Consider Failure On Your Path To Success

I love a good success story.  Who doesn’t?  There are so many stories about people who make money blogging that I thought I’d give some perspective.

Make Money Blogging: Going Full Time

As you know, I read a lot of different blogs and one of the themes that comes about with blogging, especially here in the personal finance niche, is how people are able to turn their blogs into businesses, often with the ability to leave their day jobs and concentrate full time on blogging.

It sounds pretty cool.  And it is!  Think about some of the success stories:

  • Back in the heydey of blogging, some of the more established bloggers in the personal finance space were reported to have sold their blogs for over $1 million dollars each
  • One blogger left her job, started making a few thousand a month, and last month reported income of over $78,000 just from her blog!
  • More than a few bloggers have written eBooks about topics that they write about and have watched the money pour in
  • People are able to freelance and write articles and promote their own blog and write for others to the tune of thousands of dollars per month.

Thoughts When Reading About Full Time Blogging

It sounds wonderful, and it sure has a lot of allure.  I’m sure many have gone through the following thoughts.

  1. Holy cow, those are huge amounts of money!
  2. Working from home?  I could do that!  I already have the high speed internet and the MacBook.
  3. Writing blog posts about money?  No problem, I do that already!
  4. Let’s get going!  I should start typing up that resignation letter to my boss….

Now, I’m here to tell you to think about holding off, especially on that last item.  Am I here to be a Debbie Downer?  No.  But, what I’m here to say is that it isn’t always that easy.

See, what I think a lot of people tend to forget is that you’re reading about the ones who have made it.  I mean, they’ve truly made it!  To get a million dollars by turning over your blog or bring in on an average day what used to take weeks to earn, those kinds of things are great, but they’re not representative of everybody’s situation.

Not Everybody Can Make The Big Time

I think many times, people often tend to skip by that little fact.  But it’s not little.  It’s really important.   Because, while you dream of joining the group of people with that kind of success, what people often overlook is that it’s not guaranteed.  In fact, the people that have the kind of success above are probably what many would consider the 1%.  Sounds familiar, right?  But in this case it means that for every one blogger that realizes that kind of success, I’d guess that there are 99 who haven’t.

mb-2016-04-successAnd that’s fine.  There’s no shame in trying.

I’m also going to say that if you’re reading this and you have that dream that you shouldn’t take it.  Not at all.  I just think that if you do so, you should make sure to look not just at the bloggers who have made it, but look at those who haven’t.  You might have to dig a little deeper but I’m sure you can find information.  See, while you’ll have no problem finding the person talking about bringing in $78,000 per month, you might not have someone all braggy about how they had great dreams of making it big but only managed to bring in $78 from their blog.  Over three months.

Very Few Write About Not Making It

See, these people are going to be harder to find.  They’re probably not going to write about that.  In fact, they’re probably going to just….stop writing.

When I did my check-in of over 1,100 blogs, the biggest chunk of blogs were those that had gone dark.  Their authors had stopped writing.  Now, I’m not saying that all of those people started their blog with the goal of quitting their job and bringing in tens of thousands of dollars per month, but I’m going to guess that some of them did.

So, if you want to make it big, don’t just look at those who have made it big, but look at those who haven’t.  Look at what they did and try to piece together what didn’t work.  Learning those things is just as important as learning what did work for the success stories.

Seeing both sides of the coin is really important, and having more information is only going to serve you well.

Tying Back To My Favorite Movie

The whole situation reminds me of a scene from Swingers, one of my favorite movies.  It’s a movie about a bunch of people who moved to Hollywood in the 90’s hoping for success, and they all went out there because they thought it’d be easy.  Only when they got there it wasn’t.  During one moment of despair one of the characters even said:

When I was in New York, they made it sound like they were giving sitcoms out to stand-up (comedians) at the airport here

Of course it wasn’t quite  that simple.  It never is.  So, if you’ve got your path to success laid out, make sure you spend some time looking not just at the things that might get you there, but look at the things that might stand in your way.  Success can be had, there’s no question about it, but assuming it will be easy is a sure path to missing out.

Readers, do you ever look at success stories and get jealous?  How do you reconcile success stories with the reality that not everybody has success?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why I Visited 1,132 Personal Finance Blogs (And What I Learned)

I’ve always had a slight obsession with, every now and then, doing a ‘complete’ review of something.  Over the years I’ve done things like:

  • Read every book in chronological order from a particular author
  • Listened to every single CD in my collection
  • Played every video game I owned for a particular console.

