Blog like a mangrove

A mangrove thrives because its roots filter out salt from the water it takes in. I learned this at the San Miguelito archeological site that’s part of the Mayan museum in Cancun, Mexico. I suggest that you act as the “mangrove roots” of your blog.

Filter out the “salt”

Think about the misinformation and distractions that confront your clients and your blog readers every day. Your blog can filter out the destructive “salt” of bad information.

When you present only information that’s accurate and relevant, you’re helping your audience to thrive. Blogging like a mangrove’s roots filter salt is a worthy goal.

I recommend the Mayan museum

If you’re ever in Cancun, I highly recommend its Mayan museum at a cost of only about $5 per person.

Here are two photos I took there.

 

Top posts from 2020’s first quarter

Check out my top posts from the first quarter!

They’re a mix of practical tips on communication (#1, #5), writing (#2, #4) and grammar (#3).

#1 and #5, a guest post by Andy McMorrow, both discuss  how advisors can communicate effectively during a time of crisis like the current pandemic.

My posts that attracted the most views during 2020’s first quarter

  1. Financial communications during the coronavirus crisis
  2. How to achieve continuity in your writing
  3. MISTAKE MONDAY for January 27: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?
  4. Tips for managing author approvals—Managing author approvals can challenge the patience of financial writers and marketers. The process can be equally distressing for authors, if it’s not done well.
  5. Everything old is new again in advisor communications

Top posts from 2019’s fourth quarter

Check out my top posts from the fourth quarter!

They’re a mix of practical tips on writing (#1, #3, #4), blogging (#2), and grammar (#5).

I got a thrill out of Bryan Garner, the inspiration for the #1 post, retweeting it. He’s an expert on writing and proper usage of the English language.Bryan Garner tweet No brevity without substance

My #2 and #3 posts were included in Michael Kitces’ weekly round-ups of must-read articles for financial advisors, as I noted on my “In the News” page.

My posts that attracted the most views during 2019’s fourth quarter

  1. No brevity without substance, please
  2. Insecure about blogging? Write a letter
  3. Picture one person your work will help
  4. Avoid embarrassment by hiring knowledgeable writers
  5. MISTAKE MONDAY for October 28: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?

 

 

Insecure about blogging? Write a letter

Some people feel they shouldn’t blog. They hesitate because they don’t have novel topics, or they feel their writing isn’t good enough.

Letter exercise

If you’re hesitating, you might benefit from an exercise called “Exploring Self-Compassion Through Letter Writing” in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion; The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

As part of the exercise, Neff suggests you write a letter from the perspective of “an imaginary friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind, and compassionate. Imagine that this friend can see all your strengths and all your weaknesses, including the aspect of yourself you have just been thinking about.”

The next step is to “Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this imaginary friend—focusing on the perceived inadequacy you tend to judge yourself for.”

Your friend’s response to your letter

What would this friend say about your:

  • Writing skills
  • Blog topics
  • Other weaknesses and strengths

Here are some of the points this friend might make:

  • Writing is a skill that can be improved through study or working with an editor. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • It’s okay to discuss topics that others have already discussed. This is because they are perennial concerns of your prospects. You can use your insights and personality as discussed in “How to add personality and warmth to your writing” to make an impression on your readers.
  • Blogging can be a great way for advisers to clarify their thoughts on important topics, regardless of whether it brings new clients. It also improves your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) on topics you care about.
  • There may be fixes for other weaknesses that you perceive.

Sure, sometimes your imaginary friend will sometimes tell you to give up on blogging. For example, if you’re an incredibly busy advisor with a steady flow of new clients, and you’re a terrible writer, then don’t write.

However, in many cases, your friend will say “Please blog.” Listen to your friend.

 

Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I link only to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

Ask questions

This line in O magazine struck me as relevant to financial bloggers:

The wisest people have more questions than answers.

That’s according to wisdom researcher Monika Ardelt in “What Wise People Do Differently.”

Ask questions, even if you lack answers

Reading that line inspires me to suggest that bloggers ask more questions when they write. You don’t need to have all the answers.

If you’re a blogger who’s good at sparking online discussion, you might start an interesting discussion by asking, for example, whether it’s worth spending to attend an Ivy League college.

You could go beyond a one-line question to suggest some factors to consider. In the Ivy League example, those factors might include the income and savings of the college student’s family, the availability of financial aid, the strengths and weaknesses of the specific school the student is considering, and the student’s personality.

Questions to ask

Another article in the same issue of O, “Inquire within” (Jan. 2018, not available online), suggested some questions that I think might work for financial bloggers. For example,

  • Is there a day in your life you really regret? Is there a day you would like to revisit?
  • What is one lesson you would teach your children? How did you learn it?
  • Who is an important teacher in your life?
  • Is the life you’re living today aligned with the most important things you’ve learned?

These questions could easily be tilted toward financial topics.

You can’t answer these questions for your blog’s audience. In fact, it’s presumptuous of you to say that you can.

