Whenever I visit a blog, I’m always curious about others’ motivations. Partially in the Vision & Mission sense, but also what their monetary motivation is. Advertising disclosures are nice (and required), but I always love diving into what motivates people to write about specific topics. Getting to see a ledger of income and expenses hits the accounting sweet spot for me.
In an effort to embrace transparency, I share quite a bit including:
- How much money Minafi makes
- How much I spend every month (which is quite a bit more than most bloggers).
- What the goals are for this blog on my vision & mission page.
To add to that, whenever you see a green link, like this one to Personal Capital, you’ll know that’s an affiliate link (meaning I may make money if you head over there and sign up).
I do want to Let Transparency Shine and communicate where Minafi’s money is coming from. I see this as similar to a political candidate showing their donors and their tax returns. It helps to highlight any conflict of interest and lets readers make up their minds when it comes to my motives.
I’ve decided to keep this page up to date each month with my cashflow – both incoming and outgoing.
Adam’s Personal Cashflow
If you’re looking for my personal expenses and investments, but recently stopped. These monthly reports are massive – detailing my spending, investments, goals, and an overview of the month. They include every fund I’m invested in, what I’ve spent (both at a quarterly and yearly level), where I am on my journey towards financial independence, savings rate and more. I love doing these.
- 2019 Q3 Report
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019 Investments, Goals and Spending Breakdown
- Minafi 2018 Q4 Winter Investment Report
- Minafi 2018 Q3 Fall Investment Report
- Minafi 2018 Q2 Summer Investment Report
- Minafi 2018 Q1 Spring Investment Report
- Minafi 2017 Q4 Winter Investment Report
- Minafi 2017 Q3 Fall Investment Report
As I write more of these, this list will grow!
The one thing I don’t share in them is money from day jobs. Mrs. Minafi is still working, and up until December, I was as well. I’m also not anonymous, so sharing my salary would mean all of my coworkers would then know it. I’ve chosen not to share those numbers to avoid awkward conversations and to respect my wife’s privacy.
I do share Minafi’s “income” each month here on this page though! Minafi loses money each month, so when I say income, I’m referring to a negative number.
Minafi Ongoing Cashflow
Before getting into the month to month breakdown of Minafi’s expenses, I want to preempt the list with the ongoing services I’m using now.
One thing that stands out is that running Minafi isn’t expensive. That can be done for $5/month (thanks to sites like Digital Ocean!). Growing and automating Minafi is where the real money goes. As does paying for hosting services that allow for faster iterations when things are changing.
Learning new techniques, legal requirements, and finding services to save me time all have a cost. When the cost is worth it, I want to continue using services that save me time.
Here are a few of the services I use every month here on Minafi.
Heroku [$30/month]. With the amount of traffic Minafi gets, it could run on a $5/month Digital Ocean server. But then I’d be responsible for dev ops to keep things running. Heroku may be expensive, but it’s fast and stable – allowing me to sleep well at night! This price includes a hobby web server, a hobby background job, and a Postgres database. I might switch to Digital Ocean in time, but I’d rather just stay there and pay for it from Minafi’s revenue. One of my 2021 goals is to learn more about DevOps (Docker/Kubernetes), so we’ll see if this cost goes down.
Sendy [$1/mo]. Minafi’s newsletter emails are sent out using a privately hosted Sendy server. I love Sendy, and it’s saved me hundreds of dollars each year. Previously I was paying $50/month just to send out emails! At $10/yr, this is a major discount.
S3/CloudFront/Emails [$3/mo]. Minafi uses Amazon’s hosting services for images, as a content delivery network (CDN) and SES for sending emails. Luckily this is super-cheap and only costs a few bucks a month.
Domains [$5/mo]. I have 4 domains registered for Minafi. Obviously minafi.com, but also minimalinvestor.com, theminimalinvestor.com, and another secret domain for another project. These domains aren’t actively used, but I’m holding onto them in case I turn The Minimal Investor course into a book someday.
Dreamhost [$6.95/mo]. Minafi’s organization is weird. I write all of the articles in WordPress, hosted on Dreamhost, then the articles you view are shown using Ruby on Rails. You can read about how it works from a technical level. Sendy is also hosted on Dreamhost.