I think I do this because I always find something interesting when I do so.  I’ll rediscover a book that I had forgotten about, I’ll realize that I really like a particular CD (or sometimes realize I made a really bad purchase), etc.

So, it was with the same background that I decided last year to go visit ALL of the personal finance sites.mb-2015-10-notebook

And, while I realize that there’s no way that I could possibly uncover each and every one, I did get to 1,132, which is a pretty good chunk, I’d have to expect.

Here’s some of what I found:

How I Found All 1,132 Sites

There are a few different sites out there that have, over the years, compiled a list of personal finance sites.  Many of these are by submission, and it was a good way to get on a central list.  The owners would benefit by getting a lot of traffic.  I decided to focus on two lists:

  • Money Crashers – They had the most in their list, over 700 in total, but the unfortunate part was that the updating appears to have ceased sometime in last 2013.  Still, this provided a really good list of blogs.
  • Modest Money – This one has fewer entries (around 550) but is kept up to date, so I decided to use this as my second source.

I first went through the Money Crashers list, and then added the Modest Money entries.  I filtered for duplicates and was left with 1,132.

My Objective: Find Cool Blogs To Read

To start off, what I really was looking for was to find blogs that I wasn’t reading that I should be.  I am a personal finance blogger, but I really love reading blogs above all.  With so many new bloggers hitting the scene, I realized that I was probably missing out on lots of good blogs.  And, as it turns out, I was!

Now, I subscribe to a lot of blogs.  I love reading them and love leaving comments.  However, I have some rules that are just mine, but it fit into the categories below:

  • Abandoned – If a blog hadn’t been updated with original content in 3 months or more, I considered it abandoned.
  • Not Interested -I like reading about the personal side of personal finance.  If a blog was simply informational, I likely passed it by.  Many of these are great blogs, but they just aren’t for me.
  • Found A New Blog – If I liked what I saw, I subscribed and am now a reader!
  • Already Reading – If a blog was in this category, I was already reading it beforehand.
  • Partial Feed – In order for me to read a blog, an absolute must is that the blog has to publish a full RSS feed.  I subscribe to a lot of blogs, so I want the full article available to me in my RSS reader.  It’s a common strategy to publish a ‘partial feed’ with the idea that people will click in to the article, thus boosting the number of visitors and page views. While that is certainly a sound strategy, I won’t read a blog that does it.  The way I look at it is that I will give you the clicks and visits if I like the article enough to click in so that I can either share it on social media or leave a comment.
  • No Feed – RSS certainly took a big hit a few years ago when Google shut down their Reader service.  Apparently a lot of the newbies have decided that RSS is too old school, and don’t have a feed on their site.  The hot thing now is to direct people to an e-mail list, which again, is all and well, but I don’t have time to wade through an inbox full of e-mails.  I prefer the one-stop shopping approach.
  • Suspicious – There were some sites that my firewall or browser blocked and marked as spam or suspicious.  I wasn’t going to dig deeper to find out if it was true or not.
  • Thief – I went to one site and found one of my own articles posted word for word on the page.  This dummy didn’t even remove the copyright notice. In fact, he didn’t even care what he was stealing, as he even posted an article called “A New Look For Money Beagle”  Unscramble and search for “Bugdet Ym Wllaet” to  see if you’ve been scraped (I’m listing it this way because he deserves zero links or even mentions for Google to find).  He’s at the bottom of the list here, exactly where he deserves as people like this are just the worst.

Personal Finance Blogs By The Numbers

So, with that in mind, here are the numbers:

  • Abandoned – 445
  • Not Interested – 397
  • Found A New Blog – 95
  • Already Reading – 90
  • Partial RSS Feed – 55
  • No RSS Feed – 39
  • Suspicious – 10
  • Thief – 1

Lessons Learned

This process took a few months.  I’d go through and check out a few sites a day and log the results, until I was all done.  What I’ve learned since is that there are a lot of great blogs out there.  I’m really GLAD that I did this.   I’ll probably do an appended form again at some point.  This means that I will probably aggregate the lists, and  skip over the ones that I’ve already reviewed.  Either way, I will certainly find new blogs.

So, if you’ve recently seen me start appearing on your blog or putting your stuff out in social media, chances are this is how I found your blog.  Blogging is a great community, and I’ve found that most personal bloggers discover very early on that working together is the best approach.  Visiting, promoting, and commenting on other blogs doesn’t take anything away from your blog.  Most of the time it’s just the opposite!

