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Monday, April 28, 2014

Preaching to the Choir

Preaching to the Choir
When I see who is commenting on the blog, sometimes I have to ask myself why I write about personal finance at all. I mean, most of you who read and comment here have your own personal finance blogs, and, let's face it, you know at least as much about this stuff as I do. We may differ on the varying approaches of debt repayment or investing strategies. But if you read the blog and leave a comment here, my guess is that out of the hundreds or thousands of people in your network of friends, family, and coworkers, you are the person who least needs to read a blog about personal finance. You already have your stuff together. You know how this money thing works. Heck, you know enough about cost cutting, budgeting, investing, tax efficiency, and financial independence to actually write about it three times a week.

It's a weird irony, isn't it, that we personal finance bloggers are all preaching to the choir. That's not to say that we don't learn from one another. I do learn from you, especially from bloggers like Matt from Mom and Dad Money, Mad Fientist, Joe from Stacking Benjamins, Bryce from Save and Conquer, and, truly, from everyone on the blog roll. Your writing definitely improves my understanding of finance. Though if we're being totally honest, we should probably also admit that our readers, a lot of the time, already know the tips and tricks that we share with one another. By and large, our readers often already understand the concepts we write about because they, too, are personal finance bloggers.

But if we really are preaching to the choir, why write or read about personal finance at all? My take is that it's not really the sharing of knowledge that's the point, though it probably starts out that way. When we first start getting into the topic, we don't know much as readers. We don't know how best to pay off our debt or invest. But, over time, we learn. It's not brain surgery, after all. Track your spending, cut costs, improve income, and use the delta to pay off debt and invest. If you do those things, you become wealthy. Still, we find the topic interesting enough that we don't just want to read about these things, but to write about them, too. We decide to share our experiences and knowledge.

But after a few months of writing, we begin to see that the people writing back to us in the comments section, well, they've kind of have this stuff down already. So why do we do it? Instead of spreading knowledge, I think we write because, well, we're weirdos, and we are looking for other weirdos like us somewhere in the depths of our computer monitors. Being someone who chooses personal finance as a hobby makes me a very special kind of nerd. It means I am someone who enjoys crunching numbers and honing my skills in the last taboo subject of American society: money. The fact that I like it so much that I write about it on the regular only makes me more odd.

So, I'm a freak. But on these hidden pages of the internet, I learn that I am not alone. There are other guys and girls just like me, some who take this mild obsession even farther than I do, and they make me feel better about the whole thing. While we probably can't find a community in our neighborhood to chat about the nuances of a traditional vs. a Roth IRA, you can bet that there are a few thousand folks online who would love to have that debate. Friends and coworkers will look at us cockeyed if we bring up the subject of money in casual conversation. It's hard to know who is open to that kind of chat in real life. But on the internets, we can find our kindred spirits.

And isn't that the best thing the internet has brought us? While the world wide web may have destroyed newspapers forever and made pornography accessible in a way that our forefather dirtbags could only dream of, the internet's best contribution to society is the way it brings together people and information. No matter what kind of dork you are, you can bet that there is someone just like you, only a little weirder, just a click away. So you voluntarily build Excel spreadsheets for your monthly budget and map out CBAs for various tax strategies? You've hacked out some way to travel for free and want to share your secret? Perfect. Welcome home, nerd. We've been waiting for you.


*Photo is from the US Embassy Sweeden, at Flickr Creative Commons.

102 comments:

  1. Let's be real. As a new blogger, posting comments are a way to generate traffic. We're trying to grow our choir. I will say that I only comment on blogs that I enjoy reading.

    As a reader, I read to learn, and also for motivation/affirmation/confirmation (any more ....ations I can add?) and to interact with a community of like-minded people that I didn't even know existed last year.

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    1. Good point about commenting to build an audience. And the motivation/confirmation/affirmation is a big benefit. It helps us to keep writing, keep saving...

