Help Make Financial Samurai Better: Your Feedback Needed Please

Dear Friends,

It’s been a blast running this site for the past two and a half years.  When Financial Samurai launched in the summer of 2009, the world was still falling apart.  What better time to start something creative!

I’m not one to tinker much.  Part of the reason is because I’m afraid the site is going to break if I do.  Another reason is because I’m happy with the simplicity of the layout and design.  I’d much rather just focus on the content.  That said, I’d love to get your feedback on some things I’ve been wondering about as I do want to do some updating for 2012 and beyond.

Feel free to answer some or all of the questions.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU

1. Would you like more posts or less posts highlighted on the homepage? Does it really matter?  What’s missing from the homepage or posts that you would like to see?  Widgets, plug-ins, etc.  Note, I’m trying to simplify and cut things down as much as possible.

2. Are there too many categories?  Is it hard to find your way around the site?  I took out the tag cloud because I thought it was pretty useless and messy looking.  Let me know if you disagree.

3. What kind of content would you like to read more of?  Is there something lacking in personal finance land you’d like me to address?  Investing and asset allocation perhaps?  In the existing category topics, which would you like me to expand on more?  My favorites are Career, Relationships, Real Estate, and Big Government Love.  Which are the most useless?

4. Would you readers like to share your stories on this site?  I always enjoy reading about people’s situations and having the community solve complex scenarios.  It was particularly gratifying to help a long time reader figure out a tax solution for her ailing father on disability.  He was afraid that if he sold his land’s trees, he would lose his disability.  We got some good legal and tax advice.  The government makes people jump through loop-holes to get help.  Well-written guest posts from the community are always welcome.

5. Would you like me to post more frequently or less frequently?  Right now I’m averaging 3.3 a week.  How about the length of the post, shorter or longer?  At any given moment there are roughly 35 fully-written posts in the queue so increasing production is possible.  I enjoy using the non-post days to respond to comments and visit other site since I’m a fan of blogging.  I’m also concerned about burn-out.

6.  Would you like me to dumb down or smarten up the posts?  I was always taught the best way to reach the widest audience is to speak and write in very basic terms.  However, I find that kind of text-book like and boring, but much easier to write of course.  The tone of the site has always been straight from the gut.  Would you like the tone to change or stay the same?  There have been very few nasty comments I’m pleased to report.

7. Anything else I should ask but didn’t?

SITE STATISTICS & THOUGHTS

You’d think after more than a couple years, I’d start getting more interested in Google Analytics and the stats of this site, but I’m actually getting less interested.  It’s kind of weird, but all I have is my Alexa toolbar and Yakezie Network bookmark which highlights all our group’s stats and posts.  I have to check GA when an advertiser inquires or if I see a sudden spike in comments on a post to figure out where the traffic is coming from.  In the month of October 2011, there looks to be around 150,000 pageviews and 105,000 unique visitors on Financial Samurai according to GA.

Running a blog is like running a micro-business if you start gaining traction.  I’ve been careful not to let the business side of things interfere with the content.  I am literally reminded on a daily basis how money changes people for the worse.  As such, there are seldom, if any posts I didn’t want to write, or I wouldn’t want to read myself.  It’s just me and my keyboard for the most part.  I welcome good outside content which highlights their own product if they can weave something educational and interesting.  Otherwise, I don’t bother because poorly written posts make me cringe.

There have been roughly 450 posts published with 21,000 comments since the beginning.  That’s a lot of conversation (47 comments / post on average) thanks to all of you witty, bickering, and insightful folks!  If each post averages 850 words, that’s 382,000 words I’ve typed, or roughly 450 words averaged every single day.  If my English and Journalism teachers could see me now.

I realized in the tub one day that I can quit my day job and live off my online and passive income now.  Two and a half years might be a long time to commit to anything, but if you knew you could actually quit your job and live off your hobby after 2.5 years, I think you’d find 2.5 years to be a walk in the park.  I’d probably need to sell my house and live in more frugal accommodations e.g. cardboard box.  However, it’s still not a bad backup plan just in case I’m kicked to the curb and have to go back to work at McDonald’s!

So please, feel free to share some of your feedback to help me help you have a more enjoyable experience here.  Thanks!

Photo: If you look hard enough, you might see the Samurai Mask.  Imagine my surprise when I found it all the way in the Yucatan Peninsula in a city called Coba, Mexico. Nov, 2010.

Regards,

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think you lost #3 somewhere Sam!

    I find your site to be pretty much as good as it gets.

    One thing i’ve noticed is that in a post like this one, that isn’t a longer post, your sidebar extends the side of the page quite a bit. I had a similar issue and ultimately decided that not all of my plugins needed to sit in single pages.

  2. says

    Just wanted to say thank your for your insightful post. You just gave me more motivation to keep blogging in an attempt to one day turn this part time experiment into a full time profession.

  3. says

    You’re doing an amazing job Sam! I think your post frequency is spot on and you have a nice variety of topics. I will admit I haven’t used your category links to find posts as I always check out what’s on the homepage. I’m also used to clicking on posts to read more and I like that layout style as my site is structured similarly. I don’t think you need to worry about dumbing down your articles either as you explain things well and in detail and have a good balance of humor mixed in. Keep up the awesome work!

  4. says

    I love the simplicity of your website. I actually don’t care about the number of posts on your home page because I stop by pretty much daily, so I don’t need to dig through archives or anything. Someone who appears here from a search engine might think differently.

    I come by here for the sense of community and thought provocation. (and for the hundred bucks I will be winning in a year.) I like that the site is not loaded down with guest posts and such, it is pretty much just ‘Sam’.

