Blogger Confessions #50: Erin from MissFinFree
Hear from Erin from MissFinFree about her journey in personal finance blogging!
For our 50th edition of the Blogger Confessions series we talked to Erin from MissFinFree. Shortly after I posted my piece about determining whether or not you actually want to retire early, or if your boss is the problem, I was excited to see that Erin left us a comment about how she made that same determination for herself. I visited her website and reached out to her to see if she was interested in being our 50th guest, and she graciously accepted.
Take it away Erin!
1: In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog?
My target audience is millennials who are looking to increase their financial literacy. There are two hard truths about financial literacy. One is that there is a lack of education on this topic. I didn’t have a finance course until my MBA. To have no financial education until a master’s program is absurd!
The second is that society pushes consumerism with reckless abandon. If you aren’t happy, you must not have the latest gadget, biggest home, or newest drug. These are all poised to create a false sense of happiness through endless spending.
The combination of these two hard truths is dangerous. Many of us are woefully unprepared to navigate any financial decision with confidence. Having experienced this myself, I created MissFinFree to share what worked for me in hopes that it helps others.
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
Most people don’t want to become finance experts. They just want to demystify their options and make decisions they can feel good about.
Because I do not have any formal education or work experience in the finance industry, I can relate better to the average person. I remember what it feels like having to look up half of the words in an article because I didn't know what they meant (amortization, anyone?). I remember financial experts exploiting me for their own corporate gain.
Because of these experiences, my motives are pure. I only want those close to me to avoid similar pitfalls and live a life free from the stress of money.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
Let’s be honest, finances can be a dry topic. Finding a writing style that engages my audience while being informative can be difficult. Early on my writing style was more instructional. Now I’m shifting to a story-telling technique so that others can better engage with the information I provide. This sweet spot will let me reach more people.
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
Not yet. I don’t have a problem publishing it, but also need to make sure it makes sense to be shared. Putting it out there for everyone to see without context could come off as self-righteous. When trying to get people to be open and honest about their personal financial situation, that can be a setback.
I’m not targeting the financially savvy. I’m trying to connect with beginners. People who’ve just signed a bank note and want to know how to pay it off ahead of schedule. People who want to learn how to invest so they can retire a few years early. I will share my net worth if I think it will help drive clarity and understanding of a concept.
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
I have Google ads and a couple of affiliate links on my resources page. I added Google Ads because they’re typically among the highest revenue generators for a blog. Eventually I’d like to replace that source of income with something less intrusive and more user-friendly.
As for affiliate marketing, I link only to material I have used and endorse. There is no quicker way to lose trust than to peddle every affiliate link out there. When I read other blogs, I generally navigate away when I see the same set of “recommended products” that all just happen to give kickbacks. I’m looking for sources of information I can trust, and my audience is expecting the same from me.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Finances are innately controversial. Although the math is black and white, each person’s situation is unique. There’s a reason it’s called personal finance. Anyone attempting to provide a one-size-fits-all approach is destined to fail.
MissFinFree is not focused on likability. My sole mission is to increase my reader’s quality of life through financial freedom. Freedom to relinquish the control money has over their life. Freedom to find true happiness beyond the empty promises of consumerism.
7: Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
There was a time in my life when I was wholly afraid of putting myself out there. Imposter syndrome ran deep. The risk of sharing my opinions appeared to be a one-way ticket to failure and embarrassment.
After finding some of my most-respected colleagues shared similar self-doubt, I stopped listening to that pessimistic voice in my head. Now I push forward seeking other’s feedback but not their approval. As a result, I would gladly share my blog with anyone interested in reading it.
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My favorite post so far is also my most recent: Travel Hacking 101: How to be Frugal without Sacrificing Travel. I feel like most people think in an either/or mentality. I can either save money, or I can travel. This post uses story-telling to show people that they can accomplish both with a little understanding of credit card points.
My least favorite post also happens to be my first post: What’s the Difference Between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA? The post itself isn’t terrible. But the topic is unoriginal and has been answered 10x over. Going forward I intend to write more original content.
I can’t say I have a post I’m embarrassed about. I intend to keep it that way :)
9: Explain your writing process
Although I consider myself a very structured person, my writing process is almost the exact opposite. I write when I’m feeling inspired about a certain topic. Listening to a finance podcast or talking with others about their personal finances always stokes my appetite to write.
The times when I’ve written “because I should” I end up rewriting the entire draft when my creative juices are flowing. An inspired post is more engaging and more effective than an obligatory post.
To organize my writing process, I keep a Google Doc with various writing prompts as they come. This allows me to capture new ideas without interrupting my current train of thought. At this point, it has 5 pages of ideas all at varying degrees of completeness.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
My favorite blog is the Mad Fientist podcast. In addition to a world-class guest list, the Mad Fientist is a master of tax-avoidance, a topic I seek to learn more about. Each episode enlightens me to more topics and insights I can’t wait to research. I literally take notes as I listen to each episode.