Three Pointers photo compliments of The Washington Post
This is the first edition of ‘three pointers’, which is my attempt at introducing you to three bloggers in the same niche, all of which I follow and admire. I ask them the same, three open-ended questions to get differing points of view. I think it’s a cool way of introducing you to niches and subject matter you may know little about. This week, I welcome three very experienced bloggers who write on a variety of financial topics. I am humbled at the fact that they all agreed to be interviewed, if you haven’t yet discovered them, I gotta say, you’re missing out!
First up is Kraig Mathis from createmyindependence.com. Kraig is living the good life, he had an epiphany in 2010 and decided to drastically slash his expenses. In 2013, Kraig, quit his job and became self-employed and claims to be living a more meaningful life ever since.
Oh by the way, Kraig has created a fabulous online course about how to build an online business through blogging. Kraig’s own online business is a testament that his course works! Best of all, you get the benefit of his hours and hours of self-study, which are passed along to you when you order his course. I wish I had this when I started out!
Next up is Kevin from outofyourrut.com. Kevin’s objective is to motivate you to get out of the rut, make a career change, leave the unfulfilling job, and embark on an entrepreneurial career, just like he did. If you need entrepreneurial direction or counseling, Kevin is your man! He is even willing to write articles for your blog! Kevin is a great writer, he has a great command of the english language and is quite knowledgeable and informative. I have even had him write numerous posts for my site, like this one.
Lastly, and certainly not least; the man, the myth, the money…. Jmoney that is. Jmoney is the founder of budgetsaresexy.com and rockstarfinance.com. Sounds like a busy cat, huh? Well he is, but along with that he is a true renaissance man, he’s heavy on the style, light on the ordinary, and above all that, a true family man. Jmoney has been a successful blogger for 6 years, a near eternity in the blogging world, and like Kevin and Kraig, Jmoney has found a way to make his living, by pounding on a keyboard. Oh, and if you are looking for great budget templates, Jmoney’s got em!
So without further adieu, lets get to our Q&A!
The Three questions this week are:
#1 If you had a crystal ball in the beginning of your blogging career, where would you
have predicted your blogs growth to be in the future?
#2 What do you think the future holds for the personal finance niche and a career in blogging?
#3 Knowing what you know now, If you were to start all over, how would you do things differently?
If you had a crystal ball in the beginning of your blogging career, where would you have predicted your blogs growth to be by now?
The beginning of my blogging career was late 2011. If I had a crystal ball, I could have seen myself generating huge amounts of traffic by this point, making a living off of advertising. Back then, I saw the company I work for build a high traffic advertisement sponsored site and I thought it would be easy to do on my own. I didn’t have any plans besides that, as I figured that business model would make the most sense. I believed it was fairly easy to “SEO” a blog as well and I figured I could get it to come up on Google pretty well. As it turned out, I wasn’t successful with this model, as my traffic never got past a few hundred visitors per day and I never earned more than $50/month from advertisements. I realized about a year or two in, that this model wasn’t going to work for me, so I started planning as such.
Early on I got caught up learning the technical side of blogging. I did that because that’s where I was weakest – it seemed like the logical course. It was certainly useful, but I’d never be more than proficient at the technical side, never a wizard. I spent too much time on technical, and not enough on content. So if I were to go back, I think I would have emphasized content creation, using my blog mostly as a resume for my writing for other sites.
That’s an easy one – I would have seen myself NOT blogging, haha… There’s very few things I usually stick with over time, and I really had no idea starting my blog would literally change my life. My career path has changed because of it, I’m meeting tons of great new friends because of it, and overall I’m much happier and excited to wake up and work because of it. I just hit my 6th year of blogging this month, and I have nothing but love for our PF community. It really is amazing!
What do you think the future holds for the personal finance niche and a career in blogging?
I think the future holds many opportunities for blogging in the personal finance niche. What I would call the “traditional blogging strategy”, which is getting huge amounts of traffic and selling advertising, is a dying strategy, in my opinion. I believe there will be less and less opportunity for people to succeed that way. But none the less, I believe there are still many business opportunities left. Each blogger will just have to identify where they are and choose which ones to go after. Personal finance inspiration and help will always be needed (as long as people behave as they do financially), so that should translate into continued opportunity for bloggers.
