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Review This Blog – Man vs Debt

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.

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at 10.43.23 AM.png

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.

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at 10.42.35 AM.png
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! :-)

Screen shot 2009-11-19 at 10.44.54 AM.png

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Adam is doing big things – a lot of great stuff in a short amount of time. Hard to believe he’s only been in the blogging scene for less than a year. What I appreciate most is his “approachable” approach to personal finance – tackling a topic that is intimidating for most of us – and making it understandable, interesting, and heck, even compelling.

    Big things ahead for Adam. Great review here.

  2. Gregg says:

    Hey guy, I probably shouldn’t have read and commented but I found it hard to submerse myself in and even drifting off to sleep while trying to finish. This is a mere opinion that carries no weight or merit other than to give a response after reading on a subject I thought I could get interested in. Sorry.

  3. Gregg says:

    On second thought, Ditto, Matt C.

  4. I think Adam is doing a great job and living the life many cubicle dwellers dream of. He’s prioritized experiences over above all, and that’s what’s really important. Who cares about stuff? I can’t wait for his ebook. The reason I keep coming back to his site is the content. His tyler durden post was awesome. A must read.

  5. Wow, great stuff Baker! Congrats for getting featured here.

    I enjoy watching more of your video blogs that are in 3 minute clips or less.

    I think accessibility is key.

    Best

  6. Kyle says:

    I really like that finances page he set up that links their budget and account with the site. I would imagine that provides a lot of incentive to stay on budget. I wonder if I should try something similar.

    Great blog.

  7. Arohan says:

    I love Adam’s blog and his story. I think the reason his blog is now doing so well in such a short period since he started it is that he lets his personality come through. Additionally, his writing is very easy to read and compelling.

    I would suggest Adam to be not so circumspect about monetization. He has good content and a critical mass and this is the right time to do it. He just needs to make sure that the values that he subscribes to and the reason his readers love him do not get diluted.

  8. Mike Piper says:

    Hi Adam. As you know, I’m a fan. :)

    My suggestion for the ebook would be to promote it at the bottom of posts. Something like “for more information, take a look at my [product name]….”

    That’s how I promote my own books, and it seems to work pretty well.

    It’s easy to do on Thesis. If you want help, let me know.

  9. Donny Gamble says:

    The advice I would give Adam is to continue to keep providing quality content to his readers and don’t worry so much about the monetization of his blog, the money will come if he continues to add value to them. I will also recommend to him that he reach out to some other bloggers in his industry by doing a few guest posts for them because that will help him capture a new audience and also establish a relationship with other bloggers within his industry.

  10. Long time reader here :)

    Baker is an engaging storyteller. How to improve the blog? Well, the only time I really get a negative feeling from ManVsDebt is when I look for a new article and there isn’t one! (Baker posts plenty often, my MVD withdrawal symptoms simply have a hair trigger)

    Coincidentally, I interviewed Baker about a week ago. It’s a “not particularly serious” sort of interview -> http://www.observingcasually.com/man-vs-debt/

  11. Ivan Walsh says:

    A few suggestions

    1. Create pillar topics, i.e. themes/subjects around which you can focus content. The content is very good but if you streamline it, the n there are more opportunities to create (or example) email courses. You can use these to upsell aff products.

    2. Use the pillar topics for split testing and see what topics users are most interested in.

    3. Reduce graphic sizes in general. Reduce the size of the header image. It’s too dominant. Photo is lovely but takes too much screen space. Emphasize other things e.g. search, rss feed, newsletter etc.

    4. Change the term Categories to Topics. (Tim Ferris idea) Helps structure the site. Categories is the default setting on most all blogs. You’re way better than default, Adam!

    5. Split longer lists (e.g. 67 Ways NOT To Sell A Car) into 6 smaller posts and inter-link these or build on it over 6 weeks. “hey, look what I learnt this week” etc. this also encourages others to join in.

    6. If you put up too much content, you leave no space for others to jump in.

    7. Turn the table around and ask questions. “I have this problem – what do you folks think.”
    8. If you believe in your aff products, then offer them on the 1st page. Don’t ever feel guilty about selling a product you believe in. Others will thank you for recommending it, i.e. if it really is that good. Why not?

