Blogger Confessions #31: Indeedably.com
Happy Saturday and welcome to the 31st episode of the 'Blogger Confessions' interview series on the blog. Today, I'm bringing in Indeedably to talk about blogging and how they've managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
Take it away.
Blogger Confessions with Indeedably.com
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
Writing indeedably.com provides me with a wonderful outlet to explore concepts and ideas that I encounter in my everyday life.
The process of writing forces me to work through a topic in a structured way. I am constantly amazed by how much I learn while writing, even about things I thought I already well understood.
The act of organizing and explaining thoughts in a compelling narrative is a remarkably useful and rewarding exercise indeed.
I write to explore and challenge my own perceptions. Validate or dispel my beliefs. To critically assess whether conventional wisdom stands up to scrutiny and is supported by data.
I guess that makes the target audience of my blog… myself!
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
I enjoy telling stories.
My posts tend to be long-form narratives, exploring a topic through the experiences of a central character. Often that character is either myself or based on the experiences of someone I know personally.
Everyone has a unique and fascinating backstory. A combination of hard-won wisdom, experience and perspective that makes for a compelling tale.
My own experience may differ somewhat from that of many people: I have worked for myself for 20+ years. I am a migrant. I am semi-retired, enjoying a seasonal work pattern. I am fortunate to have passed the point of having “enough”.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
I have never been comfortable accepting compliments or praise. My default response has always been to gratefully deflect the attention elsewhere, for example onto my amazing employees or talented team.
Like a deer in headlights, I discovered that bloggers have nowhere to hide when incredibly generous readers say nice things like this:
“I’ve discovered what I would define the best new blog of 2018: indeedably.com. Aesthetically beautiful (not common among FIRE blogs), linguistically fascinating, captivating storytelling and… what about scientific solidity? That in the end it’s what we like, isn’t it?”
I’m honored and very grateful by how amazingly supportive the Personal Finance community has been. I wasn’t sure whether anyone would want to read my ramblings. It is humbling indeed to learn that some people appear to quite enjoy them!
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I publish a fun series of charts that I use to monitor progress on various aspects of my financial journey. Some of those charts contain data series covering the entire 30+ years that I have been tracking my finances!
However, I do not publish my numbers.
Every person is unique.
No two people share exactly the same investment approach, lifestyle preferences, living costs, or priorities.
Therefore my numbers could only ever be “interesting, but irrelevant” to anyone reading them.
I publish enough information that readers can make their own well-informed decision about the effectiveness of my approach, and reach their own conclusions about whether I am worth listening to.
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
After concluding earlier that I am my own target audience, my revenue earning potential would appear to be somewhat limited! :)
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
This is an interesting question. Upon reflection, I must confess my answer is: none of the above.
Wanting to be loved involves seeking approval and adoration from others. That isn’t really me. I’ve never been one for seeking permission, playing to the audience, or following the herd.
Wanting to be hated involves inspiring unpleasant feelings in others. Making them feel angry, sad or threatened in some way. There is already too much of that in the world. I wouldn’t want to add to it.
In many ways, wanting to be controversial is worse than wanting to be hated. Acting as a lightning rod. Adopting a position, or making an argument, not because you personally believe it but because it will generate outrage and attention. That doesn’t sound much like the road to happiness and contentment!
I’m content to tell my stories in my own way.
Some readers may like them. That is a lovely bonus, but isn’t my motivation for writing.
Other readers may not. To each their own, there are a great many talented writers out there for them to enjoy instead.
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
I teach my kids to never write down anything they would be uncomfortable seeing printed out poster sized and driving around town on the side of the #23 bus. I try to follow my own advice.
I have been amazed at some of the incredibly talented minds and voices who have generously taken the time to comment or email about my stories.
Surprise doesn’t begin to describe the feeling I experienced the first couple of times I received an email from a leading academic or published author wanting to discuss one of my stories. Fortunately they liked what I had written, and didn’t call bullshit on my conclusions!
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
Now there is a tricky question!
My favorite post explored how poorly many financial planners manage the uncertainty around how long a person will live, and therefore how long their capital needs to last. It contains a fun interactive map displaying life expectancies by country and age, which allowed readers to tailor the answers for their own circumstances.
The post I least enjoyed writing was one of SavingNinja’s “Thought Experiments”. The game involved confronting mortality, and writing a stream of consciousness post outlining the changes you would make if you suddenly discovered you had a finite lifespan remaining. Working through that conundrum was no fun at all!
I don’t have a post I am embarrassed by, but the one I have mixed feelings about is a personal reflection on what I learned from three years of semi-retirement. It concluded there are very few things people dream of doing in retirement that they can’t start enjoying in some capacity today.
I really enjoyed writing the post, and many of the reader comments were positive.
Unfortunately somebody fed the link to the Reddit trolls. The torrent of hate mail, containing vitriol the likes of which I haven’t encountered since high school, certainly made for a bumpy ride over the next few days!
I’ll be honest, it left me questioning whether writing a blog was worth the abuse.
9: Explain your writing process
The idea for a story is typically triggered by a thought or event in real life.
It might be something my kids did, or something I read about, or a situation at work.
I’ll go for a walk along the river, mentally switch off, and subconsciously kick around ideas for the narrative.
At some point, typically first thing in the morning, I will pour the contents of my brain out into a draft on the computer. I don’t map out the story, which often means I am just as surprised by where it takes me as the reader will be!
I find a good story generally writes itself, often in just one or two sittings.
By contrast a story that doesn’t flow, or I have to fight with, generally isn’t a good one to begin with and is best abandoned. I have learned not to try and force my writing.
I will read it through in the word processor once and edit it. Then I’ll transfer the story to a draft blog post where I will read it through and edit it again. Finally I’ll preview the draft post on a device with a different viewing aspect, an iPad or phone, and edit it once more. It is amazing how many grammar and punctuation mistakes this last step catches!
I hit publish at the end of the third read through. I’m not one for writing to a schedule or sticking to a particular cadence of publication. The writing is for me, so the timing doesn’t matter in the slightest.
A typical story takes about 8 hours of elapsed effort: roughly 6 to write, 1 to edit, and 1 to prepare some pretty pictures for some visual stimulation.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
The combination of insight and natural writing talent I enjoy reading most is Morgan Housel. He tends to focus on behavioral economics and the psychological aspects of investing.
The refreshing thing about Morgan’s writing is that it is timeless. He isn’t pushing an agenda or operating a sales funnel. His posts don’t evangelize or seek validation for his worldview.
I have had my preconceptions challenged, or learned something new, from every post I have read. To do that once is unusual. The fact that he can do so consistently is extraordinary!
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