Do as I say don’t do what I do

Something has been coming across my mind recently and it’s making me think more deeply about blogging – I blog to share my experiences and our journey towards Financial Independence.  But more often now, I see the professional FIRE Lifestyle bloggers out in force and I’m afraid my humble bloggings just don’t compete.

You know the type of blogs that are out there – there are loads of them on Twitter and the blogosphere in general.  I’m not naming names or bad mouthing anyone but I do wonder what it’s all about.

My thinking of FI/RE was that I would work in my career, save money, invest that, when I’ve enough I would retire.  But more recently my slow and steady plan has me thinking it’s not the fastest route to Financial Independence and I should get a few more side hustles to make things easier.  I always thought slow and steady won the race!

The most common side hustles seem to be around increasing matched betting, going balls deep into Real Estate and monetising their blog – and I’m not sure I want to do any of these to be honest.

  1. I used to do matched betting in the past but I don’t anymore after a string of (moderate) losses.  Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future.
  2. My feelings about Real Estate or Buy to Let investing (or people farming) are such that I won’t be doing it myself.  I suspect that it’s a great way to lose your money – despite the government doing everything it can to ensure houses get more and more expensive so that every generation can dream of renting something half the size of what their parents bought for less!  Besides, all amateur Kiyosakis have discovered is the power of leverage – you could just as easily leverage with spreadbetting on REITs and have probably a similar outcome (fortune or poverty) without all the hassle – and that would fit better with my idea of “passive income”.
  3. On the topic of blog income, I suspect that we can’t all make money from blogging to one another.  Maybe 90% of blogs won’t make any money or even worse, lose money on hosting fees.  Of the 10% that make money, maybe half will not make enough vs. say working at the minimum wage.  Leaving a small fraction of successful bloggers who reap the rewards for being early, being good or being savvy.  I’m none of those.

The darker side of blogging is that advising on frugality isn’t going to make you rich personally.  But with things like dieting, some people make a fortune out of it.  So my thinking is that many bloggers will end up giving advice for what is more in their interests than their readers.  A case of do what I say, not what I do.

I’m not saying that others are bad but inevitably in any cultural-lifecycle there are a lot of Johnny Come Latelys who just jump on the band wagon and the immediate move is to monetise FI.  Actually committing to something that will take you a decade or more (for truly passive FI) is something you should really only talk about once you are a good way along the journey. to reach FIRE takes years and years and some bloggers I’ve read feel like new jailbirds planning for early parole when they’ve only been in prison a few weeks.  Will most of them be at it again in a few years time?  Don’t count on it.

Having said that; GFF is not immune from his own hypocrisy.  I too have some affiliate links but it’s always for things that I’ve done myself or can recommend personally.  For example, I’m a fan of cashback websites and would recommend readers to use them – sure I’d love the referral bonus but I would rather have you ditch your TV.

The problem that I see is that if everyone becomes a self-styled FIRE guru, then there’s just too much noise out there and it becomes harder to read decent content.  There’s too much out there already and more every day!  I read one blog that listed about 100 blogs on FI just from doctors/physicians!  Think about that for a second – there’s now thousands and thousands of blogs all spouting the same rubbish – it makes me wonder if it’s worthwhile trying to compete – I don’t have the time to be honest and if I did, I would spend it on other activities.

Thanks, rant over.  GFF

 

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10 thoughts on “Do as I say don’t do what I do

  1. As someone who’s been blogging for 11 years (not about FI/RE but about personal finance in general), it can definitely be frustrating to see the Johnny Come Latelys — especially when they do as well or better than I do. (Up until recently, I had my hands full with life and just couldn’t devote a ton of time to promoting the blog.) So some of this is just envy. Some of it is getting sick of over-monetization. I do want to make money from the blog, but I’ve accepted that it’ll never be much (especially compared to some) because I’m not willing to hawk affiliate stuff just for the sake of affiliate fees. Also because people who read frugality blogs just don’t buy a lot of stuff (go figure..).

    Anyway, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with monetizing your blog, just don’t go overboard recommending every latest product out there, and you’ll be fine.

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    1. Good points-
      I think that running a blog full time is a job like anyother the risk is that it’s got a low barrier to entry, constant innovation / new content is required and a host of other factors – but comlared to amateur.blogs like mine there’s no competition.
      I am a fan of yours by the way and I have been reading your blog on and off for maybe 10 years (don’t think i have clicked any affimiatr links though) and there’s nothing better than finding mkney lying on the ground (or more likely a long receipt from Tescos without the points being collected)

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  2. For me it is being a UK FIRE blogger that makes you different. There are many FIRE bloggers out there, but most of them are from the US. I know that you have also done Airbnb which is a side hustle, something I am hoping to do in the future. Sounds like you’re giving up? From someone who enjoys your musings I would say, please don’t.

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  3. I think there’s always room for one more voice. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have started my own blog around 6 months ago! I don’t do this to compete or to make money, but to have fun, to connect with other like-minded people, and to learn.

    I think the people that you are describing are trying to make their blog into a business? And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not for me. Hence, I don’t worry about trying to compete with anyone.

    As Sam said above, being a UK FIRE blogger already sticks us in a niche. Your experiences are different from anyone else’s, and it is that in particular that sets each blogger apart.

    I suppose you have to identify why you are blogging, and what you hope to get out of it. If you want to make loads of money and become the next Mr Money Moustache, then yes, get competing! Otherwise, just relax and enjoy the ride 🙂

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  4. Interesting thoughts, GFF.

    I think there are broadly two types of FIRE blogs – the ones documenting personal journeys and the others selling FIRE as a lifestyle. As mine is in the former camp, I don’t see my blog competing in the latter.

    I don’t tend to read or follow too many of the latter in any case, as they are often just full of regurgitated click-bait listicles, which offer ‘advice’ and for many, the main motive is just to make money from their blogs. I far prefer to read about the nitty gritty of how and what someone is doing to achieve their goal of FIRE and am a firm believer of slow and steady as you can see from my latest post! I don’t understand why some think it’s some kind of race – against whom? In the early days, I used to stress a little that my numbers were pitiful compared to some others but it no longer worries me.

    I also rarely read US blogs these days – there are more than enough UK blogs now to keep me busy and I’d rather read about ISAs and SIPPs than IRAs and Roth (or whatever!).

    As you know, I do do matched betting and I was stung many years ago and lost money. However, having now done it for 3 years, I can fit it easily into my life (and work!). It definitely isn’t for everyone, but I can’t think of any other side hustle I would want to do right now.

    So please keep doing what you’re doing – ignore the noise, your ‘humble blog’ will be fine! 🙂

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  5. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself, or other bloggers. Everyone runs their own race, and everyone makes their own path to FIRE. Fire isn’t a race, it’s a destination, and if slow and steady works for you, that’s great, whilst fast and hurried may work for others.

    Personally I think there’s a dearth of voices in the non-US blogosphere on FIRE. Blogs about families pursuing FIRE are also quite scarce. That right there, are some niches just waiting to be filled, and I think your blog fills both beautifully.

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  6. Picking up on Weenie’s comment I prefer to read the personal journey and opinion blogs and feel that those blogs with too much pushy marketing of paid FIRE advice can be off putting. My FIRE advice would be not to pay for advice as there is a wealth of information in books, on blogs, and in print or on the internet in general.

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    1. I agree – there’s enough out there already. And I think that it’s maybe best to just read one thing deeply than to skim through dozens of similar pieces.
      Reading too many points of view either leads you to confusion or you get group think – both are best avoided!

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