Dear Rockstar Finance
There are many reasons that I love the old Rockstar Finance
I know what you’re thinking. It’s Wednesday. Which means I’m posting on the wrong day and also way too much. Twice a week? Alyssa, we can barely handle you the one day. And you’re so right. I apologize. However, I really needed to get some things off of my chest before leaving for a short maternity leave, and I didn’t want to shift my already beautiful schedule to do so. Therefore, here we are. On a Wednesday. Mentally preparing ourselves for a rant. First of all, let me say that if you’re not a blogger or really hella-deep-into-the-world-of-personal-finance-blogs, this entire post will mean absolutely nothing to you. However, I can’t stop you from reading on if you choose to.
Oh, wow, really? Are you still here? Alrighty then.
First of all, let me say that Rockstar Finance truly helped launch my blog. It put me on the map in front of a ton of readers (both happy and mad) that I would have otherwise never had a chance to connect with online. They — for some reason — chose to acknowledge one of my very first blog posts about three years back and threw my website analytics into a full-on panic attack. It was the first time I had felt heard on the internet. It gave me that extra bit of motivation to keep on writing when most bloggers begin to taper off. To that point, I am eternally grateful for the old Rockstar Finance.
However, just a few months ago my opinion changed. And fast.
I think one of the reasons so many people loved Rockstar Finance was because it was run by two very well-connected bloggers who appealed to a wide audience and demographics. J$ wrote with personality and often made you feel like you were his best friend with his witty and unique style. Cait Flanders made you think and made you feel like you could be and do anything you put your mind to — financially and otherwise. Both of these two still make me feel this way and I was reading their blogs before I even started my own, which means they're still pretty much the greatest.
That’s when the Rockstar Finance takeover happened
I remember it like it was yesterday. Probably because it basically was. I logged on to Twitter, to start my usual morning routine scroll, and saw that the entire personal finance community was shooketh. J$ had sold Rockstar Finance to someone who (sorry if this makes me sound like a jerk) I had never heard of. Personally, as someone who felt a strong connection to Rockstar Finance, this transition came as a shock. To me, it lacked that connection I so wildly desired from the site.
How selfish of me, though, I thought. It’s a good time for J$ and Cait to step back, and I completely understand why they would. I immediately felt that I should become acquainted with the new owners of Rockstar Finance, so I found the new owner on Twitter. I then read that the Twitter would now be run by someone new — so I was looking forward to seeing this exciting social media game on my feed.
For the first month or so, it was obvious that J$ and Cait were still quite heavily involved in the post choosing and general vibe of the site. However, as soon as they started to step back, it was beyond obvious. Rather than being run by an impartial team that connected with every type of blogger and writing style, I noticed that the site was being taken over by bloggers who appeal to only one type of reader and one category of content. It was obvious that this change was going to be a big adjustment for a lot of us. But — as they say — change is good. Change brings in opportunities for new and powerful ideas. So, I kept a positive outlook. However, that didn’t last long.
There are many reasons that the new Rockstar Finance site has me feeling the need to speak out. I debated whether I should write this post at all knowing that in comparison to a shark like them, I am a minnow. But last week my newsfeed was plagued with upset readers, writers and viewers due to a sexist and otherwise inappropriate tweet. It started to also bring forth many other concerns about the entire world that Rockstar Finance had become.
It’s a boys club, and only a few have the password
For those of you who missed last weeks tweet that was a quote saying: “There is only three ways a smart person can go broke: liquor, ladies, and leverage.” If you’re here to defend this tweet for whatever you think you can sauce up — just don’t. In fact, for anyone who works with social media, if you ever have to question whether something you’re about to post is appropriate, just probably don’t post it. The amount of personal finance quotes out there is RIDICULOUS. So, I can’t imagine this was the best choice.
People immediately spoke their concern for this type of language. A lot of people. Mostly just women, though. Thankfully (for them), Rockstar Finance obliged by deleting the tweet and putting out this sentence: “Hi all - yes, this quote went against our better judgment, and we will remove it.”
Which to me, says a couple of things:
I’m not sorry, but you seem upset.
It went against our better judgement but we don’t care to understand why
What’s most concerning to me is that the website owner had not but one thing to say. He must have missed how upset people were. Too bad. If you hadn’t been labelled a boys club prior to this mishap — you most certainly are now.
I have a concern that content is chosen by payment rather than by merit
The second reason that my affection for the site that shares curated content has changed is that the content they share has dramatically shifted. On January 31st, I received a newsletter from the site sharing information about a new program. The VIB — or “Very Important Blogger” program. To be fair, this program existed prior to the takeover. However, I had honestly never heard of it. So, hearing of it now sparked my interest.
"I want to be very important," I thought, as I read the email. That was until I realized that to be very important I had to pay.
The reason I loved the old Rockstar Finance so much was that I knew that the content they were sharing was well-written, chosen unbiasedly and from writers displaying stories and information through a wide array of income levels. Now it’s more like: “Hey millennials, where do you guys get off thinking you deserve anything? Psh — maybe if you pay for it. But don’t think just because you spent hours researching, writing and publishing an extremely strong blog post that you’re going to get noticed. Instead, you can check out a more detailed description of our VIB program here.”
I could honestly go on for hours picking apart all of my concerns with this program, but I won’t. At the end of the day, any site that asks for up to $150/month — yeah, A MONTH — so that you can be featured more prevalently does not have it’s users best interests at heart.
Name change suggestion: Rockstar Firenance
Speaking of content, has anyone noticed the dramatic change in how little variation there is in the category coverage that is shared? I mean, just one day this week, this is how many articles were featured that have to do with retirement:
To be honest, idgaf about FIRE. And neither does 95% of the readers who used to frequent Rockstar Finance. Sure, it’s cool and important to talk about retirement. But what about all of the other conversations that need to be had? Such as low-income households, the wage gap, mental health and your money, and literally everything else. This one isn’t even funny anymore. It started off where people were all “Hey have you noticed the increase in FIRE posts?” and now it’s like:
People don’t feel heard
And a lot of people are afraid to be. At the end of the day, Rockstar Finance holds a ton of power in this community — and it should. J$ did an excellent job creating a website for anyone and everyone who loved personal finance. I’m just upset that it no longer feels this way. For those of you who are here to pick holes in every single thing that my blog post has said to paint Rockstar Finance in a negative light — I’m sorry that you feel this way.
However, I feel so strongly about these findings, that I’ve simply unfollowed the Rockstar Finance accounts so I don’t have to see or read them anymore. If you feel the same strength towards me and my blogging style, I encourage you to do the same with mine.
I hope that one day I am able to jump back on the Rockstar Finance train for great, curated content. There are many reasons that I love the old Rockstar Finance — that sparked inclusivity and helped bloggers see different sides of the coin (so to speak). I’m hoping that one day the new Rockstar Finance will shed the same light on the personal finance community once again. It can be difficult to please everyone — yes. However, it can also be too easy to ignore the reality that you aren’t pleasing enough.