This is the last in a five part series in which I’m laying out the secrets to successful financial blogging. There are always exceptions to any rule, but if you follow this stuff you will see that I’m right. We’ve covered Aesthetics, Content, Style and Links, now let’s talk about everything else.
Financial Blogging Secrets: Everything Else
Purpose: Decide right now – do you want to write a few financial blog posts or do you want to be a financial blogger? There is a difference. Your little sister can go get a communications degree from University of Arizona and start cranking out blog posts on the stock market. Does that make her Yves Smith? Hell no. A real financial blogger, not just someone who writes blog posts, has made a choice – a commitment to enlighten and take a stand. Have you? Or are you writing for banner ad clicks? There is nothing wrong with casually blogging here and there, and of course, we all have time constraints imposed by work, family, quality of life etc. Figure out how serious you are about this before reading any further.
Resolve: OK, so you’ve resolved to actually do this and be a financial blogger, good. Now find your voice. This will take six months of hard work, writing everyday and failing all the time…know that going in and don’t be a pussy. Don’t be afraid to say things that you wish you could take back – let them stand. Be bold in your presentation, forceful in your opinions and honest in your apologies. And keep writing when no one is reading. Force them to listen to you. That’s what I did and still do. When it’s all over, I will never let it be said that people didn’t know what I stood for.
Tools: What do you mean you don’t have a fully-loaded Google Reader? I follow 180 feeds, I know EVERYTHING before you do. I’ve got every site I follow categorized for quick and easy reference. The problem is, I don’t have time to deal with every article I want to read – but wait, now I do – because I’ve let InstaPaper into my life. You should too. Without Google Reader and Instapaper, you’re really just flailing and people like me will blog triangles around you, B. Twitter is key, too. By the time you’ve read this, I will be crossing the 5000 follower mark. And I earned every single one of them with my wit, wisdom and quality linkage – I ain’t never been on a reality show. Your Twitter stream is an extension of your site, you must build your Twitter presence with the same care as any other aspect of your online persona. And tweet your links through StockTwits no matter what anyone says – we’re the Cool Kids, period.
Self-References: Regardless of what you write about, make sure the content of your post has a link to something else you’ve already written about when possible/practical. No one is going to reference your work like you will. The key is to keep the reader on your site and interested in your point of view – you’re not breaking the news, you are analyzing it for those who are busy and need the reaction from someone they trust.
Mainstream: It’s 2011, people who work for the mainstream media have grown up reading blogs – they get it now and the younger generation is starting to run the show, the dinosaurs have all sauntered off to the graveyard. Be friends with the mainstream media, they are smart, great at what they do and their role is very different from yours – there is no competition, there is only a partnership that is as symbiotic as that of the clownfish and the sea anemone or Charles in Charge and Buddy Lembeck. Don’t arbitrarily pick fights with the media; you want to be a rebel, go rip the tag off a mattress – when it comes to blogging finance, you need links and shouts from the big boys to rise above. Play the game, tough guy.
Frequency: Once again, are you looking to write financial blog posts or are you looking to be a financial blogger? If your answer is the latter, then one post a day is a waste of time, you may as well write none, don’t bother. You are not so brilliant that 5 posts a week will ever amount to anything; I write 5 a day. By this spring, the number will be 7 to 10. Quantity in and of itself is not the point (don’t you ever accuse me of spam posting as I am at the forefront of denouncing that stuff) – the goal is to get to the point where your site is an all-encompassing glimpse of the financial world. Cullen Roche of The Pragmatic Capitalist is well on his way to accomplishing this. I have not yet gotten to that point but I try everyday. My regular readers get this sense and they come back because they know that I will give them every ounce of strength and insight I have. You want people to feel like they need to check in throughout the day, if you only throw up a post once a day then your site is not habit-forming and its growth will be stunted.
Comments: You will be criticized in the comments section of your posts. LET THOSE CRITICISMS STAND, UNEDITED. I don’t erase anything, haters can say whatever they want provided they are not making racial or ethnically derogatory comments (which have no place on my site). You want to disagree with me? Good. Think I’m fat? I am. Just keep it ideas-based and not personal and we can spar – I love it.
Enjoyment: Being a financial blogger is not going to support your lifestyle and will probably never be a full-time business for anyone. With that in mind, never finish a post that feels like a chore – just leave it in Drafts and move on. Never write something just because you feel an obligation to. The minute your site feels more like homework than creative expression just shut the whole thing down. Fred Wilson (A VC), possibly the best to ever do it, has a post up today about whether he ever gets bored of blogging. You know what the answer is. Can you imagine Jay at Market Folly going through hundreds of 13D filings every quarter if he hated it? Do you think David Merkel (Aleph Blog) is laying down that much knowledge every day for any reason other than the love of the work itself? Life is short – if you don’t love running the blog, then focus on what you do love before another second goes by. And read my site instead ’cause I ain’t going nowhere.
Thanks for reading this series, guys. I really enjoyed writing it and the feedback I’ve gotten has been incredible. Take care and brush your hair :)