Apparently people making money online are ruining the personal finance blogosphere

Apparently people making money online are ruining the personal finance blogosphere

We need to change the dialog and be inclusive.”

Fair point by Michael, a blogger who runs Your Money Geek and who recently wrote an article about how the collaboration of various high income bloggers are ruining the personal finance space.

Here are some of Michael’s points from his post and my takes.

It’s all about the money – for some

“The problem is, many bloggers have day jobs where they are pulling 6 figure plus salaries (good for them) and they’re saving a bunch of money (really good for them). Most of America doesn’t make 6 figure plus salaries.”

While true (including in Canada Michael, not everyone makes that much money) the reality is it’s not all about the money for some bloggers.  Some people actually blog, not because of some small income it can provide, but because they actually enjoy it.  I am one of those people.

I can assure you I understand the opportunity cost.  I have full confidence if I wanted to make loads of extra money, I could be doing different things than to make $10 per hour running a (this) blog.

Blogging

Sensationalism sells – and that demand is getting bigger

Every day in America, real life people do amazing things on modest incomes. Not everyone wants to hit FIRE (financial independence retire early) at 45.”

This is where we agree.  The masses love reading about success stories or massive failures but anything in between is not really news.  But it never has been.  We don’t really care about the average family.  That’s boring.  We don’t really care about day-to-day challenges.  Who doesn’t have those?  We care about extremes.  People enjoy reading about extreme frugality – people living in vans for months on end.  They enjoy following carefree, vagabond lifestyles roaming the earth and the seas.  We are generally engaged with tales about different people doing different things for different cheapskate reasons.  That’s interesting.  This is nothing new.  What’s new is our social media climate to follow these stories.  It has made sharing these stories more readily available than ever before.  (I wouldn’t be responding to your article if that wasn’t true.)

Facing your audience – why wouldn’t you?

“If you produce a blog, you have the right to produce the content you want and for the people you want to speak to.”

Yes, you do but…

I know the reasons I run this blog – and it’s not to “bump elbows with other web celebrities on Twitter.”  I couldn’t care less.  As I get older I expect to continue to mature and value more what’s really important in life.  That includes having a great deal of empathy for others, and much, much more.

So, are people making money online from their blogs ruining the personal finance blogosphere?

Not from my perspective.  I blog because I enjoy it.  I’ll keep doing it as long as I do.

My name is Mark Seed and I'm the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, we're inching closer to our ultimate goal - owning a 7-figure investment portfolio for semi-retirement. We're almost there! Subscribe and join the journey. Learn how I'm getting there and how you can get there too!

61 Responses to "Apparently people making money online are ruining the personal finance blogosphere"

  1. Mary-Lynn Bastian · Edit

    Like anything else on the internet, there is a lot of stuff out there that is pure garbage and sifting through it all can be quite a task. However when you find that little jewel that speaks to you in any subject matter it is a great discovery. I have found that your blog is one of them. No nonsense advice, in terms we can understand with a pinch of humanity and understanding…. priceless.
    Hope you enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading your articles. Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Lots of garbage on the internet for sure Mary-Lynn – just like TV!

      My goal on this site is to earn a bit of money, sure, but make it enjoyable for folks to learn, share and interact. That includes me so maybe I am selfish that way! I learn from readers a great deal and I hope I always will.

      Thanks for being a fan.

      Reply
  2. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

    You have to admit that there are those that use their blogging to earn income. I can’t recall off the top of my head but I’ve gone to blogs through links here where they talk about their income from their blogs. And if some are doing it for income then being cynical/skeptical about them is entirely reasonable. Hucksterism is alive and well in our society.

    Reply
    1. Oh for sure there are bloggers that rely on their “hustle” to earn a living and get to early retirement or whatever. That’s fine. Good for them if that’s their plan. I’m just not one of them who is willing to hustle as much.

