Should you go bold?

Bold type, which is thicker than regular type, can make it easier for readers to grasp your meaning. This happens only if you bold wisely. Go overboard with bold, and you may lose readers.

When to bold

Here are three ways I’d use bold in a blog post:

1.  Bold your headings or the first part of your numbered lists. I’m a big fan of headings as visual indicators of your main points as well as your shifts from one point to another. This goes for bolding new points on your list, but only when the bolded text is followed by plain text. A whole block of bold text is hard to read.

2.  Bold the key sentence in one or more paragraphs. Michael Katz of Blue Penguin does this well in his newsletter.

3.  Use bold for one key sentence. It could be the eye-catching content that draws readers to your blog post. Or the “call to action” that invites your readers to contact you.

Bold vs. heading format

Your choice of how to highlight your text may affect how well it is picked up by online search engines.

Some folks have told me that any bolded words are given more weight by search engines. On the other hand, Beth Graddon-Hodgson of WriteSourcing told me this only applies to text that is emphasized by a heading tag, so the text is treated as a title. However, this “subject is highly debated,” said Graddon-Hodgson. “Some people believe that ANY changes to text make a difference with SEO since they incorporate different coding.” Check with your SEO expert for the latest opinions on this debate.

Used wisely, bold can boost the impact of your writing. Give it a try!

Can you help with my Facebook dilemma?

Dilemma: I feel as if I need to change my Facebook (FB) strategy. I currently use it to hang out with family, friends, and fellow writers.

I’m sitting on two FB friend requests from people who feel like friends, but they are also in my business. 

Another source of pressure: I need to become a “fan” of client/referral source Facebook Fan Pages, so I can learn more about them. Once I do this, I will face more FB friend requests from people who are not family, friends, or writers. 

Which of the following four options should I pick?

1. Continue to accept friend requests only from people in my target categories. 

PRO: This preserves my relative privacy, though I should keep in mind that boundaries may still be breached. 

CON: Others may feel offended. Plus, I miss opportunities to deepen relationships with them.

2. Set up a second FB profile for Susan Weiner, CFA, which I’ll use for business relationships.  

PRO: There’s less risk of inappropriate information reaching my business contacts. 

CON: It becomes one more social media profile to maintain. Content will overlap with my non-business profile.

3. Set up a FB Fan Page for and try to direct business connections there, while keeping my FB page “personal.”  

PRO: A fan page is more flexible than a profile for my business. 

CON: Fan page doesn’t solve the problem of having a profile that I can use to “fan” business contacts’ fan pages.

4. Accept friend requests from everyone, but control who can see what. 

PRO: This option involves the least extra work. 

CON: I’m bound to slip up on categorizing my updates, thus letting clients in on my squirrelmania, etc. Family or friends may make edgy comments on some of my posts.

What do YOU suggest? It would be great to get comments from you.

The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in September. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

How I’ve benefited from Twitter

“Has being active in social media helped you grow your business?”

This question from a wealth manager set me thinking. Most of my new business still comes through old-fashioned referrals from people whom I’ve met face-to-face. But that’s changing thanks to social media, especially Twitter. There’s no doubt that my Twitter has helped my business. I see three main benefits.

#1 Bigger network of experts
When I’ve got a problem to solve, I can now call on a much bigger network of experts for help. This has been especially helpful with my technology challenges, where @RussThornton, @BillWinterberg, @RussellDunkin, @Blano, and @KristenLuke have been particularly helpful. This is just a sampling of my expert sources. There are many, many other experts on Twitter whom I’ve learned from.

#2 Bigger pool of prospective clients
Twitter has expanded my newsletter circulation, which is an important source of new clients. For example, most of my teleclass students have been newsletter subscribers for awhile. I’ve consistently gained more new subscribers post-Twitter than pre-Twitter.

One of my favorite clients found me through Twitter, got to know me better through my newsletter, and then became a client.

# 3 Convenient way to network and socialize
Twitter keeps me from feeling isolated as a solo entrepreneur. It also suits my style. I can hop off a work project for 10 minutes, read and chat with some folks, and then settle back to work. I don’t need to spend an hour schlepping into Boston on the commuter rail and then an hour coming back.

