As part of my new “Money Makers” series I will be running case studies/speaking with successful internet entrepreneurs. I’ll skip the introduction for today because I really want to get into this question & answer session.
I had the privilege to correspond with Flexo of Consumerism Commentary. Flexo was kind enough (or perhaps patient enough?) to put up with my emails and questions. The end result is some average questions from me and excellent responses from Flexo.
(Btw, if you haven’t heard of Flexo or his blog, where have you been? He’s 100% transparent with his finances. If you want to see how much money he makes online stop by his site.)
Me: You have been blogging since 2003. Many pf blogs have come and gone. In your opinion why have some bloggers been successful while others have simply packed it up?
Flexo: Success in blogging comes naturally for those who really love something about blogging, whether it’s writing, building a community, or interacting with readers. For most people, blogging is something they do in addition to whatever they do to earn a living, so it’s not always a top priority. That helps those who are passionate about the activity stand out more. There may be any number of reasons why people give up blogging. Most often, other activities like spending time with family or earning an income take priority. Others, who may have heard about the prospect of earning a decent income by blogging alone, may have started for that reason and given up when they realized that hard work is involved.
Me: You’re completely transparent with your finances. As a result you blog anonymously. Do you see either changing in the near future?
Flexo: I write on Consumerism Commentary anonymously for the reason you mentioned: I’m completely financially transparent. Anonymity at the time I started Consumerism Commentary was a necessity because I didn’t want to have my personal finances available to anyone, such as a prospective employer, who searched for my real name on Google. What I didn’t realize was that Consumerism Commentary would grow in popularity, and I chose a silly name rather than something sounding more professional. I don’t plan on changing this until I decide to stop pursuing a career outside of blogging.
Me: What career advice would you like to give to recent college graduates/20-somethings? Would you advise the traditional career route or perhaps something more entrepreneurial?
Flexo: This type of advice is best when it is tailored to the individual. Everyone has different needs, desires and talents. The best advice takes all of that into account so it’s difficult if not irresponsible to generalize. I’m not an entrepreneurial person, yet here I am running what amounts to a business while also maintaining a more traditional career. There are benefits to both paths.
Me: Do you see yourself blogging full-time any time soon? On the personal finance hour you mentioned that it was possible but that you currently enjoyed your job. Either way, what do you think is the necessary process one must take for one to blog full time?
Flexo: I’ve been giving this much thought lately. Income from Consumerism Commentary has outpaced my salary, but at least for now, I’m able to hold onto both worlds. I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to handle it, however. If you’re considering blogging full time, you really need to think about long-term viability of income. While many bloggers work together and help each other out, it is a competitive field. If advertising is your sole source of income, it will be more difficult to make it through periods when companies are cutting back their advertising budgets. My current goal is to diverisfy my income more so Consumerism Commentary and any other projects I take on are better poised to survive any broader economic condition.
Me: Do you ever see CC selling information products (i.e. ebooks, consulting, etc.) If yes, do you care to share any spoilers with us?
Flexo: I have many ideas for “information products,” but I’m not sure if I would be selling them or simply providing them as resources. Either way, this would be a project that is several months away given my current responsibilities. This is another feature that would be easier to handle if I were no longer dealing with a nine-to-five job.
Me: I started blogging under the name “studenomist.” Now I use my real initials and I disclose my real name with anyone that asks. Do you think we will ever know who “Flexo” really is? Do you think you have lost any readers because of this?
Flexo: If I decide to leave my career, the world may discover my true identity. I also have been mostly forthcoming with those I do business with. Many other bloggers know my real name. Like I mentioned, my concern would be with prospective employers searching the internet for my real name and finding Consumerism Commentary, not Consumerism Commentary readers discovering my real name. Nevertheless, I like to keep a low profile. I’ve received perhaps two negative comments in almost seven years of running Consumerism Commentary, and I’ve managed to convince both that my name is the least important aspect of Consumerism Commentary. I have little interest in “personal branding.”
Me: Step inside the time travel machine for a minute. If you were 22 years old right now, what would you do differently in terms of money and life?
Flexo: I was doing many things “wrong” when I was 22, and I didn’t know it. I wasn’t paying attention to money, and I wasn’t earning much, either. Regardless of my mistakes, I wouldn’t change much other than find a way to start investing sooner, even if it was just $100 a month. I may not have been able to afford even that. In terms of life, I would have been a better communicator and friend. Other than destroying or damaging a few relationships, which I deeply regret, there isn’t much I would have done differently.
Me: Twitter style. In 140 characters, what is your best personal finance advice?
Flexo: Pay attention, think about the future, cover all the bases. Life is short so make the most of it. Set some goals but life is in the journey.
I want to thank Flexo for doing this.