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  2. I think one of the biggest reasons people get into blogging is that they have something they want to say and discuss, but like you said money is still such a taboo subject in normal day to day in person conversations. Blogging is an outlet and forum for discussion. When I first started my own blog I planned on doing more general personal finance with a tilt towards investing, but it's obviously gone full on investing now. It's where I was naturally drawn and there's so many blogs that discuss the nuances of saving/cutting expenses... but I didn't see a lot that covered what to do next. Of course now that I've been blogging for a few years I've found so many more resources on investing but I think having a personal touch and real life example of investing is great to relate to others. My background didn't have me getting into a bunch of debt and struggling to pay it off, so my voice and story for discussing those topics just wouldn't ring true to most people, in my opinion. It does seem like it's the same people that continue to comment on posts but you never know who they share that information with. I've received comments/emails from people telling me they're going to pass along one of my posts to their son/daughter and it's always amazing to me when they do that.

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    1. You're right, Passive Income Pursuit, that there seems to be a lot more blogs about budgeting & saving money, but not as many on investing. You've found a great subject to focus on.

      And I agree: it's a pretty awesome thing when you find out your blog is shared with someone else IRL.

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  3. You make great points. But I'm just very passionate about personal finance and related topics. I think much can be learned from the perspectives of others. Plus, I think your posts here on DB40 are a little unique and often delve into the psychology of pf and things of that nature...not the generic save money by doing XYZ posts. And sometimes you have to preach to the choir cause other people don't want to listen to us =)

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    1. Thanks, Andrew! And yes, I think we preach to the choir sometimes because we know they want to listen. We're the oddballs who break the taboo.

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  4. I think like anything you evolve, sure there are people who have it all figured out, but like any good education you have to be involved an imurse yourself to learn. My friend at work laughs when I tell him I listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts every morning. He says "What's he saying today? Save money and don't spend so much?" I responded with Yes, but sometimes I forget that's what I need to do.

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    1. That's just a fantastic point, Even Steven. Simple truths that you already "know" still have great value, because, like you say, on some days we forget.

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  5. I think it's important to remember that personal finance isn't a static topic but an ever evolving journey. Reading everyones' insights, familiar and new, are always helpful in keeping me motivated.

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    1. Another great point, Stefanie. The subject isn't something you can really ever get your arms around, and it's dynamic.

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  6. You know... it's a pretty sad state of affairs when people who believe in basic common sense where money is concerned are somehow considered societal freaks, but there it is. I, for one, am grateful for the feeling of solidarity that our little online communities provide.

    I also think that providing a "different voice" is crucially important. You never know who might stumble upon our little corner of the blogosphere and be transformed by it. I'm quite sure that not everyone who reads leaves a comment. And you might just be providing a lifeline for someone who desperately needs it.

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    1. I hadn't thought so much about the people who read but never comment. I suppose it's tough to know they are there, or who they are, but you never know...and that Google Analytics thing says they are out there.

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    2. Hey DB40 don't be too hard on yourself!

      Mr money mustache is nearly averaging 200,000 daily page views and yet has *only* around 200 comments per post.

      Admittedly a lot of those are from "real people" - but then again a lot of those real people disagree with what he had written. This is the double edged sword of exposure
      - be careful what you wish for ;)

      I am guessing the commenting numbers are broken down something like this:

      50% - found the site by accident, it wasn't what they were looking for or not helpful/relevant to the problem they were trying to solve (still, I'm sure a few of these % may still stick around for a while)

      35% - long term readers who never left a comment

      10% - readers who comment very infrequently (1-5 times)

      3% PF bloggers who will comment when they feel is relevant

      1% - Real people who regularly comment

      1% - Real people who found the site by accident, read one page, thought it was rubbish and felt strongly enough to tell you about it :)

      Of the ~45% who read and don't really comment, I would agree with what others have said that maybe they liked the post and learned a lot, but as they are still learning this stuff from you, they haven't got much to add. When I read really technical posts about taxes, investing, or economic factors for example I'm much less likely to comment (apart from maybe a thanks! As that never hurts does it)

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    3. Really good point, FireStarter. The majority of people who come to the blog don't write a comment. It's a bad assumption on my part to think they're not getting something out of it.

