A Glimpse into the Collective Soul of the Personal Finance Bloggers

( This interview is a part of the Ethics, Values & Personal Finance Week. )

This week I did an experiment. Since I was going to be the host of the Carnival of Ethics, Values and Personal Finance, I decided to spend the week inspecting these issues in the context of (a) blogging, (b) how it affects women and (c) how the youth perceive it. But since I write my opinion on this blog everyday anyway, I thought it might be interesting to bring in some fresh perspective by interviewing some of my favorite bloggers. What started out with sending a short list of questions via email soon turned into three invaluable panel interviews (here, here and here)! And somehow during this process, I think I might have just caught a glimpse of the collective soul of the personal finance bloggers!

I sent emails to ten different bloggers. And unbelievably, all of them replied back! Eight of them agreed for an interview, one sent a very polite reply saying "Thanks for the email—I’m flattered. Unfortunately I’m swamped and won’t have time to do this, but I do appreciate the email" and the last person replied saying "Wow! I would be more than honored to answer these questions for you, but unfortunately, my time is very limited these days. [snip] If it's ok with you, can I answer them at my convenience and you include them in another fabulous update on your blog?" I was blown away by how approachable these people were. I am not talking about eager beaver newbie bloggers here. If you had a chance to look at the interviews and even have passing familiarity with personal finance blogs, then I am sure you recognize every single one of my guests! Some of the bloggers in the panel get 80,000+ visitors per month and have RSS readership similar to professional bloggers! Several of them have had recognition from main stream media. And several of them, in addition to running successful blogs, have full time jobs and are the primary care givers for their kids and household responsibilities. And yet, every single one of them responded to my email!

If you pay close attention to the interviews, you will notice that even the person who had the shortest answers had close to approximately 200 words in reply. The longer interviews had well over 750 words. Now, that’s a good sized post in itself! So these bloggers, not only replied to my email, they took the time and effort to make sure that the content they provided was good! Really, when you think about it, it’s not that hard to brush off an interview that you don’t have your heart into. And yet these guys did not take the easy way out. Every single answer, in response to each question, had valuable information in it. Several of the answers were quite personal in nature. Many shared life experiences. The interviewees put in the required effort in their answers, to enrich the content of my blog!

They say that the links are the currency of the blogosphere. Just like some denominations are more valuable than others, links from some blogs (the ones with higher page rank) are better than the links from other blogs (the ones with lower page rank). Going by that analogy, a link from my blog is probably worth a penny. In Guyanese dollars (1GYD = 0.005USD) that is! What I am trying to get at, is that the links from my blog (at this point) must be quite useless to these biggie bloggers, especially since I have moved to my custom domain and the page rank is now at 0! And yet, they did not hesitate to respond. They did not speak down to me. And they did not try to brush me off. The time they spent on writing those answers was unpaid, in any form of currency. And even though they knew it, it did not stop them!

A very common reason that some bloggers make appearance on others blogs is to possibly attract the attention of new readers. Again, in this case, that was not a possibility. The number of readers my blog sees in an entire day, will visit some of these blogs sometimes in less than an hour. Every single one of them has better readership than mine! So, it certainly wasn’t an expectation of any kind of return on investment (of time) that these guys were looking for!

So what might it be that caused them to respond, with such thoughtful and thought provoking answers? I might never know the actual reasons, but I would like to think that it was not any sort of expectations. It is possibly the passion that these people have for what they do that made them treat the interview as an extension of their everyday blogging habits. Or possibly, it was the urge to help a new blogling get on her feet. Maybe something about the interview questions (all of which focused on ethical issues) resonated with some deeply held personal belief, that they felt they had to respond.

Being a personal finance blogger, it is very easy to get into the mode of trying to find an ROI on everything. But I have learnt two valuable lessons - not every thing you do is about what you get back in return and if you decide to do something, do it well. I would like to thank all the interviewees sincerely for participating in the interviews and teaching me these valuable lessons. There is a song in my native language that roughly translates to "As you stumble through the different roads of life, destiny introduces many strangers to you. Most of them, you will forget. But some, you will always remember"*. These people, I will remember!

Just in case you haven’t had a chance to read the interviews (You should, I’m not just hyping it up here!), here are the bloggers that were gracious enough to participate –

(*If you know hindi, you might recognize this very old Kishore Kumar song –
Aate Jaate Khoobsoorat awara sadkon pe
Kabhi kabhi ittefak se, kitne anjaan log mil jate hai
Un me se kuch log bhool jaate hein, kuch yaad reh jaate hei)

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The Digerati Life said...

This was absolutely AWESOME ispf! :) I have to commend you for the hard work you put in doing this. I truly appreciate the community spirit you have and how you brought us altogether in one cogent series. Thank you for this!

ispf said...

SVB: Thanks! It was the most fun week I have had so far :)