An Interview with J.D. Roth, Founder of Get Rich Slowly

 

Thanks for joining us at Club Thrifty! After your done reading our sweet post, be sure to check out Holly’s staff post today at Get Rich Slowly.

 

An Interview With J.D. RothWelcome back to Club Thrifty! Many of you may have noticed that we have some new digs here. We figured that there was no better way to celebrate our redesign than by interviewing the one and only J.D. Roth.

 

For those of you who may not know, J.D. Roth is a legend in the personal finance blogosphere. He is the founder of Get Rich Slowly and the author of Your Money the Missing Manual. He also writes about More Than Money at jdroth.com. So, without further delay, let’s get to the interview!

 

Club Thrifty: Hey J.D.! Thanks for joining us today. Let’s get right to it. Can you tell our readers what drew you to writing about personal finance?

 

J.D.: I started writing about personal finance as a way to chronicle my own adventures (or misadventures) with money. I was deep in debt and felt like I was drowning. I’d tried all sorts of things to turn things around, but all of my attempts were based on finding “magic bullet” solutions. That is, I tried to find ways to “get rich quick” or to take shortcuts to a debt-free life.

 

Eventually I hit rock bottom. It was then that a couple of friends approached me and each recommended a book for me to read. One book was “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. The other was “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I read these books and figured I’d give the authors a chance. They weren’t offering any shortcuts to wealth; they were saying that I’d have to do a lot of hard work and make some sacrifices, but if I did that, then I could be debt free. I could even get rich – slowly.

 

As I applied the advice in these books, I started reading other books and magazines (and websites). I also started documenting what I was doing so that other people could follow along.

 

CT: Well, people certainly took notice and connected with your stories. What do you find is the best way to build an audience? How do you best connect with readers?

 

J.D.: The best way to build and audience is to be open and honest, to be genuine. And to tell stories. I find that people connect well with reality. Instead of writing about theory, write about what’s actually happening in your life, both the good things and the bad. People don’t want to read about perfection. Perfect people aren’t appealing. They don’t seem real. Instead, share the good and the bad so that others can learn from your successes and mistakes.

 

CT: How long did it take you before you knew that you had something special?

 

J.D.: I think I realized that Get Rich Slowly was something special about a year into it. I’d had several small successes early on, but I didn’t appreciate what was happening until about month ten. It was then that I had about 12,000 subscribers and my income was beginning to approach the same income I’d earned at my day job. When that happened, I realized that maybe I could make a living at this.

 

CT: Now, for the question that everybody is wondering about: Who’s your favorite New Kid?

 

J.D.: Haha. To be honest, I never listened to them, and I don’t know their names. I’m too old! But wasn’t Donnie Wahlberg in the group? I like him as an actor. Since he’s the only one I know, that’s the answer.

 

CT: Now that you are officially retired from GRS, what are you up to these days?

 

J.D.: I spend a lot of my time organizing the World Domination Summit, an annual conference here in Portland, Oregon. This year, we’ll have 3000 people come to town to hear speakers like Gretchen Rubin and Donald Miller. I also write a column for Entrepreneur magazine and, in theory, one for the Time.com financial blog. (Though I’m terrible about  meeting my deadline.) My personal writing lives at my new blog, More Than Money, which can be found at jdroth.com.

 

Really, though, I spend most of my time right now focused on getting my life in order. I’ve spent much of the past few years in a state of transition. I’ve undergone a lot of changes. Things are starting to settle, but the past few months have still been filled with a lot of changes: travel, moving, and so on.

 

CT: I’m glad you mentioned traveling. For those of us who follow your blog, you chronicled a recent trip that you took to Turkey. Can you tell our readers a little bit about it?

 

J.D.: I learned to love travel in 2007 when my ex-wife and I accompanied her parents to England and Ireland. From that point, she and I started traveling the world: Belize, southern Africa, Italy, France, Peru, and so on. My cousin also likes to travel, and he suggested that he and I go to Turkey together. So we did.

