Happy Saturday and welcome to the 39th episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog. Today, I’m bringing in Fred from Money With A Purpose to talk about blogging and how they’ve managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger. 

Fred, take it away.

First let me say thank you to Steve for the opportunity to share about my blog. These questions were interesting, challenging, and fun.

Blogger Confessions with Fred from Money With A Purpose

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

I’m writing for anyone interested in learning more about personal finance, overcoming adversity, and lifestyle.

Money with a Purpose started strictly as a personal finance blog. In June 2018, I published a very personal story about Dealing with Addiction, where I shared our eleven-year journey through our son’s heroin addiction.

That post is far and away the most viewed post on the blog. That gave birth to an interview series on overcoming adversity.

My wife got into the act last year with a couple of posts. She wrote about decluttering and how we drastically cut expenses. The expense post is my second most viewed. That birthed the lifestyle category.

I post in all three categories to offer a variety of content.

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

I think having three specific areas of focus makes us fairly unique.

The overcoming adversity series has drawn a lot of readers. Everyone deals with adversity in life. No one gets a pass on that. Hearing how others get through their challenges offers encouragement to those struggling with similar issues.

In the personal finance space, I’m quite different from most bloggers. I’m a member of the oft loathed financial advisor community.

Yup.

I get paid to help people plan their finances and lives. The FIRE blogging community has a sour view of my industry. Mind you, much of it is well deserved. What I think they fail to realize is just what a minority they are. That is, the vast majority of the working population needs help with their finances.

I think there’s a blind spot in that view. I offer a different viewpoint and cover topics outside the normal echo chamber of the personal finance blogosphere.

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

Oh, man. There are so many things to learn in blogging.

Choosing a name, the kind of website, hosting, content, plugins. From a non-technical financial advisor, that was tough. I finally realized I didn’t want to mess with that kind of thing anymore and hired someone to do it for me.

It’s the best money I could spend.

After that, the biggest struggle is growing traffic. Google is a fickle gatekeeper. They control the rules of the game. Getting posts to rank is the best way to get consistent traffic. I promote the heck out of my posts. I’ve recently had a couple move up to page one.

I discovered that when seeing traffic go to a couple of posts that I wasn’t really promoting.

Finding unique content is a challenge.

There are SO many blogs out there. At last count, I think the Rockstar blogger directory has some 2080 blogs listed. That’s a lot of pontificating being published.

Having curated for Rockstar in December, I was shocked how hard it was to find unique, quality content. I want to produce quality content that’s different. It’s a challenge for all of us, I think.

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

I don’t publish my net worth. To be honest, it stinks. The years from 2007 – 2012 were horrendous for us financially. I changed firms to pursue an area of the investment business that was much tougher than I thought. A commitment I was told when I changed firms didn’t work out the way I was told.

I changed in February 2008. Talk about great timing!

We discovered our son’s addiction in September 2007. For the next few years we poured embarrassing amounts of money into trying to help him.

Oh, if we knew then what we now know! But that’s the way hindsight works, isn’t it? We poured well into six figures into bailing him out of jams, treatments, you name it. We finally figured it out.

Couple that with a 50% drop in income and some panicked investment decisions, our finances went into the proverbial toilet.

We’re still rebuilding.

Plus, I have difficulty understanding why people publish their net worth. I mean, I understand what they say. It’s to show people how they did it to try and help them.

To me, it’s another blind spot in the FIRE community. The vast majority of people reading these numbers feel they are unattainable. Rather than helping them, it reinforces for them how screwed up their situation is. To be honest with you, there are times when I’ve felt that way.

I don’t judge anyone for publishing their net worth. It’s cool. For the most part, the audience they are speaking to is other FIRE bloggers. I’m trying to reach outside of that echo chamber (sorry for the jab).

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

I have not monetized my blog. Oh, I’ve tried. I took an affiliate marketing course, signed up for AdSense, affiliate networks, and Amazon. I put image ads in most of my posts. The problem is no one clicked on them.

I was not happy with the AdSense structure, placements, and the types of ads they displayed. I ended up disconnecting from them. My traffic isn’t nearly high enough to qualify for the better services like Mediavine.

I got a surprise deposit of $105 from an affiliate network a couple months ago. Someone opened an account at one of my links. I felt like Steve Martin in the movie The Jerk. He found his name in the new phone book (you remember those, right?) and went running down the street saying, “THE NEW PHONE BOOKS ARE HERE! THE NEW PHONE BOOKS ARE HERE!” He wanted everyone to know he’d arrived.

I thought I’d arrived. Oops. That’s the only payment I’ve received in fifteen months of blogging. I’m focusing less on affiliates and monetizing for now. I hope to get traffic up sometime before I leave this world to qualify for Mediavine.

For now, I’m just going to keep writing.

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

That’s a great question. If you are a blogger, you’re going to spend time in all three of those categories. I know that’s the case for me.

Of course, we all want to be loved. But I don’t mind controversy either. Being a financial advisor in the blogging world brings plenty of controversy. I’ve taken on several popular bloggers in their views of advisors.

I’d have to say, though, that I have only had one instance where a commenter was hateful. It was after publishing something on Reddit in the addiction subreddit about how we cut off our son. This p erson went to my blog and left an absolutely hateful, personal attack.

I probably should have let it go but decided to write about it.

It seemed to resonate with many bloggers. I didn’t publish the comment, which I’ve never done before that. I don’t mind disagreements. In fact, I welcome them. I won’t tolerate hateful, unwarranted personal attacks.

There is too much of that these days.

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

I can’t think of anyone. All are welcome.

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

My favorite post was one that didn’t do particularly well. It was about 5 things I won’t give up to save money. It was kind of a poke at the extreme minimalistic views expressed by some in the blogging community.

That week I’d read a few that were off the chain ridiculous IMO. The post was my having a little fun with that view.

I’ve loved all of my interview posts. Hearing real life stories of people overcoming serious life challenges encourages me.

I’d have to say my least favorite post was about focusing on what’s important. I wrote this post for my old financial advisor website a long time ago. I republished it with a lame title focusing on what’s important – updated. I added some current info to it trying to make it relevant.

Nobody reads it. It’s probably time to put send it to rest. There were a couple or early posts I did similarly to get content started.

I don’t regret it. I haven’t done it since.

9: Explain your writing process

Sadly, I’m more of an inspirational writer. What I mean is, I write when something inspires me. Of course, there’s a huge problem with that. What if you’re not inspired? That’s happened several times. I just grind it out and start writing. A few times, those have been my best posts.

I hear of bloggers like ESI Money who have a content calendar out a couple of months. That would be fantastic. I’m probably never going to do that. A couple of other bloggers I know have content out 2 – 3 weeks.

How long it takes to write depends on the type of posts. If it’s a technical post on an investment or planning topic, it might be several hours from research to finish.

Some I’ve worked on most of the day.

I would say the average writing time is two to three hours. Adding on editing, images, Grammarly checks, and spouse edits (yes, she really does help) adds additional time. My wife sees many little things I don’t.

She’s been most helpful.

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

At the risk of being accused of sucking up, I really like your blog, ThinkSaveRetire. Your writing style and variety of topics offer readers a lot.

Like me, you’re not afraid to take on controversy.

Others I like include:

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