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I Don’t Think I Get PF Blogging

I think after 18 months I still don’t really get Personal Finance Blogging.    I am a huge fan of my blogroll (probably why it is my blogroll and why I check it multiple times a day) but sometimes I get confused on those sites. Actually, it isn’t the site that confuses me rather the responses those sites receive that boggles my mind.

Take for Example some of these great posts in the week or so:

While I know I think there is only two or three blogs (I think  FinancialSamurai and Budgets are Sexy are the best examples) on my blogroll that get the attention their writing deserves.

When I say attention, I don’t mean traffic, all the blogs on my blogroll get significant traffic; rather I mean comment interaction with the person that wrote the post and other intelligent commenters.

What caused this post you ask?  What made me doubt PF Blogging?

  • Trent from TheSimpleDollar wrote a post about How He Wraps Presents that garnered 79 Comments in less than 24 hours!

I am not hating on Trent, he is an amazing blogger with a loyal following and two books under his belt.  But come on people! Are people taking time out of their day to comment on how he wraps Christmas Presents?! Did you not see the gold that is above?

So Please I beg anyone reading this today, check out those sites in my blogroll, hell I’ll give you a list of them here – Comment on Them! Interact with their authors/bloggers..they’ll appreciate it (and so will I):



  1. I completely agree with you on some of the posts and blogs that receive tons of comments. I read most of the blogs that you have on your blog roll (sad that I am not on it….yet) and comment on them when I see some good stuff.

    Heading off to read Tax girls’ post.

    • Lulu,

      Usually I add a site to my reader for a couple months and then the blogroll. I feel ashamed to admit this, but I have never been to your site.

      Just added you to my reader expect some comments LOL

  2. Wow, you said exactly what I’m often thinking but never got around to posting. I have to admit, I haven’t gone out of my way commenting elsewhere so I understand why I don’t get 20 comments per post, but some of the ones you cited are very insightful and well-trafficked (sp?) with a much lower ratio of comments.

  3. That’s a pretty interesting point. As you wrote, some blogs are great and deserve all the attention they get. But there are some blogs that people likely comment on just to get their own name out there. That’s not the worst thing, of course, but it’s something to look out for.

    Then again, maybe we’re just being cynical. Either way, thanks for raising the issue.

  4. Ugh! I want interesting topics regarding investing and being an entrepreneur. I’m having a tough time finding good blogs on the subject and working on creating mine for that purpose.

    My argument is why should I listen to some of these bloggers when some of them have lower net worth than I? Or worse massively in debt?

    I’m not saying that I’m better than them. My point is I’ve gotten past that discussion and want more advanced discussions. I’m also the type of person who does not just accept the norm. Most PF bloggers state (have no debt, pay cash for everything, live like a caveman, etc..) At least with my life experiences, I’ve found some of that to be BAD advice!

    Some of blogroll you have does have some more advanced topics, but many fit generic PF blog.

    • I don’t want to state which blogs are “advanced” since all of them provide quality information, but I do have favs over others.

  5. Haha I have wondered this same thing as well. I do know though that sometimes certain bloggers are just extremely talented at stimulating discussion. For example, I think that Financial Samurai does an excellent job of A) Asking question at the end of his posts to provoke discussion and B) Replying to almost every comment with an in depth and witty response. –

  6. Personally, I think that the reason that one got so many comments is because an average person reading PF blogs can relate and comment! I told The husband that I couldn’t make an educated comment on most of his posts…but if he posted about savings in wrapping paper I could totally give my 2 cents!
    .-= The Wife´s last blog ..Last Minute Hostess =-.

  7. I agree with “The Wife” she makes a good point about people not commenting if they don’t think they could provide an educated response. I know there is a lot of stuff on sites like Weakonomics that are great articles but exceed my ability to add anything intelligent to the conversation.

    I usually can’t buy a comment but then I am not convinced I get anywhere near the traffic of these guys.

    • Kyle that is actually my wife LOL. But my response to both of you would be, if you don’t get a topic but it interests you why not ask about it in the comment section.

      Scratch that – Kyle why don’t you ask about it, The Wife why don’t you just call me at work

      • LOL, this exchange is priceless! : ) But I’m mostly laughing because I thought that “The Wife” was her pseudonym from another (unrelated) blog too. So I’m just as bad as Kyle on this one.
        *Ahem*, appropriate to this discussion, I think my comment falls under the description of commenting on easily digestable and relatable material, haha. But hey, it’s Sunday evening after Christmas, if now’s not the time to relax, browse and casually comment, then when is? ; )

  8. I have a hypothesis that might be able to explain the reason on 3/4 of your list. If they are newer blogs, many of the bloggers promote and interact on Twitter, meaning the conversation is just moving somewhere else and taking a slightly different form.

    There seems to be an inverse correlation between comments and tweets.

    When I published that “Term is not pure insurance” on Tuesday, I got feedback from the Twitersphere. In fact, for me, not owning the conversation on my site is part of my strategy. The down side is it only allows a certain depth.

