Blogger Spotlight: Todd Tresidder of FinancialMentor.Com
Todd Tresidder started FinancialMentor.com way back in 1998 before the blogging platforms we use today even existed. From that very early beginning, his blogging story has not followed a traditional path:
How did you get into blogging?
Actually, I was at a Vancouver marketing conference in 1997 as part of my planned work with Robert Kiyosaki when I heard Corey Rudl—of Internet Marketing Center infamy—deliver one of his first ever public presentations. It was one of those lucky coincidences of timing. He stood in front of the room and explained how his online business education model worked and I was immediately hooked. I got the vision of what this could be.
I went home and paid a ridiculous sum of money to put up a conventional web site that made every mistake in the book. It was a brochure-ware site built in frames – absolutely horrible. But the competition was so low that it worked to keep a steady flow of financial coaching clients coming into the business for close to a decade.
You mention Robert Kiyosaki. Did you work with him?
The product we were planning got shelved. Back then his “Rich Dad” brand was just starting to take off and there was a team of us putting a coaching program together as a back-end product. Robert was supposed to be the marketing front-end, I brought the financial expertise to create the curriculum, and others were in charge of the coaching model. In the end, his lawyers canned the idea—but I got hooked into the coaching model as a way to communicate and help people with financial problems. As a result, I founded FinancialMentor.com and developed my own coaching model.
So you got into financial blogging really early on. What happened next?
Very little, unfortunately. I blew my early lead and missed the blogging wave that created some of the big sites we see today like GetRichSlowly, Consumerism Commentary, Bargaineering, FreeMoneyFinance and so on. I never even saw how blogging was taking off until after the fact. I was oblivious with my little static site.
Instead, I spent years coaching clients one-on-one trying to work out a systematic way to actually help people move forward financially. The bulk of my time was spent building a personal real estate empire with multiple businesses. My coaching results were inconsistent with some great successes and other clients making no progress. It took me years of experimentation and practice to fill in the missing pieces until I could produce consistent results in clients from a variety of backgrounds.
And then around 2005 I got really uncomfortable with financial leverage. I liquidated my entire real estate portfolio by the end of 2006 and decided to dedicate myself to the financial education business. By that time I had proven out the 7 Steps To 7 Figures model that is the basis for all my work. Then around 2008 a friend introduced me to WordPress which gave me the technology platform I was looking for to build the business on. The site you see today is the product from 2009 to current.
What makes your site unique?
My focus is advanced investment strategy, wealth building, and unconventional retirement planning. I don’t write about frugality, credit cards, and the usual personal finance stuff. My site is the next step beyond basic personal finance. It is for people who are ready to go beyond Dave Ramsey and Motley Fool and move from “just getting by” to “getting ahead”.
The difference is I have a financial background. For example, one of my posts was published last summer in the prestigious academic peer review Journal of Personal Finance. Roughly half of my posts are long, detailed articles that cover a topic entirely. In fact, the lead professor of the doctoral review committee for my article stated he had never seen anyone cover such a high level topic in such a comprehensive yet accessible way. I consider that the ultimate compliment.
Why do you attend FinCon?
It’s all about the connections. There is extraordinary power in bringing hundreds of financial bloggers together – tons of smart people with great ideas and insights. I learn from everyone I talk to at these meetings. It’s great to put a face to the online relationships we build. I always walk away with game-changing insights.
As I told Phil, I run my business from FinCon event to FinCon event. Based on what I learn at these meetings, I reformulate my business plans and spend the next year implementing.
What is your current project based on what you learned at FinCon12?
I have one that will be available later this month: I’ve built a massive collection of 80 free financial calculators covering most aspects of personal finance that bloggers write about, and I’m in the final stages of finishing a WordPress plugin that makes it super easy to embed any of those calculators into any post. It will work similar to a YouTube embed code, but the dashboard of the plugin will allow you to customize the look and feel of the calculator to match your site.
The idea is to improve your reader experience by including the appropriate calculator right in your post as a value-added tool rather than linking away to an offsite calculator. I’m trying to make the calculator side of financial blogging super easy, and the value for my business is I get an attribution backlink as part of each embed. The plugin should be ready around the end of this month so anyone interested in using it on their site can contact me and I will add them to the list. It will be free.
What is your biggest blogging accomplishment?
Hands down it is the reader feedback and client breakthroughs. It’s definitely not the money! I would have been far better off staying in the money management profession, but the education business has other rewards.
For example, in the last few weeks my recently published How Much To Retire book on Amazon has nearly 40 reviews, with all being four or five star. According to the reviews, this book is changing people’s views about retirement planning.
I also just got an email from a guy who saved his investment club from getting ripped off by a fraud because of the due diligence information he learned from the free articles on my site and my investment fraud book. That book will never be a huge money-maker (it doesn’t even have one review yet) because nobody wants to learn that stuff, but for those willing to put out the effort it can make a huge difference.
In other words, yes, I’m working toward making this business financially successful, but my big goal is to build an immensely valuable resource of free and affordable financial education for people looking to improve their lives.