I think that the fast/easy growth phase of the PF niche is largely behind us, so it will be more difficult for new blogs to get going. Google is thinning the herd on an ongoing basis, and that’s another obstacle. I think PF blogging has a solid place going forward, because small blogs deal with financial issues on a personal level. In a world where people feel ignored by the mainstream and often don’t know there neighbors, PF blogs are here to stay. It’s a form of financial community that people have taken a serious liking to. That said, I think it will become more niche oriented. The general PF blogs will be less competitive. You’ll have to build a niche within a niche. So, you might specialize in mortgages, investments, auto financing or career topics. PF Blogs offer the opportunity to go really deep on important topics, more so than mainstream finance sites can. That’s the strength of PF Blogs.
Oh man, I haven’t the slightest clue I’m afraid… But I can tell you that it seems like we’re just in the beginning of all this stuff! The internet isn’t that old comparatively, so I’m quite excited to see what happens 5, 10, and even 30 years from now. Which is why I always advise people to just jump in and start learning/having fun now if it’s something that interests them as you really never know where it’ll take you (as evidence of my 1st answer above). Plus, you can always do it just as a hobby or small side hustle too – it doesn’t have ‘to be an all or nothing thing. And despite what people may say, I don’t believe the market can ever be over-saturated with this stuff. There are millions of people out there searching for good information, and sadly the world isn’t getting much better at handling their finances-making it even more important to have fresh voices on the subject ready for them when they eventually come around.
Knowing what you know now, If you were to start all over, how would you do things differently?
If I were to start all over, I would focus more on meeting people through Skype, Google Hangouts and Webinars right away. I would immediately start building an email list by creating something of value and giving it away in exchange for an email address. I would also start hosting a webinar or two every month (on any topic) to drive both more email signups and more relationships with people. I would focus on tracking email signups and relationships built, instead of “traffic”. I would have also never put ads up on my site, as I wasted countless hours messing with them. I would focus on my site design more from the start because I believe how your site looks does make a positive or negative impression on people. Keeping a clean, well designed site is important in my opinion. But, if going back and not making my early mistakes wouldn’t allow me to learn what I’ve learned so far in this journey, then I wouldn’t change a thing. Trying things and failing is a great way to learn and help us eventually find success.
I’d have taken on a technical partner a lot sooner, and focused more on content creation. I’d also be completely open to what ever might happen. For example, when I started my blog, I had no idea that I’d ultimately be writing content for other sites. As a result, I initially resisted my entry into that venture. Other bloggers asked me to write for them, but I not only dragged my feet – after all, it wasn’t in my plans – I also failed to see the potential of that direction, and didn’t work to build it up.
Blogging is very much an internet venture, and you have to be open to where ever it may lead. The web is still developing and the possibilities really are endless. I’ve seen people go into and leave blogging, and a lot more who have started out purely blogging, but eventually expanded into other ventures as a result. I’d say go in ready for anything because it’s a venue where anything can happen. Blogging is often just a starting point.
Great question… I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out so I wouldn’t go back and change much, but the one area I could have certainly improved on was marketing my own stuff. I’m one of those guys who just puts things out there and let’s the world decide what they want to do with it, but that go with the flow mentality doesn’t help much to grow your project faster 😉 So I definitely would have networked and marketed my stuff more knowing what I know now. Having killer content is great, but if you don’t have anyone reading it what does it matter?? PS: I’ve since created a new habit for myself where I go out of my way to email one new person a day. Not to pitch them on my sites or to ask for anything, but just to expand my network and meet other interesting people in the field (I only reach out to those who intrigue me or who I think I’ll like so it’s always genuine). I’ve found this to not only be a very fun, and an easy, way to “get out there” more, but also a great jumping board for future collaborations and partners. You should try it out for a week 🙂 At the very least you come away with some new like-minded friends!
Editors comments: It seems all three of these guys agree on many things, maybe because they all write about finance, I dunno. One of the main things they seem to all agree on is the importance of marketing; getting your message out is more important than writing good content. I think they all agree that expanding your network is key, I love the idea that Jmoney talks about…Emailing at least one new contact every day. What a great way to connect. Another thing I take from their answers is that while we may start off writing a blog, be open-minded to where it may take you. What we are truly doing is building a platform which will allow us to deliver a message. The internet is such an easy way to build a platform and an audience because the barriers of entry are insignificant. I envision a day when 30-40% of the population has a an active blog. As was mentioned by Kevin and Jmoney, the internet is still in it’s infancy, I totally agree. In fact, I think everyone should have a blog (I think Seth Godin even agrees with this) because we all have something interesting to say and there will always be someone interested in listening to us!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being interviewed for a future ‘Three Pointers” blog post.