Well-exercised writers are better writers

Have you resolved to exercise more? With that in mind, I’ve updated this list of free and low-cost online exercise classes that I originally created during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am grateful to my writer friends who suggested these resources to me.

My current exercise favorites

My go-to website for low-impact cardio exercise is Team Body Project. The instructors are upbeat, they offer many different routines working on different body parts, and they seem to care about students doing their exercises right so the students will help—not hurt—themselves. I’m currently using the paid version of the website, but there is a free-with-registration version, and many of Team Body Project’s workouts appear on YouTube.

Through exercising on Zoom with friends, I’ve enjoyed Grow with Jo and Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home videos.

Exercise in general


  • Barre3—I really liked the first of this YouTube series, but the second video had lots of ads, which I found disruptive.

I pay for the version of Down Dog that includes yoga and barre.


Do any of you know of good free Iyengar yoga classes? I really miss the Iyengar classes that I took at my gym that went out of business a couple years ago.

Workouts for older adults

Workouts for kids

If you’re working at home, your work may benefit from keeping your kids well-exercised. Writer Cheryl Alkon told me about the BOKS Facebook page:

There is a program called BOKS that does exercise classes at school before school starts. I believe they are doing daily workouts on their Facebook page at noon. My nine-year-old daughter and I did one last week and it was effective—lots of squats and push-ups and running in place. We enjoyed it.

Additional resources

Well-exercised writers of the world, unite!

Please join me in striving to be a well-exercised writer! Exercising boosts my mood and helps me to focus on work. I hope it has positive effects for you, too.


Note: I updated this list in December 2022.



The image in the upper left is by Pexels from Pixabay.


Top posts from 2022’s second quarter

Check out my top posts from the second quarter!

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

My posts that attracted the most views during 2022’s second quarter:

  1. My five favorite reference books for writers—These books would be great additions to your library.
  2. “In order to” versus “to”—The results of my research into whether it’s ever necessary to write “in order to” instead of “to” surprised me.
  3. 10-minute boosts for your financial content marketing—You can accomplish a lot in as little as 10 minutes.
  4. ESG opinions can enliven your commentary
  5. Get angry to blog



How to write calendar dates in your financial communications

August 30 or August 30th—which is the best way to write the calendar date?

Major style guides prefer August 30. I like it, too, because there’s less visual clutter. August 30th becomes even uglier when Microsoft Word uses superscript to raise the “th.”

The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Although the day of the month is actually an ordinal (and so pronounced in speaking), the American practice is invariably to write it as a cardinal number: 18 April or April 18, not 18th April (the British preference) or April 18th.”

The Associated Press Stylebook agrees.

When you write out dates for a global audience, keep in mind that preferences vary about whether the date goes before or after the month.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FAQ: “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Lesson Writing Class for Financial Advisors”

Are you a financial professional, writer, or marketer with questions about whether “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Lesson Writing Class for Financial Advisors” will work for you?

You’ll find answers to common questions below. Do you have questions I haven’t answered below? Leave them as a comment or call me at 617-969-4509.

Q. Is this a webinar?

A. No, it’s a relatively low-tech approach. Students told me they enjoyed not being tied to their computer during the lecture part of the class. This reinforced my instinct to keep the technology simple.

Q. How are classes taught?

A. Each of the classes consists of a recorded audio file (.mp3 format) and a handout (.pdf or Word file) for you to print or view on-screen, complemented by homework assignments, discussion posted to a private website, and a weekly telephone conference call. You’ll download the files from the private website, and then review the lesson at your convenience. You will post your homework assignment and any questions to the private website. You will receive my feedback through the website.

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20 on Eventbrite

Q. What if I don’t see myself as a “financial advisor”? Can I still take your class?

A. I use the term “financial advisor” as shorthand for my target audience, which includes employees of investment, wealth management, and financial planning firms as well as the vendors who support them. You could be a marketer or writer, not just a financial professional.

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20 on Eventbrite

Q. I can’t commit to a class that meets at a specific time. Will you work around my schedule?

A. I’ve tweaked the class format so you can listen to the class on YOUR schedule, not mine.

  1. Lessons are prerecorded. This way, you can listen when it’s convenient for you.
  2. You can post your homework–and receive my individualized feedback–any time between the posting of the lesson and two weeks following the end of the class. Students who did their homework and then revised it following my feedback told me that doing the homework–and getting my feedback–was incredibly valuable.
  3. Class discussion sessions will be recorded and may be downloaded. Listening to a recording isn’t the same as participating “live” but at least you’ll hear your classmates’ questions and comments.

You can save all the audio and handout files to give yourself a refresher course months or even years after your formal training ends.

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20 on Eventbrite

Q. Why is the class limited to 16 students?

A. You’ll learn more when you get the personal attention that comes with a small class. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask questions during our group telephone calls. Plus, you’ll get written feedback on your homework assignments.

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20 on Eventbrite

Q. Do we get any live interaction with you and other students?

A.  Yes, there will be five live conference calls for May 17, May 24, and June 7, June 14, and June 21 at 1 p.m. Eastern. These calls will focus on your comments and questions. They will be recorded in case you can’t attend “live.”

