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How to get rich writing a personal finance blog

Do you want to know the secret of how personal finance blogs really make their money? It has nothing to do with writing about personal finance!
Roll up, roll up! Step right up for some magic elixir! Cures any disease, smooths wrinkles, and removes stubborn stains
Roll up, roll up! Step right up for some magic elixir! Cures any disease, smooths wrinkles, and removes stubborn stains
Snake oil salesman

Want to be rich? Successful? Irresistible? Learn to live with disappointment.

Have you ever heard the siren song of those strangely compelling late night television infomercials?

Get a rock hard six pack in less than 5 minutes a day, while sitting on your couch eating Doritos!

Stunning models with chiselled torsos and perfect teeth alluringly promise if you just “phone now, but don’t send any money” your dreams will come true, your career successful, and the opposite sex will find you irresistible. A better life for just $29.99!

Saturation coverage and repetition condition us into accepting the initially dubious message.

After three repetitions, we find ourselves nodding along.

After six repetitions, we catch ourselves thinking: “Hey I’ve got a couch, I like Doritos, I just need one of these devices”.

After nine repetitions, some of us actually reach for the phone.

Politicians deploy this same technique during election campaigns. By parroting the same unlikely sound bite over and over, voters begin to unquestioningly accept nonsensical ideas. “Better services and lower taxes? Guaranteed if you vote for me”!

The golden rules of the personal finance / debt reduction / financial independence / early retirement niches are well known: “don’t buy crap you don’t need, spend less than you earn, and invest for the long term”.

“don’t buy crap you don’t need, spend less than you earn, and invest for the long term".
Following these simple rules may make for a financially secure future, but they provide very limited opportunities for bloggers to sell things to their audience without too much hypocrisy.

There are simple rules for a financially secure future, but they provide very limited opportunities for bloggers to sell things.

Few bloggers would altruistically donate the 15-20 hours a week of their time required to establish a blog, write compelling content, and build up a following if they weren’t getting something out of it.

How do bloggers make money?

How do bloggers make money while evangelising the “don’t buy crap you don’t need” message?

Some use their blogs as a platform to establish themselves as “experts” or talking heads. Build a large enough following and requests to provide media quotes, give keynote addresses, and host lucrative residential retreats may follow.

Others create info-products such as courses and e-books they sell to their subscriber email lists. In practice these seldom contain more substance that the free content the author already has published on their blog. However, as the continued existence of the active fund management and financial planning industries demonstrates, people value advice more highly when they pay for it.

The final monetisation approach is running sponsored content, advertorials, and generating affiliate income via the ubiquitous “if you click my link you’ll receive a special price on [insert some crap you don’t need here]” sales pitch.

Get rich by... writing a “How to get rich” book?

Ironically the most lucrative affiliate income generation approach in the personal finance space is the very meta personal finance/entrepreneurship blog post about “how to start a personal finance/entrepreneurship blog”!

Think about that for a second.

We’ve all seen those Pat Flynn style posts: “my success can be yours by establishing a blog using my affiliate links to purchase domain names, web hosting, premium themes, etc”. Go Daddy? Tick. Bluehost? Tick. Leadpages? Tick. Thesis themes? Tick. Sumo.Me? Tick. Aweber? Tick.

Apparently some bloggers earn $30,000+ a month from these posts, which is great because they sure don't make any money from providing sensible financial advice to the internet!

some bloggers earn $30,000+ a month from these posts

So what?

A wise man once said the easiest way to get rich was to write a “How to get rich” book. The personal finance equivalent of those dubious home exercise machines and unlikely political promises is touting website hosting to naive wannabe financial bloggers!

Oh wait, I’m one of them… I better go work on my six pack, where are my Doritos?!?

5 comments :

weenie said...

Love this post! Have been seeing more and more of these types of blogs.

Despite monetising my own blog, it's not and was never my intention to make any significant income from it, never mind get rish. That said, that I'm putting in a little effort to write content, it would be daft not to use the platform to earn a few pennies on the side.

The Google Ads barely rake in enough to cover my hosting fees but I don't care enough to do anything about it. Aside from said ads, which are random, all other affiliate links on my blog are for products/services I subscribe to personally.

In the past, when I've stopped using a particular service, I've stopped including the affiliate link, just don't feel that I can make money off something I can't personally endorse. I've never been a good sales person haha!

Slow Dad said...

Thanks weenie. I'm all for monetising in context, a blogger has to eat after all. I just don't like hypocrisy.

"Follow my sage advice: Budget, spend less than you earn, invest the difference... now use my affiliate link to waste a bunch of money buying crap you almost certainly don't need"

theFIREstarter.co.uk said...

Ha ha. Very good slow dad!
Like weenie mentions I've also dropped a few affiliate links on my blog but I'd argue at least 90% of them are well placed. I should get rid of the hosting one as I agree getting people to start a blog to make money is a bit lame (I've never had one sign up in 3 years as never pushed it at all!)

I think there are a lot of high quality blogs not trying to sell you crap. In fact I'd say that content quality is often inversely proportional to amount of salesy shit.

Slow Dad said...

"In fact I'd say that content quality is often inversely proportional to amount of salesy shit."

Absolutely TFS, the quality content sites also go the distance while the salesy variants tend to wither then go dark pretty quickly.

That said, there seems to be a hundred noisy low originality "me-too" sites for every Monevator style gem.

theFIREstarter.co.uk said...

Haha just came across this and had to come back and post as it's so relevant:

http://retireby40.org/how-to-start-a-blog-why-you-should/

He writes some good stuff but it's the exact thing were talking about.
Guy writes ER blog
Blog starts to make a bit of money
Guy quits job (way before he can really call himself fully FI as I recall)
Guy then writes about being retired early to continue to make money
Guy writes blog post about how to start blog to make even more money.

Very meta indeed!

To be fair I'm not even saying there is much wrong with this (or even that I'm above doing such a thing myself), peeps often email me asking for tips on how to start a blog so why not try to make a bit of money out of sharing your knowledge. But it just a bit annoying isn't it for some reason.

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