Great blog posts don’t matter…

…if people don’t read them. As the saying goes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Don’t count on readers for your financial advice or investment services blog posts to come to your blog. Grow your audience by making your content available the way your readers prefer.

A client recently reinforced this lesson for me. She said, “Susan, I love those links you post on LinkedIn!” I was surprised. This client had declined my offer to send her my e-newsletter, which is the main way my clients read my blog posts. However, my content developed greater appeal when delivered via LinkedIn, a way that suits her style. Linking to my blog posts in my LinkedIn status updates is a bigger success than I’d realized.

Here are some ways you can make your blog posts available to satisfy your readers’ preferences.

1. LinkedIn status updates. I explain how to post links in “Reader question: How can I share my investment commentary on LinkedIn?”

2. LinkedIn groups. If you’ve found a LinkedIn group that gets good traffic, then share your post there.

3. E-newsletter. An e-newsletter is a great way to package your blog posts for readers who’ll never visit a blog or use an RSS feed.

4. Other social media: Twitter, Facebook, and more. You can post links to your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites much as you would on LinkedIn. Of course, link-posting will reach a point of diminishing returns. Figure out which sites yield your best results, and then focus on them.

You may find that more of your prospects are on Facebook than Twitter or other social media sites.

5. Guest posts. Appearing as a guest on someone else’s blog is another way to get your content seen. While many blogs want original content for their guest spots, some don’t. You can learn more in “How to guest-blog on personal finance or investments, Part I: Your approach” and “Part II Blogs that accept posts from financial advisors.”

If you’re not using any of these methods, it’s time to re-think your approach to blogging.

E-newsletters: Great marketing tool for financial advisors and writers

E-newsletters are a great way to market yourself, as I’ll discuss on the WordCount Last Wednesday (#wclw) Twitter live chat on August 25 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern. You can get details on how to tune into my #wclw chat at

Learning from personal experience

My Investment Writing e-newsletter has brought me many new clients. Sometimes I get calls or emails within 24 hours of sending out a newsletter. Other times, it’s the steady drip of emails that brings my name to mind when a prospective client has a need I can meet.

The funny thing is that I didn’t set out to write a newsletter. I simply started writing a mass email to stay in touch with the great people I’d met at my last corporate job. I wanted to give them some useful content in addition to my rhapsodies about gardening and bicycling, so I started reporting on Boston Security Analysts Society events. To my surprise, my former colleagues told me they looked forward to my emails. A newsletter was born.

Services that help you format and manage your e-newsletter

If you create an e-newsletter, don’t try to distribute it using your regular e-mail or you might get tagged as a spammer. Now that my subscription base has grown, I pay $30 a month (fees start at $15/month) to for access to their website to manage the email lists, format my monthly newsletter and help me avoid the spam filter.  It’s easy to learn and the customer service is great.

If I were starting a newsletter today, I might start with MailChimp. It’s free for up to 500 subscribers. My financial advisor friends tell me it’s also social media-friendly.

Other options, which I’ve only heard of from friends and colleagues, include:

Most of the pay services will let you experiment with a free account before you commit. By the way, if you want to use Constant Contact, you can give my name as a referral sources, so you get a $30 credit once you become a paid subscriber. I’ll also get a $30 credit. However, I think you’ll probably want to start with MailChimp.

My top three posts if you’re new to newsletters

Stop! Get a better title, or forget winning readers

Would YOU eagerly read an article with the following title?

Gulf Oil Spill

Impact on State and Local Government

Analysis of original title: Not another oil spill story!

Thousands of articles about BP’s oil spill are fighting for your attention. “Not another oil spill story!” is probably the reaction of many readers who scan this title. The big problem: The title doesn’t say why you should read it.

Let’s look at the first paragraph to find a reason that you can highlight in a new title.

The Gulf Oil Spill will certainly have long-term repercussions for the fishing and tourism industries as well as the overall environment in the impact areas of the Gulf region. It is early in the disaster to fully evaluate the long-term effect on the states most at risk of contamination: Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama. We do not anticipate immediate negative credit implications at the state level for those in question, but feel concerns are more likely to materialize at the local level at this time. We are continuously monitoring developments in the Gulf and considering our credit exposure in these areas.

Aha! Now I get it. Look at the phrases above that I bolded. Readers of this wealth management firm’s newsletter should realize that the firm is looking out for the safety of their municipal bond portfolios. Too bad the title didn’t tell them that.

The introductory paragraph doesn’t help either. It starts with generic information that doesn’t relate directly to investments. Even worse, it buries the most important information in the paragraph’s second half.

Also, if readers aren’t fixed income geeks, they may not realize that “negative credit implications” translates into “possible bond downgrades that could trim the value of your municipal bond portfolio.”

Please stop here. Before you read any more, jot down a new title and first sentence for this article.

Looking for a better title

Here are some alternative titles.