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20 on Eventbrite

Q. What do students say about your class?

A. Please read What students say about “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read.” You’ll also find a brief selection of testimonials if you scroll down the registration form.

Register TODAY to learn a step-by-step process to

  • Generate and refine ideas for blog posts that will engage your readers
  • Organize your thoughts before you write, so you can write more quickly and effectively
  • Edit your writing, so it’s reader-friendly and appealing

Guest post: “Only”

The topic of proper word usage matters to my readers. So I perked up when Kim Blanton told me over coffee that she had a great explanation of how to use “only” properly. I immediately asked her to guest-blog for me.

By the way, if you haven’t read Kim’s Squared Away blog, it’s a terrific example of plain English writing about financial behavior.


By Kim Blanton

You may want to ignore this column. After all, it’s only about improper placement of the word “only.”


But this common error distorts a writer’s meaning – and can even imply the opposite of what you intended.

I am ever-mindful of this issue when writing my blog about financial behavior and psychology, Squared Away. But here’s a fun example, involving March Madness. It appeared in an article about a win by my alma mater, Indiana University, titled, “Indiana Beats New Mexico State.”

Just to set up the game first. IU finished in the middle of the pack in the Big 10 season rankings. But they played well in a rebuilding year against the New Mexico State Aggies in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, winning 79-66. The Hoosiers forced turnovers, nearly matched the Aggies in rebounds, and disabled the Aggies’ secret weapon: its ability to get to the free-throw line an average of 30 times per game.

Here’s what the Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana, had to say about that: The Aggies also shot more free throws this season (1,048) than any other Division 1 team. But the Hoosiers only sent them to the line 10 times.

Only? You gotta be kidding! IU freshman Cody Zeller put it better than I could: “That was huge for us (italics added).”

The misplacement of “only” made it sound as though containing the Aggies’ free throws was unimportant (on closer scrutiny, maybe the sentence doesn’t make any sense). Here’s where the writer would’ve planted his “only” if he’d written what he meant:

The Hoosiers sent them to the line only 10 times.

The rule: “only” must be next to or as close possible to the word or phrase that it modifies – in this case, the number of free-throw attempts. [IU went on to beat Virginia Commonwealth University and faces powerhouse ranked Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – but that’s another issue altogether.]

It can be difficult to explain syntax, but here’s an easier example. Car keys in hand, you announce to your roommate or spouse, “I’m only going to the store to buy milk and bread.”

This means that you’re not going to Tahiti or the megamall – or the moon for that matter. As in: it’s not a big deal and I’ll be back in 15 minutes.

But if you mean that you’ll buy milk and bread but not salsa and chips, avocados, beer and chili fixings, you’d say:  “I’m going to the store to buy only milk and bread.” Note that “only” follows the rule, sitting next to the words it modifies: bread and milk.

In conversation, proper placement doesn’t seem to matter much – things tend to work themselves out. But precision in writing is critical to clarity. Readers seeking to understand your meaning will re-read a sentence closely – sometimes more than once. You don’t want that careful reader to reach the wrong conclusion.

In her blog, Squared Away, Kim Blanton demystifies financial behavior for everyone, from young adults to retirees. 

Sign up NOW for my free webinar: “‘You’: The Secret of Great Blogs that Boost Your Readership.”

November 16 is the date of my first free public webinar, “You: The Secret of Great Blogs that Boost Your Readership.” You can sign up by clicking on the ATTEND button in the link below.

If you sign up to receive my “Events” emails, you’ll receive timely reminders about this and other upcoming events.

Reader question: How can I ask clients to follow me to a new firm?

When financial planners, wealth managers, and portfolio managers change firms, they want their clients to follow them. But clients don’t fall in line as easily as ducklings following their mother.

After an advisor asked me for advice about composing a letter asking clients to switch firms, I created the list below.

  1. Your letter should be about your client first, then you and your new firm. I’d use “you” in the first sentence and focus on the benefits to your clients from your move. For example, “You’ve said you’re interested in a broader range of investments. You can choose from many more options when you follow me to my new firm, XXX Financial. The concerns expressed by clients like you are a big reason behind my move. At XXX Financial, you’ll benefit from…”
  2. Make it easy to switch. Do anything legally possible to make the change easy. If you can fill out the paperwork, so all they need to do is sign, then do it.
  3. Stress the benefits of continuity. It must be easier to continue working with the same advisor than to educate a new one from scratch. Stress these positives rather than criticizing your previous employer.
  4. Show that you know them well. No form letters, please. Personalize your letter, referring to things their new advisor at your old firm won’t know.
  5. Follow up with a phone call. Letters and emails are a great way to reach a large group of people quickly, but a phone call is more personal.

Readers, please help this advisor make the transition. Leave your suggestions as comments below.


Image courtesy of cj berry


Note: Updated on Nov. 15, 2022.

Guest post: Easy animation can boost your financial blog’s appeal

Animation and financial blogging don’t go together. Or so I assumed until I saw investment performance expert David Spaulding’s “An animated debate on geometric vs. arithmetic attribution.” In this guest post, Dave discusses his experience using GoAnimate.com to  produce his first animated video. The enthusiastic response by his readers shows this kind of innovation can pay off.

