Gosh, 7 years old nonetheless!
Well, this year, I'm not going to do the "Ah, if you would have told me that seven years ago, I wouldn't have believed you." Not that it has changed, it's just that I bring it out every year in January :D
No, this year I have to admit that I feel confident that this project is going to last a little while longer (at least until we are FIRE at 40 I think). I'm so passionate about writing, sharing, and teaching personal finance in Switzerland, that it's no surprise that this habit of blogging is now well established.
2020 retrospective of the blog
I often talk about "my blog project". But now it includes so much more with the release of my book, the 1-1 coaching, and all the exchanges I have with readers. But let's start with the most impactful first.
The release of my book, what an adventure!
I can still see ourselves (Mrs. MP and I) being interviewed by an anthropologist (hi Fanny!) for her book dedicating a whole chapter to frugalism.
That was just one year ago, in January 2020.
On the verge of leaving, Fanny said me after I told her about my book project which was paused: "Frankly, your point of view on the FIRE movement in Switzerland is worth reading by the greatest number of people. And if you don't write it, someone else will do it for you. And then you'll regret not having taken the step."
That was the trigger.
I thought there would only be a hundred (at most!) readers of the blog who would want to please me and buy my book. Considering the titanic task that such a project represents, I wondered if it was worth the time, energy, and financial investment I put into it.
Then I remembered my situation in 2013, when I was looking for an A-Z guide on how to become FIRE in Switzerland at the age of 30-40. I would have paid dearly to have such a book in my hands.
So I took the plunge.
I announced that the blog would be slowed down until the end of August. It will have been until the end of September in the end.
But eleven months later, that was last November, my book (with a real ISBN and everything) was available for sale.
But how many did you sell, Marc?!" I hear you whispering behind your screen.
I'm having trouble realizing it, but... 717! That's incredible.
Pierre Novello, the renowned Swiss writer in personal finance and journalist for Bilan, explained to me that for a first book, a few hundred copies sold would already be a lot. He went on to give me a few statistics about authors in Switzerland: "A book is considered a bestseller in French-speaking Switzerland if 1'000 copies have been sold, and for the whole of Switzerland, 3'000 copies must be sold."
These figures help me to realize the result of this small personal project. Can you imagine that? Having written a "bestseller" in French-speaking Switzerland by myself? That would be swag! :)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the supporters of the first hour of this book project, as well as all those who bought it. Sincerely, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust.
Personal financial coaching
For several years now, I have been offering personal financial coaching. It's a bingo keyword to simply say that I try to share as much of my own experience as possible so that people can in turn transform their personal finances (budget, investment, taking action, etc.).
I love the moment when I see the click in the eyes of a person I coach. It's transcendent. And compared to the blog, I see the direct impact with concrete results (vs. the sad and soulless analytics...).
But after several discussions with close friends, and introspection sessions with myself, I realized that this type of coaching takes a lot of energy from me. As a result, since the end of last year, I haven't taken on any new people.
I will see if it is temporary or if I manage to find a new channel for transferring my knowledge in such a personalized way (see my new project for 2021 described below).
The blog, the heart of my personal project
Although the two projects above are exciting as much as possible, my blog remains the heart of my personal project. I love writing, publishing, getting feedback from real people living in Switzerland who have better ideas than me, testing them, improving my own situation, changing other people's lives. It's a crazy virtuous circle!
Let's see together how it has evolved over the past year through a few key figures.
Ah no, actually, wait. There's one number I'd like to share with you first! A figure that doesn't mean much when you evaluate the quality of a blog. It's even called "vanity metrics" because it only inflates your ego, but doesn't reflect the depth of your blogposts or any gain you might make from them.
But who cares? I've decided that we're going to allow a little moment of pleasure for our beloved ego:
"Here we go, are you happy dear emotional brain side?!" interjects my Cartesian brain.
"Yeeees, Mr. Grumbler!" answers my emotional brain, quite proudly ;)
And so, here are the other figures for 2020:
Newsletter: +88% growth
1'974 registered at the end of 2019, and 3'706 registered at the end of 2020.
