Editor's Note: This article is part of a popular Q & A format series in which we interview experts and industry professionals that have made significant contributions to the credit card industry.
One of the most interesting aspects of an interviewer's job is that every subject has something to teach. As an interviewer and consumer, I become most enthusiastic when I get the chance to speak to an interesting person and learn something useful at the same time.
That is precisely what happened when I discovered a new blog site called CreditMattersBlog.com and its creator, who asks to be known simply as Marcus.
The site was created to help people with varying degrees of financial expertise make good credit decisions. Not only does knowing about credit matter, but having "good credit" matters even more. So how do you know what good credit is and how can you achieve it? Those questions bring us back to what CreditMattersBlog.com is all about.
I caught up with Marcus and asked him some questions about his site and himself.
Mike: When was your site created and how did it come about?
Marcus: CreditMattersBlog.com officially launched in July 2008. I launched it because a lot of my friends kept asking me about credit. These friends knew that my scores were excellent and knew that I had a lot of available credit. Mostly, I think they just wanted to find out how I did it.
Realizing that I didn't want to be a personal tutor, I decided that it would be a lot easier to launch a blog. Want to know about credit utilization? See my blog. Want to know why it makes sense to diversify your card holdings? See my blog. Why does it make sense to pay in full each month? Again, see my blog…
The blog has freed up a lot of my time. I'm no longer fielding phone calls on a regular basis. I'm also not getting cornered at picnics and parties, either. It's nice to be able to tell these people, who I really want to help, that they can get all of my thoughts in one place: CreditMattersBlog.com.
That said, the blog has become a lot bigger than I ever thought it would be. I thought my audience would be small. I figured I wouldn't have to do much to maintain the site. Early on, that's exactly how it worked out. Now, of course, I find myself blogging throughout the day.
Mike: What is your background and how did you become so knowledgeable in this arena?
Marcus: My background is in financial journalism. In particular, I covered Wall Street as a reporter. After college, I got interested in the stock market. In particular, I was fascinated by mutual funds. The timing couldn't have been worse. We were right in the middle of a bear market (1994). Because the market was so tough, it forced me to learn as much as possible about the market before I started investing in it. I devoured as much information as I possibly could. Without getting into all of the details, I ultimately parlayed my financial knowledge into a journalism career. I met the right people and I was given a chance to break into the business. The rest is history.
As for my interest in credit, and how I gained so much knowledge, that's a funny story. About three years ago, I applied for a credit card and was denied. I remember one of the reasons for the denial was "balances too high for available credit". I immediately headed to Google-search for "credit, denial, high balances". That search led me to creditboards.com, a forum for credit information.
I determined my problem was utilization. I was about 65% utilized on all of my cards. If I wanted to increase my score, I needed to pay these balances down. My FICO scores soared after that. I went from roughly 650 to about 750 in no time. I vowed to never again carry balances. And I vowed to learn everything I possibly could about credit.
Since then, I have been on a mission to learn everything about the credit industry. My particular focus, of course, is the credit-card industry. It probably took me a year before I felt really confident about my knowledge. The Internet was my primary educational tool. I visited site after site, picking up pieces of information here and there. What you see today at CreditMattersBlog.com is all of the information that accumulated over the last several years.
Mike: You have a background in journalism and law. Where do you see your future taking you?
Marcus: I am in my final year of law school. I graduate in less than six months. My most immediate goal, after graduation, is to take and pass the California Bar. I already have a job lined up, so that's just one less thing to worry about. Beyond my legal career, I have little doubt that I will continue to write. It's in my blood. I couldn't imagine leaving journalism altogether. I think it's safe to say that you'll see me writing for some news publication in the future.
Finally, I do have plans to write a book on consumer credit. The trick is writing it in a way that makes it relevant for all time. Many books are obsolete when they hit the bookshelves. So, my task will be to write a book that is timeless. It's easier said than done. We'll see how it turns out. I won't start writing that book until sometime after August 2009.
Mike: Any final words?
Marcus: I'd love for people to come to my site so that I can educate them. But even if they don't, that's fine. The important thing is that they go somewhere to learn this stuff. As parting shot, I'd like to give a shout-out to all of my readers. The site wouldn't be what it is without your support. You're the best readers around.
Marcus obviously has a busy future ahead. His readers new and old can look forward to following him in his upcoming legal and literary pursuits.