Today, we're bringing in Earl from Early Retirement Earl 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?
The target audience for Early Retirement Earl is anyone who has been under educated or uneducated about personal finance. That was me and as I continue to learn and grow, I like to share my experiences. I like to think I write for everyone but in the end the truth is, I write for me. Writing my blog accomplishes two goals, it helps to reinforce what I have learned and it makes me feel good that I might help others along the way.
2. What makes your blog different from other blogs in the personal finance blogosphere?
I think we are all covering the same topics, just from different perspectives, What makes me unique is that I can speak from personal experience from all ends of the spectrum. I know what it is like to be completely poor, and I know what it is like to blow your entire paycheck on a weekend of partying. I have sacrificed and lived off of pop tarts in an empty apartment with no tv or cable and I have worked 75 plus hour weeks. I have come to my conclusion that FI is best from years of many different experiences. I like to think I am the slacker student who went on to become a teacher.
3. What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
Just getting noticed. I still work plenty of hours and have a horrible commute to work, I have made a commitment to reach full financial freedom within the next 3 years and I intend to see it through. I am not about to stop this close. Consequently, this leaves me barely enough time to just keep up with regular posts let alone marketing the site. I am happy when I see I have even a few visitors or a post ranks in the top 50 on google.
4. Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I do not. I don't feel comfortable disclosing that information. Also, I'm not even sure I agree with the way most people calculate this. My concern is simply, what is my liquidity. I have seen people include their home equity as part of their new worth but to me this makes no sense. A friend of mine was recently bragging to me that he had over $300,000 in home equity. My response was, "That's great. Can I eat it?" The way I see it, if you can't spend it tomorrow, it isn't part of your net worth. Now if you are earning a monthly cash flow from that house, then we are on to something. I also think it is wrong to pay off your mortgage instead of investing so what do I know?
5. Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
Yeah I really suck at this part of blogging. My current focus is improving my writing and putting out useful content.
6. Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Loved! I would love to be loved for the help I was able to give to people who are like I was. I had a misplaced loyalty towards a job I hated and did not understand that it was even possible to earn my financial freedom. If I can affect even one person, I'll be happy.
7. Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
Horrified is a strong word. I would prefer certain people not read it. Like people at work, definitely my boss, certain friends and family. I just don't feel like answering questions. Let's face it, FI/RE is a bit unorthodox even if you are not taking it to the extremes. Most people don't understand or agree with the things we might sacrifice today in order to have a better life tomorrow. For example, My whole life I have been judged for the piece of crap cars I choose to drive. I don't care. It runs fine and I don't have to make monthly payments. I don't feel I should need to make justifications to other people about my choices. If you want to know why I do it and we can have an open discussion about each others views, great. If you just want to judge, I don't have time for you.
8. What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
Favorite: I have become fascinated with dividends and the possibility of living off dividend income alone. I did quite a bit of reading up on this and once I was able to collect my thoughts I wrote Living off Dividends in Retirement: The Passive Income Dream. This remains my favorite article. Probably not my best, but my favorite https://earlyretirementearl.com/living-off-dividends-in-retirement-the-passive-income-dream/
Least Favorite: My least favorite post is the one I wrote about all my reasons for being burnt out at work. I just felt I needed to get it out and figured it would also help others who might be feeling the same way. Looking back it was not fun to write and probably wasn't very helpful and certainly had nothing to do with advancing anyone's progress towards financial independence or early retirement. It was titled Work is killing me! Why I need to be free and can be read here https://earlyretirementearl.com/work-is-literally-killing-you-why-you-need-financial-independence/
Most Embarrassing: My most embarrassing is easily 20 Life changing personal finance books. https://earlyretirementearl.com/20-life-changing-personal-finance-books/ Even though I am sincere in my recommendation of these books, it took longer than I care to admit to put all those links and images on the page. It was one of my first posts.
9. Explain your writing process (how long it takes, how many edits, beg a spouse to proofread, etc).
I'm all over the place. I still work a full 50 plus hours a week plus 1.5 hrs a day commute each way (hopefully not for much longer) plus I have 3 kids and my wife works as well. That leaves little time for writing and at odd hours. I might have an idea today that doesn't become a full article for a month. I usually will write the title and a bunch of ideas or subheadings, almost like an outline so that when I do get interrupted I can just jump write back in later. Instead of writing one long article it is like writing 7 or 8 small ones. This process can take days, weeks or even months sometimes if I lose focus or move on to a different topic that has me more motivated at the moment. I also tend to hold the article for much longer than I should before publishing. I proof read and make tweaks and edits all the time. I then just sit on it until I think it is ready to publish. Sometimes I just say forget it and hit the publish button even though I don't feel I have put in enough effort. Like I said, I am all over the place.
10. What is your favorite blog in the personal finance blogosphere (other than your own!)?
Would I be a total suck up if I said thinksaveretire.com? I am really enjoying the blogging confession series. I have also become more and more fascinated with dividend stocks so I have been reading a lot of Divvydad.com. Dividenddiplomats.com is really cool too.
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