Does Google See Value In Bloggers?

It’s hard to believe that I’m coming up on five years here at Money Beagle.  I remember when I first pitched the idea to my wife, we were sitting at the beach (it’s nearby our house and at $25 for a seasonal pass, it was a great frugal value), and I pitched the idea of writing a money blog.  She was enthusiastic and it was there that it was decided that I’d move ahead.

I’ve loved all of my five years of blogging, and I’ve learned so much, but one of the trends I’m seeing is that Google seems to be placing less and less value on blogging.

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When I started blogging, I jumped right in and used WordPress, which is the most commonly used blogging platform.  After a year, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into in this post, I actually switched to Blogger, which is owned by Google.  Bloggers is considered a step back from WordPress, and with good reason: Google hasn’t made any signficant updates in probably five years.  They’ve made a few cosmetic features, but in terms of things like allowing detailed customization, allowing compatibility with external developers, mobile support, and a modern interface, there’s been little to no progress.

It’s pretty apparent that even though they spent a ton of money on Blogger, they really don’t see the value of putting any type of significant investment.

Read moreDoes Google See Value In Bloggers?

Don’t Do Something If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you may know that I used to run things on the Blogger platform.  Very early on, I actually started the blog on WordPress, but when I gave some thought of giving up blogging, I migrated over to Bloggers since that was free.

It didn’t take long for me to renew my interest in blogging, but I stuck with Blogger for a couple of years. I always had a mind to get off of it and over to WordPress, but it took a couple of years for me to do anything about it.

Finally, I found a new hosting company and got everything signed up.

Read moreDon’t Do Something If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

Don’t Lose Track Of Your Great Ideas

One question I often get asked about Money Beagle is how I consistently come up with ideas.  I’ve been doing this for about three and a half years now, so coming up with fresh ideas isn’t always easy.

The best tool I have for this is a simple pad of paper. When an idea occurs to me about a possible blog post, I’m usually not in a position to write it right then and there.  But, just like a dream that slips away from you a few minutes after you wake up, without taking note of it at that moment, the idea would likely be gone.

So, I do just what I said above, I jot down the idea.

This works, because otherwise what has happened in the past is that when I do have some time and motivation to write, I would sit there unable to think of a single thing to write about.

Read moreDon’t Lose Track Of Your Great Ideas

Friday Link Roundup: February 11, 2011

Happy Friday.  It’s been a cold, cold week with temperatures running about 20 to 30 degrees below normal here in the Detroit area.  We’re set for somewhat of a thaw though this weekend.  I hope that the weather is going to be agreeable wherever you are.

There’s been a lot of great personal finance articles I’ve read since my last roundup (two weeks ago).  Here are a few favorites that I hope my readers would benefit from and enjoy

  • Moneyapolis has an interesting link about Why We Can’t Save like we used to.  The most telling part was when it’s revealed that in the 1970’s, two out of every three workers had a pension plan available.  Now, it’s one in five and falling.
  • Canadian Personal Finance Blog had a negative experience in a grocery store that might lead to said store losing business, all because the business owner had to prove a point in a way that was a bit unnecessary.
  • Out of Debt Again had a scary customer service experience at a tire shop that could have led to a major accident.  Luckily, the problem was caught in time and the company did their best to make it right.
  • Budgets Are Sexy gives a humorous story along with a reminder that tax filing season is upon us.  I’ve heard the joke but it always seems rather fitting, especially around tax time.
  • Finally, Financial Samurai posted some helpful resume tips along with actual copies of resumes to illustrate some of the points.  There’s one bit of advice I didn’t completely agree with, but you’ll have to go to the comments section of his article to find out why (though it still was awesome despite my slight difference of opinion).

There were many other great reads but these are just a few that I really enjoyed.  Have a great weekend!

Friday Link Roundup: January 28, 2011

Happy Friday.  This week has flown by.

It’ll be a busy weekend in the Beagle house as I’ll be getting some painting done in preparation for the new baby.  To recap, Little Boy Beagle will end up in his own big boy room, which is the current guest room, and the current guest room is moving across the hall, so both of those rooms need to be painted.  We’re also re-painting the master bathroom as the aqua color that it was just hasn’t been getting it done for us.  We’re going with a darker gray instead.

