When I first started this site in January 2006, I wasn’t sure how long my little experiment would last, so I’m amused (and a bit surprised) to be able to say that I wrote my first finance-related post this week last year. The post was a bit academic and formal, so I think I’ve come a long way since then!
My initial reasons for starting a blog were to practice my foreign language skills through my writing and getting feedback from readers. (You can see that here and here, for example, and I even briefly had a site in Mandarin.) Well, that experiment didn’t last long after I realized I didn’t have enough interesting material, time, or strong enough language abilities to create blogs in three different languages.
After realizing that idea was just way to ambitious for me to execute, I took a few days to think about what sort of topic I could create an entire blog around, and I realized that might be in personal and corporate finance, because I manage our household’s finances and work in that functional area. Looking back, I had some other reasons I wanted to start a site, too. Short term, I figured blogging would be:
- a fun thing to try: I liked the idea of having a structure that encouraged me to write, and I liked playing with site designs
- a glimpse into how the Internet works these days: My first e-mail account was created back in 1991, and I worked for an e-commerce company in the 90s, but those were eons ago in Internet years and a lot has changed.
Long term, I had the following in mind when I created this site:
- It would be a way for me to learn about value investing, and investing in general, by interacting with others
- I’d use it as a way to maintain my finance skills and while also improving my communication skills by creating useful, jargon-less finance and Excel tutorials
I’m surprised (again) to be able to say that I hit all of the bullet points above, though not necessarily in the ways I had pictured in my head a year ago. Blogging’s certainly been fun, and I did learn a ton about how to get a website going (plus all the related lingo, SEO, tags, keywords, PageRank). Those were easy.
My long-term goals were a bit more complicated: I ended up writing less about investing than I wanted to, out of the sheer amount of time it takes me to find a worthy investment and then write about it. On the other hand, the few I’ve written about have gotten useful comments that have prevented me from making mistakes, and there’s an abundance of investing blogs out there that I’ve learned from as a reader.
A similar situation exists with respect to the Excel and finance tutorials that I’ve written. I’ll be honest…I’m not a huge fan of Excel and certainly no expert at it: I have many friends who can whip through pivot tables and NPVs with lightening-fast keystrokes without ever touching a mouse. I’m, er, not one of those people.
But I discovered one day that what was lacking were simple tutorials that explained some of Excel’s basic functions and features, which I felt I could do. Most of the people who need help with Excel aren’t ones who use it every day in their work (and can therefore ask a colleague for help). I’m really flattered that I’ve gotten so many comments about how useful and clear my tutorials are (and I’m glad they’re clear…it takes me a long time to write them!) When I write about them, I actually imagine that I’m teaching my dad how to do something in Excel, which forces me to break down and explain each step into much smaller ones. Based on my site’s traffic, there’s apparently a huge unmet need out there for easy-to-understand explanations on Excel functions and simple finance calculations like how to calculate a return. By the way, have you seen the official Office 2003 tutorial for VLOOKUP, for example? That’s on my list of functions to write about next!
I’ve been in the midst of considering how I want to move forward with this site and haven’t come to any solid conclusions yet. Any thoughts or suggestions?
In the short-term, I will probably need to post less often until I get my bearings at my new job and can plan out my writing ahead of time. So, please bear with me. And thank you to everyone again for making my site last a whole year so far!