Gorkana Meets…J.D. Roth

Tell us a bit about your blog, Get Rich Slowly, and what it covers.

Get Rich Slowly is a blog about sensible personal finance. It covers a wide range of topics, but focuses primarily on practical things that everyday people can do to improve their financial situation. It tends to emphasize personal stories from real people and the psychological aspects of money management.

I started Get Rich Slowly in 2006 to chronicle my own experience as I tried to dig out of debt and build wealth. Along the way, I became debt-free, quit my day job to write full-time, and eventually was able to sell the blog. Even after selling, I stayed on as editor for three more years. Nowadays, I contribute a handful of articles every month.

Tell us about the blog’s audience and the sort of traffic it gets. What age group or financial background do you tend to see among readers?

When I was involved with the blog, the audience skewed older, educated, and wealthy. Most readers had a college education, and a large percentage had an advanced degree. Household incomes were near six figures. Whereas many personal-finance blogs appeal to readers in their twenties, Get Rich Slowly has drawn readers in their thirties and forties, especially those with young children.

In an early post, you talk about quitting your day job and pursuing your dreams. Tell us a bit about your experience becoming a full-time blogger. Do you have any advice for other writers hoping to make this career move?

Becoming a full-time blogger seemed like a scary move at first. Fortunately, I took steps to mitigate the downside. For one, I didn’t consider the move until I’d been earning the equivalent of my income from my day job for an entire year. Second, I learned to budget for a volatile income by basing my plans on the least amount I’d earned during any given month in the preceding year. I think both of these steps are sensible for any blogger hoping to go full-time.

While I love blogging, one downside of doing it as a job instead of a hobby is that there’s added pressure. When it’s something you do in your spare time, it’s fun, it’s a lark. But when your livelihood depends on your production levels, it’s easy to get stressed.

What have been some of your favorite financial topics to write about? Have any been especially challenging?

I love writing about the relationship between money and happiness. It’s not as straight-forward as most people expect. I also like writing about extreme early retirement, although this topic is a new one for me. I’m not particularly good at writing about investing procedures. The specific laws and rules can seem overwhelming at times. While I grasp basic concepts, detailed implementation is beyond me sometimes.

What have been the most common questions or comments you get from readers? What basic financial principles or practices do you wish more people knew about or understood better?

Most of the questions I receive from readers revolve around money and relationships. First, there’s each person’s individual relationship with money. Second, there’s how money affects their relationships with others.

I wish people understood a couple of things about money. For one, smart money management isn’t about math – it’s about mindset. Your psychology and emotions play a far greater role in your ability to do the right thing with money than does your understanding of the math. We all get the math. It’s the psychology that’s hard. Once people understand that, they can work to change the psychology. Another thing I wish people understood was the power of saving. We’re taught that we should save ten or twenty percent of our income, and most people fall far short of that. But if we were to save fifty or seventy percent of our income instead, we could achieve our goals at light speed. A twenty-year-old who saves fifty percent of her income can retire by age 35. That’s pretty powerful stuff. Fifteen years of careful living traded for thirty additional years of retirement? Crazy but true.

Tell us about some of the social media, marketing, and PR opportunities you’ve worked with for Get Rich Slowly. How can PRs help you with your blog’s content?

I’ve always operated under the belief that the best marketing is a good article. If I write something interesting and I write it well, I believe word will spread. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but I’ve been fortunate so far. When people like what I write, they share it.

I often feel like the PR industry is operating on an outdated model. My inbox is flooded with press releases for subjects that I have no interest in. PR agencies simply add me to their lists and then blast me with irrelevant stuff. Like every other blogger I know, I see this as a hindrance that makes my life more difficult, not easier. In order to be effective, especially with bloggers, PR reps need to establish relationships. A single PR firm that takes the time to get to know me and how I work and what I think is going to have far greater success than all the “shotgun approach” PR people combined.

In addition to working on Get Rich Slowly, you also write the blog More Than Money, contribute to the monthly “Your Money” column on Entrepreneur, and have published a book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. What guidance will readers find in these other outlets that they won’t find on Get Rich Slowly?

Your Money: The Missing Manual is meant to be a comprehensive resource about the basics of smart money management. It doesn’t cover advanced topics, but does a thorough job of describing the basics. The “Your Money” column in Entrepreneur magazine is aimed at consultants and business owners. It covers general finance topics and subjects specific to their circumstances. At More Than Money (which lives at jdroth.com), I write less about finance and more about personal freedom, which includes topics like success and happiness. In addition, I’m about to launch an online “Get Rich Slowly” course which includes a 100-page guide about how to be the CFO of your own life.

When you’re not blogging or thinking about personal finance, what other projects do you enjoy working on?

I’m always trying to improve myself, mentally and physically. A few years ago, I learned Spanish. Today, I’m trying to maintain these language skills. This year, I’m learning guitar. Who knows what I’ll learn next year. It’s also important to me to be fit. I spent a long time doing Crossfit, but right now I’m mostly biking and running. I also spent three years producing the World Domination Summit, which took a lot of time. That experience has inspired me to develop my public speaking skills.

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