I read a lot of great personal finance articles over the past few days, but these four stood out as ones I thought my readers would be interested in.  Give them a read:

  • My Two Dollars asked a theoretical question about what you would do if you had $10,000 to spend (and you can’t invest it).  Spending fake money is always a fun pastime!
  • Len Penzo has 18 facts you might not have known about Social Security numbers.  I have always wondered when they’ll run out.  Apparently, not for awhile, but probably sooner than many think!
  • Frugal Confessions lists a bunch of ways to hide money around the house.  A lot of these are great ideas that might protect your money in the event of a robbery, but the challenges are making sure that you don’t hide them from yourself and that your money doesn’t get accidentally thrown out.
  • Miss Thrifty gives a few unique ideas on what to do with the cardboard inserts from paper towel or toilet paper rolls.  We recycle ours, but some of these ideas could just work too!

Hopefully you enjoy the great posts as much as I did and hopefully you have a great weekend!

Links: For One Day Only, Don’t Read This Blog!

I’ve been bad about doing a link roundup lately, so I thought I’d give it a go and catch up on some great posts that I’ve read from fellow personal finance bloggers.

Give these a read and consider subscribing to their blogs as they have great personal finance advice and stories.  But, as always, make sure to come back to Money Beagle!

  • Money Reasons gave his thoughts on what he would do if he struck it big in “If I Were Rich Today” – This inspired me to do a similar article.  I think this is something we all dream about so go ahead, think of what you might do if you found a pot of gold!
  • Monevator gives the opinion that we are not in for a lost decade in “No Lost Decade: Why We’re Not Japan“.  The Japanese economy has not been anywhere near levels that it was even in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but this article gives opinions on why our situation, though it shows many signs of moving towards a ‘lost decade’, isn’t the same.
  • Mrs. Nespy’s Frugal World included a post called “8 Interesting Uses for Chalk” and I have to say, these are very interesting and extremely useful.  I think that my next trip to the dollar store (where I’m guessing they have chalk) will include some white chalk, as it appears to have a lot of great uses especially in the laundry and cleaning areas!
  • We try to be frugal when doing laundry, but Fabulously Broke takes it to an extreme I’ve not heard of as she admits her “Laundry Secret: I Don’t Use Laundry Detergent 99% of the Time“.  She says that the agitation gets her clothes clean that aren’t stained or spotted.  I’m not sure if I’m tempted to go this far, but for those daring enough, try it!  At the very least, it’s a great reminder that most people probably use way too much laundry soap.
  • Everybody Loves Your Money has seen “Impromptu Garage Sales” popping up a lot more frequently, and wonders if they are becoming more from desperation than from trying to raise a few extra bucks.
  • Sweating the Big Stuff asks “Are Social Shopping Sites Too Enticing?”  If you find yourself buying GroupOn deals just for the sake of buying them, you might be getting a little too caught up.  Remember, you’re only saving if you are getting money off on something you would buy anyways.  If ‘buying a deal’ means you spend money you wouldn’t have otherwise spent, you are not saving!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the reading!

Weekly Blog Roundup: March 26, 2010

As part of the Yakezie Challenge, I’ve come across a whole slew of great new blogs.  Here are three great articles I came across with other members in this group who have taken on the similar challenge of improving their Alexa website rating:

  •  Personal Finance Ninja – 700 Pennies: How To Stay Motivated And Reach Your Goals – It’s always a good lesson to have something that keeps your eye on the bigger picture. As I say at the bottom of each of my posts, “It’s a great day to be alive!” and this sort of ties in with that.
  • PT MoneyThe Ultimate Guide to Saving Money On Coffee – I drink coffee just about every day.  I am not a coffee snob, but that’s mostly because I force myself not to be in order to not get sucked into drinking expensive coffee.  If you’ve already lost that battle, here are a few ways to fight back or at least minimize the damage.
  • Canadian Personal Finance BlogYou Know It’s A Bad Day When…. – This is another reminder to make sure to find a good, reputable financial adviser, and to make sure that he/she stays that way.  Even then, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!

Another great read by one of my favorite bloggers who isn’t in the challenge:

  • Funny About Money – Sure You Want To Go On That Cruise? – I have never been on a cruise and have no desire to, and this gives me one more reason to know that I’m comfortable with my choice to keep my vacation time on solid ground!

Check them out (but don’t forget to come back!) and enjoy some great reads by other bloggers who have unique perspectives into personal blogging.

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.

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.