 

The trip to Turkey was great fun, though I’ll admit Turkey is my least favorite country so far. This shocks a lot of people who love the place. But while I had a good time, I liked Bolivia and Botswana and all of the other places I’ve been better.

 

CT: Thanks for sharing that! Getting back to blogging, can you tell us about the biggest blogging mistake you have ever made?

 

J.D.: Interesting question. I’m not sure I have an answer. I guess my biggest blogging mistakes have always come by not assuming somebody would read what I’ve written. As a result, I’ve developed a two-part mantra.

 

First, never assume anyone reads what you write online. That is, when you meet somebody (even a friend or family member), don’t assume that they know what you’re writing about. Maybe they don’t read your blog and have no interest.

 

On the other hand, I say that you have to always assume that everyone reads your blog. If you do this, it’ll influence what you write and how you write it. It’ll keep you from saying something dumb that you regret later. I’ve heard many stories of people who thought they were completely anonymous who write things online that they come to regret because they’re not nearly as anonymous as they think they are. I know somebody who got fired this way, and I know somebody who ended up with a divorce this way.

 

I know these are two contradictory ideas, but you have to assume them both at once. If you do that, it’ll keep you from making big mistakes.

 

CT: That is great advice. What other advice would you give to bloggers, particularly those who are just starting their own personal finance blog?

 

J.D.: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. There are tons of personal finance blogs out there. The surest way to get your voice lost in the chorus is to just do the same as everyone else. Instead, do your own thing. That may mean not even reading what other folks are writing. It surely means writing from your own experience and telling your own story.

 

CT: You’ve made the leap from Get Rich Slowly and have started another new blog. What are your plans for More than Money?

 

J.D.: That’s a great question. I wish I had a great answer. I fully intend to write there several times a week, but so far I’ve only managed several times a month. I’d love to explore more advanced financial topics at More Than Money, but I’d also like to write about self-improvement. I’d like to write about animal intelligence and old-time radio and comic books and more. Really, though, it’ll be a place for me to explore the person I’m becoming.

 

CT: Thanks again for joining us J.D.! Any parting words of wisdom?

 

J.D.: Enjoy life! You create your own reality, so make it a good one. Don’t assume the worst about anyone or anything, but assume the best. Don’t create drama. Instead, be happy and healthy and present in the moment. Life is beautiful, but only if you take the time to enjoy it.

 

 

Thanks again to J.D. Roth for agreeing to do this interview! We truly appreciate it. Again, you can check out his new blog More Than Money at jdroth.com.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Congratulations on your new blog design! It`s very clean, and has a bright and optimistic feeling about it! Love it! And such an interesting reading! I didn`t know it was J.Roth who started Get Rich Slowly. Such an inspirational person. Along with you guys of course 😉

  2. says

    JD Roth truly is a legend, and I definitely enjoyed this interview. My absolute favorite thing he said was “Don’t do what everyone else is doing. There are tons of personal finance blogs out there. The surest way to get your voice lost in the chorus is to just do the same as everyone else. Instead, do your own thing.” So many pf blogs are all the same…there is a little bit of difference between them, but ultimately it seems people are writing about the same topics (which will happen when there are thousands of posts a day) and I think people are scared to do something different in case it “won’t work.” Something I need to constantly remind myself is that when I “do my own thing” it usually has better results.

  3. says

    Love the design guys! It’s very clean & bright. Great interview as well! There were many things I could touch on, but I totally agree on being genuine. People, generally, want to read personal stories. Tips posts are fine and have their place, but adding personality to it will liven up most topics.

  4. Sally says

    Great interview! I agree with being genuine as well. That’s one of the reasons I like your blog: two perspectives and personal stories as well as great advice! The new design really works!

  5. says

    Your website looks awesome! I’m so in love. Did you design it yourselves? I have a redesign in the works and it’ll be completed within the next couple of weeks! WOOHOO!

