How to Write Rockstar Content

Rockstar Finance is known for picking the very best and most unique content available in the money blogosphere. Have you ever wondered what it takes to write a Rockstar-quality post that’s perfect for a feature? We thought you might.

One of Rockstar’s former curators, Cait Flanders, gave an awesome presentation on this very topic at FinCon17. This post is a summary of that presentation with some additions and more specifics. There’s also a video version of this material available! We’ll link to it at the very bottom of this article.

Where Do We Look?

Before we get to what makes a post Rockstar quality, let’s cover where we look for potential candidates.

Here are our top sources:

1. Feeds in our Directory

The primary source for reviewing great posts is the Rockstar Finance feeds.

Admittedly this is a lot to review since the community posts 1,600+ blog posts each week!

So we cut through the list a bit by paying particular attention to the posts from our VIP partners (posts highlighted in blue).

2. Blog Share Monday

In the Rockstar Forums there’s a password protected blogger lounge. Every first and third Monday of each month the lounge offers a “Blog Share Monday” post where bloggers submit their best posts and then share the posts of all others through social media.

It’s a great place to see new content and share some good stuff. Going forward it will also be a place the Rockstar team looks to find feature content.

3. RSS Feeds

Yes, RSS is still alive, at least when we’re looking for great content.

We have hand-curated a list of a few hundred blogs that are known for writing great content on a regular basis.

These are generally well-established blogs, but there’s always an up-and-comer being added to the list.

4. Social Media

Rockstar is active on Facebook, but Twitter is our main social media source for finding great content.

In addition to the Rockstar Finance twitter account, we look at what pops up for the entire Rockstar team including Budgets are Sexy, Think Save Retire, and ESI Money.

5. Roundup Posts

Many bloggers do roundup posts and as we find them, we check them out.

It’s always great to see what other bloggers recommend as there are usually some gems there.

6. Submission Form

Finally, we have a Rockstar Finance submission form where anyone can submit content from any site they think deserves to be featured.

A key component of standing out from the crowd here is the final box: tell us why it’s awesome!

If the submitter can’t explain why the post is great, it’s likely we won’t see it either.

What Makes Great Rockstar Content?

Now that you know where we look for great content, here are the main criteria we use to select content:

1. Starts with an Interesting Title

Can you catch our attention from the get-go?

To do so, you need an intriguing title that stands out from the pack.

Here are some examples of titles from articles we like:

  • Keeping Up with the Mustachians
  • The Case Against Frugality
  • Are You Saving Like the Titanic?
  • The Rule of 300
  • I’m 38 Years Old and I’ve Never Had a Job
  • When Did We Decide Being “Good at Money” Meant Not Spending It?

Each of these is interesting, intriguing, unique, or compelling in its own right and makes us want to know more.

2. Includes Unique Content

Obviously content needs to be “unique” in that it needs to originate with the blogger.

But in addition the content needs to be unique from among all the other more common posts written by personal finance bloggers.

Here are some examples of unique content we look for:

  • An idea we’ve never heard of before — Or even an old idea explained in a new way
  • A personal story that is real / raw / honest — The more personal, the better!
  • A story that includes a lot of data / calculations — But the numbers have to make sense!
  • A helpful guide that is extremely detailed
  • Something purely entertaining and enjoyable to read

Here are some words that describe the sort of posts we favor:

  • Edgy
  • Feisty
  • Funny
  • Failure
  • Super helpful

In the end, we want to be surprised by something new, compelling, and unique. It’s this sort of content that Rockstar Finance readers love!

3. Must Be Easy to Read

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen “great” posts with a unique spin on a topic only to get into the weeds and find it was like reading mush.

That’s why we prefer content that’s easy-to-read.

In our opinion, here’s content that qualifies:

  • Easy to get to (pop-ups can be an issue)
  • Content broken up into short paragraphs
  • Callouts: quotes, stats, etc.
  • And it needs to make sense

And let’s not forget the basics like proper grammar and spelling. It should go without saying, but we’re saying it just to be clear.

