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

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

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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.”

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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

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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.

 

 

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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

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

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How to live-tweet a financial conference

Tuesday, May. 27th 2014

Live-tweeting a financial conference—tweeting as you attend the sessions—can reward you as well as the conference organizers and speakers. Do it right to maximize your benefits.

Why live-tweet?

Live-tweeting offers both personal and professional benefits.

Personally, I find that I listen better when I take notes on a presentation. Live-tweeting is a form of note-taking, but other people get to benefit from seeing what you write.

Live-tweeting can also build your social media influence. The week that I live-tweeted the CFA’s 2013 wealth management conference, I noticed a jump in my e-newsletter subscribers, in addition to an increase in Twitter followers.

Before you start

1. Find out the conference hashtag before you start live-tweeting the event.

A hashtag is a kind of abbreviation that starts with the # sign. For example, the hashtag for that CFA Institute Wealth Management conference was #CFAWM13.

Here’s a sample tweet:

#CFAWM tweet

The hashtag is important because it helps conference followers find your tweets.

2. Pick your Twitter tool.

I like TweetChat because once I enter the conference hashtag, it automatically creates a list of tweets bearing the hashtag and attaches the hashtag. This is more efficient than working directly in Twitter.

Some live-tweeters prefer to stick to their usual means of filtering and communicating in Twitter. For example, in HootSuite, which I use, or TweetDeck you can set up a column devoted to specific hashtag. However, I’m not aware of how you can automatically generate a hashtag when you tweet in Hootsuite.

I prefer TweetChat because it saves me time when compared with HootSuite.

3. Have the speakers’ names and bios handy. This will help you to tweet these details accurately. I was once very embarrassed by sending a tweet that misnamed the speaker.

Compose your tweets.

1. Name the conference. When your first tweet names the conference along with its hashtag, you put your tweets in context for readers who aren’t attending the conference. For example, I might tweet, “CFA Wealth Management conference starting now #CFAWM13”

2. Tweet “sound bites.” You can’t build a complete argument on Twitter, so it’s best to write the Twitter equivalent of “sound bites”—short statements that stand on their own. For example, share an interesting fact or provocative opinion expressed by a speaker. You can also ask a question or express your own opinion about a conference topic. Another popular technique: tweeting a helpful website mentioned at a conference.

2. Identify the speaker. Readers want to know who said what. Sharing the name, title, and company affiliation of your information source provides context and credibility. It’s easy to incorporate this in an article or blog post; it’s challenging within the 140 characters offered by Twitter.

One shortcut: use the speaker’s Twitter name. For example, if I attribute a statement to @michaelkitces, I save one character over “Michael Kitces” and, more importantly you can click on Michael’s Twitter name to read his Twitter bio. You can even explore his credentials further by clicking on the website within his Twitter bio.

If there’s no Twitter name available, I try to give the speaker’s full name and company affiliation in my first tweet. After that, I may save space by referring to the speaker by last name only.

3. Save space with colons and paraphrasing. Instead of tweeting “…, says Patterson,” you can tweet “Patterson:…” Sometimes the few spaces you save can keep you under Twitter’s 140-character limit. Keep your statement short enough for others to easily retweet, or free up space that’s better used explaining an idea.

Similarly, you can shorten your character count by paraphrasing—restating in your own words—what speakers might say in a wordier or more colorful manner.

Tweet selectively.

Don’t feel that you must tweet every session and every interesting fact. After all, you’re at the conference to learn. Constant typing may distract you from processing information.

Nervous about your typing skills? You can focus on retweeting other people’s conference tweets. This shows respect for other people’s content and may help you build relationships with them.

Bonus tip: Use photos.

Joanna Belbey photo suggestion for live-tweeting Thank you, Joanna Belbey, for this excellent suggestion, which I’m sharing with your permission!

 

 

Note: I updated this post on May 27, adding Joanna Belbey’s suggestion.

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

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

Top 3 Compliance Concerns When Writing Your Blog

Thursday, May. 22nd 2014

Compliance expert Cindi Hill very kindly reviewed the compliance section of my Financial Blogging book from the perspective of a registered investment advisor (RIA). I’m delighted to share her guest post on compliance and your blog. It seems to me that most of her advice also applies to other forms of advisor writing that might be considered marketing or advertising.

