After reading various personal finance (PF) blogs for more than two years, I have noticed three distinct writing styles among bloggers.
In this post, I will talk specifically about blogs owned and run by individual bloggers rather than commercial sites (i.e. The Penny Hoarder).
These commercial PF blogs consist of posts from many contributors and contain rather heavy affiliate marketing and ads.
I’m generally not a big fan of these commercial sites since they lack the personal connection that I have with individual-run blogs.
(In writing this piece, I don’t mean to upset or offend anyone.
If you’re mentioned here and don’t agree with what’s written, please feel free to leave your feedback.
This is entirely my opinion based on what I have read and analyzed.)
1. Personal opinions followed by in-depth analysis
Bloggers with this style start their posts by presenting their personal opinion or story about a certain topic. They follow it up with a thorough analysis backed by extensive data.
Bloggers in this camp often provide an insight into their financial status through income, net worth, and investment reports. They dissect their financial failures and success in painstaking detail to provide valuable generalizable lessons for the reader.
These bloggers are usually experienced investors.
— The blogger creates and builds a personal connection with the reader by offering their perspective and a look at their finances. This personalized relationship helps build loyalty among their readers.
— The blogger also acts as an educator and mentor by providing data-driven advice based on their extensive and credible research. The generalizable nature of their advice makes it easier for them to reach a wider audience and thus draw more traffic to their blog.
— Though thorough and informative, sometimes the blog posts are a bit too long and/or technical for someone looking to read for leisure.
— The reader sometimes find it hard to relate to the blogger since they may not be interested in personal finance at such a technical level.
— Financial Samurai is a perfect example of this style. He’s built an empire on his blog with such wealth of knowledge that’s particularly useful for those looking to build diversified streams of passive income.
2. General how-to guide
Bloggers with this style minimize their personal opinions and maximize the generalization of their tips. Their posts usually read as a how-to guide that can be useful to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Whether you’re looking to retire early, save money, or pay off debt, there’s always something useful you can find on these blogs. The topics and tips are so broad they are applicable to almost anyone.
— Since the topics and tips are broad, they are more likely to draw a large readership.
— It’s also easier for the blogger to take advantage of affiliate marketing to increase their blog income since there’re multiple products that can be useful for any particular ‘how-to’ post.
— The lack of relationship building through personal stories/opinions can make the reader feel detached from the blogger.
— Due to the ease of affiliate marketing, the blog can easily come across as too commercialized.
— Given the lack of a personal voice, the blogger might find it hard to stand out among other blogs that offer similar content.
— Wallet Hacks by Jim Wang fits perfectly into this category. Jim’s blog offers amazing tips on how to save money, make money, and retire early. If it’s your first few times visiting the blog, you may be discouraged by the cons mentioned above.
3. Narratives about personal life mixed with tips
Bloggers in this category document their daily lives with a focus on frugality. They offer money saving tips while infusing their posts with their life events, feelings, and opinions. The reader can see the bloggers’ personality and lifestyle shine through their posts.
This writing style is less formal than the two mentioned above. The blogger can make it seem like they’re having a casual and friendly conversation with the reader.
Many of these bloggers are wives and mothers who start blogging as a hobby or a side business to make extra income for their family. They may not have a large investment portfolio to present, but they have a lot of amazing money saving tips to share.
— It is much easier for the blogger to build a relationship and cultivate loyalty with their reader. The reader feel like they know the blogger and want to stay updated on their life events.
— This approach can be easily employed by a new blogger who doesn’t have a lot of experience with personal finance (i.e. investment, retirement).
— Due to the personalized nature of this style, it may appeal to a smaller audience than styles #1 and #2.
— The tips on money saving, retirement, or investment tend to be anecdotal and are not thorough data-driven analysis like #1.
My four favorite PF blogs all follow style #3. When I read their blogs, I feel like I’m getting an update from a friend who’s also passionate about frugality as me. This style resonates with me the most. I’ve adopted it for my blog for three reasons:
1) I am a new blogger who has little experience with investment. There’s not much for me to write about regarding rental property or stocks.
2) I have more topics to write about if the blog documents my every day life. While there’s not much I can write about dividends or stocks, I see money saving tips in every little thing I do daily. It seems like a never-ending resource for future topics.
3) I don’t want to do more research when I’m home. I do research for a living, so when I get home and want to do something fun, I really don’t feel like reading extensive reports just to write a post. I want to express my thoughts freely and do look up data to support an argument if needed. But if I have to read 2 reports and 5 books to write a post, then blogging is not fun anymore, at least for now.
At the moment, I want to blog about anything that I find interesting or am curious about. It’s more of a fun activity than a side business.
As I grow older and gain more experience in investment, my posts might be enriched with more data and analysis. In the future, I see style #1 (personal opinions followed by in-depth research) as a promising option.
However, I will keep writing about topics that I enjoy and am comfortable with,. I will stick with style #3 if it continues to speak to me the most.
What about you? Which blogging style do you think you follow?
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