Blogger Confessions #20: Jon from Be Net Worthy
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Happy Saturday and welcome to the 20th episode of the 'Blogger Confessions' interview series on the blog. Today, I'm bringing in Jon from Be Net Worthy to talk about blogging and how they've managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
Jon, take it away.
Blogger Confessions with Jon from Be Net Worthy
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
I’m targeting people like me, but ten years earlier. They are earlier in their careers and earlier on their path to financial independence. Maybe they haven’t even started on their journey.
So, it’s for corporate types. They may be stuck in their own personal cubicle hell and don’t know how to get out. Perhaps they’re a little higher up in the organization but don’t realize that with a little planning, they can get out early.
Maybe they’re perfectly happy with their job but would like to have options. They'd like to explore other opportunities in their future without waiting for the “official” retirement age.
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
My blog is different because it’s coming from a different perspective. I’m not a young Millennial with $80,000 of student debt. I’m also not a FIRE’d early type who is living frugally off $60,000 a year.
I write Be Net Worthy from the perspective of a successful executive who has already amassed a seven-figure net worth. I’ve “been there and done that” so I can speak from experience and share stories from my journey.
I’m not yet at the point where I can retire from my corporate gig, but I should be there in a few years. I’m 48 now and I"m targeting 55 to be financially independent.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
It’s two things and I’m sure they’re common to most bloggers. First, it takes a lot of time to do a good job. And I don’t want to do it unless I can do it well. With my corporate job, my family, my TaeKwonDo training, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else!
Second, is topics. I struggled at first with coming up with different topics to discuss. After all, personal finance can be a dry topic and after you’ve said something once, how many times can you repeat it?
But then, it hit me. I had been writing my blog like a book. Covering topics once and then moving on. Some posts were pretty dry.
But then I had an epiphany. A blog is not like a book, it’s like a magazine. You cover some core topics, but then you talk about them in a million different ways for a long time.
It should be more like Money Magazine than the Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing. With a book, you eventually finish, but with a magazine, you just keep going on and on.
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I do not, which I know sounds kind of lame. My wife and I decided that we’d rather keep that confidential. It's easy enough for any highly motivated person to figure out who I am and where I live pretty quickly. I also write under a pen name.
I’m no FinancialSamurai, but we have a net worth well into the seven-figures. I don't really want to publicize that fact to my friends and family or random strangers. Frankly, there's a lot to be said for stealth wealth.
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
I have monetized the blog, although not well. I'm using AdSense advertising right now with a few affiliate links. So far, basically no affiliate income at this point.
I am proud to say that I did receive a nice fat deposit of $100 from Google earlier this year! I’m hoping to get another one in the next six months or so.
I did not launch the blog with the intention of monetizing it, but on principle, I would like it to break even. If I could get it up to $20k-$40k in income a year before I retire in the next seven years, that would be a nice bonus.
Plus, it would give me something to do in my free time.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
I’d rather be loved. You know why? My kids read the blog and they are currently 16 and 18 years old. In fact, one of the reasons I started the blog was to give them a solid education in personal finance.
You might have noticed that I shy away from foul language or other “inappropriate” topics. So, while the blog is anonymous, it’s not anonymous to the kids. They were two of the first ones to sign up for my newsletter, so I keep things PG-13 max.
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
I would be horrified if I found out that my boss was reading the blog.
It's not that I'm saying anything outrageous or inappropriate, but there are unspoken rules of corporate life. One cardinal rule of corporate life is that you never want people to think or know that you are a short-timer. If that happens, you risk getting passed over for opportunities, promotions, and plum assignments.
Also, when layoffs happen, you may be the first one targeted.
If my boss was reading my blog, she could easily figure out that it was me writing the blog. She would know that I’ve already got one foot out the door and am counting down the years to get out. It’s not imminent, but it’s pretty close and I wouldn't want to risk it.
I have no reason to believe that she is reading the blog now and I intend to keep it that way!
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My favorite post is Work-Life Balance – The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the Banker. Working some, spending time with family, hanging out with friends and drinking a little wine. Sound good? See how the Mexican fisherman balances these things.
This post is my favorite because it stresses that life is not about money. It’s about doing something that you find satisfying and leaving time for friends and family. It’s the journey, not the destination.
It’s a popular parable that pops up from time to time. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you check it out!
My least favorite post is How to Access Your Retirement Funds Early. Worried about saving too much money in difficult to access tax-deferred accounts for retirement? There are several strategies to access your funds if you retire early. Check them out.
This turned out to be a very popular post on my site. The reason it was one of my least favorites is that it was so dry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great info, but there were not a lot of opportunities to weave in a story or let my personality shine through.
My most embarrassing post is Is America’s Got Talent’s $1,000,000 Grand Prize a Scam? With a grand prize of $1,000,000 dollars promised to the winner, the America’s Got Talent franchise has been reeling in viewers and ratings for eleven seasons and is still going strong. But is it really a scam?
Why was this embarrassing? Well, the post had almost nothing to do with personal finance and it’s really just a story about watching TV with my kids. This post is the single most popular article I have ever written. It makes me wonder if I should really be writing about personal finance at all if this is what people would prefer to read!
9: Explain your writing process
My writing process is fairly straightforward. I’ll usually come up with a topic mid-week and add it to a list of topics I keep in my Google Drive. That way I can access it easily from my phone, work computer, or personal computer. Having access to the list from any device is key.
On the weekend, I’ll sit down and bang out a 1,000-word rough draft in about 1-2 hours. It may take me longer if I have to do a lot of research. I use the Grammarly plug-in for Chrome which helps me to find and correct the more obvious errors in my writing.
Then I set it aside and I won’t look at it again for at least a day. The next day or the next weekend, I edit the rough draft, which probably takes another half an hour or so. Then I send it to my wife who is super-helpful in the editing process. Having a willing partner helps!
She’ll proof it for legibility, comprehension, grammar, spelling, etc… and then she’ll create the picture and add it to the post. Then I schedule the go-live date in Wordpress. I like to post twice a week and I target 5 AM EST on Mondays and Thursday.
With two posts a week, I’m probably spending between 4 and 5 hours a week writing and editing.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
I’m going to cheat on this one and say I have three favorites. They are all tied for being my favorite, but each for different reasons. They are in alphabetical order:
ESImoney.com - This is the blog that I relate to the most. ESI and I have very similar backgrounds. We are both corporate types that came up through Marketing after business school. He’s a few years ahead of me but got the personal finance bug way earlier than me.
FinancialSamurai.com - This is an aspirational lifestyle for me. Millions in the bank and starting a new family while working for yourself. I like his take on the financial markets and I like the “attitude” he puts in his posts.
PhysicianOnFIRE.com - PoF is just so funny. Not only that, but he puts out great content on a regular basis that is actionable and fun to read. Even if you are not a physician, I highly recommend this blog.
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