Has it been another year already? It is a tradition here at The White Coat Investor to update the members of our community on the progress made in the last year. As usual, last year was our best year ever in nearly every respect. Thanks to all of you who have even the tiniest amount of responsibility for that. If you told even one person about the site or book, answered one question on the forum or Facebook group, or used the site to find a financial service provider you needed, THANK YOU.
Just as I have the last two years, I'm going to talk about the state of the blog in terms of the three missions of The White Coat Investor:
- Help those who wear the white coat (and other high-income professionals) get a “fair shake” on Wall Street
- Feed my entrepreneurial spirit
- Connect high-income professionals with the relatively few “good guys” in the financial services industry
# 1 Getting a “Fair Shake” on Wall Street
Prior to the site re-design in 2016, the line under the title of this site and on search engine results read “Helping Those Who Wear The White Coat Get a Fair Shake on Wall Street.” I kind of miss it, but the design and SEO professionals won out.
Kind of ugly huh? If you think that was bad, check out what it looked like its first month:
It doesn't even look like I remembered to put a title on that post. We've come a long way baby! While the site may look nearly the same as last year, the amount of good The White Coat Investor community has done in the last year was dramatically increased. Let's run through some of the ways in which 2018 was better than 2017.
Have I ever mentioned that I really love to blog? It is so much more fun than podcasting, videocasting, public speaking, writing books, selling ads, answering emails, and putting out social media fires. The blog is still the mainstay of The White Coat Investor and still probably our great reach, although it has some new competition from another part of WCI, which we'll get into later.
This year we published 211 posts written by the following people
- Me: 112
- Our paid columnist, Whitney: 1
- WCI Network Members: 47
- Guests: 56
- Sponsors (for scholarship): 5
- Podcast show notes: 52
The grand total of posts and pages on the blog portion of the site is 1,524. A typical blog post is now read by 15-22,000 people by email or on the site. The entire site had 11,125,922 page views (41% increase) by 1,968,422 unique individuals (57% increase) in 2018 and approximately 33,571,323 pageviews by 6,220,424 unique individuals since its inception in May 2011.
The most widely read post written this year was 10 Reasons Why Doctors Spend Too Much Money. The most widely read guest post was actually one of the sponsored posts for the scholarship contest this year, the one by Josh Mettle entitled This Real Estate Bubble…Likely Isn't a Bubble, ironically published at the height of national real estate prices this year. To be fair, the decline was pretty minimal in the last half of the year, about 5.9% according to the National Association of Realtors. Not exactly a popping bubble, but it does demonstrate that none of us have a working crystal ball.
The comments section of the blog is always lots of fun. Over the last 8 years, the blog has accumulated 63,547 legitimate comments, and yes, I've read every single one of them.
The newsletter was the second piece of the WCI Empire. This is a FREE monthly email newsletter sent out about the first of every month. If you’re not subscribed, you’re really missing out. If you haven't been getting them, PLEASE ADD MY EMAIL ADDRESS TO YOUR CONTACT LIST. Not my fault; blame Gmail.
Besides an update on what we’re doing at WCI, we review the best financial articles for high-income professionals on the web each month, provide a market review, and have a “special tip” which is basically a super secret blog post that never shows up on the site. Our email list currently has 21,725 people, an increase of 49% from last year. Signing up also entitles you to the FREE 12 email Financial Bootcamp course.
I also had quite a few podcast appearances. There is a huge need out there for doctors to teach each other about personal finance and investing at medical schools, conferences, and grand rounds. I cannot possibly meet this need, so thank you to those of you who are stepping up to help. I know the pay sucks, but there are some people who can only be reached this way. I keep getting asked to share some slides so perhaps I'll come up with a standardized presentation this year that I can just give away to you.
I continue to write for ACEP NOW (6 articles published this year) and began writing for Forbes (7 articles) this year. Like the speaking engagements, the pay sucks but it's a chance to get the message out to new audiences. I probably wrote a few other articles and guest posts this year, but I have no idea where other than the 52 posts I had republished at Physician on FIRE and Passive Income MD.