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    4. I was going to say the same exact thing! Bloggers comment to build community/get return comments, but if you don't blog, you generally wouldn't leave one. That being said, I think a large portion of our returning audiences ARE bloggers. I try to comment on blogs in different niches I'm interested in to avoid homogenization. Sometimes it works?

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    5. And this is it FemmeFrugality - everyone is scratching everyone's back in blogger commenting world. However, for this reason I can't or don't post about one topic, which means I get fewer reciprocal scratches (ie very few PF blogs I regularly comment/ed on write on my site), which I'm actually OK with. I'm writing for me, and at least people are honest enough not to comment if they are only about PF/ER etc.

      And like Alicia below, I also blog to keep myself accountable. And to keep a record, cause honestly, what better way to share photos, than to add the story or context for some readers. It's amazing how often I 'refer back' to old posts, and I've been blogging 18 months.

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  7. Yeah, I have thouoght about this for quite awhile. As of now my blog isn't so much for other people - I mean I love when people read it - but it's really about keeping myself accountable and moving forward.

    But I will say I always love it when a non-blogger comments on my site. Not that I don't love my blogging-friends commenting, but continuing with your metaphors, that's the holy grail.

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    1. It really is the holy grail, isn't it? One comment in a few hundred is from a non-blogger, at least on this blog. They're gems.

      I like how your blog is for keeping accountability, Alicia. Making goals public like that motivates like nothing else.

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    2. I agree with you Alicia. So far, the only emails I've received have been from readers who just want to know more about Chattanooga. It feels great when that happens.

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    3. That is another strange phenomenon, I think non bloggers are more likely to directly email you than leave a comment. Not everyone wants to share their view publicly but still want to converse with you. I've had a fair amount of direct mails compared to comments, which is nice.

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  8. DB40,

    Your blog and all the others around here are HUGELY important, regardless of whether many people who comment read the posts, nod their head in agreement, and say ‘Amen to that brother, I just wrote about something similar last week!’’.

    As well as bringing like-minded people together, it’s a fantastic support group for keeping everyone motivated with their own blogs, goals, and continual learning. Having a passion like this and sharing it with the world is a beautiful thing, something unfortunately too few people take the opportunity to do.

    Don’t forget there are probably many people who read these posts and never comment (like I used to), but each article, comment, or perspective slowly helps them change their view of the world, and gives them the courage to try something new – like work towards early retirement. This stuff can be inspirational to new readers especially, so you’ve got to just keep the snowball rolling.

    So please keep preaching to the choir, and keep the choir strong!

    Cheers,
    Jason

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jason! I rarely think about the people who just read and don't comment. They easily could outnumber the commenters though.

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  9. I agree that we all have unique voices and our own take on things, and I always enjoy reading about the experiences others have had with their finances. I've learned a lot while reading PF blogs, and it's true that we can gain motivation from other bloggers. So while we are preaching mostly to the choir, I think we're still taking new things away from posts. I've also been reading that a large majority of readers sometimes don't comment at all. It's possible we're still reaching those that aren't part of the PF community, which is my hope.

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    1. I've probably been too harsh on the PF community. We really do learn a lot from each other, like you said, EM.

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  10. Interesting, DB40!! I think what I learn most from PF blogs is just their difference perspectives on life and finances in general. It seems we all kind of have a different way of thinking about things, and even though the info may not be new, the perspective often is, and learning about a new perspective really helps motivate me to keep on pushing toward our goals. I don't know where our blog is headed, but I know it'll get there a lot faster as long as I have all of these other great PF bloggers preaching to me. :-)

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    1. Ha! Yeah, the value of another perspective is invaluable. It's funny that I'll hear about a new approach to tax efficiency a bunch of times, but the one time I hear it presented in the right way, that's when I actually take action.

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  11. Since we started blogging, I've said that I feel like we mostly speak in an echo chamber. I've decided, though, that non-PF bloggers or non-nerds seeking help with their financial situations are less likely to comment because they may feel they have nothing to add to the dialogue. PF bloggers and nerds either feel comfortable enough commenting or simply don't care. That's my take. I could be wrong.

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    1. True enough, John. We bloggers are happy to comment, but the average Joe reading a blog might not feel like he's advancing the discussion, or knows enough to speak up.