  1. Will Your Municipal Bond Portfolio Spill Like BP’s Well?
  2. No Need to Worry Yet About the Oil Spill’s Impact on Your Bond Portfolio
  3. Assessing the Oil Spill’s Impact on Muni Bonds: The Three Most Important Factors

Which do you like best? Feel free to share your title ideas.

Related posts

Guest post: Five Tips for Delivering Bad News to Clients

Everyone struggles with delivering bad news to clients–and financial advisors have had to deliver plenty of bad news over the past couple years. 

That’s why I felt excited when I discovered that Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, the author of this guest post, can help advisors manage difficult communications with clients.

Five Tips for Delivering Bad News to Clients
By Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, LMHC, CPCC

Delivering bad news to your clients is not easy. It often stirs up uncomfortable emotions–for clients and for you. Learning how to deliver troubling news effectively in conversation and in writing newsletters is the key to maintaining good relationships with your clients in good times and bad. 

Here are five tips for delivering bad news more successfully: 

1. Sandwich the bad news. Use the following analogy to guide you. Think of bad news as the meat in a sandwich that’s surrounded by two pieces of bread and some dressing to make it taste better. Start the conversation with thoughts or facts about what is working in the markets, your company or  the client’s portfolio. Then share the bad news or the meat of the issue. Last, end the dialogue on a positive note. Clients are human. We all find difficult news more palatable when surrounded by some good delicious information.

2. Be direct. Advisors and wealth managers have a tendency to talk too much when sharing bad news with clients. This is often because being the messenger makes you feel uncomfortable emotions, such as anxiety, fear or worry. Talking more may help you feel better, but it confuses the client. So fight the urge to over-verbalize. Just be direct with the client about what is not going well.

3. Make the client feel his/her reaction is normal. A client will experience feelings after hearing bad news about their financial investments. Don’t fight this by trying to convince the client or yourself that there is no reason to feel bad. Instead, take a deep breath and validate that this news is hard to hear and hard to give, so the situation is emotionally difficult. It is surprising how validating a client’s feelings calms them down and strengthens the advisor-client relationship in the long run.

4. Don’t personalize the client’s reaction. Many well-meaning advisors feel overly responsible for the pain caused by the current economy.  It is okay, and even advisable, to have your own feelings, about the ups and downs in the market place. Just make sure you are not trying to control what is out of your control and taking on too much responsibility. Practice accepting your feelings and your client’s reactions without judgment. Only take responsibility for what is truly in your control.

5. Get support. The best way to survive the current economy is to get support from your friends, family and colleagues. Your job is challenging. You need a place to talk, vent and share your frustrations with others. Model this for your clients because this is a great lesson for all of us to learn. Sharing difficult news is never easy, but it is a little more tolerable when you are not alone.

Kathleen is founder and CEO of KBK Wealth Connection, a company passionate about helping financial services professionals and their clients master their money mindset through wealth psychology. She recently released a new audio program called Creating Wealth from the Inside Out.
Sign up for “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors starting on April 22 or for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Moldy websites hurt your SEO, but blogging can help

Your website needs regular infusions of fresh content to help potential clients find you.

That’s one of the lessons I took away from “Things that can hurt your website’s ranking” in The Boston Globe on Jan. 24. The author advised against “Building your website but letting it molder for months without updates,” if you’d like your website to show up in searches.  

If you blog regularly on your website, that counts as an update. The same thing applies if you add your regular newsletters to your site. If you blog somewhere other than your website, consider feeding your blog to your website, as I’ve done on my Investment Writing website. I also regularly add my monthly newsletter and occasionally update my portfolio of writing samples and other website pages.

By the way, while I couldn’t find a link to the website ranking article that I quote above, I believe it appeared as a sidebar to Scott Kirsner’s “In Web world, a successful marketing effort means gaining inside track on searches.”

What about YOU? Have you found that updating your website regularly has improved your online search rankings?
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
If you’re struggling to pump out a steady flow of good blog posts, check out my five-week teleclass for financial advisors, “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read,” and sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Poll: Which brings you the most new business–email or U.S. mail marketing?

Contact via email and U.S. mail can spur referrals and turn prospects into clients. Accordingly, this month’s poll asks which brings you the most new business–email or U.S. mail marketing? Please answer the poll in the right-hand column of this blog. Thank you! 

Also, if you have time, leave your comments about why you prefer one form of communication to the other. In addition, I’d enjoy hearing about what kind of communications you send. Newsletters? Sales letters? White papers? Invitations to in-person or virtual gatherings? It would be great to get a conversation going.

My monthly e-newsletter has brought me new clients. Sometimes new clients have called me within 24 hours of publication. Other times, they’ve sent an email inquiry as a reply to my newsletter. Perhaps U.S. mail marketing would work for me, but I haven’t done much with it because of the costs and additional steps required when compared to email.

Grab readers with an anecdotal lead

Starting your article or blog post with with a real-life story can draw in readers who’d otherwise ignore you. 

“The anecdotal approach, by framing [your topic] in personal terms, becomes instantly accessible and—more important—readable,” as Mark Ragan says in “How to write an anecdotal lead.”