Feeling happier from brief spurts of socializing help me to focus better when I’m doing actual work.

There are other benefits, too. But these three are enough to keep me tweeting.
Receive a free 32-page e-book with client communications tips when you sign up for my free monthly newsletter.  

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Which blogging platform should I use?

If you’re not yet blogging, you’re probably wondering which blogging platform to use.

WordPress seems the most popular. If I were starting my blog today, I’d probably go with WordPress rather than Blogger. I’m no expert on blogging platforms, so you’ll find below some opinions from folks who know more than me.

Technology specialist Bill Winterberg told me via Twitter that he prefers WordPress “because if you need new functions, there’s likely a plugin available. Support and forums are comprehensive, too.” Speaking of plugins, Bill told me about Akismet, a spam-blocking plug-in that’s available for WordPress, but not Blogger. By the way, as I understand it, a plug-in is software that expands the capabilities of a larger piece of software–but don’t quote me on that.

The Tech for Luddites blog, written by my friend Elizabeth Kricfalusi, compares Blogger vs. TypePad vs. WordPress in “Picking a Platform for Your Blog.” She also favors WordPress. If you’re a non-technical person with computer questions, you may enjoy her blog, with its motto, “Increase Proficiency. Decrease Profanity.” 

For a blogging platform comparison from another source, check out the “Blogger vs. WordPress Comparison Table 2010.”

WordPress was also the choice of the financial advisors who took my recent class on “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read” (next session starts April 22).
I’d be happy to get comments on this post from those of you who are more knowledgeable about blogging platforms.
Sign up for  “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors starting April 22 or join the list for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Poll: Would you hire a ghost blogger for your company?

Investment and wealth managers have great skills. But writing isn’t necessarily one of them. So what’s a financial professional to do now that blogging is an important part of marketing?

Some companies hire ghostwriters to write their blog posts for them. Ghostblogging can encompass everything from coming up with the ideas, doing the research, writing, formatting posts, and even responding to comments in the voice of the company. Or it can involve a much bigger contribution from the client whose name goes on the post.

Critics say that hiring a ghostblogger is bad. In “The Ghost Speaks,” writer Michael Janofsky quotes communications consultant Shel Holtz, “I’m a huge fan of transparency. My advice to executives is: If you don’t take the time to write yourself, find another channel of communication.”

What do YOU think? Please answer the poll that will run in the  right-hand column of this blog until I replace it with next month’s poll. I’ll report on the results in my May e-newsletter.
Sign up for the next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” starting April 22 or join the mailing list for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Reader question: How can I share my investment commentary on LinkedIn?

You can use LinkedIn, yet stay within your compliance officer’s guidelines, by sharing approved materials through your LinkedIn “status line.” I often suggest this to investment managers and financial advisors.

So I wasn’t surprised to receive an email saying, “Help! Please remind me how to share a link to my investment commentary on LinkedIn.”

Here’s my answer.

Step 1 Shorten the URL that takes readers to your commentary. The URL for your commentary is probably too long for the limits of LinkedIn’s status updates, especially because you need text to lure readers to your commentary. This is when link shorteners come in handy. You can use a free service, such as To shorten your link, simply follow the directions at the link shortening website of your choice.

Step 2 Enter your text into LinkedIn. When you go to your LinkedIn home page, you’ll see below your Inbox the Network Updates section.  Type your text into the box. If your commentary is provocative, you might say something like “You won’t believe what I’m saying about the stock market…..” LinkedIn automatically converts URLs beginning with http:// into live links.

Hit the Share button and your investment commentary becomes available to folks on LinkedIn.

Related posts
* The LinkedIn status line is your friend, whether you’re looking for clients or a job
* My top tips for LinkedIn newbies who want to attract financial clients, referrals, and jobs

Five-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors: "How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read"

Blogging has become a “must” for many independent and fee-only financial advisors. It’s a great way to connect with current and potential clients. Blogging also helps drive traffic to your website and cement your reputation as a leader in your field. But many advisors struggle to crank out a steady flow of compelling blog posts. That’s why you need to enroll in “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read,” my NEW five-week teleclass for financial advisors.

