How I Failed You in 2011

January 5, 2012

You’re probably looking for tips and motivation on reaching your financial goals for 2012 but I think it’s important to reflect on the year that just ended and see what we can learn from it.

I promise there will be lots of tips and motivation in the coming weeks but first I have some confessions to make.  I did fail you in 2011.  Today I’ll talk about how I screwed up and what I’m doing to fix it.

1) Adopting a Pet Panda

My pet panda wasn’t exactly invited into my life but I have learned something from the experience.  It all started at the beginning of 2011, when the search engine Google made a change to the way they sent visitors to websites.

I won’t go into all the details here but Google nick-named the change “Panda” and what it meant for me was that the number of people coming to this site everyday went down significantly. It would be kind of like if my site was a mutual fund and Google was Morningstar and they downgraded my site to just 1 star.

To say it was discouraging would be an understatement; to say it was devastating would be a bit dramatic.  However, after having written on this site for years and pouring thousands of hours of my life into it, this development certainly set me back on multiple levels.

But why does this matter to you? One thing I learned from this whole experience was that you get the most value out of focused expertise, detailed information about specific financial topics.  Sure the change was just a search engine algorithm adjustment, but it was made to reflect the desire of people like you and other web searchers who want deep knowledge – rather than shallow information.

What I mean by that is, instead of covering a wide range of personal finance topics at a high level, you get more out of a narrower focus and more in depth coverage of those fewer topics.

Does that mean I’m only going to cover one or two topics?  No, I’ll still write about a variety of things I think will help you with your money.  However, it does mean that I’m going to put a lot more time into giving you solutions for specific money problems you face.

2) Giving You Nothing Awesome

This shortcoming really comes out of the first one that I just described but didn’t explicitly name – being general and shallow.  Let me explain.

I traveled to Chicago for the Financial Bloggers Conference last fall and met a lot of amazing people.  After spending time with my fellow bloggers, having a lot of good conversations, and listening to some interesting presentations I realized that every person has their own unique strengths and benefits they can offer when it comes to money matters.

Everyone has their own perspective and individual experiences with personal finance that other people can learn from.  The application of those specific skills and experience can create something very useful for you, something awesome that can really change the way you see and use money.

I also realized that my broad approach to the personal finance wasn’t doing my experience and skills justice and was holding me back from creating something awesome for you.

Unfortunately I wasn’t sure exactly what that awesome thing was, which leads me to my next failure.

3) Lacking Clarity

So there I was, a rebel without a cause.  I knew things needed to change but I didn’t know what I could do to make the biggest difference in your financial life.  So I started doing a lot of soul searching and research.

I’m sure you noticed that in the last few months of last year I only published one or two articles a week to the site.  I’ve had several people contact me to ask if everything was okay and to offer encouragement to keep up more regular content.  Thanks to Anastasia and everyone else that reached out with suggestions and concern.

However, despite how it may seem, I’ve actually been as busy as ever on the site.  It’s just that a lot of the work has gone into this research and preparation for the next phase of Money Smart Life.  Of course, this hasn’t done you much good yet, only reduced the amount of personal finance tips you’ve been getting.

I apologize for that…. but there is good news!

A Turning Point?

I did get a bit of a boost last November when I traveled to Minneapolis for a Mastermind Session with several other web entrepreneurs.  I gained more insight into where I was and where I wanted to be with Money Smart Life. 

I also have to thank Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents.  We met at the conference in Chicago and have had a lot of follow up phone calls in the evenings after our kids were in bed to talk about what direction our sites should head in.

After all of this soul searching, deep thought, and time spent I finally had my “Eureka” moment! Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it now because I have to run out the door for work (which is kind of a clue for my big Ah-ha). Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you more about what I figured out and what’s coming next.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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4 Responses to How I Failed You in 2011

  • Michael

    I think you’ve been a bit hard on yourself here. Excited to see the changes to your blog and what topics you’ll be focusing more on this coming year. Best wishes in 2012 and excited to be a reader continuing with you.

  • Andrea @SoOverDebt

    Way to leave us all hanging, Ben! 🙂

    I think FINCON inspired a lot of us to narrow our focus and figure out exactly what we’re trying to do. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in 2012!


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