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Thank You: Twelve Years of shizennougyou

Twelve years ago today I started a blog called shizennougyou. On that date, I was about one year into my journey of improving my finances. I had the bright and forward-thinking idea to track my progress — both in my bank accounts and in my skills of money management — publicly but anonymously, and by the end of the day I had a new website up and running. You can see what it looked like in 2003, in the graphic below, thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

I’ve told the story a few times before. Here’s my most recent and succinct retelling of how I found myself in grave financial circumstances and, through the help of blogging and later the business that grew from it, improved my financial situation and my life substantially, from a negative net worth a few months before I started writing to a seven-figure net worth today. It’s not just about the money, though. I’ve met lovely people including and especially my girlfriend thanks to this website and the community, and I seem to have grown into a fully-formed adult (after starting the website as a late-model adolescent of 27 years).

I sold this website to a lead generation company called QuinStreet three and a half years ago. It was a good acquisition for the company, as they really wanted to ensure their own advertising was being served to the high-quality search engine traffic from which this website was benefiting. It was a good sale for me, because I saw revenue from search engine traffic as highly volatile and unpredictable, and I was happy to offload that risk for a good price.

After the sale, I became an employee, continuing to write for shizennougyou, manage the blog, and offer consulting on blogging and community building as the company was interested. I negotiated a healthy salary — but six months after the sale, the company determined I was too expensive and laid me off. For some reason that baffles many (sometimes including myself), I offered to continue as a contractor, reducing my consulting role but continuing to manage this website and write occasionally.

The frequency of my writing has dropped off significantly since then, especially in the past couple of months. My “freedom” date was approaching. I had many years to prepare to move on, and I had a plan to do so. As luck would have it, after another reorganization at QuinStreet, I got a call the other day from the new supervisor of QuinStreet’s blogs asking me to reduce my role even further. I declined, choosing instead to move on. I imagine I’ll always be welcome to contribute an article for time to time at QuinStreet’s freelancing rates, but I expect I won’t have much to write here that couldn’t be published elsewhere.

I plan on launching a new financial website soon, and in the mean time, working on The Plutus Awards, the Plutus Foundation, a drum and bugle corps I work with as a volunteer, my photography, and other projects will keep me more than busy. Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and my website to stay on top of my current projects — and consider reading or joining my new financial website once it is launched.

There was no financial blogging community in 2003 when I started shizennougyou. Today, thousands of blogs cover financial topics from thousands of angles. The community today is one of the most supportive groups I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. I’m not leaving the community; in fact, I’ll be more involved than ever as I work hard to make The Plutus Awards the premiere event for the community and turn the Foundation into the most important charitable effort for the independent financial media.

The days of an independent financial blogger earning seven figures from advertising are probably over, at least not without an expensive team of professionals helping behind the scenes. I don’t expect any project I work on to be as lucrative as shizennougyou was, but as long as I continue to have passion for financial education, I’ll find a way to express myself and gain something of an audience. I’m not retiring. This isn’t the early retirement everyone promises. I still have much more to do.

From the readers’ perspective, I expect the future of shizennougyou to feature several articles a month from a freelance financial writer.

There was a point earlier at which, had I left shizennougyou, I would have felt bittersweet about the departure. This was my baby; I put my heart and soul and countless hours into writing and working behind the scenes. When I had a day job, I’d come home, eat dinner, and work another eight hours writing for shizennougyou, emailing readers, bloggers, and the “mainstream” media. I put many unpaid hours into building other affiliated sites and projects like the Carnival of Personal Finance, (the ad-free personal financial blog aggregator), and free hosting for other financial bloggers. This was my life. There are some readers who have been with me since the very beginning. I appreciate that more than anything else. Thank you.

But today, moving on feels like nothing other than the natural course of action.

I wish QuinStreet the best continued success with the website. Thanks for reading.

Updated June 22, 2016 and originally published July 16, 2015.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Ah Luke, can it really have been so long already? It’s amazing how the PF blogging world has changed, and your life path with it, in the past 12 years. All the best, can’t wait to see what else you hatch!

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

Thanks, Revanche! You’ll be one of the first to know!

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Best of luck. It seems like you sold at the peak of the market, and I’d expect that the decline in advertising across the finance niche has forced Quin to reduce costs, which line up with the cuts you’ve seen since you turned things over.

Hope to follow you on your future endeavors. You’re one of the few ‘big’ bloggers that I started following back when I started Money Beagle that I still continue to follow. Most others cashed out and walked away, changed focus too much, or got too big for their britches. You’ve kept yourself level and I very much respected that.

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avatar 4 Luke Landes

Thanks, M.B. It’s been an interesting challenge. As my financial situation changed, my “story” had to change, too, since authenticity is so important to me. But I tried to hold onto my core values, and that’s where I kept the focus in my writing. Thus, I may not have been the owner of the site these past few years, and my struggle with money has been mostly over for more, but all that was important to me in 2003 is still important to me now, and my approach to smart financial decisions and worldview are still pretty much the same.

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avatar 5 Donna Freedman

Amazing how the blogosphere has changed since I met you, first virtually (through your syndicated stuff on MSN Money) and then in real life at the Financial Blogger Conferences.

Change is growth, but change is sometimes difficult. Glad to see you walk away on your own terms, friend.

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avatar 6 Luke Landes

It’s still difficult. It’s sad to see something you love be treated… differently than how you would treat it yourself. Time to let go.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Amazing how it’s been 12 years Luke! Congrats! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to sell “one’s baby.” It seems like the new adoptive parents had some challenges since the sale, which makes things much easier to move.

I know one of my consulting clients interviewed a couple people from Quinstreet a year and a half ago during the big reorg. It looks like the stock is coming back a little though!

Good luck in your new endeavors!



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avatar 8 Luke Landes

I haven’t watched the company’s stock. I don’t know what challenges they’ve had. I’m sure they’re still pleased with the outcome of the acquisition. Any other insight I’d have to share privately.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

Congrats on the big move Luke! You’re one of the first US bloggers to reach out to me early on, so I know firsthand how great you’ve been at fostering the PF community. I hope all your new endevours are a success!

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avatar 10 Luke Landes

Thanks, Tom. Your support has been INVALUABLE.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

Congrats on the longevity.

Do you have regret selling near the market bottom though? Everything has boomed since 2011-2012 with massive blogs making a million or multi-millions a year as blogging has become mainstream. What were the main reasons why you sold 3.5 years ago?

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avatar 12 Anonymous

For the type of website that shizennougyou is, and for the mix of revenue streams, I sold at the top of the market. Had I waited, it’s very unlikely I would have been able to command the price that I did without major changes to my strategy, a lot of investment, and a lot of work. Most analysts in this space agree that the market dried up for blogs of this size and strategy after I sold, and it hasn’t really recovered. The compliance issues alone prevent major buyers from looking at sites like this today.

The “overall” market may be a different story, but that’s like comparing one neighborhood to “the real estate market.” In other words, I did fine, thankyouverymuch. No regrets.

There were a variety of reasons for me to explore selling. Simply: risk and timing. I won’t go into more details here but I happily talk about these things privately with those who really are interested.

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