In late 2014, I had a vision of a popular anonymous banking blog overtaking the Internet. People would wonder and speculate who that mysterious and sexy keyboard warrior is, and flock behind him as he spoke TRUTH!
Of course, I had no idea how to run a website, but I did a lot of research. And on December 16, 2014, I bit the bullet, whipped out my debit card, and bought a two year hosting plan from iPage. I learned how to build and monetize websites on WordPress and set out from there.
So how’s that going for me? Let’s take a look and see the progress of Angry Retail Banker exactly three years from that day.
Today is December 16, 2017. Three years exactly since I started this blog.
A pleasant surprise for me here.
You see, work has gotten harder and longer. I’ve been pulling longer hours routinely now, usually 10-12 hour days. I come home, slap together some dinner, and I just pass out.
My free time is spent job hunting and making another major life change that I haven’t mentioned on here but alluded to a couple times on my Twitter account. So I honestly didn’t think I had been publishing that many articles.
In 2015, I published 35 articles.
In 2016, I only got out 16 articles.
In 2017, I published 37 articles.
Whereas I thought my activity was waning, this was actually my most active year to date.
And yes, I’m including guest posts. But even still, there were only five of them. Six if you include this interview with Ben Davis of “From Cents To Retirement”. So 31 articles written by me is a pretty big step up from the 16 posts published last year.
Of course, it’s not like that’s the only blogging activity I engaged in. I’ve written guest posts on other blogs. My first one of the year was this guest post on Financial Samurai. A month later, I participated in Enwealthen’s Financial Literacy Month with an interview of my own.
So thanks to Sam and Jack for having me!
But I haven’t just been posting more articles. I promised a year ago that I would write more blog posts promoting financial resources that can help you with your banking, lending, and investing. I kept that promise.
Rather than ranting and raving about my job (though I still do that), I’ve done what I should have been since the very beginning and promoted financial products and services that I feel actually provide you guys value.
Providing value to readers? Heaven forbid!
For your banking needs, I’ve written about CIT Bank. It’s an FDIC insured online bank offering 1.35% on their savings accounts. And with the coupon code FALL17, you can earn $100 cash bonus if you open their Premier High Yield Savings Account by December 21,2017.
I’ve interviewed Yinan Du, the CEO of Beam. Beam is a new technology company that has found a way to pay you up to 4% on an FDIC insured account. You can read the interview here.
And for your other financial needs, I’ve gone over Ally Invest (a discount online brokerage), LendKey (a student loan refinance company that connects you with credit unions and community banks), LendingTree (a mortgage and loan broker that makes shopping for credit easy), National Debt Relief (a debt settlement company), Check Into Cash (a reputable no-credit lender and check casher), and PolicyGenius (an online insurance broker).
So more articles were being written promoting more valuable financial resources, and more guest posts being featured? Okay, that means more activity, but has there been more traffic?
Oh yes there has.
The final totals for 2017 aren’t in yet, but I’m expecting to hit about 40,000 page views for the year. While there are bloggers out there who have tens of thousands of visitors a day, this still represents a substantial increase for me that I hope to keep up.
Some months are better than others. And I still struggle to get more than a hundred visitors a day. But look at that monthly traffic. With the exception of June and October (the latter having gotten a lot more page views than what was normal in 2016), I have quite large year to year increases for each month. December’s still up in the air, obviously.
That huge number for March, by the way? That’s when my guest post on Financial Samurai went live. He gets more page views in a day than I probably get in a whole year.
I’m not jealous.
Hey, let’s play a game. It’s called, “Let’s Actually Check My Google Analytics And Try To Understand The Clusterf*** Of Random Charts And Graphs In Order To Figure Out How To Optimize My Blog”.
Expect a call from me, Milton Bradley.
Okay, so, I think I’m sucking at life right now.
For the year, I’ve had 24,000 sessions spread out across 19,000 users. Wait, I thought I had 38,000 visitors. Okay, never mind. What’s disheartening is my bounce rate and my average duration. Almost 80% of people that come to my blog leave after reading a single page, and people are staying on my blog for an average of less than two minutes.
People don’t even stay here for more than two minutes!?
The hell am I bothering for?
And those numbers are an improvement!
Either I am wildly wrong in my interpretation of these numbers, or I’ve got to rethink this whole blogging thing.