    9. Add more content to the footer. Many people (me!) scroll down here. God knows why. Look at how Darren has built his footer/end of page section.

    10. You have 2 ‘Ours’ on the top nav. Add a ‘Yours’. What goes in there, who knows, but it will balance out the other topics.

    Best of luck. You’ve found a formula that works. Enjoy the ride!

    Ivan

  12. AutoCritical says:

    I really like the personal elements of the blog. Specifically the self improvement discussions. This is where there is speaking directly to the audience on a personal level.

    The honesty keeps it very real and relate-able.

  13. Barbara Hart says:

    Oh my. I really don’t have any constructive criticism to offer. I appreciate the honesty and positive energy in Adam’s blog. I am in awe of the depth of the blog, his and Courtney’s efforts, and how easily he has grasped and used the tools available. I’ll definitely follow his blog now (have already subscribed!) and look forward to learning more about Adam and his family, and their adventures and insights.

  14. RSS subscribers are good, but your newsletter will be the people who have said they want even more from you than what’s on the site. So getting them onto that list should be a high priority.

    Right now, looking at the front page you wouldn’t know “The Militia” is even affiliated with your site. Maybe you mention it in posts occasionally, but I didn’t know until I saw it in the background you wrote that it was yours. I also didn’t know what would happen when I clicked the graphic.

    When you *do* click through, the text is all about why *you* want them to join. What’s in it for them? What will be in the newsletters? Why do they want to get it?

    Once you’ve got the pitch written in terms of what they get out of it, go read Darren’s post about how he got his subscription rate *way* up by using a popup.

  15. Adam is doing an awesome job and i think his blog is going to be a super success.

    All the best Adam

  16. Bryan says:

    I see a lot of people above me describing what they love about the blog but I guess I’ll play for the other ‘team’ for discussion purposes…

    1) I know the header image helps convey a sense of “hey! I’m a real person” but maybe the size should be decreased a bit?

    2) Any thoughts on monetizing the sidebar? There is a strong focus on building your community (e.g., RSS, e-mail, MvD Militia…etc…)

  17. Infonote says:

    Hi,

    The following are all things I would like to do on my blog but have no time to do. They might be good for you also.

    1) There are personal finance (your topic) books around. Read them, review them based on your experience and put an affiliate link at the end of the book.
    2) A forum – If you have a decent amount of targeted traffic, I suggest you open a forum.
    3) The posts are always read are case studies. You analyse something in the news and provide your personal opinion.
    4) Use your twitter and facebook account to provide your readers with news on your topic.

    That’s it for now.

  18. Sweet rundown Brian and thanks for including the Career Diaries. BTW any of you’s out there who have a career you’d like to talk about be sure to hit me up. I’ve got some new stuff to check out!

  19. Blogthority says:

    Adam, with respect to your desire for transparency and community – why do a significant number of your posts have the comments closed on them? Shouldn’t the community always be allowed to comment?

    As for monetization – don’t be afraid to do more. The readers aren’t going to run away and Milly needs to eat!

  20. Jeff Rose says:

    Man Vs. Debt rules!

    Mike’s idea of promoting the Ebook it at the end of each post is excellent. Until its complete, you may want to do that with your Militia list your buidling.

    If getting your contact list is your priority for the Milita then it should be in a more prominent spot on your home page. Instead of having the email box for RSS Subs, that should be for your Militia list. Too many options (subscription forms) may prevent someone from signing up.

    You can also have one of those pop up boxes that greets new visitors asking them to join your militia. I’ve seen other PF bloggers implenent this strategy with Ebooks they are offering. Personally, I think they are a little annoying, but apparently the work.

    The header is good and I can’t fault a big header, because mine is big too. I will say that I’m planning on reducing my header size with a left justification so that I’ll have more space on the right to promote future Ebooks, etc.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of blogs that you have to keep scrolling down forever to the bottom of the page. Using excerpts could help new readers to stay above the fold and focus on what you are promoting.

    Lastly, I think you need to implement a fat footer that reinforces everything you are looking to promote. Think of it as the “In Conclusion,….” part of an article, except its your blog.

