Interview with Baker from Man Vs. Debt

November 12, 2009

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In Today’s segment of The Soap Boxers, we travel to the faraway land of New Zealand to chat with Baker from ManVsDebt.  Due to the inherent danger in falling off the edge of the world, Kosmo has delegated this trip to beat reporter Scoop Chevelle. 

Scoop (to camera):  Wow, I just flew in from America, and boy are my arms tired!  I have been sent here to track down Baker.  After failed attempts to locate the correct Baker at six different bakeries, I took a moment to re-check my instructions.  It turns out that Baker is the name of the person I am looking for, rather than the occupation.  I always mess up some mundane detail.  Finally, at long last, I have located the man they call Baker.

Scoop (to Baker):  You have had quite a whirlwind experience, Baker.  You left Indiana for the green pastures of Australia.  You were quickly kicked out of Australia and sent to live in New Zealand.  Where are you headed if you get kicked out of New Zealand – Tokelau?

Baker: Thailand, actually!  But only for a couple months.  After that the sky is the limit.  Well, we probably won’t stay in the sky for long actually.  We might tour the good ‘ole fashion U. S. of A. or explore all Europe has to offer!  Ask me the day before we leave.  😉 

Scoop: In the span of about six months, you have gone from virgin blogger to a veritable rock star in the world of personal finance bogging.  What is your secret?  Is there any truth to the rumor that you slept your way to the top?

Baker: Actually, I didn’t sleep.  And that’s how I got to what you call the “top.”  Haha, seriously though it’s been a lot of work.  My secrets are to try my earnest to put out compelling content (not just a post for posts sake), be as transparent as I possibly can (people seem to enjoy that), and network with as many and as influential bloggers as I can!

Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of hard work, frustrating hours, and wasted time on Twitter.  And that’s just to get to the point I’m at now, which I’ll quickly point out is nowhere close to the top!  I’m just trying to get on the B-list.  😉

Scoop: There have also been allegations that you have been outsourcing some of your writing and violating child labor laws in the process.  Fess up – how much of the content is written by Milligan?

Baker: Haha, actually while Milligan is yet to type anything coherent on the keyboard (she could write for Ezines probably), she inspires a lot of the content.  She’s the reason Courtney and I began our battle against debt.  Staying home with her is the catalyst that led me to start the blog, too.  And she’s our motivation to keep chugging along and trying our best to take advantage of the moment.

So really, she plays a big part whether she knows it or not!

Scoop: You have recently formed a militia at  Are the authorities OK with this?  Are you currently looking for people who are proficient with specific weapons?  I shoot a pretty mean arrow from my crossbow, and I got mad skillz with the slingshot as well.

Baker: We are an equal-opportunity Militia.  Seriously, though, I’m trying to carve out a space for the most passionate members of the community to be involved in a deeper way.  These are the biggest fans and people that actually care about the direction of Man Vs. Debt, which is flattering!

I do my darndest, to find opportunities to give back with special information, book giveaways from publishers that contact me, and by giving them a say in the future decision of the community.  I feel honored to have a special list of people who are ready to fight!  😉

Scoop: As part of your minimalist goals, you keep a list of your possessions on your site.  Some of us have noticed a rather disturbing trend.  You left Indiana with five pairs of socks – but this has been sharply reduced and you now possess only three pairs of socks.  Holy cheese balls, Batman – what’s happening to your socks?

Baker: Are you stalking me?  Haha, seriously though I just threw out a couple pair that were long overdue.  It’s summer now here, so I wear my Keen sandals as much as I can now.  I’ll probably have to buy some more for running though soon!

Scoop: OK, we’ll get serious for a moment.  What advice do you have for someone who is just getting starting as a blogger?

 Baker: This is a big question, but I’ll make it as quick as possible.  First, find a topic that you are so passionate about that you feel like you could write for 4 hours a day for the next 5-10 years. This is the MOST important step.  Doesn’t matter what the topic is …  you can make it work if you are passionate on this level.

Next, write compelling content not just average content.  Too many bloggers think they have to post everyday, 3 times a week, or 3 times a day.  There is no prescription.  Only write as often as you can consistently be compelling, sometimes this is 3 times a month, in rare cases in can be twice a day.

Lastly, network UP.  Pick out the big guys and go after them.  Support their “pet” projects, buy their products and do reviews, respond to them on Twitter.  Once you’ve established a small connection, reach out to them in e-mail.  Send them a fully written, editing, and pre-linked post that you’ve researched and know their audience will like.  Aim high, don’t spend time guest posting on blogs with the same influence as you.

Oh, and cross your fingers and hope to get lucky…  You’ll need a bit of that too.

Scoop: OK, one final question.  If this is New Zealand, what did they do with the old Zealand?

Baker: It’s in name Heaven beside its friends York and Hampshire.


Baker is a long time friend of The Soap Boxers.  Be sure to check out his blog at

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