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  12. I definitely like this realm because of the different voices, methods, and types of personal finance blogs, as well. I also frequent running blogs, but for the most part it's the same - running. Sure, there's different personalities, but with personal finance there just seems to be so much more. It's nice to be with like-minded people in terms of personal finance, yet have extremely different viewpoints when it comes to it. :)

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    1. I had no idea there was such a thing as a running blog, Anna. I may need to read up, just so I can stick to a cardio schedule.

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  13. DB40,

    I think saving money and losing weight are closely related: It's not difficult to realize that you need to take in less calories than you burn to lose weight. Likewise, it's common sense that one needs to spend less than they earn to get ahead. However, I think the personal finance community exists to provide a constant source of inspiration/motivation/education, much the same as the weight loss TV shows and books exist to motivate people to keep doing what's necessary to lose weight.

    And within each community you have people who range from very moderate strategies to very extreme strategies, and as such tend to attract niche audiences.

    Personally, I'm just grateful to have an audience/choir to preach to. The wonders of the internet! :)

    Best wishes.

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    1. I like the analogy with weight loss, Jason. It's simple in theory, hard in practice. The varied voices and community of support are key if the simple ideas are to stick.

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  14. Even though I exercise almost daily, I still love reading fitness and health magazines and blogs too. I think it just keeps me motivated and helps me stay focused. I also enjoy seeing people's journeys and transformations over time. I'm cheering them on! It is a special kind of nerdiness, but I love it!

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    1. Me, too, Tonya! The community is the thing I'm most happy about. I'm trying to think of how that might affect my writing going forward. If the point is to motivate, rather than inform, am I writing the right kind of posts?

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  15. All of these PF blogs have bits of information that I can use. Some of it I might have known, but it re-emphasizes the points.

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    1. True enough, No Nonsense Landlord. Though your blog is always featuring information I know very little or nothing about. Maybe I don't have a point, as usual. ;)

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  16. I'm still very new in this world of personal finance and it was just one year ago that I started to be interested after stumbling upon a PF blog. I was surprised to see that people would share their monthly earnings, and set budgets and do so well in life, unlike me. Now, one year later, I know a lot more than I did when I first started blogging and even though there are not really millions of things you can write about in this niche, the different approaches are what make me want to keep reading. And the personal experiences shared by all these great people!

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    1. I had the same transition, C, starting with the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It took a few months, then years, to get my feet under me.

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  17. I like reading PF blogs, and even though l don't really need most of the information, l still pick up golden nuggets from time to time, like passive income information and Roth IRA. My blog is mostly about travel and one thing l do notice is that non PF bloggers or regular people are usually not responded to when they comment. Not everyone does it, but it happens often enough. That would stop them from further commenting. It's silly really, that's who they should be targeting.

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    1. That's too bad, Kemkem. I'd like to think I respond to everyone who comments, but that's the rub with unintentional biases...we don't know when they're at play!

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  18. I've learned a lot from other PF bloggers and thoroughly enjoy the interaction. But the main reason I write, and this has been true from the beginning, has to been to teach and connect with regular people who have questions about money. So while I very much appreciate the support of the PF bloggers and love the insights I get from all of them when they read and comment, they have never been the group I'm writing for.

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    1. Oh, and thanks for the shout out! It really means a lot.

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    2. I mentioned your blog in particular, Matt, because it's one that seems particularly geared towards spreading information. Yours is one of the blogs I read because I really do learn A LOT from you. We switched to a Traditional IRA because you explained how it's always better than a Roth. ;)

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  19. I think to some degree it's like weight watchers. Everyone knows the basics of losing weight (calories in < calories out), much like everyone knows the basics of financial independence (money in > money out). But there's something to be said about having an informal support network on the same journey with regular check-in times that has made weight watchers one of the most consistently successful weight loss programs, and I think that's what we've kindof replicated with the pf blogging community - financial weight watchers.

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    1. That's a really good analogy, Mrs. Pop. The system of weight watchers is totally basic: manage your intake systematically, measure progress. But the magic is in the community, and the weak bonds between people.

