Happy Saturday and welcome to the ninth episode of the ‘Blogger Confessions’ interview series on the blog. Today, I’m bringing in Sarah from Smile & Conquer to talk about blogging and how they’ve managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger. 

Sarah, take it away.

Blogger Confessions with Sarah from Smile & Conquer

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

I started working in finance ten years ago and it opened my mind to a world I knew next to nothing about. I always considered my parents good with money but it was something we rarely talked about, so getting thrown into that world was an eye-opener.

The problem was that the majority of people I dealt with were older and many were already retired. I saw first hand the impact of being a good saver versus a bad saver. I wanted to share what I was picking up with people my own age (I’m 32) as that was when good savings habits really matter.

So, that means my target audience is other millennials. I also talk quite a bit about women’s issues so most of my audience is female millennials.

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

I don’t have a huge debt payoff story or a strong desire to retire super early, but I think my experience working in the industry gives me a unique perspective.

There are a lot of non-personal finance bloggers out there who have very normal money stories. They earn average incomes, don’t hate their jobs, aren’t very frugal, and strive to balance their spending with their saving. That’s my story…it’s not exciting but I think it’s relatable, and it’s not always what’s promoted in the PF scene.

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

Consistency. Hands down.

There are times when I’m incredibly motivated and driven to write and promote and do all those small tasks that come with blogging. But there are other times when the call of the couch and Netflix is undeniably strong.

I work full-time and it’s still a process to balance that with blogging and all the other life stuff that gets in the way. I’ve committed to posting once a week. I wish I could increase that but I’ve struggled to make time and I don’t want the quality of my posts to suffer.

Even with that target, it’s not unusual to find me forcing out a post on Tuesday night for a Wednesday publish date. My goal is to create a backlog of at least a month of posts but I’ve never had more than a couple ready to go.

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

I don’t. Because of my job, I blog semi-anonymously and it’s not information I’m comfortable having out there in the world.

As much as I support and want to promote transparency in money matters, I’m still hesitant to put all that out there. I have friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who do know about my blog (it’s really just the big bosses I’m hiding from), and they aren’t all people I’m comfortable knowing all the details of my finances.

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

I do have some ads and affiliate links in my posts, but it’s not something I’ve spent enough time mastering.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my blog to earn money. However, anything it earns is a bonus. I’m not doing it to replace my day job so it’s never been a necessity for it to earn. Right now I consider blogging more of a side hobby instead of a side hustle. It earns enough to pay for itself but I sure won’t get rich off it!

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

I have to say loved, but honestly, I don’t really want to. From what I’ve seen, controversy breeds success. The most controversial posts are always the most talked about, the most read, and drive success for their authors.

That’s just not me, though. Which is surprising, because I tend to be pretty outspoken and have very strong opinions on certain things. That conflicts with my desire to be a people pleaser, which seems to be the trait that wins out in much of my writing.

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

My mom.

I don’t even know why. I’m bad at taking praise for my parents and despise it when they gush over something I’ve done. And I know my mom would drive me crazy if she found out. I also write about life stuff that I don’t always share with my parents so keeping those two worlds separated is the easy way out. I’m a terrible daughter aren’t I?!

My mom is also terrible with computers and still has no idea how the internet works. Attempting to explain blogging to her would try my patience.

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

Favorite: Why I Don’t Consider Myself Frugal

It shouldn’t be surprising that this is both my favorite and most controversial post. It was a fun post to write because it’s a subject I feel strongly about, and isn’t always popular in the personal finance community. It’s also the only post I’ve written that inspired a rebuttal post from another blogger. I should get controversial more often!

Least Favorite: Cash vs. Credit

This is one of the first posts I ever wrote and it’s straight up bad. Many of my older posts I’ve gone back and updated but for some reason, I’ve skipped this one. Probably because it’s so darn boring that I can’t bring myself to deal with it. It’s the kind of personal finance post that everyone has on their blog and doesn’t bring any new information to anyone. I should probably just delete it.

Most Embarrassing: That Time I Ran Into A Parked Car

I bet most people will use this opportunity to link to one of their old, terrible posts but this one is a real-life embarrassing incident. I ran into a parked car. Ugh. Not my proudest moment. Read all about what happened and how my emergency fund saved my butt. And don’t worry, I have invested in winter tires now.

9: Explain your writing process

If I’m writing more of an opinion piece that I’m passionate about I can get the post written in about an hour. If it’s something more fact-based that requires some research it usually takes 2-3 hours to get a solid first draft.

Then I have to find an appropriate stock photo and create one or two pinnable images or infographics. That usually takes about half an hour.

Editing and proofreading are not my forte. They never have been. Even when I was in University writing term papers for my history degree, I slacked on editing. I would do a quick read over to catch any glaring errors and then print and submit. Yes print, it’s been a while since I’ve been in school.

For editing my blog posts I still do a quick read over but I also use Grammarly which helps catch any typos. It’s far from a perfect process but I’d rather spend more time writing and less time proofreading.

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

Tough question! There are so many bloggers out there right now who are killing it but I have to go with my girl Amanda from The Dumpster Dog Blog. I love every piece of content she puts out and her no holds barred attitude is motivating as heck. She’s also fantastic on social media. I just love everything she’s doing.

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