    My only suggestion would be to try to look at your site from the perspective of someone that isn’t a frequent visitor. Is there a way to optimize their stay? I can’t answer that question, but maybe it is something to think about.

    • says

      Gotcha. I had a related post plug-in which I tool down since it was a memory drain. I should weave more posts manually then.

      If you stop by here almost daily, would you like more posts?

      Should I spend the $100 on new shoes before we collect?! :)

      • says

        I might get rid of my related posts plug in too because I do weave in a lot of related posts into each post anyway.

        I think your 3.3 posts per week is about perfect actually. Gives more time for interaction.

        I say go ahead and buy those new shoes. I think you should also spend your end of year bonus before it is in your account and maybe take out an interest only loan on a giant house! You buy those shoes, make sure you keep them in good shape because you are going to be returning them.

        • says

          My hosting company has told me the YARelatddPost Plugin is notorious for bogging down the server, so as the traffic grows, the effects grow exponentially.

          OK, will seek to find the biggest mansion on the block this weekend!! And, I am open for business all the way up until 3 months before the election. You could theoretically win enough to pay for one semester of your daughter’s tuition! But only if she goes in state of course ;)

        • says

          I took the plugin down once I read your previous comment. I have been using a lot of memory and such and wasn’t sure why.

          Don’t limit yourself to just the block, you need to open your search up to all of Silicon Valley. When the republicans take office again, losing a hundred bucks to me will be no problem. Your taxes will be so reformed (in your favor) that you will be able to afford those shoes too.

          (It is actually my son headed off to college next fall. He is looking at UofM, which has nice, in-state tuition. I can still use the money to pay my daughter’s private high school tuition though. :))

        • says

          I get that comment quite a bit… But, I gotta allow what is best for the lad. He currently attends an incredibly small school (grad class of 45) and U of M has a Residential College, which allows for small class sizes and helps kids transition from small schools to big universities. I came from a medium sized school (if you could call it a school) and I was overwhelmed by the huge class sizes at Michigan State and the fact that I was mainly taught by Teaching Assistants the first two years.

          Time will tell though, it is not easy to get in to U of M these days.

  5. says

    I come here for a different perspective everyday. If not for a different perspective, then at least for an active comment section that’s willing to put personal feelings aside and discuss issues academically. Discussing ideas seems to be lost on most personal finance blogs, so FinancialSamurai stands out in that way.

    You’re a seasoned real estate investor. I enjoy your posts about real estate investing, and would surely appreciate any future posts on the topic. In particular, specifics about what makes you choose one property over another, etc., would be most interesting to me. Of course, I don’t expect you to reveal information that might make public your identity, but a greater focus on the small elements of each deal would be interesting.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

  6. says

    I agree with you on that cloud thing. I never liked the look of it either so never used it.

    One of the things I like about your site is that it seems to fit you. The writing and visuals mesh.

    Today for the first time I just noticed that resource list. Like that it’s on the bottom, but still a good way to maybe pick up that passive income you mentioned.

    Oh, and the more personal your stories, the more I have liked them.

  7. says

    I don’t think I would change anything! I like the variety and frequency of the posts. You could change up the length of posts and include some shorter ones occasionally.
    Your question reminds me of an experiement I read about some time ago. A speaker asks the audience to hold up a greem card when they like his speech, red when they do not etc. There was never a majority, so what should the speaker do? Your survey may give you no conclusion!
    The ultimate career/job is loving what you do! Everyone should have that opportunity.

  8. says

    I’d love to read something from someone in your life whether they agree or disagree with you. A sibling, parent, friend who thinks you are nutty or a genius. I think it would make you more of a person than just a mask!

    • says

      I’m 100% sure you already have. What did you think?

      I like for my writing to speak for itself. Let the focus be on the writing, to eradicate biases and prejudices. It’s much harder to build credibility based solely on the writing, and that’s what makes it so much more fun and challenging!

      Are you itching to come out Evan? I get the feeling you are.

  9. libby says

    I love your site. I read a few blogs but I have to says yours is my favorite. I love the humor and smart observations or advice.

  10. new gal says

    I am relatively new to your blog, have been following it for a couple of months. Keep up the tone and frequency as they are – your ideas and viewpoints are very refreshing and decidedly different from all other personal finance blogs I have seen so far.
    One wish – I like exploring the archives when I have time and you don’t seem to have full chronological archives. The categories are not too bad, but do they include everything? Why not make an “archives” tab on top and offer both chronological and by category search option. Minor stuff, but humor your new readers :-)
    I like the pictures too – they are usually not the obvious choices

    • says

      I used to have archives, and I’ll figure out a way to list them in a tab off the homepage.

      The categories do have all the posts, and I have a most popular tab and the top 10-13 most popular posts on the right which should hopefully help.

      Thx for the feedback!

  11. says

    I think one of the most attractive aspects of your blog, and one that makes it unique within the PF blogosphere is the awesome community of commenters and the interaction you have with them. These conversations are almost like another whole article worth of information, and there is always a wide range of views represented. I like the big picture economic articles you do the best. It’s just a little more unique than the other stuff. I wouldn’t mind seeing your opinion on various education issues out there right now. I recently read, “That Used To Be Us” and thought it was the best book I’d read in a long time, with a lot of really good practical insights.

  12. Flynnman says

    Sam – The posts I like the most on personal finance blogs are really those that stem from the author’s own experience/life. No one wants to hear about the facts on investing and asset allocation. By revealing more about yourself and providing personal stories, I think readers will feel a deeper connection to you. I personally enjoy the motivational/work hard posts you put up. Thanks.

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