Bloggers play an important role in fighting innumeracy (i.e., in improving our financial literacy). I was struck by how nice and well-intentioned the bloggers were. They have passion. They must since blogging is rarely a big money-maker (e.g., this blog has no advertising). The bloggers have a calling. Otherwise they quit before long.
Part-TimeRsMany bloggers have day jobs. Their writing may be a hobby that’s unrelated to their area of expertise. For instance, I also blog about marketing. I’ve got no training yet last week I spoke about building trust with LinkedIn. A speaker (or blogger) with nothing to sell made can be more credible and desirable than an expert looking for clients.
Herbert Simon’s 10,000 hour rule says that mastery comes from long, boring deliberate practice. Hobbyists may invest many hours but they aren't insiders working in that field every day. They aren’t getting coached by professionals. They are not learning by vicariously by watching what occurs around them.
OutsidersThe big challenge comes from being an outsider. There's an advantage: different perspectives. There's a weakness: not knowing the inner workings. The financial sector is tough to dissect from outside and those who know rarely tell their secrets. The few exceptions include bloggers Preet Banerjee (LinkedIn), Joe Barbieri (LinkedIn) and Dean Paley (LinkedIn).
Our personal experiences are limited. Insiders and journalists can get answers from their networks. A hobbyist blogger may not have those connections or get invited to industry events.
Personal ExperienceSome bloggers write about what they're doing to increase their wealth. That's interesting but knowing what the wealthy actually do may be more valuable. There's a big difference between someone who's made millions and someone who's trying to make millions.
Guest PostsA blogger without expertise in an area or with too much work may run guest posts. The writer might be an insider but have biases. It's fascinating to see what they leave out or assume. I won't give any examples. The same thing happens when insiders write for newspapers or magazines. If you know about them, you can anticipate what they'll say --- and not say.
TrainingBloggers are rarely journalists or researchers. They aren't trained in fact-checking. That's not to imply they're fools. They do extremely well with what they know. Thoughtful readers help by leaving comments.
Perceived BiasesEven when disclosed, affiliate links and advertising can create biases.
I think ING Direct has a decent savings account. Plus, you (and I) each get a bonus of $25 if you open an account and use my orange key 22329871S1. That’s all true but my self-interest may reduce my credibility in your eyes.
Canadian Capitalist writes that ING Direct lags the competition. By coincidence, that page has an ad from ING Direct. That’s probably an automated placement.
When I wrote about our switch to Ooma phone service, would you have been skeptical if you saw affiliate links?
There's lots to write about. What gets ignored to avoid offending advertisers? That's also an issue for paid publications like newspapers and magazines. That’s why I was surprised when The Globe and Mail investigated the insurance loophole. There’s a reason why Consumer Reports takes no advertising. For bloggers looking for revenue, automated ad placement services like AdSense look like a reasonable solution.
OverallI'm amazed at how much financial bloggers are able to figure out. Kudos and what they do for us for little (if any) financial gain. We need them.
- The ABCs of 1-2-3: the key to numeracy
- Do financial doctors make as many mistakes are medical doctors?
- 13 questions to evaluate an investment that’s “too good to be true”
- Repairing your computer vs repairing your finances
- Ellen Roseman makes financial basics lively
- Where are the customer ratings for advisors?
- A short quiz about our financial foibles
- image courtesy of air
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PS What do you think of financial bloggers?