4. Positive/Uplifting (vs. Negative)

We like content that builds others up, offers hope, or at least has a positive take/solution on an issue.

Sure, we all have written our own rants, but generally they aren’t the sort of thing we look for. Even “epic” rants, while entertaining, just aren’t our cup of tea.

What We Probably Won’t Share

Now let’s look at the sort of content we likely won’t share:

  • Too timely — While we might select one post on tax reform or Bitcoin performance, we can’t feature 20 of them as our readers want variety.
  • Too negative — As noted above, we like positive stuff.
  • Too niche/specific — If it’s a topic a small audience is interested in, then it won’t work for Rockstar.
  • Too many ads/links — One small pop-up and a reasonable amount of ads is fine, but if you have multiple pop-ups, an opt-in form that covers your entire homepage first screen, or an ad assortment that would put the Vegas strip to shame, the posts probably won’t be featured.
  • Too many curse words — The more curse words a post has, the less likely it is to be featured. We know that many people don’t mind curse words, but they are a no-no for us. So say it in words your grandmother would approve of or forget the Rockstar feature.
  • Too many grammatical/spelling errors — Here’s how many is too many: one. Ok, so we’re not that much of the Grammar Police, but if there are a handful of spelling and grammatical mistakes, a post is not for us.
  • Too political — I think we all know that half the country thinks one thing and the other half thinks another. Those two sides can duke it out on some other forum since Rockstar is a no-politics zone. It helps things be a bit friendlier around here. ;)
  • Too blog-focused — Remember, Rockstar Finance is a list of the best personal finance articles for readers around the world. One topic that’s not a personal finance subject: blogging. Sure, it may be your side hustle, but we’re not going to feature that post on how to start a blog, how to grow blog traffic, how to monetize a blog, or anything related. If you are interested in the subject, we will have posts about blogging in our bloggers category.

The “Rockstar Effect”

For those who have never had a Rockstar feature, let’s just say it can be a beautiful thing.

Depending on the various factors (including the popularity of the post) a Rockstar Finance feature can send 2,000 to 6,000 visitors to a site over the couple days after the feature.

That does not include the additional traffic from other shares all over the web.

Here are some quotes from those who have had this experience:

“Oh heavens. This is the moment. The moment you fall off your chair b/c something you wrote is on @rockstarfinance.” – Kate, @kateesmalley

“Every time I wake up to a @rockstarfinance feature, I want to eat cake for breakfast to celebrate! Thanks, friends!” – Maggie, @northernexpense

“It’s like Christmas morning when @rockstarfinance shares your articles! @BudgetsAreSexy is like the Santa of PF Blogging.” – Andy, @AndyHillMKM

“Holy smokes, J! The response has been amazing this morning. (I actually thought I was getting spammed! haha).” – Ryland, @thehiddengreen

“Rockstar featured the calculator and my site views jumped to 1,875. [But then it was picked up by] Business Insider, Lifehacker, Travel & Leisure…” – Frugal Fringe

“How did I increase my #personalfinanceblog pageview traffic by 5,200% overnight? Make friends with a rockstar @rockstarfinance.” – @TheLITB

“The Rockstar [effect] nearly matched my YTD traffic, doubled my email list, & got me a warning from my host. I call that a successful day!” – Ty, @GetRichQuickish

“Had to upgrade my tier of service after being featured on @rockstarfinance yesterday! :)” – Gwen, @FieryMillennial

Why We Do What We Do

It’s not only the traffic we can send to featured posts, but it’s the community that’s built around Rockstar Finance that keeps us doing what we do.

Some more quotes:

“Thanks so much for the Rockstar feature. It always feels like I am hosting a great housewarming party. They are my favorite days.” – Ms. Montana

“It’s been a year since the first time I experienced the Rockstar treatment. Thanks for being there to grow this community. I don’t think I would have kept this little project going for a whole year without the support.” – Tony

“Love the site, it’s introduced me to tons of great info and small blogs I never would have found otherwise!” – Rockstar Reader

Thank you for being part of the Rockstar Community.

Rock on!!!

