I’ve recently updated the Blog Topics page in A Guide Personal Finance Blogs. The Guide includes over 1000 personal finance blogs, which I reviewed to determine the primary topic focus or mix of topics covered by each blog. To help show what’s new with this update, here’s an excerpt of the top portion of the updated Blog Topic data table.
You can click on the image above to go directly to the page with the full interactive data table, which can be sorted, filtered, and searched.
The primary new item in the Blog Topics information has to do with the “Blog Theme“, which is shown in the two right-most columns of the table. I added the new Blog Theme because of several social media discussions I’ve had with personal finance bloggers and readers recently. For example, the blogger at Our Next Life tweeted whether anyone had a list of women FIRE (financial independence/retire early) bloggers.
The question is interesting, because it presumes we all know what a FIRE blog looks like, and assigning any particular blog to this category just takes common sense. In reality, I’ve found there are infinite shades of gray. For example, bloggers on one end of the spectrum clearly identify their blog’s main focus as FIRE, and then when you look at their blog, they post a lot about FIRE issues. On the other end of the spectrum are bloggers who don’t really describe their blogs as being about FIRE, but they spend at least some time writing about FIRE issues. And somewhere in the middle may be blogs that are advertised as being about FIRE, but don’t actually post much about FIRE. Similarly, there are blogs with many posts about FIRE, but the blogger advertises that the blog is about “budgeting” or “frugality” or something apparently different.
It’s these complex realities of the blogging world that make it often difficult to place any particular blog into one monolithic topic category. This was the main reason that my first drafts of the Blog Topic page presented the focus of each blog based on the actual content of their recent articles. The limitation to this approach is that it ignores the bloggers own intent and stated purpose for their blog. Maybe a FIRE blogger doesn’t talk much anymore about FIRE because they’ve already published a hundred articles on FIRE, and they’ve said all they need to say on that topic. However, they probably still rightfully identify themselves as FIRE bloggers, and their blog may still be of interest to readers searching for blogs addressing that topic.
The new concept of Blog Theme is intended to improve the Topics Page in this regard. While the Topics Focus of recent articles gives you information on what the blogger is writing about recently, the Blog Theme indicates the blogger’s “advertised” purpose or goal for the site. Armed with both pieces of information, readers should be able to find bloggers talking about any particular subject now or in the past. Perhaps a reader wants to find posts specifically about how to budget and save for early retirement (as opposed to saving for an emergency fund or a college education). The combined information of both recent article Topic Focus plus the new Blog Theme provides that reader with a better chance of finding that exact mix. Such a reader could look for a blog with a FIRE theme and a recent article topic focus on saving/budgeting. Likewise, they could look for a saving/budgeting themed blog with a recent topic focus about FIRE.
This is all part of my continuing effort to sort and organize for readers the complexity of personal finance blogs as they exist in the sometimes messy real world. The more I discuss and think about the issue of blog “topic”, the more convinced I am that placing any one blog in a single category fails to address the nuances of the majority of blogs out there. Single categorizations, even with modifying tags or notes, may hinder rather than help you find the blogs you desire.
Getting back to the example question that spurred some of my new thinking on this, you might be wondering about that list of women FIRE bloggers. Although this is only one of a nearly infinite number of lists you could generate using the Guide to Personal Finance blogs, for the record here is the list of Women FIRE bloggers as of May 2017.
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This list contains only women bloggers who have identified their blog theme as relating to FIRE. Like the other tables in the Guide, you can go directly to any of the blogs by clicking on the links in the “Blog URL” column. I could expand this list by adding women bloggers who have posted a lot recently about FIRE (even though FIRE is not their advertised theme), but I will keep it simple for now.
Note that I am in the process of updating the Guide to Personal Finance Blogs with June 2017 information, and this update should be out soon. Of course, I will post about it and give you all the heads up. In the meantime, let me know if you have any suggestions for the Blog Topic/Theme issue or any other part of the Guide.