On November 26, 2018, the Plutus Foundation held our first Giving Tuesday event, a Facebook Live marathon. These are the most important takeaways from that event, thanks to our panel of experts.
During our Facebook Live marathon, hosted by our Director of Development Sarah Bettencourt, we spoke with some well-known, and less well-known, voices in the personal finance media including J.D. Roth, Eva Baker, John and David from the Debt Free Guys, and Bethany Bayless.
Although it seems like it’s difficult to break into personal finance blogging because of the overwhelming amount of blogs (and podcasts and YouTube channels), it’s not. Everyone who enters the personal finance media offers new and exciting ideas, and there’s room for all voices to be heard.
Each message matters.
If you didn’t catch us live during the day you can watch the replay here or at the bottom of this article. Here are the most important lessons we learned.
During our conversation with John and David of Debt Free Guys, we discussed how niching down in personal finance isn’t enough. You need to keep going until you reach exactly who you want to connect with, particularly if it’s an underserved population. John and David did this when they connected to their local LGBTQ community, and they tapped into a world that had otherwise been left behind.
Discover your audience.
Niching down is great but it can feel almost impossible if you don’t understand who your audience is and what they want. To achieve this, have an open discussion with yourself about who you’re already good at reaching, as well as to whom you’d like to reach.
Eva Baker started her business journey in her teens. Her company, Teens Got Cents, started out as a simple, school-based project. Today it’s grown to be much more than that. When she first started, though, it was difficult for her to find a way to start, especially since she didn’t have any prior knowledge.
Eva’s advice? Don’t wait around for something to happen or for your knowledge to grow; just begin.
It’s not just the Plutus Foundation who can help.
The mission of the Plutus Foundation is to provide the personal finance media with resources, funding, and a little bit of consulting to you navigate the blogging world.
But you don’t have to wait for Plutus Foundation to help you! There are tons of experienced bloggers who are willing to mentor you. Reach out to them, build relationships with them. If you need help, let us know. We can help connect you with the right people.
Be proactive about your financial situation.
Most of us have been in debt and even more of us have made bad financial choices and decisions. One common thread we find in personal finance blogging is a lack of transparency and honesty about those experiences.
Our suggestion? Stay both proactive about improving your finances and authentic about your situation.
Local events keep you rooted.
We love and encourage local events. It’s important that bloggers give back to their communities, whether they’re long-time residents or new transplants to where they live. That’s why J.D. Roth suggests hosting and attending local events. There are real people attending those events who will keep you honest about who and what you are. They will help keep you true to your roots.
If you’ve moved into a whole new area, you can connect with bloggers and experts in your new area who can show you around and connect you to the right people.
Don’t become the person who thinks they’re “too big” or “knows better people” and dismiss a local connection. It is worth it to build as many bridges as possible. You never know where one of those bridges can lead.
Confront the psychology of finance.
People often use “math is a hard” as a coping mechanism for avoiding some of the more psychological aspects of their bad money choices. Confronting the emotional and psychological aspects of money with your audience will help your message reach them and be more effective.
Mental health plays a huge role in managing money. For instance, it might be difficult for someone dealing with depression to admit they’re in debt because they couldn’t manage their money and their depression. Most of us have some personal experience with mental health issues, and speaking to those in your posts and videos will help confront the psychology of money.
Tell your story.
Audiences connect with emotion, integrity, and honesty. Share every aspect that you see as necessary, and you’re comfortable with sharing, in the telling of your story.
Part of spreading the message of financial literacy is helping others know they are not alone and that it is possible to overcome some of the more common struggles in life. Sharing pieces of yourself will magnify your message and lift up others.
Look to local library connections.
Don’t overlook your local library or how it can help you grow your audience and your message. Most libraries host free events, and want people to run those events. Since it comes at a minimal cost to you, why not take that opportunity to get in front of the people who might need your help the most?
Don’t be shy.
Toss out the idea that you’re introverted and that it makes talking to other people difficult. Even extroverts can struggle with making conversation with new people. It’s perfectly fine to be shy or an introvert. What’s not fine is using it as an excuse to avoid building new connections with people who can help your business grow.
Don’t do it alone.
Many of us enter blogging thinking it’s a solo endeavor and that we alone bear the weight of our success. This simply is not true. When you look at and listen to some big name entrepreneurs discuss how they’ve built their empire, you quickly realize that not a single one of them did it on their own.
Many successful bloggers participate in a mastermind group for brainstorming, support, connections, and mentorship. If you don’t have one yet, work on finding your mastermind group. Begin building your own supportive tribe of knowledge-seekers and go-getters. On the flip side, you can always ask to join an existing one if you’re not comfortable creating one.
Be a conversation starter.
Hand-in-hand with not being shy is being a conversation starter. This doesn’t mean you have to be the life of the party. All eyes on you isn’t for everyone. However, it does mean that you are the driver of your own destiny. If you want to talk to someone, go talk to them.
The greatest new conversations start with a short introduction and a question. Spark a conversation by asking about something you’re interested in or a comment about you’re passionate about. Then, take that new connection and turn it into a deeper relationship.
Use suggested searches.
This lesson falls the marketing side of building a better blog (you can also check out our blog marketing guide for more information).
Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation mentioned that he was able to build his Facebook group and digital presence by paying attention to the suggested searches on Facebook and other social media platforms. These suggested searches are the keyword terms you need to write down somewhere and use when growing your digital presence.
Think of it as your social media SEO strategy.
Be aware of where you are in your journey.
This lesson may seem vague because it looks different for everyone. However, being self-aware when it comes to where you are on your entrepreneurial or blogging journey is important. Having an awakened mindset keeps your ego in check and your heart on your sleeve.
When you’re self-aware, you stay in tune with yourself, your audience, and fellow bloggers. Keeping tabs on your journey and business growth will ultimately help you understand how much of an “expert” you’re becoming, as well as guide who you surround yourself with.
Each of these lessons helps us remember not only who we are as brands and individuals, but who we’re helping and who we’re working for. That’s what we need to remember as we write our posts, create our videos, and run our events. We’re not serving an audience of one; we’re serving an audience of hundreds (or thousands).
You are an important part of someone’s financial journey. As leaders and experts in the personal finance, it is our duty to be humble, honest, and helpful to our audience and fellow bloggers.