Top 3 Compliance Concerns When Writing Your Blog

By Cindi R. Hill

Let’s explore the compliance side of writing your blog. What are the things you should avoid or be concerned about when planning what you will write in your blog?

cindi hill1. Understand who will need to review your blog

Is it simply the chief compliance officer or will your blog post need to go through a complete review cycle? How much lead time is needed for the review? If you have something that includes breaking news, you don’t want it tied up in review for days. In some states, like Idaho, all advertising items are required to be reviewed and approved by the state prior to being published.

2. Learn the guidelines for discussing performance

If you discuss investment performance, you need to follow guidelines. There are disclosures that may be required as part of your blog footer, the text that runs immediately under the body of each post. Which guidelines and disclosures depends on if you are registered with the SEC, your state, or FINRA. Be aware of these before you start to write.

3. Use words carefully

When reviewing any advertising/marketing piece I look at the words used. Some I discourage from use are “no bias” or “no conflicts of interest.” Just because you are a fee-only advisor does not mean that you have no biases.

This leads me to other types of words you should avoid, starting with definitive descriptors like “all” or “will.” Use “may” when you are tempted to use “all.” On a similar note, the word “exact” in a blog will get my immediate attention.

Another type of word I suggest staying away from—adjectives. For example, “excellent” or “superior” when referring to returns. This may seem obvious, but I have had to remove them from a reviewed document in the past. Also “highly” as in highly experienced. Or another one: “ultra-low cost.” You get the picture.

Remember that your blog is an advertisement. Compliance around any advertisement applies to your blog. No testimonials. This prohibition appears to apply to non-investment advisory activities as well.

Cindi R. Hill, CFP®, IACCPTM of Hill Compliance Advisors provides comprehensive compliance services and solutions for the financial professional who is a Registered Financial Advisor (RIA). You can follow her blog at https://hilladvisors.wordpress.com.

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in blog, writing | 1 Comment »

Confessions of a lousy writer—and 6 tips for you

Tuesday, May. 20th 2014

I was a lousy writer. It’s true. I wince when I read selections from my Ph.D. thesis, Bureaucracy and Politics in the 1930s: The Career of Goto Fumio.

Goto Fumio

Goto Fumio, the subject of my Ph.D. thesis

Wordy sentences and examples of the passive tense abound. However, over the many years since I earned my doctorate from Harvard, I’ve revamped my style, using techniques that you, too, can adopt.

1. Get someone to edit you

It’s hard for most people to identify their writing’s weaknesses. That’s why it’s so valuable to have someone edit you. My writing improved the most in the 1990s, when I was a staff reporter for Dalbar’s Mutual Fund Market News (now Money Management Executive). I had the luxury of being edited by professionals. If you work with a professional editor, look for patterns in the changes they make to your text. If certain corrections or changes occur repeatedly, you can create a checklist that you can apply yourself to future drafts. You’ll find a sample checklist, the “Blog Post Review Checklist” in my book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

If a professional editor isn’t in your budget, consider asking colleagues, family members, friends, or even clients for feedback. Members of your target audience can help you assess whether your content appeals to them.

2. Take writing classes

Take a writing class—any kind of writing class. I’ve never taken a journalism or financial writing class. However, I’ve taken many adult education classes on writing essays, memoir, and even poetry in the adult ed programs of Boston, Cambridge, and Newton, Mass. These classes helped me learn how to organize my writing, write more economically, and use words with greater power. You might wonder at my inclusion of poetry on my list, but those classes remind me of how important each word is in my writing.

You may be able to find business writing classes, especially if you look at a local college that offers business administration classes. On June 26, 2014, I’ll lead a webinar on “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read,” shortly after presenting on that topic to the Boston Security Analysts Society on June 17. I have taught “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: Class for Financial Advisors” in addition to presentations on investment commentary, email, and other topics.

The rise of online instruction means that you should be able to find a class no matter where you live.