      Do I want to earn a few thousand per year from this site? Sure, why not! But this site has no potential to be my day job unless I’ve earned enough in the past and going-forward to pay for daily expenses.

      Maybe when I’m 50, have reached my $1 M goal and debt-free goal – I can continue to run this site for the $10/hour I earn from it. That is not unlike other folks who might follow their passion of wood working, running a hobby farm, other; to earn a bit of money doing something they enjoy. All good in my book.

      Reply
      1. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

        “All good in my book.”

        Book? 😉

        Seriously though, I can usually tell in a relatively short while if any particular blog site or hyped concept is something that is worthwhile spending time on. I do not begrudge a person making some $$ on the side but if that is their sole focus (generate hits) then I won’t likely hang around. When I see stuff like “I retired at 32 and you can too by buying my book” it *fosters* an immediate skeptical reaction.

        Reply
        1. Nice one. Well, anyone that “retired” at 32 needs to find some way to earn some money for the next 50-60 years potentially! 🙂

          I know you don’t begrudge some side income or anything.

          I think its wise to be cautious about anything over-hyped. Look at cryptocurrencies as just one fine example. Is decentralized monetary control really a good thing?? I have to wonder and wouldn’t touch that stuff now.

          Reply
          1. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

            “needs to find some way to earn some money for the next 50-60 years potentially!”

            Ya, cause the child benefit thingy only goes so far. 😉

            Reply
          2. You remind me that I should take consideration of child benefit into my retirement plan as my kids won’t be 18 years old yet 5 years from now. LOL.

            Reply
  3. What’s wrong with people making money off their own initiatives? Many of these writer’s and their reader’s comments and insights are far more interesting and informative than what we read in the news and articles by full-time professionals.

    Despite what some people and groups suggest people, by-in-large, are not altruistic when it comes to our work and being paid for it.

    “When it’s a question of money everybody is of the same religion” – Voltaire

    Reply
  4. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

    Mark, it’s pretty obvious to readers you have a genuine passion for your blog and put reader’s interests first. You host some great, well researched information and a place for readers to share stories and ideas. If you earn some income from fully disclosed appropiate affilliations I’m all for it. Not all blogs have this same order of priority or quality of content.

    Keep up the great work.

    Reply
    1. Well thanks. Like I’ve mentioned to other readers, yes, I have ads; yes I have sponsored content from time to time (and likely always will) but it’s not the reason I run the site. I could turn if off tomorrow and my lifestyle would not change one bit.

      I will never get wealthy from this site but as you know, it’s not the goal. Some minimum wage compensation for my time and writing and responding to comments is just fine.

      Reply
  5. Mark — the first thing I do every morning is check to see if there is a new post from you. You are one honest son of gun and you never shoot down anyone’s comments no matter how crazy they maybe. Keep up the great work and I hope you make a bundle. (:

    Reply
    1. Ha, well, not making a bundle on this site. Believe me. Some bloggers pump tons of stuff and affiliate links. Mine are passive by design. Sure, I have partnerships and it’s nice to make some money from this site but it’s not the primary reason for being.

      Most of the income earned on this site is from Google, passive ads, that nobody must or ever needs to click on – simply read the content and enjoy, agree or disagree or offer a perspective. 🙂

      Thanks for being a longtime fan.

      Reply
  6. Agree with all the above. Like everything else one has the option of staying with a blog or moving on. One also should not automatically accept what is written or the comments. The Internet is not a Truth Machine and probably much is Un-truth. I don’t find it so here and that’s why I visit your site on a regular basis. If you make money for the adds it does not bother me, good for you.

    Reply
    1. The internet is FAR from a truth machine but many people believe it is.

      In terms of disclosure, I’m all fine to make some money from this blog from time to time but it’s not the reason I run it.

      Thanks for your comments and input to the site cannew. I continue to learn from readers like you.

      Reply
  7. The beauty of the internet/blogs/content/video is that quality is what matters. You’re not going to make a penny if you can’t produce quality content that people want to engage with. Sometimes that leads to sensationalism and extreme stories but you have to read between the lines and find stories that inspire you.

