Starting this year, I’m putting together an annual reflection where we look back at what happened at The Biglaw Investor over the past year. I have no idea if you’ll find it interesting, but I think it’s good to document the growth of the site and to reflect on what’s been accomplished. It also helps remind me why I started the site in the first place.
First and foremost, thank you to all of the readers of the site, many of whom come here regularly. I’ve enjoyed the emails, comments and relationships that have started to form over the past 8 months of blogging. At times it’s been difficult to keep up with the posts, especially in the early days when there were almost no readers, but every time I received an email or a comment, many of which detail someone taking steps to secure their financial future, it reinforced my desire to keep going.
I especially want to thank all the people who have linked to the site, who have commented on the posts and who have recommended the site to their colleagues. I greatly appreciate it and hope that everyone has found some value in these pages.
The Biglaw Investor has a three-fold mission:
1. Education. Help lawyers, law students and other hustling professionals learn about personal finance, investing and financial independence. This means we cover Biglaw, MidLaw, SmallLaw, SoloLaw and GovernmentLaw (and any others I forgot). Lawyers may have diverse starting incomes, but the ideas in these pages are applicable to everyone.
2. Community. Form a community to connect readers with similar readers, so we can learn together. This will also allow us to connect with the “good guys” in the financial services industry as well. Working in law can be an isolating experience, regardless of whether you have a high salary or a low salary. We’ve each worked hard to earn a JD (or other professional degree) and get admitted to the bar (or otherwise licensed) and I’d like to see everyone achieve financial security as a result.
3. Entrepreneurship and Creativity. I am motivated to express my entrepreneurial spirit. That is to say, to make money for me, my family, and allow me to create as many jobs as possible, but not without exposing my conflicts of interest. As I’ve said before, I make plenty of money at the day job so you don’t have to worry about me selling you out for a $100 paycheck, but I still think it’s important for you to know how I get paid so you can evaluate the recommendation appropriately. As you’ll see a little later in the post, so far there hasn’t been much financial compensation anyway but that will be changing in 2017.
Readership. This year the site had over 36,000 pageviews generated by 16,000 visitors (including 15,500 pageviews and 7,400 visitors in the last month). As you can see, the promotional effort is starting to pay off after spending the first 4-6 months focused on building quality content and proving to myself that I could keep up the pace. Google estimates that 90 people are subscribed to the RSS feed, including 45 that keep up with the site using Feedly. Another 147 of you have found your way to the email list, where I send exclusive content not on the site. I try to keep the emails fun and more personal. If you haven’t subscribed, please take a second to do so.
Productivity. I managed to hammer out 83 posts in 2016. As many of you know, posts appear on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. I often have many posts written well in advance of their publication date. It helps smooth out the publication schedule while balancing corporate M&A work. In addition to my productivity, you were also very productive this year, leaving 387 comments and sending a little less than 100 emails to me. It’s been great getting to know everyone and hearing your stories.
The most popular posts in 2016 were Secrets of a $100,000,000 Roth IRA and 11 Financial Mistakes Lawyers Make. Not surprisingly, the Classics page is the most popular page since it contains an overview of helpful content for beginners to experts.
This section will be a brief for 2016. From the beginning, I’ve disclosed that this will be a “for-profit” website. Yet, I’ve only made $5.18 from the site so far (and of course that’s not including the expenses, which means I’m actually losing money spending all of my time writing for you!). I’m almost a little embarrassed to type that out. I can’t even imagine calculating my hourly rate, but suffice to say it’d be less than ten cents an hour. Obviously that will need to change in 2017. While money isn’t a primary motivation, I doubt I can sustain this pace without at least some type of financial compensation to motivate me. The truth is that blogging has been much more difficult than I imagined (despite everyone telling me how difficult is is) and also much more rewarding.
Conflicts of interest
Given the lack of financial consideration, the conflicts are relatively sparse this year. I have referred a few of you to Amazon to buy books that you possibly could have checked out for free at the library. In the future, as the site generates some income, I intend to provide transparency on the conflicts generated. For example, in the future I may receive compensation if you refinance your student loans through a link I’ve provided. I suppose this could cause me to have a vested interest in you refinancing your loans. I’d like to think our interests will be aligned on that one, but that may not always be the case (e.g. if there’s a greater interest for me in you using a certain company even if you can get a better rate elsewhere). So while we may not be completely aligned, we’ll be mostly aligned. You should know about that when making your decision.
The roadmap ahead
- Posting Schedule. We will continue to post on a M/W/F frequency. I think the volume is right and it ensures there’s a constant stream of interesting ideas. I’m not the slightest worried about running out of topics.
- Improving Pages. Some of the site’s standalone pages were written many months ago and could use a little polishing. I’ll be making an effort to improve them and to add a few more to the mix.
- Guest Posts. I’ve had several people contact me about writing a guest post. Ultimately, I wanted to establish a larger readership before I brought in additional voices, so haven’t published any yet. This will change in 2017 as long as writers have something interesting to add to the conversation. I recently published the guest post policy if you’re interested in contributing.
- Student Loans. I’m in the middle of negotiations with the various student loan refinancing companies to secure cash back bonuses to BLI readers (don’t worry, I’ll get paid too). In addition to the cash back bonuses for readers, I am also putting together a comprehensive guide to student loans that I hope will be helpful to those managing student loans, considering whether to refinance or pay them off or those seeking some kind of forgiveness.
- Life Events. I’ll be getting married in 2017, so expect a few posts that discuss everything that comes with that. We are already looking at 2017 as the first year where we’ll be filing our taxes as married, so even with the wedding months away there’s plenty you have to consider starting January 1st.
How you can help
The main growth of the site has been word of mouth. If you’re finding value in the site, I greatly appreciate you forwarding it along to your colleagues and friends. There are over 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, so we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. This doesn’t even take into consideration the nearly 111,000 law students enrolled in a JD program. It’s those students that could use the financial education the most, as most law schools do not teach a sufficient amount of personal finance material to lawyers. Please take a moment to forward (or post on an appropriate forum) the URL to someone you think could benefit from the site. Sharing the site is the single biggest thing you can do for me right now.
Again, I’d like to thank everyone reading this far for being a dedicated reader of The Biglaw Investor. I don’t know if you found this post interesting, but I hope the disclosure and discussion increases your trust in the information provided on the site. Given that there’s no rules for personal finance websites, as a reader myself I often find it difficult to navigate whether the information is biased by the fact that the author is receiving some form of compensation. I hope that by discussing it with you – and by knowing I’ll be writing these posts each year – it will build the necessary trust in any kind of financial discussion. As far as I’m concerned, you should always know if taking an action from any information on this site results in any payment to me. Then it’ll be up to you to decide if it’s still a good deal for you!
Joshua Holt is a former private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor. Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Empower keeping track of his money and is currently looking for additional lenders to add to Biglaw Investor’s JD Mortgage service which connects readers with lenders offering special mortgages for high-income professionals.