You will learn how 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

The inaugural class will be offered exclusively to my newsletter subscribers and to clients. Participants in the initial class will receive a 50% discount in return for participating fully and providing detailed feedback.

When you participate fully in this class, you’ll end up with one polished blog post–and a process you can follow to generate many more.

How you’ll get there
o Small class–limited to 12 advisors–so you can participate, not just listen passively. Research shows that people learn best when they act on new information.
o Classes will meet on five successive Thursdays–Feb. 25, March 4, March 11, March 18 and March 25– on a teleconference call from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Eastern Time
o Convenience because you can dial into the weekly phone calls from anywhere–and classes are recorded, in case you can’t attend “live”
o Guidance through a step-by-step process of writing blog posts, including
Generating blog post topics
Organizing your thoughts before you write
Positioning your blog post to appeal to readers
Editing your posts to boost their reader-friendliness      

“Hands on” practice through completing your weekly homework assignments
Resources for the future because you can download
o  Class recordings
o  Class handouts
o  E-booklet

o Feedback from a seasoned financial writer-editor whose clients range from the country’s largest asset managers to solo professionals to trade and retail publications

Register Now!

What advisors say about other workshops by Susan Weiner, CFA

o “I found this presentation very helpful because it focused on key elements to being an influential but understandable advisor.”
o  “Susan’s presentation brought to life the benefits of better writing.”
o  “Great tips for jump starting my client communications”
o  “Susan’s presentation made me want to go back to my office and juice up my emails and letters.”

Contact Susan at or 617-969-4509.

Register Now!

CFA Magazine on social media and your career

Stepping Out: Digital Footprints Can Make Or Break a Career” by Rhea Wessel appears in the Nov./Dec. issue of CFA Magazine, starting on page 34 of the digital edition (page 32 of the print edition). 

It’s a cautionary tale that quotes several CFA charterholders including yours truly. It even refers indirectly to my “Top five tips for financial advisors dipping their toes in the Twitterverse.

Here’s the bit that quotes me

“Don’t land yourself in hot water by starting to blog before you consult with your compliance officer,” she says. “However, you can get an idea of industry norms by studying bloggers whom you respect and who work in positions similar to yours.”

Guest post: "How to Use LinkedIn When Your Compliance Department Says No"

Financial advisors–and all kinds of professionals in investment and wealth management–need to be on LinkedIn. I feel strongly about this, so I’m happy to feature a guest post from marketer Kristen Luke. In this post, which originally appeared on Kristen’s Financial Marketing Wire blog, she tells you how to benefit from LinkedIn, even when you must work within compliance constraints.

Recently I have been conducting one-on-one LinkedIn training sessions for advisors on how they can better utilize the professional social networking site. Each advisor has different restrictions on how they can engage with the site depending on the rules set forth by their compliance department. I have found that most compliance departments will allow advisors to have LinkedIn profiles, but will not necessarily allow them to actively participate in groups, install applications, update their status or mass email their connections. For those advisors who are allowed to have a LinkedIn profile but have been restricted in their use of the site, there are still strategies that can be utilized to make LinkedIn a valuable sales and marketing tool. Below are four strategies to implement even if you can’t use LinkedIn to its fullest potential.

Strategy 1: Build Your Network

LinkedIn becomes more powerful as the size of your network increases. This is because you are only able to see profiles of people within your network (i.e. 1st, 2nd or 3rd Connections and Group Members). To make effective use of LinkedIn, you will need to continuously build your network. This will allow you to discover more potential clients and centers of influence. Start expanding your network by importing contacts. You can do this by selecting “Add Connections” in the Contacts menu and uploading a spreadsheet of your contacts’ email addresses. The resulting list will show you who is on LinkedIn and will allow you to send a mass invitation to connect.