    I have to credit MMM & ERE for showing me one extreme of personal finance that I didn’t know existed back in 2010/2011. I knew right away that it was too extreme for me, but it gave me a new understanding of what was possible. Can everyone replicate exactly what they did? Definitely not. But is it inspiring to see what’s possible if you really focus and sacrifice, yeah, absolutely!

    Reply
    1. I think ERE and MMM sites are great but like you mentioned, far too extreme for me and therefore not the same financial choices as we have made.
      At the end of the day, like all information, digest it and figure out what applies (or doesn’t apply) to you and your family. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  8. re: The masses love reading about success stories or massive failures but anything in between is not really news. But it never has been. We don’t really care about the average family. That’s boring.

    It all comes down to how our brains operate.

    As has been studied, money effects the brain more than (probably) anything else. That’s the first hook, especially when living in a hyper-Capitalist society where money is everywhere and everything; it’s been constructed to be this way and environment plays a hefty role in our behaviours.

    The knock-out punch comes in the form of novelty. We don’t really care about the average but we also don’t really care about the extremes. These outlying massive success and/or failure stories introduce something “new” to the brain, which in turn makes the brain produce all those fun time chemicals we crave. It’s a veritable laundry list of what happens after that, so best just to stop there.

    The modern problem is that the internet provides an almost non-existent barrier to entry; it’s a double-edged sword. People can publish whatever content they wish…and they do. Very few of the money grubbing bloggers are producing content of actual value; the rest are simply plugging into the very malleable human condition. This isn’t anything new, it’s been going on for thousands of years, but really, we need only think back to ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’ for a prime example.

    Reply
    1. “The knock-out punch comes in the form of novelty.” We agree here since you can see this with new TV shows like Hoarders, Pawn Stars and then oldies like you mentioned ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’. Our brains are wired to crave something new and exciting, get the rush, and then get bored after that. A very predictable cycle really!

      Reply
  9. Nothing wrong with making money by blogging, essentially it’s the same as people making money from selling books and newspapers. Blogging is just one of the new media channels.

    I do have problems with bloggers who are not honest and misleading. Well, that’s the reality one has to face in today’s world. If a big liar and bully can be the president of USA, what kind of honest can you expect from today’s world? That’s why I always think the most important thing for my kids to learn is critical thinking. Doubt everything until it’s proved to be truth.

    Reply
    1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

      I pretty much agree with what you’re saying although there is a difference between most bloggers and newspaper journalists/columnists. One is a paid career professional that generally has experience, education and qualifications, others to report to and more at stake. Not quite the same thing generally in the blogosphere world where a 15 in moms basement can claim to be an expert regurgitating anything!

      Critical thinking -yes- and being skeptical and inquisitive is a good thing.

      You used Trump and honest in the same sentence. That’s a contradiction. LOL

      Reply
      1. Authenticity wise, yes, I surely will believe newspapers, but only those ones with a long history and good reputations, more.

        The way to make money though, all medias need traffic to make money. The more readers, the more potential to make more money.

        Reply
    2. re: That’s why I always think the most important thing for my kids to learn is critical thinking.

      May, please check out this educational nonprofit organization: How I Decide (http://www.howidecide.org/)

      Dedicated to teaching kids how to think critically: “Rather than telling youth what to decide, we teach them how to think clearly to make their own decisions.” It’s American but I think you can still access most of their programs online.

      Oddly(?), it was founded by professional poker player Annie Duke.

      Reply
  10. Hey $10 an hour is pretty good! Right now I’m clocking in at $0.30/ hour haha!

    If you ever foray into Pinterest it’s even worse. You are inundated with images of “how I made $45600 after only blogging for 2 months!” It gets a bit tiring but I think a lot of people are interested in the sensationalism and hustle. Hence why everyone wants to start a blog and use those Bluehost affiliate links.

