Why I Don’t Follow Commercial Personal Finance Blogs

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.

They lack the personal touch and relationship that I have with smaller-scale personal bloggers such as Stephanie’s SixFiguresUnder and Kristin’s The Frugal Girl.

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?

2. Doubt

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.

Conclusion

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.

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33 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Follow Commercial Personal Finance Blogs”

  • I agree for sure. I appreciate what bigger blogs like that have to offer, especially to those needing a simple, quick answer. But I love the story and details of a PF blogger much more.

    On a side note, I’m going to assume from all I’ve read on your blog that you’re an introvert. Have you ever read the book called Quiet? It talks about what it’s like to be an introvert in a world of extroverts (aka the US) My husband is a huge introvert and read it and looooves it. Plus, it helps me understand him better. It proves your point of enjoying a few deep connections vs a bunch of people.

  • I agree with all of this. One of the saddest things for me as a blog reader is seeing some of my fave blogs morph from really interesting sites with lots of personal details (it is “personal” finance after all!) to one of the generic pf sites out there in multitudes.

    • I know! It’s so sad, but I understand why it turned out that way. But the good news is there’re more and more PF bloggers telling their stories every day. 😉

  • Totally agree! I still sometimes read those sites if they have interesting headlines, mostly for inspiration on other topics for my own blog. But I don’t follow them religiously by any sense of the word, and much prefer personal blogs. 🙂

    • They do some some good headlines I can def learn from. But yes, good headlines don’t necessarily equate great stories I can relate to hehe.

  • Ok I’m back with an actual good comment this time.

    The content is so impersonal I feel like they’re just going through the motions. I don’t know if you actually tried these or just rehashing what someone else wrote! I want juicy gossip!!

    Plus yes they are flooded with ads. I have no problem with ads but they are flooded. 3 pop ups later (some with freaking audio embedded!!! Rude.) I’m hitting back so many times I forgot what I googled.

    • Haha great to see you back :p

      I know! Those popups are super annoying. Like, I already said I’m not interested by closing the popup. Please don’t keep marketing your products to me with even more popups @_@

    • Oh my gosh, the ones with the audio make me furious! Like, I’m a work, don’t be blasting a car ad (or whatever) at me! Usually I close the tab so they’ve lost a reader forever bc I’ll never remember.

      I found every single one of my favorites through connecting on Twitter or the comments sections of blogs I already love. It’s the pf blogger version of “a friend of a friend” I guess. And every single one has a great story and thoughts and is a positive light in this world of runaway debt.

      Thanks for summarizing my thoughts so well, as you often do, Mrs FAF.

  • I completely agree! As a relatively new blogger, I’ve been running around checking every form and type of blog and must say that the personal blogs are the ones that really capture my attention and keep me coming back. Thanks for the post!

  • I love reading the smaller personal finance blogs, I feel they provide so much better content and are more relatable! I wish more people were aware of the small and tight knit personal finance community, it is so supportive, and not laden with annoying pop-ups.

  • The commercial blogs are just a bit boring. There are not that many things to write about in personal finance. The same stories will come up again and again. If there is no personal story behind it, the articles are too repetitive.

  • The commercial sites have their uses but they account for 2% of my reading. I knew many of them long before they went commercial and so the loss of the unique voice and story is excruciatingly obvious to me. With the limited time I’ve got, I’d much rather read the stories from people I can connect with in some way, as I share my stories with my readers and connect with them. I tell people repeatedly when they wonder why they should blog if they don’t make money from it – we’re Money bloggers aren’t we? And I completely empathize but on the flip side I wrote for more than just money. I write to find insight, for resolutions or feedback. I write for me and for the other people like me, whether or not I’m getting money for it and therefore money or lack of it doesn’t have any impact on my writing or editorial decisions. It’s good to be free from those constraints if you’re writing your very own story. It may not seem bound for success but that all depends on your definition of success, doesn’t it?

    I’d call having decade long deep and strong friendships develop because of blogging a success, personally :).

    • “I’d call having decade long deep and strong friendships develop because of blogging a success, personally :).”

      I’m with you on this! It’s amazing that you’ve been blogging for so long. I remember reading a post where you said your blog is therapeutic to you and helps you release stress. I’ve definitely felt the same way about mine! ^^

  • I am glad I am not the only one who prefers smaller blogs to these giant can never talk to the main blogger blogs. I always feel like those are sometimes the authority on a subject but are meant for gaining a quick answer from a google search. Instead, a smaller blog has meaning and I can follow that person’s life both good and bad with finances and learn from them better!

  • Thanks for this post!

    The only site I consider to be commercial that I occasionally follow is Dollar Stretcher (stretcher.com) because there are actually some good articles and Gary Foreman, the site owner, writes many of them.

    I don’t mind hearing for the gazillionth time to “spend less than you earn” if it’s part of a larger post. But a whole post about that says nothing to me. That’s the kind of thing the commercial sites produce which has no value to me.

  • Like everyone else, I agree. I’m relatively new to blogging, and it’s a lot of fun, although quite probably much more work than many people realise.
    There is simply something different with the smaller, more personal bloggers. I’m not sure whether it’s style, content, or something else, but I feel there is more caring, empathy, and an understanding in their posts. There’s a connection, because nine times out of ten, the writer has been through exactly the same situation as you.

  • I am totally the same way. I used to religiously follow The Penny Hoarder, and I mean I would check that website every day for their new content. I stopped a couple months ago as I was getting bored of the same type of articles. I like smaller blogs because I’m interested in hearing about the person’s life as well, as well as things they are struggling with, whether it be finance or fitness related.

  • Your blog is a perfect example of taking personal finances topics and adding an interesting twist. Your articles have an excellent balance of personal finance coupled with real life experience or stories that make your blog so great!

  • I have followed Joe at Retireby40 for several years now and Joe has brought a completely different perspective than what I got by following Kiplinger’s or CNN Money. So, yes, following your favorite blogger can really complement your learning and provide actual data that you won’t find from a generalized commercial site.

  • I can identify wholeheartedly with what you mean – thinking about who I follow it’s the same way. Probably the same way I don’t follow brands (even ones I like) as it feels impersonal. I’d much rather follow someone that personifies what I like about that brand.

  • There are a number of blogs I used to read all the time and I felt like I knew the blogger, even if I was just a lurker and rarely commented. But then something changed about those blogs. Probably they were sold off, or maybe they became really successful and outsourced most of the writing. Either way, they lost their soul and I lost interest.

    • I can totally relate! I see that with some of the blogs I used to follow too. The posts just became so impersonal that I can no long relate 🙂

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