Blogger Confessions #51: R.J. from The Ways to Wealth
Happy Monday and welcome to the 51st episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog.
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Today, we're bringing in R.J. Weiss from The Ways To Wealth 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?
I spent a decade in the financial services industry, where I worked primarily with the top 1%. I started The Ways To Wealth to share what I learned from that experience, with the goal of helping the remaining 99%. Basic knowledge about money management and investing goes a long way towards helping someone have a better quality of life, so I like to think of my job as teaching the blocking and tackling of personal finance to as wide of an audience as possible.
2: What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
It’s a single-author blog (with a very occasional guest post) that shares the viewpoint from my experience as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. So, when I’m writing content, I’m constantly asking myself (in typical financial planner fashion) questions like, “How is this going to help someone accomplish their financial goals?” It’s this type of consistent perspective that I feel makes the site different.
3: What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
Updating content. In the personal finance space, you want all the information on your site to be accurate. This is a tall task for sites with smaller teams and years’ of posts. Recently, I’ve been spending more time updating content than writing new articles.
4: Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I don’t. I consider my own personal life fair game. But, as a husband and father of three kids, I don’t share anything that could potentially impact other members of my family. In other words, there’s no way my wife would allow it… and I can’t blame her one bit.
5: Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
I have monetized the site, primarily through advertising and affiliate marketing. From Day #1, I set out to turn The Ways To Wealth into a profitable business. And while the intention was there to generate income from the start, actually doing so certainly took some time. For me, the real tipping point came after about a year of publishing consistently on the site.
I’ve now been working on the site full-time for nearly three years.
To me, the best way to monetize a blog is through affiliate marketing (when done right). If you’re able to provide an objective point of view on a product or service that people can actually benefit from, it’s a win-win situation.
6: Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Loved. Having a reader get in touch about how you helped them in some way, shape or form is one of the best parts about running a blog. I can’t say the same about the occasional hate email that somehow goes from disagreeing with something I wrote to insulting my hair.
7: Who would you be horrified to know reads your blog?
Oh man. Dave Ramsey.
I respect a lot of what Dave has done. At the end of the day, the amount of people he’s encouraged to live debt-free is something I can get on board with.
Yet, there are some things he says I just can’t help but disagree with.
8: What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My favorite post is the subtly titled “How To Get Rich Quick: The Not-So-Secret Formula For Getting Rich Fast.” Of any post on the site, it best taps into the themes I think are most important for building wealth. These include the idea that making money is a skill you can build, the concept of increasing the gap between your income and savings, and the importance of worrying less about what you invest in and more about how much you invest.
My least favorite (at least right now) is the post “A 4-Step Guide To Travel Hacking: The Easiest Way To Take Your First Free Trip.” I absolutely love to travel, but like many people, my family and I have decided not to travel for the foreseeable future.
My most embarrassing post is titled “What Buying Tesla Shares For $26 Taught Me About Investing.” While I preach patience and having a plan with investing, actually doing so is hard. And in this post, I share the opportunity cost (which was over six figures) of the time I had little patience and no plan.
9: Explain your writing process
I wish I could say I can open up a Google Doc and go start to finish on one blog post in one sitting. Unfortunately, that’s just not how my mind works.
To create something of value, I’m a slow writer. It often takes me multiple days (I find I can only write for about three hours a day) and multiple rounds to produce something I’m happy with.
After that, I send it out to my editor for feedback — which is typically accompanied by more revisions. As I think to myself the entire time, “How did I not catch that?”
Once I hit “Publish,” I usually then notice things I immediately want to change. Yet, for some reason, this is the part of the process that I enjoy most.
10: What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
I think very highly of Mr. Money Mustache. What impresses me the most is how many lives he’s not only improved but transformed. There are thousands of people that he inspired to live a completely different lifestyle, and that’s not an easy thing to do.