Many of you will be glad when 2009 has gone, with hopes of a wondrous and prosperous new year in 2010. I, on the other hand, had a pretty good year. However, it doesn’t quite feel like it, but I’ll explain why.
I started this site in June 2006, but I didn’t really get it going until January 2007. In 2007, I wrote 537 articles. I was on a roll! You can check out the Carnival of Clever Dude 2007 for the highlights from that year. I finished the following year (2008) with 447 articles.
But in 2009, I only wrote 147 articles, not counting this one. I hit a wall, and it’s not because I ran out of things to say. Every day I thought up a new idea for an article. The problem was gaining the focus and the motivation to sit down and write it out. The one biggest culprit I have to blame, other than myself, is graduate school. I basically finished my degree this month (December), but doubling up on classes, mixed with all my other obligations, has ultimately burned me out.
Let’s see if 2010 gets any better. Hopefully you’ll all stick around to find out 😉
2009 was a Financial Success for Us
I didn’t talk about our finances in the Carnival of Clever Dude 2008, but I decided this is a good place to do so. This past year was a big success for our financial life. Here’s some highlights:
- We paid off our non-mortgage debt! In May I paid off my truck, then paid off the last of my student loan in November. However, since we were working on our debt for so long, the final bill payment felt rather anti-climactic. I was so caught up in finishing my degree that it just felt like any other payment. I still don’t think it’s sunk in that all we have left is our mortgage, but all that extra money each month is certainly sinking in.
- I got a new job, with a small pay bump. In the economy earlier this year, it was almost unheard of to not only find a good job, but also to get a pay raise, but with the help of a friend, I was able to get the interview and the offer. I’m much more content with my job than I was while in federal contracting, but I will admit that ultimately I’d rather be doing something else than Information Technology. I’m good at it, and it pays well, but that doesn’t mean I like doing it.
- Stacie got a new job (same pay). While I’m burned out now, Stacie hit that wall a year ago. Luckily, she found a position with the same employer but as an outpatient dietitian (rather than an inpatient dietitian). While she’s actually been working MORE hours in this new job, she enjoys it more so it doesn’t feel like such a strain.
- Our net worth has increased about 66% since December 31, 2008. It was a combination of paying off debt, adding a bit to savings, continuing contributions to investments and, of course, the stock market gaining back so much of what we lost. We’re still in the red on my rollover IRA and roth IRA, but not nearly as much as in January.
New jobs, no debt, increased net worth and overall good health for ourselves and most of our friends and family means we had a pretty good year. Let’s hope it only goes up from here though!
Traffic and Subscriber Numbers
2009 was not a year of growth for Clever Dude.com when it comes to traffic, but I didn’t decline either. I added just about the same number of visitors (300,000) and page views (500,000) as in 2008. I also had the same spread of referrals among search engines (63%), other sites (23%) and direct (14%). Very odd that two years were almost exactly the same.
Overall, I’ve had 805,000 visitors and 1,310,000 page views over the life of this blog. Not too bad for a guy just writing about his mistakes (and making some more mistakes in the process).
As far as subscriber numbers, I’m currently sitting at 2966 subscribers (number as of Dec 30th as it’s a day behind). I’ll update it when I get the Dec 31st number. I never did cross over that 3,000 barrier although I’ve come so close so many times. I don’t know what it is with 3,000 but I just couldn’t do it! I will admit that I haven’t pushed subscribing to my site at all lately. At least that’s one number that has increased since 2008 (max around 2100 subscribers).