The White Coat Investor: A Doctor’s Guide to Personal Finance and Investing continues to sell hundreds of copies each month but it has dropped off finally. We sold 12,829 this year, a decrease from 18,939 last year. Since it was published almost 5 years ago, we’ve sold 69,301 copies. It ranks 3rd and 76th in its categories. The Kindle version still ranks 2nd and 2nd in its categories. The audiobook ranks 17th, 90th, and 100th in its categories. Overall, it is ranked 3,512 on Amazon, not too bad given the tens of millions for sale there, although that is a decrease from 2,410 last year. The book has 884 reviews, 95% of which are 4 or 5 stars.
The good news is there is another book coming, which will be published in just a few weeks. The White Coat Investor's Financial Bootcamp began as an email series, but has been dramatically updated, expanded, and improved with the addition of numerous anecdotes from readers. I hope it sees as much success as the first book.
I know I keep talking about the tax book I plan to write. Obviously, I didn't pull it off in 2018, and chances are it won't be published in 2019 either. Each year as we make strategic plans we have to decide where to spend my limited time and effort. Some things just can't be outsourced. Maybe by this time next year.
We made a big effort here this year. We now have 13,200 Twitter followers (107% increase) and 8,974 Facebook followers. (84% increase). We also started a Pinterest page (31 followers) and Instagram (760 followers.) The most important accomplishment this year was that I beat Physician on FIRE to 10,000 Twitter followers. I guess I shouldn't be too proud of that since Rogue Dad, MD pretty much did that with one tweet.
Thank you for following/liking/pinning/sharing WCI on social media. It really does help spread the message.
We started a r/whitecoatinvestor subreddit over on Reddit. It wasn't the most successful thing we've ever done, but there are 910 subscribers and 22,326 pageviews by 4,323 people.
White Coat Investors Facebook Group
On the other hand, the private Facebook Group started in August was a smashing success. We now have 11,841 members who made 33,976 comments and 46,550 reactions (likes etc) on 2,069 posts. While the depth of interaction there isn't quite as impressive as on the WCI forum, the fact that it concentrates so many white coat investors in one place makes for some pretty awesome results. Like any Facebook group, there is an occasional bit of drama but with a little moderation and the 99.9% of participants who are just trying to help each other, there is a lot of good being done there. One of these days my advertisers will figure out that sponsoring that group is the best advertising deal we offer.
The WCI Scholarship is something we’re very proud of around here. The WCI community, including readers, sponsors, and staff all pitched in to give over $60,000 in cash and prizes away to deserving professional students. 10 winners were selected from over 740 students by 76 volunteer judges. The winner took home $28,887 and the WCI Online Course to teach her what to do with it. It was a particularly diverse group of winners this year by profession, race, gender, and life circumstances and for the first time ever we had a winner (fourth place) from my medical school. If you missed the winning essays, you can catch them again here.
- Grand Prize Winner- Jaclyn Mauch
- 2nd Place- Yidan Xu
- 3rd Place- Carlos Garcia
- 4th Place- Nate Alder
- 5th Place- Brent Wright
We’d also like to give a special thank you to the Platinum sponsors for this year’s WCI scholarship (contributions of $5,000+)
- Larry Keller (Physician Financial Services) – Disability and Life Insurance
- CommonBond – Student Loan Refinancing
- Laurel Road – Student Loan Refinancing
- Bob Bhayani (Dr Disability Quotes) -Disability and Life Insurances
- Physician Home Loans at Fairway Mortgage – Doctor Mortgage Loans
Thank you for supporting those who support us in our efforts. Also, please don't start emailing me in March asking about the 2019 scholarship. Just subscribe to the newsletter. The announcement won't be subtle and you'll have all summer to get your application in.
We just completed our third year of the WCI Forum. It hit a significant milestone this year when the front page of the forum surpassed the front page of the entire site in page views for the year. There are now 8,361 threads (97% increase) and 100,324 posts (104% increase) written by 5,831 forum members (56% increase). I love the community that has developed there. Like any financial forum, the regulars tend to be hobbyists, experts, and maybe even fanatics. Nevertheless, crowdsourcing advice like that will surely keep you from making any of the usual financial mistakes. A special thank you to our most active volunteer moderators this year: Hank, Jacoavlu, jfoxcpacfp, DMFA, and Doc Spouse.