Easy animation can boost your financial blog’s appeal

By David Spaulding

Since starting my Investment Performance Guy blog, I have attempted to use creativity, in my titles, content, and appearance (for example, I typically use clipart). In the February 11, 2011 edition of The Wall Street Journal Ellen Gamerman wrote an article titled “Animation Nation,” which discusses the proliferation of cartoons and the software that makes them fairly easy to create. She referenced a couple do-it-yourself animation sites, and the one that appealed to me was GoAnimate.com. It offers a free, though somewhat limited, ability to create cartoons, as well as the option to sign up for three or more months of paid service, which provides more options to the creator: I chose the latter.

The software is powerful and yet quite easy to use. The animator can select various backgrounds and within each make adjustments, such as moving, eliminating, or changing the color of the items in the set. A group of characters comes with the subscription and many more are available, which can be adjusted, too (facial structure, clothing, hair and eye color, etc. can be modified). In addition, you can select from a variety of voices to assign to them.

Once you decide on the background and the characters, you can begin. You create individual scenes, where each involves a brief statement which you type in, to be uttered by the character of your choice. These scenes are then strung together. You can, if you’d like, zoom in on particular characters as well as introduce entirely new scenes and characters. You can run the animation at any time to see how it looks. It is also easy to make corrections or changes to your creations.

When your animation is completed, you can download it into an MPEG4 format or directly to YouTube, which is what I did. I then brought the appropriate “embed” codes into my blog. The video’s size had to be adjusted slightly, which isn’t difficult.

The response to my first animation was phenomenal. Not only did it engender some nice comments from readers (e.g., “I say ‘Go Animate!’ Who wouldn’t rather watch a video than read?”) but a significant number of “likes” from a posting done by an industry group that linked to this post.

Animation is just a different way to communicate to your readers. You can use humor in your post in an animated manner that perhaps works better than in written form. This tool allows the blogger to introduce a debate, which would be difficult to pull off in written form (and you control what is said, thus getting your message across). You can simulate class instruction with the “presenter” fielding questions from the “students.” This form of communication is obviously unlimited.

Animation is different, clever, creative, colorful, energetic, appealing, fun, and easy to do. You can have your first post done in less than an hour.

Watch Dave’s first video.

How asset management giant BlackRock is tackling social media

BlackRock is jumping into social media, as you’ll see in this video, which I discovered on Adam Verchinski’s Everyday Tenacity blog. You can read Adam’s post about the presentation and also see BlackRock’s PowerPoint slides on his blog. Adam is on Twitter as @EverydTenacity. Nice job, Adam!

BlackRock: The Power of Social, presented by Jonathan Haley from GasPedal on Vimeo.

Social media: How to succeed in 30 minutes a day

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are powerful marketing tools for financial advisors. But they could easily consume
you 24 hours a day. This is why I suggest you learn from 30-Minute Social Media Marketing by marketer Susan Gunelius.

Cover these four areas for success

Gunelius offers sample plans for achieving social media success in just 30 minutes a day. I particularly like her idea that you divide your time among the following four areas:

  1. Content creation
  2. Content sharing
  3. Connections
  4. Community building

If you touch all of these areas, you’ll develop a robust presence. Skimp on any, and your connections may suffer.

1. Content creation

Content creation refers to activities such as tweeting, blogging, and creating audio interviews, podcasts, and videos. Clearly a single blog post–and even audio and video–can consume more than 30 minutes, so Gunelius focuses on less time-consuming content.

2. Content sharing

For example, Gunelius mentions retweeting other people’s Twitter comments, inviting other people to guest on your blog, and syndicating your content to other publications or social media. For me, this ties in with making connections, Gunelius’ third category, and community building, her fourth category.

3. Connections

Gunelius suggest that you engage in activities such as sending Facebook friend and LinkedIn connection requests and adding social media links to your email signature. As I see it, if you lack connections, you handicap your chance of achieving your business goal.

4. Community building

For me, one of the most amazing things is the sense of community that I’ve developed through social media. So I think you’re missing out if you skip activities in Gunelius’ fourth category.

These activities include the following:

  • Leaving comments on other people’s Facebook walls and LinkedIn profiles
  • Participating in forums related to your business
  • Publishing a poll on your blog
  • Creating your own LinkedIn or Facebook group and inviting people to join

However, I know some investment and wealth managers are just too busy to engage in these activities. Plus, they’ve got compliance concerns, especially when it comes to commenting on other people’s content.

Too optimistic?

Gunelius is a bit optimistic about how much you can accomplish in one-half hour. As I mentioned above, creating a single piece of content can take much longer than 30 minutes.

On the other hand, some tasks can be delegated. There are ghost bloggers and ghost tweeters. In addition, tools such as HootSuite and blogging software make it possible to schedule a slew of communications at one go.

Another thing about Gunelius’ book, if you’re a social media newbie, you’ll get an easy introduction in 30-Minute Social Media Marketing.

Can you add tips?

How do YOU ration your social media time? I’d like to learn from you. Please share your tips below.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from McGraw-Hill in return for agreeing to write about it.