Once you have started with your initial network, you’ll want to continue adding all new contacts to your network. Make inviting all new contacts to join your LinkedIn network a part of your weekly routine. This includes people you meet professionally and socially. You never know where the next client or referral will come from, so don’t exclude people from your network.

Another way to build your network is to install an Outlook toolbar which will notify you when an email contact is on LinkedIn. You can download and install either the LinkedIn or Xobni toolbar which will show you LinkedIn profile information about each of your email contacts and provide you with a link to send an “invitation to connect” request. These tool bars eliminate the need to manually look up a contact to see if they are on the site and then send an invitation request. Plus, they constantly remind you to build your network.

Strategy 2: Join Groups

You may have been told by your compliance department that you can’t post a discussion question, answer a discussion question, post a news article, or comment on a news article. That doesn’t mean that joining groups is a waste of time. Even if you never actively participate in a group, joining allows you to expand your network. By joining a group, you are able to view the profiles of everyone in the group. This helps when you are researching prospects since their profiles might not be available to you otherwise. In addition, you are able to send an email directly to fellow group members without being linked in with them through the “send a message” function. Joining groups provides you with direct access to hundreds if not thousands of individuals who would otherwise be outside of your LinkedIn reach. Just be cautious when emailing through LinkedIn since some compliance departments require a screenshot of the message you are sending including the name of the person to whom who you are sending it.

Strategy 3: Research Prospects

LinkedIn provides a wealth of information about a prospective client. By reviewing a prospect’s profile prior to your first meeting, you can discover past employment history, educational background, professional associations and personal interests. This will give you a better understanding of the prospect and may assist in directing the conversation during a first appointment. The only limitation with this strategy is that you are only able to view profiles of people within your network. Having a larger network, as described in strategies one and two, will increase the likelihood of being able to see a prospect’s profile.

Strategy 4: Research your Network for Introductions & Referrals

Do you know which of your clients have relationships with the types of people you would like to meet? If they have a LinkedIn profile you can easily find out. When you connect with your clients, centers of influence or networking contacts on LinkedIn, you can look through their connections to see who they know. By researching your LinkedIn contacts’ network, you can make informed decisions about who has the ability to make quality referrals and introductions and create a marketing strategy around that information. For example, you can ask for referrals and introductions to specific people within your contact’s network when you have a referral conversation. Or, you can plan a private client event and make extra effort to ensure that clients with strong networks attend. Researching your network will allow you to focus your referral efforts.


In my personal experience, the strategies listed above are acceptable by most compliance departments who allow advisors to use LinkedIn. However, you will want to consult with your compliance department before implementing any of these ideas to make sure you are in observance of your firm’s policies.

For information about Kristen’s marketing strategies and support for financial advisors, visit

Interesting example of fund company using YouTube

I  normally think of a fund company using YouTube–if it uses YouTube at all–to show off its talking heads. But times are changing.

U.S. Global Investors’ “Shanghai City Lights” video, which you can view below, doesn’t mention the fund firm’s name or investments. It doesn’t even show any people. I think this video has the potential to reach more viewers than the firm’s more traditional videos. Heck, I already forwarded the video to my husband to remind him of our visit to Shanghai.  However, I wonder how many of this video’s viewers will be potential fund buyers.

US Global Investors seems to have moved away from talking heads and toward more visually appealing pieces. Its initial YouTube video was “Frank Holmes Explains the Key Drivers for Gold and Mining Stock,” followed by “What the Global Infrastructure Story Looks Like” and “A Firsthand Look at Mining Operations in Brazil.” To view these videos, go to the USFunds YouTube channel. So far the Frank Holmes video has gained the most viewers on YouTube, with 218 views as of Nov. 16.

However, US Global Investors hasn’t given up on more traditional communications. For example, “Five Reasons China is Not a Bubble” appears on its blog and the firm’s Fall 2009 Shareholder Report leads with a letter titled “Just Back from Shanghai.”

Do you think US Global Investors’ YouTube video about Shanghai represents the start of a trend? While their videos haven’t attracted many viewers yet. the firm’s YouTube presence is pretty new.