2011 Mid-Year Review: Online Endeavors And Building A Community was originally written on July 13, 2011, nine months before I decided to negotiate a severance, retire early, and be free. I'm revisiting this post 10 years later to see how far I've come.
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.
2011 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. 2011 Mid-Year Review focuses on being rich, not famous.
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.
2011 Mid-Year Review Conclusion
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.
2021 update: 2011 Mid-Year Review on my online endeavors shows that I was super ambitious with my Yakezie goals. Yakezie is still up, but I shut the advertising down because dealing with people was hard.
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I never thought I'd be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with Bluehost. It's cheap and easy to start!
2011 Mid-Year Review: Online Endeavors And Building A Community is a Financial Samurai original.
Photo: Door knob at a 800 year old commune in the middle of China by Sam.