Forget Money – Banker on FIRE Turns One Year Old!

Happy Birthday

Over the past six weeks or so, it seems that the vast majority of news articles, blog posts and social media updates I read are, in one way or another, related to Covid.  This blog is no exception.

So today, I want to take a break from the relentless stream of pandemic- and money-related stories and write about something totally different.  And as it happens, as I write these words on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it’s exactly one year after I published my first post.

I’ve always enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes peek into how things work.  So if you are curious to find out what it is like to write a blog, are contemplating starting one of your own, or just want a break from everything that’s going on at the moment, this blog post is for you.

A Long Time Coming

Banker on FIRE is all about taking action, so it’s ironic that despite toying around with the idea for a long time, it took me a while to get going.

As a junior banker, there simply weren’t enough hours in the day.  Once I rose up the ranks, we had our first child, and time became scarcer still.

As it often happens in life, dreams end up going on the backburner.

Early in 2019, I had enough.  After almost a decade in investment banking, I really needed a creative outlet, something to take my mind off things after long days in the office.

I also missed writing.

When I was eight years old, my parents enrolled me in a creative writing group.  As a teenager, I wrote a sports column in a local newspaper.  In university, I helped edit the school newspaper.  And then, real life got in the way – and I haven’t written for years.

Once I’ve discovered the financial independence community – and voraciously consumed the various blog posts and articles on the topic, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to get my own thoughts, strategies, and feelings down on paper.

First Year Stats

We are now exactly one year, 92 posts, 26,353 words and 167 comments into the journey.  Excluding a six-week lull last summer, I’ve generally stuck to writing two posts a week and publishing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It isn’t always easy to maintain the rhythm, but over time I have come to appreciate the cadence.  My day job is nothing but predictable, so in a way, having a writing routine is a helpful way of staying grounded.

The first six months in particular were a cathartic experience.  I’ve had barely any readers and in a way, it wasn’t very different from writing a journal, being alone with my thoughts and reflections.

Admittedly, I haven’t done much to promote the blog either, but I must have been doing something right because over time I’ve started to build up a trickle of visitors.

In October of last year, Physician on FIRE featured me on his blog for the first time.  It meant a lot to me, not least because Leif’s blog is one of my favourites.

Later on, I was also featured on Firehub EU, Personal Finance Blogs and Camp Fire Finance.

I’ve also received a lot of good advice and encouragement from the likes of Hustle Escape, Joney Talks, The Stock MD, Cutting Through Chaos, Route to FI, Five Year Fire Escape, One Million Journey and many others.

Most importantly, a number of you have reached out – in comments, via email, and through Facebook to let me know my posts were helpful to you – and that means the world to me.

Blogging can be a solitary journey, so I am grateful to every single person who helped provide feedback along the way – and kept my motivation afloat.

A Word On Traffic

This seems to be a pre-requisite in the blog updates I have seen, so let me chuck in some stats as well.

Over the past 12 months, Banker on FIRE has received c.70k pageviews.

Pageviews

As I’ve mentioned above, the traffic was very back-end loaded.  After barely a trickle in the first six months, I’ve seen a slight pickup in August and September.  The sharp uptick you see in October 2019 is from the feature at Physician on FIRE.

I hit the 10k pageviews park in December and clocked roughly 16k in March.  As far as the FIRE blogs out there go, I’m definitely a minnow, but I am humbled that so many people would visit, read my writing – and come back for more.

Demographically, the majority of the readers here are between the ages of 25 – 44, with 70% of them male.  In one way, it’s not surprising as that is also the category I fall into, but I would love to see more women readers as well as both younger and older people.

Demographics

To me, financial independence is a topic that transcends gender and age boundaries.  So if you happen to belong to one of the less represented groups above, I would love to hear your feedback regarding topics that would be of interest to you.

Location-wise, the majority of the readers are from the US and the UK, with Canada, Germany and Australia rounding out the top 5.

In a way, I find it surprising that the US is at the top of the list given that I am based in London.  Then again, given I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in North America I’m probably less UK-centric than some other bloggers this side of the pond.

Location

As of today, I am still waiting on my first visitor from Greenland, Bolivia, Paraguay and a number of countries on the African continent.

If you know anyone from these countries, feel free to shoot them the link to one of the top five most popular posts in the past twelve months:

Eight Reasons You Will Never Reach Financial Independence

The Art Of Staring Into The Abyss

The True Economics Of A £300k Investment Banking Bonus

How To Be Poor On £250k Per Year

Five Dangerous Misconceptions About The Stock Market

Money, Money… Money? 

Many bloggers include an update on how much money their blog makes, so let me do that as well.

It’s going to a very short and simple one because the answer is zero.

To be even more precise, it’s less than zero because between hosting and a few software packages, I’m probably paying c.£50/month to run the blog.

I haven’t checked the actual number but what I do know is that as far as hobbies go, this isn’t an expensive one, at least in headline terms.  The real expense incurred here is time.

Given I typically spend between 10 and 15 hours a week on this blog, over the past year the time invested is running well north of 500 hours.

Researching, writing and posting articles can really add up so if you happen to contemplate running a blog, please do not underestimate the effort required.

If this hobby of mine ever gets too expensive, I may consider adding a bit of advertising to offset the expenses.  For the time being, I simply cannot be bothered as I would rather focus on creating thoughtful, engaging content.

So What’s In It For Me?

Good question.  There’s a couple of things that keep me coming back.

In addition to the creative outlet bit I mentioned above, I do enjoy working on my writing style.

Communication is an important part of my day job and I find that improvements in my writing ability help me improve my client interactions as well.  The ability to deliver a message in a concise and convincing manner goes a long way in investment banking.

In addition, writing about investing and financial independence helps me refine my own strategy.  I have already improved and streamlined my investment approach as a result of researching articles for this site.