And this, with the same average opening rate of 60%. It is especially this last figure that matters to me, and guides me to know that I do not spam my readers.
The increase in 2020 was quite significant with +140% of visitors and +249% of page views:
I have refocused a lot of my available attention on writing over the past year. This resulted in 49 articles in 2020, compared to 28 in 2019. Nevertheless, as I always say, quality always prevails over quantity as far as I'm concerned.
The year 2020 was quite incredible in terms of media coverage of the FIRE and frugalist movement in Switzerland.
The crazy thing for me was the blog's appearance on TV in the RTS's TTC show a year ago. I would like to thank their team again, and especially Corinne for her understanding of my desire to remain anonymous.
As far as newspapers and websites are concerned, it was no less than 14 interviews and mentions of the MP blog. And you can add 10 more if you count the re-publication of the Tages Anzeigner article in ten other local Swiss German newspapers!
Revenues and expenses of the blog
As I said before, I include in my "Blog" project everything that goes around like 1-1 coaching (which brings in cash, I'm not going to hide from it), sales of my book, and affiliate links.
I still have the same position as last year about the profits of any personal project: "There is a direct correlation between the value you add to your readers, and the profits you can make from your personal project. No middlemen, no two-year sales cycle, or that kind of thing."
Except that this year having been very fruitful for the blog and co, I find it a delicate topic — not for me or for you who understand my motivations, but for the Swiss police of the FIRE movement!
Because, as long as you earn a few hundred CHF with your new project, everyone applauds and encourages you. And that's good because it seems legitimate in view of all your efforts.
But when a personal project starts to take off and look like a business in terms of profit and loss, readers (especially those who only superficially visit the site) start to ask questions (I don't blame them because we haven't known each other for a while), and to wonder if this site is really authentic...
To those readers who feel jealousy rising, I simply suggest to them to change their state of mind and to take this as a source of inspiration. Because basically, I was like them, admiring and/or being jealous of the success of blogs or other online services. Then one day, instead of ruminating, I acted. It took me 7 years to get there, and hundreds of hours of passion per year (evenings, weekends, vacations).
Whatever happens, I remain comfortable in my shoes announcing such a turnover because I have never tried to pass on such a product or service out of pure financial interest.
And I count on you to call me to order if you see any drift :D
Because finally, between the close friends I made via the blog, and all the readers who write to me, I can tell you that I have an advisory board that allows me not to let this blog project go into a wall because of greed.
Without any more blah blah, here are the numbers that still surprise me after doing my apothecary calculations:
Concerning ethics, I let you read the paragraph of my 2019 review which remains my current line of conduct.
In case you're new to the blog, the whole Swiss FIRE community can be found on our forum.
Here are the statistics of the latter:
And I thank you, dear reader, for making this community live and be useful to every newcomer to the MP Team.
Special thanks to the patrons of the blog
I take advantage of this annual retrospective to thank all the patrons of the blog via Patreon: Adrian, Alain, Alberto, Andrei, Andrey, Bocherens, BRO, Cédric, Célien, Chris, Christian, Daniel, David, Dominik, Fabrice, Ferdinando, Franchin, Gordan, Jean-Claude, Julien, Kevin, KP, Krzysztof, Laurence, Laurent, linlin, Marco, Margaux, Martin, Matteo, MrCedFre, Nicolas, l'autre Nicolas :), Paolo, Patrik, Pranav, Przemek, Renārs, Roddy, Rúben, Sam, Sebastian, Simon, tcies, Thomas, Timo, et Zik.
Your support means a lot to me.
Perspective for 2021
My year 2021 will be marked by two key words and a new project.
Lifestyle and completion
I saw this idea on another blog to choose a keyword as the focus of your year. I found it interesting, so I'm trying it out. I chose two in the end.
The first one: lifestyle.
In 2021, I want to define more consciously the lifestyle that I want to have, and leave only the remaining space for my job and my personal projects. Rather than the other way around.