Readers, how did you find Money Beagle, and how do you find fun new content to read?  Do you have any ‘must have’ rules for a new site?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Things I’ve Been Up To Lately

It’s mid-September already, and that just blows me away.  It doesn’t seem like but a few weeks ago that summer was just starting.  We had dreams of long days at the beach and warm nights.  Now we’re holding onto every last bit we can.  We’ve even had a couple of fall-like stretches here in Michigan.  Boo!  Here are some things I’ve been up to that are keeping me busy.

  1. Slowly re-entering my running routine – I’d been doing really good with running, but noticed some foot and heel pain in early summer.  I decided to shut my running down. Instead I did some other exercises (and admittedly mostly fell out of my routine altogether).  I’ve been doing some running again.  I’m going much shorter distances, slower paces, and with less frequency.  This will be a test ofwhether I can get back into it or should wait. At the time, I was really excited that I’d been increasing my pace at such a rapid rate, but I was probably overdoing it.  If I find my pain levels following the same paths, I will seek a doctor to try to get it straightened out.  Hopefully taking things slow will allow me to get back into doing this activity that I’ve really taken to.
  2. Continuing the basement cleanup project – In August, I started working on a full overhaul of our basement. I needed to restore order to remove clutter that’d gotten out of control.  This was not just a simple straightening up.  It’s my goal to basically touch everything down there and determine if it’s needed and if it’s in the right spot.  Things have slowed down over the past few weeks with some camping and such.  I’d say I’m about halfway done.  I’m hoping to finish up in October.
  3. Camping, lots of camping – We did a week long camping trip in late August, another weekend trip for Labor Day.  Additionally, we snuck in a quick one day trip for my wife and I to celebrate our anniversary.  We figured out that between all that, we’d been camping for four straight weekends.  No wonder the basement project took a backseat!  The weather was kind of a bust for our week long trip.  Still, we had great weather for our weekend trip.  I guess one out of two is pretty good!
  4. Troubleshooting problems – I wrote recently about how we had the fourth door handle break on our Buick, and how I said ‘no way’ to the dealership costs.  So far, we’ve made progress. I have the part and have taken it to a nearby body shop for painting.  I’m hoping to have that wrapped up this week.  Also, on one of our recent camping trips I figured out why our A/C was dripping into the camper.  Turns out that we had a sizeable puddle on the roof after a big rainstorm.  Instead of condensation flowing out, it was allowing water to seep in.  I quickly tipped the camper up and drained off the roof.  Everything went smooth after that.  Hooray for figuring things out on my own!
  5. Avoiding construction – My wife wanted some stuff printed out on good paper and in color.  She had it mb-2015-09-roadworksent to a nearby Staples.  The only problem is that construction on both streets at the intersection made it virtually impossible to get there quickly.  I hopped on my bike and had it back to the house in 20 minutes.  It probably would have taken that long by car.  Instead, I saved on gas, frustration, and got some exercise!
  6. Getting the kids back to school – Our son is in 1st Grade.  Our daughter is in her second year of pre-school.  Getting them ready and excited to go is always a whirlwind.  My wife takes care of most of the details here, which is great.  However, it does create a lot of excitement and a few extra trips out.
  7. I’m juggling multiple projects at work.  I’ve worked on some big projects at work.  This is cool because I often focus on one big thing at a time.  This is much easier to manage my time and work.  Right now, after the costs of a couple of such programs, the organization is taking a break from anything big, so I’m now wor king on multiple smaller projects.  At the moment, I’m juggling six open projects.  None of them are too crazy.  It’s definitely different than I’m used to.  My biggest challenge is not to leave any behind.
  8. Battling hornets – I found out, the hard way, that hornets had built a huge nest in one of the pine trees.  They bit me twice.  Ouch!  They won that battle, but lost the war later that night.  I haven’t seen any activity around the nest since I sprayed.  Still, I plan to knock it down just to make sure.
  9. Reading – I’ve been reading a lot of good books (My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh, Finders Keepers by Stephen King, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng).  I also got the inevitable stinker (The Deep by Nick Cutter).  I love to read, so the camping trips have for sure kept me bus.  This is a good thing!
  10. Blogging – I’ve been coasting a bit with my writing and interacting with other bloggers over the summer.  I haven’t really been all that satisfied with the content and with networking.   I’m really trying to pick up the slack.  I’m working on trying to provide more engaging information. This will include commenting on other blogs and trying to build up my blog and others through networking.  I’ve been doing this for so long that I know lulls are unavoidable.  I’ve also come to accept that I’m not ever going to be a mega-blogger.  I’m fine with that, but overall, I still love the blogging community.  I  am looking forward to re-engaging a bit more.

