Today, we're bringing Mad Money Monster to talk about blogging and how they've managed to keep everything straight as a personal finance blogger.
1. In at least 100 words, describe the target audience of your blog.
My target audience is anyone who wants to improve their finances. Lately, I’ve been focusing more on an alternative definition for the popular FI acronym.
Rather than focusing on financial independence, I’ve been writing more content that focuses on financial improvement. Financial independence is a lofty goal and it’s easy to lose motivation if it’s too far from your grasp. Instead, focusing on financial improvement will keep you moving in the right direction no matter how small your wins to eventually hit independence.
My content is for individuals and couples who haven’t made all the right money moves. They could be struggling due to circumstances out of their control, or they could be struggling because they willingly got themselves into consumer debt. Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to turn things around and create a solid financial future.
I have a healthy following of Millennial and Gen-X women that read my blog. I also have a fair amount of men that follow me via social media. It’s nice to have a good mix.
2. What makes your blog different from other blogs in the PF blogosphere?
Let me be clear, I have no problem with people making money from their work. It is, though, a little off-putting (to me) to see a lot of information being held back from people who really need help because there is money to be made via courses, summits, retreats, and the like. Look, I get it, it just seems like there is a big shift these days in the personal finance community to focus on goal setting and happiness and big money-making ventures as opposed to just creating great content that inspires and motivates people to better manage their money. I attempt to do the latter while being genuine and still making a profit for my efforts.
3. What’s the thing that you’ve struggled with the most since starting your blog?
Finding my voice. In a sea of personal finance bloggers, podcasters, etc., it’s difficult to speak your mind when you know it goes against the grain of the common thread in the community. It took some time, but I finally threw caution to the wind and started speaking up about some of the popular trends that I don’t necessarily agree with. And it feels good.
4. Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?
I have considered this several times in the past and have ultimately decided against it. Once it’s out there you can never take it back. For me, it’s personal and also a safety issue. I have no problem talking net worth, investments, and strategy with people I know well. I do have an issue with sharing it with the world. It just isn’t necessary.
5. Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?
When I started my blog, Mad Money Monster, back in 2015, I didn’t even know what an affiliate link was. In fact, I remember thinking, “Wow, it was so nice of “X Blogger” to have inserted that link for their readers.” I was such a fool. I had no idea the goal was to build an email list full of warm customers or even what a sales funnel was. I knew none of it.
Times they sure have changed. At one point, I was putting in a full 40 hours into my blog each week, in addition to my actual full-time job in the corporate world. That’s a lot of work. I was and still am doing my best to create quality content that people enjoy and are able to gain some motivation and inspiration from.
Okay, back to the original question. Yes, I do monetize my blog because it is a lot of work. How do I do that? I monetize via ads, affiliate links, and sometimes sponsored content. However, over the years I have really become selective with what I allow on my site.
I am completely fine with my ads because they’re my biggest money maker to date and I feel like it’s completely acceptable and often expected to have ads on a website/blog. As far as affiliate links, I only insert affiliate links occasionally and only for products I truly do use or have vetted. I have a few sponsors that I maintain relationships with. My sponsors have great reputations in the world of finance and I know they offer quality products and services.
6. Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!
Controversial, of course. :) I don’t mind stirring the pot and getting people to think about alternatives. I don’t have any problems speaking out against some of the popular personal finance trends and pointing out potential downfalls.
Since I’ve lived a little longer than the majority of bloggers out there, I see the world differently. I’ve made big financial mistakes in the past. I was also in relationships that didn’t suit me for years. I’ve even had the pleasure of being a single parent. I’ve also watched seemingly healthy (and young) adults become terminally ill literally overnight. I stood by as a close friend vowed to never have children and then willingly became a father in his 60s.
All of this adds to my life experience and alters my lens. So, when I hear about people retiring early because they’ve mapped out their lives and they’re not going to worry too much about healthcare because they’re young and healthy and eat salads, I cringe. It doesn’t mean I’m right and everyone else is wrong, or vice versa, it just means that I see things in a different light and I try to open others’ eyes through my own experiences to potential unexpected events ahead.
Every movement has its good and its bad. It’s not all sunshine and puppy dogs, despite what the internet tries to sell you.
7. Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?
If you asked me this question a few years ago, I would’ve had a laundry list of people to throw into this category. Today, I don’t really care who reads it. I already know old boyfriends, my boss, and even enemies read my blog and listen to my podcast. I never had a problem with being open and talking about things other people shy away from, so, at this point, none of it bothers me.
8. What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?
My favorite post on the site is on why we stopped chasing early retirement for a happier life. This was one of those posts where I spoke out against the popular notion of early retirement always being a great option.
My least favorite post on the site is one I wrote about how to afford a college education by not being an idiot. It was one of the first posts I had ever published and I was a little harsh with my writing. I tried to link to it but it appears as if I may have unpublished it in the past due to it being my least favorite post.
Since I’m totally fine with being an open book, I can’t really say I have any post that I feel is embarrassing. It takes a lot to embarrass me in real life, so it’s nearly impossible via my own writing.
9. Explain your writing process
I’d love to tell you that I have a detailed and well-thought out process of writing. I don’t. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes I write before bed, and sometimes I sit down in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I’m on the couch and sometimes I’m at the coffee shop. Right now, I’m on my lunch break.
I don’t need absolute silence and I don’t need a cup of coffee next to me. What I do need is a great content idea that gets me excited. If I have that, you might find me awake at 5am tapping on the keys.
All told, each blog post consumes about 5 hours of my time, including editing, links, images, and crafting the email to my awesome subscribers.
10. What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?
I have always loved Budgets are Sexy and Frugalwoods. They were the first two blogs I found when I started searching for how I could manage my money better before starting my own blog in 2015.
I love Budgets are Sexy because it just seems so real. That speaks to me because I can relate to the style. I love Frugalwoods because it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum. The content is so wholesome and so completely different from what I am, but somehow it speaks to me in an idealistic kind of way.