Everyone’s writing something in the financial media these days but some of you people need a refresher on the basics of composition. Depending on for whom or what you are writing, this should be the only guide you need to get it right:
How to write a stock article for CNNMoney or MarketWatch: Line up quotes from a bull and a bear on a given stock – give a paragraph to each to state their case on the company, conclude by saying it’s too early to tell who’s right.
How to write a column in Barron’s: Take a random statistic from Bespoke Investment Group. Use it to tell a story. Nap the rest of the week until deadline. Wake up and repeat.
How to write a book on investing: Grab your favorite rules and ideas from a few of the other 20,000 books on investing that came before yours. No one will notice and the rules are evergreen anyway so they probably should be repeated. Have your PR agent send me an email about your book twice a day until they get the auto-responder announcing my premature and tragic death.
How to write for Motley Fool: For your subject, pick a stock with a high message board-to-headline ratio on Yahoo Finance (thus guaranteeing interest and clicks). Promote the CAPS community within the first paragraph, the last paragraph should essentially be an ad for Hidden Gems or Rule Breakers of some such newsletter product.
How to write for TheStreet.com: Be Doug Kass.
How to write for the Forbes or HuffPo network: Doesn’t matter, it’ll be buried amid seven million other pieces of content, no one will read it.
How to write for Dealbreaker: Find paragraph about Wall Street that also includes some reference to sexuality, deviant or otherwise. Cut and paste said paragraph. Add dead-serious image of person mentioned as mocking tribute to the public image they worked so hard to manufacture all these years. Let anonymous commenters run wild in the section below.
How to write a trader blog post: Upload several charts from stockcharts.com with lines and drawings on them, introduce them all with one paragraph of text. Turn spellchecker off ensuring at least one error, be sure to mix up “then” and “than” or “there” and “their” at least once. Headline must include three ticker symbols.
How to write an economics blog post: FRED charts from the St. Louis Fed are essential. Reference “my students” so we are all reminded that you are a professor – not just some f*cking guy. Be careful about drawing any conclusions without also telling us about “on the other hand.” Call someone an idiot, bonus points if it’s another economist with different political leanings than yours.
How to write a Zero Hedge post: Obscure Bloomberg-generated chart + Goldman Sachs FX research item. Connect the dots into something completely implausible.
How to write an investment newsletter: Emphasize everything that can go wrong. Relate to your audience – elderly men who are being passed by in this world and need the reassurance that the world is going down the tubes, rather than evolving without them. Gold mustn’t necessarily be the subject of each letter but it should at least be alluded to or serve as the unwritten subtext.
How to write a Reformed Broker post: Include at least one rap reference – you know, for the kids. Throw a family-friendly asterisk into an F-bomb like so: F*ck. Then, inexplicably, spell out the next F-bomb completely. And if too busy, throw up a random infographic – TRB has been coasting on fumes since late 2010 anyway.
How to write for Calculated Risk: Post chart or series of charts. Say as little as possible, let the data do the talking for you. Wonder why rest of blogosphere hasn’t yet caught on to this formula, quite possibly the purest form of financial journalism extant.
How to write for the Business Insider: Post title should ask a question you have no intention or ability to answer. Bonus points for making it into a list, for including a well-known person and for scaring people into clicking it. Example: “ARE THESE THE SEVEN REASONS DANNY DEVITO IS ABOUT TO MAKE THE ECONOMY IMPLODE?”
How to write a segment of financial television: Look at the day’s trading activity in shares of Apple. Look at recent headlines for Apple. Use headlines to explain the day’s trading activity in Apple – you know, for people without the internet or cellphones. Also, segment names should always rhyme, people love that sh*t.
How to write for the Wall Street Journal, NYT DealBook or the FT: Put up an article behind the paywall. Then summarize the most important two paragraphs of said article in a blog post outside the paywall. Repeat until paywall idea is abandoned or newspaper is sold.
Hope this was helpful