Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How can I come up with ideas for a weekly newspaper column on personal finance?

That's the question a newly independent advisor asked me.

Before I offer some ideas, I'm going to challenge the idea that a newspaper column must be weekly. As newspapers decline, this advisor would be lucky to get into print once a month. But let's assume the paper DOES need a weekly column. How about offering to rotate authorship with three advisors who have different niches?  You'll reduce your burden and increase the range of topics covered by the column. That sounds like a win-win situation to me. If you know of anyone who's tried column-sharing, please leave a comment below. 

Once you've landed your column, here are some sources for ideas.
1. Questions your clients ask you
2. LinkedIn and other social networking sites--See what questions appear in LinkedIn's "Personal Finance" or other "Answers" categories. Pose a question in a social networking forum. For example, "What's your most pressing personal finance question?" or "What questions do you have about managing your 401(k)?"
3. Professional publications--Have you read an interesting article in Financial Planning, Advisor Perspectives. Financial Analysts Journal or some other trade publication? Talk about the topic in plain terms that regular folks can understand.
4. Newspapers, TV, and other media--It's especially good to pick a controversial topic.
5. Personal finance blogs--There are lots of good blogs out there. For a list of financial and econonmic blogs read by financial advisors, check out the list on page 3 of my article, "Investment Strategy Blogs Slow to Influence Financial Advisors."

Can you suggest more sources? Please leave a comment.

Susan B. Weiner, CFA
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Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved


  1. Susan, I find it particularly helpful to keep a physical swipe file and a electronic swipe file to place articles in that i find interesting. Being able to reference articles I have filed, often spurs a thought, idea or never know when the 'moment' hits you from scanning the file you have kept...

    Thanks for the post. I really like the idea of sharing a column with others.

  2. Lawain,

    That's an excellent idea about having physical and electronic files.

    I have a hanging file folder with ideas for my blog.

    Also, when I see interesting materials online, I often copy the URL into a blog post draft. Unfortunately, I don't get back to those drafts as often as I'd like.

    Thanks for your comment!


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