Why We Blog – Part 1

by Mr. Cheap

The Canadian Capitalist announced last month a re-branding of his site and a partnership with MoneySense magazine.  I wanted to let the immediate reactions die down, but thought there were a few interesting reactions.  Some readers were unenthusiastic about the change, while bloggers were pretty unanimously supportive.  One of the more interesting comments seemed to suggest that support from other personal finance bloggers was somehow self-serving.

I don’t think support from other bloggers came from some sort of collusion or our own plans to “sell out”.  For the record, I think the partnership was 100% a good thing for the Canadian Capitalist, his readers, and MoneySense.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to say so, but this is a good thing.  Bloggers (at least the ones I know) are about as far from “unconditionally supportive” as it’s possible to get.  If we disagree with what another blogger is saying or doing, we say so!

For example:

Few things amuse Mike or I as much as the other one being on the receiving end of a blistering attack.  My favourite e-mail off all time was in response to Mike’s post on “The “Myth” of Weekly Mortgage Payments” and read:  “What’s wrong with paying mortgage off faster. Fuck off you dumb, fat, fucking pig.”  I still giggle every time I read it.

The reason why we were so supportive of the Canadian Capitalist is we realize that we all have multiple reasons for blogging.  Even if our “mixture” of these reasons is different from the Canadian Capitalist’s, we understand why he did what he did and why it’s a good thing for everyone:  CC gets some money, MoneySense gets some exposure, and readers keep getting free content.

Some of the reasons why we blog include:

An Independant Voice

Some blogs certainly exist to provide a counter-point to traditional media.  The Canadian Capitalist is an excellent example of this, and even it he has some other reasons for blogging, that doesn’t discredit the work he’s done on promoting passive investing, explaining new Canada-specific investment vehicles and skepticism about certain real estate and dividend investing strategies.

Consumer Reports, NPR and PBS all try to avoid advertising, but instead you get regular “pledge drives” where people consuming the content are expected to pay for it (or subscription fees).  Personally I’d prefer CC to re-brand his site with MoneySense instead of starting to guilt-trip us to send him a few bucks (which he has never done).

Money

Part of blogging is for money.  Often this will be pitched as “to cover hosting costs”, but the reality is that hosting is pretty cheap (there are a number of free options) and many of us are making money above and beyond hosting.  Are teachers, doctors and firefighters not helping society because they draw a pay check at the same time that they do their worthwhile jobs?

I make $20 / post here at Four Pillars, and *I* think I’m worth every penny of it.  I think Million Dollar Journey is making the most in blog revenue out of Canadian PF blogs and I don’t think any of us resent him for it:  we try to learn from him.

I don’t think cash is the entire motivation for any of us.  I can make far more than $20 programming in the time it takes me to write a post, but there are other things I enjoy about blogging that make up the rest of the incentive.  I suspect this is the same for all other bloggers too, even the ones who are doing much better financially.

Every blogger has their own perspective on ad styles, sponsored posts, donation requests, specific advertisers and where to draw the line.

Opportunities

Blogging can get your name and ideas out there and sometimes lead to further non-blogging opportunities.

SquawkFox and Preet both leveraged their blogs into other opportunities.  SquawkFox used her blog to help her get a book deal, while Preet used his to help him get a TV show.  Good for them!

For Attention

I’m a total comment whore (and will be quite sad if, at the end of the day, there aren’t any comments on a post I’ve written).  Part of the joy of blogging is to get immediate feedback on the ideas you’ve written, and to be able to interact with readers.  I don’t always respond, but I read every comment left on a post I’ve written.  Beyond commenters, it’s interesting to see your page views and realize that a ton of people have taken time out of their day to consider what you have to say.

This post got too long.  Come back on Tuesday, May 4th for 5 more reasons why we blog.

Be Sociable, Share!

Want to learn more about RESPs? Buy The Book:

Resp-Book

The RESP Book: The Simple Guide to Registered Education Savings Plans

Everything you need to know about RESPs.

See it on Amazon now

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Balance Junkie

Nice summary Mr. Cheap. One of the great things about the blogosphere is the huge variety of styles in terms of writing, tone, and message. There literally is something for everyone!

