Specifically, I'm thinking to write a generic financial guide based on my own experiences. Personal finance, I think, is quite a sensitive topic.

I'm kind of anxious if people might view me as being a braggart for being "good" at my finances.

Do you have any tips for writing personal experience guides to not look like I'm bragging? Am I just overthinking?

3 Answers 3


Make sure to humanize yourself. You're on the right track by worrying about bragging: in addition to being unpalatable to most people, braggarts tend to reduce their own authority by the expression of it.

You can humanize yourself in several ways:

  • Don't just talk about what you learned, talk about the mistakes you made in getting there (this was my own mistake early on, when trying to keep my own mistakes hidden from my students). Then talk with other people and use their experiences to back up your own, lifting it out of mere anecdote and into the realm of common human experience.
  • You can also state an opinion and back it up with other authorities. In fact, mentioning other authorities, even those who may be in direct competition with you, can show that you play fair, and this is always admirable.
  • Lastly, leave your hard and fast financial rules for later in the chapters. If you start with rules, you risk early doubters abandoning your chapters early. On the other hand, building up to your rules can gradually build confidence in what you say.
  • One last way to humanize yourself is to write with frequency on your own website. By becoming someone whom others turn to for advice, you build authority via the voice of the crowd. And if there is one thing a crowd likes, it's the sound of its own voice.
  • 1
    I think humanizing yourself is crucial. The best way not to sound like a braggart is to… not brag. If you can bring up the series of mistakes that led you to stumble upon "the right way," your advice will resonate even more with readers who are encountering the same difficulties. Same goes with showing you didn't come up with an idea entirely on your own (you were inspired/guided by someone else with possibly more authority), etc.
    – user2686
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 20:18

I've read a number of such books recently, and I think there are two things that make the difference for me as a reader:

  • 1: Focus on the material, not on yourself.
  • 2: Make sure the advice is good.

If I read a book where the author focuses on him or herself and personal experiences, but doesn't offer much generalizable guidance, I experience it as a vanity project. On the other hand, if the book has a lot of practical, usable advice, and mentions the author's own experiences exclusively when they are of direct value to the reader, then I don't experience it as bragging at all.

tl;dr If you have to constantly remind the reader of your qualifications, you're probably doing it wrong.


I am answering as the author of "A Modern Approach to Graham and Dodd Investing."

I wrote about my own investing experiences, but linked it to a body of established theory the ("Graham and Dodd" approach of the 1930s). I then discussed how I updated the approach between its original (1934) version and my (2004) version, discussing trends and developments in the investment world in those 70 years.

You're probably talented, but if your ideas are sound, they are probably linked to some academic or practical theory. So discuss the original version of some established theory, your version of it, and explain why your version represents an improvement.

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