On 12th September 2013, Debt Camel went live. This seems like a good time to reflect on how the first year has gone and look forward to the next year.
Most read pages
Apart from the Home page, the most read page was the main one explaining Bankruptcy – the big questions. I think I would have guessed that correctly if I had been asked on launch day!
What I wouldn’t have predicted were the next most popular items:
- What to do if Full & Final settlement offer is rejected?
- Previous payday loans make getting a mortgage hard
- Prove it!
- Help with bankruptcy fees
Most people get to these articles from a search engine. It’s interesting to see the search terms used – usually I can see that the page the reader arrived at should have answered their question pretty well. I suspect the one hopeful person who typed “cheap English camels” might have been surprised though!
“How long does it take you?”
That’s a difficult question to answer, as it tends to expand to fill the time available. I guess it is about 20 hours a week usually.
About a quarter of that is general background stuff, keeping up with debt world news, for which Twitter is usually the best source – it’s a rare day that there aren’t several reports or long articles that ‘need’ to be read. I also like reading quite a few personal get-out-of-debt blogs. Working at CAB can skew your view of debt as so much of it is crisis-orientated. Reading bloggers stories is a good way for me to be connected to the much larger numbers of people whose lives are to a large extent dominated by financial problems but who are getting on with paying their debts off.
A half is actually writing posts – sometimes a post can be done in less than an hour, but two or three hours is more common. A year ago, I thought I had done all the hard work in getting the site live and that there would just be the occasional news item to comment on. Ninety posts later, I had obviously misjudged this…
“Don’t you run out of things to blog about?” people often ask. Well not so far! I usually seem have a list of 10-15 future posts to write to pick from. I try to vary the subjects, so I don’t have three in a row about IVAs, say. Will I ever get round to writing The One About Parking Tickets? That has been on the to do list for about nine months, which shows a certain lack of enthusiasm for the subject…
The rest of the time is tidying up / updating existing content, replying to comments/emails or talking to people about ideas for posts.
The world outside
“It’s grim out there” as a friend who works at a different CAB to me said when we were discussing that day’s news that her council had just issued 5,800 people with a summons for non-payment of Council Tax. Many of these people owed small amounts of money, often less than the legal costs that were being added to their debt. Council tax benefit reductions, JSA/ESA sanctions, bedroom tax are all pushing people into debt, often priority debts as statistics published by National Debtline and StepChange show. But so-called welfare reform isn’t the only problem: zero-hours contract uncertainties, rising utility bills and increasing rents make life much harder for people in work as bodies such as Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Shelter are chronicling.
These issues mean that people who were previously managing their debts and making at least minimum payments are no longer able to do so. Less visible perhaps is the effect on people already in a long-term debt solution, whose DMPs and IVAs may no longer be the best option for them.
Looking forward to the next year
If/when mortgage rates rise, a lot of people who have so far been insulated from major financial problems by their very low mortgage costs are going to find life difficult. It’s pretty safe to say that debt advice isn’t going to be going out of fashion any time soon…
On the optimistic side, I am hoping that the Insolvency Service‘s consultation on DROs will result in a raising of the £15,000 limit and other improvements and that the FCA will be a positive force for good as it gets to grips with regulating consumer credit.
I’ve resisted tinkering with Debt Camel’s general layout so far, but I’m wondering about a redesign… perhaps a new suit of virtual clothes will be Debt Camel’s birthday present! I want to get a more interesting newsletter going. Actually I have lots of good ideas, so watch this space!
- the many people, especially debt industry Experts, who have said how much they like Debt Camel – it is much appreciated and keeps me going :)
- the helpful people who send me news snippets I may have missed or links to other sites where they have seen Debt Camel mentioned;
- on the techie side, thanks to WordPress for creating such a fabulous platform; Studiopress whose Genesis theme has worked so well; Synthesis who have provided very stable site-hosting and responded to the few queries I have had promptly and helpfully; and Akismet who have spammed 42,555 comments without me having to see them at all;
- my daughter for the camel earrings!