    Great post Mark! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

    Off topic but with a new threat of $200B in tariffs from the U.S. I’m starting to be seriously concerned (as in maybe it’s time to pull back some more from the market) that this will not end well.

    Reply
    1. Same here. I still have some cash at hand and will be more cautious to add more stocks. Canadian dollars already went down quite a lot and I am surely happy that I have already booked a vacation for Christmas.

      Reply
    2. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

      Lloyd, story in globe B6 yesterday with many different scenarios posted. Highlight:

      ” A new analysis of escalating trade disputes involving the United States warns that a deterioration into an all-out, global trade war would knock North America’s economies into recession.

      The report by Scotiabank said if the United States breaks all trade ties with its partners – and imposes across-the-board tariffs that average 20 per cent – then Canada and Mexico would see their economies contract in 2020. For Canada, it predicts the economy would shrink 1.8 per cent.”

      My “plan” is to avoid market timing. I’ve determined my 60/40 allocation and stay roughly around that. I might let it run up a little more if we were coming out of a recession vs long into a bull where there “might” be more downside risk now. Have enough cash/FI maturing to rebalance whenever equities drop enough to push me too far out of that range. Truthfully I’d like 20% to be knocked off for a while. Maybe I’ll regret saying that! LOL YMMV

      Reply
      1. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

        If I was younger with lots of recovery time and in the accumulation phase I’d agree. At my age and phase in finance, I see no purpose to accept large risks posed by an unstable government in the U.S. impacting the globe. Normal economic cycle risk is fine, but something feels different (and bigger) this time.

        Reply
        1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

          Interesting perspective and good that you recognize where you’re comfortable. Take only the risk you feel you need to and/or are comfortable with.

          I’ve almost never been successful in timing or predicting outcomes. You may be right it’s different this time. Although I know I’ve had that feeling (this time its different) numerous times myself (even when Trump got elected) when we’ve had big drops – the last biggie in 08/09 when our portfolio dropped exactly in half and 3-4 bad ones before that. But we stayed the course and within a few years were back. My father had an urgent meeting with their planner right after Trump won since he was convinced the markets were going to tank. He listened to his advisor and stayed the course. Years from now we’ll find out how that works.

          We should have enough income and asset diversity to weather a storm even if it lasts for a decade and I figure lots of years to go and recover. However in retirement we haven’t been tested yet and you’re right it’s not exactly the same as in accumulation phase. If it was I’d be 100% equities like I always was before.

          Reply
          1. I think I should consider myself still in accumulation phase? Right now I am about 60/40 allocation. Too conservative I know. My original plan is to get to 80/20 but I am hesitating
            and slowing down right now. Maybe I should stick to my plan but it’s not always that easy. I was always terrible to time the market and try not to.

            Reply
          2. Lloyd (58, retired (but farm a bit), married, rural MB) · Edit

            “I’ve almost never been successful in timing or predicting outcomes.

            Ya, me too. I’ve watched to buy on a down day now and again but was not overly concerned with the overall picture. But that was based on people in charge being somewhat rational. I’m sensing an irrationality to accompany the polarization and that is really beginning to concern me. People can differ on methods and policies, but at heart we all had the good of the country foremost in our minds. Not so much now I fear.

            Reply
          3. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

            “But that was based on people in charge being somewhat rational. I’m sensing an irrationality to accompany the polarization and that is really beginning to concern me.”

            Yes, it’s troubling but very little we and our politicians can do. However I am confident this too shall pass and we will come out of it fine.

            Reply
          4. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

            I would say for sure May. Although if you are within 5 yrs that can be considered the period to start move towards your goal allocation in retirement in case negative swings arrive at an unopportune time. (I know as I was originally planning to retire in fall 2009 at age 50 and got caught badly with 100% equity) Perhaps you are already at your planned allocation!

