blog post formula

Blogging with James B. Stewart of The New York Times

Looking for ideas on how to structure your blog posts? Newspapers like The New York Times can provide inspiration, as I’ve found with many articles by Floyd Norris and with the column by James B. Stewart that I discuss in this post.

You can find a formula for introducing a blog post in Stewart’s “Why Russia Can’t Afford Another Cold War: Now It’s Part of the Global Economy.”

Stewart’s formula? “This, this, and this have happened. This may seem like X, but actually it’s Y.” This intrigues the readers by overturning their expectations.

Here’s the formula matched with Stewart’s content:

Thing #1: “Russian troops pour over a border.”

Thing #2: “An autocratic Russian leader blames the United States and unspecified ‘radicals and nationalists’ for meddling.”

Thing #3: “A puppet leader pledges fealty to Moscow.”

Mistaken perception: It’s no wonder the crisis in the Ukraine this week drew comparisons to Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 or that a chorus of pundits proclaimed the re-emergence of the Cold War.

Today’s reality: “But there’s at least one major difference between then and now: Moscow has a stock market.”

Stewart follows his discussion of people’s mistaken perceptions by introducing the key factor that distinguishes the situation this time. This sets up the article to discuss how his key factor, the stock market, made a difference this time. As the stock market plunged in reaction to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine, it limited the invader’s aggression.

It’s easy for me to imagine how you might apply this to a blog post about a specific investment strategy or asset class. You could list three facts about, say, small cap stocks. Then say “this may make you think these stocks are overvalued (or undervalued). But here’s why that’s not true.”

This format can persuade readers. Just think about all of the investors who bought into the “new paradigm” suggesting that tech stocks were not overvalued prior to the 1998 market correction. Those often followed the approach I described in the preceding paragraph. Please don’t throw out this formula because it led some investors astray. You can harness it for the powers of good.

If you’ve used this technique, please share examples below.