Not feeling the love anymore

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Not feeling the love anymore

Postby ann_l » Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:40 am

I really used to like this blog. I felt JD was just a guy who'd struggled with money, just as I struggle with money, and felt that we were kind of trying to find out about money together. I found the stories of his struggles with money inspiring and the posts educational. I admired him and appreciated the blog. And it seemed like a community, with readers asking questions and weighing in and JD asking questions of us.

As time went by, however, I felt a disconnect. The book deal, the post about his housekeeper and vacations, the posts from other people (paid employees, no less!) and I start to feel less like JD's fan and more like just someone who's being enticed to visit the blog so that a company can get ad revenue. I could overlook the cheesy pun motto "Personal finance that makes cents"-barely, because I hate puns-but not the feeling the readers of the blog were being treated less like friends/fellow strugglers and more like consumers.

Honestly, I think that occasionally holding a giveaway-a couple readers who leave a post get a copy of his book, for example-would help. Not really a contest, like the video contest, but more a thank-you-I-like-my-readers thing. Maybe more blog entries on the importance of giving-something all of the personal finance experts seem to stress (at least Ramsey, Orman, and Bach) would help.

Often I find the reader's posts below the blog entries more interesting than the entry itself, and I don't feel those who contribute are appreciated as it should be. I feel kind of like this friend of mine got rich but with the help of a bunch of people and now he's trying really hard to milk it for all it's worth but without doing anything for those who helped. I feel kind of conned (I also feel conned when I get invited to Tupperare and Avon parties, though, too.)

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Re: Not feeling the love anymore

Postby jdroth » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:13 am

Hey, Ann. Thanks for the feedback.

The content and tone of Get Rich Slowly have changed over the past few years. As I've grown and changed, so too has the blog. This might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you are and where you're at.

If there's a disconnect between me and the readers, that's certainly not intentional. From my perspective, I feel like I'm more involved with my readers than I ever have been: I'm answering more e-mail, I'm meeting more readers in person, and I'm trying to answer more reader questions on the blog. But although I can see that I'm more heavily involved with readers than I used to be (and Kris can see it, too), it's probably true that readers can't see it.

Part of the problem is that blogging doesn't scale. While I could create an intimate environment for 7,000 people, I can't do that for 70,000 people. Does that make sense? There need to be ten J.D.s to provide the same personal contact for 70,000 people as one can for 7,000.

I never intended for GRS to become this big. I just thought it would be a place for me to chronicle my own experiences as they occurred, and maybe help some other folks along the way. And I do feel like I've helped people (and continue to help people), which is awesome.

But another part of the problem is that, as I mentioned, I've grown and changed. I don't struggle with money like I used to. Yes, I still make mistakes (my iPad very much feels like a mistake at this point), but these mistakes are minor compared to the ones I used to make, and I deal quickly with the problems. Plus, I've managed to get out of debt, build savings, set money aside for retirement, and now I'm able to take time to travel and pursue other interests. I'm in a very different place than I was four years ago.

It's important to realize is that I did all of this by following my own advice. When I write about how important it is to increase your income because it's one of the most effective ways to improve your cash flow, I'm speaking from experience. That doesn't mean you have to run out and start a blog to make money, but that you should look for ways to make more money that make sense to you.

For four years, I've written and edited Get Rich Slowly without charging readers a penny. As Kris will attest, I spend hours every day answering reader e-mail. I care deeply about this community, and I crow about it to everyone I meet. And give away books? I ordered 50+ copies of Your Money: The Missing Manual from Amazon, all of which I've been giving to various GRS readers as the situation warrants. But I haven't posted about his on the blog, because there's no way to do it that makes sense logistically.

Finally, I agree that most of the value at Get Rich Slowly comes from the readers, not from me. I agree that reader comments are often more interesting than the posts themselves. As I've moved into the third stage of personal finance, there's less interesting stuff to write about (as your own comment attests), which is why I've brought on staff writers, and why I try to feature guest articles from other authors. This place would be a dull, stagnant place if I didn't open things up to the community.