Did you guys actually post that expletive-laced comment? I think I would have at least edited that one with some #!* stuff or something. Yikes! All over weekly mortgage payments? (I pay my mortgage weekly, but I’m not about to swear at you if you think it’s a dumb idea!)

2 Mr. Cheap

$0.02: Thanks! All (most?) our readers are adults and I’ve asked Mike in the past about whether I should tone down or censor adult language and he was ok with it.

I think that’s part of what makes the e-mail so funny. It’s *SUCH* an over-reaction to a very small issue.

That’s one of the benefits of being an independant voice! We don’t have the same restrictions on what we say and how that traditional media does.

3 Canadian Capitalist

I still get the “sell out” comment. *sigh*

For me the # 1 reason for blogging is that I find thinking about finances and writing it down to be an intellectually stimulating exercise. I get a lot of kick out of reader comments, their feedback and meeting / talking to all sorts of interesting people in the financial industry.

Money is way down in my list of reasons. I’ve been writing the blog for more than 5 years now and in the initial years, I’d be lucky to make a C note in an entire month of blogging. If I were after money, I’d have given up a long time back. But hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion. This is a free country, after all.

4 JP

That is ridiculous that anyone would give someone a hard time for why they blog. In CC’s case his name is Canadian Capitalist, his goal should be to make money! I think you folks do a great job of writing these blogs for the various reasons you do. If you keep posting I will keep reading!

5 Squawkfox

I started blogging by accident. My husband and I thought it would be fun to custom code a blog to broaden our web development skills — we both work in the software industry. But once you build a blog, you kind of need to populate it. So I started writing about money, because that’s what I would email with my friends. I never expected to cultivate an audience.

The book thing is still strange for me since I’ve spent a lifetime writing software technical documentation using a boring step-by-step tone. With blogging and books I get to use my real voice. I think that’s why I love blogging and writing about personal finance today — I get to be myself.

6 Thicken My Wallet

If you read enough comments in blogs, the definition of capitalism to some is “only I can make money selling you goods or services but I will pay nothing for what you provide to me” (Exhibit A being anything to do with real estate agent commission).

I find negative reactions to CC and MoneySense preplexing. If you don’t like CC’s move then stop reading. He’s not charging readers to read his well-researched and insightful post. If he wants a wider audience, it is perfectly within his right. None of us own CC. He is free to do whatever he wants with his property. If you don’t agree, kindly vote with your feet (or mouse).

I would also separate bloggers who are clearly in it for the money (and you can tell given how their site is organized) and those who actually want to contribute to the dialogue in a meaningful manner. Painting the entire blogging community in a broad brushstroke is unfair to both groups.

I blog for the following reason- ever have a thought in your head that you thought was great and then you told several people and they all looked at you funny and said “whatcha talking about Willis?” Blogging is a nice way to vet personal finance ideas as either grounded in practicality or just plain crazy talk.

Have a good weekend.

7 Potato

CC’s partnership with Moneysense was not 100% good – they made him use that horrible baby blue colour for his link text that nearly blends into the background! 😛

The comparison to traditional media is important I think because many journalists don’t have a passion or expertise in what they write about, and are under constant deadline/column inch pressure. Many bloggers do write because they enjoy it (or have mental instabilities that compel them to… you know, whatever the case may be), and it shows.

Money is an interesting one — maybe you big dogs are making money, but hosting costs are definitely a negative for me. It’s a hobby that costs me money (though not a terribly expensive hobby). That said, I know that there are strategies that I could use to improve on that, for example dedicating more screen space to ads, becoming a single-topic (e.g.: PF) blog, or sticking to a regular posting schedule… but then people wouldn’t know how pretty my cat is!

8 DividendLover

CC can you still write whatever you want on your blog?

I would never sell If I had to deal with someone else telling me when and how to blog. Otherwise you just sold your self into a job.

9 Len Currie

While my blog is nowhere near the popularity of you folks whom all commented, I must admit that the reason that I do it is to just express my opinions, voices, tips and tricks and perhaps a little wisdom.

If I were to ever get an offer to write for someone else, or get interest from another company.. I would be both flattered and very interested.. good on you all, keep the great content coming and congratulations on seperating yourselves from the rest of the crowd in terms of great content with relevant information.

10 Ryan Martin

Either way you look at it, content will be king. People will only come to sites like these if there’s value; even if there’s opinions that may differ from their own… then there’s people who just want to call people pigs (still can’t believe that).

