Welcome to my new guest series where I invite fellow bloggers to write about their blog, how they make money from it and share their top tips and success stories. I would like to give a warm welcome to Sara, from Debt Camel, to tell me all about her blog.
Please tell me about your blog and why you started to blog about money
People with debt problems often wait a year or even two before asking for help and as a debt adviser I found that frustrating – the earlier someone comes forward the more options they usually have!
So, I started Debt Camel in September 2013, to try to reach people with money problems in Britain who might google for answers.
I wanted a blog that was mobile friendly and with as little jargon as possible. Some straight talking. A few pictures. Even some exclamations marks! Just easy to read.
What was your first ever blog post?
From memory my first couple were about how to help a friend with a payday loan problem and one about the bedroom tax.
Both now long deleted. The payday loan one became out of date after the FCA’s reforms in 2015. I soon decided not to blog about benefits.
The first blog that is still there is What to do if a full and final settlement offer is rejected. It still gets readers. Over the years I will have smartened it up a bit and changed the picture and added new links – keeping old posts up-to-date is the blogger equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge.
It’s a very good blog that’s easy to read and follow, and I can see why it’s popular given the easy availability of credit.
What is your favourite / most popular post?
My most popular post is How to get a payday loan refund – with template letters that work. The regulations say a lender has to check a loan is affordable before they give it – and that means you can repay it without having to borrow more money. Huge numbers of payday loans are unaffordable and people can get a refund of the interest they paid.
There are literally thousands of comments below the article – it’s great for people who aren’t sure if they have got a good case to read other people’s success stories.
That’s another good blog and it’s great to see that it has helped so many vulnerable people get the results and compensation they deserve.
My favourite post changes every few months… It’s usually a “policy” article, where I am highlighting an area where I think the regulators should change something. At the moment it’s UK credit records & scores – not fit for purpose! which is topic I feel very strongly about.
That blog struck a chord with me insofar as there is a lack of consistency and transparency on how credit scoring is applied by what is in effect a monopoly. It’s always the most vulnerable in society that suffer from the anomalies in these systems.
Have you ever had a parking ticket? Was it deserved?
I used to think two or three PCNs for parking and moving traffic offences a year was the price of living in London. But I drive much less now my children have left home, so I guess it’s down to one a year.
All pretty much bang to rights. Though there was one local black spot for driving in a bus lane where the council eventually changed the lane as it was catching so many people.
I don’t think I have ever had a parking ticket on private land.
I’m an adviser at Citizens Advice, so I’ve helped a lot of other people with unfair tickets though!
Bus lane signs are often deliberately set-up to catch motorists out.
Do you ever complain to get redress and refunds if service or goods don’t come up to scratch?
Yes. Be clear, be reasonable and put in it writing are my top tips.
That’s the crux of it. The reason why so many people fall at the first hurdle is because they don’t follow the basic rules of complaining effectively, yet moan because they weren’t able to resolve their complaint!
Potholes and the state of the roads are the bane of our lives. Have you ever won a pothole claim? Do you know how easy it is?
I’ve never had cause to claim. I tend to be chilled out about that sort of thing, definitely not the bane of my life. But my partner reports potholes to our local council every few weeks!
That would be a full-time job in itself in Edinburgh, which is officially the pothole city capital of the UK. It’s something I am passionate about simply because you have a 29% success rate of winning a claim here, which is the lowest in the UK and motorists are being unknowingly ripped off by having legitimate claims rejected.
Which Moneyblogger(s) do you most admire and why?
I don’t think money is discussed enough in Britain. So I think the huge variety of money bloggers is great.
But I’ll mention Damien Fahey’s Money To The Masses for its enormous range of really professional content and weekly podcasts. And Ricky Willis started Skint Dad at about the same time I started Debt Camel, so it’s been interesting to watch how his website has grown into a huge success and the friendly Facebook community they have built.
I couldn’t agree more. The variety and scope of money bloggers that create so much useful content is remarkable and the public have access to so much free and useful information now than ever before.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Five years ago, I had no idea Debt Camel would have grown the way it has. I have no idea where the next 5 years will take me, but I hope it’s going to be as interesting as the last five years.
It’s been a real eye-opener for me personally to see how opportunities can spin out of blogging and I appreciate the support, advice and help that other bloggers share within the blogging community. Likewise, I have no idea what the next 5 years holds for me but I know it will be an interesting journey.
Thank you once again Sara for sharing your story with me. Your blog is a must read and it’s inspirational to see how you have helped so many vulnerable people change their lives for the better.
Have a look at Debt Camel and see for yourself.