    Good luck!

  21. Ms. Freeman says:

    I love love love manVSdebt. The blog is so well organized and designed and the clear, bright and beautiful photos of the family really help to connect with their goals and plan in life. They are so forth coming and transparent in all of their dealings. It’s not everyone that would post there debt and all of their worldly possessions online for the entire world to see. Bravo!

    The site gives the look of being basic(although it is obvious there is a lot of work put into it) and is not intemidating or off putting.

    I wouldn’t change a thing. :)

  22. Peter says:

    Hey Adam – of course you know I’m a big fan of your site – you’ve exploded onto the PF blog scene in the last year, getting high profile guest posting gigs at places like getrichslowly.org among others. It’s been a pleasure to watch as your site takes off, your subscriber numbers balloon and your community blossom..

    So my humble suggestions for your site might be

    1. reduce the size of your header a bit: It is a nice looking header, but it is so large it pushes your content down the page, and I think you lose some valuable above the fold real estate. I think you could do something similar in a smaller space.

    2. Don’t be afraid to monetize: I think a lot of folks think putting ads, affiliates/etc on your site means you’re selling out. Personally I think that most people saying that are the ones who don’t have much to lose by not putting ads up. there isn’t anything wrong with making money from something when you’re putting in a lot of hard work, and a lot of man hours into.

  23. Ms. Freeman says:

    P.S. I think the header size is the perfect size. It really does invite your readers in. And because the sidebar is not monetized it tells me that you are more about writing about your experiences and providing useful content.

  24. I am going to agree with Peter about the header size. Cutting it down by half will only make your blog look better.

    Other than that, I think the content is very unique and easy to understand over at ManvsDebt, and I think you just need to keep up with the great work!

  25. Clare says:

    Another option might be to limit your front page/home page to one post at a time, but include a page footer in which you can have several sections that could accomplish some of these goals. eg., one for affiliates, one for another ad, etc. This would be an easy way to quickly get that up without really compromising any other real estate.

  26. Scott Carson says:

    Adam & Courtney,

    Great topic, site look & feel, and real down to earth approach. I like your adaptation of “the small army” concept. Even though your probably adding to your email list daily, I think it would greatly increase with a give away for signing up. I like your plan to create your own products as part of your monitization plan. Just make your first eBook a give away.

    Again, good job, keep up the fine work. More later perhaps when I get to my desk.

    Scott Carson

  27. Lakita says:

    One of the reasons I return to MvD is Baker’s friendly, engaging and transparent.

    For the first time, I paid close attention to the sidebar:

    * Perhaps the site features can be removed…they are small & redundant to the menu under the banner.

    * At the font size of your categories, you may be able to list them in two columns, that would give you more vertical space for ads or whatever. I would test this first and make sure it doesn’t look to cramped.

    * I would add Facebook to the “connect with me” section if it is something you are actively using

    * You may benefit from some type of “Share This” plugin…

    Keep doing great things!
    Kita

  28. Travis says:

    I love your site man. I love the look and feel.. the content… all great. Here are my own humble ideas:

    -reduce the header slightly. I LOVE big headers. They give the site a great feel. But as far as monetization goes, it could definitely help to make it a bit smaller.

    -the sidebar is so plain with text links… some nice graphic links to your ebook and anything else you want to promote would really stand out.

    -I think you’d get more conversion with your Militia mailing list if your promo box explained it a bit more. At first glance, I’m not really sure what it is. Just throw in some text, benefits, etc. I’d be interested to sign up if I knew you’d be promoting things, special deals, all that. Keep your branding but convey what it is a bit better.

    -Not sure how SEO is looked on around here… but…. it never hurts to target certain phrases from time to time. Especially with the titles of your post. Do a little research, pick a related keyword that you could rank for and optimize for it… ever so slightly. And possibly do some link building of your own (with the right anchor text). All of your natural links, plus some of your own could equal a pretty powerful jump in traffic. More traffic=bigger email list= more sales.

    With a PR 3 and the thousands of highly relevant, high quality links like you already have…. there is HUGE potential to increase your traffic and authority by targeting more specific keywords from time to time. Even your homepage is lacking any keywords in the title other than your own brand. Pick a relevant keyword that you’d like to go after, put in your title… at least… and you’ll probably see a jump in rankings… and more traffic.

