Back to the Basics: the Why Behind Blogging with J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly

According to J.D. Roth, he started blogging before “blog” was even a word. He founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006 in order to document his journey out of debt. Ironically, writing about money allowed him to get rich quickly.

Roth spoke at the first FinCon in 2011 on Why We Write. Since then, some things have changed, he says, but many things have stayed the same.

Why do people write blogs?

People used to write for self-expression and the individual blogger had something to say. It was a way for some to keep accountable, to write their story, or get involved because blogging was fun.

Some wrote to make money, but ultimately it was about helping people.

Eight years down the road, there are some different motivations. People are still trying to help people and they are still telling their story. But Roth is also seeing that blogging may be a way companies or brands build their business–to attract new clients or make people more aware of them.

Roth says the motivation to make money blogging is stronger now and can often be a primary motivation. It is not a bad thing to want to make money with a blog, podcast, or YouTube, but it is simply a different motivation than it was a decade ago.

Is it becoming easier or harder to write blog posts?

For Roth, writing about himself has always come naturally. Even now, writing about his journey has been as easy as it has always been. For him, writing has always been his way to express himself.

When he needs to process through complicated emotions, he will write it out instead of talking it out. That will never change for him.

What has changed is the technology around blogging. With the age of social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and the more technical aspects, Roth now hires people to work on things like SEO because ultimately he knows where his strengths lie.

Research and fact-checking in the world of finance have also become more difficult. For example, when he used to write about Roth IRAs, he would sit down to do basic research, then write for about a half hour of writing about Roth IRAs. Now, he spends much more time researching, fact-checking, and editing.

When it comes to knowing strengths and weaknesses as a blogger, it is important to be self-aware to know what it is you do well and what you don’t. Roth says it requires a great deal of self-awareness and reflection.

Blogging Tip:

Be willing to admit you aren’t perfect, you can’t do everything. –J.D. Roth

What is the balance of listening to your audience and sticking with the purpose of your blog?

In his original talk, Roth stressed the importance of listening to your audience when it comes to what they want you to write about. He would ask them what they wanted to hear from them.

Roth loves listening to his audience, but now there is a balance when it comes to letting your audience dictate your content and focusing on your mission and blog purpose, which Grant Sabatier shared recently as his top blogging tip.

Be aware of what your audience wants and know the reason they keep coming back.

Blogging Tip:

When you are running a blog, it is your blog. You are doing this for yourself and whatever goals you have set for yourself. Take into account what your readers are asking for, but balance that with what your needs are. –J.D. Roth

This comes back to self-awareness and knowing your mission for your blog. If you know what your blog is about and what it is for, then you can then balance input from your readers with the direction of your blog.

How do you handle Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a very real feeling for everyone in this community. Even people who have been blogging for years can feel like an imposter at some points.

Roth feels like he gets imposter syndrome when he steps out of his area of expertise, when he is put in a position of authority, and or when people expect him to be the expert or the guru.

When Imposter Syndrome creeps in, he goes back to his personal experience.

Get Rich Slowly has always been about Roth and his journey. As long as he is focusing on his story and staying true to his journey, he can’t feel like an imposter. He knows to stay within the confines of his strengths.

What kind of community have you surrounded yourself with?

Roth says everyone should have:

  • At least one Mastermind, sometimes even 2 or 3
  • A core group of friends within the FinCon community

Having friends in this community with different strengths and weaknesses is vital to the success of a platform. Roth realized this at FinCon18 in Orlando when sitting down talking to Tom Drake of Maple Money.

They were discussing strengths, weaknesses, and struggles. They realized they had completely different skill sets and decided to partner together on Get Rich Slowly. Roth says it made a huge difference in the blog.

How do you ask people for “free” help?

There are always going to be people in this space who are much further along in the content creating journey than you are. It is natural to want to ask for help. However, it might feel like you are asking for free advice.

However, Roth finds that the FinCon community is very open with an abundance mindset. They realize there is plenty of room for everybody in this space.

Blogging Tip:

You may look at someone and think they are really advanced, but everyone has problems they are working through with their business. –J.D. Roth

It is okay to ask.

When you write that email or go up to someone you admire at a conference, Roth suggests:

  • Be polite
  • Be brief

People are very busy and might not respond to an email right way. Roth may go a month or two not responding to questions he gets from readers or people using for advice. If you don’t get a reply, it can be that they are busy, or they might not have an answer for you at that time.

If you don’t get an answer, do you leave it there? Or should you ping them again?

Roth says there are times people will email him and he doesn’t answer because he is busy. They might ping him again to remind him, which is okay. A simple, “Hey I know you are busy, do you have a chance to answer really quick?” could go a long way.

What do you hope for this community in its 10-year anniversary?

In 2011, Roth predicted everyone at FinCon would live in a mansion in 10 years making millions of dollars. With that prediction only 2 years away, Roth has new hopes for the FinCon community.

Blogging Tip:

Supporting each other is huge. –J.D. Roth

Roth feels like this community is a family, and he hopes that in 2 years it will remain a family. Drama always happens in a family, but always support each other. Work through those dramas.

A difference Roth has seen since he started blogging is that people are much less likely to link and promote other people’s work. If someone has awesome content, it doesn’t hurt to link to that. Share the good stuff other people are producing.

Blogging Tip:

There’s an infinite number of voices. My audience is not necessarily your audience. Your success does not detract from my success. –J.D. Roth

To hear the full interview with J.D. Roth, listen to episode 66 of The Money & Media Podcast:

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About Our Host

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

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Do you want to learn more about blogging? Check out the blogging track at FinCon19 September 4-7 in Washington D.C. Register for your pass today!


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