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Review This Blog – Man vs Debt

Posted By Darren Rowse 20th of November 2009 Case Studies 0 Comments

Last month here on ProBlogger we ran a community review on a reader’s blog. I posted a link to a blog with some comments from the blogger and then opened it up for readers of ProBlogger to review it.

The response from the post was great. 120+ comments were left including some great advice. I also had a lot of emails from readers saying that they learned a lot by reading the suggestions of others – many wanted to see these reviews done regularly.

As a result I’m going to try to do these reviews on a weekly (ish) basis – today we have another one. As a little bonus to ProBlogger.com members I’m going to choose the blogs being reviewed from members blogs (with their permission of course).

This month’s Review – Man vs Debt.

What follows is some information from the blogger behind Man vs Debt – Adam Baker.

Before you give your review in comments below please read through this information as it’ll give you context for your review as well as some of what Adam is hoping to pick your brains about.

Please also note that while you’re welcome to give your honest feedback on the blog that we’d love for this to be a constructive experience for everyone. Don’t just tell us what you don’t like – share what you’d do to improve it.

I started Man Vs Debt. in the last week of March 2009 (this year). I originally started it to chronicle Courtney and my journey to get out of debt. We were in the final stages of selling all of our possessions, paying down our consumer debt, and relocating to what we thought was going to be Australia (ended up being Australia -> New Zealand and soon Thailand).

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at 10.40.08 AM.png

It’s been amazing so far. When I got started I knew absolutely zero about blogging, just that I liked reading them. I didn’t know how WordPress worked or even what SEO stood for. But I was quickly amazed at how strong the blogging community was (and still is). This is especially true of the personal finance niche. I received an overwhelming amount of help early on from many experience bloggers, whom I would have never guessed would have taken the time to help.

Over the last 7 months or so, I’ve decided to concentrate almost all my effort on building a community. As I’ve been traveling, I’ve found a home sort of between the personal finance niche and the life design/travel niche. The blog has become even more transparent than I originally designed (which is fine by me) with us sharing our list of possessions, finances, and ups and downs of traveling.

Early on, I decided to not feature advertising on the site. Recently, I’ve picked up a small group of affiliates that I either use everyday or that I’m a hardcore fan of. I still haven’t moved promoting these to the front page, but did set up an ‘ Endorsed‘ page (pictured in part below) where I list them.

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Current goals:

My largest goal right now is to increase my monetization. I’ve decided to focus this into product creation. I’m working a my first eBook (a joint venture), which will be a cheaper price point and will be the start of several products over the next 2-6 months. I’m trying to plan where to put this design wise on the blog, too. I’m torn between putting it in the top position in my sidebar as I’ve had a lot of success prioritizing this space with RSS, Twitter, and e-mail subscriptions.

I’ve also thought about moving some affiliates to the main page. I’ve avoided this so far, as to keep my main sidebar as clean and simple as possible. I’ve decided to focus attention onto my subscription and highlighting my most popular content.

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Besides increasing monetization a bit, I want to continue to increase the ‘community’ factor of my blog. I’m proud of the amount of comments and want to continue to find ways to encourage people to comment. I want to feature my
twitter account and facebook account(facebook currently not featured) to connect deeper. I’d also like to focus on having people use StumbleUpon, Twitter, and E-mail to spread articles they enjoy. I think focusing in on these 3 platforms only would provide a way for different audiences to spread, but not confuse with 100 different options. I like simplicity (aka, I’m torn on whether to use the ShareThis plugin, etc…).

Also, I’d like to drive more people to convert to my e-mail list, called the Militia. I need to allow people to sign up from the main page (right now they have to click through to separate page). I run product giveaways exclusively to the list and give out special information on upcoming features, events, etc… I know I could do this a lot better. And because I will be monetizing primarily off my own information products, I need to improve sooner rather than later! :-)

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Lastly, I want to continue to promote transparency on the blog. Courtney and I keep an up-to-date list of all our possessions ( Our Stuff page) and also track all our expenses and budgeting on a daily basis (Our Financespage). While not everyone may care for this, the majority of e-mail I get from new visitors is about these sections. It really helps establish a connection and I’m not sure I’m doing enough to promote these pages.

What Advice Would You Give on How to Improve this Blog?

