It is amazing to me that this is the 200th post I have made on MrFireStation.com since launching the site 18 months ago. I started the blog as a way to capture my journey to early retirement and share the experience with others. I hoped to meet some like-minded strangers and have a place for close friends to get the low-down on my secret escape from MegaCorp.
For at least the last 10 years, I was a voracious hunter of information on retiring early and especially liked to read the accounts of what it was like to walk into your boss’s office and quit for once and for all. I enjoyed reading people’s stories on early-retirement.org and posts on the the Mr. Money Moustache forums through Reddit.
Part of the inspiration for the site came from some thinking I was doing on purpose in early retirement. I think the highest order of purpose is helping others in need and I wondered if I could help others learn what I had learned about financial planning and living debt free. I thought starting a column or website could be an outlet for that.
My goal was to get to 100 readers. I thought that would make the endeavor of writing posts worthwhile and at the same time I would learn more about the publishing on the internet and building a follower base. It is amazing that after 18 months the website has exceeded my original goals FIFTEEN-FOLD.
After 200 posts here is the “reach” that the site has achieved …
- 8,772 total visitors (averaging >1,500/month now)
- 63,750 pageviews (averaging >10,000/month now)
- 1,000+ followers on Twitter
- 190+ WordPress & email subscribers
I know from following other blogs in this space that these numbers will seem amazingly high or incredibly low. I have looked at other blogs totals and thought the same. I think what is most important is deciding whether your effort is worth the time you are putting into it. The growth in readership has been exponential – It took me 12 months to get 5K pageviews and now I get that in 2 weeks.
I started promoting the site more heavily on Twitter just in the last 6 months. I have used Crowdfire to organize Tweets and try to push out 4-5 a day. My son taught me to find people and follow them on Twitter and I just passed a thousand followers. I probably could have double or triple that exposure if I spent more time on it, but I’m probably spending as much time as I am going to. There are also a lot of things I haven’t figured out. How to do WordPress plug-ins to help people subscribe and do other cool things is beyond me.
I am amazed to see that visitors to the site have come from over 76 different countries. It is shocking to me to see that there has been 98 pageviews from Kazakhstan when 18 months ago I am not sure I could have found that country on this map. (Looking at the map, I am a bit disappointed I haven’t gotten any visitors from Greenland, although my understanding is that it is a territory of Denmark, which has racked up 45 page views).
The most popular articles all come from my “Milestone” series which details each of the significant steps we took to early retirement. The posts between February and April of this year, when I announced and finally left for early retirement were the most read by far:
- Reaching Millionaire Status
- Announcing Your Formal Resignation
- What Are You Going To Do In Early Retirement?
- Picking An Early Retirement Age
- Announcing To Colleagues
Originally, I tried to publish three posts per week. After six months of that, I switched to just publishing Monday & Wednesday and putting a “Friday Fun” quote out to finish the week. Only since actually retiring have I skipped an occasional Wednesday post. It is harder to find content once retired because you can’t complain about corporate life anymore (and that is a rich vein!)
The time I do spend writing, reading, commenting, responding, and tweeting works out to about 4-5 hours a week. Half of that is purely in post writing – which I enjoy the most. Friends ask me how long I’m going to keep doing it and I’m not sure what the answer is yet. I think my most interesting posts (announcing, winding down, and actually leaving for early retirement) are behind me at this point, but the story isn’t truly complete until I’ve wrapped up a full year of goofing off.
THE FIRE COMMUNITY
I have enjoyed getting to know other bloggers online and hearing about their lives and plans. Talking about money and quitting jobs is awkward in real life, so it is fun to have an anonymous community online. I do feel like a bit of the “old guy” around here because I’m 50 and many others are closing in on FIRE in their 30s and early 40s. Most of them are still on their way to FIRE, so I try to play a bit of the “elder statesman” in my comments, since I’ve reached the goal many are still shooting for. This is a funny contrast with my real life, where 50 seems impossibly young to retire to most people I meet.
I’ve really appreciated getting to know readers and fellow bloggers through the comments that roll in after every post is published. I get very interesting comments from so many people, but none more than Brian at DebtDiscipline.com, Lynn at EncoreVoyage.com, the wonderful couple at OurNextLife.com (who are amazingly prolific commenters!), Pat at RetirementTransition, Matt at TheResumeGap.com, Maggie at NorthernExpenditure.com, and Janis at RetirementallyChallenged. The most commented post I ever had was the day I formally announced my early retirement at work. There were almost 40 comments on that post – it was a day filled with a lot of well-wishes that meant a lot to me.
There are also some wonderful fellow bloggers that have sent a lot of traffic to this site and shared the story I have been telling on their own sites: Joe at RetireBy40.org, Steve at ThinkSaveRetire.com, PhysicianOnFire.com, Sam at FinancialSamurai.com, OurNextLife.com, and RootOfGood.com. I am very grateful to them all and a regular reader of each and every one of their blogs. I see a lot of blogs in this genre featured on RockStarFinance.com, but I’ve been disappointed to not have caught their eye, because I do like their content a lot.
So that is it. 200 posts are now “in the can” and we’ll keep pushing forward. Please keep up your comments, questions, and snappy remarks. I especially like the snappy remarks!
I am also interested in your comments on the topics you would like to hear about now that I am almost 3 months retired. What is it about achieving the life of FIRE that you are most interested in?
Image Credit: WritingTheDay