3. Write a lot

The more you write, the better you’ll become, especially if you get your writing critiqued. One benefit of blogging is that it gives you an incentive to write and publish frequently.

4. Read and analyze other people’s writing

When you read and enjoy other people’s work, take the time to figure out what you like about it. Is it their catchy titles and headings? The way they hit their readers’ hot spots? Their streamlined prose?

You can also learn from analyzing pieces that you dislike. These examples can yield a “don’t” list for you. Avoiding terrible mistakes is worthwhile.

Classes, which I mentioned above, are one way to get practice critiquing other people’s work constructively. Another way is to join a writing group, where members take turns giving and receiving feedback. My book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients  came from my creative writing group. I don’t know how I would have finished my book without group members’ encouragement and feedback. Plus, I found my book’s project manager in the group.

5. Read about writing

While learning by doing is most powerful, you can also learn by reading about writing techniques. I recommend books on this blog. I also blog about techniques. While my monthly newsletter usually includes a writing tip, you may also enjoy my “Weekly Tip,” which includes just one communications or marketing tip from my archives. You can subscribe or adjust your subscription settings. In addition, you will find step-by-step instructions for writing blog posts in my Financial Blogging book.

6. Experiment

Take risks. Experiment with writing using techniques and formats you’ve never used before. You’re bound to learn something from the results.

What else works?

If you can suggest additional techniques for improving people’s writing, I’d love to hear from you.

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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

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

Blogging Q&A with advisor Lazetta Rainey Braxton

Thursday, May. 15th 2014

Lazetta Rainey Braxton’s plainspoken style makes her writing very appealing. She notes that writing about basic financial planning topics has “attracted DIY clients who are ready to deepen their financial planning efforts.” Her blogging experience also shows the value of sharing your content in different places, including distribution through the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council and an e-newsletter. Lazetta is the founder and CEO of Financial Fountains in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m delighted to share her insights in this Q&A, the latest in a series on this blog that started with Michael Kitces.

Lazetta Rainey Braxton HeadshotQ. When did you start your blog?

A. Your Financial Haven was launched December 2010 to encourage individuals to build their own financial haven in the midst of changing economic conditions. The blog’s mission is to offer a safe space for individuals to read, reflect, and respond in their own way to financial issues affecting their lives. The content focuses on enhancing knowledge and providing reassurance as individuals strengthen their financial position and move closer to reaching their goals.

Q. How long have you been publishing with CNBC as part of their Digital FA Council? I saw one of your posts on NBR.com. Does everything from CNBC.com get republished on NBR.com?

A. The CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council is the brainchild of CNBC Digital’s senior editor at large Jim Pavia (former editorial director at Investment News). In October 2013, Jim invited 20 financial advisors to assist with providing CNBC Digital content related to long-term financial planning. Blogs written by Council members are posted on CNBC.com’s Financial Advisor Hub. CNBC Digital recently launched a digital newsletter, Your Wealth, that will also feature the Council’s blogs. As a member of the Council, I have been granted permission to share my CNBC postings in our firm’s newsletters, noting permission granted by CNBC Digital.

CNBC’s cross-platform initiative encourages content sharing among CNBC’s media partners. NBR.com elected to post my blog “Financial Planning: Not just for Uber-Rich” on its website. On a related note, Andrew Osterland’s CNBC Digital interview with me, which discussed budgeting, was republished by USAToday.com. Postings in various media outlets are certainly a great bonus!

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

A. I started using MailChimp in November 2013 to increase the readership of my firm’s blog among prospective and current clients. The CNBC.com budgeting article was published in my firm’s January 2014 Your Financial Haven newsletter. This newsletter generated great excitement among my clients and friends. The partnership with CNBC Digital enhanced my credibility as a financial planner and gave my clients and friends bragging rights in a new way. I did experience new referrals from clients and friends since my first CNBC.com newsletter posting.

NBR.com shows the number of times an article is shared via social media channels. At this time, CNBC.com does not have this feature. The Council does not receive data regarding how many readers viewed the site.

Given CNBC Digital’s viewership, this opportunity rekindled my commitment to blog more frequently. Prior to this invitation, my blog postings were quite sporadic. Now, my goal is to write a monthly post to garner new and nourish the existing interest and referral momentum of readers.

