It has been a few weeks since I last posted on this blog. The nice thing about having an audience of 3 random strangers from google a week, is that no one cares. Still, it has been too long since I last put pen to paper so here are some happenings.
The short answer is that business has been good with both my law firm and my main affiliate website, and my time has been spent there.
Law Firm Update
I have had the nagging feeling all year that my firm has been moving slow. That I haven’t had the case load or made the money this year that I had last year. I have managed to stay busy and pay the bills, but it felt like my bank account was getting slowly eroded and I had concerns about making the quarterly tax payment that I needed to make in September. Well, it turns out I hit a run of nice cases and have been drowning in work. Lots of good stuff to work on, and a healthy amount of stress to go with it.
By and large we have been able to process these new cases. There are always a couple “thorn in my side” cases that are a little strange or require some extra effort I’m not entirely familiar with. Doing things like hunting down witnesses who signed an out of state will 20 years ago, or dealing with difficult clients and lawyers on the other side of a dispute. That is part of the game. Thankfully I have also brought in some good “bread and butter” work. Routine cases that I know have a beginning middle and end. These kinds of cases are the lifeblood, and because I have them somewhat systematized, I can have my assistant help with a lot of the drudgery. These aren’t the most intellectually stimulating cases, but they pay the bills.
Regardless I am happy to see money flow into my bank account and promptly flow out to my landlord, process servers, the clerk of court, my employee, the IRS, Comcast, various software companies, legal research, etc. etc. etc… thankfully some of that money will flow towards me as well. I will live and die another day.
I am thankful because my new hire seems to be working out. She is actually handling things with surprising efficiency and low levels of drama. I am pleased to have hired a younger person this time around. There are a lot of positives compared with my former assistants. The only negative is that she lacks experience and I need to provide more guidance as I teach her how to do some things. But the pros outweigh the cons and it’s great to have my staffing issue resolved for the time being. That was a major hurdle for the first half of 2016.
Affiliate Site Update
I have been shoveling content (and $100 bills) into my main affiliate site all year. We have managed to post one article a week, which was something I previously was not able to do. I’d average maybe 1-2 posts a months previously depending on how ambitious I was feeling. Now we have had regular posts, and have sort of built up a following this way. But the somewhat odd thing is that blog traffic was in a slow decline from December 2016. Naturally, when you have a website centered around physical products like I do the holidays will be your best traffic and earning opportunities, but given the relatively massive amount of content I had been adding I found it a little disconcerting to see my numbers continue to slip.
Well I finally saw an inflection point, and traffic seems to be rising again. That’s always nice to see. Especially late in the summer when traffic is at a seasonal low. I am thinking that all those extra posts are finally gaining traction. Each “seed” is growing into a small plant and starting to bear some fruit. It was exciting to see week over week things build, and August ended up being a great month for the site in terms of traffic and earnings. Of course this week we seem to have hit a slump, so who the hell really knows. I’ll just keep my head down, the content coming in regularly, and hope for a nice holiday season. This formula *should* work in the long run. The Google gods are finicky at times, but when your formula is consistency and quality, I know that in the long term this will be a lucrative play.
Investing and Personal Finance
My student loans have been paid in full for a few months now, and I am continuing to slowly build my balance sheet by adding money to my various brokerage accounts (my Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and regular brokerage account). I am also accumulating a little cash as I am not sweeping all of my excess cashflow into a brokerage account. I may end put diverting these funds to a brokerage account, but I am also considering buying an income producing website, or perhaps a piece of real estate if a good enough deal comes along.
The problem with real estate is that my local market has gotten quite hot and nothing really resonates with me from a cashflow perspective, or I’m simply priced out. I’ll continue to save my shekels and keep an eye on things. I am not in a huge hurry. I just got out of debt and am finally adding a few dollar signs next to my name. While I want to make more investments in real estate, I’m not going to do it just for the hell of it – especially in a frothy market. The time to buy real estate was 3-5 years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t have the cash and was wallowing in debt. I need to crystalize my strategy and find the right deal.
It seems like I am posting more updates here and less actionable content. The truth is I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have a few ideas for blog posts and want to flesh them out further, but have been involved in other things.
I have been reading and watching a lot of sports programming. I am not a big football guy, but really enjoyed HBO’s Hardknocks series. I also watched Netflix’s series on the Arizona Cardinals and am currently reading Mike Tyson’s biography. The psychology around professional sports is fascinating. Although the players and teams have immense physical talent, the mental aspect plays an even bigger role. It’s quite cool to see that, and to see how closely the trainers work on the mental side. It goes to show that we are almost always our own worst enemies. The obstacles we face are mental. I see practicing law being no different from professional sports. It’s a battle either way. We are paid to perform and to make plays. We are warriors in our own ways. Law is the ultimate game and trial is combat. I think a lot can be learned from how professional sports teams train and prepare for their games.
One small example is to put mistakes behind you. If you fuck up a football play, you have to be able to move on to the next play. To put that mistake behind you. You can’t allow yourself to be defined by your failures. Well, you can, but it will only serve to haunt you and bring you down. Instead, you have to learn to be defined by your success. We must learn from mistakes, otherwise we will be destined to repeat them, but to succeed you cannot allow yourself to be defined by your mistakes. Your mistakes can’t become your identity. You have to change that framework and be able to move on, and define yourself by how you have succeeded. So often the volume of our success wildly outstrips our failures, yet it is those handful of failures that we really cling to. It’s OK to learn from mistakes, but don’t be paralyzed. It’s just cool to see that in the context of sports and how that can be applied to real life. There are a lot of little parallels like this that I see in these TV programs.