Writing financial content can be challenging. Writing it creatively, even more so. At the same time, you need to be able to unpack complex financial concepts and decode jargon. Here are some of our top tips to help you succeed.
As a financial writer, you have the responsibility of creating informative content and industry commentary that bridges the knowledge-gap and speaks to the general public.
This means you need a good understanding of the industry and a genuine interest in your subject matter. And more than just relaying industry news, being a truly great financial writer means unleashing your inner investigative journo, asking those burning questions and uncovering the truth.
There is a always a market for good writers in this segment but as with any skill, it will take time to hone your financial writing. Taking business/financial writing courses or attending workshops will not only help you improve, but will most likely give you the opportunity of having your work critiqued. Feedback from experts is invaluable.
Most importantly, you need to immerse yourself in the financial world. Keep educating yourself by staying up to date with industry news, product launches and trending topics. Watch the performance of blue-chip companies or play a little on the stock market, even if it’s only in a virtual sense, on platforms like Uprise Markets (www.uprise.com) or www.virtualtradinggame.jse.co.za
Subscribe to newsletters generated by financial publications, read blogs and follow the financial gurus on Twitter. Read reports and articles written by analysts.
And more than that, study how they write, from structure (how they tell their story) to sentence length to difficulty level. You should also make a habit of reading earnings reports and following the stock and bond markets.
With the industry being so broad, you always have the option of specialising in an area, such as equities, financial planning or wealth management. Identify your interest and run with it.
Know your audience
This is a no-brainer. The complexity, tone and language of your article is determined by your audience and the publication you’re writing for, so make sure you’ve researched both in depth before even beginning to write. Pre-empt any questions your reader may have and make sure to answer them in your article.
A good practice is to pretend you are the reader. Look at your content critically and assess whether you understand it. Ask yourself, is it too technical? Then dumb it down. Is it too simple? Tone it up. Does it lack substance? Flesh it out.
Financial content requires clear, concise, structured writing – the last thing you want to do is waste your reader’s valuable time. The golden rule is to make every word count. But this doesn’t mean your style has to be boring or formal. It’s your job to make content accessible and engaging, so don’t be afraid of being creative or witty when appropriate. Remember to ditch the passive voice which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t more formal, it just clutters your sentences.
More top tips:
- Brush up on your knowledge of financial concepts. Investopedia is great at decoding jargon.
- Simplify complex financial concepts using practical examples, so you ‘bring it home’ to your reader.
- Use references and sources in your articles that are up to date (don't use a statistic from 2012 when it's 2017) and relevant to your market (Stats SA www.statssa.gov.za is a good source for local content).
- Use infographics when it is easier to ‘show’ than to ‘tell’.
- Use bullet points – easy for your busy reader to skim through and get the gist.
- Develop a little black book of financial services experts who'll give you quotes for articles — they could even be your broker!
- Keep a calendar of important economic events that are relevant to your market. mam.econoday.com is a good one.
So now that you have an arsenal of great tips to guide you, we hope you enjoy crafting excellent financial content and being in demand!
We specialise in content marketing and social media marketing strategy development in the financial services industry. Find out more about how we can help you.