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

A. Writing about topics that are on the minds of my target clients has been a good strategy. I often direct prospective and new clients to blog postings to support the framework for their financial planning concerns. Core financial planning topics such as budgeting and saving, combining household finances, preparing for college expenses, retirement planning, small business planning, and working with a financial planner have attracted DIY clients who are ready to deepen their financial planning efforts. On several occasions, my firm represents a client’s first experience with working with a financial planner.

Q. What are three of your favorite—or most effective—blog posts? Provide the titles, URLs and a comment about why you included them.

I have a great appreciation for blogs with technical content written in layman’s terms. I am most excited about financial planning blogs which combine the heart and mind from a practical perspective.

Financial Advisors: Differentiate Yourself By Being Yourself: This is a post by Tim Maurer. His overall approach to financial planning is very refreshing. He defies industry norms. This particular blog post helps me stay true to my holistic view of financial planning.

Financial planning: Not just for uber-rich: This blog posting gave me an opportunity to express in a subtle way why I became a financial planner. Coming from a very modest background, my life’s desire is to help elevate financial wellness and literacy among underserved and underrepresented populations. These overlooked and misunderstood populations often have favorable income and access to significant resources. I truly believe that “Everyone should have confidence in their finances and a financial plan that can help them live a comfortable life. So I ask: Why not you?”

What is Your Relationship with Your Investments?: Zaneilia Harris’ blog, Finance ‘N Stilettos, does a great job with reaching her target audience. This posting clearly defines the benefits of long-term investing in a very practical way.

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

A. Know your writing style and be consistent. I find writing to be a slow birthing process; it takes a few days for me to formulate a good draft and a final version. I designate time each morning during a planned week for writing and editing. My blogger colleagues suggest having an editorial calendar and inviting other guest bloggers. These are great concepts that I intend to implement.

Blogging requires a consistent rhythm as expected by blog followers. It also requires creative spins on content that is easily accessible in a digital world. It is a task that does not necessarily offer immediate gratification in the form of viewer responses, particularly if you close comments due to compliance concerns. The process is easier if you truly enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes from the writing experience. This elevates the likelihood of consistent, thoughtful writing.

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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 »

Format your guest bloggers’ posts for maximum impact

Tuesday, May. 13th 2014

When you go to the effort of snaring a guest writer for your blog, especially when the person is an influential “catch,” please follow some simple formatting tips. These tips will improve your readers’ experience and boost your guest’s visibility. This will reflect well on you.

Tip 1: Introduce your guest

Don’t plunge directly into your guests’ posts without introducing them. Your readers won’t always recognize the name or expertise of your guest blogger, so explain it. If you have a personal connection with the blogger or a reason why you care about the topic, consider mentioning that too. This helps to put your brand on the post. As a courtesy, I usually run my introduction by my guest prior to publication to avoid inadvertently offending them or writing something inaccurate.

Tip 2: Set off your introduction

Visual cues make it easy for your readers to know where your introduction ends and the guest post starts. I use two techniques.Guest post format example

  • Italicizing my introduction as you can see in the example to the right
  • Inserting a title and the author’s name in the centered type above the guest post

Tip 3: Add a headshot photo and brief bio

Displaying a guest author’s headshot photo on your blog sends a powerful visual message. It’s quickly evident that someone other than the blog’s host is taking center stage. I suggest a headshot photo because that’s what your guests are most likely to have taken by a professional. A polished appearance will enhance the credibility of their information.

A brief bio also helps your readers to appreciate the value offered by your guest author. I usually limit bios to two sentences, with up to two links to the expert’s website, blog or social media sites.

When you are the guest

Read “Simple tip for boosting your guest posts’ effectiveness” to get my take on the issue when you’re the guest.

May 13, 2014 update: I updated this post by adding another thought to Tip 1.

