In Memory of Dividend Mantra – How to Kill a Blog in 10 Weeks
My other title was going to be: How to Kill 2 Blogs with One Stone.
That only makes sense when I tell you that my primary traffic source originates from COMMENTING on Dividend Mantra, which is sad…
That being said… although I still haven’t figured out how to build a blog, I have witnessed how to kill a blog in real time, and it has been super entertaining.
And since traffic is pretty light on my blog, I figured I’d write down my thoughts instead of annoying Ms. Red to Riches who thinks I am insane for caring so much about a random guy I found on the internet.
She just doesn’t understand that Jason, the King of Dividend Growth Investing, resigned out of nowhere! Why Jason whyyyyy!
Part 1: Fieber Fever
A few days ago, I tried to give my two cents to the new owners, but my comment was quickly deleted. And then it was posted a few hours later (and then quickly deleted again).
I was however, able to get a quick snap shot of it.
Apparently this was too harsh for these new owners, which is funny when you read Part 2 of the article below. Prior to that, let’s go back in time…
I’ve been following Dividend Mantra, aka Jason Fieber, for over a year. I visited his site almost every day. I’ll admit I loved the content… but I also live in a cubicle city for most of my waking hours which requires me to look for engaging content to keep me sane.
Jason writes about dividend growth investing and financial independence. He is/was completely transparent by sharing the stocks he buys (and why), his income and expenses, and other personal stories.
He even wrote a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Jason even made it a point to comment on EVERY single comment he received. A tough task when you get over 100 comments per article. I’m up for the task, so please leave a comment below!
The Turning Point
Recently, Jason made the decision to form an agreement with a third party where they will ‘manage’ the website and he will continue contributing a couple times per month while pursuing other opportunities and freeing up his time.
What the agreement entails is unknown.
My assumption: this third party management team overvalued Jason’s blog and Jason took advantage of the opportunity. After the sale, the agreement spiraled out of control. Jason has not been in the comments or writing articles to help put the fire out. Based on this, my assumption is he either sold 100% of the website or owns so little that it isn’t worth his time to mend the many wounds the new ownership has inflicted on the readership.
If Jason would have been trying to do damage control over the past weeks, I would have thought he had more skin in the game, but I don’t think he does.
Since the transition announcement, a noticeable amount of readers have commented that Jason is a sell out and abandoned them and so on. It’s almost to the point where I think I would get more a following if I offered a support group to for Dividend Mantra Junkies. (DMJunkies.com is available).
Let’s Dig DEEP and Break It Down: How Much Did DividendMantra.com Earn per Month?
Websites are valued just like any other business: past trends, customer base, future cash flow, etc.
Let’s start by trying to estimate monthly revenue from Dividend Mantra.
As reported on DividendMantra.com, Jason’s online income is below [with his comments from his blog narration in brackets]:
January 2015: $3,815 [probably maxed out in terms of content production]
February 2015: $2,959 [how he earns income is still relevant, just more freelance income]
March 2015: $1,502 $5,500 [net of a $4,000 tax bill]
April 2015: 3,572 [net of quarterly estimate]
May 2015: $5,420 [mentions blog is now at 350,000 page views per month]
The important connection to make is between the May 2015 income report and a prior post in May 2014 which was a rare insight into his actual revenue numbers.
In mid-2014, Jason posted he made $1,200 from advertising on Dividend Mantra and $100 on affiliate programs, for a total of $1,300 per month.
This was earned with about 200,000 page views per month, as mentioned in the same article.
Based on his May 2015 report, he increased his traffic to 350,000, or 75%.
Since advertising dollars are correlated with page views, we will assume advertising dollars also increased 75%.
This suggests Dividend Mantra was earning $2,275 per month on advertising and affiliate income related to the blog in 2015. More importantly, this helps us separate the website income from freelance income in the standard online income reports.
Although his monthly income reports were post-tax, the article describing his online income did not mention anything about taxes. The rest of the analysis is assuming the Dividend Mantra website earns $2,275 prior to taxes.
