up a few posts in a queue as you have done to offer myself some flexibility.

    • says

      Appreciate it mate. Always good to hear from you and see you around the sphere. I don’t remember when you joined the Challenge, but definitely sign up for the Gamma Class on Yakezie.com if it is before April of this year that you joined!

      Would love to read your story.

  3. says

    Awesome Sam! Feeling like time is moving at just the right pace is priceless in my opinion. This year feels on the faster side to me esp June flew by. That’s great Yakezie is going to have 10 lifestyle members! I’m so excited to be one of them soon. Can’t wait to hear your other updates! -Sydney

  4. says

    I think I’m going to make a decent income this month and from now on, which I’m excited about. My Alexa rank is officially under 250,000 so I’m excited! Also if you need some help growing the lifestyle vertical or handling Yakezie let me know :) *shameless plug*

  5. says

    Hey Sam!

    You’re doing a great job; I was definitely under the impression that managing Yakezie and blogging was a full-time effort. :) Keep up the good work!

  6. says

    Sam, great and inspiring progress as so often, from you and all members.

    Soon I’ll hopefully be able to step back from the real-world stuff that has gobbled up so much of my time over the past 6-12 months and come hard back into this world!

    Looking forward to that day. Totally share – and live daily – your under the radar aspirations, too.

    We know what *really* matters.

    • says

      Mate, whatcha been up to for the past 6-12 months that have kept you so busy? You still leading the honorable path on your site? Buy your William and Kate t-shirt yet?

      Best, Sam

      • says

        Combination of unpleasant personal life stuff and a *load* of working for the man. I’m hopeful both is on the mend though…

        The wedding was surprisingly great, you should have come over and hung out in Hyde Park! ;)

        Take care Sam, and look forward to the day when I can dig in again properly. Feel I’m in a holding pattern at the moment…

  7. says

    $100K per MONTH for the aggregate Network sounds like an ambitious goal … and I love it when people set ambitious goals! I know a lot of people in the Network make money through ads, but I’d love to see a breakdown of how money is made across the Network … ads, affiliate links, selling e-books or other forms of content, etc.

    I like that you fly under the radar … it’s that Millionaire Next Door principal that’s at the bedrock of good PF.

    • says

      If I gave a breakdown, I wouldn’t be following the theme of flying under the radar :). All evidence is anecdotal and pieced together by what I’ve seen.

      It’s best to be unassuming!

  8. says

    Yakezie members will no doubt hit the 100k mark sooner or later. We have a growing membership as well as growing income.
    I’ll transition to the lifestyle side once I quit my day job. ;)
    You are doing great on keeping Financial Samurai running as well. That’s why this site is one of the most popular Yakezie site.
    Thanks for doing such a great job and bringing so many people together!

    • says

      I really hope you do make a lot of online income with the help of the Yakezie Network so that you can quit your job and live the dream!

      I see someone new do so every 6 months from the Network, and perhaps it will be you next year!

  9. says

    You’ve done some great work so far this year sam, and I think everything with the yakezie has been great!
    As for the lifestyle bloggers, I think a lot of them need to have personal finance under control, but not all personal finance bloggers even have their situation under control in that way (or want it).
    by default, all lifestyle bloggers are part-time PF guru’s because they have to be, but I dont think that the same can be said for all lifestyle bloggers. (Adage take from “all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons”)

    • says

      Jeff, you mentioned Lifestyle Bloggers twice in your commentthat contradicts itself. Pls clarify.

      From what I can tell in the sphere, there are a lot of struggling lifestyle bloggers in the traditional sense. They’ve either gotten let go from their jobs due due to the downturn, quit because they were so unhappy or couldn’t progress, and have started to take control of their lives through blogging. Everybody could use a few more bucks, and I thought the Lifestyle vertical would be a no brainer. But, I think because we are so under the radar, they don’t understand what the network and leverage affect can do.

      • says

        Sam – what I was trying to get across is mostly what you were saying – lifestyle bloggers may have gotten let go from their job or something of that nature, so to them money is a very scarce resource. This may not be the case with PF bloggers, esp ones that are able to bring in 1k+ per month through their blog, on top of whatever they earn at the real job they have.
        I also thought that the lifestyle blogging part would pick up more than it has – that’s where i’ve tried to focus my network posts in (and i’ve got an idea for 1 and have submitted one as well).

        • says

          Gotcha. From a personal finance since, perhaps the reason why they have become lifestyle bloggers only because it’s hard for them to understand and realize opportunities when they see it?

          The scarcer the resource, the more you should try and develop it if there are opportunities. But, mYbe not.

    • says

      You’ve mentioned this before Evan. Not exactly sure what you mean as I sleep 6 hours on average every night. I think most people are in the 6-7 hour range no? Perhaps what you are referring to is the productivity during conscience hours?

  10. says

    I’m having a blast Sam!

    Blogging has been a great experience for me, in ever respect.

