Do You Really Care Who I Am?

doyoureallycarewhoiam.jpgBefore even attending the Canadian Personal Finance Bloggers Conference 2013 (CPFC13) this past weekend, I had decided that I wasn’t going to write an article about it. Why? I was positive it would provide almost no value to my readers because I’m assuming you come here for one reason and one reason only: to learn how to spend less money.

Then, during the conference there was this ongoing theme about being more personal, edgy, and really connecting with your readers because personal finance is boring, or so they say. I’m actually purposefully a little bit more factual and even boring than most because when you’re done reading one of my articles I want you to feel confident that you know exactly how to act to save your money instead of feeling like you didn’t really learn anything or that you need to research for 2+ more hours before you could have any hope of doing what I just talked about yourself.

I’m Pretty Vanilla Really – But Maybe You Like Vanilla?

There’s nothing really all that interesting about me. There. I said it. I’m just a normal guy working as a software developer who lives in a small city, makes a normal middle class income, had a pretty privileged upbringing, and who has a passion for not wasting money when I don’t have to.

Spending all kinds of money on ridiculous things that add real value to your life is A-OK with me, that’s why I’m all about spending as little money as possible on your day to day living expenses so you have more left over to live an awesome life. I do it every day, and with my help I know you can do it too.

Not really that i n t e r e s t i n g now is it? But it’s effective!

Most Bloggers Are More Rainbow Than Vanilla

Most personal finance bloggers I’ve encountered have a quirky hook and are a bit more colourful than I am.

They’ve either wound up in massive debt, like Jordann from My Alternate Life, and are now fighting tooth and nail to get out of it or ...

They have an insane goal like earning a million dollars before they turn 35 like Million Dollar Journey or ...

They drive race cars for fun and every girl wants their voice on her smartphone to wake her up in the morning like Preet Banerjee from Where Does All My Money Go or ...

They post half-naked pictures of women and make lewd jokes all day and somehow loosely relate it to personal finance like Nelson from Financial Uproar or ...

Some of them even team up as writing partners with their mothers to offer a wide-ranging perspective like Robb and Marie from Boomer and Echo.

Do You Think I Should “Taste The Rainbow”?

So the real point of all this is to engage you readers and find out what YOU think.

Do you think I should add a bigger splash of colour to my writing or continue on with my mostly no-nonsense factual approach to saving money? Do you really want to know how my mostly normal middle-class life is unfolding with all its scintillating details or do you just want me to fill your pocket with dollar bills?

I mean I honestly do try to make my writing more interesting than watching paint dry but I don’t add a lot of shock and awe to it because I really want it to be clear, detailed, to the point, and easy to follow for anyone from the Internet newbie to the seasoned deal hunter.

So which is it? Or can I do both and risk losing my core identity and purpose along the way? Is there room left on the Internet for someone who is a straight shooter like me that mostly just sticks to the facts and gives you the ol’ how-to?

Leave A Comment Dammit!

How’s that for shock and awe?! :)

P.S. The smiley is for you Nelson!