The total amount of these services? $45/month. That’s the baseline cost to run Minafi each month as of today, January 20, 2021.
There are other services I use from time to time – SEO tools, fund analysis tools, courses to help me learn, APIs – but they’re not always on.
Who knows where all this will lead long-term, but for now I’m enjoying spending money on Minafi with the intent on improving it and growing it.
Rounding that up to include expanding into other services and educational content, the amount is closer to $100/month, or say $1,000/year. This is way higher than the cost to just “run” the site – but it includes the cost to try to grow it, and also learn more.
Add on to that the occasional FinCon, and you’re already talking $3k/year or more. That means if I were to stop working today, I’d need roughly $3k*25 = $75,000 to keep Minafi running if it didn’t bring in any income. The hope today is that it does become at least self-sufficient.
Monthly Income and Expenses Report
Note: This will be updated every month (or whenever I remember). I’d rather continue to keep this up to date rather than post new reports each month, due to the topic being unrelated from my overall vision for Minafi.
If you want to follow these in real-time, check out Minafi on Indie Hackers. One of my 2021 goals is to make a little money from Minafi – shooting for $1k/month. Honestly, I’m just happy to see it growing!
|Month of 2021||Sessions||Revenue||Expenses||Profit|
|Month of 2020||Sessions||Revenue||Expenses||Profit|
|Month of 2019||Sessions||Revenue||Expenses||Profit|
Towards the end of this year I didn’t do very well at tracking my revenue & expenses.
I’m way behind updating these on a month to month level. For the remaining months of 2018, traffic never got over 20k sessions and never made more than $100/month.
May was a bit of a coast month. I only wrote 4 articles, the lowest of any since starting the blog. I think I burned out a bit in April, and May involved some realignment to understand what I really wanted out of it. Mrs. Minafi and I spent a long weekend hiking in Zion National Park, we had a guest stay with us for a week and we had our quarterly offsite/planning at work – which involves a week straight of meetings and hanging out with people at night.
In other words, there was a lot of life happening outside of the blog in May. The end result of all this was realizing I need to focus more in on what to work on if I want to make progress. The one guiding focus and goal of this blog is simple but ambitious:
Help 1 million people make their first informed investment.
That’s a lofty goal! I realized a lot of what I wrote wasn’t helping with that. Some of what I wrote was just written with the goal of not seeing my monthly numbers go down – which is an awful reason to write. With that in mind, I did change up a lot of things this month:
- Redid the navigation to use Max Mega Menu. This offers an amazing foundation for future expansions. It allows for WordPress Widgets to be used in the navigation, which is super flexible. I spent a few days attempting to implement something on my own before realizing I should just pay for a plugin. I think this will help me organize content to drive people to articles that will best help people.
- I stopped working on the Minimal Investor Course and decided to change it to a book. I realized the main motivation for making it a course was money, which wasn’t in line with my goal of teaching as many people as possible. I’m going to switch this up to an ebook, which should allow for it to be released on Amazon Kindle and other channels that reach a wider audience at a lower price point (or free? We’ll see).
- I started being more intentional with my SEO / keyword research (technically I guess I started doing it at all). I decided to actually pay to use Ahrefs, which is an amazing tool to help optimize posts for SEO. Rather than paying too much to learn, I went through Ahrefs two free courses (which were actually amazing) and want to try implementing what I learned.
One takeaway from May was that the goals I set out for Q2 were entirely too ambitious. I tried to expand on too many channels, which meant spending too much time learning and not enough time executing. I decided to scope things down to 4 channels: Email, Twitter, Medium, and SEO. Until I feel confident in these 4 channels, I won’t move on to Pinterest or Quora. Many people seem to prioritize Pinterest over SEO, but I think for the style of articles I enjoy writing – in-depth guides that hope to be an evergreen content – SEO is the better approach to start.
I am going to stick with the 1 post a week strategy that I used in May though. This will allow me to spend more time on each post and more time on larger initiatives outside a publishing schedule like giving each post more marketing attention, completing The Minimal Investor, SEO updates for older posts and other interactive posts I have ideas for. Exciting to continue going on these in June!
Monthly Traffic: 7.2k pageviews, 5k sessions, 79.5% bounce rate, ~913 email subscribers, avg session 1:23. The most page views on any given day was 420 after releasing my goals post.
