Apart from ‘Money Saving Expert’, when asked, it’s becoming quite tough to define what I do. While the core route and skill is journalism, more specifically it’s specialised investigation into consumer finance product and campaigning journalism. As this site has grown over the last four years, I think I need to look at its definition; less of an arcane point of navel gazing; but more deliberately so users of the site can understand what the beast they’re looking at is and what I do.
MoneySavingExpert.com is now massive; the stats show more than one in 10 UK adult webusers use it each month. In scale, for UK users, it’s not far from Lastminute.com and Friendsreunited. The impact has also been huge too, with hopefully millions saving cash, getting better deals, and millions more reclaiming things like bank charges, mortgage fees and council tax. And for me personally too, it’s been life changing. While I’m not quite Richard Branson, it’s meant I earn more money now than I’d ever envisaged; and on that scale can compete with City folk or top media performers.
Yet this site’s aim, as it’s always been, is to help put more money in consumers’ pockets; battle debt and cut through corporate marketing. So how is it, and am I, categorised? Having searched for definitions, the nearest I’ve come to is social entrepreneurship.
What is a social entrepreneur?
Wikipedia defines a social entrepreneur as follows: “A social entrepreneur is someone who recognises a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organise, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, social entrepreneurs assess their success in terms of the impact they have on society. While social entrepreneurs often work through nonprofits and citizen groups, many work in the private and governmental sectors.”
This site is very much in the private sector; and whilst I didn’t envisage that when I set it up, I’m glad of it. Originally I was on my own and the site had no way to generate revenue, but then the server costs got too big for me and I had to come up with a way to raise money which didn’t compromise the site’s integrity. A much bigger version of that system of ‘affiliate linking’ where possible to top products, is still what funds the site (see how this site is financed for an explanation).
Yet that’s not a problem, the scale means we can do so much more. I deliberately use the term ‘we’ as these days there are 14 full time members of the team; both in technical, administrative and editorial groups and the overall site annual cost base including staff, servers, technical, legal, professional and more is now very substantial.
Yet thankfully it’s produced results, the scale means the main articles are now constantly updated; my new push is to fund the building of lots of free tools which will help people; e.g. the Travel Money Maximiser, Premium Bond Calculator plus to come are a big upgrade to the FlightChecker, loads of new calculators, the new Demotivator (all will be revealed!), a VoipChecker and more. Plus of course there’s the charity fund which is booming. There’s nearly £170,000 so far in the last year, much of it waiting to go to the new site charity and it’s enabled me to put £50,000 towards the Bank Charges Fighting Fund.
So overall I don’t think the term ‘social entrepreneur’ is unreasonable. As such I’ve decided to add it into the how this site is financed article. Changing the existing sentence:
“I don’t want to hide the fact the site is a very substantial part of my income; and I make an extremely good living. In fact I’d love it to make me a billionaire, providing it never compromises my ethics and recommendations or cost any users a penny!”
“I don’t want to hide the fact the site is a very substantial part of my income; and I make an extremely good living. I consider what I’m doing to be ‘social entrepreneurship’ and while the prime purpose is benefiting consumers, at the same time, without compromising that, I hope the site makes very decent money, like any business. In fact I’d love it to make me a billionaire, providing it never compromises my ethics and recommendations or cost any users a penny!”
What do you think?