Freefincal was born this week four years ago! A post to say 'thank you' to all friends, well-wishers and readers who have keep it alive.
The site which was started as a repository for Excel calculators is constantly evolving into a portal that tries to understand investor behaviour and requirements. This is possible only because of a supportive community. Without which it would have died a silent death. Read more: journey so far.
Freefincal is not about financial literacy: Those two words - financial literacy - get on my nerves. It is so holier than thou and condescending. No, freefincal has nothing to do with financial literacy. Circumstances have urged me to treat blogging and making Excel sheets as a regimen to steer clear of negative thinking and depression. Constant and incisive feedback from users has helped sustain this regimen.
From crowd funding to hosting ads: Middle of last year, I made an appeal for financial support and the response was fantastic. However, the site traffic grew at a faster pace than I anticipated. Therefore, I had to move to a better hosting plan. Factoring in other costs like plugins and analytics, a more constant stream of income was necessary and I was forced to turn on ads. Something that I am ashamed of as I have always spoken against them.
I cringe each time I look at them but recognise that they are a necessary evil. Readers have been most tolerant of this decision. Rest assured, freefincal is a non-profit operation. So the ad revenue will only be used for the growth of the blog.
Brand Equity: It is a matter of pride that freefincal has some brand equity.
The 38% direct traffic is quite healthy and more importantly greater than the search (Google) traffic. This is because of the nature of the content here. People are searching for "best mutual funds 2016" and not "how to select a mutual fund" 🙂
It is better to have a direct audience as 'repeat customers' than fleeting visitors via Google (all other search engines amount next to nothing!)
Facebook group Asan Ideas for Wealth (AIFW): I find it quite amusing many think that just because I am an active member at AIFW, it is one of the major freefincal traffic sources. I enjoy being part of that community and have many friends there.
If I do it just to get the ~ 6% traffic from FB (not just AIFW), then I suffer from innumeracy. I do it because the best way to learn is to repeatedly display our ignorance sans shame. As much as I am the chief marketeer of AIFW, I am also its chief critic.
Investor Workshops: From Nov. 2014 to Nov. 2015, several workshops were held around the country with the help of many friends. For the last four events, I was joined by AIFW admin and one of the most selfless teachers of personal finance, Ashal Jauhari.
Because of my health and Ashal's schedule, we have hit the pause button on the workshops. I hope to revive them as discussion meetings shortly.
Campaign against conflict of interest: I have spoken against conflict of interest, promoted the use of direct mutual funds and fee-only SEBI registered financial planners. This has earned me sobriquets like DIY evangelist and DIY activist.
If freefincal has played a role increasing awareness about conflict of interest, fee-only financial advisory and direct mutual funds, then I am happy with such titles. I have lost friendships due to this, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.
Future Plans: Some interesting developments are on the cards. Do not wish to jinx them. Do watch this space.
Thank you for your support.