The highlights for me and the blog over the last 12 months.
As has now become tradition, I use Be Clever With Your Cash’s birthday as a chance to share with you the good and the bad from the last year.
I rarely write about “blogging” itself or the challenges of running my own business, so also it’s a good opportunity for me to reflect on how things have gone and give you a bit of an insight into what happens behind the scenes.
Plus, I’d really appreciate it if you can fill in my annual survey so I can get your feedback on everything I do. You’ll also be in with the chance of winning a £25 John Lewis voucher or an hour long video chat with me.
A design for life (well, the next few years)
The biggest change, and the biggest success, was a complete redesign of the site last May. The main purpose was to get everything faster and easier to navigate, but I also wanted to push “me” much more as part of the brand.
I think it’s largely responsible for a massive growth in traffic to the site. The last 12 months have been the biggest yet for my site, with just under three million views in the year (up from 1.8 the year before). It also surpassing 10 million in total and welcoming the seven millionth visitor since launch.
But it wasn’t easy! I can confidently say the whole design and build process and then updating all the content was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. At one point I worked really long hours for 21 days straight, getting everything ready for the relaunch.
This was the first time I’ve invested financially in the business. I’ve done everything myself before, but it was finally time to pay someone else to do some of the work, with a designer and web developer helping me shape my ideas into what you see now.
Part of being clever with my cash has always been to reduce spending, so I actually found this quite hard. But it was a good lesson for me that sometimes it’s better to shell out than make compromises.
Becoming a “YouTuber”
I’m not at all comfortable with the term “Influencer” (in my mind it feels too connected to paid endorsements, something I’ll never do.) As a result, I’ve felt I’ve lost some ground on social media platforms in the last few years.
However, though most of my time still goes on content for this site, I’m really starting to see the benefits of my YouTube channel.. Perhaps it’s because of the real-time interaction and feedback I get from viewers. The semi-weekly live Q&As have been amazing and a great way to engage with you all. And in the last 12 months, there’s been fantastic growth.
This time last year I had 7,000 subscribers and 400,000 views. As of today the channel is just shy of 26,000 subs and reached 2 million total views at the start of the week. The last month in particular has had as many views as the blog!
So I guess I’m now a “YouTuber”, as well as blogger and journalist. This term really impressed my niece at the weekend, so it’s worth it just for that.
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Starting a weekly column
I don’t have much time available for freelance work, but when the chance came along in September to start a new personal finance column for the Metro newspaper I jumped at it. It can be quite hard to think of a new topic every week seven days before it’ll be published and still be topical, but I’m enjoying this.
I got over my imposter syndrome a few years ago (mostly), but having my thoughts and advice printed in a national newspaper every week has cemented in my mind that I am a proper journalist!
Refocusing what success means
Long time readers might remember I presented a Channel 5 show called Shop Smart Save Money in 2018 and 2019. As someone who spent a decade working for the BBC, this type of work felt like the pinnacle of where I could go. I was hungry for more.
Though I was due to film some more programmes in 2020 before the pandemic hit, they didn’t go ahead, and I’ve not had any other projects get greenlit either. I didn’t even get invited to a daily Channel 4 show which is filmed 30 minutes away!
I struggled with this initially. If TV was the top of the game as far as my career was concerned, had I reached my peak a few years ago? That was my thought the more and more I saw others picked for short TV spots and longer series.
But the time I would have spent on those projects was suddenly free, allowing me to put everything, five days a week (sometimes more) into my own channels.
The resulting success of the blog, YouTube channel and my Cash Chats podcast in the last year has helped me realise I can keep growing my own content and reaching more and more people, and do it on my terms!
Elsewhere, while I know awards don’t make a huge amount of real difference, when you’re working for yourself it’s nice to get acknowledgment from your peers for your efforts! I picked up Best Personal Finance Blog and Best Money Podcast at the UK Money Blogger awards earlier this month, and my podcast was recognised at Headlinemoney as a finalist in the Broadcast Journalist of the Year category (the only independent finalist, up against the BBC and FT). I’ll take that!
My annual survey: Win a video session with me or a £25 voucher
It’s so important to me that any content I produce for you is what you actually want to read, hear or watch. So please do take a few minutes to answer this short survey.
If you also enter your email address at the end of the form you’ll also be in with a shot of winning a £25 John Lewis voucher or an hour-long video chat with me. This prize draw ends 30 March 2022 and one response will be randomly selected and asked whether they want the voucher or money chat. Open to UK followers only.
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s award-winning podcast. Episodes every Tuesday.