There are a number of topics to write about when it comes to money, but attempting to write about investing can be the most challenging especially if you’re new. What makes writing about investing more difficult? For starters, there are regulatory bodies that regularly monitor content, especially those in major news publications, for inaccuracies or miss-representations.
Writing about investing can also be difficult because it is a topic that constantly moves. Unlike budgeting or debt management which are more static, new concepts in the investing world are popping up each day. The concept of cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are more mainstream now but are still relatively new and evolving rapidly. This can also be seen when looking at the topic of inflation in 2022. The recent spike in inflation has sparked a lot of interest in Series-I Bonds, these bonds had been around for decades but due to changing conditions, people are now asking new questions about this investment.
Here are a few tips on how to write about investing.
Let your Data and/or Sources Speak
One of the most powerful ways to gain credibility in the investing space is to allow your data and when possible, the experts that you’ve interviewed to speak. To readers, there is a big difference between me saying: “I think Disney is a good stock” and this, “5 out of 6 analysts agree that Disney is a stock worth buying according to CNBC.” Allowing your sources to speak does two things. First, it shows that you’ve done your research and that the points that you’re making can be verified by someone other than yourself. The second thing is that it allows the source to make the claim for you instead of running the risk of stating something incorrectly or without proper context. Unless you have a financial designation specific to investing, lean on your sources and research to speak for you when appropriate.
Here’s another example from a recent article I wrote in Business Insider: An income statement begins with the amount of money the company made and deducts expenses made during the reporting period. “Income statements are important because it can show how well a company is being managed and can give historical data to develop trends to help a company run better,” says Camari Ellis, EA, a former portfolio manager and founder of The Philly Tax Team.
If we dissect the previous passage you will notice a few things. I led by doing a brief explanation about what an income statement was but let my source, in this case Camari Ellis, speak here and throughout the article. Let your experts shine by allowing them to describe the details and importance of certain aspects of your topic. This also gives readers a change of pace and adds color to the piece.
Do Not Use Absolutes or Guarantees
Stray away from using absolute terms and guarantees when it comes to investing. These include terms like “always,” “never,” and “none.” Because the investing world is constantly moving and unpredictable, especially in the short term using an absolute in a statement could be misleading. Instead substitute those words for “usually/typically,” “in most cases,” or cite a specific data point to support your statement. Instead of saying, “The stock market always goes up,” a better way to phrase this would be, “Typically the stock market rises over time, in fact from the year 2000 to 2021 the market was negative only X times.” Every investment has risks and it is important to accurately describe those risks to readers.
Be Cautious With Metaphors
Metaphors are one of my favorite ways to explain stock market concepts but pay attention to what connections you are making. In my experience the best metaphors connect two things that are in totally different contexts. Back in 2016, during the Brexit vote I connected the economic event to Beyoncé leaving Destiny’s Child. It was connecting international economics to music.
You may run into issues however if you connect two concepts that are too close together which can lead readers to make inaccurate conclusions. An egregious instance of this would be: “The S&P 500 is like your savings account.” Not only is the statement inaccurate, it can lead the reader to conclude that investing is as safe as a savings account, which it is not.
Be Clear and Concise
Being clear and concise is a writing tip that could be used when writing about almost any topic and while some investing concepts may be a bit more complex you shouldn’t sacrifice those fundamentals. Investing is littered with jargon that can often be avoided completely by cutting straight to the main point using words that the reader can easily understand.
Like any skill, writing about investing will take practice but with these tips you will be able to shorten the learning curve and begin writing about investing topics in your own voice.