For the Personal Finance Blogger Interview Series we are starting the year off with a bang! I had the privilege of speaking with the man responsible for the very popular and informative blog: Dough Roller. I’m not sure if I have admitted this to him yet but it’s thanks to him that Studenomics is here today. I always wanted to start a personal finance blog (in fact I had been writing articles for months) but never got around to until I read the great post on How to Setup a WordPress Blog. If you want to learn more about making and managing money in an online world then Subscribe to the RSS Feed. Time to get into the interview:
Me: What is it that makes your blog so unique?
DR: My honest answer is that it’s not. There are 100s if not 1000s of personal finance blogs out there, and while we all bring our own personalities to our blogs, frankly, the blogs are generally not all that unique. Some are more popular than others, at least measured by traffic or subscribers or comments. But we are all writing about the same thing. One thing I try to do is make the content of my blog useful. While I wax philosophical every now and again, my primary approach is to blog about ways regular people can make more money, spend less, and invest the rest. Unique? I don’t think so.
Me: What key factors are attributed for the success you have reached with your blog?
DR: The first thing we need to do is define success. Some bloggers define success based entirely on how much money they make. Others define success based on traffic, number of subscribers, number of comments, and so on. I guess I use a mixture of these for myself, although I’m not as focused on the subscriber side of things. That being said, I think three things have contributed to what I feel has been a very successful blogging experience. First, tons of hard work. I get up every morning at 5 am and work for about two hours on my blog. I work on the train going into work. I work on the blog almost everyday at lunch. I work on weekends when I’m not spending quality time with my family. Successful blogging, however you define sucess, is a lot of work.
Second, a lot of luck. I joined the M-Network over a year ago, and met a great group of bloggers. They taught me more than you can imagine, and my blog has enjoyed a lot of success as a result. I’m also a partner blog with MSN’s Smart Spending. Donna and Karen at MSN are dynamite to work with, and it has helped me substantially.
Finally, and this is critical to the making money part of success, I’ve focused on keywords and SEO. If you want to make money with organic search traffic, you have to focus on keywords that bring relevant traffic to your site. I could go on forever on this topic, but my suggestion would be to find SEO and make money online blogs and start reading.
For fun, I recommend you read an article I wrote entitled, 30 Things I Learned in My First 30 Days of Blogging. I wrote this article late at night in a hotel room while on business travel. It was fun, but the truth is I had no idea what I was doing. If I only knew then what I know now!
Me: Would you recommend blogging as a full time source of income? If so,
then for what type of individual?
DR: The question here is whether blogging can generate enough income for you. It certainly does for some, but they are in the minority. I would blog full time if I could. I can’t financially right now, but I could see a time when blogging was full time or at least half-time. As for the type of individual, you need to be a problem-solver. Whether it is technical issues with the site, keyword research, SEO and so on, you need to be able to research issues, figure out solutions, and implement them.
Me: Best financial decision you made in your early 20s?
DR: Investing. Right out of college I began investing, even while I had school loans. It wasn’t much at first, but over time it has built up to a nice nest egg, even with the down market. My motto: Invest early, invest often.
Me: Biggest issue facing new College/ University graduates?
DR: In the U.S., the biggest issues is the future of our country. Both Medicare and Social Security are heading for serious trouble. Social Security is relatively easy to fix, but Medicare is a train wreck waiting to happen. The result will be higher taxes, and not just for the middle class. They might get a break when President-elect Obama takes office, but it won’t last; it can’t. We have an aging population, deteriorating infrastructure, and a government philosophy on both sides of the aisle that is moving us toward a European democratic socialism that will lower the standard of living in this country. I know, you’re sorry you asked.
Me: Given the current state of the economy, what is your number one tip
for saving money?
DR: Stay out of consumer debt. I’m not sure that’s a money saving tip, but it’s my number one recommendation. I use credit cards a lot, but not to support a lifestyle I can’t afford. I primarily use Balance Transfer Offers (shameless plug) to take advantage of 0% APR offers. But consumer debt is a killer, and it makes people miserable in the long run. Borrow for stuff that generally goes up in value (mainly just your home), but not for things that depreciate.
Me: Advice for a new personal finance blogger? (Tearing my blog apart is okay)
DR: Ok, I’ll tear your blog apart. Just kidding! Actually, your blog looks great. Visually, I wouldn’t change a thing. But here’s what I would do:
1. Take adsense off your site. I know it’s great to see a few bucks coming in, but until you’re getting at least 300-500 organic search visitors a month, it’s not worth it.
2. For each post, I’d pick a keyword phrase to focus on. I’d put that keyword phrase in my title and use it and variations a few times in each article. For important keywords, you should track your rankings in the major search engines. Here’s a Firefox tool that makes it a snap to track rankings: http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/
3. I’d change your permalink structure to remove the date and put the category in the url instead. Nobody will be searching for your articles by date, so why put them in the url. Keyword rich category names, on the other hand, can really help seo.
If you enjoyed the wisdom shared in this interview then don’t hesitate to head on over to Dough Roller.