P.S. If you’d like to see a video version of this material, check it out here to watch Steve, Rockstar’s Ops guy, give all the specifics.

P.P.S. Here’s a post from a guest curator that reinforces much of what’s above and also adds a unique and interesting perspective.

ESI is the owner of Rockstar Finance and writes at ESI Money, a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI).

He’s an early 50’s retiree who achieved financial independence, shares what’s worked for him, and details how others can implement those successes in their lives. He is also the author of a free ebook titled Three Steps to Financial Independence and spends a lot of his time interviewing millionaires.

Last modified: August 1, 2018

45 Responses to :
How to Write Rockstar Content

  1. Thanks for posting this John and I can’t say how much I appreciated being featured as a new blogger. It did wonders for my exposure but more importantly my confidence.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Rockstar Finance continue to move the community forward!

    1. Steve A. says:

      I can still remember the first time that I got Rockstar’ed. I’ll never forget that feeling.

    2. ESI says:

      You’re welcome.

      I still remember my first time as well. ;)

  2. Thanks for the tips John. Very appreciated. I gotta read through this again and again and study it like the bible :-)

    1. Steve A. says:

      The Rockstar Bible? I like that. :)

    2. ESI says:

      You are writing some good stuff — keep it up! ;)

  3. I’ve been “RockStar’d” 6 times, and I still get a tingle in my leg when I see my post on the Rockstar site and see that g-normous spike in views in the days following the award.

    The folks at Rockstar do a GREAT job of selecting only the BEST posts, and this gives a great outline for what you need to do as a blogger to stand out. There are a LOT of bloggers out there. As much as we all may think otherwise, none of us are really are really that special. To get Rockstar’d, you have to do something above and beyond. Great guidelines!

    1. Steve A. says:

      There’s a LOT of great content out there, but it’s definitely fun finding the best of the best. :)

  4. Until I started blogging, I did not realize how many bloggers are out there! Rockstar Finance has built up a great community! Thanks for sharing all the details!

    1. Steve A. says:

      Yup! The Directory alone shows just how many bloggers are out there that talk about personal finance. More than I thought too!

  5. Boom…there you have it…I have been a Rockstar 0 times but am working on getting to number one soon. I figure once you make it once then it ‘s gotta be easier…right?

    Thanks for the advisory. I Feel like this may be Rockstar material.

    1. J. Money says:

      woahh really?? I love your blog too – i’m sorry we’ve never featured you before!

    2. ESI says:

      Keep at it — we’re watching! ;)

  6. Thanks, John. Looking forward to all the improvements and having everyone benefit!!

  7. Mr. Tako says:

    I’ve been featured on R* a few times, but it’s nice to see a ‘guide’ on how to get featured like this! Very much appreciated!

  8. OMGF says:

    I was disqualified by the no cursing rule. If it makes a difference, my great grandma had a mouth like a sailor. Appreciate the peak behind the curtain.

    1. ESI says:

      Ha! That’s funny!

  9. OMGF says:

    And how embarrassing. I confused my homonyms. Peek, not peak.

  10. Money Beagle says:

    It took a long time for me to get my first and so far only feature. This is very helpful. Thanks and best of luck to all!

  11. Thanks for sharing this ESI. I just bookmarked it. I’ve had titles and quotes featured by Rockstar. Now I know how to pull it all together to get a post featured.

  12. I can totally attest to the rockstar effect. Anytime I’ve woken up to find that an article of mine has been featured, I’ve got a huge grin on my face the rest of the day and I find myself compulsively checking my stats to watch them continue to climb :)

    This guide is awesome – if you’re a new blogger you should definitely take all of this to heart; it’s not just good advice for getting on RSF – it’s good advice for creating good content period!

    1. J. Money says:

      Love hearing his, man :)

  13. I love the Rockstar effect, haha. Only got one feature so far but still happily posting away. :) Unfortunately I had little other content for folks to read when I was featured!

    First world problems I suppose.

