Top 5 lessons from running a finance website

I’m going to be taking some time to plan new directions for this site and my content in general. Here’s what I’ve learned so far in running it, and here’s some things you can learn from my successes and mistakes—especially if you make content of your own.

Main lessons:

First: Every kid on the street, regardless of how (un)qualified they may be, now has a “self-development” blog or YouTube channel. There is just way too much content out there. Even if you’re putting out good material, it’s increasingly hard to stand out in the personal or career success space, since the market is getting spammed by every random dude who gets his/her education from Buzzfeed and Upworthy feel-good articles and now thinks they are the next Tony Robbins.

Second: That said, focus on a specific niche can still work. My content on the CFA Program has been quite successful in getting out there, and if I type in “How to pass CFA Exams” into YouTube, my video is still one of the first three to pop up.

Third: Content that is unique will stand out. There were CFA Program videos before mine. Mine stood out because they were more concise, had less fluff, and addressed having the right mindset, which is something that hadn’t been discussed much in other videos.

Just for example, I see people trying to start things like fitness blogs, and they don’t get much of a following. Really, it’s because all they’re offering is basically just a re-badged Jim Wendler program or something that someone could get elsewhere.  There’s no value add. The worst are the “transformation” blogs. Seriously, I’m not even trying to be rude here, but unless you’re a celebrity or something, nobody outside your close circle of friends cares about your weight loss journey or whatever, so please, no more transformation blogs. You’re just not going to get a following. And finally, no, reposting meme-style “motivational” fitness pictures that you found on Reddit isn’t a value-add. It’s just adding to the background noise.

In fairness, it’s far, far worse though for people trying to start dating advice content. Yikes.

Fourth: THAT all being said, there’s only so much you can say in a certain niche. There’s really only so many different ways you can say “just read the damn books and do the practice questions.” Some people have dedicated whole blogs or web forums to the CFA Program, but that goes against my philosophy of keeping it simple, and I would argue that having too much “studying theory” for lack of better terms will actually increase rather than decrease test anxiety. Just open the book, read the chapter, and do the questions.

Fitness could be an example where you find a niche and can go deep. Again, nobody cares about “transformation” blogs, but you could probably write a lot about, say:

  • Basketball drills—general physical conditioning, shooting drills, defensive/offensive drills with a training partner, etc.
  • Training to prepare for military Officer Candidate School/special operations/other programs
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation—stretching, foam rolling, icing, mentally getting back in the game
  • Bodybuilding contest prep
  • Good cooking recipes that are both nutritious and tasty, and you could find sub-niches like vegan diets, religious diets like Lenten, halal, kosher, and so forth
  • Individualized personal training, where you come up with custom workouts and meal plans specifically tailored for your individual clients

There’s only so much you can say about the CFA Program though. Seriously, just read the damn books and do the practice questions.

Fifth: Social media is okay…kind of. I’ve actually gotten more traffic driven to my website by YouTube than I ever have by Facebook or LinkedIn. My foray into StockTwits has been a mess and I’ll probably abandon that channel entirely; I thought it would be a more professional Twitter where market practitioners could exchange ideas, but in reality, it’s maybe just one or two steps above Yahoo Finance message boards. Not pretty.

Point being: know what your traffic funnels are, and don’t waste time on ones that are not productive. If you’re getting lots of traffic from YouTube, make more videos. If you’re getting traffic from other sites linking to you, reach out to those websites and thank them for hooking you up, and ask how you can help them out in the future.

The way forward

I think I’ve exhausted all that I can really say about the CFA Program, in general terms at least. I may make videos talking about specific topics in the CFA Program that I found difficult and that I might be able to explain better. Likely, I will be putting more content out though on what I find enjoyable, which is checking out global events, geopolitics, and markets, and then finding good opportunities within them.

There will likely be a LOT less focus on career development, book reviews, or things of that nature, unless there is something really, really, compelling to write about. I’m a big fan of people like Tony Robbins or Tai Lopez, but I have no interest in being the next Tony Robbins or Tai Lopez. I’d rather be the next David Einhorn or Peter Thiel.

Hopefully this gave you some takeaways if you have a site of your own or are planning on putting out your own content. I’m curious what you think. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me at

Keep hustling,

Alex Cook

PS: If you liked this article, please take two seconds click the Share buttons to share it on your social media. There’s also more content on YouTube, like my video on how I passed all of the CFA Program exams.