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  20. "I think we write because, well, we're weirdos, and we are looking for others weirdos like us somewhere in the depths of our computer monitors." Love this!

    When I first arrived on the PF blog scene, quite recently actually, I wondered exactly the same thing. Every one commenting on blogs were mostly also PF bloggers. It almost deterred me from starting. But then I had to ask myself, what are the reasons for wanting to blog? There were multiple reasons, and having support and feedback from the PF community is definitely part of that, so I have no regrets and will continue to tell my story and goof around and learn and be accountable and have pity parties and share other personal stories and tell some jokes and ....

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    1. Ha! Yes, the community ends up being the best bit. As always, it's about the people.

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  21. This was an intriguing post for a few reasons.

    First, as I do read many of the blogs in the PF/Investing/FI/RE area, I have always found it funny that most of the comments are from other bloggers. And yes, I am well aware that that is a way to increase visibility to their blogs. It works. I've clicked through and found a number of new blogs from comment authors. That's fine.

    Second, I've often wondered how bloggers feel about not really having any idea (other than the few comments from their buddies/colleagues) the impact of their content.

    To DB40 and all the other bloggers out there, never lose faith that your content is CHANGING LIVES. yep. Changing lives. A year or so ago I started reading PF/FI/RE blogs. I'm great with numbers, smart, and had all the raw materials. And the last year of reading blogs has allowed me to find the specific nuggets of information I needed to create the next phase of my LIFE. I am now FI and will be RE at the end of May. Yay me...but more importantly, yay for my kids because they will get me full time now. They are so excited! So that's 2 more lives changed. And now people at work are looking at their lives a little differently, since they are seeing me do this. More lives being changed.

    None of you should doubt the value or impact of your writings. ever.

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    1. That's maybe the nicest comment I've ever received. Thank you for that, ChoicesChoices. It's rare to get that kind of feedback, and something that I'm hoping the other bloggers who comment here will scroll down and see.

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    2. Congratulations on your FIRE, ChoicesChoices. That's an awesome comment.

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    3. Yes, I was so blinded by the positive feedback that I forgot to say congratulations on your awesome achievement, ChoicesChoices. I hope to follow in your footsteps soon!

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    4. That is such an awesome comment, it nearly bought a tear to my eye! You should highlight it as an update at the bottom of your post DB40 in case people miss it all the way down here!

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  22. I'm one of the readers who find inspiration in your blog but never comments. I don't have a blog of my own, but I find your lifestyle refreshing in a culture where we are encouraged to spend more than we have. My husband and I aspire to be more like you, and I read your blog when I feel like spending money on something I know isn't needed. I would love to see more personal posts about how you live everyday. Keep up the great posts!

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Amy. That made my day, truly.

      I'll definitely write more personal stuff going forward. :)

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  23. I continue to read PF blogs because like others have said, I like the "stories" behind the people and the tips/tricks/etc. I keep blogging because of the community support. I haven't made a single penny from my blog (negative when you count the hosting costs), but I keep doing it for a record of what I've accomplished and the community.

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    1. I'm right there with you, Three is Plenty. I'm in the negative as well, but still just like writing and communing with the rest of the PF bloggers/readers.

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  24. Further to my comments on non commenters (lol) above... I would just like to say this is a subject I've thought about a lot even as I started my blog, before I even got my first comment I think. So thanks for writing about it and bringing it out into the open!

    My overwhelming motive was always to try to get through to people who actually needed help with money and so on, and how hard it might be to do this; even the non-commenters are surely already part of the PF blogging scene, albeit in a non vocal way, but how do people first come across a PF blog and hopefully get drawn in? The simple answer I think is google.

