Blogger Confessions #49: Christopher Liew at WealthAwesome
Happy Friday and welcome to the 49th episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog.
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Today, we're bringing in Christopher from WealthAwesome to talk about blogging and how he's managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
1. In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog. In other words, who are you writing for?
I came up with the idea for my blog fairly recently, in the summer of 2019. I was sitting on a beach in Vietnam. I thought to myself about how for once in my life, I was finally happy with my career and finances, and how glad I was to start my side hustle two years prior.
I also thought that it wasn't easy to get to that point of satisfaction. At the age of 34, I had worked in Canadian finance roles for my whole career. I held several different jobs, and even though some were high-paying with low-stress, I still wasn't able to find one that could keep me satisfied.
In every office job that I’ve been in, I saw cubicle life as such an unnatural way of working. Nobody likes it, but they have to tolerate it. The ability to be able to work from anywhere in the world has given me a new perspective, and I want to share my knowledge with anyone else who has struggled with the same problems.
The more focused target audience for this blog is Canadians who have careers that they are unhappy with, and are looking for more freedom and satisfaction in how they earn money. My blog is for those who want to escape the 9-5 lifestyle, learn how to make money with side hustles, work remotely, start an online business, or even improve their career outlooks-- regardless of age, gender, or economic background.
2. What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
I have the credentials and life experiences to back up my writing, and which also gives me a lot of exciting topics to write about. I am a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of experience working in Canadian finance roles. I’ve written close to 1,000 finance articles that have been featured in publications or syndications like The Motley Fool, Yahoo Finance, MSN Finance.
I've also struggled with having a high-paying career but being miserable with my job. It has only been in the past couple of years where I’ve started a freelance writing business, that I’ve been able to leave the 9-5 lifestyle and work from my laptop full-time.
I'm traveling the world full-time now and blogging about each location that I visit from a digital nomad with a personal finance twist. I like to stay in each place for 3-4 months at a time, so I am planning to live in four countries in 2020.
Because of my experience and background, I can write about a wide range of topics ranging from making money, saving money, travel hacking, retirement, and investing.
3. What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
I started my blog fairly recently, in September of 2019. As it's been the first blog I've ever personally started, I have learned a lot. My biggest struggle has been learning new skills required for starting a blog, things like networking, and promoting my posts.
I was used to writing a finance article for websites that publications that already had huge followings, so previously I didn't need to worry about the promotion at all. Despite the struggles, I’ve published 30+ articles already, and am starting to see some traffic trickle in.
4. Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
No, and it's a simple reason for me; Safety. I travel a lot and plan to continue to do so in the future. If I went only to safer countries like Singapore, Australia, or Japan, I'd have no problem publishing my net worth.
But if I want to go to a country like Cambodia, Ukraine, or Brazil, I don't want to be thinking twice about whether or not someone has read my blog and knows exactly how much money I have. I don't want to be a target for criminals or government officials because of my own published information.
5. Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
No. My blog is new, and I want to focus on producing and promoting good content and building a good email list before monetizing my blog. I’m not going to worry at all about monetization until I feel that my readers are ready for it.
6. Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Being hated or controversial can buy you notoriety, and countless bloggers and celebrities have become rich and famous by using one of those two strategies. I have no problem with that, to each their own. But it’s not something that comes naturally to me, and there’s nothing worse to me than being fake.
I would have a problem with knowing that thousands of people read my writing just for the chance to think about how much they hate me. It would be hard on my mental health!
Being collaborative and helpful is something that is as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup. I would rather be loved, because for myself, that has the longest lasting and most positive effect, and is the most natural for me.
7. Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
I’m a fairly open person, and there’s nothing that I write on my blog that I am embarrassed about. I’m aware of the safety issues of writing about your finances online, so I’m careful about not giving away too much information, especially since I travel so much. You never know who will try to take advantage of you in a foreign country.
Also, my parents read my blog, so every post, I keep that in mind!
8. What's your most favorite, least favorite, and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My most favorite blog post is 27 brilliant tips for Canadians to Save Money and Live Better – 2019. I get detailed in the stats and break down the exact percentages that Canadians spend on housing, transportation, and food, along with useful tips to cut back on all of them.
My most embarrassing blog post is 11 Painful Steps in My Journey to Work From Anywhere. This blog post outlines all the mistakes, missteps, and screw-ups I made on my journey to be able to work from anywhere. Embarrassing to read, but also cathartic to write.
My least favorite blog post is PC Travel Review 2020. This blog post was one of my first attempts at a review article. I feel like it could have included a lot more depth, with detailed pricing comparisons with its alternatives.
9. Explain your writing process (how long it takes, how many edits, beg a spouse to proofread, etc).
Here’s a breakdown of my exact writing process:
- I start with planning out my article topics for the week ahead.
- When starting an article, I come up with a few titles, then I do an outline and research (30 minutes)
- A well-researched first draft is completed (2-10 hours, depending on the length of the article)
- Read through and edit my first draft, add, remove, and rearrange any sections I feel don't fit.
- Edit again with Grammarly Premium (5 minutes)
- Create any images, charts, blog banners, or social media visuals that might be used (15 minutes)
- Post it onto Wordpress
- All told, it can be anywhere from around 3 hours for a short post less than 1,000 words or 12 hours for a longer post.
10. What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
Here are four blogs that I love reading:
- Millennial money – Inspiring story of a man who worked hard for five years and went from zero to F.I.R.E in a short period, who has given me ideas on how to speed up my journey to complete financial independence.
- Mr. Money Mustache – A fellow Canadian turned frugal American finance blogger, his views on consumption and vehicle use have changed the way that I think.
- Ritholtz.com – I read this mostly for the collection of interesting news stories from around the internet.
- Financial Samurai – A hard-number cruncher and former Wall Street employee, his pragmatic writing and detailed analysis speak closely to my CFA background.