How do I repay the readers? I'm constantly trying to feature reader websites on the blog. (Last week, for example, I linked to Chicago Elevated, which is run by a GRS reader who gives walking tours of Chicago.) I've featured reader writing, art, and more. I do my best to promote new and upcoming personal finance sites, including Baker's Man vs. Debt. And, once again, I don't charge for any of this. I do it for free.

Does Get Rich Slowly make money? Of course it does. It makes good money. I've never been shy about that. But the money doesn't come out of reader pockets. And I don't think it's wrong for the site to make money. In fact, I think it's an excellent thing, and I'm proud of it.

I regret that it looks like I don't care about readers. I care. I care a hell of a lot.

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Re: Not feeling the love anymore

Postby Cely » Wed May 12, 2010 11:23 am

Just wanted to add my two cents. I've been reading GRS for over two years now. I, too, have noticed the change in direction -- the blog has grown and changed, just as JD's relationship to his finances has grown and changed. I think it would be more "false" for JD to have kept the blog stuck in the past, focused on things that were not an issue for him anymore.

Happily, my relationship to money has also grown and changed during this time -- partially due to reading this blog -- so I feel like the content is still applicable to me. I do miss JDs stories of struggle sometimes, because they are a great reminder that we all make bad decisions, but I now seek out more of those stories in the forums. :)

There may indeed come a time where I feel like I've outgrown this blog -- and there's nothing wrong with that. I may need to seek out a blog that lines up more exactly with whatever new challenges or financial dilemmas I'm facing in my life.

It's kind of similar to my physical fitness journey -- when I first started working out, I had no real idea what I was doing, and the local cookie-cutter gym was fine for my needs. As I made progress, I needed to challenge myself more, so I left that gym and joined a boxing gym, then Crossfit. Now I've changed my diet and am cooking more, reading nutrition blogs, etc. I hope my financial life can keep growing in the same way.

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Re: Not feeling the love anymore

Postby curby » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:10 pm

In general, every note of complaint represents a larger silent group of viewers/customers/etc. that feel the same way but not strongly enough to write about it.

It's also common for users to underestimate the effort it takes to run a popular web site and the community built up around that. In short, I'm not surprised at Ann's message, and I'm glad it gave J.D. a chance to clear the air for those who may feel the same way. Thanks for the well-written reply.

It's obvious to me that J.D. has spent a lot of effort on GRS, and continues to do so. More than that, he's had a pretty obvious and powerful impact on making personal finances seem more approachable and manageable. For that important achievement, as well as the elbow grease that led him there, I'm glad that the blog and related endeavors (e.g. book deals) are making him money.

Regarding commercialization, Ann said that guest writers are paid employees, which confused me a little. They're probably paid by someone, i.e. they have a job, but are they paid to write for GRS? It doesn't change the quality of the content, but in the interest of full disclosure it would be nice to know the relationship there. (EDIT: I'm sorry if I missed this information if it's posted elsewhere, but I couldn't find it.)

I've never written a blog comment or forum post on GRS before, so let me take the opportunity to thank J.D. and the rest of the GRS crew for providing a wonderful resource. From time to time, it's important to evaluate the tone, the ideals, and the goals of the site, and posts such as Ann's can help keep the bigger picture in mind. However, I think you're doing a great job and am glad that you took it as an opportunity to share your thoughts rather than taking offense.

Rock on! :rock:

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Re: Not feeling the love anymore

Postby Blueberry Scone » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:38 am

JD has changed over the years, and his financial picture has changed as well. I agree that it would be strange - at the least - if JD pretended that he was still struggling.

And honestly? I read other blogs, besides JD's. These are "mommy blogs," btw. I've read one in particular for about five years now. The blogger went from struggling with fertility to finally having one kid, strugging with secondary fertility, having her second child, and then dealing with a bunch of issues with her first kid. She has also "made it big," I guess you could say, and has a pretty neat online presence. Sometimes, long-time readers might complain that she changed. Well, duh. She's completely different from the way she was when she first started blogging. It's her blog, and she wants to take it in a new direction. I feel the same way about JD's blog - and maybe this is because I have only started reading it in the last year or so, and not during the "lean" years.

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