The two main actions related to this keyword are going to consist of:
- To have everything (job, blog, coaching, etc.) done before 6pm each day. And thus do what I want to do with my evening without any guilt. Indeed, the year 2020 was too busy in terms of workload, and I do not want to live like this for another year
- In the same vein, all my Saturdays are from now on free of any todo-list concerning my personal projects. I prefer Saturday vs. Sunday, because it gives me the opportunity to enjoy Friday night, and to get up at any time on Saturday. And to have no plans for the day. Then on Sunday, I work on some background tasks in the morning when everyone is still asleep, and I also enjoy the rest of the day with my family
My second keyword for 2021: completion.
It will mainly consist of finishing the guides that have been started, and tidying up and finishing several drafts of articles before starting others.
And... because well, I would be bored if I didn't have a good big motivating project :D
The project started in the summer of 2020, and it will see the light of day in 2021.
I've always found it hard to understand how some readers had blockages that, for me, had no reason to exist...
I understood that everyone has their own story. But when I gave a detailed recipe for budgeting or investing based on my experience, what was stopping someone from getting started?
I knew that this type of problem was related to the mindset of these people. But I didn't know how to transform that mindset.
But, thanks to the magic of the encounters made via the blog, a reader (Anela) came to enlighten me. Easy for her, because it is her full-time job to break beliefs, blockages, and other glass ceilings.
After many exchanges during the summer of 2020, the idea came to us to "synergize" our skills.
What would happen if my in-depth knowledge (7 years!) of personal finance was mixed with personal transformation expertise?
And BIM! Our 100% Swiss online program project "Budget Investissement Mindset" was born.
To answer the questions I have received most often after having spoken informally about it:
- It's an online course for beginners in personal finance. If you manage your budget easily, and invest without any problems, then it's not for you
- This program will be paid for, and the ROI will be there
To be even more precise, this program is for you if these two types of emails I receive speak to you. The first one: "Hi Marc, your blog is awesome. I kind of figured out how to make a budget, but despite my efforts I can't save. And to be honest, I often end up in the red, I'm fed up with it. What do you advise me to do?"
Or else: "Hey Marc, frankly it's great your blog and especially your advice to start investing. I understand everything you write! But... I still haven't opened my online broker account or bought an ETF. I don't know how to explain it but I'm scared to death of the stock market and I can't get started. But thanks for your blog, it's a gold mine!"
So, we're going to start with a first pilot version which will be only in French. And when it's a hit, then we'll certainly think about English and German speaking people later on.
Places will be limited for the first edition in order that we see how we manage to hold the load (spoiler alert: because in addition to videos and all the written content, there will be live sessions)!
I had two big blockages myself to the idea of offering this type of program:
- "I don't want to create something of poor quality just to get money and be FIRE faster myself. If I do it, it's to have a crazy impact first. Something even more accentuated than my book. I want to change lives. And once it's validated, then if I make a business out of it, that would be the icing on the cake!" Anela is in line with this way of thinking: "Bring value first, and profit will follow." she told me during one of our workshops
- My second blockage was that I didn't want to just post a few videos online, and call it a program. Once again, fate does things well since Anela has the experience of building programs from scratch; that's her job
As a result, I had no reason not to take the plunge. At worst, even if I don't like it, I will learn from it and grow out of it.
Most importantly, I'm sure we're going to change lives. Knowing that this is already happening with my blog posts (thanks again for your inspiring feedback), such a personalized program will only exceed my current results.
I'm really looking forward to starting 2021 with all this!
I'm now going to go and negotiate a homemade cake with Mrs. MP so that I can blow out this seventh candle with the one who is one of the three pillars of my life (the two MP toddlers don't know about the blog yet).
But before that, I thank you again. You, the long time reader of this blog for 7 years already. Or you, the brand new reader who is passionate about the FIRE movement in Switzerland and who is happy to have found a community with the same state of mind.
Without you, all these projects around the blog would make no sense. So sincerely, THANK YOU!