Happy Saturday and welcome to the 36th episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog. Today, I’m bringing in Riley Adams from Young and the Invested to talk about blogging and how they’ve managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger. 

Take it away.

Blogger Confessions with Riley Adams from Young and the Invested

1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.

Young and the Invested is a place for young professionals looking to improve their financial literacy and develop strategies to reach financial independence.  

My wife and I, both young professionals, routinely talk about personal finance topics and want information tailored to our life situations.

However, when speaking with peers, we find most of the advice they read about personal finance is generic and not tailored to younger generations in the early stages of their careers.  

As a result, I took to starting my blog to address this niche.

By developing sound financial habits, anyone can underpin their path to reaching financial independence and have a chance to retire on their own terms. Despite the blog’s focus on young professionals, I also aim to have content which can be widely-applicable to all readers interested in this pursuit.

2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?

Young and the Invested is about encouraging awareness and strategies to become financially independent through thoughtful actions and deliberate decision-making. The blog aims to teach a broad community by spreading information and contains thoughts and ideas displayed through my lens.

I subscribe to a frugal lifestyle, but also one which is meant to balance short-term wants with long-term needs. Above all else, I subscribe to the notion that your purchases should maximize the value you receive in exchange.

This means indulging on special occasions worthy of celebrating, enjoying life moments as they come, and getting the most out of life. I spend my money with intention and attempt to communicate this lifestyle choice to anyone who reads my blog.

I don’t see many blogs which balance frugality, financial independence and intentional spending with a tilt toward young professionals (i.e., Millennials).

I feel there are many people in my peer group who subscribe to this same idea and think the site is a great spot for us to gather and share ideas.

3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?

My biggest challenge has been building SEO and optimizing my site to comply with Google’s standards for page ranking.  I see it as my long-term challenge to build a higher ranking within the search engines to appeal to a wider audience outside of social media.

I have attempted to do an SEO e-mail course, have read numerous articles from reputable sources, and thrown as much against the wall as I can imagine up to this point. I find it difficult to do in some regards as well because content Google likes is incredibly dry.

Yes, it answers the questions sought by the searcher, but it lacks personality, perspective, and point-of-view.

Regardless, I attempt to balance between readability for people on social media with what Google values.

My long-term goal is to have the majority of my traffic come through SEO with a healthy share also coming from social media. We’ll see if the search engine gods allow for such a feat.

4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?

I do not.  Because I blog with my name attached to my blog, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that information with the public. I do feel comfortable sharing the financial decisions we make as a married couple because it helps the reader understand actions other people take with their money.

My identity is strongly associated with Young and the Invested and I wouldn’t welcome the scrutiny which comes from publishing my net worth.  I fear if people in my personal life have knowledge of my net worth, it could change their views toward me.

This is especially the case if your net worth is significantly higher, or lower, than theirs.  For now, I’ll pass on sharing that information.

5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?

I have attempted to monetize my blog with minimal, non-invasive advertisements and affiliate links in my posts.

I know the strategy requires traffic and trust to become effective, so I have prioritized growing my traffic over monetization at this point.

My first attempt at inserting ads resulted in a flood of them which ruined the site experience. After removing the ads altogether for a couple months, I decided to include them again, but only along the sidebar.

Going forward, I plan to utilize a strategy for recommending quality products or services we use in our personal lives and also sponsored posts from good sponsors. Long-term, I think these are the best strategies for growing any meaningful source of revenue.

If I grow the site enough, I will explore the opportunity of enrolling in the Mediavine ad network.

6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!

I would much rather be loved than either of the other options.  

It might surprise you to hear me say that after you hear about who my favorite personal finance blogger is on the final question. He undoubtedly falls under the controversial category.

Regardless of my preferences for who I read, I attempt to make the tone of my articles compassionate and easily readable. Granted, I won’t guarantee I never want to rock the boat with a controversial opinion, I do feel my preferred sentiment is feeling loved.

My personality is much more in-line with keeping the peace and simply spreading useful knowledge. However, I have been known to have an opinion counter to popular opinion on occasion.

7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?

Truthfully, this is a question I wrestled with when I first started writing.

Did I want to blog anonymously or did I want my name associated with my content?

I decided for the latter because I not only wanted to write quality content to help young professionals reach financial independence, I also wanted to build a personal brand to help my career in the workplace and the blogging community.

I’ve only been blogging for about 6 months but have enjoyed the numerous interactions I’ve had with people both online and in-person. When my wife and I get together with friends, blogging is often a discussion topic and it still surprises me when I receive recognition about my latest blog posts.

At this point, I don’t have any fear of someone reading my content because I wouldn’t share anything I wouldn’t want the world to know.

8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?

My favorite post is How to Make Smarter and Achieve Better Results.  This is a post I wrote and thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing.  

To date, this is one of my few posts I regularly reread and still feel impressed by the arguments made and the visualizations drawn. It stands as my most successful to date, especially after it went viral on Bloomberg.

My least favorite post is How to Choose What Really Matters – A Look at Sunk Costs (Part 1). It was an attempt to personalize my content by discussing sunk costs and how they affected a major decision in my life.  

The post is my shortest and reflects my greenness in the blogging world at that point. Thankfully, it led to a second part which I then expanded the scope to again to write my favorite post from above.

As I always say, it takes the bad to appreciate the good.

My most embarrassing post is Millennials, Interrupted. For some reason, I feel like the post was me trying too hard to make a splash on social media. I stand by the post’s content and quality, it just felt like I was attempting to appeal to a social media audience.

9: Explain your writing process

I wish I could say I was a profuse writer with an endless well of ideas.  I have a lot to say, but it often comes in spurts.

Typically, I will set out to write about a specific topic and I will write where I feel it goes in my head- very stream of consciousness. What usually happens is I will split a few ideas which I wrote about in the original post into new posts and fully develop the ideas in standalone posts.

I feel this process is better for the reader because it allows them to focus in on one topic I’m trying to address and also provides more content over the long-run.

Drafting a post can take anywhere from 2 hours to weeks.

 I’m currently sitting on 8-10 unfinished drafts which I revisit when a new idea or tact comes to me. I don’t want my content quality to be less than stellar, so I allow some of the ideas to ferment and grow into their own.

As far as editing, I will write a piece completely, let it sit for at least 48 hours unread, and then reread it with a fresh set of eyes. Also, it helps when I enlist the services of my wife to review my post.

She doesn’t come from a financial background, so it’s always appreciated when I get her input. When I write, I use her as my intended target audience: a young professional who wants to be financially independent but might not necessarily know the best way to go about achieving it.

If she reads my post draft and comes away confused or with multiple clarifying questions, I know I need to fix the draft. I’m very thankful to have an in-house target audience member.

10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?

Without a doubt, my favorite blog in the personal finance community is Financial Samurai. I read his posts regularly and subscribe to his way of finding financial independence: live frugally, save aggressively, and invest wisely.  

He advocates for the combination of generating real value with having fun, not just merely saving or eschewing consumption for the sake of it. This synchs up well with my view of the world: living your best life by balancing your short-term wants with your long-term needs.

I feel his viewpoints challenge my thinking, expose me to new ideas, and engage my creativity with exploring new topics for discussion on my own blog. His career path also comes close to mine with both of us having worked in the investment community for a time.

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