groupthink

I’d like everybody to take a look at their most frequent commenters and ask yourselves some questions:

* What is the gender makeup split?

* What is the gender split who comment?

* What is their socioeconomic background?

* What percentage are bloggers vs. non bloggers?

* Do they always agree with what you are saying or do they test your thoughts?

Knowing your audience is crucial for blogging growth as well as general personal growth. You don’t want to live in a bubble, where the only thing you believe in is what you experience and see. The internet is about bringing different viewpoints together in a hopefully harmonious way.

The audience on Financial Samurai is 48/52 men/women readers, 65/35 men/women commenters, 80/20 bloggers/non-bloggers commenters, who earn roughly $80,000-$120,000 a year, and frequently challenge my opinions. With this demographic understanding, I can write more relevant content. Or, I can write content that completely goes against the mix.

I’m aiming fora more balanced mix of everything because 1) Everybody can learn different perspectives, 2) The site can appeal to a wider audience, and 3) I won’t get bored writing the same old things. Financial Samurai is less opinionated than it was 3.5 years ago is because I’ve read some wonderful perspective from thousands of people. As a result, I always try to weave a counter viewpoint in my editorials.

FOCUS IS IMPORTANT TOO 

You can surely be the best blogger in debt, politics, real estate, retirement, investing, parenting, travel and so forth. The internet has allowed us to specialize in ways traditional media never could due to low switching costs. However, I urge everyone of you in niche categories to make sure you aren’t suffering from groupthink, where you blindly follow or agree with everything the author or your fellow community says.

Groupthink is particularly dangerous when it comes to investing. If you are a staunch growth investor who only invests in companies growing earnings over 25% a year for three years in a row, you probably got your face ripped off when the markets finally collapsed in 2008. The same thing goes for fans of real estate. The amount of taxes one pays is particularly explosive where one group is against raising taxes given they think all their achievements are from their own efforts and they pay the most already. Meanwhile another group are for tax increase, even if they don’t have to pay more themselves given we’re all-in this together.

If you are a debt blogger who only believes in reducing debt, you just might not see all the income generating opportunities around you. If you are a lifestyle blogger who only advocates breaking free from the corporate grind, you might end up living in your parents basement five years from now because all your friends who are “living the dream” in Thailand forget to tell you how little they make. If you are an American patriot blogger who doesn’t speak another language and has never lived or traveled internationally, you’re living in a bubble if you think the American way is the only way.

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

The reason why I love the Yakezie Network is because we have members from every single group who are collaborative. Many of us definitely do not see eye-to-eye on many subject matters on our respective sites. However, because we have blogging in common, we are more than happy to help each other out.

I’m not one to back down from a challenge because I intensely want to understand the other side. It’s not because I hate you for why I’m responding to your dissenting comments. It’s because I really want to make sure I’m not missing your point of view. Thanks to commenters’ opinions, I’ve written probably a hundred posts which argue their viewpoint so I can try and convince myself to change my original views. More often than not, I come closer to center.

If all your community is the same, beware. Lob in a post that goes completely counter to your traditional way of thinking on occasion. Don’t be defensive when the pitchforks start coming. Welcome the stabbings! Only then will we become better bloggers and ultimately better people who are more objective. There is truth to every opinion.

Regards,

Sam