  9. Aaron,

    Interesting, but in my experience may not be true (but I guess that’s why it is a hypothesis and not a law)…

    I don’t “get” twitter either. I think that has to do with the fact that it is blocked at the office so I can’t use it 10 hours out of the day.

  10. I think Trent’s success comes from his ability to relate to his huge audience. He’s an average American father from a small town who defeated his debt demons.

    People check his site because it’s like checking in with a friend every day. They may not get 100% intellectual stimulation from every post, but they feel like they’re reading a friend’s writing.

    The ability to be honest with your writing over an extended period of time will more than likely bring dedicated readers.

    Good post topic, Evan.

    • I should reiterate I am a HUGE fan of Trent’s and have read his blog for what seems like years at this point – it just boggles my mind how many people can take time out of their day to comment about wrapping paper when there is so much other GOLD out there.

  11. Very interesting post and one that many of us can relate to as we aspire to Trent’s level.

    My theory is that bloggers use commenting as not only a way to build community and contribute to a conversation, but it is also a strategy to drive traffic to their own site.

    It seems like fellow bloggers are going to comment more on the big (high traffic) blogs so they can get their names in front of more people rather than a smaller site that doesn’t garner a lot of eyes.


    • Yes and No – if you were to comment on a post with 78 other comments, your name is less likely to get clicked or out there. But that may just be me.

      If I read a post and then see a bad ass comment and that comment is only 1 of 5 I am VERY likely to go check out that other guy’s site. But if your comment is one of 80 I am unlikely to even get to it.

  12. Well, well, well, look at all these GREAT comments Evan! You’ve stirred something that so many of us probably have wondered at some point or another!

    My thoughts:

    1) If Trent has 80,000 subscribers, actually, 100 comments for that one day is just a drop on a spec of sand in the Sahara! 0.1%

    2) I’ve visited plenty of sites where I ask the publisher a question, and it’s just CRICKETS! No response, nothing. Why the heck would I bother returning. It’s like hosting a party and the host not talking to you. Fook that.

    3) If there’s any post I read that intrigues me, I comment. It’s just a respect thing, because I know the difficulties involved in putting together a post, and it bums me out if nobody really cares. It’s also credit to the writer who engenders a need to comment.

    4) Some sites make it difficult to comment. I personally am not a fan of the CAPTCHA code, b/c gosh diggidity, it takes me like 2 or 3 tries to figure the code out sometimes! Have a moderation system, but don’t make it so cumbersome.

    5) It just takes time. The big boys have been around for years, have written or are writing books, and have a loyal following. It’s all about relationships.

    Great rant Evan! Didn’t even know you were on Twitter, as you’re just like me, off during the day! Now where’s your Re-tweet button so I can retweet this post? 🙂



    • Sam,

      I get the drop in the bucket point, but there are amazing posts on Trent’s site that get 14 comments vs. the 80 on wrapping paper LOL.

      I think your site is one of the amazing ones out there where you post GREAT material and then it has an awesome conversation afterwards. Anyone reading this thread should absolutely check out your site.

      The Twitter button is in my sociable plug in – TWEET AWAY!

    • I totally agree with #3 on your list. I post what I am thinking and want people to comment (I check my comments 3 or 4 times a day). I want people to care and to let me know if they agree or even if they disagree with what I am saying. I want it to be a conversation, not just a post.

  13. Sometimes when I read very informational posts, I feel like I don’t have anything to say in response. So I’m more likely to comment on a conversational post (like this), than I am on a post that’s got great information. When a post is really controversial, I may follow the comments but may not respond unless I feel like getting caught up in the conversation.

  14. I think it’s a combination of things already said. I’m a little on the side of @InvestorJunkie. My target is to give people an insider view on the financial industry. However, not everyone can relate to that. People are more likely to comment on what they can relate to. I think that’s why so many “generic” (or whatever you would like to call them) blogs get all the comments. Everyone can relate and has a thought or opinion about the general topics. Plus have a ton of subscribers helps.

  15. Cool dude, I’ve tweeted this post, yihaw!

    The other thing is, there are only a few “personal finance experts” in the community, so really, a lot of the info is just for fun. Entertainment, voyeurism, bouts of envy and schadenfreud etc if you will.

    If I visit a site, like what I just read, learned from it, and don’t comment, I feel like I’m a ninja in the night, stealing! It’s just how I feel.

    Rants are good.

  16. BTW, Evan….. DANG! That’s really your wife?! Her sites rocks! You’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

    Do you guys have blogging sessions with laptop leaning back to back? I can imagine it now. Love is in the air, love is everywhere! 🙂

  17. Sometime it’s simply a matter of traffic and exposure. The Simple Dollar gets a ton of exposure and traffic hence the comments.

    Sometimes it seems random. I’ve written stuff that got lots of comments and didn’t expect it while other times I put my all into an article and got just a few comments.

    Sometimes I think there may not be much else to say. A reader might not want to write “yeah, I agree.” They may be waiting to comment on something that requires more of their opinion or input.

