|Lucy and John|
On that first day, he clattered up from the garage with boxes crammed with file folders and photographs and mementos from trade shows--all the junk packed up from his previous office, which he proceeded to unload in the dining room.
|his desk, I kid you not!|
I caught him spreading his computer and piles of other miscellany out on the dining room table—the first thing every visitor to our home would see.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said. “You can’t set up your office there.”
“It has to be somewhere,” he said. “And don’t think I’m going to be eating lunch with you everyday, either.”
“I wouldn’t dream of having lunch with you.”
|Mr. Top Retirement's summer office|
After some more heated discussion, we agreed that he might enjoy sitting out on the porch—a nice view for him and out of sight for me.
“But what will I do when it gets chilly?” he asked.
“Think layers,” I said.
Nine years later, things have settled down quite a bit. He still has his spot on the porch, but he also has a perfectly nice office upstairs out of view. And sometimes when he sees what I’m making for my lunch, he asks if he can join me.:)
Besides that, he’s developed his idea into a major retirement website (with 20,000 subscribers to his weekly newsletter), having written thousands of articles about every aspect of retirement ranging from all kinds of best places to retire lists (best towns for bookstores, best places for walkability, etc.) to when to start taking Social Security, over 4,000 reviews of places to retire. I’m very proud of what he’s done and thought you might like an inside look.
LUCY: When you started out, how were you imagining the shape of the project? Are you surprised at how far you’ve come?
JOHN BRADY: I wanted it to be a project available on the Internet and pertinent to baby boomer retirement, since I am a Boomer and I had just retired from my longtime job. My initial goal was a little vague: Get it started and see what happened. The process of conceiving it and watching it become a real website with real people coming to visit has been really fun. My financial goal was that if it made enough money to pay our taxes that would be great. It turns out that lots and lots of people found it useful. We get over 140,000 visits a month and sometimes close to a half million page views - that is pretty good. And the revenue is a lot better than I ever imagined. Pretty lucky.
LUCY: how about sharing some advice about the process? What were some big turning points? Or ideas you had that didn’t pan out?
JOHN: My previous experience in online publishing was a big help. Without a disciplined process of putting down on paper what each web page would look like, and how each page would lead to the next in the navigation, the project never would have gotten anywhere. To save money I outsourced the technical development to a firm in India. I had to imagine and write down every detail very precisely, because they, or no one really, can read your mind. It was a great exercise in imagination and in follow-through. Of course sometimes I was way off, but the team was able to either interpret or suggest a better way.
I thought that most of my revenues would come from active adult or 55+ communities purchasing enhanced listings. Turned out that Google Adsense was a much more important revenue source, and easier. I also had a lot of ideas for developing other sites - BestAssistedLiving.com, BestPlacesinUSA.com, etc. Although I thought they were great ideas, not many visitors agreed! They still exist, but they are only marginal compared to Topretirements. What I learned from that is that getting a big idea is lucky - enjoy it if you are fortunate enough to get one!
Hackers are a problem I didn't foresee. Having been hacked several times, I’ve learned there are people in Russia and China whose full time job is trying to hack into successful websites, either to steal traffic or plant malware. Finding a web developer who can successfully defend against these villains is absolutely critical (I have been lucky to find one, this time in Connecticut, not India).
LUCY: I know this is impossible, but can you give some quick tips about how to figure out the best place to retire? And maybe some links to a few of your favorite articles?
JOHN: I am always getting asked, what is the best place to retire? And I always try to respond that it is a very personal decision. It is all about knowing the criteria that are important to you - do you want to be near your grandchildren; how cold can your winters be; how important is culture, town size, walkability; how important are taxes and what is your budget. The answers to all of these questions and more help you narrow the possibilities and point you to some good choices. Lucy helped me write this free Ebook, which has been probably been downloaded 1 million times by now –
It contains short checklists which are designed to help you (and your significant other) narrow down the other possibilities.
In 10 years I and some faithful contributors have written a lot of articles. Here are some all-time favorites:
Best Places to Retire for 2016
Worst States for Retirement
Dueling Carolinas: North vs. South Carolina for Retirement
11 Affordable Places to Retire on theWaterfront
Wow, Your Bucket Lists are Amazing
What You Think You Know About Social Security Could Hurt You
Thanks for having me. Jungle Red Writers has given me a lot of reading pleasure over the years, keep up the good work!
LUCY: Reds, John will be around today to answer your questions about retirement or even starting a business…and ps, I'll tell stories about him too. Like the time the Illinois Governor's office called his cell the day after Illinois made the #1 spot on the "Worst States for Retirement" list...
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