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Three Decisions You Need to Make Before Setting Up Your New Blog

Thursday, May. 8th 2014

Elizabeth Kricfalusi’s Tech for Luddites blog makes technical topics easy for me to understand. She’s also a friend with whom I share a fondness for squirrels and Japan, where we both lived. I’m delighted that her guest post advises you on some of the first decisions you’ll make when you set up your blog. I think her recommendation of WordPress above all other blogging platforms may be controversial for some readers. She and I welcome your comments.

Three Decisions You Need to Make Before Setting Up Your New Blog

By Elizabeth Kricfalusi

Publishing a blog is a great way to strengthen your relationship with current clients and demonstrate the value you can provide to Elizabeth Kricfalusiprospects. Fortunately, producing a professional, well-designed blog these days is almost as easy as producing a Microsoft Word document.

However, there are some key decisions you need to make before you begin writing any posts to make sure you get the most bang for your blogging buck.

1. What blogging platform should I use?

This one doesn’t really require a decision because if you’re starting a blog today, you should use WordPress. It’s not that the other platforms—TypePad, Blogger, Tumblr—have anything wrong with them. But WordPress has become the gold standard, for good reason. It’s free, easy to use, and highly customizable and, even more important to my mind, there’s a huge community of WordPress users, designers, and developers offering tools and resources that you can use to make your blog exactly what you want.

2. Should I use WordPress.com or host my own site?

There are two “flavors” of WordPress:

WordPress.com is a free service where the application is completely managed by a third party, making it an excellent choice for people who only need basic blog features.  The service comes with some limitations—for example, you can’t install third-party plugins, modify the code, or put ads on your site. (Some options are available for an additional cost.)

A self-hosted WordPress blog requires you to purchase your own web hosting service where you can install the WordPress files and manage them on your own. You may have heard this referred to as a  WordPress.org blog because that’s where you get the files you need. (The files are free.)

The advantage of a self-hosted site over the free service is that you have complete control over what you do with it. There’s a larger inventory of themes to choose from and you can modify the back-end code to further customize your blog’s appearance. There are also thousands of plugins available for additional user-facing and administrative functionality (e.g. stock quotes, social media integration, search engine optimization).

Some people like to start with WordPress.com so they can try out the main WordPress features before investing time and money into building a self-hosted blog. If you do this, be aware that while you can import blog posts and other content from WordPress.com, you will need to make some manual adjustments to make your new blog look and act like your old one.

3. What should I choose for my domain name?

If you go with a self-hosted blog, you must have your own domain name (e.g., investmentwriting.com, techforluddites.com). If you use WordPress.com for your blog, by default you’ll be given a subdomain of wordpress.com (e.g. techforluddites.wordpress.com) but you can purchase an upgrade so you can use your own domain. I strongly recommend this; using a subdomain reduces the perception of your blog’s professionalism.

There are a few things to think about when choosing your domain name:

  • Choose a “.com” name only. I’ve been known to tell people who were starting a new business that if they couldn’t get the .com for their business name, change the name. This isn’t always possible, of course, but going with .net or .co is not the answer—people expect and remember .com. If you want to use your own name but it’s already taken, try a version with your middle initial or with extra descriptive words (e.g. janesmithassetmanager.com).
  • Don’t use hyphens or underscores. Again, people won’t remember these. Domain names are not case sensitive, so if you’re publishing your domain name somewhere, you can use capital letters to make it easier to read (e.g. JaneSmithAssetManager.com).
  • Purchase variations. Does your name have a common misspelling? Buy that domain and forward it to your site. If the domain is long, purchase a shorter version for situations where you’re limited by character counts (e.g. jsassetmgr). If you’re located outside of the U.S., buy the domain with your country’s extension as well (e.g. janesmithassetmanager.ca).

Note: You can either purchase your domain name when you buy your hosting (or sign up for WordPress.com) or you can buy it through a different registrar and map it to your blog. In either case, I recommend you also purchase domain privacy protection, which prevents your personal contact information from being listed in the publicly available Whois directory of domains.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at elizabeth@techforluddites.com. Enjoy your new blog!

A technology writer, educator, and consultant, Elizabeth Kricfalusi publishes the blog Tech for Luddites, providing tips and tricks for working with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft Office and other popular applications. Elizabeth offers a variety of services to help set up and manage a WordPress blog or website.

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

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