We had a goal last year to put out a podcast episode every week all year and are proud to have achieved that. Cindy, in particular, put in a ton of work here to really improve both the consistency and the quality of the product we're putting out. Her work has been amply rewarded. The podcast is now giving the blog serious competition for reach and impact. A typical blog post is now downloaded by 15,000-20,000. We have now put out a total of 86 podcasts, 52 this year. Total downloads for the podcast are now 1,534.057 (326% increase) and an average of 17,432 per episode (58% increase.) There are around 11,100 subscribers. The show is ranked #136 in its category (Business) by iTunes. That's ahead of things like the NPR Morning Report and behind things like Bigger Pockets and way behind things like Dave Ramsey, How I Built This, and Planet Money. No other physician financial podcasts are in the top 200 as far as I know. It has 630 rankings, 598 of which were 5 stars. Next to the Facebook Group, this may be the best advertising value available at WCI these days.
We settled on doing interviews on every other episode. The other episodes mostly consist of me ranting and/or answering questions from readers. We implemented Speakpipe this year, which is a way for you to ask a question on the podcast by recording your voice and submitting it to us. If you'd like your question answered on the podcast, leave it here.
My goal for next year is to put more time and preparation into each episode. We also plan to make the podcast notes even more useful and to book even more interesting and prestigious guests on the show.
The YouTube Channel
We're making progress on the YouTube channel as well. We produced 42 videos this year and now have 1,340 subscribers (402% increase.) We've had 28,709 views (193% increase) for a total of 3,137 hours of viewing in the last year. Apparently, when we hit 4,000 hours in the last year we can actually start putting ads on the videos and make something from this thing. I don't think I'm ever going to be a YouTube star. We're still trying to figure out the best way to use this videocast. It's great for tutorials, but I'm going to try to produce a little more content exclusively for video this year. Stay tuned for details. Thanks for subscribing, liking, and sharing.
The WCI Network
The WCI Network of blogs is a group of bloggers that are working together to further the mission of The White Coat Investor. Both Physician on Fire and Passive Income M.D. have had fantastic years both growing their audience and their income. I'll let them share the details, but from my point of view, the results are very impressive as they both really had a break out year. We have been searching far and wide for new members of the network, but it has become a little bit harder to select new members just because so many bloggers came into the niche all at once in the last couple of years. It's hard to monitor them all and tough to choose between them. The fact that there are now so many, dilutes the numbers a bit and makes it harder for any given blog to stand out from its peers, and grow its readership and income enough that it makes sense to bring them into the network. Your suggestions are always welcome.
I offered both PoF and PIMD the opportunity to submit something for this post.
Physician on FIRE was started about three years ago on January 9, 2016. Fifteen months later, we joined forces in forming the WCI Network. Passive Income MD joined us as the third member site later that year in November. I've published nearly 550 posts and 50 pages on physicianonfire.com. There is some overlap in the topics we discuss, but I focus a bit more on the benefits of financial independence and retiring early.
Over 1 million unique visitors have visited the site about 2.3 Million times for a total of 4.2 Million pageviews and counting, with 2.3 Million of them coming in 2018. My reach includes 13,000 Twitter followers, 3,000 likes on my Facebook page, nearly 10,000 docs in my Physicians on FIRE Facebook group (for MD/DO physicians only) and 4,000 in my fatFIRE group (for all interested in high-budget FIRE). I've also got a growing Instagram following of about 1,000 awesome people. My main email list consists of roughly 6,000 subscribers.
I only disclose my revenue data with email subscribers in a quarterly progress note, and I have pledged to donate 50% of my operating profits. To date, I've actually donated closer to 90% of what I've earned, a six-figure sum that's doing good around our nation and the world.
Passive Income M.D. was created less than three years ago to help others achieve financial freedom through additional streams of income, focusing heavily on real estate investing and entrepreneurship. We joined the WCI Network at the very end of 2017, and in 2018, we hit the huge milestone of having over one million page views in a calendar year. Other things we accomplished in 2018 including publishing over 150 posts, getting our Facebook Group, Passive Income Docs, up and running with over 5,000 physicians helping each other achieve their passive income goal, and increasing the blog revenue 7x over the previous year thanks to new partnerships and the WCI Network.
Personally, I’ve achieved financial independence from medicine, and if you’re interested in how I now spend my time, join me on Instagram. If you’d also like more specifics in terms of blog income and analytics, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter; we’ll be sharing that information in a few days.