How Much Did Jason Receive for DividendMantra.com?
The general rule of thumb I have seen suggests to BUY a website for between 12 and 36 months of pre-tax income depending on the industry.
Well, I think Jason had high quality traffic and extremely loyal fans (ie: he could have sold many of us several books, courses, etc), so let’s value it on the high end of 36 months.
36 months * $2,275 per month = $81,900
That’s a huge pay day.
Even on the low end, it’s a $27,300 pay day.
To be conservative, let’s assume he valued his website at $54,600, right in the middle. Not a bad pay day. Jeesh, offer me $200 for my blog and I’d probably ‘sell out’ at this point.
Based on my opinion of how events have unfolded, I am going to assume Jason sold 100% of his ownership to the new team.
Either way, my point is that Jason’s decision wasn’t based on pennies, it was based on tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s hard to judge until you’re in the position to take a guaranteed ~$50,000 or a risky and time consuming $2,275 per month.
Remember, Jason’s goal was to become financial independent. I know he had passion for the topic and had passion for his fans, but this decision potentially cut YEARS off of his working life, which is the true reason we are all seeking financial independence.
Let’s Think Like Jason!
New Team – “Jason, I want to offer you $54,600 for Dividend Mantra.”
Jason – “$54,600 * 3.5% yield = $1,890 per year of dividend income. This income will likely grow at a rate of at least 6% per year, FOREVER. I planted a huge tree that I will continue to pluck fruit off of every quarter with NO WORK.”
Excluding writing on Dividend Mantra, he was still is making $2,000 to $3,000 per month through writing. He still has a book from all of his hard work. He can still rebrand that book to a new site or with a new title.
At the same time, he’s probably spending less time managing the site and commenting on hundreds or thousands of comments per month.
I think we can all get behind the decision to make similar income with less work and less risk.
Let’s not be greedy as readers of his great blog. I do not plan on using dividend growth investing as my primary strategy to achieve financial independence, but I could relate to Jason’s desire for financial independence and his passion for helping others.
But let’s face it, events never go as planned. And the Dividend Mantra story isn’t over…
Or is it?
Part 2: How to Kill a Blog
Post 3 times per week, every week, and then stop for several weeks.
Most blogs I’ve followed closely go through periods of inactivity due to various reasons. I won’t judge (I swear I haven’t thought about removing the date stamp on my blog posts…), but when it happens it seems like readership fades fast.
Unlike my personal situation, when you’re at the level of 400,000 page views per month, the impact is meaningful.
The lack of new posts correlated to the time when Jason was busy wheelin’ and dealin’ and maybe even stealin’ from novice website investors.
Jason went from posting several times a week to once in several weeks. The first picture is the Recent Buy article which was the last article prior to the “dead” period prior to the management change announcement. The other one is just after the management change announcement.
But let’s be fair. Half of the 166 comments were just hoping Jason was alive. Dedicated readers of Dividend Mantra will get a chuckle out of these:
^^^ This guy would be the first to join DMJunkies.com. “My name is Conrad.” –Hi Conrad!— “I’m addicted to DM.”
Tyler was the second person to sign up for DMJunkies.com
Wade even started having delusional thoughts about index investing… I had to step in.
Let people (the new management team) with no knowledge of your audience begin to accept guest posts whether they are relevant to the site or not.
Guest Post 1
This one wasn’t terrible, but quite irrelevant to most readers since it mentioned financial independence through RV traveling. It didn’t really move the needle either way for me, and I have nothing against Mike. In fact, many of Jason’s followers seemed to be aware of him and post friendly comments… which is better than the next one.
Guest Post 2
That’s the current heart rate of Dividend Mantra……
It represents the “hidden” post about a rabbit screwing playboys and some other random jokes that missed worse than mine above. But really, the new owners deleted it because it was so bad.
I have nothing against the language, but the style is so far off from what Dividend Mantra’s loyal fans expect it was ridiculous.
