Happy Saturday and welcome to the 33rd episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog. Today, I’m bringing in Jon from MoneySmartGuides.com 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 MoneySmartGuides.com
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
I am writing for people who are struggling to get out of debt and who want to improve their finances overall.
These people need help because most of them were never taught personal finance, so they developed their financial habits based on those around them. In most cases, this is their parents.
If their parents were bad with money, chances are they are as well. By helping them to learn about personal finance, they can make the changes to be successful with money.
And through my site, they can see that it is possible to make a change and that it is not just a dream.
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
I feel my blog is different for two reasons.
First, I take my readers through the entire personal finance journey. I see many blogs that just focus on one aspect of the journey and once they achieve that aspect, they are left wandering again.
I help them get out of debt and then help them learn ways to start building their wealth. This includes earning more from their careers, starting a side hustle, and learning to invest in the stock market.
Then, I show them how to keep this wealth growing and protected so that they can use it to live their dream life.
I also mix in a lot of personal development articles to help them be the best person they can be as well. I feel this is an important and often overlooked part of achieving your financial dreams.
The other reason I feel my site is different is that I’ve lived the journey I talk about. I was in debt and had to admit that I was depressed to finally overcome the debt cycle.
I also have a degree in finance and worked for 15 years in the investment side of the financial services industry, so I can talk at length about helping my readers get the most out of investing and being successful long-term.
Lastly, I am always looking to improve myself every day, so many of the articles on my site about this are the things I’ve learned from and used to become a better version of myself.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
Promotion, by far. I spend all of my time crafting post ideas, writing, editing, etc. Then, I do the bare minimum in promoting my content.
This is ironic because you have to get your name out there if you want to have more visitors and eyeballs reading your content.
And interestingly, when you read articles on how to grow a blog, the main focus is on content with just a few notes about promoting your work.
I read somewhere that you should spend 20% of your time writing and the other 80% promoting and networking with others. I think many people, including me, do the opposite. We spend 80% writing and just 20% promoting.
In 6 months or a year, we wonder why our monthly visitors haven’t skyrocketed. We think that just producing great content is going to get the job done but it doesn’t.
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
No. I am not comfortable sharing my exact numbers because I don’t want my readers to think I can’t relate to them.
Therefore, I use general numbers and tell the story of how I went from being in the hole to where I am today.
Also, a lot of my friends and family read the site and I don’t want my net worth influencing them or driving a wedge in our relationship.
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
Yes. My website is my full-time business now, so making money is important. Originally I was making the most of my money from shady sponsored posts where I would get paid by offering a do follow backlink.
As the years went by, I was making good money doing this. But then I came to a crossroads. I wasn’t being successful in charging a higher fee and I wasn’t growing my reader base.
This became an issue as the sponsored posts income greatly fluctuated from month to month. One month I might make $2,000 then the next month I might only make $700.
To even things out, I wanted to make money through affiliates but if you aren’t connecting with your readers, you aren’t going to be successful through affiliate marketing.
I ended up deciding that the best long-term decision for my site was to stop accepting these types of posts.
The first year after this decision was rough. I barely made half of what I made the previous year. But the year after was better and now I make a lot more.
Right now I rely on advertising income and affiliates for my income. I just wrote an ebook and created a course to help increase my income further.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Loved for sure. I would never want to be hated by anyone. Life is too short to hate and I don’t have an interest in writing content that make people mad. My goal is to lift up people and help them to become the best they can be in all areas of their lives.
Being controversial wouldn’t be bad either. That is just going against the commonly held beliefs of subjects.
I guess I could be considered controversial in term of my investing posts, only because I preach against Wall Street and the media and how they are out to make money off you.
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
I don’t think there is anyone I would be horrified to know read my site. Most of my family and friends read it, so all that is left are people I don’t personally know.
If I had to come up with someone I would say Dave Ramsey and Mark Zuckerberg. The only reason for this is because I have posts that contradict what Dave Ramsey says about investing and a post about how Facebook steals your money.
But I don’t think I would be horrified if they read my site. I would just be nervous when they read the posts about them and their business.
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My most favorite post is one I wrote about my experience working with high net worth investors. I worked at a financial planning firm that required clients to have at least $2 million to invest.
It was eye-opening learning about what these people did to build their wealth and how they valued money.
At the end of the day, I learned that the true millionaires are ones you would never realize. They look and live like most other people, yet they are financially set.
My least favorite post is no longer live. I was quick to purge it from the history books when I did my site audit the other year. It was a post I was paid to write about shopping cart software.
It’s embarrassing because it has zero to do with 99.9% of my readers and was simply written at a time when I took money to post a link.
I’m glad I quickly came to my senses and stopped that practice as those types of posts never add value to your site.
My most embarrassing post is one I wrote about my dumbest financial mistake. Years ago I owned a sports car that was my baby. At the same time I was into mountain biking.
The problem I had was my bike didn’t fit into my car. I could have (and should have) bought a bike rack, but I was too worried about potential scratches to my car.
So I ended up buying another car! I still look back and shake my head. I wish I could go back to that kid and talk some sense into him!
9: Explain your writing process
My writing process starts with a general idea. From there I build an outline and begin to fill it in. I don’t always start with the introduction, I just work my way through the post.
Many times I’ll start in the middle and fill in as I go. Once I have the first draft complete, I let it sit for a couple of hours to give me time to “forget” about it. The first draft can be written in as little as 30-45 minutes for a 2,000-word post.
Note that this is a very rough draft. I am just getting everything in my head on paper. When I come back to it, I read through it and start adding more details.
As I go through it this second time, I make notes where pictures or charts will go. I also highlight the text that will be an authority link or an affiliate link.
This second draft can take a few hours to complete.
Once it is done, then I wait a day or two until I run through it again. This is my editing phase where I clean up spelling errors, grammar and re-work things I think that are unclear.
Once this is done, I copy/paste it into WordPress, add my links, pictures and the rest and preview the post so it looks decent.
Then I will give one more quick run through just to make sure nothing weird happened with the copy/paste job and there aren’t any spelling mistakes I missed.
In total, the process takes around 5-10 hours depending on how long the post is. Most of my posts are 2,000 words and up, which is why they take so long.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
My favorite blog is Free Money Finance. It was one of the first ones I stumbled upon when I was doing a search for something.
I loved how it was easy to read and the advice given was practical and actionable. It wasn’t tips on how to save money gifts or groceries, but the (relatively) simple path to wealth and the importance of your career.
Back when I found it I would spend hours reading posts and then going back when I needed refreshers. It definitely opened my eyes to what is possible financially for my life.
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Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.