Finally, there’s what I call the PR aspect.  A decade since the financial crisis, investment bankers are still struggling with their public image, even though the worst offenders have long left for big tech.

As an industry insider, I feel that the public narrative is misplaced by more than a stretch.  Part of what I am trying to accomplish here is to provide a more balanced picture versus the one you may see elsewhere.

Blow The Candle, Make A Wish

What am I looking to accomplish in my second year as a blogger?  It’s quite simple.

I would like to keep posting twice a week.  The current lockdown helps, though now that we have two children (one of whom is currently in a severe sleep regression phase!), finding the time to write gets ever more challenging.

I also plan to build out my email list.  Many of you have already signed up to be notified of new posts by email – feel free to do so as well by filling out a form at the bottom (mobile) or in the sidebar (desktop) of this post.

Currently, my email list subscribers get notified every time a new post goes up, which saves them from having to check in every so often.

However, Convertkit (which I use for email management) has a ton of amazing features which I am keen to learn and put to good use to make things even more interactive.  It’s always fun to learn new things!

Most importantly, I’d love to keep helping my readers begin – and accelerate their journey to financial independence.  Writing for you gives me an important purpose in life and I am humbled to have each and every one of you visit this site.

Happy birthday to me – and a wonderful day to you.

Damian

About Banker On FIRE

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Banker On FIRE is a London-based M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker.  I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence and living the best life possible.

Find out more about me and this blog here.

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25 Comments

  1. I once started (2008) a website selling stuff online and that graph showing a flat line in visitors for several
    Months is a familiar image!
    One thing I learnt at that time was I found out how google makes so much money! My early inexperienced forays into google advertising was an expensive learning curve “set your budget” …. bang every day budget gone….

    It’s only by writing a blog along with it helped generate traffic which eventually led to sales. It’s not a quick process.
    Enjoy your postings, keep it up !

    • Thanks Steve! I found that akin to stock market investing, it’s best not to check your traffic stats too often, no matter how enticing it might be.

      Glad you are enjoying the blog!

  2. Congrats on a year of blogging! I’ve been following your posts for a while and find them really helpful. In fact, without your LISA post I might never have started looking at retirement account options, which would have cost me £1000s in missed government bonuses and taxback. Thanks! Looking forward to future posts over the next year.

    • Thanks Kathrin. It’s comments like yours that make this journey so rewarding and give me the motivation to keep writing.

      Look forward to seeing more of your posts as well!

  3. Congrats on the one year anniversary. Many FIRE blogs don’t make it to this milestone, or their posts descend into copy and paste ‘how to save money’ type lists – hard to maintain quality writing throughout like you have. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Weenie! By the way, I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while now. Always very impressed (and inspired) with your consistency – and your savings rate.

  4. Congrats BOF! Really enjoying your perspective – you write really well. Nice to have a sanity check outside the FS bubble (even if it’s from someone who also works in the FS bubble – if that makes sense(!)).

    • Ain’t no bubble like the FS bubble 🙂 Really appreciate the kind words. Seems like we may be in the same industry – what is it that you do for a living?

      • So true… I’m currently doing regulatory advisory at a commercial bank – lots of MiFID/EMIR/SFTR among lots of other horrible acronyms, as well as input into specific transactions. Nice spot to sit and watch what’s going on out there though!

        Tried my hand at a FIRE blog too for a little bit, but didn’t have the way with words you do – sort of burned out on it in the end.

        • Indeed. My wife does something similar for a living – certainly lots going on in that space now and for the foreseeable future.

          There’s also the added advantage of being far more insulated from layoffs as no bank wants to be perceived as scaling back their regulatory discipline.

          • That’s a hope – if it plays out like last time I think you’re spot on. Not a good time to be an FS contractor though… Anywho, keep safe – looking forward to reading your next post.

  5. Awesome update BoF. I’ve really appreciated reading your blog – you’re incredibly insightful. Here’s to an even more successful year 2!

      • Congrats bof. Yours is definitely one of the blogs I read regularly and Ive found the insider info particularly useful around margin calls etc to better understand the reason for stock market drops alot better than just thinking its panicked retail investors heading to the hills

        (i could never understand that as alot of stock market investing from a retail side is pensions and how many people stop investing in their pension or even look at it!)

        • Cheers mate. Always enjoy trading thoughts with you in the comments – nothing like an outside perspective to help see things in new light!

  6. Damian, what an amazing first year! 2 posts a week with 2 kids that is solid! Keep it up and happy birthday. All the best and thanks again for the mention 🙂

    • Thanks Joney 🙂 Perhaps one day I’ll be able to point them to this blog for all the financial advice!

  7. Hey there, have only just started reading your blog (well a few months ago) and really like it. A lot of what you say really hits home to me. I’m not in finance, but a similar profession and am also probably on the older side. I do note a lot of FIRE stuff written out there is for “millennials” so what you write is really relevant to me.

    If it helps, I’m not based in either the UK or the USA, so you do have fans outside of these areas.

  8. Congratulations on the first anniversary BOF. Most PF bloggers don’t make it that far, nor can many sustain a two posts per week cadence without having the quality fall away.

    I enjoy reading your posts, though sometimes the “insider” stuff gives me nightmare flashbacks to my own days working in investment banking. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you! Hopefully the “scaries” are quickly replaced by a sense of overwhelming relief when you realize you are no longer in the banking grind!

  9. Congratulations on making it to a year
    I opened my first LISA last month as a direct result of reading about it here, and have begun researching funds etc for the first time ever, never understood them!

    • Thanks WB. Comments like yours honestly make my day, very happy it helped you take the next step on your journey to financial independence.

      Please do shout in case there are other topics you’d like to see covered off and I’ll do my best to address them.

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