    Awesome interview. I am a huge GRS and JD fan :)

    • says

      We paid someone to do the logo and header but Greg did the rest of our redesign himself. I think we paid less than $100 for outside help with the redesign!

  6. says

    I like the idea of not assuming anyone will read, but also everyone. I do something similar since there is my full name out there, although I don’t share with family and friends that I blog. Thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    Love the site design and thanks for doing this interview. Gotta love the two-part mantra -“Never assume anyone reads…Always assume everyone reads.” I’m filing that one away in my mental blog notes.

  8. Nick @ ayoungpro.com says

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been following GRS for years and it was a great help when I was getting out of debt. It was great to get some insights from JD as I work on starting my own blog, he is one of the reasons I wanted to try my hand at blogging.

  9. says

    I love the new design! That’s an awesome interview with J.D. Roth, as well – I really liked his story and how he overcame his debt, so he’s an inspiring role model. But really, Donnie? It’s all about Team Jordan! 😉

    • LeRainDrop says

      While it’s true that Donnie is in acting now, maybe when JD said, “I like him as an actor,” he was confusing Donnie with his brother, “Marky” Mark Wahlberg, haha!

      • says

        Really? That’s funny! I really don’t remember the New Kids all that well. I mostly remember Joey and that annoying song “Please don’t go girlllllllllll……………….” Hahaha Well, now we know that J.D. would suck at New Kids trivia.

        • LeRainDrop says

          Oh no, JD was right that Donnie was the one in NKOTB, but Mark is the one who’s a really good actor. Until more recently, Donnie’s acting fame was of playing Bruce Willis’s former patient who had killed himself in The Sixth Sense.

          • says

            Oh!!! Wow. I need to get my facts straight! I thought the NKOTB Wahlberg singer and the actor were the same person. =/

  10. LeRainDrop says

    Thanks for the great interview! I followed JD at Get Rich Slowly beginning less than a year after he started writing, and continue with him now at More Than Money. He had it exactly right, when he said, “The best way to build an audience is to be open and honest, to be genuine. And to tell stories.” This is the formula that really drew me to his writing — even when the topics weren’t necessarily applicable to me, I still found them engaging. I think Club Thrifty has a similar, yet unique, appeal.

  11. says

    Wow, pretty awesome interview with a cool guy. I totally agree with being your own voice in the blogging world. The part about Turkey is a little sad since I am going there in a few weeks, LOL. I understand though, I heard some of the guys there are pretty tenacious. I think it’s not the actual residents, but more the sales people who come from other places.

  12. says

    Awesome interview guys! Talking with the man that seemed to start it all, very good to get inside his head a bit now that he’s a bit removed from the financial blogging world. very cool opportunity, and thanks for sharing your conversation with us!

  13. says

    Great interview! Thank you for sharing this with us. As a new blogger, I take such inspiration from others who are successful and willing to share their knowledge. I noticed your new design yesterday and meant to mention but it looks great. Upbeat – a good representation of you two. :)

  14. says

    Great Interview,
    The one thing I could sense through it all was his “positive” attitude and his focus on his “own”personal experiences which I think is great. I also enjoyed what I pasted below which he says because I always say we only live once, make the best of it.I like the new look!! Very welcoming!

    “Enjoy life! You create your own reality, so make it a good one. Don’t assume the worst about anyone or anything, but assume the best. Don’t create drama. Instead, be happy and healthy and present in the moment. Life is beautiful, but only if you take the time to enjoy it.”

  15. Justin@TheFrugalPath says

    Great interview. GRS was the first PF blog that I ever found. And I love the assume everyone and no one reads what you are writing. It keeps you from saying too much and yet becoming arrogant.
    BTW, love the new theme. It fits with the strides that you have taken.

  16. says

    Awesome interview Holly, thanks for doing this. JD Roth is a legend and it’s good to hear his thoughts in the form on an inteview, very interesting stuff.

    @JD Roth, thanks for doing the interview and good luck with your new blog, I’m off to check it out now.

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