As far as who the people that read my blog are:
More than 83% of visitors this past month were new people. I guess there’s pros and cons to that. More new faces, so welcome. Ignore the fact that, apparently, the vast majority of people who read this run away after a minute and forty something seconds and never return.
Also, the vast majority of my readership is from the United States. Hey, I’m from the United States! What a coincidence!
Looking at this year and last year, it appears that the vast majority of readers are Millennials in the 25-34 year old range, with my second largest demographic being Generation X. I also see that America’s youth are reading this blog, and that old people don’t make up a huge portion of my readership (probably because they don’t do computers). Also, just shy of two thirds of my readers are male, which means my blogging alter ego still gets more luck with the ladies than my real self. Thanks, ladies.
Since it’s all just my fellow Millennial males here, anybody here watch Dragon Ball Super lately? That Ultra Instinct Kamehameha, am I right?
Now, where is everyone coming from?
I’ve known for years that the vast majority of you find your way here via the search engines. Primarily Google.
I also get a lot of direct traffic, meaning that 19% of you are literally typing in “angryretailbanker.com” into your browsers. And 10% of my traffic is referral traffic, which I presume means links from other blogs and websites. That’s why I do those those guest posts, folks.
Okay, I can’t look at this thing anymore. My eyes are bleeding. But we have a few key takeaways from it all:
- My traffic is up from last year.
- People come to my website, leave within less than two minutes, and never return.
- Most of my traffic comes from search engines.
- This blog is as American as a Donald Trump rally, but only slightly less angry.
- Everyone here is a Millennial male. This place is a sausage fest.
- I suck at blogging. Also at everything else in life.
Of course, this ultimately is a money-making endeavor, or so that’s the idea. While no blog should ever be there simply for the money (it won’t survive), a well run blog will be making some sort of income over time. How’s this one doing? We’ll break it down into categories.
Google Adsense are those ads that sometimes have those blue triangle arrows on them. The ones that change every time you reload the page. Every time you click on one, I earn a few pennies.
And a few pennies is right. For the entirety of my time with Google Adsense, I’ve earned a whopping $319.08. Mind you, I’ve had Adsense almost from the beginning.
Remember that this is my 3 year anniversary.
So far for the year (December’s earnings aren’t in yet), I’ve made $91.90. There’s no way to predict what my year-end earnings will be. My monthly revenue ranges from a few bucks to $30.
I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, if you look at how the top bloggers make money from their sites, it’s usually not through Adsense. They usually sell products, consulting services, and stuff like that. In other words, their blogs don’t make money; their blogs are the “storefronts” from where their other businesses make money.
Still, I’ve read “humble” reports of bloggers who make a couple hundred dollars monthly from Adsense. I was hoping to be one of these bloggers by the time Year 3 ended. It seems like that’s not the case.
But there’s more than one way to skin a cat (who does that, by the way? That’s sick).
Affiliate marketing income is more lucrative. Those are links to specific products or services that require the user to take some sort of action (make a purchase, open an account, etc) for me to earn a commission. However, instead of pennies, commissions can range from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars.
An example of an affiliate link is this link to CompuChecks. If you click on the link and then purchase one of their products, I earn a commission. This does not raise the price of your checks.
I think I’ve put a disclaimer for every single affiliate link I’ve ever had. All bloggers should. Readers should understand that there is an incentive for the blogger to speak about XYZ product. But a dangerous, illegal, ineffective, or otherwise bad product should never be intentionally presented to readers. That’s how I run Angry Retail Banker.
Over all my affiliate relationships (spread out across almost ten different affiliate networks, so I’m not going to break them all down), I believe I’ve made about $420. It would have been more, but one of them (CJ Affiliate, formerly known as Commission Junction) likes to confiscate $10 from your earnings after six months of not earning any commissions through them.
That means I need to work harder to push CIT Bank, Ally Invest, and Check Into Cash.
The fact that their affiliates randomly drop you is also a source of frustration, as is the fact that you can apply with a merchant and never hear back from them.
I have a customer at work flipping out because her wire wasn’t sent within two hours, yet I don’t hear from a major financial institution ever when I try to do business with them and that’s okay?
That’s par for the customer service course for me. I’m always expected to provide a level of service I never receive.
CJ Affiliate, I like ya, but you need to get your act together.
These numbers are disappointing for me, but not too surprising. They’re disappointing because you can read a dozen bloggers’ income reports where they make about $20,000/month from affiliate marking income alone. But not at all surprising because I didn’t really focus on financial solutions until now.
