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.
It’s been a rollercoaster year here on the blog. My biggest concern was that a huge raft of content on the blog was suddenly of no use to anyone thanks to lockdown. From the best travel credit cards to cinema deals, a lot of my regular traffic disappeared.
And as the pandemic dominated the headlines in March and April, my monthly traffic was the lowest it had been in a long time.
But new articles grew to replace that traffic, including my guide to paying a cheque in with your phone and how to find the best savings accounts.
In fact, January 2021 was the best ever month with 217,000 views, and along with October, November, December and February, formed part of five of my six best ever months.
And obviously that all adds up. In late January Be Clever With Your Cash was visited by its 5th million person since it launched. When I started the blog I never imagined I could help this many people.
It’s also been four years since the last redesign, so a big project that has dominated a lot of my time is a new look and improved UX (user experience design) for the blog, and rebranding for all my channels.
It’s looking really good and I hope there’s something I can share with you in the next month!
The biggest success this year has to be my YouTube channel. Hoping lockdown would be just a few months I prerecorded a 12 part series in March, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t get a haircut for ages.
But it was only in June when I finished publishing all of these, and came to terms with how bad my lockdown hair was, that I started to knock out content that seemed to work on YouTube.
As a result videos have been viewed 400,000 times and subscribers have jumped from 800 odd a year ago, to just under 7,000 today.
The last couple of months have been particularly good, with four of my all-time most watched videos released since January.
The channel is also now earning me some money via adverts. It’s not a huge amount, and doesn’t cover the work I put in, but I hope that’ll grow.
If you haven’t already, please do subscribe, and hit the thumbs up button or comment on any videos you watch – it all helps.
It was a good year for Cash Chats too. The rhythm I found in late 2019 continued into 2020 and as a result, there was a lot of growth.
It surpassed 200,000 all-time downloads in November 2020, at the same time as releasing the 150th full episode (in reality the bonus episodes mean I’ve made more).
I started this year with a new regular second episode looking back at the last seven days of money news which I’m really enjoying too.
If you’ve not listened to Cash Chats before you can stream or download it here.
Media & Recognition
Sadly some TV projects I was booked for were cancelled due to the pandemic, but I’m hopeful they’ll come back! I did consult on a new Channel 4 series which should air soon. I carried on popping up on BBC Radio, including a couple of spots on BBC 5Live Drive during the first lockdown.
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! There were no wins, this year, but I received a few nominations.
The blog was once again a finalist at the Headlinemoney Awards and is currently in the running for best online finance influencer at the British Bank Awards (you can vote for me here!).
My TV and podcast work was also recognised at Headlinemoney as a finalist in the Broadcast Journalist of the Year category.
With TV work cancelled and Moneywise magazine closing down I didn’t chase a huge amount of freelance work. Instead, I worked almost exclusively on my own projects. And somehow I was busier than ever!
A year ago I wrote how I was struggling with essentially on my own in my basement office five days a week – but it turned out it was great training for lockdown.
Once more the weekly video chats with some of my fellow money bloggers from my UK Money Bloggers community was a vital connection to people who are in effect virtual colleagues.
I’m a little worried about how I’ll continue producing as much as I do right now when restrictions finally (hopefully) end, so once again I’ll be looking at ways to improve my productivity.
My annual survey
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 30th March 2021 and one response will be randomly selected and asked whether they want the voucher or money chat. Open to UK followers only.