  14. Caroline says:

    I have only been blogging for a few months and was wondering how post get selected so really appreciate you guys putting this together. I will cross my fingers and hope I get featured at some point … I want to feel the tingle in my leg… just like Fritz:))

  15. I saw Cait give the presentation in person. It was a packed house, and she delivered.

    Having been a fan of RSF for a couple years now, I had a pretty good idea of what the makings of a featured post were, but the importance of the title really stood out to me. A provocative title is worthless without quality content backing it up, but the title is the hook.

    Cheers! And thank you for featuring my work here on RSF!!
    -PoF

    1. J. Money says:

      Yup! The title is what gets us most excited! And usually if it doesn’t deliver 100% there’s at least something there worthy enough for the #scratch section :) But Rockstar aside, all these notes here are just better all around for your *own* audience. Which is really the point of it all… We just help amplify the message more for ya.

  16. Justin says:

    I agree. Thank you so much for this post. I have been at this for 1 year now and no features either… Time to target really awesome content for a feature.

    1. ESI Money says:

      Keep at it! Just focus on doing your best and rest assured that we’ll be reading and cheering you on!

  17. Andy Hill says:

    I was literally dancing around my house when I got my first RockStar feature. Thank you for doing this!

    You bring joy to the burned out blogger who’s been writing for a while and needs a good pat on the back.

  18. These are great guidelines–thanks so much for sharing them for those of us who missed Cait’s FinCon presentation. I agree that the article I had featured on Rockstar Finance definitely ticked a lot of those boxes–and compelling titles are something to work on! Thanks for all the work you guys do to share our content! :)

  19. Thank you for sharing this! I am pretty brand new to the personal finance blogging world, and I had no idea that so many like-minded individuals were out there! I look forward to reading the articles featured on Rockstar Finance, and hopefully one day I can produce pieces of work that are deemed worthy of this site!

  20. Thanks for sharing! really appreciate the detail.
    I’ll be doing my best for 2018!

  21. This is a great how-to guide! I’ll definitely be taking a closer look once the backlog of posts gets posted!

  22. Stock Street says:

    First time I got featured I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner. I didn’t even think I had data signal at the time since I was having a lot of trouble connecting to the internet and there was no WIFI. I looked down at my phone at one point and my WordPress showed me the most beautiful message, “Your stats are booming!”

    It was a great night and a great weekend for sure!

    Thanks for putting this together for us.

  23. I was Rockstar’d on Friday, March 23rd, 2018…I was checking my Google Analytics at 8AM EST before heading to work and noticed there were “29 Active Users” at the time when generally I would have maybe 2-6.

    My first thought was that I was being DDOS’d or hacked, so I change my password on the WordPress log-in. I had some major meetings that morning so I just hoped the next time I could check my phone my website wasn’t hijacked or showing some cryptic ransom message.

    Then the Rockstar email hit my inbox and I checked Twitter to see the new notifications. Brought a smile to my face and just motivated me to keep going.

    I appreciate everything ESI, Steve & everyone at Rockstar do.

    Thanks for this great outline.

    Cheers!
    Scott

  24. Thank you for writing this how-to guide!

    It helps to have it in writing to give me a bench mark to aim for and to surpass :)

    Keep on rockin’

  25. Gamemake says:

    Interesting blog.Perfect quality of look for rockstar. Beautiful effect for rockstar and various factors ans many years of experience is very useful part of rockstar.

  26. Dude our blog BLEW UP when Rockstar Finance featured us last month. This guide is SUPER helpful for bloggers hoping to get featured on the site. Plus always a great reminder for us to write quality content. lol =)

    Thanks for sharing!
    Andrew

  27. Getting featured on Rockstar was definitely one of the highlights of our time building Get Rich Brothers. The uptake was huge and immediate and we have many readers who have stuck with us ever since.

    Thanks again – always appreciated.

    Ryan

  28. JD says:

    Great Post, starting a sight can be overwhelming….Many neewbies struggle with the age old question of which comes first- Write quality content, or spend your time building a community? The answer is both. Kinda like last week when I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon, I wanted to see which would arrive first….. Amazon was messing with me, they put them in the same box ;-)

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