    -As far as product promotion/affiliate sales.. I’d take a really good look at how he does it over at GetRichSlowly.org. Product/Book reviews. Relevant affiliate links throughout. As Infonote said above, review books and include links to them.

    -Lastly, while not super urgent, I’d bet you could really stand out… being a blend of a few different niches… with a more targeted design. Just adding some elements that tell me more about what topics you cover. You said you’re more than just getting out of debt… so that should jump out at me when I land on your homepage (more than what your banner does). You have such a great site name, you could kill it (thats a good thing) by giving the site more of a branded feel.

  29. David Spinks says:

    Adam,

    As I’m sure you’ll hear a lot in these comments, you’re doing so many things right. The tough part I see for you is that you have such a strong community focus and so much invested into relationships with your readers, that when you start to implement more monetization tactics, it can affect the community vibe that you have going.

    You already have the “products I love” section. Can you build that out more? Make them more prominent? You can feature one of the products randomly (or relevantly) at the bottom of your posts or on your sidebar. Or even take it a step further and once a week, post a product review (all with affiliate links).

    Another idea is a newsletter. With a newsletter you can start to provide value with a bit of a different approach. Something along the lines of Chris Brogan’s newsletter where you can provide more personal, focused advice to your readers. You can add the product review of the week in as well.

    Best of luck!

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com
    @DavidSpinks

  30. Cori Padgett says:

    Hey Adam! I LOVE the feel of your blog. Nice and clean lines, and I for one like the header. It captures my interest and engages me right away, and while you might lose a bit of real estate space, it’s great for relationship building and being transparent, which seems to be what is most important to you.

    For monetization, you could consider anchor text links that link to review pages with reviews of affiliate products you believe in or find helpful. And you can use a plugin like exclude pages from nav to keep them out of your nav bar and pages link in the sidebar.

    You can also monetize via adsense and chikita with text link ads as well. I think the ebook is an excellent idea, and while the RSS and Twitter in the prominent position is good for now, I think that when it’s ready for sale that should go there, and you can keep the RSS and Twitter badges right below it. That way eyes are hitting the ebook first, which is what you want, and then as they scroll they will see the other stuff right below. Just make sure you are capturing their emails still when they purchase from you so you can continue to market good stuff to them later.

    Also, for your subscription for militia.. I would get rid of that subscribe for email updates and replace that with your militia AR form. Then you can always include in your emails a link to your email update feature for the blog. That way you are still gaining subscribers, and the people who want to stay up to date with the blog will still have that option, it just won’t be as prominent.

    The big Militia picture link is nice, and it takes you to a squeeze page where you explain what it is, but you should always have your subscriber option on your front page where they can get it right away. If I hadn’t read about Militia in the post above, I would never have known what the heck that join the militia was about. :)

    And if you really are partial to having that subscribe to email updates, you can always put that below your militia picture, and your subscriber opt in above it. That way they can sign up to militia right away from your main page if they want, or they can click the picture for more info and then sign up, and you can still offer email updates on your main page.

    If you just don’t want to give up that sidebar for your opt in, you could consider making it in-line inside a post and making that post sticky, so that it’s the first post they see every time they land. That’s what I did on my site Write Syntax and seems to be working well for me. It’s just important to try to get those opt ins because not only can you market to them several times over, it’s also a relationship builder as well, so you are killing two birds with one stone. :) Or 3 or 4 if you get creative!

    Hmmm..OK, hope that helps and it all made sense. :) Battling the onset of a migraine at the moment, so if you have questions feel free to contact me.

    Warm regards,
    Cori

  31. Easy Investment. If you find the militia page has a considerable retention rate, and if you feel smart enough to find compatible sites, buysellads.com could be a great investment, and with sampling you can obtain a good click through rate. I am testing this technique now with one of my sites. Even if you lose your investment, (they have lots of banners for $10/mo with good traffic) you learn soo much.

  32. Tyler Staley says:

    Hey Adam, nice to hear your story. I really think your doing great so far but a tip I have for building a community is to start a Forum. I think you should look at the great articles that ProBlogger has on Forums and consider it.

