Blogging and business journalism
Financial blogging is like gambling: You can never predict when it’s going to take off.
But a handful of different strategies — keeping it personal, having a strong social media presence and being consistent — can help propel one financial blog to be more successful than another.
A panel of financial bloggers spoke about creating and finding an audience for their own websites Saturday afternoon as part of this weekend’s Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference at Arizona State University.
In the dry area of financial writing, the ultimate goal is to make the topics approachable for anyone, said David Weliver, the founding editor of MoneyUnder30.com.
His blog, which he said has a six-figure net income, aims to provide financial advice for young people struggling with questions like whether to focus on paying off student loans or starting to invest.
“When I started Money Under 30, I knew it was going to be a blog for young adults by young adults,” said Weliver, who is now 33. “It wasn’t going to be someone with a lot of experience, as I saw a lot of mainstream financial experts, because you get the feeling that they’re your mom and dad scolding you.
“I wanted it to be more of a conversation.”
Jonathan Blum, who created The Digital Skeptic and owns Blumsday, said a successful blog is one that feels personal and connects with readers.
“You can tell remarkable stories if you’re willing to really produce the output and focus in on very particular topics,” he said. “And then you really have to be a human being. It’s really about being alive. You’ve got to be there for these readers.”
In the midst of running the different aspects of the blog, journalists need to remember not to neglect their writing — their area of expertise — said Will Chen, co-founder of Wise Bread. His site, which averages more than 2.25 million monthly page views, is the largest independently owned personal finance blog.
“The true value you as journalists bring to the table is you are expert curators of information, and that’s valuable to people,” he said, adding that it’s worthwhile to hire other people to focus on administration or advertising.
But even when everything is done right, there’s still some magic involved in creating a blog that succeeds, Weliver said.
“You’ve still gotta hit the jackpot to create an idea that really takes off.”
Megan Cassella is a UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication student attending the SABEW conference on a Talking Biz News scholarship.