MRM catches up with blogger, podcast host and broadcaster Andy Webb, who tells us why YouTube is the personal finance platform to watch, his proudest moments as a blogger and what personal finance media gets right
- Tell us a bit about yourself
I run a blog called Becleverwithyourcash as well as a podcast called Cash Chats, and have stepped into more YouTube content in the past year with personal finance videos. I’m also a freelance personal finance journalist and I write a monthly money column in Reader’s Digest.
I live up north in Yorkshire. I got ahead of the coronavirus work-from-home curve moving out of London about three years ago.
- What got you into the blogging side of personal finance?
When I started the blog about seven years ago, I never thought it was something that could become a full-time pursuit for me like it is now.
I worked at the BBC for 11 years on the production side of things – from shows like Football Focus to Crimewatch. But in 2013 I took an opportunity for redundancy and went travelling which gave me time to think a bit more about what I actually wanted to be doing for a living.
I had never thought of money saving as a career, but my wife pointed out to me that it was something I was really passionate about, always helping friends and family with, so I just started blogging about it and have branched out to broader personal finance topics.
- Talk us through Becleverwithyourcash – what’s it about and how long has it been going?
It’s an everyday personal finance and consumer blog, and I put my money where my mouth is.
At the start I was working on it in the evenings and at weekends. For the first couple of years, it really was only a hobby. My day job was running the blog for the Money Advice Service (MAS).
But as MAS was wound down, I transitioned to focusing more of my time on the blog and I’ve been full time on it since summer 2018.
- What do you do outside the sphere of pure blogging?
Blogging takes most of my time at the moment. If anything, I’m generating more work for myself than I need to be!
But I’m working more on alternative media such as my Cash Chats podcast and YouTube videos which is a really interesting area to develop. I’ve had a YouTube channel for a long time. I always did short clips – get to the point quickly – that’s how traditional TV works when tackling particular subject areas.
But in the last year the engagement with longer videos seems to have changed significantly. People seem to have more time to spend on long content. In the past spending 20 minutes discussing the best banking accounts in a video seemed like it would be too much – but people actively want this detailed content.
So now I tend to spend longer discussing the ins and outs of products in videos. People really seem to watch it all and take it in. There’s an explosion in other money ‘influencers’ on YouTube, it really is a big expansion into that platform. Although I wouldn’t call myself an influencer! The key demographic for my viewers on that platform seems to be around 25-45 years old.
- You’ve worked for BBC TV and Money Saving Expert in the past. Have you ever considered going back ‘in-house’ to a publication?
I love what I do. I think it’s too easy in personal finance media to preach certain skills and values but not really follow through on them personally. The best part for me about blogging is sharing my own experiences through my work.
I also enjoy the freedom I have of setting my own schedule so I have no interest in going in-house somewhere. I would however consider more TV presenting if the opportunity arose. I presented a Channel Five show called Shop Smart Save Money for a year which was a brilliant experience, but the time required did put pressure on my own channels.
- Do you work regularly with PRs? What could they do better to help you?
I tend to be the one proactively contacting PRs when it comes to writing stories as it depends on what I’m looking at. It can be frustrating when there’s no phone number or contact name to speak to at a firm.
In terms of opportunities that come to me – it’s hard to keep up with it because my email is often just bombarded with information, most of which is not relevant to me. In recent weeks I’ve probably had hundreds of emails about the GameStop investing saga – but it’s not something I’d write about, so it’s wasted on me!
- What achievement are you most proud of in your time in Personal Finance media?
I’m definitely proud to have won awards for the blog, including Personal Finance Blog of The Year at the Headlinemoney Awards a couple of times. It’s good to be recognised by your peers for your work.
- What is one thing you think personal finance media gets right?
Personal finance media has gotten better in recent years in breaking concepts down for their audiences. A lot of different subject areas like credit cards or mortgages can be quite complex, so being able to explain them jargon-free and easily is really important.
- What is the number one hot button personal finance issue for you right now?
No surprises really, but how we recover financially from coronavirus is the big one. There’s a lot of national debt to be paid back and someone will have to foot that bill. We may beat the virus with vaccines and such this year, but the costs of it will go on for a long time to come.