I learned some financial blogging lessons in a funny place—at my gym.
Spending 45 to 60 minutes on a stationary bicycle boosts my heart rate in my spinning class. It’s good for me, but I can’t say that I enjoy it. Sometimes my mind wanders, as I try to distract myself from my exertion. Sometimes I write haiku in my head, counting syllables on my fingers. In a recent class, I thought about how a good spinning class offers lessons for a good financial blog.
1. Personality matters
I most enjoy spinning classes—and blogs—led by individuals with great personalities.
I can get a great cardio workout in any spinning class. However, I’m fussy about which classes I’ll attend. I like the instructors with a rah-rah “You can make it up the mountain on your bicycle” attitude. They’re positive people who give me energy. Instructors who simply read instructions in a monotone leave me cold. That’s true even when their classes are technically competent.
Similarly, bloggers who combine personality with competence attract more attention from me and other web surfers.
To show personality in your financial blog, try the following tips.
- Share a personal story or a personal passion to illustrate a blog post.
- Use some of your characteristic expressions when you write. Write as if you’re carrying on a conversation. But don’t go overboard, as I discuss in “Writing wisdom from novelist Gish Jen.”
- Check out the techniques in”How to add personality and warmth to your financial writing–Part one” and “Part two.”
2. A comfortable environment matters
I keep a blanket in my husband’s car because I’m always cold. But somehow I heat up quickly in spinning class. I couldn’t survive if my gym lacked cooling equipment. I go early to the gym to get the bike in front of the portable fan because I get hot before my classmates let the instructor turn on the air conditioning. My environment matters.
Similarly, the right environment makes a blog more comfortable. In blogging terms, this means an attractive, uncluttered layout. Reader-friendly language and images that help to tell your story also make a blog into a place where readers linger.
3. Value matters
Spinning classes push me. I work out harder in class than I would on my own. That’s thanks to the teacher’s encouragement, the beat of the music, and the sight of my hard-pedaling classmates. Spurring me to work harder is the biggest value that I find in spinning.
A good financial blog offers value to its readers. The value may come in terms of the blogger’s information on investments, financial planning, or other practical topics. Or perhaps the value comes in the form of encouragement. Some readers understand what they should do, but find it difficult to implement on their own. A little encouragement—or a reminder that all of us struggle with similar issues—can go a long way.
4. Sameness bores
One of my spinning instructors relies on one instruction—”Add more resistance”—for variety in class. There are so many other variables she could change. Spinning has three positions: first, pedaling in a seated position; second, standing; and third, hunched over the handlebars. There are sprints and other cadence changes. Some teachers vary according to the students’ perceived level of exertion, such as “can’t carry on a conversation.” I prefer teachers who teach less predictable classes with more variety.
When writing your financial blog, use a broad enough array of topics and techniques. For example, it’s unlikely, though not impossible, that your blog could thrive if you only write variations on “One way you can save enough to retire by age 50.” However, your blog should have a focus, rather than bouncing all over the financial world.
5. People approach your material at their own level
There are some people in my spinning class who think nothing of bicycling 50 miles at high speeds on the road. There are others with physical challenges who feel fortunate to be able to pedal seated at a low resistance. Students at different levels perform differently in class.
Similarly, the readers of your financial blog will come at it from different levels of knowledge and motivation. You may find it helpful to identify your target reader so you can pitch your posts at their typical level of knowledge and motivation. If you try to write for all levels, it may be hard for you to find readers who consistently return to your blog for information.
6. You can’t please everyone
People aren’t all the same. That makes this a more interesting world. It also makes it impossible for one spinning class or one blog to please everybody. There are people like me who get bored by spinning instructors who focus on adding resistance. There may be as many, if not more, who relish the challenge of consistently adding resistance.
With your financial blog, you’ll find people who think your blog is too basic, while others think it too advanced. You can’t please everyone. If you add value and target a niche that includes a reasonable number of people, you’ll find an audience. If your blog taps an issue related to your investment, wealth management, or financial planning business, it will also bring you new business.
YOUR financial blogging lessons?
If you spin, or if you have strong feelings about financial blogging, please comment with the financial blogging lessons you’ve learned through your experiences.
Spinning class image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net