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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.