I can’t help but feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for my partners in the WCI Network (White Coat Investor and Physician on Fire), loyal readers, and ambassadors of the site. Thank you for continuing to spread the word and helping us make an impact one reader at a time.
Physician Wellness and Financial Literacy Conference
WCICON18 was another huge success for 2018. Nothing I've done with WCI has caused me as many sleepless nights (including evaluating buy out offers) as this conference. Despite all the stress of hosting a 300 person party where they all paid hundreds of dollars to attend, it was really fun for 2 1/2 solid days. I was so grateful to the speakers, sponsors, and attendees who took a chance on me. Apparently, almost everyone had a great time, as 99% of attendees recommended it to their peers. We recorded it and you can still attend virtually if you would like. 13 hours of great content from smart folks like Jonathan Clements, William Bernstein, and Mike Piper for just $299. Not sure if you'll like it? It comes with a money back guarantee in the first week if you've watched less than 25% of it. But come on. NINETY-NINE PERCENT of attendees recommend it to their peers. 496 of you attended virtually this year; that's more than attended the live version!
No, there won't be a WCICON19, but we're in the preliminary stages of planning for WCICON20 the first half of March 2020 in Las Vegas, NV. We'll get you dates as soon as we lock them down, but expect to open it up for registration by mid-summer. Be sure you're subscribed to the newsletter to get all the latest.
This is our “freebie” to entice you to sign-up for the free email newsletter (as if the newsletter isn't enough?) The goal was to help people catch up to the long-term WCI readers as quickly as possible. Obviously, it's been expanded and placed into book form (on sale soon), but the free version is still available just by signing up here. You'll get one email a week for 12 weeks. If you follow the directions in each email, 3 months from now you'll have your financial ducks in a row.
A total of 10,998 people have started the course and 8,074 have finished it. Did you miss a few emails in the series? You can find them at the bottom of this page.
Fire Your Financial Advisor – The Online Course
This was another smashing success for 2018. We even had a semi-successful affiliate program where other bloggers made some money by selling the course to their readers. This 7-8 hour course consists of videos, screencasts, handouts, quizzes, and tests that will help you develop your own financial plan that you believe in. Even if you decide not to “Fire Your Financial Advisor“, the first module will help you choose a good advisor and get the most out of your advisory relationship. You can be 100% positive you're getting good advice at a fair price. Reviews were consistently excellent. We had a grand total of 1,237 students go through the course.
If you'd like to be our next student, enroll today! $499 might seem expensive, but considering the thousands of dollars that even a low-cost advisor would charge to educate you and put together a financial plan for you, it's a bargain at twice the price. We consider this price to be the resident/military price, we just give it to everyone! There's also a no-questions-asked, 7 days, 100% money back guarantee on this course. Only 1-2% of students took us up on it. That's how good the course is.
Our big projects for 2019 include the publication of The White Coat Investor's Financial Bootcamp book and another online course aimed at residencies. It will be sold only in bulk and be designed to be the equivalent of one week (5 hours) worth of didactics. While it can't include EVERYTHING in Fire Your Financial Advisor (given it will be 3 hours shorter), for those whose residencies purchase it, it'll be the most significant financial education you'll receive during med school or residency. By selling it only in bulk, we'll be able to get the price point to a place where it makes sense for us to make it and for programs to buy it. Stay tuned for details. We hope to have it ready for the 2019-2020 year. If this goes well, the next step will be a course aimed at medical/dental schools.
Word of Mouth
One of the most important things the White Coat Investor community does is share this information from one colleague to another in hospitals, clinics, schools, and residency programs. Attendings share with residents, who share with interns, who share with students, who in turn share with attendings. I hear about more and more of you all the time who are starting Finance Interest Groups at your schools and even trying to put a finance curriculum into place. Others give lectures to trainees and colleagues once or twice a year. Every little bit counts and perhaps within a few more years doctors will no longer be viewed as marks, whales, and suckers by the financial services industry. You have been and will continue to be a huge part of our growth simply by sharing something that has impacted your life in a meaningful way with others that you care about. Thank you!
