The party with unknown faces
Have you ever walked into a room full of people you don’t know?
And although they may be talking about exciting and thought-provoking topics, you just can’t seem to relate because you don’t know who they are.
You’re just yearning for a small group of friends who you know well and can ask about anything and talk about just anything.
They know what struggles you’re having because they’re going through the same thing.
You know how much debt they have, what they’ve done to pay off that debt, what their food budget was and what they ate last month.
The party in a room full of strangers, to me, is like a commercial personal finance blogs.
These are the blogs with a lot of contributors that address a myriad of topics related to personal finance.
These writers tend to minimize the personal aspect of their writing and make the blog posts as generalizable to reach a wider audience as possible.
These blogs are not owned by any particular bloggers. They might have started out as personal blog but were later bought by a big companies.
Those blogs then turned into massive websites with lots of contributors and ads.
Many blogs have also started out as commercial blogs from the very beginning.
Either way, these are successful blogs that give a ton of great advice to people trying to save money or pay off debt. They are legitimate businesses offering a service that’s in great demand: finance advice at a non-technical level. I respect those sites as I do any other companies that add value to people’s lives.
My goal is to explain the reasons why I personally do not follow commercial personal finance blogs despite being a personal finance blogger.
1. The close-knit circle
Ever since I started reading about personal finance, I’ve never been too interested in following massive commercial blogs.
Although Stephanie and Kristen don’t know who I am, whenever I read their blogs, I feel like I’m having a conversation with them about our lives and their debt payoff journeys.
I have also developed a wonderful connection with Lily at The Frugal Gene, a blog I follow religiously and which helps me understand Lily better although I have never met her in person.
I know about their progress, which keeps me motivated. Their blogs provide great advice but still show their personal opinions and thoughts. I can see if what they’re doing to cut costs is working and whether I can apply it to my routine and planning.
As for commercial blogs, they’re like a mass of articles written by contributors I simply don’t know at a personal level.
Related: Which Blogging Style Are You?
I know running a blog takes a lot of time and effort. Sometimes it is an endless struggle to balance spending time with our beloved family and allocating sufficient time to running our blog.
In a perfect world, bloggers would run their sites free of ads and always offer free yet insightful advice. But the reality is that unless a blogger is financially free and doesn’t care about (extra) income, they will need to monetize their blog.
Whether it is to pay rent or to take care of our children’s daycare tuition, money is important. It is the currency that greases the wheels of life.
I have absolutely no problem with a personal finance blogger putting ads on their site, doing sponsor posts, or promoting a particular product. (If the ads are so excessive that they prevent me from following the content, then that would call for a different discussion.)
Many bloggers say specifically that they would only promote products that they would use or recommend to their friends or family. At least I know there’s some credibility that backs such products.
On commercial sites, however, no one personal is accountable for the promotion of any product or service. I’m sure you would agree that you would find the recommendation from a friend (PF blogger) more trustworthy than from a company you don’t know well (commercial sites).
I tend to be more alert of offers that from from companies that I know put too much emphasis on making money.
Over the past two years of reading personal finance blogs, I have narrowed the list down to a small group of personal finance bloggers that I follow regularly. Whenever my favorite bloggers publish a new post, I’d jump at it and read it nonstop until the last word.
Even in my social life, I may meet a lot of interesting people, but I tend to stick with a couple of close friends that I know best and talk to them about my life and learn from theirs.
Great advice comes in various forms, but I would like to stick with those that offer me guidance from their own struggles and success.