    I thought back to how I discovered Mr Money Mustache, I was searching for novelty Mustaches to buy my mum (ironic I know, buying plastic unnecessary crap no doubt imported from China, I'm sure he'd give me a face punch if he knew about that, but there you go!). Anyway, this is one of the reasons I called my blog (on the face of it) nothing really to do with PF, like debt, investing, money or anything like that in the title. It also happens to be a fairly popular song and/or phrase. So I guessed that there may be a fair few people searching for "the firestarter" who might randomly come across it and get sucked in by the content. I think I may be about 15 years too late on the popularity peak of the song though... :)

    Anyway, that was a pretty long punt but it outlines my overall strategy (which I haven't really fulfilled so brilliantly so far) which is to write about some quite random stuff which is only marginally related to PF (Like posting recipes, some "how to" articles, etc etc) and hopefully get these ranked in google to answer peoples questions and help them solve problems, and again hopefully they will wonder what the rest of the site is about and then continue reading some of the other more PF related articles to help them save money by living more efficiently, and consequently think twice about trashing the Earth with buying crap and wasting energy/fuel.

    If you wanted to try to reach a more diverse audience, you could do worse than try a similar strategy, or tweak it to your style of course.

    Sorry for the wordy response and by the way, you clearly have a much larger audience than I do already, so sorry if this comes across as me teaching you to suck eggs. And if you have any tips to pass back to me on how to get some hits on google or otherwise let me know! Cheers! :)

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    1. Ha, that's awesome! Now I'll always think of your site when I hear the firestarter song. I was studying in Middlesex London when that song was popular... Every pub was blasting Prodigy, Oasis and Spice Girls. Good times.

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    2. Hah that's cool! I work in Middlesex now so I could make a guess at a few Universities you may have studied at.

      I am a massive prodigy fan hence the name.

      I like to think of myself as the Keith Flint of the PF world, unconventional, and maybe a little bit crazy too :)

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    3. Thanks for the tips, FIREstarter. I know less about SEO and helping Google results than your average city garbage man, so I can use all the help I can get.

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  25. We may often be preaching to the choir, but I also hope that some of my family and friends read the more important saving and investment advice that I post. I have new post notifications display on a couple Facebook accounts, Google+, and Twitter, so they know when I've written something. That has always been the main goal of my blog: to get personal finance information to my friends and family. It's great that I can also help others by putting my blog out there on the public internet rather than just posting on facebook.

    P.S. Thanks for the mention.

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    1. No problem, Bryce. I really do learn quite a lot from your blog. And you could pick worse goals than trying to help your family with finances. That's a great one.

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  26. I've had the same concern as you a few years ago. All of those commenting are other bloggers. But then I started getting emails from readers thanking me for what I was writing. I realized that most bloggers comment to hopefully gain new readers. Most "average joes" those who you are really helping, never really comment. I know for me personally, when I read blogs on other topics that interest me, I never leave a comment, even if I find the information invaluable.

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    1. Thanks, Jon. I bet we're seeing the same dynamic here with readers, and would love for this blog to follow in your footsteps!

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  27. When I first started, it was great seeing comments from others who were also on the journey to FI and gaining that initial support group... I think for many, when first starting out it can feel like venturing off onto a lonely road... Even today, not many in my real life circle are doing what I'm trying to do...

    As the blog has grown and readership increased, it's allowed me a way to network with a ton more people... most who never leave a comment. I've gotten emails from readers saying they read every post... which is crazy! So, you never know who you just might reach... Sometimes I get no comments and think no one is reading, but as I've learned that's not always true.

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    1. That's true, FI Fighter. You're one of the bloggers that I've been able to connect with via our respective blogs...you never know what will come of our writing.

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  28. And... I read your blog cause you're less whiney than some blogs and definitely not 'preachy'. I think you think through arguments, and your a polite host of a discussion, trying to see each side of things both in content and replies. And I started cause I saw a comment that said you were going to read the bible in a year - which is a weird segway!

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    1. Aw, thanks Sarah! I really appreciate your comments, too -- you're always willing to be candid and honest in your thoughts. Sorry for the very long delay in replying. I never did stick with that bible-in-a-year goal either. Maybe some day.

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  29. I think a large majority of people who read personal finance blogs - or even just one blog, which is probably more common than we think - don't comment. The reason bloggers comment is because it's a way of 'scratching each other's back.' You comment on my blog I comment on yours, and vice versa. New bloggers do it because it's the only way to get their page from 1 page view a day to 10.

