I was recently interviewed on a website called The Daily Interview. The focus of the interview (and the site) is more about how to be successful as a professional blogger than how to invest your money, but there were still lots of great personal finance pearls in it. Here are some excerpts or you can read the whole interview here.
It’s extremely common for bloggers to select a popular niche and dig right into it. The good bloggers will find a way to bring out their unique voices and perspectives, but there typically isn’t a lot of real innovation.
But to take a very popular and saturated niche – like personal finance – and carve out your own sub-niche that you can dominate (almost completely), is a completely different story. It also serves as a great lesson that even something like blogging can still be open to innovation.
Today’s interview features James M. Dahle, MD, an emergency physician. As a CPA who has worked with doctors before (as clients), I’ve seen how many people in the medical profession often don’t understand (or don’t care to understand) personal finance, which leaves them open to less-than-noble individuals who can take advantage of them. And that’s why James created his blog – to help other doctors better understand personal finance.
Tell us a bit about your background and the origins of The White Coat Investor. How did an emergency physician become interested in blogging about personal finance?
The short answer is that I got ripped off one time too many. The long answer is that my story is pretty typical of most doctors. First I was ripped off by a “friend” who sold me a tiny whole life policy instead of the big 30 year level term policy I needed. Then I was ripped off by a realtor (also a “friend”) who not only encouraged us to spend too much on a house she knew we’d have trouble selling, but encouraged us to buy a house when we should have rented.
Then, a mortgage refinancer tried to rip me off by sneaking in a prepayment penalty when he knew we would be selling the house we never should have bought within a year or two. Finally, a financial adviser put me into loaded mutual funds after telling me I would be paying him via a flat fee for his advice.
At that point, I was so mad that I decided I either needed to learn about personal finance and investing myself, or my life would be one long story of being the sucker for financial professionals. I started reading like mad and eventually met many of the few “good guys” in the industry. After a few years, I realized that nobody was teaching any of this to doctors, either formally in school, or informally via a blog or website. Voila, The White Coat Investor (https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com) was born.
What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far with your blog?
The blog serves two functions for me. First, and most importantly, it fulfills its mission of educating medical and other high-income professionals about personal finance and investing, helping them get a “fair shake” on Wall Street.
Second, it feeds my entrepreneurial spirit. It’s been for-profit from the beginning (although like most bloggers, I blogged for free that first year.)
For someone who is just starting out creating a blog (or even more challenging, a blog in the personal finance niche), what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
I received lots of advice both directly and indirectly. I think the most important advice I got was to realize that the hardest part of blogging is sticking with it since almost no one gets much success in their first year. You have to be writing about something you feel very passionate about or you’ll run out of stuff to say in a lot less than a year.
Another thing it took me years to learn was that blogging is 10% writing and 90% marketing. Most bloggers have that reversed. Finally, the time commitment required to do this well should not be underestimated. I surely did.
Read the rest of the interview here, then come back and let me know what you thought in the comments section. Are you surprised at how hard it is to get a for-profit blog going? Does it bother you to get information from a business enterprise, even when conflicts of interest are disclosed? If you blog, write, or speak either for free or for-profit, why did you choose to do it that way? Comment below!