Congratulations to “harmlos” who claimed the Administrivia prize, 374 days after the contest began.

{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Indeedably meta redux

Dress up day. The day every parent of primary school age children comes to dread.

A desperate teary-eyed plea to go to school wearing a costume, inevitably made after the cut off for next day delivery.

The mad dash to the local discount store, to do battle with all the other frantic parents competing for the same overpriced junk.

Costume day arrives. With it comes the paralysing fear of being the only kid who dresses up.

An anxious quarter of an hour peering out the front windows. Many, but not all, dressed in costumes.

Harried parents dragging reluctant children, wearing hastily improvised Harry Potter and Where’s Wally outfits. A motivated parent can perform miracles with a magic marker in five minutes or less when they are running late for a morning meeting!

I was relieved that my son’s costume wouldn’t rank among the worst of them.

Shoes on.

Bag on.

Almost out the door.

Then he stopped. Turned. And burst into tears.

He was afraid the other children would tease or laugh at him.

Having met several of his classmates, his fears were totally justified.

I did the reassuring parent bit. He was not convinced.

It sucks when your kids outgrow the notion that fathers are wise and right in all things.

Suddenly his face lit up.

I know! You should wear a costume too. They won’t laugh if you’re there.

I did a double take.

My mouth gold-fished.

His argument had a certain inarguable six-year-old logic to it.

He looked so hopeful. So desperate. So pleading. I couldn’t bring myself to say no. Again. Fuck!

Unfortunately for me, I did happen to have a costume. The remnants of a best forgotten stag party held many years ago.

A fire-engine red Flash costume. Tightly fitting lycra over anatomically optimistic foam muscles.

Not the sort of thing you can just pull on over a pair of jeans.

I bolted upstairs. Stripped off my clothes. Squirmed my way into the costume.

It was tighter than I remembered. Constricting.

The boy grabbed my hand, dragged me back downstairs, and out the door.

We ran down the street to the school, a pirate and a superhero, arriving just as the bell rang to mark the beginning of the day.

He gave me a big hug, and thanked me for dressing up with him, then vanished amidst the crowd of cowboys, fairy princesses, and a group of teachers all dressed up as the 118 guys.

I turned for home, deploying some universal sign language in response to a mocking wolf whistle from the school janitor.

Arriving at the front door my hand automatically reached towards my pocket for my keys.

Only my keys were with my wallet and phone.

In my jeans.

On my bed.

Inside the house!

Oh bother” I muttered. Or words to that effect.

Standing on the doorstep, I quickly weighed up my options. What would “The Flash” do?

The bathroom window was closed, so the traditional break and entry method wasn’t an option.

The idea of climbing up to the loft roof, removing some tiles, and gaining entry through the manhole wasn’t very appealing. Particularly while wearing a very visible bright red superhero outfit.

A locksmith might normally be an option, but the house has those fancy Banham locks, requiring written authorisation in triplicate from the landlord… who was currently holidaying in Sri Lanka.

I could walk into the city to my lady wife’s office and ask to borrow her keys.

Her embarrassment would be total. Tempting!

My life wouldn’t be worth living afterwards.

Memory like the mafia, with far less mercy shown. No, that price was way too high to pay.

I concluded I was stuck outside, at least until my elder son returned home from his school excursion.

A day of enforced nothingness. Dressed as “The Flash”.

No money.

No phone.

The overcast sky threatened rain, so I walked the few miles towards the local Westfield shopping centre.

Passers-by laughed. Smiled. Waved.

Cars and trucks honked their horns as they drove by.

As I skirted the exit of the nearby tube station a harried-looking guy in a business suit jostled past. He shot me a cheeky grin, then shoved a £5 note into my hand.

Initially, I was puzzled. People don’t just go around handing out money to random strangers?

Then I realised he thought I was a parasitic chugger, shaking down commuters for spare change while making vague sounding promises like “save the children” or “help cure cancer”.

I shrugged. The money would go to a worthy cause, buying me lunch!

A couple of hours later I was sitting in the food court, dressed as a superhero, munching on a chicken tikka roti roll.

It occurred to me that the last time I had been caught out wearing a dubious costume in public, I recounted the experience in the context of writing about writing. Very meta indeed!

Then I realised this blog was rapidly approaching its first birthday, and I probably should do something mark the occasion. Today I thought I would continue that theme.

Happy birthday to { in·deed·a·bly }

Anniversary posts tend to be either a gratitude laden greatest hits mashup, or new product launch. As is my wont, I thought I would do something a bit different.

Alas, this won’t be a breathless “call to action“, promising a super easy ultimate 3-minute guide to making [me] millions by clicking on affiliate links and becoming an internet entrepreneur.

Instead, I thought I’d write about some metrics I would have been interested in knowing before I took up blogging as a hobby.

Inconvenient truths

First, a confession: I am a crap blogger.

I enjoy the writing part. However, I have a vanishingly small interest in the promotion and monetisation aspects of blogging. I imagine both could consume vast quantities of time, but neither are things I am sufficiently knowledgable about to comment on with any authority.