    Yakezie has become my home away from home, I’ve learned so much blogging “between the lines”, especially from the interactions of the other pf members. It has made me a different person, to a certain degree… I’m constantly learning something new, either about my blog, or a new topic or about business in general. It’s very all encompassing for me.

    Thanks for helping me continue, interacting with you and other Yakezie members has made it so that I keep hammering away at it… Even when it’s much too late at night!

    Thanks friend, and here’s to the growth of all of our online presences!

    • says

      That’s what I love to hear Don! If we aren’t having fun, we aren’t doing it right.

      I gotta go pump out some new t-shirt designs this weekend and make them available to the crew. I’m wearing all the prototypes, just need to reveal them! lol.

  11. says

    Great job Sam, I’m not sure you’re aware of it (you likely are, but are too modest to admit it), but you are a mentor for a lot of us young bloggers. At our site we are working diligently to build up a following and eventually become a part of the Yakezie family. I am constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge I see on posts and their comment boards at so many different sites within the network.

    • says

      Thx mate. Looking forward to having you in the family. Definitely put up the Challenger badge so the rest of us can ID you as such and build some relationships in the forums as well. Its a fun journey!

  12. says

    You’ve built something with Yakezie. Amazing really. I hope that in the future the growth is equal in quantity and quality. It’s tough to build top-notch organization with as flat of a structure as Yakezie.

    The boom times in the dotcom space do look pretty good right now. I’m expanding in a few places and refining in a few others, but it’s still much too soon to call this the new normal. I’m looking to grow, but I’m definitely keeping a watchful eye on history to remember that e-commerce isn’t always a straight line up. Thanks to low rates, there’s a lot of companies buying future customers with money today. That can change in a matter of minutes.

    • says

      Yeah, one never knows when the boom time good times will end. But, we should take advantage while we can!

      I like a flat organization structure. It gives anybody a chance to succeed, and nobody is encumbered by the will of others. A meritocracy is the best!

      Welcome to the Yakezie JT. Don’t forget to sign up here: http://yakezie.com/gamma-class/

  13. ribby says

    i love your blog. i love your attitude and hope to incorporate some of the lessons in this blog.

    thanxs

  14. says

    You’re doing great, Sam! I too am surprised that the Lifestyle vertical hasn’t taken off, but I think if we all spread the word, I’m sure there will be people flocking in no time. There are a lot of lifestyle blogs out there, those who are traveling for extended periods of time who I am sure will love to be part of the Yakezie group.

    I too enjoy being unassuming- when my friends talk about the internet/ blogging I keep quiet and often smile to myself. Does your partner know that you blog yet? I think she would be very proud of your accomplishments!

    • says

      I don’t want to push anybody to join. I’d rather have them see the merit and then try and join. It’s still perplexing though… and perhaps it’s because lifestyle bloggers are by nature nomadic, and can’t commit to one thing for very long? I donno!

  15. Darwin's Money says

    The Yakezie’s kickin’ ass! Those stretch goals and your leadership have created tremendous value – while giving back. It’s been a blast, can’t wait to see the second half!

  16. says

    I’m glad to see that you are achieving most of your goals, and I think the Yakezie one is definitely possible. I’m with Evan, when do you sleep??? Poker, friends, blogging, work, I know its tough. Thank you for continuing your commitment to both FS and Yakezie!

    • says

      There’s honestly too much excitement to sleep much more than 6 or so hours a day. It really is like Christmas every morning as I wonder what transpired while i dozed. I can’t wait to get up, which is why I have a “remember my dreams” goal!

  17. says

    Amazing progress and tremendous accomplishment. I always wondered how you were able to put out so many articles, now I know! Although I am not trying to quit my day job, I am trying to build a brand, I guess it is still a work in progress. I am making my big push this summer. My 2011 goal is to be in the WiseBread 100.

    • says

      Yep, just write a lot, that’s the secret! :) And just write ahead and schedule in advance.

      I think you will achieve your WB 100 goal by end of the summer! I haven’t paid attention to that chart forever, but I think so long as you write consistent content, you’ll keep going up.

    • says

      I really just enjoy being low key. It’s just the way I am I guess. It’s more fun pretending to be poor than pretending to be rich. It’s more enjoyable to blend in and do something different if you decide to and not because other people expect you to. That’s just me.

  18. says

    Sam, I think you have well crafted branding on FS. Your style is consistent. I think it must bring you such pleasure to see your “Yakezie” children grow and flourish.

    Lifestyle adds more for enrichment, while personal finance offers more information. People are searching for information and enjoy smart conversation along the way. I wouldn’t be very keen on reading life style blogging…I like information.

    • says

      It’s funny, b/c I enjoy reading lifestyle blogs and adventures tremendously. I like going on the journey with the author, succeed or fail, it’s quite a trip!

      Yes, it is rewarding to see others flourish. It just goes to show that hard work and collaboration pay off!

