Sunday, January 20, 2019

When financial bloggers take a break

Image result for i quit wwe

This is a pretty rough week.

First 15WW has expressed a desire to take a break. You can read about it here. Then yesterday I received news that Cheerful Egg would also be taking a 90 day break to reassess his priorities.

These are good bloggers to follow because their material is quite candid and original.

The work of a financial blogger is a thankless job. A few years ago, a lot of us came in with the idea of monetisation of our blog material. That turned out to be much harder than we thought. Even if we can cultivate a legion of fans, unless we conduct courses, give talks or make physical appearances, the profits from writing articles can only float to maybe a few top blogs in Singapore. If you think about a successful local blogs, maybe only Investment Moats and AK71 come into mind.

Once you cannot monetise a blog, the disadvantages kick in. Unless your blog is completely informational, any amount of candour can potentially affect your day job and employment chances. I constantly find that everything I write can offend potential employers. Luckily, I can do it because I don't really need an employer these days. Imagine how hard is it for someone trying to FIRE at the same time.

Here are some for the consideration of other financial bloggers :

a) Read a lot. 

The crucial point about sustainability is to read a lot and reflect your reads on your blog. Your articles are novel because you adapt what you read into living in Singapore. You would also have a constant stream of articles that will eventually broaden your fan base.

For me, thought leadership matters a lot so when a new book comes online, I pay more to get it into my hands so that I can incorporate it into my training materials or blog.

If you reason that reading should be factor into the time I spend being a trainer, then I actually work harder than most office workers in my current life. I don't include this tine in my life-energy calculations because I enjoy reading and would do it even if I don't have classes to teach.

b) Don't parrot mainstream ideas unless you have a novel interpretation of materials at hand.

I thank SMU for this idea. When grading presentations, an A grade is only reserved for a "novel" interpretation of legal ideas.

The relative popularity of Marie Kondo has led me to clear about 40% of my clothes and surrender it to H&M for a few vouchers. The problem is that in becoming mainstream, this form of minimalism is less interesting to write about.

What is more interesting is the question of which investments "spark joy". If I can come out with a thesis of why Asia Pay TV sparks joy if it is below 13cts, I have a nice article that can pick up a larger share of the attention. 

c) A blog is only one piece of your personal brand management.

As more sophisticated blogs come online and some of us start to align with very powerful groups like Seedly, the question is what kind of room does a blog simpliciter have in the grander scheme of things.

Seedly has become a behemoth in the industry. I think a blogger ignores them to their own detriment. This year, I realised that it's way better to cooperate and see if there are win-win initiatives with them.

This is going to be hard for introverts but bloggers need to put themselves out there to change the game. This means giving talks, making physical appearances and conducting courses.

I have been thinking about the question of using podcasts and vlogs to extend my reach myself.

d) A financial blogger needs to be a little selfish too.

Of course bloggers have to address what they can do for an audience, but a more important question is what can the audience do for you. Many readers just scour blogs for stock tips.

The surest path to burn-out is to keep giving but not getting anything out of your blogging activities. Your blog should be about self-improvement and even some degree of self-aggrandisement.

I can keep doing this because I don't really care about the audience -  I know folks want a brutal take on polytechnic students, why they need to be careful when signing up for a private degree, and definitely how our CPF program is like schizophrenic prostitute. These postings give me 1000 views within a day. It took me only 25 minutes to write the CPF Prostitute article.

But I also write for myself to chronicle key ideas to make me a better investor, Articles on Aristotelian categories would be lucky to land 200 hits in one day. These articles are harder to write because all these ideas need to be shoe-horned to practical life. In the future, these are my hidden real options to publish a full thesis on investing.

I think more bloggers will quit  or at least take a break in 2019.

But even if a lot more bloggers will take their place, I always feel a little sad when this happens.


  1. Hi there, while monetising blog is always good, putting it as your main priority for a blog adds an additional task to your already long list of things to do in a day.
    Anyway hope you get a good rest!

  2. Hi chris

    I enjoy your philosophy / Aristotle blog posts despite it being less popular than other sensational clickbait posts . Nonetheless, if you value your blog more as braning material or to trigger eyeballs, that might not be economically feasible.

    I enjoyed your posts so far and hope you find a balance between the 2. Do pace yourself and don't burn out.

  3. Luckily I only blog to crystallize my thoughts and keep a record of my investment journey. Blog monetisation is not my priority :)

  4. I can see everybody's point on monetisation.

    I don't think financial bloggers are saints, if they want to survive, they will need to design some kind of payoff for their unpaid work. Not everybody will succeed in that regard.

    Worse, when an economic downturn strikes, more bloggers will quit.

  5. ... or we come back from our breaks. I just posted a new (longish) article today after what felt like a very long posting break for me.
    I guess the financial blogger scene is like everything in life: there is always an ebb and flow. Let's blame it on the moon, shall we?

  6. Tacomob,

    And it's a great article on your blog, BTW. I thoroughly agree with you.

    I think deserves a longer and more deliberate reply.