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Robb's picture
Hey Stephen, it was great to finally meet you at the conference this weekend. I don't think you need to change a thing about your blog and your writing style, other than being more consistent about your posting frequency. Even that said, you write such detailed posts that it shouldn't have to feel like you're forcing out content just for the hell of it. The only "angle" that might work well for you is to become more like Ellen Roseman and help your readers and consumers to not get screwed over by corporations. Since you know most of the programs and deals inside-and-out, you'll know if the consumer has been tricked or when the company hasn't been honest about a product or service.
September 24, 2013 @ 9:59 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
You were one of the people I was most looking forward to meeting at the conference Robb because I'm constantly amazed at how fast you grew your blog and how well it is done. Not to mention your personal story is very interesting and inspiring. Thanks so much for your opinion. I'm well on the way to improving my consistency as I'm in the middle of finding a multitude of ways to multiply the effectiveness of my time. The amount of time I have to work on this site is less than ever, but I've learned with the right focus and plan I can multiply the value of that time substantially. The Ellen Roseman angle is an interesting thought. I do try and help my readers on a case by case basis but not in the same capacity as her. I'll definitely keep that one in mind.
September 24, 2013 @ 10:28 am
Jordann @ My Alternate Life's picture
Hello fellow New Brunswicker! It was great meeting you this weekend. I think that you should stay true to the nature of your blog, so if you are more technical and write really detailed posts - make that your thing! I try and stay away from talking about specific details in my blog like savings rates and the difference between TFSAs and RRSPs for example because I know there are other people out there who have covered that topic already in depth.
September 24, 2013 @ 10:20 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Solid advice and I always kind of felt the same way myself because, as I say, I write this way on purpose. However, I kept feeling the pressure to be more and more interesting as it seems everyone recommends that approach all the time, not just at CPFC13. It's also very clear now as it always has been that those posts with the most controversy or shock always get the most comments and the most reads. Ultimately, I might try and stay mostly true to my roots but mix in the odd spicy post just to mix things up and to stop both me and my readers from falling asleep. That's why I'm gathering this feedback from you all.
September 24, 2013 @ 10:36 am
CheekySaver's picture
You have a great website. Write and do what you are passionate about. The rest comes with time. I don't fit into that rainbow either and most people really don't. I believe you can make the greatest impact into low income and middle class people's lives... so for heavens sake keep it real! Anybody coming to a financial website is not looking for flowers, rainbows and zebra's... we come looking for facts that save us money. As for caring who you are... this is what I know... YOU are a NERD that is frugal and likes to save money and even use coupons.... That makes you a whole world of awesomeness! ~~Stay Nerdy!~~
September 24, 2013 @ 12:53 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Haha, I love how you worded it. No flowers, rainbows, and zebras here that's for sure! It's that people are getting what I'm trying to do here and hopefully that will be enough to attract the readers necessary for me to justify the huge amount of life energy I pour into this thing.
September 24, 2013 @ 1:42 pm
Dave's picture
Stephen, I think relevance is key. If I wanted entertainment, I'd seek out entertainment. I read a blog like HowtoSaveMoney to learn something that is relevant to me. If I was rich and didn't need to care about saving money, then your blog wouldn't be relevant and I wouldn't subscribe, but I'm not rich. So relevance is very important. However, so is writing style. For writing style, I think genuineness, honesty and a kind tone is important. The tone of this article was really good. I think trying to be flashing or edgy for no other reason than to attract readers is a cheap marketing ploy and can backfire by cheapening the value and brand. Is there anything wrong with just the facts? (Get to the point. I don't have all day.) I think concise writing is refreshing and welcome. I don't need witty comments or obscure references. There's more than enough of that out there. So, relevance, tone and conciseness. Keep it simple. The hard part, which should be the hard part, is quality content. Dave
September 24, 2013 @ 1:15 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Thanks for your opinion Dave. I've always been about the quality content first and foremost. Quality content is expensive to produce, but I hope to keep doing it because that's what gives me the most satisfaction and that's what I think helps people the most. Now if the companies and things I write about would just stop changing so fast so my content doesn't become irrelevant then I'd be all set but there's less of a chance of that than spotting a unicorn next to my desk when I look up from my keyboard.
September 24, 2013 @ 1:47 pm
Ken's picture
Keep doing what you're doing, Stephen. Your style suits the purpose just fine. I find all of your articles useful and some have even inspired me to like-action. Thanks to your advice I recently flew to California for next to nothing! Keep the posts coming and thanks so much for all you've done!
September 24, 2013 @ 5:07 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
That's excellent Ken! I'm always glad to hear when people figure out how to travel cheaply because it really isn't that hard. Right now the financial institutions give such large bonuses for using their products that you can rack up enough points to go anywhere pretty quickly. I have to think that someday this huge charade is going to come to a grinding halt though. It sure would be nice if things just cost what they cost instead of everything being padded with huge marketing budgets and other hidden costs that get passed on to the consumer. But until that happens, we might as well be the ones who take advantage of the opportunities this unbalanced system gives us.
September 25, 2013 @ 8:34 am
Nelson's picture
You're attempt to troll me cancels out your emoticon. Well played.
September 25, 2013 @ 12:19 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I thought you might like that. You probably won't be seeing too many more posts like this from me though, but thanks for the reminder to spice things up a little bit.
September 25, 2013 @ 8:36 am
My Own Advisor's picture
Hey Stephen, Great to meet you at the conference. We didn't have too much time to connect but I could tell you're a straight up guy and you have a strong desire, like many of us, to help Canadians. Good on you... This site has a number of great tips and how-to posts, and it's the reason I stop by. My only suggestion? Do what you want :) It's your site, your blog and if you're out trying to please others I'm not convinced you'll be happy in the end. Take reader input as just that and make your own choices from there. So far, based on the success of your site including some of the comments today, you're doing just fine. Take care, Mark Just posted:
September 25, 2013 @ 9:03 pm
SavingMentor's picture
Thanks for the encouragement Mark. I think you're right. If I spent all my time and effort trying to be funny or something that doesn't come naturally then it would probably wear me out very quickly and turn out to be a bad thing in the long run.
September 25, 2013 @ 10:36 pm
Daniel @ Urban Departures's picture
Hi Stephen, It was nice meeting you at CPFC. Vanilla is a classic. You don't mess with the classic. Look forward to catching up on your posts, putting to practice some of your tips and seeing what else you have in store.
September 27, 2013 @ 1:12 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
It was great meeting you too Daniel, I enjoyed our chat at the ING lounge. So what you're saying here is that there is always room for vanilla no matter how plain it is? You must be right because they have it at every ice cream shop I have ever been to but yet I never order it ... so what does that say?
September 27, 2013 @ 10:02 am
Daniel @ Urban Departures's picture
For every one who doesn't, there's another who does. Even if you don't order it, it ain't going away any time soon!
September 27, 2013 @ 11:28 am
Big Cajun Man's picture
Hey, I got called out for not using my real name on my blog, and I do believe the quote was that I was a "coward" for doing it. Paint me yellow and call me tweety bird I suppose. Write, don't write, it is your decision, but don't write about what you don't care about, or worse become a Personal Finance Whore (I believe I have been called that too) and write about what you think makes the most money. So my answer to you, is the answer I normally give when anyone asks me for advice, "Do what you think is right" (i.e. I cop out).
September 29, 2013 @ 8:33 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I didn't really agree with his logic about not using your real name. There are some instances where it might be cowardly but there are also a lot of legitimate reasons why a person might not want to use their real name as well. I think I knew that I wanted to continue on similar to how I've always written before I even wrote this post so I'm glad that most people agreed that my style is good for this kind of site. A few tweaks here and there to keep it interesting is the most I plan to do.
September 29, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

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