How To Make Financial ContentP
Joshua M Brown
Reformed Broker

~~~~

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

Category: Financial Press, Humor, Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

28 Responses to “How To Create Financial Content”

  1. RC says:

    Calculated risk is an awesome source of data. It is incredible that all that data can be had for free. Only 10 years back that kind of compilation of extensive data would have costed a fortune to get your hands on.
    You go to CR for data and you come to TBP for insightful commentary and get a bit of Ritholtz wisdom!!

  2. charlie1939 says:

    Great post Barry! I got a few chuckles. If we all follow these rules, there will be no one to post silly comments on the TBP…

  3. san_fran_sam says:

    Oh, this was just too spot on.

    How do i imitate Jeff Macke?

  4. WFTA says:

    That was fabulous. Thank you.

  5. dpharris says:

    100% Pure Colombian Awesome!

  6. argh says:

    Wow, you nailed it. I LOL’d at the Investment Letter, and Business Insider

  7. NoKidding says:

    Someone has to do this….

    How to write a post on The Big Picture: Pick a fashionable finance topic – gold, bailouts, Apple’s market cap- and analyze how a thinking person would go about analyzing the topic, without actually analyzing the topic; just analyze the process of analysis. Append someone else’s infographic with verifiably honest data and a wildly speculative headline unsupported by close inspection of the infographic.

  8. comet52 says:

    Very funny stuff. My pet octopus says, “Eight thumbs up!”

  9. Bjørn says:

    Bravo

  10. VennData says:

    How to be Rick Santelli.

    Create a straw man. Pound it. Look away from the camera for ten, maybe fifteen seconds. Shout.

  11. cavalatica says:

    Brilliant post. I’ll add one of my own:

    How to write a Jeremy Grantham quarterly latter: write completely common-sense ideas that somehow manage to usually defy the prevailing reality and sentiment. Be sure to include references to at least 2 past bubbles/manias, even if they have no apparent relationship with current events.

  12. louiswi says:

    Great piece Barry!

    You do realize you are just stating the obvious?

    Regardless, it can’t be said to frequently.

  13. polizeros says:

    Wonderful. Thanks! (I think I’ll steal the idea and use it for political content.)

  14. end game says:

    How To Write An Editorial In the Wall Street Journal: 1. Find the 1% of some government program that is 500% over budget and suggest that the whole program should be ended. 2. Take the latest time series of data from the Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation, omit the years that detract from the case you want to make, and publish a graph that shows that your economic theory was right all along. 3. Provide advice to each of the Republican presidential candidates about how they can reduce the frequency and severity of their gaffes. 4. Always discuss President Obama’s budget deficits in 2009, 2010, and 2011 without any mention of the deficit he inherited, the global financial crisis, the resulting crash in tax revenues, or the jump in automatic stabilizer payments, all of which were in place before he took oath.

    How To Fill The Op Ed Page Of The Wall Street Journal: Have economists Robert Barro, Martin Feldstein, and John Talyor right a letter every three days. If they are on vacation, request a letter from any senior staff member of the Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation. Reject any letters from Bruce Bartlett.

  15. StatArb says:

    . . . . . or , for everything else on financial blogs . . . .

    use someone else’s original content , reference it as if you wrote about the subject months ago ,

    and then ask everyone to applaud for your brilliant insight

    .

  16. super_trooper says:

    Regarding HuffPo, you are missing a title containing words such as “epic”, “Joe slams….” “Joe eviscerates…”

  17. NMR says:

    You missed IBD and that character Pethokoukis

  18. Pantmaker says:

    Hil-frickin-larious!

    I got one!
    How to write a Jeffrey Saut post- first off climb up and position yourself comfortably on the strategic fence of no actual market opinion before you begin writing. No matter what, never ever put in writing, a specific position or opinion about actual future market direction or return. Too risky. Stay on the fence. It’s a safe place. You will live to write another day. Begin the article with a 15 paragraph quote…it doesn’t really have to have anything to do with the main subject of the column to follow. Just pick anything…really. In the body of the main text it is important to leave the impression with the reader without actually saying as much, that no matter what (gotta keep the money rolling into RJ) stocks are going to march higher no matter what…if shit is really actually about to hit the fan…frame it as a possible “healthy market consolidation” before it continues to march higher. If shit is currently hitting the fan…tell the reader that you will be out of the office on numerous trips and that everyone should “exercise “street smarts” in your absence.” (swear to God this is a quote from this weeks column)

  19. Lee Adler says:

    Aw c’mon Josh. What I want to know is how to get published on Barry’s Blog!

  20. cfischer says:

    For Motley Fool, I would add that the content must be missing any sort of real analysis or insight, and instead contain charts of common ratios found under “Key Statistics” on yahoo.

  21. bergsten says:

    How to write for boutique “anonymous” trader’s blog “A”: Call everybody in “anonymous trader’s blog “B” assholes, antisemitic, homophobic, crooked, incompetent, untrustworthy, mean-spirited, and ugly. Then sulk off and start “anonymous trader’s blog “C” (or start a pig farm or something).

    How to write for boutique “anonymous” trader’s blog “B”: Call everybody in “anonymous trader’s blog “A” assholes, antisemitic, homophobic, crooked, incompetent, untrustworthy, mean-spirited, and ugly. Then sulk off and start “anonymous trader’s blog “D” (or start a rock group or something).

    In either case, blame it all on Barry, and/or some completely uninvolved person with some clever pseudonym like, say, “CNBCSucks.” Or accuse even less involved people of being “CNBCSucks.”

    You had to be there.

  22. Dr J says:

    I didn’t know TRB referred to The Big Picture.

  23. jnkowens says:

    Helpful? It was f*cking hilarious!

  24. klhoughton says:

    What Lee Adler Said.

    And a minor correction:

    “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.”

    That last phrase is so passe; besides, why bother talking about people whose names no one pronounces correctly, such as Kroogman or ManQ? Much better–especially when the two Presidential candidates are a Ford Republican and a Man who can’t manage a Management Consulting firm anymore–to snark at someone who is politically near you except on the point under discussion.

    (The above rule applies to Democrats only, though it appears to be expanding to Libertarians as well.)

  25. [...] finally, Josh Brown once again flashes some wicked wit, http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/03/how-to-create-financial-content/ . This entry was posted in Investment. Bookmark the permalink. ← Why buy [...]

  26. Giovanni says:

    Funny as Heck! I shared it under the Subtitle: “The Top 20 rules for Success In Finnacial Blogging. Via The TBP blog- Ignore at your peril !!!” Via @NoKidding:

    …”How to write a post on The Big Picture: Pick a fashionable finance topic – gold, bailouts, Apple’s market cap- and analyze how a thinking person would go about analyzing the topic, without actually analyzing the topic; just analyze the process of analysis. Append someone else’s infographic with verifiably honest data and a wildly speculative headline unsupported by close inspection of the infographic.” Via

  27. [...] to create financial contentBob Morris, on Mar 11, 2012, 8:29 pmThe Big Picture has a fun post on how to write for different financial sites. Read the whole thing.How to write for the Business [...]