Friday, February 24, 2006

Blogrolling and feeds

I'm finally starting a blogroll of other personal finance blogs I enjoy reading. Links are going up in a sidebar. It's a small collection for now; I'll expand it as I come across others that catch my interest. is an aggregator I've used to browse through a bunch of them.

One specific-to-personal-finance-blogs problem I'm hitting, though, is sheer add-cluttered ugliness. The granddaddy of personal finance blogs seems to be I checked it out a few times, but my eyeballs kept shutting down in horror over the ad bars in the middle of posts. I suppose that's a good way to maximize AdSense revenue. It's also a good way to scare off readers. There is pretty much no content I consider so valuable I'm willing to slog through that kind of clutter for it. (I suppose I could get around the problem with a syndicated feed, but enh. Too Much Hassle. I'm a dinosaur that prefers to read content on its original host site.)

Other websites and blogs can certainly be ad-laden, but this seems unusually prevalent with PF blogs. Which, I suppose, makes sense; finance-oriented bloggers are pretty likely to want to profit off their blogs, and to do it in a way that delivers maximum financial results. But I'm a journalist at heart. I want my blog read, and I'll happily give up some incremental revenue if it'll make life easier on my readers. (This is why I am a comparatively impoverished reporter rather than a rich media baron. I could make a lot more money if I were more entrepreneurial. Being entrepreneurial would make me want to reach for hemlock each morning when I woke up, however. Fundamental personality/job mismatch.) Right now, I'm leaning against AdSensing this blog; if I ever do add advertisements, though, they will be banished to the corners of the layout, far far away from the content. And I would only do it if there were some significant advantage in doing so. $10 a month in AdSense revenue is a stupid reason to mess up my readers' experience.

I've also been put off by the huckerish tone of several personal finance blogs, and of personal-finance writing in general. It annoys the hell out of me that most of the field's "experts" are Personalities with Branded Lines of books, seminars, audio tapes, financial organizing systems, frozen dinners, etc. Several people recommended the book Smart Women Finish Rich to me. The title put me off immediately. I gritted my teeth and picked it up anyway. I've only made it through a few pages so far. They contain some solid, useful advice. The useful bits are broken up by constant references to the author's seminars, which makes me want to fling the book into our (unfortunately non-working) fireplace. I want personal-finance writing that makes me feel like the author's primary interest is in conveying solidly researched information, rather than in hooking me into his personality cult and selling me more "personal finance product."

Which is a longwinded way of saying that I will attempt to only link blogs that are solidly informative, and that don't strike me as primarily a vehicle for the blogger's grander dreams of Making $$$ Through Blogging.

(Also, I currently have XML and Livejournal feeds set up for Birds & Bills. If anyone wants any other feeds, feel free to request 'em and I'll get them set up.)