On Starting A Personal Finance Blog With 3M Monthly Readers

Published: February 22nd, 2022
Andrew Schrage
Founder, Money Crashers
1
Founders
8
Employees
Money Crashers
from Los Angeles, CA, USA
started December 2009
1
Founders
8
Employees
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Discover what books Andrew recommends to grow your business!
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Money Crashers is one of the leading online personal finance resources for consumers, independent professionals, and small business owners. We’re a rich source of high-quality, actionable information for anyone seeking answers to the sorts of challenging, personal money questions that aren’t always discussed openly.

We believe that everyone should have all the necessary tools to make informed financial decisions. And our readers seem to agree. Since our launch, we’ve grown to reach an audience of more than 3 million monthly readers and counting.

on-starting-a-personal-finance-guide-with-3m-monthly-readers

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I was an economics major at Brown University before working at an investment fund. While there, I began work on Money Crashers during my free time and built it up to a large enough following that I was able to quit my full-time job. By not depending on the website as my sole source of income at the beginning, I was able to build it up slowly and methodically without trying to monetize too quickly or “sell out.” The validation simply came from readers commenting and recommending the site to their family and friends.

Every business owner knows that true talent is not easy to come by, and one of the things that successful entrepreneurs tend to be good at is recognizing and cultivating talent when they find it.

As traffic grew, I realized the site was filling an important educational niche for readers.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Money Crashers began from the simple proposition described above, that every consumer and entrepreneur deserves to be empowered to make informed financial decisions and take control of their financial lives.

Implicit in this proposition is the fact that too many of us are not empowered to make informed financial decisions. We don’t have all the information we need, let alone the tools, and we don’t know where to find them. We certainly don’t acquire them in school as children and young adults.

It’s no wonder Americans as a whole score so low on measures of financial literacy. This deficit shows up in other measures of financial health, like:

  • Credit Scores. The average American’s FICO score was an acceptable 711 as of October 2020, according to Experian. However, tens of millions have subprime scores (below about 620) or no credit scores at all. Many Americans don’t even know how to build credit effectively or use predatory financial products in an attempt to do so.
  • Consumer Debt. The average American’s consumer debt load exceeded $92,000 in 2020, according to Experian. High debt-to-income ratios compound low credit scores or thin credit histories, making it difficult or impossible for many Americans to qualify for mortgages, auto loans, and other types of debt that better-off people rely on to get ahead.
  • Emergency Savings. An often-cited Federal Reserve report from 2018 notes that nearly 40% of Americans don’t have enough saved up to afford a $400 emergency expense. The fact that this is so surprising to folks who do have ample savings just highlights the fiscal divide between us, not to mention the importance of an adequate emergency fund.

We created Money Crashers to address the financial literacy gap and help improve our audience’s overall financial health. Based on the feedback we receive daily, we’re succeeding in this goal, one reader at a time.

Along the way, we’ve built a diverse and growing team of personal and business finance experts that communicate core financial concepts and offer relatable, actionable guidance that anyone can understand and use. Today, we’re recognized as a top resource by leading finance and news outlets like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, Money Crashers welcomes millions of readers every month. Our content channels deliver actionable guidance on virtually every topic related to personal finance, including emerging spaces like cryptocurrency and socially responsible investing (SRI). We have a growing team of money and business experts who love what they do, and we’re always looking to add to the team.

In short, we’re living up to the goals we set at our founding and living up to our mission of increasing financial empowerment every day. Yet we believe we can do even more. We’re looking forward to the next phase of our growth — to becoming the first place our audience turns for actionable financial information and empowerment.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Yes — slow and steady wins the race.

That would seem too obvious to even mention, but the truth is, our time at Money Crashers has taught us that many entrepreneurs go into business for the wrong reasons. They get caught up in the idea of “firing their boss” and think they’ll immediately be able to answer to no one but themselves.

Worse, they have unrealistic financial expectations. They imagine they’ll begin printing money right after launch, failing to realize that building a sustainable revenue stream takes countless hours of hard work.

Most of these entrepreneurs fail. If starting and growing a business has taught us nothing else all these years, it’s that entrepreneurs must take the time to get it right.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Some of our favorite tools are Gmail for Business, Slack, and Zoom. It’s very important to have tools like this, especially as work has become more remote during COVID times.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The Ride of a Lifetime by former Disney CEO Robert Iger should be required reading for every entrepreneur out there. The only unfortunate thing about it is that it wasn’t around earlier. Iger published the book in 2019, shortly before stepping down after a 15-year run at the helm of Disney.

“The Ride of a Lifetime” is not only a memoir from one of the most successful chief executives of the 21st century. It’s also a powerful argument that leaders can make difficult, high-risk decisions for the good of their companies and still basically do the right thing. In other words, one can be a highly respected leader and a good person at the same time.

Important as it is, that message doesn’t always get through to ambitious entrepreneurs. Iger reminds us why it should.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

With apologies to another very well-known brand, our advice to entrepreneurs who aren’t quite sure they’re ready to start a business of their own is, “just do it.”

You don’t have to quit your day job right away. Many successful entrepreneurs don’t. Their businesses start as side hustles, done exclusively in their spare time, and grow until they’re ripe to become full-time enterprises. That can take months or even years of hard work. Stick with it until it’s clear that you’ve got a winning proposition or that it’s just not going to work out.

Later on, when you’re ready to hire your first employee, we recommend doing whatever it takes to keep dependable, high-quality employees on your side. Every business owner knows that true talent is not easy to come by, and one of the things that successful entrepreneurs tend to be good at is recognizing and cultivating talent when they find it.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking for personal and business finance experts to join our team. We are a comprehensive finance resource for readers based in the U.S. and beyond, and our team reflects the full breadth of our expertise.

We cover everything from foundational finance topics like how credit card interest is calculated and best practices for calculating a down payment on a house, through always-in-demand subjects like building an investment portfolio and selecting the right mix of insurance policies for your needs, to exciting emerging topics like cryptocurrencies and cannabis finance.

If you’re passionate about personal finance and believe in our mission of fiscal empowerment, we would love to potentially have you do some writing with us!

Where can we go to learn more?