Not to toot my own horn, or that of my colleagues writing about personal finance, but today’s post is going to be a little one-sided.
I’m going to try to make a case for reading personal finance blogs, even as the mass media paints us as “unreliable” and “amateur journalists.” Fortunately, I think blogging is here to stay.
Here are a few reasons why I believe personal finance blogging is not only useful, but highly effective, for learning about money:
- Joe the Blogger – First, I threw the question out to the Twitter community. Stephanie from Poorer Than You (@stephonee) noted that you can learn how regular people get started with cleaning up their finances. I think that hit one of my main feelings on the head. They say that the more specific the experience of “one,” the more universal its application. By learning from and observing the stories of many individuals, we can learn quite a bit about what works and what does not. Who cares about the “average” person? I want to know what you have done.
- Blogger Freedom – Blogging allows for almost unlimited freedom in subject and media. Write about investing in Argentina today. Make a video about your brother’s garage sale tomorrow. Your subject and your audience are as broad as you want to make them. By the same token, reading financial blogs exposes you to a large variety of money-related information that’s difficult to get on mainstream sites.
- Accessibility – Blogs are a unique online media for many reasons, not the least of which is accessibility. While almost all online writers are “accessible” these days, there’s nothing quite as direct as a comment in response to a thought-provoking post that reaches the author in minutes. In many cases, the author takes the opportunity to respond and interact with the audience and the content of these discussions can often out-perform the usefulness of the original post.
- Long-Term Community – There’s a reasons why personal finance forums like that of Get Rich Slowly are churning at a furious pace. People who need help with their money want to be part of a supporting community that’s always available. We gather and interact with blogs that care for their community because we enjoy the flow of information and learning from one another in a unique way.
- The Collective Answer – The charge against bloggers is often tied to misinformation and poor advice. I object. We aren’t here to give direct advice to our readers, or to provide complete information, although we try our best to do both. To me, blogging is a collective effort of the entire community. When I read about “Cash for Clunkers” on 25 other personal finance blogs, what I took away is not individual advice but the idea. If someone’s made an error in their facts, the community is there to pick up the slack, point out the hole, and everything continues on its merry way.
- Interconnectivity – I don’t mind sending you to another personal finance blog to learn about a related topic – it’s what the blogosphere is all about. Highly interwoven networks of blogs can function together, filling voids of missing information, or presenting alternative points of view. It’s what makes blogs cutting edge – we are always trying to find that missing niche and fill it.
- Authority by Community – Authority and trust of a blog are rarely established by credentials, how much money or influence you have, or knowing the right people. The best blogs rise naturally to the top because they have the most useful content, are linked to and read more frequently, and care for the communities they are creating.
I read mainstream news and finance sites on a daily basis. But none of them have quite the depth and personality of information that I get from the 300+ personal finance blogs I follow. And really, that’s the only proof I need.
What do you think? Are personal finance blogs just people writing about their own thoughts or can you actually take something away from the reading/interacting experience?