Mission # 2 Feed My Entrepreneurial Spirit
The White Coat Investor, LLC continues to feed my entrepreneurial spirit. It continues to make more money than I ever thought I would make in my life. Katie and I really feel like we became financially independent this year, about 9 years earlier than our original financial plan called for, thanks to the income from WCI. The income has allowed us to be ridiculously generous as well. While it seems inappropriate to brag about how much we give away these days, the WCI scholarship should give you an inkling of what we've been doing behind the scenes.
It has been fun to learn how the business world works, to have my own successes and failures in developing and marketing products, and to attempt to manage and inspire others. However, the most rewarding part for me has been to create jobs for others, and not just any jobs, but jobs that many of you would prefer to your own! High pay, work on your own time from home, and plenty of purpose, autonomy, and mastery. Our new staff member this year is Michelle, who took over social media duties from Jill, who is now focusing entirely on editing and especially search engine optimization. Everyone in the organization learned new skills this year, but the learning curve has been steepest for Michelle. Those in the Facebook Group know her well from her duties there. Perhaps the most fun part of watching her come into the company has been to observe her struggle with exactly the same things you all struggle with as she sets up her individual 401(k), chooses an asset allocation, and gets her own financial ducks in a row.
Where's the Financial Report?Smart Passive Income.) This year Pat stopped giving detailed monthly reports of all of his sources of income for reasons he details in a video.
Each year my own reports have become a little more vague, although I have always been very careful about disclosing all of my conflicts of interest quite candidly. There are a few reasons for the decreasing detail.
First, when I started doing this there wasn't really anyone else actually trying to make a buck blogging about finances for doctors. But as more and more other docs entered the space (80+ and counting) they were using these annual income reports as blueprints to copy my business. While I applaud their efforts to promote financial literacy among docs, I was not so fond of having to start competing with them for revenue sources. Now, nobody was doing everything we were doing, but I had to compete against some people in book sales, against others in affiliate marketing, others in podcasting, others in Facebook Groups etc. Were any of them giving detailed financial reports? Very few.
Second, after starting The WCI Blogging Network, I was essentially charging other bloggers for my expertise about how to grow and monetize a physician financial blog along with contacts and relationships developed over years. It wasn't fair for me to be giving this information away for free after my network partners sold me part of their business in order to get it. By limiting the information given out, I am increasing the value of their businesses right along with mine.
Third, when you're making $1,500 from your blog, reporting the income and expenses in excruciating detail is kind of cute. It's fun. “Ha ha, this doctor who makes hundreds of thousands a year seeing patients has a little side hustle, isn't that sweet?” However, as the income from the enterprise exceeded that of my clinical income (and that of my readers), it wasn't quite so cute. While there was some benefit inspiring docs to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, it seems that the main dream I inspired people to follow was to blog about physician finances! Sometimes it inspired jealousy and rude comments. My goal was never to blog about how to make money blogging, but that's what some people were most interested in.
Most importantly, the blog has become well-known. I have become internet famous. My family members who share my last name go to the doctor and they're asked if they know me. My children at school are asked by their new teachers if their father is The White Coat Investor. Young kids in the neighborhood are starting to make comments about how I'm rich at the bus stop. If my patients Google my name, guess what the first 100 hits are? A quick search by plaintiff's attorneys will quickly reveal deep pockets. But my biggest fear? That my kids will be kidnapped and held for ransom.
So there won't be any more financial reports in the State of the Blog post each year (and I've removed it from the last three.) Suffice to say we had another great year with a similar rate of growth of revenue, expenses, and profits to prior years. I keep thinking it will level off eventually (and I really think that this year). For the last five years, Katie and I have asked each other “What will we do if this thing doubles again?” The answer always seems to be the same. We'll spend a little, save a bunch for a rainy day, pay a ton of taxes, and become increasingly generous each year. We still feel very passionately about our first mission and as long as we mostly concentrate on that, the second mission seems to take care of itself.
Our Financial Conflicts of Interest
These haven't really changed that much over the years, but it is good for both you and me to review them periodically. We try to be cognizant of them when making business decisions, but since we’re not willing to do this for free, there’s no way to eliminate them completely. Each of these really is a conflict, so don't just skip through them haphazardly. Recognize that in these matters, my recommendations are less trustworthy than they would be without the conflict.
- I am incentivized to run content that relates to my advertisers’ businesses (and especially those with whom I have an affiliate marketing relationship) more frequently than other content.