A blogger has to provide value to his readers if he wants to see income.
As a testament to hard work paying off, however, I earned about half of that income in one shot from one of my affiliates. I don’t want to disclose which one (some things need to be kept confidential), but it looks like focusing on providing value by presenting you all with financial products and services that can help you is the way to go.
Sponsored posts are blog posts that are paid for by a third party. I’m paid to write an article promoting a product, service, or company. Unlike with affiliate marketing, I don’t actually get a commission if you take any action. I was paid to write the article.
As with affiliate articles, sponsored articles should always promote companies and products that the blogger stands by. In my Sponsored Guest Post Guidelines, I specifically state that:
“I will only allow you to have a sponsored post on my site if I feel comfortable with your company and product. You and it should be ethical and trustworthy, or else I will not accept a sponsored post.”
So how have I done with sponsored posts? Well, I had one near the end of 2016, but we won’t count that one. For this year, Year 3, I’ve had about half a dozen of these posts, give or take. They made me about $450. Just slightly more than my affiliate income.
Sponsored posts have their ups and downs. On the plus side, I have an agreement with a company who shall remain nameless to write these things for you. It’s sort of a “buy in bulk” deal that I have with my client. It ensures that I have a reasonably stable income going forward. It also guarantees that I get some sort of reward for my hard work.
It’s also a nice self-esteem boost. I keep getting article orders, as well as requests by other people to write guest posts or throw their links on my blog. Maybe I’m not doing as bad as I thought. Link spammers aside, I have clients who want to pay me to have their services advertised on Angry Retail Banker.
Not that I’m commanding premium rates, but that means something to me. It really does.
On the other side, I’m often blindsided by an order to write about a company that I’ve never heard of, leaving me scrambling to research them to ensure that their name has a place on this site. Thankfully my client is reputable and only deals with providers of quality financial/business services, but it’s still my name and reputation on the line. Which means I’ve got to do my due diligence.
Not only that, but sometimes I find myself writing about a company that I’m not really interested in. I mean that I find the article boring to write. I’m not in college anymore; I didn’t start this blog to write papers about assigned topics.
Still, the good outweighs the bad ten times over. Writing sponsored posts has been a very lucrative source of income for me. I hope it continues to be so as old orders are renewed (I only keep a sponsored post up for a limited time) and those recurring charges are mixed with new article orders. And while the financial benefits are definitely a plus (the sponsored posts are my biggest source of income), the fact that I get to learn about new businesses and products from clients who want to pay money just to have me write about them on my blog is just so cool!
Success, Failure, And The Future
Year 3 of Angry Retail Banker has been a mix of success and failure.
My traffic has gone up. But people aren’t engaged.
My income is still small. But it is growing with each year.
I haven’t had any success with social media. But I don’t even have a Facebook profile and I think I’ve gained about 50-70 Twitter followers since last year.
I wanted to take this blog to new heights with an email list and new projects. But while I have one project in mind, I really don’t know what to do with an email list and I think having some sort of major project is a necessity for the email list to be worth it. That said, I sincerely thank everyone who has subscribed to this blog.
So what does this mean for the future of Angry Retail Banker?
Well, right now I’m undergoing some major non-blogging life changes. I will keep everybody updated soon. But I work long hours in a highly stressful position, moreso because things aren’t going well over there. I come home with barely any energy, and I just don’t have the time I need to get everything done. I’m hoping things will change within the next three months. But with my luck, who knows?
That said, as far as the blog goes, I plan to make a few minor tweaks to clean the place up, and I plan to be more active on social media. I know I hinted last year at an Angry Retail Banker Facebook page, but maybe this year it will happen!
In the meantime, I will continue to share my insights into customer service, sales, banking, and finance. I will share my triumphs (HA!) and setbacks, I will share my personal journey, and I will share products and services that I feel would benefit you all in some way. I will try to figure out how to keep people from leaving and making the content more engaging, and hopefully it will result in a higher income for me as well as a better experience for you.
Readers–What do YOU think!? Have you enjoyed the third year of Angry Retail Banker? Or is this a blog that’s wasting valuable web space? What changes would you like to see, and what do you particularly like about this blog? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links scattered throughout the article. Honestly, if I mentioned a specific company and linked to it directly, it’s an affiliate link. I earn a small commission at no cost to you if you open an account or make a purchase through those links. I would appreciate the anniversary present, as the income that it provides helps keep this site going.