Frank Talk on Finances
Laying bare their money secrets, bloggers trade strategies for retirement. Many are young. A few even make a buck
Freshness. "Typically, the bloggers who post very regularly and every day are the ones who have the most loyal and consistent audiences and are therefore most attractive to advertisers," says Derek Gordon, Technorati's vice president of marketing. But even if you don't have time to blog every day, you can maintain an audience. "If you don't post anything on a weekly basis, you're still OK," says Esteban Kolsky, an analyst for the technology research firm Gartner. "But once you get into the 10-days-to-two-weeks time frame [without posting], people stop paying attention to your blog."
Picking the right topic is key. "Find a subject that you feel passionately about, and don't focus as much on making money," advises Jeff Hanson, 42, a partner with Ohio Innovation Fund in Omaha and the author of the blog Your Way Ahead. "I think if you go into it with the intention of making money, people will see that."
Spoils from blogging might not seem so lucrative once you consider the time a blog requires. "I once sat down and added up how many hours I have put into the blog, and it's basically less than minimum wage," says Ping, who estimates he makes over $1,000 a month from his blog. "But if you have a passion for it and would do it anyway, why not?"
The bloggers who stick with it often find themselves to be part of a new kind of Internet community. "People think of bloggers as being these lonely people in pajamas who toil away at their computers all day long, but they are engaged and connected and really conducting two-way dialogues," says Gordon. Many personal-finance bloggers link to one another's websites and regularly comment on other blogs. Some even talk on the phone, although none of those interviewed have met a fellow retirement blogger in person. "I try to make it interactive and make people want to come and share ideas," says Jeffrey Pritchard, 37, a financial planner in Beaumont, Texas, and author of the All Financial Matters blog. "Some topics will get 20 or 30 comments from different people weighing in."
As bloggers discuss investment decisions they are considering, commentators aren't usually shy about giving a thumbs down to what they think is a bad move. "If you get something wrong, people will let you know," says Nardini, who is part of a six-member group of blogs called the Money Blog Network. They have banded together to share ideas and market their blogs to advertisers, so far attracting national sponsorships from H&R Block and Nationwide.
Jaeger actively seeks comments and criticisms from people all over the world about financial quandaries, like his recent $3,500 investment in an emerging market fund. One commentator called it a "wise investment," while others posed questions about the fund, offered their own international picks, or reminded him to diversify his assets. "I certainly wasn't an expert when I started this, and I'm not an expert now," Jaeger says, "but I get a lot of feedback about whether something is a good idea."