While it lasts, here is the link to the post in its entirety:
After taking in all the feedback from the two guest posts above and even deleting one, ignore all of the feedback and be as vague as possible in a half-assed response.
Soon after new management took over, there were 100s of comments expressing disappointment and the reasons behind the disappointment. Some were addressable, some were not.
Instead of investing time into reading all of the comments and developing their own strategy, they had to get on their knees and beg for forgiveness.
To address the lack of transparency and the future of the site, this was their response:
Based on over 350 comments on this article, you’d think this was a hit. A closer look at the comments (here) would probably tell a different story.
And the ‘success’ of having over 350 comments excludes all the ones they deleted, including mine in the beginning of the article.
We can all agree my comment at the beginning of this post was PG compared to these:
It’s incredible. I am absolutely fascinated by watching the results of a live business transaction.
As a new owner, make it absolutely clear you have no intention of fixing the situation.
Not much to say here, but after hundreds of comments and who knows how many emails, it seems like they are ignoring what their target audience desires.
There is still no transparency, no updates, and more importantly, no Jason.
What Would I Have Done?
If I had $50,000 of to risk on a business venture, I would have bought DividendMantra.com.
Think of this as a case study from the perspective of an outside investor: 400,000 page views and growing, 100s of comments per article, and ONLY monetized by a few Google Adsense ads, a few affiliate links, and a $5 book?
This is a DAMN GOLD MINE!
Instead of doubling the Google Adsense ads like new management seems to be doing with fake blog posts that are really ads:
I would have tried to sign Jason up prior to the sale to create a Dividend Growth Investing Course or some type of product or service and split the income. In fact, he would have been required to post a couple times per month for the first year or I would not have accepted the deal. There would need to be a negotiated period of time where he was still involved and to give the audience time to adapt to new perspectives with him holding their hands during the transition.
Having 1,000+ loyal fans is a gold mine. Neglecting those 1,000+ fans and chasing after those anonymous 400,000+ page views is not a sustainable business when the content goes to shit.
I was one of those loyal fans. And guess what, knowing Jason himself is no longer involved, I will never buy any product from the site.
Additionally, I would have tried to do this business arrangement behind closed doors. I would help ‘manage’ the backend of the website and website inquires, but I would keep Jason as the face of the brand and start releasing Dividend Mantra courses, books, services, etc.
However, once everyone knows Jason is no longer 100% involved, good luck gaining any of these 1,000+ true fans’ trust back.
What About Jason’s Situation?
As for Jason, he has our trust. He CAN and DID sell us his book. He COULD sell his 1,000 + true fans a course or whatever he wanted to sell. But if it’s funneled through a group of marketers and professional web designers that have never earned a dividend and never earned our trust, conversion rates will suffer.
The monetary value of the website was the trust he had with his readers that would have resulted in him being able to sell products at a high conversion rate to his highly targeted and engaged audience.
The monetary value was not to try and fill as much white space with shitty Google Adsense ads. (Jason already had what I would consider too many adsense ads on his website… but to add more ads was a mistake on the new ownership. Loyal readers probably don’t even notice the ads after a few visits to the site).
If I was in Jason’s shoes, I would cut all ties with the new management team and either regain the DividendMantra brand or cut all ties and rebrand under his real name or something else. Maybe use a different medium? Maybe a podcast or a video series? Maybe a forum to increase engagement between posts? None of these have been done on DividendMantra.com but could expand his current audience and open up new sources of income.
At the end of the day, the new owners have a website with a bunch of articles they don’t understand.
Jason has new money in his account and the brand to continue to succeed.
What are your thoughts on the situation? Have you ever been part of a business transaction either as an buyer, seller, or employee? What was your experience, good and bad?
On Twitter? Connect with me.
Note, I apologize if there is any delay from the time you comment to the time it is actually posted. I can’t afford a good enough spam filter to get rid of these “buy NFL jerseys now” comments! I check many times a day and approve all non-spam comments 🙂