OK – there’s Adam’s story and some of what he’s trying to achieve with his blog. I hope that it not only provides you with some context for commenting on his blog but gives some insight into the life, goals and approach of one blogger which may help inform your own blogging.

Adam has agreed not to make any changes to his blog over the next week (except for new content) so that we can all see the same thing and have plenty of opportunity to look his blog over and comment on it.

Over to you – what constructive advice do you have for Adam? What do you like about what he’s doing on his blog? What could he improve upon? I’m looking forward to hearing what the community comes up with and to seeing how this impacts Adam’s blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Hi,

    Here is some advices :

    – Change the font of the blog : Times new roman is less easy to read and uglier. Try Tahoma or Arial.

    – Explain what is “The Milicia”, I thought it was an ad for a game !!! For exemple “The Against Debt Militia”, ” Join the Anti-Debt Cause”…

    – The picture of the “The Milicia” is not nice. You should by a good picture from DreamStime, Fotolia (less than 1 ¤).

    – Put 1st the Newsletter subcribing, the RSS are fun and usufull, but it is the emailing list that will give you money.

    – Cut half the size of your heading picture, it is too much size.

    – Put a “Read More” to read more about the post, thanks to that you will show more article on home page (right now you have to scroll long long time).

    – Vary your pictures and themes : having 2 times on home page Comics Superhero made me thought that it was a comic book Blog !!

    – Put on your sidebar more social networks, such as Facebook

    – Feature others ebook ads in your home page to earn money throught affiliation

    – Add your own Twitter timeline in the sidebar to show people that it is worth to follow on twitter (not just jour blog post)

    – Add some ads in the heading of you articles when you open them full (after read more).

    – Work on your footer : add the services you are selling (teaching, contacts…).

    – Propose consulting to help people to free their debts trough a form on the side bar.

    – Put on your sidebar (you have plenty of white space) a selection of tool to free your debts : books, services…

    – Put some affilation links on you tweets

    – Propose to company to advert on your blog (put this in the footer).

    – …

    Good luck :D

  2. Adam is doing a fantastic job. He is proof that hard work and talent are an unstoppable force.

    Making money from a blog like this will likely require huge traffic and Adam is well on his way here. I don’t know if there would be a big market for ebooks and a membership site, but they might help with a little extra revenue.

    I would probably focus on affiliate programs for credit cards, online financial sites, stock trading, etc. Provide honest evaluations and detailed how to information and he will likely start earning a solid income.

  3. Nice blog, a thorough insight! America’s exploding debt is a ticking time-bomb. No one can say for sure what might trigger a crisis and when the bomb might explode, but this much is for sure: America’s current level of borrowing is unsustainable.

    America’s debt crisis is reflected both in our exploding national debt and our astounding level of borrowing from foreigners, as measured in the current account trade deficit. Every day we fail to address these problems, we increase the chances that the country will be facing an economic crisis of major proportions.

  4. When we click on twitter at your page its open in same window hence we landed in twitter and lost to your page, it should open in new window. So that reader do not have to type or do anything extra to be in your page.

    Good to see that you use Thesis, these people offering $30 discount – http://www.thesisdiscounts.com/

    Like your tagline – Get out of debt … Get into life.

    Rating – 6.5/10

  5. Paul Sabaj says: 11/23/2009 at 4:17 am

    I love the site and the articles. I do feel that the site needs to define the niche a little more as this would have more for the under fourty crowd.
    The content was great and the amount of posts. Love all the feedback on this site. Thnaks

  6. Darren, I think a good idea to follow these monthly reviews is a post with the changes that each blogger implemented and worked.

    Looking forward for your thoughts about this.

    Regarding an improvement for Adam’s blog, if he wants more visitors to subscribe to the newsletter, then the subscribe sections needs to be more visible. When I am looking at the sidebar, all my attention is got by the RSS and Twitter calls to action.

    Have a look around and get some inspiration from other websites. Look at ProBlogger. Darren added there a nice “Subscribe” button, which calls to subscribe.

  7. thats really great blog. I hate debt.

  8. Wow 125+ comment? that’s great.. congrats.. bro!!

  9. Thanks so much for the promo code. I was able to get the promo to work, every little bit of savings helps out. I will take a look to see if you have any other promo codes.

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