I’m going to a conference in a few weeks for financial bloggers. Many of the attendees have been in some major debt at some point in their lives, and write about it often and how they’ve overcome it.
Not me. I have three finance blogs — one focuses on personal finance, another on investing, and this one, CashSmarter, is where I share my life lessons on personal finance. Other than a mortgage, I don’t have any major debts and I’ve never been so far in debt to a credit card that I’ve had to pay off thousands and thousands of it down to get my financial life in order.
All of this makes me wonder if I’m meeting my goal of telling a compelling financial story that people want to read about. If I haven’t been $147,000 in debt, or haven’t paid off $26,000 in debt in 18 months — real stories by real bloggers I respect and enjoy reading — how is my story worth reading?
Reading how someone extricated themselves from six figures of debt can be fascinating — even if you’ve never been in that much debt. Anyone with a credit card knows how easy it can be to add more charges to a card, so going into a huge amount of debt isn’t too far-fetched for many of us.
And getting out of it is the typical American tale of overcoming large obstacles to become a success. It’s a life lesson worth reading about for lots of people.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who write about becoming millionaires and how you can too.
I’ve read Elon Musk’s autobiography and it’s a great story about following your interests to becoming a millionaire. I highly recommend reading it.
Somewhere in the middle
I’m not near either of those points in life. I had some student loans after college, but they weren’t much and I paid them off quickly. A huge car repair bill got me moving toward saving in an emergency fund. I don’t play the lottery, so if I’m ever going to have $1 million, it’s going to have to be from my retirement account.
All of this sounds ho-hum, I know. But is it really? Is an outlook toward never wanting to be in debt so boring? While I’m not awash in money, I at least feel that I’m moving in the right direction as a freelance journalist to have the potential to make more money in more ways than I ever could in a 9-to-5 job.
That’s part of my story. I just don’t want it to be boring. One way to not be boring is to focus on your niche. Instead of writing about broad topics, focus on one area where people who are enthusiastic about it will gather.
At one time, I wrote solely about being an unemployed dad, which seemed like a niche that wouldn’t hold readers’ interest for too long. I then started working as a generalist in the personal finance writing world, which as a journalist who has been trained to cover almost any topic has served me well.
With CashSmarter, one of my main goals was to talk about minimalism so that people could use what money they have smarter. Instead of using it to buy stuff they don’t need, they could use it wisely in other ways. The more information you have, the better decision you can make, I believe.
Am I succeeding? I don’t know. This site is doing OK, but not nearly as successful as I’d like it to be. There’s a lot more I’d like to do with it, and I’m hoping to brainstorm a lot more ideas at the financial bloggers’ conference I’m going to soon.
I don’t think my overall goals for the site will change in helping people in many ways learn how to make better decisions with their money, but maybe it’s time to double down on a niche that I know well.
I’m still trying to figure that out. What I’m sure of is it won’t be my personal experiences on how to get out of a large amount of debt or how to become a millionaire. Stick around.