    Quality, in the end, will create more and better comments. Thanks for the exposure here! I always appreciate any comment I get! I remember the days when I’d be happy that someone found the site no less commented.

    • “I remember the days when I’d be happy that someone found the site no less commented.”

      I feel you on that one! Whenever my traffic drops below that of even double when I started I get upset lol

  18. Thanks for sharing my post, Evan. I know I don’t get the comments sometimes because I don’t ask questions or ask for input. Also, I’m bad at responding to comments, unlike yourself. So I think that has an effect as well.

    • I LOVE responding to comments! The conversation is what makes me happy to blog. I think it is an ego thing!

  19. One other thing I was thinking about also was that I bet a pretty high percentage of readers – even on personal finance blogs – read blog posts for fun/entertainment and if the subject matter gets too in depth then many will just take a look and move on because they don’t want to stretch their grey matter.

  20. I just wanted to say I’m glad to see these comments still going, disproving my hypothesis. It seems there is something else we can do to help improve on-site engagement besides having heaps of eyeballs and a quiet Twitter account.

  21. Just checked out the gift wrapping post. Kind of weird… as you mentioned.

    The other posts are great.

    I will second, or even third, what a few people have said about Sam (Financial Samurai) being great at fostering discussion. Much better than I! 🙂

  22. I hope the lack of comments does not get you upset. (for your own sake ;-)) however, whether it does or not, I think the topic begs some soul-searching of the author of a blog. For example, why do you write? Why do you want people to comment? Why would you feel any better if people commented vs. if nobody did? How long will you keep writing if nobody comments? Why? How are your posts different from X’s? (for good or for worse, commentwise.) if you were to put 10 comments on your post, what would they say?

    • I see my stats (actually I am obsessed with them – its kind of sad since I am not HUGE but still check page views often), but a comment for me is a chance to interact with people, and I think that is what I love about blogging.

  23. As a reader, didn’t know it made a difference whether comments were made. I usually comment when I have something to say or add.

  24. I certainly appreciate being on your blog roll – even though I’m not a PF blogger! 🙂

    My theory on this particular topic is that when it comes to finances – there are many people out there that don’t understand finances enough to be able to add anything significant to the commentary. You guys are doing a great job in educating the masses. What you might want to consider as that those who are commenting on PF blogs in the particular posts that deal specifically with finances and taxes are those individuals who already have a good grasp or understanding of the topic. All those others who are passing through are there to learn and will eventually comment when they feel comfortable enough to engage in the topic.

    Your present wrapping example is spot on and illustrates the point. EVERYBODY understands present wrapping – very few understand finances, taxes, economics or even pay attention to the economic news.

    I thank all you PF bloggers for being here to educate the rest of us.

  25. Actually that’s it. That is why Trent is my blogger idol. Look at the topics of the other posts, “IRS, Tax Tips, Selling a Business, Carbon Tax, and Treasury Bonds.” These are very specific and detailed topics that are not interesting or even necessary for a majority of people (even those in PF). A majority of people do not have an opinion on most of these either.

    Now look at Trent’s topic: Wrapping presents. EVERYONE wraps presents. EVERYONE has an opinion on wrapping presents. EVERYONE can relate to this.

    Trent’s blog is the first pf blog I ever read before I even knew there was a PF community. There is something very powerful about being able to appeal to everyone and not just those interested in your little field.

  26. I can never predict how many comments any of my posts get with any great accuracy, however, there are some ground rules.

    1) Controversial posts about something everybody can relate to (children, travel, religion, politics, … ) get a lot of comments. FS is a master of writing these kind of posts.
    2) Posts which touches something everybody has to deal with e.g. habits and traditions also get a lot of comments but not as many as the controversies.
    3) Posts which are technical, specialized, or go above people’s heads as in “I don’t want to say something and look stupid” get few comments.

    So try to maximize the disagreement factor by shooting straight down the middle and maximize the “I can relate to that” by discussing popular stuff.

  27. This is a topic that really amazes me. I have a personal finance blog in spanish (I’m from Peru), which I started on the second half of 2010, and have found great difficulty in receiving comments. I’ve considered many possible reasons: under-developed blogging culture, cultural differences, lack of knowledge of how the readers can help spread the word. I’m surfing a lot on sites like your’s (and others you have mentioned on this post) to learn how you do it.
    For example, you have over 40 comments on this post. I’ve seen posts with over 400 comments. My most commented post has 4 comments. And although I try to invite my readers to action, ask them questions and use many of the common techniques, it still isn’t picking up.
    It’s thanks to posts like this one that I feel motivated and hopeful of a bigger future interaction with my readers.
    Thank you!!!

  28. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for ranting. I’ve been experiencing the same sort of frustration with my own PF blog: I write a really good and informative post, and hear nothing but crickets…meanwhile, other PF sites get major traffic for posting content about how to save a few cents on laundry detergent or toilet paper. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a series of posts on how to find cheap private health insurance, which is a big concern to many people who are unemployed, but I can’t even be assured that anyone will read this series. It’s really frustrating…


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