Top 2008 Traffic Referrers
Last year, I gave you the top 15 referrers including search engines. This year, I’m going to give the love to real people instead, and 20 of them too! Although most of my traffic comes from search engines, I wouldn’t get that traffic without being linked to from other blogs and professional sites:
- The Simple Dollar (with 16% of all my traffic)
- My Money Blog (with about 4% of my traffic)
- Five Cent Nickel
- Cheap Healthy Good
- MSN Money Smartspending blog
- Budgets are Sexy
- Frugal Dad
- Free Money Finance
- Zen Habits
- No Credit Needed
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Wise Bread
- Single Guy Money
- Canadian Capitalist
- I’ve Paid for this Twice Already…
- My Two Dollars
- Daily Blog Tips
- Life Hacker
- US News
Ok, I’ll admit that I put up 20 instead of 15 just so I could give some love to Jim from Bargaineering. Wait, he’s always asking for me to help get him traffic, so why am I helping him??? 😛
Honestly, though, I think many of the referrals came from links given to me last year. It really shows how important those referral links are to driving new traffic to a site, even when the links are old! Also, special thanks to J Money from Budgets are Sexy for keeping me motivated to at least keep going. He has so much energy so it’s impossible not to feed off just a bit of it. I helped pay him back a bit by helping him use up some of his ING Direct referrals!
2009 Top Articles by Traffic
All of my top articles were articles from prior years. They made it onto some major sites, search engines picked them up, and now they continually drive me new traffic:
- How to Find Technical Service Bulletins for Your Car
- How to Value Clothing Donations
- You Can’t Trust that Carfax Report
- How I Get Laptops and Plasma TVs for Free
- Frugal Lunch by Clever Dudette
2009 Best Articles on Clever Dude
Of course the following selections are based on my own opinion, either because I think they’re very informative or I just liked writing them. It won’t be hard to pick as in past years since there were so many fewer articles each month!
- How we are not frugal describes how we don’t always make decisions based on money, but why you should still listen to me when I talk about frugality.
- Carnival of Personal Finance: Fairy Tale Edition – I took on hosting the CoPF again because it was during the winter break between semesters. It’s a lot of work, but I like the story I weaved out of the submissions.
- Shifting Your Attitudes [Paradigms] – This was one of those articles that you put a lot of heart into but it never takes off and you don’t know why.
- Financial Fire Drills: Utilizing Social Services – This was actually a guest post, but it was long, detailed and informative for my readers.
- I could have kept that $20. Would you have? [Ethical Quandary] – The title says it all.
- 7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Work Clothes – I swear by these tips and it’s why I don’t have to shop for new clothes often
- Impatience is Costly – Another guest post. I’m impatient so it hit home for me.
- Comparing Jobs: Why am I Switching? – A long, detailed article that goes through my thought process on leaving a perfectly good job for another. While it’s pretty specific to my situation, it has helped others in their thought process over major decisions also.
- The only failure is failing to learn – Although I can get down on myself when I fail at something, I’m also very good about stepping back and looking at what went wrong…and then learning from it.
- A Budget is Your Financial Seatbelt – I had an epiphany one day about budgeting, and here it is.
- Our Secret to Success: Spending Less than We Earn
- Our Secret to Success: Live Frugally
Honestly, I wasn’t very impressed by my articles in August
- Paying for your own meal at a wedding? – I posed a question based on a friend’s experience. See how you would react.
- How we get a lot of food for little money
- Save Mucho Money by Reinsulating Your Home’s Exterior Walls – I go into excruciating detail to educate you on how we insulated our exterior walls (since they never had insulation in them) for just a few hundred bucks.
- We’re Free of Consumer Debt!!! While I didn’t call into the Dave Ramsey radio show to proclaim it, I did make sure you all knew we finally paid off that $112,000 in credit card, auto loan and student loan debt.
- Our Journey to Debt Freedom: The Beginning – Want to know how we (mostly I) got into all our consumer debt? Follow along on our journey.
- Our Journey to Debt Freedom: Graduation through Engagement – Most of our debt happened either in college or in the first few years after graduation. Find out our biggest mistakes.
- Our Journey to Debt Freedom: The Ultimatum – Find out why Stacie almost left me (seriously).
And that’s it for the year. Hope you all have a safe, healthy and prosperous 2010!