In my last article, I provided my formula for writing compelling content in half the time—including a writer’s bag of tricks. If you haven’t read how to create your own writing blueprint, go back and read that last piece now.

Put On Your Writer’s Hat

If you’ve tried all my tricks, and you still can't write, try interviewing yourself about your material. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is this piece more difficult to write than others?
  • What is it I really want the reader to know?
  • Why would anyone read this?

Use the "so what?" test throughout the writing process. It helps to challenge yourself as you create your content. Keep it compelling by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this add value and help the reader?
  • Does it work to achieve my goals?
  • Is it clear and concise?
  • Am I writing in the "you voice"?
  • Have I used big words and industry jargon?
  • Would my mother understand this?

Keep It Simple, Einstein

Bill Blundell, a writing consultant and former reporter and editor of The Wall Street Journal, when speaking at the National Writers' Workshop said: "We say our readers are very busy people, but what we really mean is that we think they have the attention span of chimps." Translation: Write simple sentences—at about the eighth-grade level. Don't make people work too hard to understand what you are trying to say.

Most of us try to accomplish too much with our writing. Often readers want to learn only one or two things, not all the information we have gathered. Remember:

  • People want to be able to easily scan what they're reading.
  • They find charts and tables useful only if they are extremely simple.
  • Use subheads to break things up.
  • Mix bullet points into your text.
  • "A picture is worth a thousand words." Use photos that look like the people you serve.

Rolling Up Your Sleeves

Okay, so you're a financial advisor. But you can still become a good writer. Who better than you to communicate the key points to your prospects and clients? Even if your writing's not perfect, if you write with passion and clarity you'll communicate powerfully and, eventually, with style and grace.

Remember that clients value authenticity, too. So if you do decide to hire a professional copywriter or marketing communications consultant, be sure the final product reflects your own voice.

Got a writing project? Do what you need to do to get ready. Roll up your sleeves. Get in your special place. Then just do it. The longest journey begins with a single step. Once you start walking you'll eventually hit your stride.

Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for over twenty years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at Get breaking news at


Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access