  33. Matt says:

    Wow, great story.

    This is the kind of story that can really pick up those of us who have blogs and feel like we will never make it big.

    Great article!

  34. Bradley says:

    Adam,

    Great idea. I have been reading some other personal finance blogs similar to yours. I didn’t know yours existed until this article. I will definitely be watching it though.

    Things I would change:
    1. change the font. this is just personal preference, but reading sans-serif is easier on my eyes.

    2. i think the sidebar needs to be narrower and the main content portion wider.

    3. in the content section on the home page, i would put post excerpts. in my opinion scrolling past a three page post to get to the next one is a bit of a turn off.

    4. i would stack the rss and twitter icons. leave them at the top of the sidebar, but stack them. just under that i would put the subscribe by email portion, my affiliate links next, and then all the rest to follow after that.

    5. i like the simplisitc black and white (and grey) color scheme. however, i would probably make the navigation tabs change color on mouse over.

    6. the share button is too large. it looks out of proportion with the other text. i like your mention of simplifying things. having the digg button, twitter button, stumble upon, and share button at the bottom seems a little overkill and they arent really arranged in any type of order. i would move the twitter button (and maybe the digg button) up to be beside the title of the post (much like it is on problogger), and then just have one multi-site share button at the end of the post. that way the tweet count and digg count is still on there, but the reader can share with whichever service they use once the article is read.

    that is just my $0.02. (and quite a lengthy comment!)

    @cyclefiend2000

    p.s. i like the header size too.

  35. I would just like to mention how genuine Baker is. My first encounter with Baker was a response to one of my comments on his site, he was personally thanking me for visiting his site and offered any help if I required it. I did take up this offer and recieved a prompt response.

    MvD is a great site that keeps getting better!

  36. I am a big fan of Baker and Man vs Debt. It is very impressive that he gained such a great following in so short of a time (and he recently started another blog called Man vs Fat which is a cool idea as well). I would recommend maybe using a series approach to some of his posts and then trying to create some kind of “Man vs.” comprehensive ebook/premium content of some sort that he can constantly upsell.

  37. Scott Carson says:

    Adam & Courtney,

    Back again, at my desk this time. Gotta love the iTouch though. Hey after getting a better look and scanning some reviews, I repeat that using a give away not only on your small army form but your “receive updates” as well. Also, create some type of what my prof David Risley calls a pattern interrupt in your receive updates with some color to attract attention.

    I disagree with one review I read about the logo, I don’t think your head would fit in a smaller size. You can hit me for that one when we meet at blog world or somewhere else. Goin to Ireland any time soon you can hit me there? Since we’re on the topic, I do think that some of the graphics could be smaller, but the Hulk just would not hold the same weight in small. yeah

    With that, I say you’re really kickin butt and takein names so keep on keepin on.

    Scott Carson

    One more item; Christianity is exclusive, we believe there is only one way – not many. I’m not sure but Dave may have met Jesus personally. That can have a profound effect on you.

  38. Casey says:

    Congrats Adam! Just keep trucking along and maybe share some travel experiences when you get to Thailand. Things should definitely spice up there in not just food, but everyday living.

  39. Rita says:

    As a consumer writer, I found the blog interesting. What a great experience and blogging is a good format to share information. It’s also a good form of consumer financial education. A great photo with the baby.

    I’ve just read “Your Money or Your Life.” Adam’s experience certainly fits in with this examining of your life and where you’re going.

    However, for me, the blog was a bit busy. Some of the explanations were too long to hold my interest. Some of the game things seemed too Gen Y to appeal to a broad audience.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  40. Scott says:

    The only 2 things I can suggest when having a quick look is to maybe add a more descriptive home page title and change your post titles so they stand out more so either bigger font or different link colour as your articles are quite long so when quickly scrolling down the page it is hard to see where a new post begins.

  41. Great Blog Adam! I don’t have much experience here, but I understand that often times, high interest credit cards and other unsecured loans can have their interest rates reduced by negotiating with the companies.