    With that being said, I have thought about outsourcing commenting but I find it hard to break from my routine of reading and commenting each morning, lunch time, and evening. It would be odd for me to stop and the days I take off for one reason or another (which is rare and usually has to do with something major like surgery haha) I feel like I'm forgetting to do something.

    I really enjoyed this post and I think this is the quote of the year -> "So, I'm a freak."

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    1. Ha! I am a freak...but it's good to know I'm not alone.

      I hear you about outsourcing commenting, David. It's certainly a commitment of time, but we do get a lot out of the personal connections too. It's a tough balance to strike but I think I'd rather still read and comment on the "right" number of blogs than to hire someone to do it.

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  30. My hubby refers to me as a personal finance geek frequently (in a really affectionate way of course). I know what you mean about the fact that we're preaching to the converted by the type of stuff that we write. Sometimes I feel as though I'm writing my posts to the PF community and sometimes to no-one in particular. What I hope for though is that my blog will make a difference to someone, somewhere, someday. I've had a few comments on my blog from readers saying that they've actually been inspired by something I wrote and I can't tell you how fantastic that felt. If I can make a difference to someone, I'm happy! Also agree with Femme Frugality - it tends to be bloggers on the whole who leave comments - readers don't usually or so I've found. Before I started blogging, I never left a comment of any kind on any website!

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    1. Hayley, that's fantastic that you get emails from readers telling you that you've inspired them. That's a validation that must be hard to put into words.

      I didn't touch on this, but I do think we're all kind of aiming to help people. We've got to feel like the words we write have an impact, even if we can't be sure of who they're impacting.

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  31. ha ha, I am scared to leave a comment. I'm a freak and a weirdo!

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  32. It is so nice when someone 'new' to your blog comments, isn't it...

    But even if you are 'preaching to the choir', well the choir need motivating too! I suppose there may be some people who once they decide to clear their debts or save to retire early have then made the decision and get on with it. But 99% of people find this a real hard slog at times, boring, never-ending, or get derailed by the car breaking down or a friend getting ill etc.

    Motivation is like showering - feels good at the time but it doesn't last forever - a daily boost keeps you going!

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    1. Sara, it really is nice that you commented and thank you for stopping by! Your showering analogy is so right on...wish I'd thought of that. And I like how you've extended the metaphor...the choir are people in need of motivation as well. Cheers!

      Delete
  33. TBH... I have always thought the PF community was a little more about supporting each other and building community, than it was about teaching..

    For myself, when I read other PF blogs.. I cherish the personal stories that people share a lot more than the generic financial advice.. I realize that this goes against the grain a little bit, and I write PLENTY of generic PF articles myself..

    But getting to know other bloggers and hear their stories.. That's my favorite part of this whole shindig.

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    1. Agreed, Jefferson. The best bits really are the personal aspect of personal finance.

      Delete
  34. Hi! I don't have a blog. I just recently started reading blogs when I got a tablet last year. I started out reading sewing blogs and left some comments but I found that most bloggers didn't comment on my comments so I still comment occasionally because I like people to know that I appreciate their blogging but I don't comment as much. I just found your blog today so please know the choir may need to find the church! I am bookmarking your site and am looking forward to going back through your posts and blog role. There may be more lurker PF weirdos than you realize! Thank you for blogging!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Shannon! I am about to help my wife sew up some jeans when I visit her next week, so I might need to read some of those sewing blogs as I don't remember much from middle school home ec.

      I really appreciate you commenting and your kind words! You made my night.

      Delete
  35. Even if we are PF/lifestyle bloggers, we can always learn from each other. I also find it motivating to read blogs that help reinforce my approach to living. Sometimes it can feel pretty lonely out there in the consumption mecca that is North America.

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    1. Very true, Free to Pursue. The downside of this technology culture is that we do feel a bit more alone, I think. If we can build community via the technology, that's a great outcome.

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  36. I've also found that a lot of non-bloggers read but don't necessarily comment. I get personal emails from people like that all the time!

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    1. That's awesome, Holly. I've got to remember that someone might be reading without me knowing about it. :)

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  37. A little late to the topic here but I'll put in my 2 cents...

    1. I know most comments are from PF bloggers and I don't mind that. If they leave a comment that means they were touched strong enough to respond. That gives me encouragement as a writer.