However, you can answer these questions for yourself in a blog post. That may help your readers find their answers. Their answers could help them to lead better lives.

Top posts from 2019’s third quarter

Check out my top posts from the third quarter!

They’re a mix of practical tips on newsletters (#1), communication (#2 ,#6), grammar (#3, #5), proofreading (#4), writing (#7, #9), and blogging (#8 & #10).

I’m only listing one Mistake Monday post, although more were among the most viewed, because one Mistake Monday post is much like the others. Check out my Mistake Monday posts if you’d like to improve your proofreading skills!

My posts that attracted the most views during 2019’s third quarter

  1. Are quarterly newsletters still useful?
  2. Prepare clients for market volatility
  3. MISTAKE MONDAY for July 8: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?
  4. My three main software tools for proofreading
  5. Contractions: Use or avoid in formal writing?
  6. Bad images hurt credibility
  7. More substitutions for economical writers
  8. Why should institutional investment managers blog?
  9. Buckle down to writing with a virtual stranger!
  10. Lemonade from lemons for your writing

 

 

Lemonade from lemons for your writing

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s a well-known expression attributed to writer Elbert Hubbard, as well as to writer Dale Carnegie and businessman Julius Rosenwald. As you know, it means that you should make the most of adversity. You can even turn it into an opportunity. You can apply this message to your blogging.

When you experience misfortune or troubles in a field relevant to your blog, write about it! I’ve done this many times, as in “Watch out for WordPress 5, especially if you compose in Word!

For example, did you make a mistake in paying off your student loans, preparing to buy a house, or judging your tolerance for investment risk? Those are topics that your prospects can relate to.

As I said in “Shakespeare lesson for bloggers,” sharing a story of your personal struggle can make your content more powerful.

Top posts from 2019’s second quarter

Check out my top posts from the second quarter!

They’re a mix of practical tips on compliance (#1, #6), writing (#2, #3, #5, #7, #8), proofreading (#4), grammar (#9), and newsletter (#10).

I’m only listing one Mistake Monday post, although more were among the most viewed, because one Mistake Monday post is much like the others. Check out my Mistake Monday posts if you’d like to improve your proofreading skills!

My posts that attracted the most views during 2019’s second quarter

  1. 6 tips to keep your compliance officers happy—This post drew on contributions from many of my colleagues in the fields of writing and marketing.
  2. Stay the same or evolve?
  3. Change your writing for the better
  4. MISTAKE MONDAY for May 6: Can YOU spot what’s wrong?
  5. Professional writers vs. amateur writers
  6. Marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance—This guest post was written in reaction to my compliance post in the #1 spot.
  7. Top posts from 2019’s first quarter
  8. Must you be inspired to write?—All of the respondents to the poll in this article said that they don’t need to be inspired to write. I suspect that most of them are professional writers or have writing as an important component of their jobs. Here are a couple of comments: “If I waited for inspiration, I might never meet a deadline!” and “I’m a content creator who has to write daily, whether I’m inspired or not.”
  9. Limit your use of the progressive tense
  10. Pick your e-newsletter sender name carefully

Why should institutional investment managers blog?

Why should institutional investment managers blog? And, what’s your best tip for those who blog?

Please answer my two-question survey.

I’d love to share the results of this survey with you, but to do that I’ll need to collect enough responses to make it interesting. Please participate and encourage your colleagues and friends to participate.

Watch out for WordPress 5, especially if you compose in Word!

Think carefully before you upgrade to WordPress 5. I upgraded, and I’m sorry I did.

The new interface is clunky. It takes a block approach to blog post composition. It also seems to make it impossible to copy-paste blog post drafts from Microsoft Word to WordPress. It lumped everything I copy-pasted into one ugly block. Both I and my more tech-savvy virtual assistant were frustrated by composing, copying, and editing in WordPress 5.

Restore old style with Classic Editor

Luckily, WordPress offers the Classic Editor plugin, which restores the editing functionality of WordPress 4. With the Classic Editor installed, you can use either the familiar Classic Editor or the clunky Block Editor. I imagine the Block Editor has some virtues, perhaps for visually-oriented posts.

Copy-pasting with Classic Editor

If you want to compose in Word, and then retain formatting when you copy-paste into WordPress, follow these steps:

  • Format your Word document using Word’s styles. For example, don’t bold headings. Instead, select the right heading from the style menu (see image below). I use Heading 2.
  • In your Word document, select all (Ctrl+A) and copy (Ctrl+C) the text of your document. However, don’t include the title, which you’ll need to type separately into your new post.
  • Open a new post in WordPress, click on the Visual tab, and then Ctrl+V to paste your Word document into the Visual editor. If you’re working on a post that you’ve already started, open it using the Classic Editor, and then press Ctrl+V in the Visual tab.

Good luck with WordPress 5!

I hope this tip spares you some of the pain that my assistant and I experienced with this so-called “upgrade.”