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Getting Inside the Mind of a Millennial with Erin Lowry [TDI084]


I think millennials today have a pretty bad reputation.  As one myself, I can see truth in a lot of the stereotypes (they’re stereotypes for a reason), but I think millennials are also misunderstood simply because they have a different approach to life.

Here are some of the (negative) stereotypes:

  • Lazy
  • Short attention span
  • Feeling of entitlement
  • Require constant praise

While some millennials may show some or all of these characteristics, part of the problem is that older generations may view these characteristics out of context.  For example, it may not be that millennials necessarily have short attention spans – it may be that they are always motivated to move onto something better.  Technology in general has enabled us to be more efficient (while also providing more distraction), which I think plays a large role in what might be perceived as “short attention span.”

Another millennial trait – which is in line with all of the characteristics above – is the fact that millennials often don’t work at one job for too long.  In addition, many pursue self-employment.  It’s not because they are “lazy” and don’t want to stay dedicated to a job, but they prefer to live their lives with more flexibility.

It’s not uncommon for a millennial entrepreneur to take random days off from work, yet still put in a 50+ hour week.  It’s all about flexibility – working when you are at your most effective and efficient.  It may not fit into the standard “9 to 5” work day, which is why older generations struggle to define this characteristic, and are quick to use labels like “entitled” or “lazy.”

The reason I’m discussing millennials in some detail, is because my guest today (Erin Lowry) has a blog, Broke Millennial, that focuses on personal finance from the perspective of a millennial.  In the interview, we talk briefly about her journey, and we also touch upon the fact that her professional life (working multiple jobs, freelancing, etc.) fits the typical “millennial” profile, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Enjoy this quick interview, but also feel free to comment on what you think about millennials and how they are perceived. 

Erin, I’m a big fan of your site, Broke Millennial. As a millennial myself, I really like the content you publish about saving money, budgeting, and other personal finance topics. I know you don’t have a professional finance background, which I think really helps most people relate to and understand the topics discussed on your blog.

Tell us a bit about your background and journey. What gave you the idea to start this blog? Are there any other online projects you’re involved with?

I started Broke Millennial in January of 2013. The inspiration for my site came from a late night discussion with a friend, who hated her job and wanted to pursue acting but felt paralyzed by her fear of money. I started to ask around and realized most of my peers had a lot of anxiety when it came to money. Even though I wasn’t making much at the time, I always felt confident about how to handle my finances because of the money lesson my parents taught me.

My site utilizes humor, sarcasm and a lot of personal stories to make basic financial concepts accessible to people who want to learn but aren’t sure where to start. It also forces me to keep pushing myself and continue my own financial education.

Broke Millennial is my only personal online project, but I do contribute to DailyFinance and other financial sites.

What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far with your blog? 

It sounds small, but the first time a complete stranger emailed me for advice about a financial situation (I made sure she knew I’m not a certified professional, but I gave her my honest opinion) was a pretty big success for me.

In terms of more “classic” forms of success, the first time I was quoted in Forbes made me jump up and down like an excited child on Christmas morning.

Wow, getting quoted in Forbes is definitely a great success.  What was the article about, and do you know how they found you?

It was such a huge honor. I’ve been quoted in Forbes four times and one was even a feature article about my suggestions for financial resolutions in the new year. The first time, I was included in an article about millennials making tough money choices. Social media seems to be one way people find me and reporters have also just found my site through a Google search, especially if they’re looking for millennials.

I noticed that you’ve been able to land a lot of writing gigs for several respectable publications online. How did you go about obtaining these opportunities? How would you recommend an aspiring online writer go about landing similar opportunities?

Ask for the order. Whenever someone asks how I got a gig, I usually say it’s because I asked. It’s even true of my full-time job for the startup MagnifyMoney. I’m there because I quite simply asked for the job. People have approached me about jobs, but many of them are because I asked (which I wrote this post about).

Freelancing, entrepreneurship, and overall self-employment has become a “trendy” option for many millennials. The days of working for one company your entire career is largely in the past. What are your thoughts on this somewhat risky and uncertain career path? What do you think it takes to be successful on your own?

I’m not a full-time freelancer and don’t have any plans to become one, perhaps because I love the social aspect of working in an office. For me, it’s supplemental income and something I enjoy.  But, I’ve worked for three different companies since graduating college in 2011, so I’m quite a “millennial” in that sense.

To be successful as a freelancer, you need dedication, motivation, great time management skills, diligence and the ability to go out and ask for jobs. Plus, you should know how to save well because there could be great months for income followed by some dry ones.

It can be challenging to gain traction when blogging in a competitive niche such as personal finance. What are your primary strategies for growing the traffic on your blog?

Not to focus on the stats. I write to tell my stories, not to SEO, which I find makes people want to hear what I have to say and endears reporters to my stories. My traffic has come more from being featured in other publications and having an active social media presence instead of focusing on increasing Google rankings.

Looking generally at becoming a successful blogger: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be? 

Write about something you want to learn more about. Passionless writing is easy to spot. [Click here to tweet this]


What are your favorite online resources as a blogger? 

Twitter. I love being able to interact with readers and other bloggers in a conversational way. You can also find freelance jobs through Twitter.

Finally, where can people find you online? 

You can find me at BrokeMillennial.com or on Twitter @BrokeMillennial or Facebook.

Thanks for taking part in this interview, Erin!

What are your thoughts on the millennial generation? What did you think about this interview with Erin? Leave a comment below!

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