  42. apol says:

    You did a wonderful job in your blog Adam. I guess what you did and all the designs on it were pretty great, that’s why you grow a lot of subscribers on it including me. Also i feel like you’re a good person, the way you write and construct the words in your blog. No wonder it is a big hit in just seven months time, incredible.

  43. John says:

    This site kept me up all night, I loved reading Baker, but as a businessman, he is missing so much…

    OK so you dont want to spam your readers with ads… I can understand that part… I actually think it is cool that you dont…

    BUT people know you need to survive, sign up for paypal, and be as honest as you always are…. and put a donate button with a little text between google and your ways to connect…

    I like your idea, I love your writting ability, I have never donated to a site like yours, but I got to be honest I looked for a button to throw you a few bucks, as I respected reading without the distractions of ads all over…

    I got alot out of your site, I looked at your list of stuff, and said damn am spoiled rotten, I have 3 motorcycles, 2 cars, and Lord only knows how many pens….

    Also you dont want to SPAM your site, how about a few product reviews as post with links for your aff code, under a seperate category, PRODUCTS I USE… dude your sign up rate would rock…

    As for the design of the site… I would get rid of the full post front page… make them click in a level to see more, get them use to digging for the information… also as a reader I tried to skip a posting and it was very difficult to skip XMEN which was hard for me to relate to…

    I wish you luck you inspire me to get my butt in gear….

    John

  44. Mike Stenger says:

    Wow…to be honest, I’m actually having a hard time coming up with advice for Adam’s blog! Very impressed Adam, love the concept and you really are delivering some great, valuable information. The first step in doing anything, whether it’s online or offline, is spreading value and you’re doing a good job of that.

    Now, you said you wanted to continue to find ways to encourage people to comment. This is only optional but adding a commenting system such as Disqus could make it far more inviting to comment.

    Obviously that’s very optional as there are many popular blogs without it. Disqus just has a lot more functionality and some cool things built in.

    Nonetheless, good luck with everything dude and keep killing it!

    Oh, and I find it funny that the guy who hosts Man vs. Food on the Travel channel, his name is Adam as well :-)

  45. Ken says:

    I have to agree with the squeeze page for joining the militia. If you could condense the opt-in page so it’s easier to digest without scrolling down so far, it may be easier for people to understand and join.

    I’m a visual person and like pictures and examples. Your header brings your personality and life to the site, even before a new visitor scrolls down to see what else is there. It sets the stage for what’s next. I’d leave it.

    Ken

  46. pochp says:

    Here’s my two cents worth Darren:

    I think his header photo should be edited –it’s blurred while it’s so easy to edit pics. It doesn’t even blend with the Militia invite.

    His site is too glaring or bright –tiring to eyes.

    Since his stats are still low, I think he shouldn’t display it.

    I don’t like giving criticism, constructive or not, to people I don’t personally know, Darren. So I request that you don’t relay my critique to Man vs Debt.
    Despite my criticism, my praise for Adam’s helpful site tops it all.

  47. Money Funk says:

    I envy Baker. He’s made some wonderful strides with Man Vs. Debt, his life in traveling, Man Vs. Fat, etc… I have no doubt you will go much farther in your successes.

    I love the transparency of the blog. I love that Courtney is going to start taking a part in Man Vs. Debt. I love the layout of your blog. I understand the Militia. I have no constructive critism to offer. It’s great! You write great! Keep it going. :)

  48. Galvahaha says:

    The advice I would give Adam is to continue to keep providing quality content to his readers and don’t worry so much about the monetization of his blog, the money will come if he continues to add value to them. I will also recommend to him that he reach out to some other bloggers in his industry by doing a few guest posts for them because that will help him capture a new audience and also establish a relationship with other bloggers within his industry.

  49. I would just post a teaser on the mainpage rather than posting the entire article. You probably lose out on pageviews because no one is scrolling down all the way to the bottom to see your other posts.

  50. I like your site~ the homepage is clean and simple, your header is light and sunshiny, and full of smiles. Your logo is cool, v creative me thought. And I like your writing voice, your conversational and witty. luck you ~:-)

    Myself will not be signing up to your newsletter due the pro-war title. However, I will be recommending your blog to newbies I meet who are not familiar with what a blog is.