Second, a disclaimer: What follows are subjectively drawn conclusions from a sample size of 1.

Third, a reality check: I have no idea whether these metrics are good, bad, or indifferent.

Fourth, a health warning: Never blindly trust statistics that random strangers post on the internet. Your mileage may vary!

Indeedably meta redux

Time

8 hours: The typical time taken to research, write, edit, proof read, and prepare pretty pictures for each post.

Numbers posts that involve munging together statistical data and making charts take a little longer.

SavingNinja’s “Thought Experiment” and FinanceYourFire’s “Microfiction series entries take a bit less.

Good bloggers are apparently supposed to stick to a publishing cadence and schedule, using an implied commitment to their audience to hold themselves accountable for sticking to it.

That sounds like a recipe for stress.

Accountability.

Commitment.

Schedule.

Yuck!

For me, blogging is just a hobby. Something I do in the idle moments around real life. I write while I’m enjoying it, and when I have something to say. If either element is missing then I do something else.

Audience

198 users: The average number of unique readers who kindly visit each day.

Like any average, this nice smooth figure masks a rollercoaster-like reality.

Having a post featured by a larger site causes an encouraging, albeit brief, spike in reader numbers. The chart below displays user sessions by referrer for the week following them kindly featuring an { in·deed·a·bly } post.

Sessions by referrer feature | { in·deed·a·bly }

Conversely, reader numbers fall away the longer the gap between posts.

19% repeat visitors: The proportion of first-time readers who venture back for a repeat visit.

As near as Google’s anonymised analytics engine can tell, 81% of first-time visitors don’t return.

The 19% figure may be a little low given that many people these days use VPNs, private/incognito browsing modes, and block cookies. Even so, most folks don’t return.

Comments

1 in 69 visitors comment: The ratio between passive readers and those who choose to interact.

Comments are rare and special things. A reader invests their time to share their thoughts or feelings. Mostly these are constructive, and I often learn something from the different perspectives offered.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow commenters to edit their comments. That sucks when you discover a typo seconds after hitting submit! Fortunately, there are plugins available to fix that. Use them.

Some bloggers get discouraged by a “lack of engagement” with their audience, perhaps feeling like they are shouting into the void. Just remember there are a lot more lurkers than active participants.

Spam prevention decisions, such as requiring a reader to register for an account, linking a comment to a social media profile, or insisting on an email address all create barriers that reduce the likelihood that a reader will leave a comment.

It is a trade-off.

A choice.

5 comments: The average number of comments received per post.

After a year, I am yet to discern a reliable predictor of what the audience will respond to.

Some of the most popular articles I’ve written felt rushed and I wasn’t happy with the writing.

Conversely, several of the pieces I enjoyed writing most were greeted by the sound of crickets.

Subscriptions

1 in 206 subscribe: The ratio between readers and those who choose to subscribe.

It seems like every book or article ever written about content creation or personal branding stresses the importance of building up an email list of subscribers. A self-selected target audience, receptive to your message or brand or product or whatever.

With that in mind, I’ve got a confession to make: I have never signed up to an email list.

I believe that bloggers who place obstacles, like email harvesting windows, between their content and readers have misaligned priorities. Perhaps they too should undertake a day of enforced nothingness spent reflecting, while dressed as their favourite lycra-clad superhero!

Punishment by cosplay. Image credit: Kyle Nishioka.

Punishment by cosplay. Image credit: Kyle Nishioka.

It turns out not everyone is like me. Readers expect to be able to subscribe. Demand it.

People kept sending unsolicited requests to be added to my non-existent mailing list.

Eventually, I capitulated and established a list.

Saying yes became easier than keeping on saying no. The path of least resistance.

Sharing

329,855 impressions: The total number of people who viewed content I shared via ɪɴᴅᴇᴇᴅᴀʙʟʏ ɢᴏᴏᴅ.

Every day I share the best two articles, blog posts, journals, podcasts or videos I have discovered.

It is my way of saying thank you to those content creators, and encouraging them to keep doing what they are doing.

The truth is that few people click on the links. However, the process of sharing without any expectation of receiving something in return has led to some fascinating conversations with the content creators.

My “I read” page contains living bookmark list of content I have recently enjoyed, been challenged by, or learned from. Suspiciously, it appears to be most popular amongst folks who send out curated email newsletters and are short on time!

Style

Zero: My level of interest in writing keyword rich, SEO optimised content to rank highly in Google.

Conventional wisdom has it that if a blogger can identify a commonly asked question, write an answer that appears near the top of the search results, then they will have established a means of channelling a continuous stream of new readers to their blog.

Via some alchemy I don’t really understand, readers somehow convert into money.

More readers equal more money, while also boosting the blogger’s ego.

Which is great, until you realise they are writing for the search engine, rather than the reader.

That doesn’t really sound like my idea of fun, so I don’t do that.

Interestingly, none of the successful bloggers I enjoy reading write that way either.

