Whether it comes to investing, making money blogging, or just about anything else in life, popularity can come with a hefty price tag. With investing, following the crowd is a surefire way to lose a lot of money as you repeatedly sell low and buy high out of fear of market losses. With blogging, sometimes the rush of a “popular” article can keep you writing content that while popular with social media like Digg or Reddit, generates little income or lasting readership. And with spending, keeping up with the Joneses can drain your bank account faster than a Kevin Trudeau infomercial. So what follows are nine ways to become the least popular, most profitable, person you can be.
- Build out of Brick, not Straw
- “I just bought into financial stocks, which a friend of mine who works at a bank says can’t lose.” (straw)
- “It was one of Money Magazine’s ’25 Funds to Buy Now!’, so it must be a good investment.” (straw)
- “My investments are based on an asset allocation plan I’ve stuck to for years, during good times and bad.” (brick)
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock–Thomas Jefferson
Whether you are building an investment portfolio, a money making blog, or a career, build to last. What does this mean? Here are a few examples from the world of investing:
The popular thing to do is what everybody else is doing. Sticking to a boring asset allocation plan won’t make the cover of Money Magazine, but your retirement fund will thank you.
- Follow with Care
One hundred thousand lemmings can’t be wrong–Graffito
Did you ever notice that people love to follow? If the market is down, people follow out of fear by selling investments. When the technology field was hot, many followed into dot-coms, investing both their careers and retirement accounts in companies that never generated a nickel of income. In hindsight, following almost always looks silly. If you’ve been burned as a follower, when it’s done you probably wondered why in the world you were following in the first place.
It is important to learn from those who have something worthwhile to teach, and life is all about taking calculated risks. But don’t be a lemming.
- Despise Flattery
Flattery looks like friendship, just like a wolf looks like a dog–Unknown
Perhaps the worst character trait in a leader is the desire for flattery. A compliment now and again is nice, but an overly strong desire to be accepted and liked causes one to live life for others. Doing what the crowd wants you to do to receive their acceptance may be popular for a time, but in the long run it can bankrupt you, financially and otherwise.
- Think for Yourself:
Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide–Marva Collins
We often take great comfort in following the crowd. If the crowd turns out to be wrong, it does not seems as bad as being wrong all by ourselves. The problem is that the crowd is wrong a lot. More importantly, greatness is never found in a crowd. Even Einstein’s views of the universe were ridiculed at first.
- Learn from Failure:
I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody–Bill Cosby
One of the benefits of thinking for yourself and making your own decisions is learning from failure. I made many mistakes when I began investing, including buying high cost mutual funds. But I learned early, corrected the mistakes, and kept investing.
I’ve also made many mistakes blogging. One such mistake was trying to write articles that I thought would be “popular.” At its heart, this blog is about investing, retirement and money management, but not frugality. Yet for a while I wrote a lot of articles about frugality. That’s fine, to a point, and my most popular article ever is 75 Money Saving Tips, with over 40,000 folks reading this article. But even with 40,000 views, that article has not been very profitable, and more importantly, it distracts from the main focus of my site. Besides, there are other blogs that do a much better job at writing about frugality than I ever could, Being Frugal chief among them.
- Learn from Success:
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure–Mark Twain
When you make your own decisions, you can not only learn from failure, but also from success. I’ve spent a lot of time studying search engine optimization (SEO). On both this site and others that I own, I’ve had both success and failure; I’ve learned from both. For example, I am now trying to improve the rankings for this site for a particular keyword. At one point I didn’t rank at all for the keyword. After a while, I hovered around 50-60 (page 5 or 6 on Google). Today my site ranks on the second page for the keyword. I’ve learned from that success, and hopefully will eventually rank on the first page of Google. The point is that if you don’t make decisions for yourself, but just follow the crowd, you can’t learn from your success or failure.
- Put Money Second:
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it–Henry David Thoreau
It may seem odd that a blog about money recommends putting money second. Actually, it would be better to say, “don’t put money first.” I blog for money, but I blog about personal finance, investing and blogging because I love reading, researching, and writing about these topics. In the make money blogging world, I daily read bloggers pushing products and services “guaranteed” to quickly make your blog profitable. I’ve even fallen for one or two of these gimmicks, always to my later regret.
Buying into these short cuts is almost always the result of putting money first. In the world of blogging, put quality articles first, however you define quality, and the rest will take care of itself.
- Eschew Fame:
Fame lost its appeal for me when I went into a public restroom and an autograph seeker handed me a pen and paper under the stall door–Marlo Thomas
When I first started The Dough Roller, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. Very early on I learned about social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. With these sites, readers can vote on blog posts they like (see the links at the end of this post). If an article gets enough votes to get to the front page of Digg, for example, the result can be thousands of visitors to a blog in very short order. Naturally, I set as one of my goals to get an article to the front page of one of these sites.
What a waste. While I at times have received as many as a thousand visitors an hour from these sites, the revenue and lasting value to the site is nil. More importantly, it caused me to write articles that veered from the main focus of this site. Now that is not to say that these social media sites have NO value. If nothing else, they can be entertaining. But if you are looking to build a profitable blog, in most cases these social media sites are not the path to wealth.
- Stay True to Yourself:
A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval–Mark Twain
Warren Buffett invests in what he knows and understands, which is why he did not get caught up in the technology bubble. I blog about what I know and enjoy studying–personal finance, investing and blogging. Doing something simply because it is what everybody else is doing is a recipe for disaster. Stay true to yourself, work hard, and never give up. You may not be the most popular, but you’ll have a better shot at being more profitable. Perhaps Warren Buffett said it best:
The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect… You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd.
And please, whatever you do, do NOT submit this article to Digg, Reddit or any of the other social media sites!
Photo Credit: buteijn