Social Media Management
Awesome nav plugin
Minafi + Minimal Investor
|Personal Capital Affiliates||$20.00|
April was a bit of an odd month. For most of the month, I was waking up every day and writing – then publishing thoughts on Mondays and Thursdays. While I loved some of the things I’ve been writing, and it’s been fun, I didn’t feel like I was creating much that I’d look back on years from now.
That’s my goal to shift to starting in may – write less, but with more targeted topics. That doesn’t mean writing about anything I love writing about, but focusing that down to only things I love writing about in the finance/minimalism niche, or things that are personal to me. This means cutting out two areas (goals and mindfulness) that are interesting to me, but less related to these two core subjects. I’m sure I’ll still touch on them as part of finance/minimalism articles, but they wouldn’t be the focus.
Another shift this month was deciding against releasing The Minimal Investor course as a Teachable course, and instead, go another route. I’ve been playing with what to do for it. At the moment I’m considering just releasing it as a PDF, with a slack group and some financial coaching attached. More on that next month!
Monthly Traffic: 9.5k pageviews, 6.3k sessions, 79.7% bounce rate, ~906 email subscribers, avg session 1:28. The biggest feature of the month was being included in Physician on Fire’s April Fools Sunday Jest.
Social Media Management
For the year
|Personal Capital Affiliates||$40.00|
For March, Minafi had 3x the traffic and 3x the sessions of February! That’s a crazy uptick! For that traffic, Minafi relies entirely too much on referrals. SEO has been relatively slow to grow, with me not finding a great way to leverage it just yet. Right now, only about 12% of all visits to Minafi come through search, which is very low. More traffic comes from referrals, direct and social channels (Facebook and Twitter).
This was my first full month running ads, which resulted in about $1.45 CPM and almost $30 in earnings. This plus a Personal Capital click paid a large dent in expenses for the month, which was handy!
From a writing standpoint, I continued posting 2x week with 1 email newsletter as well. This was my first full month waking up every day and writing from 6am-7am. It’s been amazing, and I actually look forward to getting up to do it. I schedule out what I’ll be writing beforehand. When the morning arrives I can just sit down and write! If I get better at this, I’d love to improve to 3x a week, but only if it’s still something I wake up looking foward to.
Monthly Traffic: 20.6k pageviews, 14.7k sessions, 83.1% bounce rate, ~900 email subscribers, avg session 1:30. Rockstar Finance feature, thread on the Bogleheads forum about the Interactive Guide.
Social Media Management
|Personal Capital Affiliates||$20.00|
After a lot of consideration, I finally decided to try running ads here on Minafi this month. Minafi’s traffic isn’t anything extraordinary. In February, Minafi received 4.8k sessions, so Adsense won’t be paying me too much. Adsense is the easy first step to try here, as they allow sites with relatively low traffic in. I added ads towards the end of the month, so March will be the first full month to try this out.
I also tried switching up the cadence of writing. Every Monday and Thursday I published a new article. Every Wednesday I sent out a newsletter. This felt like the right amount of writing for me where it wasn’t a struggle to do it.
Monthly Traffic: 7.4k pageviews, 4.8k sessions, 79.8% bounce rate, ~770 email subscribers, avg session 1:31. No major links to the site this month. This is a good baseline for what traffic looks like when it’s completely organic.
Social Media Management
|Personal Capital Affiliates||$40.00|
I registered Minafi as an LLC! Between the move, the new tax bill and a not wanting to do it sooner, I waited until the new year and finally opened this up. In addition, I started working on a Teachable course version of my Minimal Investor Course. The last week and half of the month I was out of the country on our honeymoon to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand!
Monthly Traffic: 11.9k pageviews, 8k sessions, 80% bounce rate, ~700 email subscribers, avg session 1:39. Top traffic: Rockstar Finance feature and a Physician on Fire Sundays Best.
Social Media Management
December was a crazy month. We moved across-country – driving from Orlando to Salt Lake City. After the move, we were in temporary housing for a few weeks. Mrs. Minafi was also traveling much of the month, which meant double-duty on looking after our pup. In other words, I worked the least on Minafi this month.