  19. says

    Hats off to you for successfully juggling a 55-60 hours a week day job, poker and doing such an amazing job here! I just don’t know how you do it! Congratulations for the year so far. Here’s to hoping the next 6 months go just as well!

  20. says

    Sam, I really admire your work ethic. I need to inculcate that. I have not been able to write very consistently and this post and the comments are helpful to put that in perspective. So in all there is no secret but discipline and a dream to achieve. Thanks Again.

    • says

      Hi John, yeah, definitely no secret at all, which is why it ironically makes things so easy to do. You just have to spend plenty of hours and plenty of effort.

      If one is unemployed and had a choice between working at McDonald’s like I did, or working online… it just seems like such a funner, no-brainer activity to do that’s much more rewarding. Anybody can do it!

  21. says

    For me, it’s ok. My traffic is increasing, but I don’t know where it’s from! My Google Analytics doesn’t add up, and there seems to be a lot of mysterious visitors (but not spam). Unfortunately, I don’t have your work ethic. You see, investing is something that is really hard to teach (if you know what I mean). That’s why writing a post even twice a week is a real challenge.

  22. says

    I think time is flying!! I cannot believe we are at mid year already, it is kind of scary.

    I think you have done a great job, and you somehow find a way to be incredibly responsive and still take care of Yakezie (and work lots of hours in the ‘tangible world’).

    I don’t have online goals at the moment, isn’t that terrible? I feel like a lot in blogging is beyond my control, such as Compete.com’s rankings, feedburner subscribers, etc. So, I don’t focus on stats. I focus more on writing as much as I can, and also commenting around. My part time job has gotten a little more time consuming, plus the kiddos are home for summer, so I haven’t been visiting around as much as I want to. I just take each day as it comes.

    Great job Sam!

    • says

      Thx Kris! I don’t pay attention to the stats either and just try and keep the writing consistent. Your site has done very well and is also super consistent, so well done!

      This year just feels slow. I’m pooped! Hence, gotta take some more vacation to prevent burnout.

  23. says

    Nice review, Sam. I also like inconspicuousness (man, that’s a long word), and accomplish things by pulling rather than pushing. I feel the same away about my gardens.

  24. says

    So far the year is going great for me! I finally am seeing steady income from my blog, I am building my career as well and looking forward to building a business with a friend. I started the year with a ‘vision board’ where I cut out pictures of everything I wanted to accomplish this year, and I think I may need to add more because 90% of my goals have been reached!

  25. says

    Sam,

    I think you’re up to some amazing things. You’re one of those people in my life who manages to hit a nerve with me, but at the same time it’s because you’re right and you cause me to grow :). With that in mind, let me share my thoughts on your challenges with the lifestyle vertical. In my mind what it comes down to is more marketing to that group. The proof is in the pudding, so i’d consider potentially doing some lifestyle design case studies. As I had mentioned in my email I would love to have you as a guest on BlogcastFM to talk about this. Perhaps one of the other challenges you’re facing with the lifestlye vertical is the fact that you fly under the radar. in someways I think that could present some challenges with building trust. I think in that sense we’re polar opposites because I’m anything but under the radar. Anyways, hopefully you got my email and I would love to talk more about the lifestyle vertical.

    • says

      Hi Srini, thanks for the feedback. That’s the thing with the Network, we don’t really market to anyone. We just welcome the one’s who’ve figured it out on their own and who really want to join. I shouldn’t expect just because I created a Lifestyle vertical, that people from the lifestyle genre would instantly like to join since we don’t do much explaining about the Network. I’m actually not perturbed by the situation, just curious.

      I think a lot of us go through life with very obvious opportunities where we won’t don’t even know it because we aren’t looking hard enough. I’ve missed plenty of opportunities myself. Let’s shoot for a BCFM interview in January 2012. This way, I can do some reflection and have some more goals over the next 6 months! Didn’t get your e-mail btw.

      Thx!

      Sam

  26. says

    When Crystal at BFS urged me to join the Yakezie challenge, I was a bit hesitant. So many sites are out there that are totally self serving and pretty dead as far as really pulling together.

    But, after having participated in the challenge since 4/15/11 I know that this group is the real thing. I have learned a lot from all of the folks posting in the forum and also via interactions by email and through reading, commenting and just inspecting all of the member and challenger blogs.

    Hopefully (God knows I’ve tried) I have also been of help to at least some of the folks as well.

    Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to hear what your new Yakezie project is all about.

    • says

      Sounds great and glad to have you! She’s been a great Member and I look forward to your inclusion! If you get super serious, I recommend moving to WordPress and getting your own domain too. Lotsa benefits!

      Best, Sam

  27. says

    Sorry im so late on this post… thanks for the update though! I think we can hit our 100k mark, and we should set a higher goal for next year.

    It is truly inspiring to see you do all of this for the benefit of others…you are truly charitable for the sake of just being charitable…most people brag or want the recognition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *