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With the stock market and real estate markets rebounding, employment levels rising, and more people turning to blogs for information and entertainment, I hope many of you had a fortuitous 2013!

I’m publishing my personal year in review this week and just finished curating the top posts on Financial Samurai for 2013. It’s pretty neat how much we can write over the course of a year if we stay consistent.

The following is a list of things I think many of us should consider doing to optimize our sites for the year. I’ll certainly be working on a number of these to ensure my site survives for a sixth year.


1) Run the Broken Link Checker plugin. Links break all the time for whatever reason. The Broken Link Checker plugin will either delink or redirect your links so your readers have a better experience. A lot of blog commenters also let their blogs disappear over time. The plugin will clean up broken comment links as well. Deactivate the Broken Link Checker plugin once used because it is a resource hog. I also suggest running it during off peak hours.

2) Condense the number of categories. The optimal number of categories is around 10 or less. If you can be the expert at three to five categories all the better. Over the course of the year categories start increasing like clutter in your house. I’ve got a lot of cutting to do because I’ve got 20 categories.

3) Aggregate your top articles of the year into one article. A top articles of the year post serves to help new readers quickly familiarize themselves with your site. A top articles post also serves as a resume to showcase your writing skills if you’re looking to guest post or apply as a freelance writer. Consider a “Most Popular” category or tab as well.

4) Review all affiliate links. Affiliate links break all the time because the client no longer wants to run their campaign but fails to notify the publisher. This is really the job of your account manager to give you a heads up. I just found out one of my affiliates stopped their campaign after I asked my affiliate manager if anything had changed. She said the campaign stopped 40 days ago! Thanks for not telling me. I encourage everyone to randomly audit their affiliate links once a month to make sure everything works. Start with your top 20 most trafficked posts.

5) Rekindle old relationships and make new friendships. Everybody gets busy in the year and we often lose touch with old friends. Rekindle three good relationships and try to keep in touch at least once a month for the entire year. It’s easy to stick to people who look, act, and talk like you. The result is a pretty homogenous environment that stunts creativity and growth. Look to reach out to someone completely different and develop a relationship. You’ll likely learn plenty of new things. Some good synergistic genres include Marketing, Travel, and Writing.

6) Remove unnecessary plugins. Plugins slow down your site and makes sites more susceptible to hacks. Shoot for 15 plugins or less. Also make sure all plugins are up to date. I’d love to know from webmasters how many plugins they think is optimal and which plugins are the ones that slow a site down most and are most susceptible to crashes.

7) Revisit expectations with your webmaster. If you have a webmaster responsible for keeping your site up and running, have a talk with him or her to set out your expectations for the year. Air grievances now or be frustrated all year long.

8) Try one new type of media. Most of us simply write and publish. We should consider tying in the occasional podcast, video, or TV interview if we can get one. It’s important we not be delusional with our looks and communications skills by keeping things tight.

9) Ask yourself if you’re still having fun. If you’re not having fun because you dislike writing or are losing your soul by pumping out product review post after product review post for money, definitely reconsider your blogging strategy or quit. Nobody needs another boring blog that publishes the same topics.

10) Focus on affiliate revenue. Try your hardest to get off the direct advertisement drug. Shoot for direct advertising to be no more than 20% of revenue so you can sleep better at night if you’re serious about building sustainable income online. With many examples of continued five figure blog income reports due to direct advertising, there’s a great argument that you might as well milk it since it seems Google doesn’t mind. But I’ve seen about 15% of blogs who actively participate in direct advertising get crushed at any given moment. Take a look at LinkOffers, FlexOffers, CJ, or shoot me an e-mail if you’d like to be a sub-affiliate of mine for Personal Capital at $101 per qualified lead. There should be something for everyone.

BONUS: Hunt down everybody who owes you money! Keep a list of outstanding payments due and e-mail/call them relentlessly until they respond and pay.


There used to be some fear several years ago that blogging was going to fade away. What a silly notion now that we’ve seen a massive growth in independent online media. Blog valuations have grown significantly in no small part due to the increased valuations of acquiring companies in this bull market.

I went down to Stanford’s Journalism school, supposedly the #1 journalism school in the country this Spring to learn more about their program and am amazed at how slow they are in adopting online media as part of their repertoire. No paper, TV, or radio station breaks the news anymore. Twitter breaks the news! I continue to push for collaboration between old media and new media for increased synergies.

There will definitely be winners and losers in 2014. I think the key is to just stay consistent and hold on for as long as possible. There’s nothing much we can do about the exogenous variables. All we can control is our own commitment.


It’s been over seven years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive and active income stream online now. My online presence has allowed me to pursue other things, such as consulting for various financial tech startups as well.

I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, learn how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like this one. 

Leverage the 3+ billion internet users and build your brand online. There are professional bloggers now who make way more than bankers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs while having much more fun, much more freedom, and doing less work. Get started. You never know where the journey will take you!

Updated for 2017 and beyond.