Dividendium Postmortem

Dividendium isn’t exactly dead, but it’s not really thriving either. It’s in a kind of zombie state…and I kind of expect it to stay there.

My interest in investing is what was driving the site, and now that interest has basically disappeared. I’ve studied stock market investing for 10 years or so, and basically concluded that stock investing is a scam and not worth spending the time to learn about.

But Dividendium is also a business and I do plan to start other businesses, so I’m going to try to perform an honest postmortem to see what I can do better next time. If you have suggestions on what I did wrong, or right, or what business I should start next, I’m all ears.

What did I do right?

I started a blog for the site. A blog gives the search engines reasons to list the site in search results. The blog also gives the site visitors some insight into my philosophy and who I am. It allows the possibility of a human connection.

I did some promotion. When I first started the site, I wrote two articles and posted them to various article repositories around the web. This was successful in getting some initial traffic.

I tried stuff. I hid or removed some features to make others more prominent. I added new features that people asked for or that I wanted for myself and received new income from those changes. No one knows what’s going to work right out of the gate, so it’s important to be open to trying different things to see what will work.

I dropped “we-speak” in the blog. It’s more important to be human and open than to try to sound “big” or corporate.

I paid someone else to do the design. Design work (CSS/HTML) drains me. I love the code behind it, but I can’t muster the energy to persist in a site wide design. If I had persisted in doing it myself, it would never have been done.

I stayed within budget. Dividendium supports itself and so can continue on without any external support.

What did I do wrong?

I slacked off on writing blog posts. The posts are what drive traffic increases. The site gets higher rankings in search engines if you have more content. With more content there are more ways that someone can stumble across your site and find it useful.

I didn’t promote enough. I wrote those two initial articles, but I should have been doing more over the life of the site. That would have lead to higher traffic. I should have paid attention to where the traffic was coming from and tried to do more to encourage that.

I didn’t engage with the community and I didn’t create raving lunatic fans. There’s a huge community of stock investors, bloggers, and services. I didn’t try to make any connection to them at all. This may have eventually been due to my dwindling interest in stock investing, but initially it was just my natural introversion and fear of rejection. Engaging this community could have provided more word of mouth exposure, and more feedback on what services people might actually want.

I waited too long to stop. Or rather, I didn’t make a conscious decision to stop. I just let it languish and sap my will to start other things. I wrote the “is the market a scam” post back in 2008. At that point I should have taken a step back and honestly considered if this was what I wanted to continue putting my time into. I should have considered if I was really creating value for someone else…without just taking that value away from another person.

I didn’t test enough. I should have done more specific measuring and testing when I made changes to the site. This would have helped me to see if a particular change improved or worsened a particular metric. Instead I just made a change and waited to see if it overwhelmingly made a difference. I didn’t have a clear time frame for when that difference should happen, or what that difference should be. And so I didn’t know when to remove the change or leave it for longer.

What now?

If you’re subscribed to this blog, this may be when you want to cancel that subscription. I expect this blog will now have nothing to do with stock investing, and will become much more personal. I plan to use it as a place to discuss what I’m thinking, reading, doing, or creating. I could have started another blog for this, but then I’d have one more blog to back up, and in truth this blog already has a number of my core principles baked into the previous posts. Where it’s going now is really just an extension of those principles.

The dividends and investing services part of Dividendium will stay up. Those parts of the site are what pay for the servers and I plan to use those servers to host other projects as well.

I’m working on a new site now (not stock investing related in any way), and I expect I will be posting about the pitfalls and progress here.

Email me if you have any ideas for businesses or services that you would like to see (that are not stock investing related).

Principles and Philosophy

This seems like a good time to explicitly state some of the things I’ve come to believe and not believe:

I don’t believe in retirement. This is an about-face for me. For 10 years or so, my goal had been to retire early. But I no longer believe that retiring should be a goal. What I was really saying was that I wanted to not worry about making an income. I don’t think that’s possible. No matter what savings I squirreled away or what investments I made, there’s always the possibility that something will go wrong, and I’d lose it all. Inflation, theft, bad investments, fraud…any one of them could kill decades of saving in a very short time. So instead, my goal is to enjoy creating value and to become comfortable with not being “safe”.

I don’t believe in a guaranteed return. This ties into the no retirement thing. Inflation and technological advance will not allow a guaranteed return. Any apparent guarantee has a leak some where.

I don’t believe that money is important or an end unto itself. Money is a transition phase between creating value and consuming value. It’s also a good way to measure the rate at which I am creating value…but not the amount of value I’ve created in total. I don’t want to hoard money long term or use the amount of dollars I have as a proxy for my self-worth.

I believe in keeping my expenses low. Low expenses means I don’t get stuck financially. It means I maintain my independence. Consequently it also means keeping debt low, at zero, or only transitional (like using credit cards, but paying them off every month). Low expenses also means I have less stuff, which means I have fewer distractions from doing good work.

I believe in having a financial cushion. A short term (a few years expenses) stash to allow me to try some things out and to keep from getting stuck some place I don’t want to be. It provides options.

I believe that stock market investing is a zero sum game and a waste of time…a lot of very smart peoples’ time. People who could be creating value instead. I still use No Lose Stocks, but I view it as playing the lottery, and a short term (a few years) place to store cash.

I believe in enjoying life throughout it’s course. I don’t believe I can save it up for “retirement” in my “golden years”. I may die before I get there. The people I want to spend that time with may die. The things I want to do may no longer be possible due to health, laws, or opportunity doors closing. I don’t want to regret things I didn’t do.

I don’t believe in safety. Change is the only constant. So I want to be excited about changes…not fearful or anxious about them.

I believe fear or anxiety is a great indicator of what I should do or try. And vice versa that comfort is an indicator that I’m not trying enough new and scary things.

I believe I should do things other people find useful. I should create value.