Taking The Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge

One of the things I recently stumbled across was something that Financial Samurai came up with called the Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge.  Long story short, Alexa is a site that tracks other sites all across the web and rates them for popularity.  The more popular you are, the better Alexa ranking you have.

Financial Samurai’s idea was that personal finance bloggers (like Money Beagle) support each other with the end result being that word of mouth will build, networking opportunities will be created, and a buzz will slowly take place that benefits all participants.  Sort of a blogging co-op if you will.

I think this is a great idea and the approach that Samurai is taking is commendable.  One of my biggest frustrations in personal finance blogging is that those bloggers with the most clout, being the most popular, tend to network and build buzz for other popular blogs.  That’s great if you were in that circle, but it tends to propagate the ‘rich get richer’ momentum.

This challenge strives to accomplish the same thing just on a level that makes it opportunistic for personal finance blogs of all shapes and sizes.

According to the site, my goal would be to move up in ranking to 200,000 or above by the end of 2010.  This would mean that Money Beagle becomes one of the top 200,000 web sites out there.

When I agreed to join the challenge, I was ranked 3,250,230.  In other words, I have a long way to go!  Still, early results (some bloggers have been going with this since January) are extremely encouraging, so I think it’s doable.  There’s a little box in the bottom of the right hand column that (if it works right) will keep my ranking visible.  There’s also a graphical link to the Yazekie challenge there that links to Samurai’s page, where he’ll keep updated on how things are progressing.

So, while I strive to keep Money Beagle the type of personal finance blog that highlights my own voice, I also would love for that voice to be heard, and that’s why I’ve decided to enter the challenge.  In other words, I promise I won’t switch to writing the same ‘9 Steps to Doing This and This’ that many personal finance blogs focus on.  While there’s nothing wrong with those type of posts, I’d prefer to give you the rundown on the steps I’m personally taking, simply because that’s the type of posts that will keep me motivated to write.

If you’re a fellow blogger, take a look and see if you might be interested.  It seems like a great idea and it will give personal finance bloggers a network and a team to keep us motivated to writing the best posts and making personal finance blogging more credible on the web.

If you’re a casual reader, all I ask is that you keep reading and drop a comment from time to time to let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Things Missing

No, I haven’t been robbed and I didn’t lose anything.

I wanted to discuss the changes that happened with Money Beagle over the past few months.  Specifically, I’ll center it around the things that are missing from what was once there, and I’ll discuss a little bit more:

  • The old format – I was on a domain using WordPress and hosted at Dreamhost.  When Dreamhost wanted to extend my rates at about 500% of the cost of the first year, I looked at what I had made in revenue (not much) against the annual cost (a lot more than I was bringing in).  I also looked at how much I was actually using the things that DreamHost offered (not many) and how much I projected my revenue growth over the next year (probably not much).  I decided I wanted to move my blog to a free site, and felt that Blogger was just fine for the amount of posting and the features I used.  I probably should have started with a free site, but that’s a lesson learned.
  • Daily posts – I used to have a rule of trying to do a daily post.  I would find myself not enjoying blogging.  Here’s the thing.  I love blogging about certain things, but I realized that inspiration isn’t probably going to hit me every day. So, I was doing filler and such that I really wasn’t enjoying.  I guess I’d rather write a few posts that I really like per month versus writing 20 or 30 a month with only a few that I’m proud of.  Most likely, that showed through and may have had something to do with the fact that I didn’t get a lot of great hits from my round-ups or carnivals.  I promise now, though, I’m going to be more writing about things that I care about and am excited to write about.  I may not write often, but when I do, hopefully it’s more insightful than what I had been doing.
  • Blogroll – I had a pretty big blogroll going.  I will actually add that back as I do read a lot of PF blogs every day.  I will most likely start from scratch.  Now that I’m writing more personal stuff and writing more for me, I will be adding blogs that relate to that.  Blogs that focus so much on subscriber traffic that they feel the need to post updates about it constantly (sorry, The Simple Dollar) won’t be added, but my guess is that they won’t miss my paltry little link anyways.  Also, blogs that talk about your own experiences, those will be my blogroll.  So, if you talk about your 401(k) or about your frugality turning to debt reduction, that’s what I want to see!  If you are regurgitating the same ’10 reasons why you should open a 401(k)’ or ’25 things to cut back on to save money’, eh I’ve read it before and that’s not what I want to send my (few) readers to because let’s face it, everybody else already links to those blogs as it is.
  • Comments – I’m afraid I couldn’t bring the comments from my DreamHost blog with me.  So while I brought over most of the articles (minus round-ups), I lost all of the great comments.  But I still have them in my heart, I promise! 🙂
  • Twitter – Again, I did the Twitter thing because it seemed that was what everybody was doing and thought it’d be a great way to direct readers to my blog.  And I thought it was the most useless thing I’ve ever done.  I just didn’t get it, and I’m sure it had to do with the fact that I didn’t have the motivation to invest hours and hours into Twittering, which is I’m sure how many have actually gotten it to work.   I have Facebook for my friends and family.  I have this blog for my personal finance stories.  Twitter just didn’t have a good place that I felt was worth the time, so I tried it and got rid of it. 