Readers, what have you been up to lately?  Anything good and exciting?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Best of Money Beagle For 2013

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nearly five years now.  I wonder how many of my readers from the beginning are still with me.  Besides my parents, of course, who I know have read every word!

I decided to take a quick look at what were the most popular articles, as noted by page views, that I wrote in 2013.  I was surprised to see that they all were written in the April and May time frame, so I guess I was in a period of good writing.  Though, in fairness, the posts later in the year didn’t have as much time to show up in search engines and such, so maybe they’re skewed.

Nonetheless, here are the most read posts from 2013.  When I pulled the numbers, I was surprised to see that four of the top six were directly tied to stores or brands.  I’m thinking that maybe I’ll put more focus on reviews and observations about products, retailers, and services.  I enjoy writing about them, anyways, so it’s good that people are reading!

Most Read

  1. Pay Debt Away But Keep New Debt At Bay – I was proud of this title when I wrote it, but more than all, the message is the most fundamental thing that I think should be part of any debt payoff: Don’t take on new debt.  Any time you take on new debt while paying off debt, or even after you’re done, you’ve undone that much hard work that you’ll now have to do again.
  2. There Are Always Savings Opportunities – Regardless if you’ve cut money from your budget, it’s always worth taking another look every now and then.  Circumstances change.  Deals change.  Needs change.  Don’t think that just because you knocked off $50 from your cable bill that you are done.  You don’t have to be.
  3. The Simple Reason JC Penney’s Pricing Gimmick Failed – Much was made of the collapse of one proud retailer JC Penney, and it remains to see if they can truly recover.  I think the failure boiled down to one thing, not checking to see if a ‘great idea’ was what customers wanted.
  4. Entertainment Book Filed For Bankruptcy – It was pretty shocking news here in the Detroit area when Entertainment filed for bankruptcy protection.  They’ve since reorganized and have resumed operations, but at the time, it was unclear if this once popular ‘book’ would continue on.  I’m glad to see it has (though we didn’t buy one this year).
  5. Does Aldi Stack Up In Terms of Quality and Taste – We have shifted a portion of our grocery budget to Aldi, and I thought I’d take the time to list some of the things we buy, and some that we don’t, from the bare bones discount retailer.
  6. The Costco Rule of $10 and Other Bulk Buying Tips – I love Costco and it saves us a lot of money, but the one complaint I hear is that people overspend, which probably wipes out a lot of savings.  Here’s a few tips that might help things in check, and some strategies that work for us.

A Few Favorites

  1. Why Apple Needs A Next Big Thing Soon – I think that Apple is a great company and they’re definitely one of the biggest and most highly thought of companies in the world, but they need to continue their streak of providing new and innovative products, not just improving their current products, or they’ll lose their edge.
  2. Two Seconds and Why High Frequency Trading Always Wins – For those looking to gain an edge in the stock market, it’s good to keep in mind that there are companies out there paying millions of dollars to make sure they keep the edge.
  3. A Tribute To Grandparents – This one needs no explanation!
  4. As If I Needed Another Reason to Love Honey Maid Graham Crackers – I spend a lot of time pointing companies and products trying to sneak in a price increase or cut in what they give you, so it was refreshing to see one product that avoided this, and it happens to be one of my favorite snacks!
  5. Easy and Amazing Biscuits – My wife could make these every day and I wouldn’t get sick of them.  Of course, I’d probably gain 25 pounds in short order, so it’s a good thing she doesn’t!  But as an occasional side, these will bring happiness with every bite.
  6. 7 Things I Learned During Our New Roof Project – We found a great roofer and I’m more than happy with our roof, one reason being that he took the time to teach us some of the important things that I think every homeowner should know.

Let me know if there are any topics you’d like to see me cover in 2014.  Above everything else when writing this blog, my favorite thing is when I get comments or social media interactions to show that my posts are hitting home in some way.

I enjoyed Money Beagle in 2013, and I hope you did too!  Here’s to a great 2014 ahead.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.