September 29, 2012


risk 500x470 Photoxpress_2732430What a treat! I met dozens of Canada's personal finance bloggers at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference (CPFC12) last week. For details, visit My Own Advisor and Squawkfox.

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.


Many 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.


The 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 Experience

Some 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 Posts

A 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.


Bloggers 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 Biases

ING Direct lags the competitionEven 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.


I'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.


Podcast 188

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PS What do you think of financial bloggers?


Canadian Capitalist said...

Good point Promod. Unfortunately, I never know what ads are being served on the site, so there's little I can do about this.

Promod Sharma said...

Your approach is fine, CC. I'm concerned about bloggers who write favourable posts with affiliate links. You don't :)

groceryalerts said...

Promod, disclosure is so important when it comes to blogging. When we do a review or suggest a product we try to disclose if we received the product for free, we never do paid advetorials (although we have been approached by numerous companies).

I think the $25 ING direct is a nice bonus but as CC points out that they have been lapped by other companies recently.

Promod Sharma said...

You've got a sound approach, Steve. Since you've built a community, it's especially important to show the content is unbiased.

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