- I am incentivized to accept guest posts from financial professionals who advertise with me more frequently than those who do not, although the only “sponsored posts” this site has ever run are those by the five platinum scholarship sponsors each year (and 100% of that revenue goes to the scholarship recipients.)
- I am incentivized to recommend you refinance your student loans when perhaps it would not be a good move for you (which is awfully rare if you’re not going for PSLF.)
- I am incentivized to recommend you seek out professional help with insurance, financial planning, investment management, student loan advice, purchasing and selling real estate, negotiating contracts, borrowing a practice loan, and preparing your taxes when perhaps you may be able to do that on your own.
- I am incentivized to recommend alternative investments such as real estate over boring index funds.
- I am incentivized to accept advertisers who do not meet my high standards for recommendation to friends and family.
- I am incentivized to recommend a fee-only advisor who charges AUM fees when a flat fee advisor may be less expensive.
- I am incentivized to recommend you use a physician mortgage loan over a conventional one.
- I am incentivized to recommend you read financial books, including and especially my own.
- I am incentivized to recommend you take my financial course and those of my affiliate partners.
- I am incentivized to recommend you attend WCICON either in person, virtually, or preferably both!
- I am incentivized against recommending content by others who have the same affiliate marketing partners or who compete for the same advertisers unless I am a partial owner of their site.
- I am incentivized to recommend the content of Physician on FIRE and Passive Income MD.
- I am incentivized to recommend you use the WCI Forum over the Bogleheads and other forums and the White Coat Investors Facebook Group over others.
Mission # 3 Connect You With The Good Guys
Our partnerships and relationships continue to grow. Although many doctors wish they never had to interact with a financial professional, the truth is that all of us will multiple times during our life. It might just be a transactional thing like drafting a will, refinancing student loans, getting a mortgage, or purchasing insurance, or it might be a long-term relationship with an attorney, financial planner, or investment manager. The good news is that there are some good guys (and gals) out there who offer good advice at a fair price. Every time I run into them my faith in humanity is restored a little bit.
A major part of our mission is connecting you with these people when you need them. We create value for them, by sending them great clients, and we create value for you, by making sure you’re not getting ripped off. Meanwhile, we’re slowly doing what we can to run the bad guys out of business and to bring costs down. I turn down lots of advertisers. I had one financial advisor with hundreds of doctor clients whose application was nearly perfect, right up until I got to the fee section. The AUM charges started too high and came down too slowly with increasing assets. They were just too high for my standards, although well within the range of what is typically charged in the industry. I turned him down, explaining the reason why as I usually do. That decision likely cost me thousands of dollars, some of which would go to great causes like my staff, the WCI Scholarship, and my favorite charities. Certainly, if I could steer a lot of business their way, there would be plenty of money there for both of us to become very wealthy. But it just wasn't the right thing to do. Maybe that feedback will change how the firm does business, maybe it won't, but at least I'll be able to sleep at night.
I'm proud to have not only built up The White Coat Investor, LLC but also to have had a major impact on the business of a fair number of my advertisers/partners. We are the major source of referrals for many of them and are proud to be helping them to feed their kids and send them to college.
At any rate, when you do have need of these services, I would appreciate it if you would at least consider using those who advertise on the site. They’ve had some preliminary vetting by me and some ongoing vetting by your fellow readers. You can find most of them under the recommended tabs at the top of the site.
- Student Loan Refinancing
- Mortgage Lenders
- Independent Insurance agents
- Financial Planners and Asset Managers
- Real Estate Crowdfunding Sites
- Student Loan Advice
- Contract Negotiation/Review
- Practice Loans
- Tax Strategists
Although we have plenty of service providers in most of these categories, we could use a few more in some of them. So if you’ve had a particularly good experience with someone that we’re not currently partnering with, please send them our way. Or, if you can provide some of these services, feel free to get in touch with Cindy (at) whitecoatinvestor.com to start the process.
We had a wonderful time serving you in 2018 and look forward to doing so for many years to come. We hope your life has been enriched by our hard work. May The White Coat Investor continue to help those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street, feed my entrepreneurial spirit, and connect our community with the good guys in the financial services industry.
What do you think? What did you enjoy most about WCI in 2018? What are you looking forward to in 2019? How can we improve? Comment below!