Monthly Traffic: 11.9k pageviews, 8k sessions, 81% bounce rate, ~630 email subscribers, avg session 1:41. Top traffic: Rockstar Finance feature!
Social Media Management
|Perfect Pin Course||
November was a busy month. I had barely returned from FinCon and I wanted to put everything I learned into practice. Time wasn’t on my side, and instead, November was spent fixing up and listing our house. In November we were able to list our house and get it under contract! This did mean very little time writing or working on Minafi.
Monthly Traffic: 7.3k pageviews, 5k sessions, 80% bounce rate, ~590 email subscribers, avg session 1:35. Top traffic: Rockstar Finance feature!
Interactive Post Database
|Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course||
The major focus of this month was writing The Minimal Investor Course. I had setup Drip (my email provider) to email out a new article each week, and that meant I needed to write it! There were days this month when I woke up early and wrote 4,000 words that were then emailed out that morning to people without even reviewing the article. Although this was kind of crazy in retrospect, it was a great commitment device to write. It did pay off in the form of a ton more email subscribers this month.
Monthly Traffic: 14.3k pageviews, 10.2k sessions, 84% bounce rate, ~520 email subscribers, avg session 1:32. Top traffic: You Need a Budget Email List Feature!
- Expenses: -$614.00 for Drip, FinCon hotel, food & drinks
- Income: $1.68 from Amazon Affiliates
- Cashflow: -$639.32
This was a crazy month. I launched The Interactive Guide to Early Retirement and Financial Independence, a project created over 6-weeks with collaboration from many others in the community. It was a ton of fun to create, and I’m very proud of what was created.
I also launched The Minimal Investor Course this month. This is a 10-week course teaching people how to invest. I’ll be honest – when I launched it I hadn’t written the course. I just thought “If people sign up, I’ll write it!”. Well, people signed up in the HUNDREDS thanks to the easy call to action within the interactive guide. I spent the next month after this writing these emails.
The biggest gain from launching the guide wasn’t financial. I think it advanced the social side of having a blog by 2 years in name recognition just by having people know it and remember it. In addition to that, having the very nice bump to email subscribers was amazing.
Monthly Traffic: 41.4k pageviews, 33.2k sessions, 85.7% bounce rate, ~320 email subscribers, avg session 1:26. Top traffic: The Interactive Guide Launched this month. Top post on Reddit in /r/financialindependence, Rockstar Finance Feature, Tweeted by a bunch of people – all around an awesome month!
- Expenses: -$212.00 for Drip, business cards, trying out a bunch of services.
- Income: $3.02 from Amazon Affiliates
- Cashflow: -$208.98
This month was a game changer for Minafi. I after being featured on Rockstar Finance for the first time, traffic surged higher and stayed there for a while. The post that was featured, Use Savings Rate as a Lifestyle Inflation Canary, is super short, and part of my experiment to write short content.
Monthly Traffic: 4.1k pageviews, 3k sessions, 87% bounce rate, ~20 email subscribers, avg session 1:00. Top traffic: Rockstar Finance Feature (my first!). Traffic for the week before that feature? 11, 6, 7, 11, 3, 10 sessions a day. Day featured on Rockstar? 1,302. More traffic in one day than all previous days combined.
- Expenses: -$72.00 for a custom Minafi t-shirt and trying out CrowdFlare.
- Income: $0.00
- Cashflow: -$72.00
I moved from Medium to WordPress. This resulted in a bunch of issues, but it was worth it to struggle through and make things better. I started working on The Interactive Guide this month (which would launch in September).
Monthly Traffic: 1k pageviews, 600 sessions, 75% bounce rate, ~10 email subscribers, avg session 1:40.
- Expenses: -$10.00 for domain renewal at Namecheap
- Income: $1.30 from Amazon Affiliates
- Cashflow: -$8.70
This is the month I started writing. I didn’t think about what would happen, or what people thought, I just wrote. This turned out to be the right approach for me, and helped power through some of my fears about expressing my thoughts online.
Monthly Traffic: 900 pageviews, 350 sessions, 64% bounce rate, ~2 email subscribers, avg session 2:54.
- Expenses: -$200 for Medium SSL cert, Genesis WordPress theme.
- Income: None
- Cashflow: -$200
This post will continue to be updated monthly with my new stats as months end.