10 Years On…

It has been 10 years since I started PHStocks. That was also the time I started investing in stocks.

My thinking then was, since I am now starting my investing journey—and feeling that I can share something to my fellow Filipinos, who thought stock investing is only for the rich—I can somehow “guide” them by demystifying stock investing and making them understand that even ordinary Pinoys can consider investing in stocks as one way to have a nest egg when they retire. So, the idea behind this site was to write about investing, pitfalls, a little bit of fundamental analysis, compounding, and other useful bits of information that Filipino readers—those that are very new to investing in the stock market—can take and digest, and hopefully use in their investing journey.

But somehow, given that I am not an expert, it was really difficult to sustain. I’ve been very enthusiastic at the beginning, churning out article-by-article almost every day. (Also, I was hoping to qualify to Google Ads at the time because, well, maintaining a blog can cost you—the hosting, the domain name, security, and privacy that you have to renew every year, and then the email accounts, etc.)

Until my original content updates became once a week, and then just a few times a month. Nevertheless, I supplemented it by publishing the latest news from publicly traded companies in the country.

But given that the blog was just a hobby at the time, I never really focused on it. True, I learned a lot in creating and maintaining it. I even dabbled with the php codes when I want to do something or modify the way some parts of the themes I use are being presented. Although I was never an IT guy, and my knowledge of coding is like my knowledge of the French language—close to nil. Yeah, it was really difficult for me.

But I kept on updating. I had a monthly top 30 list. Then I sounded off on some of the hottest topics at the time (well, mostly it was about the housing bubble and the recession that followed). I even had a weekly wrap. All these, while working a regular 9-6 job in Singapore at the time.

And then somehow, some people noticed the site, and one decided to run some one-off advert. I was ecstatic at the time because, finally, I was able to recuperate some of the money I spent in creating and maintaining the blog.

But that was just that. A one-off. Never had another opportunity… so far. Good thing my application to Google Ads was approved. Cents trickled in. After several months, I was able to receive a check (the bare minimum required to encash your earnings from Google Ads). But given the focus of the blog, though, I found it difficult to find my niche. There was just no “focus”, so to speak. On the one hand, you got the local news—which are already being covered extensively by the mainstream media—and then on the other, you got a bare personal-finance-to-be section that is lacking.

Somehow, I never get to hit that “sweet spot”.

All the while, life happened. I got retrenched, joined a new company, which I left to move to a company owned by a friend (an interesting topic that is non-personal finance-related, but what I think is something that we can get something out of); which I also left to join a more, stable company; which I left after being asked to join another company I was moonlighting for, which eventually retrenched me. After that, I joined a company whose industry focus is totally different to what I’ve been used to. I was thankful because I get to visit countries I haven’t visited before in my previous jobs. Finally, the opportunity came for me to rejoin the brand that retrenched me the first time—which is under a different company now, with better prospects. I grabbed it and have been working for the company since March this year.

During those times, this blog became neglected. The original idea that was my supposed foundation for setting up this thing in the first place, somehow made me disillusioned with it, in the sense that I feel I never made any progress, or that I never really get the chance to unleash its potential, or that there were just too many disparate things going on that the blog no longer has any focus. Somewhere I along the way, I got lost, wandering aimlessly as to what I should with the site. Any sane person would have just up and go away. Cut his losses and then move on to a new, better endeavor with more-promising returns.

But I stuck. I am not totally sure why. Maybe it is because I’ve already gathered quite a following on Twitter. Or a little bit of followers in Facebook, for that matter. Or that the brand just sounds cool. Or that I still think I can salvage this.

Whatever it may be, I have yet to figure out why. The good thing is I never wavered in my “investments” (since I built the site when I became aware, and capable, of investing). And one of those investments is, as cliched as it may sound, in myself—by taking up an MBA course. I am on my 10th subject now—four more to go.

And it is that MBA subject that led me back to here. Which kind of forced me to really relook this site. What needs to be done with it. And how to get those things done.

I have a lot of things to say about this. But, for now, let me take a pause to gather and organize my thoughts. I think this post is a good, fresh start for me.


Article by Stephen Las Marias


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