I guess what it boils down to is that I’m going for quality, not quantity.  I also wanted to look at my balance.  I realized, especially after Baby Beagle came along, that I didn’t want to spend hours per week Twittering and carnival hosting and carnival participating and commenting on 500 other blog posts to build up my traffic by a few people here and there so that I could enthusiastically report that I hit a thousand subscribers.  Some can do that and are great it, and I say fantastic.  But it just wasn’t me.

I want to keep blogging, I love blogging, but I realized that I wanted to set realistic expectations so that I can get the most out of blogging and actually enjoy it like I know I can.  I can’t promise that Money Beagle the most high quality personal finance out there.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it won’t be.  But, I can promise I’ll be writing stuff that I believe in, that affects and happens to me personally, and I promise that when I write, from now on, there’s no fluff. 

I hope you stick with me and my little blog as I re-discover my place in the blog sphere.

Welcome To Money Beagle 2.0

I’ve been taking a break but I’m back. I’ve decided to move my blog to Blogger. You can still find me at the same address https://www.moneybeagle.com/ but I’m now hosted here. I’ve moved over most of my articles, but I think that the links are different.

In any case, I’ll be posting a little bit more about my absence and my decision to move the blog here in a bit. Meanwhile, please be patient with me as I tweak things around. Thanks!

Answering A Reader: Our Own Child Care

In a comment to my last post, reader Dog Ate My Finances (love the name, by the way), asked why my wife doesn’t start her own child care to make up for the difference in pay that we’ll be taking once she leaves her job to have our baby.
There are some financial reasons and some non-financial reasons for not doing so. I’ll start with the financial reasons:

  • The local economy in Michigan is not that good. Many parents are pulling their kids out of day care as they are losing their jobs, so the market is very tight. As such, there would be no guarantee that it would even take off.
  • The costs involved are not something we’re interested in. To open a home day care would require significant costs for certification, licensing, as well as changes I’m sure that we’d have to make around the house. Not to mention insurance that would have to be taken out. While I wouldn’t mind someday taking the venture into a start-up, this isn’t a risk that we really want to take.

This leads me to the non-financial reasons of why this idea wouldn’t fly around here. The biggest is that my wife simply has no desire to continue in that role in a long term fashion. Right now, her and I are both excited for her to have the opportunity to focus on our baby.
Her background in college was in Child Development. She had hoped to do something to the level where she could work within a health system or some other parallel position, and work with children who needed special assistance or had developmental needs. She didn’t have her teaching certificate, although this is something that she briefly considered, so classroom instruction was out of the question.
But to get the type of jobs that I described, at least here in Michigan, she would have needed a Masters Degree. She didn’t want to simply accumulate loans, so before she made that jump, she wanted to work for awhile, and see if she even was interested in pursuing that. Which would give her time to pay down some of the student loan debt she accumulated in her undergraduate studies. The job that was most available was working in child care facilities. These decisions were made solely by her as her and i were just dating at the time.
While she enjoys the interactions with children and is great at what she does, the bottom line is that she doesn’t have the passion to commit to it for a career. Now, before anybody says that taking care of our children is parallel, let me just say that there’s a huge difference in taking care of our children versus taking care of somebody else’s. She has a passion and a fire for one and not the other. I’ll let you guess which one!
And, honestly, once we started talking about when we wanted to start our family, we came to the conclusion that the timing wouldn’t make it so that going back for her Master’s was a good idea, at least not yet. Why? Because either way, we wanted my wife to take some time to focus on our family. This was something we discussed before we were even engaged, so we’ve been on the same page with this for a long time. Going back to school now would simply have added debt that we knew we wouldn’t have time to pay off before we started our family.
So, while there are financial reasons involved, the non-financial aspects hopefully fill in the rest of the picture.