11 badcaleb

I used to visit CC’s site frequently but find myself not going there as much now. Not that I don’t find his blogs informative, it’s really the format I dislike and they’re pretty minor but taken together make it less appealing. For one, the MoneySense banner takes up 1/2 the screen so when I look at the blog, I’m looking a 1/3 of the way down. Two, the light blue and light grey links on a white background are hard to see for me. Three, the search doesn’t work well. I typed in RESP to search for related topics and the first blog entry that comes up is Best Places to Live. I guess I could subscribe to RSS but I’ve never done that before for any sites and won’t start now. Like I said, minor things. I still like the articles but I come from time to time but less frequently and have no reason to use any of the Moneysense links.

12 Canadian Capitalist

@Potato: The link colours have been fixed. In hindsight, I should have done a test run of the template before putting it into production. Oh well… lesson learned.

@DividendLover: Yes, I’m free to write whatever I want. I don’t have any publication deadlines or whatever. Nobody vets my posts. I operate exactly as I did before.

13 Canadian Capitalist

@badcaleb: It’s unfortunate that the template of all things makes you stay away. Out of the three points you mention, the font colours is already fixed. I’m working on a solution for search and archives. Thanks for your input.

14 Potato

@CC: Looks better. I’d still prefer darker for more contrast, but I don’t feel the need the highlight them to provide contrast 🙂

Did you manage to use up all your dreamhost referral credits before the move?

15 Canadian Couch Potato

Great post and interesting comments. I started my blog for a number of reasons:
– professional development: all journalists would do well to learn more about the technical side of blogging
– an opportunity to write about the more esoteric aspects of index investing that are beyond what magazines will publish
– the hope that the blog would lead to other opportunities down the road, such as the new column I have just started writing in MoneySense
– a genuine desire to help DIY investors get out of the trap of high-fee, poorly performing mutual funds

It is interesting how many people feel that everything on the Internet should be free and that bloggers should spend hundreds of hours a year researching and writing posts as a public service. I can’t think of any other area of our lives where people make this assumption.

16 Sampson

Aren’t we all sell outs? Anyone on a payroll does this to some extent, trading personal freedoms for our time and knowledge.

17 Rudy

This is a great topic. As far as I’m concerned, The Canadian Capitalist has earned the opportunity (through years of consistent blogging) to make a few extra $$ from his blog. I’m sure the content won’t suffer and it actually gives him a bigger platform to spread the financial word. I say congrats!

Rudy

18 badcaleb

@CC: You are competing with other blogs to eyes on your site, of course the template matters. If I have to look more than 1/2 way down the screen to see your content then that’s making me work too hard already. Seriously dude, that Moneysense banner is HUGE. From a UI perspective, it’s not ideal and you being in IT should be well aware of it.

19 Andy

Some thoughtful insights here. The money one is spot on. Most bloggers who have been able to blog and grow their blog for more than 1 year make much more than “hosting” fees. I still laugh when I see bloggers use this to justify their reasons for ads. The answer is simple, particularly for personal finance bloggers, money is amongst the biggest motivation. The rest is a bonus. $20 per post – I think you are getting underpaid for such good writing 🙂

20 Financial Cents

@FP – nice article…seems great minds think alike!

http://myownadvisor.blogspot.com/2010/05/merits-of-personal-finance-blogging.html

While my post was much more reflective and personal in nature, I agree with most of your reasons above, certainly the comment about money – as cash is not motivation for me.

@CC – keep up the great work. Cover your ears to all the “sell out” chatter….
Cheers!

21 Big Cajun Man

What is the official font for Sarcasm? No slight meant, but a slight attempt at humor instead :-).

You make 20$/post? Wow! I make $20 a week and I am happy (that’s 5 posts usually), no wonder I feel like I am working for slave wages.

22 Mr. Cheap

BCM: It’s amazing how easy it is to mis-interpret the emotional content of text messages (I’d say a winking smiley face 😉 is the official font for teasing / joking / sarcasm).

You should talk to Mike, MDJ and some of the other bloggers who have successfully monetized their blogs, I’m sure they’d be willing to give you some tips (you should definitely be able to pull in more than $20 / week).

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: