Twitter power user’s tip: Share your Twitter name as live link

Monday, Jun. 9th 2014

In less than 60 seconds you can supercharge the impact of sharing your Twitter name. Just follow my advice. Turn your Twitter name into a live link. You’ll pick up more followers faster.

Don’t do this

I was reminded of this issue when some colleagues shared their Twitter names as comments on a Facebook post. They shared their names in plain text. Like this: @susanweiner. In order to follow @susanweiner, any readers would need to copy-paste the name into Twitter to search on it, or manually type https://twitter.com/susanweiner. That takes time and effort.

Twitter name—share it like this

To make it more likely that people would follow me—and to make things easier for potential followers—I added a link to my Twitter page to the Facebook comment. It looked like this image:

Twitter name live link on Facebook

When possible, share your Twitter name as a live link. Like this: @susanweiner.

You’ll gain more followers and they’ll appreciate your making things easy for them.

YOUR Twitter tips?

Do you have tips for adding Twitter followers in a non-spammy way? Please share.

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in social media | 2 Comments »

3 ways to add word images to your social media

Sunday, Jun. 8th 2014

I’m a word lover, but even I have to admit that images can punch up your written communications. I’ve written earlier about using photos, but sometimes word-based images can do the trick. Here are three techniques I’ve used to generate them, starting with the most sophisticated. But I’m no techno-geek. If I can use these techniques, so can you.

Is it worth your time to create and use images? “Content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without,” according to “A Complete Guide to Visual Content: The Science, Tools and Strategy of Creating Killer Images,” which appeared on BufferApp.com’s blog. This is increasingly true even on social media such as Twitter. Sometimes those images can feature words.

1. Canva.com for images

Canva.com is a website for creating images at no cost to you in its most basic form. It’s not your only option for doing this, but “The Art of the Perfect Post,” a webinar delivered by Guy Kawasaki, Canva’s chief evangelist, convinced me that it might be simple enough for me to use. He positioned it as much easier than PhotoShop and similar programs.

To create an image in Canva, you click and drag the elements of background, text, and images. Canva provides some ready-made layouts for you. Some backgrounds are free; others cost $1. There is no cost to access Canva. I’m far from being a Canva pro, so I suggest you poke around the firm’s website to learn more.

Here are some images that I created using Canva.

Susan Weiner presents at NYSSA 20133Cs of investment commentary InvestmentWriting

One thing I wish I’d realized: Once you upload your images from Canva, they disappear from your Canva account. As a result, if I ever want to edit these images, I believe I’ll need to recreate them from scratch.

2. Wordle.net

Wordle is a website that generates “word clouds” showing the frequency of words that appear in text that you input. For example, here’s a Wordle word cloud that I used to illustrate my blog post on “Plain English and good writing.”

Wordle imageWordle image of Susan Weiner's MarketingProfs article about plain English and good writing

Wordle imageWordle image

3. Screenshots of text created by your word processor

You don’t always have to time to create something fancy. That’s when I take a screenshot of text that I’ve created in my word processing software.VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR For example, I created a text block to accompany my virtual book tour’s links, as in “Week 4 of the virtual book tour for Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.” It’s not pretty, but it’s better than nothing.

I use Microsoft Office’s Snipping Tool to capture the screenshots.

 Other tools?

If you have other tools that you recommend, please share.

 

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in social media | No Comments »

How to discuss index and portfolio returns: My case against synonyms for “return”

Saturday, Jun. 7th 2014

Hot buttonHow many ways can you say “returned” when writing about indexes and portfolios? This question seems to eat at many investment and marketing professionals in the asset management world.

I’m delighted that writers of market and portfolio performance commentary seek to make their writing more lively for their readers. I know that’s why they’re asking about synonyms for the verb “return.” However, they have hit one of my hot buttons. Please, please, please stop using gazillion synonyms for “return,” “rise,” and “fall” when you write dense paragraphs.

Why do I say this? When you read a dense paragraph or report with many return numbers, it becomes hard to absorb them if your brain also has to interpret the different words representing “return.” For example, you have to decide “Is ‘delivered’ positive or negative?” or you must recognize that 5% is positive when it follows “gained,” but negative when it follows “fell.” Sure, it’s not brain surgery. However, it slows your readers.

Please take the test below.

Which of the following is easier to understand?

If you’re skimming or reading in a hurry, like so many of us, which of the following sentences can you understand more quickly?

  1. The S&P 500 returned 2.9% vs. -1.3% for EAFE.
  2. The S&P 500 was up 2.9%, while EAFE was down 1.3%.

I am such a strong believer in #1, that I’m posting a poll where you can answer this question. Let’s see what people say. The poll offers a “comment” box if you’d like to opine on this topic.

My suggestions for return-heavy paragraphs

1. Stick with the verb “return.”

2. If you’re comparing two numbers, put the numbers close together for easier comprehension. In other words, “The S&P 500 returned 2.9% vs. -1.3% for EAFE” instead of “The S&P 500 returned 2.9% and EAFE returned -1.3%.

3. When reporting more than two returns, consider using a table or graph. It’s easier to scan data arranged neatly in columns than in a long, long sentence. You can still refer to the returns in your text, along with a suggestion to “See the table of index returns.”

4. Present returns in a logical order. For example, give all stock index returns first, followed by all bond index returns. Or, all U.S. index returns, followed by developed country and then emerging market returns.

When “return” synonyms are okay

I happiest to see synonyms for “return” when a paragraph is devoted to a single index. For example, “The S&P 500 soared 25% for these three reasons…”

A little variety is okay even when you’re discussing more than one index. Perhaps you start with plain old “returned” for one index and then use “soared” for the second index to add emphasis and personality. Just don’t throw too many synonyms at me or I’ll get cranky. More importantly, you’ll lose readers when they get bogged down in SynonymLand.

Don’t give up on colorful language

My rant against synonyms for “return” shouldn’t scare you away from using colorful language in other places. I’m generally a big fan of powerful verbs and language that shows your personality. I’m leery of synonyms only when they interfere with comprehension.

Note: Edited on June 10 for clarity.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in writing | No Comments »

Seven tips for slogging through blogging: Lessons from the Blogathon

Friday, Jun. 6th 2014

“How can I force myself to blog regularly?”

The investment and wealth managers in my blogging classes often ask this question. I grappled with this challenge during the 2010 Word Count Blogathon, for which I committed to post daily. And now I’m participating in the 2014 Blogathon. So this is a good time for me to share tips with you.

Tip 1: “Set it and forget it.” Most blogging platforms allow you to schedule blog posts in advance. This potentially lets you put your blog on auto-pilot when you’re busy. During the 2010 Blogathon I learned how to take automation one step further. I set HootSuite to tweet my blog posts without human intervention.

Tip 2: Blog when the spirit moves you, whether or not your schedule requires you to post. It’s much easier for me to blog when I’m in the mood. On a good day I can push out three or more blog posts. To help me write regardless of location, I always carry a spiral-bound notebook or pad of paper. It’s worthwhile jotting down blog ideas, not only full-fledged posts. It’s much easier to blog when you don’t face a blank PC screen or piece of paper.

Tip 3: Write posts that are “evergreen” or tied to a future event, so you’ll have material to post when you’re too busy to write. “Evergreen” articles aren’t time-sensitive. Like a pine tree, they don’t lose their attractiveness with the changing of the seasons.

When I participated in the May 2010 Blogathon, I scheduled a bunch of evergreens to run between May 16 and May 31, when I was distracted by attending the CFA Institute’s annual conference and going on vacation out West.

Blog posts tied to events such as the April 15 tax deadline or the August-September “back to school” season aren’t evergreen. But they can be written and scheduled long before a timely date for posting.

Tip 4: Keep it short. Short blog posts are okay. Just pick one point and explain it. This is how I dealt with Jeremy Grantham’s wide-ranging presentation to the CFA Institute’s annual conference. Having trouble writing economically about your topic? Slice it narrower.

Tip 5: React to online articles or blog posts. Notice when you have strong feelings upon reading something. Your passion makes it easier for you to jot down a quick blog post that links to the original article. Links spare you the need to describe the other author’s position in detail. However, it’s kind to your reader to briefly summarize what sparked your blog post.

Tip 6: Hire someone to type your blog posts if you dictate or write your drafts on paper. I drafted this post on a plane to Las Vegas. Later I scanned it for my virtual assistant to type. Or follow the suggestion that Bill Winterberg of the FPPad blog gives in the comments below.

Tip 7: Update and republish old blog posts. I originally published this post in 2010. However, with a few tweaks, it’s relevant again in 2014.

 

For more tips on blogging, check out my book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by website admin | in blog | 9 Comments »

Blogging Q&A with David Merkel of Aleph Blog

Thursday, Jun. 5th 2014

I met investment manager David Merkel when he contacted me about speaking to Baltimore’s CFA Society. I’ve noticed that his Aleph Blog posts frequently get picked up in investment blogs’ roundups, including Tadas Viskanta’s Abnormal Returns. Having met many people who blog in the hope of attracting clients, I was intrigued by David’s statement on his blog that “…though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it.” This is a good reminder that advisors blog for many reasons.

By the way, David was a wonderful host for my presentation earlier this year. He has also reviewed my book on his blog.

This Q&A is part of a series that started with Michael Kitces.

David MerkelQ. When did you start The Aleph Blog and why do you explicitly state that it’s separate from Aleph Investments?

A. I started Aleph Blog in February 2007 because I wanted to develop my own voice. I had written successfully at RealMoney.com for four years, and wanted to broaden my writings.

Aleph Blog is purely for the public good. That has been the goal from day one. There are many people that want a trustworthy investment advisor with talent. They contact me of their own desire.

Q. Has your blog brought you new business or improved your existing client relationships?

A. Yes, my blog has brought new business. Many of my clients came from reading what I wrote over the long-term. But I don’t sell my readers on my abilities. To do so is tawdry. I don’t like being sold to, so I don’t sell to my readers.

Q. What blogging techniques or topics have most helped your business or boosted your readership?

A. Can’t say. Aleph Blog is varied in what it writes about. I know this is a challenge for some readers, but I write about what I feel more strongly. I have a broad set of interests, so I may not be the best as far as marketing goes.

I have not tried to boost readership artificially. I’m not out for fame. I just try to produce good content, and let the readers do what they will. I do know that I have respect from most of the top bloggers.

Q. What are three of your favorite—or most effective—blog posts?

A. I have written many effective blog posts. I wait a year before I declare them to be such. You can read them here: http://alephblog.com/category/best-articles/

Q. What’s your best tip for advisors who blog?

A. Define your period over which you generate articles. You can generate a lot of little articles every day, or you can generate one significant article once a month. Or you can do something in-between. But be regular, or people will forget about you.

Second, write about what you feel most strongly. And if you don’t have a strong feeling, don’t write.

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in blog, financial advisor | No Comments »

20 topics for your financial blog

Wednesday, Jun. 4th 2014

If you feel frustrated by coming up with topics for your financial blog, the journalist’s five Ws and 1 H can help. Below I share a list of 20 topics inspired by the 5 Ws and 1 H.

As you brainstorm topics, think about how you can solve problems for members of your target audience. This will make your posts relevant to them. For help with this, read “WHAT PROBLEM does this blog post solve for them?

WHY

  • Why I blog—remember to focus on your readers as you write about yourself. I aimed for that in “Why I write for you.”
  • Why I manage money the way I do
  • Why I became financial planner or an investment manager
  • Why I changed your mind about a topic important to how I help clients
  • Why investors should pay less attention to financial news

WHO

  • Who can you trust with your money
  • Who should inherit your wealth

WHAT

  •  What do you want?—ask your readers what they’d like to learn about on your blog. I’ve written about how to do that in “Ask Questions to Generate Content That Pops,” my guest post on the Wired Advisor blog.
  • What is most important for the success of your investments or financial plan
  • What is the biggest risk to your financial success

WHEN

  • When should you retire or start collecting Social Security
  • When you’re ready to buy a house

WHERE

  • Where in the world should you invest
  • Where should you custody your assets

HOW

  • How to go broke—sometimes writing about what not to do can be powerful
  • How to pick a financial advisor or investment manager
  • How to pick a mutual fund or ETF
  • How to create a portfolio for the long run
  • How to deal with the stock market’s ups and downs
  • How to protect yourself against inflation

For more ideas about generating blog post topics…

…check out “Photo + Mind Map = Blog Inspiration.”

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in blog | 2 Comments »

What are your top challenges in writing investment commentary?

Tuesday, Jun. 3rd 2014

3Cs of investment commentary InvestmentWriting As I prepare to deliver three June presentations on “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read,” I’m thinking about how to help you beat your challenges.

Please help me to think about this topic by answering my brief survey about investment commentary. I invite you to identify your top challenges and share tips in the survey. If you prefer, you can share your ideas as comments on this post.

Your comments will inspire my teaching on this topic. An earlier, longer survey on my blog became the basis of “Ideal quarterly letters: Meaningful, specific, and short.”

Folks have already raised some interesting topics in discussions. For example:

  • How can I write commentary that’s original?
  • How can I discuss timely yet sensitive topics without offending people?
  • How can I write long-form commentary for an audience that’s suffering from ADD?

I’m planning to allow lots of time for Q&A in my June 26 webinar, “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read.” I’ll also take questions in my June 17 presentation to the Boston Security Analysts Society.

Early Bird pricing ends June 5

Register now to take advantage of Early Bird pricing on my June 26 webinar, which runs from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Eastern. If you’re not available at that time, you can register and watch the recording.

Visit the webinar’s web page for an overview of the program, testimonials, frequently asked questions, and more details.

Susan Weiner presents at NYSSA 2013

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in client communication | No Comments »

A case against writing outlines

Monday, Jun. 2nd 2014

I’m not a big fan of outlines. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation using outlines. Perhaps that’s partly why the process felt like such a struggle. Since then, I’ve shifted from outlining to mind mapping.

Here’s what Donald Murray, author of Writing to Deadline: The Author at WorkWriting to Deadline by Donald Murray says about outlines:

…I found that formal outlines were prisons that restricted thought and discovery. They imposed a conscious organization that suppressed the subconscious text where real writing is done.

Murray’s statement resonates with me. How about you?

If you’d like to learn more about mind mapping, you’ll find step-by-step instructions in Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. You can also find some information on this blog, including “Photo + Mind Map = Blog Inspiration.”

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in writing | No Comments »

Perennially popular posts and top posts from the fourth quarter 2013

Sunday, Jun. 1st 2014

Some posts are perennial favorites on my blog. You’ll find a partial list below, based on traffic in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Perennial favorites

Looking at the list, it Top Postsseems that most of their traffic comes from Google searches. “Ideal quarterly investment letters” is probably an exception because I share this post often.

  1. Poll: “Investable” or “investible”–which spelling is correct?
  2. Reader question: How can I become a freelance financial writer?
  3. Reader question: Writing resources for equity research analysts?
  4. Singular or plural–which is right for $5 million?
  5. Ideal quarterly investment letters: Meaningful, specific, and short <–This is one of my favorite posts
  6. Career strategies for wealth managers without a “book of business” <–I hope this post helps some job hunters
  7. Reader question: How can I ask clients to follow me to a new firm?

 

Fourth quarter 2013 top posts

Here’s a sampling of my most popular blog posts published during the fourth quarter of 2013. Yes, I know that was a long time ago. I’m just catching up.

  1. 6 lessons from my book writing experience <–Read this if you’re thinking about writing a book!
  2. Make an email sandwich for introverts
  3. Ammo for your plain-language battle with compliance
  4. Q&A with Michael Kitces of Nerd’s Eye View
  5. Q&A format for articles: Good or bad? <–This article attracted more eyeballs than is apparent from these statistics because it was also published on Ragan.com

It seems ironic that my blog post questioning the value of the Q&A is followed by the first in my Q&A series with advisors who blog. However, you’ll notice that I keep the Q&As short and I edit them. Readers’ response has been encouraging.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in blog | No Comments »

FPA Connect – a secret weapon to improve your writing?

Thursday, May. 29th 2014

"Woman Holding Katana Weapon" by marinThe Financial Planning Association of Colorado inspired this tip, as a result of my speaking there in April 2014. The tip? If you’re a Financial Planning Association member struggling to find plain language to explain a technical term, ask your colleagues on FPA Connect for help.

If you’re not an FPA member, tap other organizations or social networks.

Plain language is more powerful

As I’ve said earlier, “Simple language helps your readers, even when they understand technical terms.”

For less sophisticated readers, technical terms block their understanding of your message. You may lose them as soon as they see jargon.

Standard references may fall short

You have resources to help you restate complex terms in plain language. Sources like Investopedia, InvestorWords, and the Morningstar Investing Glossary.

However, sometimes those sources fall short. They may lack the terms you need. This is when asking others for help can save the day.

Ask your peers for help

“How can I handle a complex technical term like ____?” asked a participant in my Colorado FPA presentation on “Writing Effective Emails and Letters.” It was a tough one. I had no idea how to simplify it on the spot.

However, an audience member—I think it was Carol—chimed in with a plain language equivalent. When you’re stumped like this, you typically won’t be in a room of people who can help. However, it sounds as if FPA Connect, a private social media community for FPA members can fill that role for you.

During the announcement phase of the meeting, I’d heard Carol urge members to check out FPA Connect. Both she and Joe Clemens told stories of how FPA Connect had helped them find answers to questions that might have stumped them otherwise. I believe they posted their questions online, and then waited for responses to roll in. It sounds as if FPA Connect would be a great place to say, “How can I handle a complex technical term like ____?”

I’ve done something similar myself. I’ve posted technical terms in LinkedIn’s “Financial Writing/Marketing Communications” group, asking for help in identifying plain-language equivalents. It usually works.

Has this worked for you?

If this has worked for you, please share your experience in the “Comments” section. I enjoy learning from you.

Image courtesy of Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

______________________________________________________________________

Learn to write better! Hire Susan to critique your writing, or buy Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

 
Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This content may not be reposted without the author’s written permission.

Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in writing | No Comments »