Happy Saturday and welcome to the 38th episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog. Today, I’m bringing in Aaron from Personal Finance for Beginners to talk about blogging and how they’ve managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
Aaron, take it away.
Blogger Confessions with Aaron from Personal Finance for Beginners
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
The target audience of Personal Finance for Beginners is young professionals who want to establish a strong foundation on the basics of money management and take the first steps toward financial independence.
If you read my blog, you may have recently graduated from college and started working your first full-time job.
Perhaps you’ve been in the workforce for a while but recently experienced a “financial epiphany” – such as starting a family, getting a raise, or deciding to move – that’s motivated you to get your finances in order.
It can be intimidating when you realize it’s time to start managing your money like a grown-up.
Even if you took finance or business classes in school, you may feel like you’re missing the financial principles and habits needed to reach your financial goals.
Personal Finance for Beginners offers an introduction to financial literacy that will get you started in the right direction (and hopefully help prepare you to benefit from all of the other amazing personal finance content out there!).
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
Personal Finance for Beginners is not a “make money online” blog.
I consider “make money online” blogs to be a niche of their own.
While making money online can certainly be a fun side hustle, the objective of PFFB is to teach educate individuals about personal finance – not to inspire others to start blogging or affiliate marketing.
Personal Finance for Beginners is not an “early retirement” blog.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m interested in the FIRE movement and would love to retire early myself.
However, PFFB is focused on the first steps of money management.
It can help for personal finance newbies to have an end goal in mind, but the principles on my blog will help you whether you’re aiming to retire at 37 or 73.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
I haven’t been able to crack the Pinterest code!
There are some areas of blogging – such as Twitter or Facebook – where I’m falling short simply because I haven’t dedicated any time to improve that area of my blog.
Not the case with Pinterest.
Over the course of eight months, I’ve spent dozens of hours designing pins, applying to group boards, and scheduling pins… But my Pinterest traffic is actually trending downward from a modest 2,000 visitors a month.
Although my pin designs look professional and credible, they don’t seem to resonate with the audience on Pinterest.
If you’re doing well on Pinterest, I’d love to have you leave a comment and share what you’re doing that’s working!
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I don’t publish my net worth on my blog (although it’s still pretty close to what’s listed on the Rockstar Finance net worth tracker).
Net worth reports make sense if you’re a blogger documenting a debt payoff or early retirement journey. They’re a great way to record your success, keep yourself accountable, and inspire others as well!
However, Personal Finance for Beginners doesn’t double as a personal blog like many of the others you see out there. I try to include personal anecdotes when possible but don’t use blogging as a journal for my own financial journey.
I’m a semi-anonymous blogger while I work a traditional day job – not to mention that I’m a private person in real life as well – so I prefer to keep the focus on the content itself!
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
Some bloggers debate: should you treat your blog as a hobby or a business?
I’ve decided to take the “blogging is a business” route. Earning income through blogging will not only help me reach my personal financial goals but also provide the resources to provide a better experience for readers and fulfill my long-term vision for the blog as well.
I have primarily monetized my blog with ads. I’ve experimented with affiliate marketing with limited success so far. I would like to create my own digital products in the future after I build a larger audience and better understand their needs.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
I would rather be loved. I’m not looking to be hated or controversial, so loved is the winner by default here.
I think there’s room for all three types of personalities in the personal finance blogosphere. I appreciate the balance of perspectives and approaches in the community. You can find content that’s impactful or irreverent, humorous or technical, heartwarming or inflammatory…
My blog content probably reflects my own personality: mild-mannered with an occasional pinch of dry humor (that doesn’t always land!).
Whether they’re loved, hated, or controversial, I think there’s plenty of room at the table. I’ve enjoyed interacting with everyone in the personal finance community so far!
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
I would be horrified to know that my coworkers read my blog – specifically if they know that it’s me! While I’ve dropped a couple hints inadvertently, I haven’t shared the URL with anybody.
Last September, I had a profile featured on a large website. After one of my friends saw the story and recognized me, I figured the odds were high that at least one of my coworkers would have also seen the story and bring it up the next day.
Thankfully, either none of my coworkers saw the story… Or the people who saw it were too shy or surprised to bring it up with me!
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
One of my favorite blog posts is a recent one I wrote about how to move with no money or job. This is the specific situation I was contemplating that led to my own financial epiphany and getting my personal finances in order.
My least favorite post could be the one I wrote about getting the highest credit score possible. Nobody really needs a perfect credit score anyway. It was still fun to think about anyway, I guess!
My most embarrassing blog post is a list of things to do when you’re bored. The title says there are 27 ideas, but last time I checked, I only counted 26.
Dear reader: Do me a favor and go comment on that post with another idea for me to add?
9: Explain your writing process
It takes me somewhere between 4-6 hours to write a blog post.
I start by creating an outline with a bunch of headings. I generate a list of related topics and phrases that I want to discuss. I search for similar blog posts and external sources that can support my writing. Finally, I’ll make a list of my own related blog posts that I may want to link to.
After I have this framework on the page (I use Google Docs), I start writing one section at a time… But not necessarily in order from top to bottom.
(In fact, for this guest post, I started at the bottom and worked up the page. I hope it still makes sense!)
As far as editing and proofreading go, I guess I’m overly confident with my journalism and English background (plus the help of Grammarly). I take the “ready-fire-aim” approach and hit schedule or publish as soon as I finish the draft.
As a result, I find that I sometimes omit words or include the same same word twice (see what I did there?). I’d like to think most of my posts have turned out alright, though!
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
This is a dangerous question! I’ve met a lot of great bloggers over the past year, and I consider many of them to be my friends.
I’m going to choose Minafi.
Adam is one of the very first personal finance bloggers I met in person (in the elevator at work, bizarrely enough!). I really respect the deliberate and mindful approach he takes to creating educational and interactive content.
He’s also the only blogger who’s ever beaten me at ping pong or invited me over for pot roast and arroz con gandules… So that may have biased my selection here as well!
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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.