Welcome back! Or, if you missed Part I of this article, you can catch up with us here.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”
“My Adidas / walk through concert doors / and roam all over coliseum floors” – RUN DMC
You want your blog to have a brand to sing about (see above). Visuals are the root of instant gratification when it comes to a site. The layout, the logo, the name: all are fundamental components in concocting a virtual cake that should taste as delicious as it looks. Adding some personal flavour (still going with this one) to your blog is what is going to make you stand out. Notice in these posts that I have dabbled with quotes from music, television, literature and film. I like all of these things, so I’m going to use them, and you should too. It just makes all of the more serious discussion a little bit easier to digest. The food puns stop here.
Elsewhere, GrowthHacker.tv has made itself look like a catch-up TV site, in the best possible way. It has an effectively edgy colour scheme, with surprisingly punchy greys and blacks making the little vibrancy there is resonate with the viewer. It’s funky looking and full of video content, essentially like a YouTube just for growth hackers, consultants and advisors to vlog their thoughts, certainly a gap in the market that they’ve successfully slithered their way into. You’ll notice also the various links to sign-ups, which whilst a bit overbearing are difficult to ignore and bound to attract clicks aplenty.
In essence, successful blogs are like a potential partner. Partly, you want to be attracted to the way that they look, and you also want to fall in love with their one-in-a-million personality. A good example, and one that really stresses this idea of ‘the brand’, is Mr. Money Mustache, created by a humble family man wanting to share his knowledge of personal saving. That main title screen, with its saloon-style theme and cool logo to boot, is astoundingly original and immediately makes you yearn for more information on exactly what this platform is. Mr. Money Mustache’s idiosyncrasy is steeped in his writing style, including his tagline: ‘Finance Freedom Through Badassity’. That’s not even a word, but it doesn’t have to be. Even the database layout is easy like Sunday morning, with the whole backlog of Mustache’s advising available on one page. Navigability is a key factor in UX, and that is actually a word. A blog post really can’t be all style and no substance.
In a similar vein is the branding of Social Media Examiner. The whole site hinges on the idea of the paradisiacal: islands and cruise ships with a (slightly unrelated?) mascot that’s a little safari man. You know the one I’m talking about. It is perhaps a bit garish, but on the content side, it’s a winner. There’s a healthy balance of image, text, gifs and screenshots. The brand that is SME is definitely a successful one, having managed to craft a whole universe of social media advice, extending to their very own expo in the utopian land of San Diego. That is, perhaps, a fairly monumental leap of a thought if you’re just starting up a blog, but they all have to start somewhere. With a clear (and branded) vision, your blog could take you to SoCal. Heaven on earth. Your brand, your future. Taglines.
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” – George Eliot
Within the FinServ industry, to just have creative content is all well and good, but having an alternative slant on finance will take your blog to the next level of originality. This of course may only be possible from having a more specific knowledge base, but if you do find a particular aspect of your business of interest to you, pounce on it and make it yours to dress up however you see fit. A different spin on a rife, yet relevant, topic will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
The expertly named Psy-Fi Blog describes itself as having a “sideways look at psychology and finance”. Putting the two together is not as unbelievable as one might think; all of us must adapt mentally to the ever-changing face of finance, investor behaviour is a complex discussion topic, and marketers have to think in the same way as their consumers to make their content invaluable to generate leads. But focusing specifically on the behavioural psychology of those in the financial sector is distinctive, as is the Psy-Fi Blog’s content itself. Its layout is simplistic, yet home to articles with uniquely brilliant subtitles. One, for example, features ‘timing dragons’, ’mortals’, ‘noise’ and ‘more noise’ as titles to break up the text. Without context it looks ridiculous, within the article they work a treat in displaying their refreshing psychological perspectives.
Behavioural economics sounds alien and complex, but it’s been made easy by Dan Ariely, whose public lectures on the website show his excellent way of presenting more abstract ideas. These ideas become as accessible as Dan is – just check out the nonchalant picture of him chilling on a swing on the ‘All About Dan’ section of his website for reference. The blog posts themselves are fairly short and straightforward, making efficient use of infographics (a particular favourite with content marketers), and he also runs Q&As – a technique we have now seen recur frequently throughout the examples I have given. They go a long way in displaying that you’re not a robot. As beneficial as robots are becoming in FinTech, make sure to keep them separate from your ‘agony aunt’ writings.
Clearly, even less tangible ideas such as investment behaviour can be conveyed in a far more manageable way through blogging. Another useful example to view would be The Behavioural Investor, a Minnesota-based equity manager who give their thoughts on behaviours within financial markets. Again, they focus on far more human endeavours to portray these ideas. One article centred around golf. Delve deeper into the blog and you’ll find that more than one article is about golf, but even to the golf-phobic, the analogies make perfect sense. Off-piste blogs can work well, just so long as the delivery isn’t as complicated and that they are humanised through use of anecdotes, analogies and humour.
“Help!” – The Beatles
Growth hacking, financial advisory, behavioural analysis, how-to videos; looking back at all of these sections, it seems obvious that the majority of bloggers are motivated to help others. Even one blogger’s desire to spout endless spiels of nonsense from their mind palace in a stream of consciousness style might, in some indirect way, help a reader.
In the confusing, data-heavy world of analytics, users need all the help that they can get, so if this is your neck of the woods then follow this next example to achieve peak user satisfaction. Seeking Alpha is ridiculously comprehensive, covering markets, stocks and ETFs and other funds with trending articles and market news. Whilst not a blog as such, the way that these articles have been collated gives a solid blueprint for a successful layout.
Asset management is something far more specific than the sprawling black hole of FinTech, and on the surface, far less ‘fun’. We want stuff about robots! However, James Osborne’s Bason Asset Management blog follows similar guidelines to many others to make investment more engaging. Ever thought about linking investment to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations? James has, in short-but-sweet articles dedicated to assisting you in the realm of financial management. There was also a GIF from The Phantom Menace somewhere. It’s weird how FinServ and sci-fi seems to have such a great affinity. Also, I know what you’re thinking, it’s not from the original Star Wars trilogy, but Episode I had pod racing and Darth Maul so…
Finally, Joshua M. Brown’s The Reformed Broker shows once again the amalgamation of “markets, politics, economics, media, culture and finance” to give an original take on the financial market. Brown has featured in many publications as a top-notch financial advisor, appearing frequently on CNBC as well as writing for Forbes, The New York Times, Reuters and many more, so his insights, whenever or wherever he writes, are packed full of information. A single blog post managed to quote Bob Marley, Shakespeare, Cicero and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in one poetic hit that’s as explosive as the website’s logo. Who says finance and the arts can’t mix? Clearly, whether its quantitative or qualitative, information and insight on finance and its array of subsections is helpful to readers that are surfing through a fundamental and ever-changing industry.
Phew, we’ve made it. Got a bit serious at the end there, didn’t it? Hopefully this particular article, with all of its unnecessary metaphors, screen-grabs and Jedi wisdom has given you the tools and the inspiration to get out there and get blogging. Your content needs to have an original and suitable tone of voice, be laid out beautifully, branded starkly and successful in what it sets out to do, whether it is to entertain or to inform. Within FinServ, content marketing in all of its forms is vital for business, and your company’s blog is a swell way to start. Have fun with it – I know I have.
Are there any other blogs that you find interesting or useful? If so, please comment below or you can tweet us.