            I started retirement at 50/50% and I have a goal to move to 70/30%+ within the next 5 years (closer to when govt benefits start) or as/if good opportunities come.

            Reply
          5. Good point, RBull. Maybe it’s time for me to consider that GIC ladder. 🙂

            We figure another 10 years of working in total will enable us to retire in a very comfortable position. But who knows what’s in our future. If one of us out of job before that, I figure maybe will just retire like you did.

            I also think this shall pass. But who knows how. With China having this new crowned empire, and the president in USA is jealous of him being able to do this, I won’t be too surprised with any degree of craziness.

            Reply
          6. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

            Good for you May for really working hard on your retirement. Behaviour is a tough thing to control sometimes but we all know it’s key to being a successful investor. If we have some kind of correction or a recession your decision about raising equity stake may be harder to make in tough times but as you know actually much less risk at lower prices. But of course we don’t know when that could happen or how severe. I thought before now.

            GIC 5yr ladder may not be a bad idea for some of your FI when you’re closer to stopping work. 10 years or less will fly by.

            Yeah, it will pass but you’re right….how and what is going to happen in the meantime is anyone’s guess. Trump is the strangest bird ever.

            Anyhow we’re a long ways off topic of bloggers!!

            Reply
      2. Good advice and plan RBull about market timing. I actually lost out on some of the gains in equities in 2017 because I read too much about the “Trump Bump” imploding and a major correction being imminent. Boy, did I ever beat myself up for exiting too soon and it costing me $30K or so. I learned always being invested is better – at least for me.

        May – not sure how old you are but it seems that many people in their 30’s are in that 80/20 range. My 32 year old niece is an emergency specialist MD working in the US. She invests 20% of her income each month in Vanguard equity/bond index ETF’s and suggested she would like to be 90/10 but is too conservative to do so.

        Reply
        1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

          Thanks Marko. We/ve all made mistakes in our investing. I certainly have. “Trying” to stay disciplined on the plan and especially the behaviour part. Test will be when markets tank and panic wants to set in, but so far in my life I’ve never capitulated. This blog may be helpful for each other!! I agree stay invested to what your plan is. Both of us have a long time ahead!

          To that purpose I wrote up an investment statement policy several years ago- allocations %’s; risk tolerance; goals; rebalancing; instructions for spouse if something happens to me etc. I also have a written “plan for the next market downturn” that I developed from Tom Bradley’s Steadyhand blog to refer to https://www.steadyhand.com/globe_articles/2017/06/07/how_investors_can_prepare_for_the_next_market_downturn/. And always keep a current target list of stocks/ETF’s etc., watchlist at broker etc.

          .

          Reply
          1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

            Thanks again Marko.

            I like DIY too. About 30 years of it now. I enjoy reading Tom B.

            I read Bloomberg some and get a daily mailing from them too. For me its mostly entertainment, some information but I don’t take predictions etc seriously and prefer to think critically on my own. 17300…no idea and don’t really care too much. 13000 or 18000 over the next year I dunno.

            Reply
          2. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

            Lol, I drip our TFSA accounts too. Correction: you don’t want the market to go higher in the next 5 years but you want it to rip after that!!

            Reply
        2. Marko, I am pretty old and that’s why I am planning retiring in five years. My biggest investment mistake is that for the years after I have kids, I did not pay too much attention to investment and our savings had a too big percentage in FI/cash. We did well in the savings part only so I guess we are still in better position than most Canadian families at our age. We have no debt and are saving 50% for retirement right now.

          I was trying to correct that mistake and invest in equities for a while now. If we could retire in five years then we should be able to cover daily expenses with dividends/interests and need to sell equities only for expenses like replacing car/roof etc. That’s why I am aiming for a higher equity allocation.