The good ones all tell stories, with relatable characters navigating through memorable plots.

That is the same way good teachers have taught subjects like economics, history and law since the beginning of time.

It is all about the stories.

“In reviewing a compilation of recent research and writing, we’ve identified your piece, “Subversion” as an outstanding example of investment writing, and kindly ask that you consider recording an audio version for this year’s volume of The Best Investment Writing.”

The Best Investment Writing Vol. III – Meb Faber

Which is sounds like a compelling argument… until I try to find one of my old posts, that I called something unhelpful like “normalcy” rather than something seachably useful like “United Kingdom long term historical economic indicators”!

Gratitude

Unlimited: My appreciation to everyone who has read, commented, shared, and supported { in·deed·a·bly } over the past year.

The real superhero in this story isn’t some old guy wandering around town in a dodgy looking Flash costume.

It is you, the reader!

Thanks for investing your precious time to read my random thoughts.

When I started blogging I expected the experience to be a somewhat lonely one of quiet reflection. Organising my thoughts into words to help enhance my learning, deepen my understanding, and make better informed decisions.

Instead I have discovered a generous community of like minded individuals who have broadened my perspectives, challenged my premises, and even nominated me for awards. I’m richer for the experience.


References

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24 Comments

  1. Sas 1 July 2019

    Keep on doing what you doing it is great

  2. Dr FIRE 1 July 2019

    Happy Birthday Indeedably! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts over the last year. Hopefully you keep going for many more to come!

  3. SavingNinja 1 July 2019

    Well done on making it to a year, and for keeping such a high standard of posts. You could monetise by creating an ebook of all of your posts thus far 😉

    Keep it up!

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 July 2019

      Thanks SavingNinja.

      What genre do you reckon such a book would be classified under? Fiction (microfiction and financial reports!), opinion (thought experiments and rants), or personal finance (the very occasional useful post)? 😉

  4. FitandFunemployed 1 July 2019

    You seem like you have everything on lock (a compliment, for sure). It might be interesting to hear how – if at all – your perspectives on finance and FI and all that jazz have changed over the year…?

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 July 2019

      Thanks FitandFunemployed.

      I view FI as an enabler, rather than a milestone or even the final goal that many other bloggers refer to it as being. To me it is not much different to the nice meal and good night’s sleep we require to be able to complete a challenging hike or complete a productive day’s work.

      Over the year that view has evolved from a vague inkling to something am pretty certain of.

      On the Finance front I’ve found myself becoming increasingly less interested in the numbers part. Once I reached the point of “enough” and had things largely on autopilot the dabbling with my spreadsheets became repetitive with little value added.

      I do still update my numbers once a month, mainly to check that my financial machine is working correctly and ensure I haven’t been robbed while my attention was elsewhere.

      My focus shifted towards the personal finance application I’m tinkering with, something that aims to inform decision making rather than just track where things went wrong. I’m enjoying that more than I thought I would.

  5. A Black Penny 1 July 2019

    Ooo, I love the stories too! And this one was superb. It’s been a pleasure reading you for the past…2 months I’ve been around? 😄

  6. PendleWitch 1 July 2019

    If only there was a photo!! Not commented much lately but still reading. Seems to me your posts usually contain enough quantity for at least 3 of most other bloggers’ posts.

    Keep going, but only if you want to – Happy Birthday 🙂

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 1 July 2019

      Thanks PendleWitch. It has been said that my verbosity knows no bounds!

      If only there was a photo!!

      Well actually… there was a photo.

      To my lady wife’s absolute horror, it appeared in the school newsletter. The good news was there was no caption, so my secret identity survived (mostly) intact.

  7. earlyretireman 1 July 2019

    Congrats! Your blog was one of the very first I came across when ‘firing up’ my own. And you are still an inspiration by how you use stories to get you messages and viewpoints across… supported by numbers…as always 🙂
    It has been a great joy to follow you and will continue to do so in the future. Thx!

  8. Anne 2 July 2019

    I enjoy your blog but I tend to be a lurker. However, your post made me laugh out loud twice this morning so I just had to say how much I like your blog. By the way, I never checked out your other tabs but I will after your explanation of the ‘I Read’ tab.

  9. weenie 7 July 2019

    Happy blog birthday – here’s to the next year!

    Interesting points you make, in particular how long it takes to create each post. I’ve never timed myself, or factored in time spent – not sure it would be 8 hours in total, perhaps closer to 5 hours I guess, with all the proof-reading and editing.

    As for SEO optimised content, I looked into it a while ago and I’d just rather write in a way which I’m happy with, in a semi-natural way.

  10. gettingminted.com 7 July 2019

    Thanks for writing this blog. If you continue to have things to say then please carry on in your own way. I’ve found some useful insights in your writing so far.

  11. blaine 11 July 2019

    You write wonderful personal thoughtful articles. Please keep writing what you need to write and kaphooey on statistics and cycles and subscription expectations.

  12. Renae 12 July 2019

    Thanks for writing. I really enjoy and look forward to reading your posts.

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