To write good anecdotal leads, Ragan suggests that you 
1. Find some good stories.
2. Write your explanation of what the story is about before you write out the story. This will help you to pick the right story and focus it.
3. Start your article with a short anecdote, followed by a colorful quote, and then your explanation of the story’s main points. After that, you can dive into the body of your story.

Have you seen any examples of financial advisors making good use of anecdotal leads? I’d like to see them.

Guest post: "Can I replace my paper newsletter with an e-newsletter instead?"

Are you considering scrapping the newsletter you send via U.S. mail in favor of a newsletter delivered via email? If so, please read the guest post below by Tom Ahern of Ahern Communications, a specialist in fundraising, advocacy, and “persuasion” communications. It is excerpted with permission from his Love Thy Reader newsletter.

Ahern writes from the perspective of non-profit organizations seeking donations. But most of what he says applies equally well to investment and wealth managers seeking to retain existing clients and attract new ones through communications with clients, prospects, and referral sources.

Can I replace my paper newsletter with an e-newsletter instead?

This is the most commonly asked question at my workshops. My considered answer has stayed the same for the last five years: “Ummm…no. You really want both.”

A well-done paper newsletter can produce significant revenue. Witness the Gillette Children’s Foundation in Minnesota, which went from generating $5,000 per issue to $50,000 per issue just by changing a few things.

Understand, too, that paper and electrons are two very different media.

Paper is slow — the good kind of slow, the kind that’s made the “slow food” movement so popular among the health-conscious. Paper is a reader’s medium, a relaxing place where you, as the writer, have the elbowroom to tell stories, show terrific pictures and report results.

An emailed newsletter, on the other hand, is fast. It’s an ACT NOW! medium. Words are kept to a minimum.

In December 2008, Jeff Brooks shared with me some conclusions from his company’s ongoing research into e-newsletters.

“I had a hypothesis,” he wrote, “that e-newsletters were radically different from print newsletters. Not about story-telling,” Jeff clarified, “but about the actions you can take. We’ve tested that notion a couple of times, and so far, that’s proving to be true. It seems what works is to have one topic with 3 to 5 actions a reader can take, at least one of which is to give a gift, but the others aren’t.”

A fully firing communications schedule stays in touch with the donor base at a minimum once a month. Electronic newsletters help you satisfy that torrid pace. But if you pull the plug on paper and switch to utterly electronic, your donor income will almost certainly fall.

Here’s a tantalizing bit of confirming data from Convio, via Ted Hart: Donors you contact with BOTH email and conventional mail give $62 on average annually versus a $32 average gift for those donors whom you contact ONLY through postal mail.

In other words, it’s NOT an either/or situation, paper or electronic. It’s a BOTH situation: paper AND electronic, if you want to maximize results.

Of course, that assumes you are actually getting results.

If you aren’t currently making money with your paper newsletter, don’t expect to do any better with an e-newsletter. Really good donor newsletters are few and far between, in my experience. Most nonprofit newsletters sent to me for audits are unwittingly built to fail, due to a variety of unguessed fatal flaws.

Related posts:
* Should you drop subscribers who don’t open your e-newsletter?
* Boost readership of your e-newsletter with powerful subject lines
* Three tips for how often to publish your newsletter 

Three tips for how often to publish your newsletter

Newsletters are a great way to connect with your clients, prospects, and referral sources. But you may lose–or even alienate–readers if you communicate too often. If you don’t contact them often enough, they may not think of you at the right time.

In this blog post, I’m sharing my top three tips to help you decide how often to publish your newsletter.

1. Consider what your readers want 

How often do your readers want to hear from you? Poll them informally when you meet with them. If they’re frequent web surfers, you could conduct an online poll.

Weekly is too frequent, in my opinion, unless your audience is signing up for short market commentary or financial planning tips.
Monthly is the sweet spot for many newsletters. Especially if you’re targeting prospective clients and referral sources, it’s a gentle reminder of your existence. But it’s not so frequent that it’s obnoxious.
Quarterly works well for many financial advisors. Your newsletter can complement quarterly account statements or market commentary.

2. Don’t over-commit.

Come up with a publishing schedule you can stick to because there’s no sense in making promises you can’t keep. Your readers will begin to count on you if you communicate regularly. If you can’t stock to your commitment to publish, clients and prospects may wonder how committed you are to other aspects of your business.  

3. Offer choices.

If your company is robust enough to offer multiple publications at different intervals, let your readers choose how often they’ll hear from you. For example,  one advisor offered the option of receiving emails “for each new post, daily, weekly, or monthly. You can even choose to receive an e-mail for each new post AND weekly in order to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.” The advisor’s default was to send a weekly newsletter.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

My broken link to "Should you drop subscribers who don’t open your newsletter?"

Dear newsletter readers,

Here’s the link that wasn’t working in my August newsletter:
      “Should you drop subscribers who don’t open your newsletter?

I apologize for inconveniencing you. Thank you for bearing with me.