          Reply
  12. I love specific blogs and discussion forums and reddit. I deleted FB, Twitter and Instagram. Right now I’m detoxing from a lot of social media. No time. Making money from a side hustle like a blog is perfectly fine and expected. I make 5 cents a month so it’s HUGE! lol

    I hate blogs that have a pop up triggered as soon as you start scrolling. I leave the site immediately and stop reading. The other annoyance is google ads right in the middle of written content. Bloggers should do any selling at the end of posts. Not at the beginning, middle or through pop ups that block content. Let your content flow through uninterrupted like I’m sure we all like to read any newspaper or article. The blog/internet world shouldn’t be any different. Cheers!

    Reply
  13. I don’t understand what all the chatter is about because blogging is good for everyone. good for them if they can make that much money on the side. I have to use critical thinking skills as to whether I stay with that person or not. I on the other hand like to read about the average person and read about their failures/successes or what they would do differently next time. What I delete quickly is someone who retired at 25 or 28 and how they inherited that money or lived rent free or worked for the family business etc. that is not the real world. As I have stated before I would love to read more about retirees or be more aware of good sites for how they are managing their finances especially now that a rrsp’s is not the best vehicle for saving.

    Reply
    1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

      Re “RRSP is not the best vehicle for saving” I would say that’s not a universal truth. There is much evidence to show it is equal to TFSA, and in some cases better, and some worse. The answer on what is “best” – “it depends” – lots of factors. RRSP used to be the only game in town. Now people have more to consider. That’s good. Unfortunately increasingly we read myths about RRSP’s. Ideally a person is in a position to take advantage of both or utlizes whichever one is works at that particular stage of life.

      As a retiree with substantial registered savings I can say it’s working well. Much lower tax rate than when contributing, lots of growth and we also use withdrawals to fund our TFSAs now. YMMV

      Reply
      1. Completely agree, RBull. We always maxed out every registered accounts.

        For people like us without pension, TFSA alone is not enough for retirement. If you have to save anyway, I do not see any better way than saving in RRSP accounts.

        Even one has saved too much in RRSP account and will not have a lower marginal rate after retire, I think you still get many years of tax-deferred growth. Also, you save on marginal tax rate, and you might withdraw on average tax rate. Even the marginal tax rate is the same, you still win.

        How many people will actually have same or higher tax rate after retired? I am sure some there but cannot be too many. Definitely not us anyway. I will happy though if that really happened instead of regretting.

        Reply
        1. RBull (59, retired, married, rural coastal NS) · Edit

          All very good points May. For those of with no pension (me too) and with signifcantly higher earnings while working than expected in retirement (now confirmed big time!!, and especially earlier retirement before govt benefits) RRSP is great and is the bulk of my “income”. I left about 20K RRSP room untouched when I was working PT a couple of years in my phase down career, knowing retirement income would be (and is) higher so not worth contributing.

          People with large pensions may not be so well served with RRSPs tax wise, but some may have ignored spousal plans that is now costing them a lot (one friend).

          Reply
  14. no problems here. If i dont like the site, i go to another one. I wish my site was making 100k a month like some of them out there. Maybe in a couple years! haha

    i just love the community and learning from each other. If money follows, why hate?

    cheers

    Reply
  15. I don’t think that is ruining the personal finance blogosphere. Sure, we are definitely making money using our blog, but that is not at all what is driving our content, what we blog about, etc. In fact, our only affiliate programs are the products that we also use to make money. Our position was that we don’t want to promote a product that we would never use or haven’t benefited from ourselves.

    I know there are a lot of blogs out there that create their “toolkits” to sell or the get quick rich schemes. I’m assuming that’s where most of the other responses are venting their frustration. For true bloggers, and those you want to follow, money is driven by vistors, clicks, etc. The only way you increase your traffic is to produce quality content. It all starts there. Income will come with time and strong content that is attractive to visitors. And we’ve been in this community for four years now and I can tell you that there are plenty of great PF blogs our there.
    Like everything else, there are some good sites and bad, but just because a few chase money doesn’t mean the rest of the community is soiled. Thanks for this great article today!
    -Bert

    Reply

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