    And I don't think we can assume all PF bloggers have it together. (Gasp!) I know I've read some interesting stuff that just sort of makes my head spin. So maybe we are impacting each other more than we realize.

    2. I don't think we can assume who is reading or who we are helping. There are other people out there learning from our material that we will never know about.

    3. The more I write, the clearer personal finance issues become in my own head. It's sort of like going to church. I already know the basics of the faith. But continued study in the faith makes it stronger. I think the same things applies for me as a writer.

    Great subject!

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    1. All great points, Brian. I am likely assuming too much with my post: we really don't have it all figured out, nor is the choir the only one in the church, so to speak.

      Sorry for the late response!

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  38. Being a financial freak is sort of like exercising and watching what you eat -- intellectually most of us know what to do, but there is always temptation to skip that run or eat half a pizza. Engaging with a community validates these healthy obsessions and keeps us on track... even if we are preaching to the choir.

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    1. Really solid analogy, Janeen. It's only so much knowledge that we need -- at some level, the magic is in figuring out how to apply the knowledge to your life on the regular.

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  39. Have you experienced how it seems to be more fun and enjoyable to talk to friends about a film all of you have seen whether together or separately and you all can relate to it? It is maybe the same with bloggers regardless of the niche.

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    1. Ha! Yes, my wife and I do that with our friends about Game of Thrones. We all are obsessed and can let our freak flag fly with each other.

      Delete
  40. The way I look at it, it's a hobby for me so I love being informed. Plus the more informed and reminded I am of what I need to do for financial freedom, the better the outcome.

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    1. That's definitely true, Scott. There really is a lot for all of us to learn & improve upon...never ending process.

      Delete
  41. What I notice a lot in the comment section of PF blogs is that comments ARE written almost entirely by PF bloggers, and yes, the reason is to drive traffic to their blogs. I don't have a PF blog myself, but I like to comment. However, I have seen that you can't say a single negative thing or everyone flames you! Heaven forbid if you criticize anyone's bad financial decisions. It's all "you can do it" or "there are always bumps along the way etc." I see bloggers whom I know are never going to get out of debt. They just don't want to make the hard choices and sacrifices. So really, a lot of honesty is often lacking in the PF world.

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    1. There's a hard truth! I know what you mean and, I'll be honest, I have a thin skin about my writing. Even if I need to hear some criticism, I'm not the best at handling it.

      But that's a really honest observation. The downside of the supportive community, I suppose, is that we have some co-dependent, group-think tendencies, too.

      Delete
  42. I know I'm late to the party commenting on this post but thought I would share a couple of things.
    I read a bunch of PF blogs and do not blog myself or comment often. I love your blog and many of the others I read but by the time I read the articles so many people have commented that I usually feel like my comments would be redundant.

    I only have two friends that feel comfortable talking about PF so I rely on your blog and others to satisfy my strong interest in the subject.

    I was a finance major and already living within my means and saving before I found PF blogs but I have become much more intense thanks to the PF Community. I was one of those people that saved 15% and planned to work 40 years although I didn't want to. A few years ago I started saving a much higher percentage of my pay and thanks to blogs like yours and more intense saving I will achieve financial independence by 50:-)

    Thank you very much for all that you and your fellow bloggers do for people like me.

    Scott W.

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    1. Thanks so much for that comment, Scott! I really appreciate it (and sorry for not replying earlier). Your words made my vacation all that much more special. I'm smiling ear to ear because of you.

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  43. You're writing for all of us who just lurk and read everyone's blogs :P

    Showing us the path.

    - Brandon

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    1. Thanks, Brandon! You're making me blush.

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  44. I'm also a non-PF follower of several PF blogs/sites. I like to be active in the discussion, and not just lurk, but I only recently discovered your blog. Everyone's stories are different, and each of you brings unique & valuable life experience to the discussion. PF bloggers who are close to FI (or have already reached it) are an inspiration to "the rest of us". Please keep blogging!

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    1. Thanks for that comment, CincyCat! I'm really glad you're a reader and that you commented. Please keep reading, too. :)

      Delete
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