The Motley Fool Blog Network FAQ
Roger is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Q: How long should each post be?
A: As long as it needs to be. OK, that’s not entirely satisfying, so let’s say that you should shoot for somewhere around 500 to 800 words – that tends to be the sweet spot for readers.
Q: How often do I need to post?
A: As often as you are inspired to educate, amuse, and/or enrich thousands of readers. Whether that’s once a quarter or five times a day, that’s fine with us, as long as you're providing outstanding content. Keep in mind, however, that if you have to make a choice between writing four mediocre posts or one great one, we will always vote for quality.
Q: How long does it take you to review my post?
A: We try to get to everything within two to three business days from when you submit for syndication – sometimes it’s a little longer, sometimes we’ll get to it in a matter of minutes. NOTE: If you leave the status as Draft, it won’t get into the editors’ queue and we probably won't stumble across it for days.
Q: Can I post the same piece of content in lots and lots of places?
A: Nope, but you can post the same piece of content to your personal blog and to the Fool. And you’re welcome to include a link back to your own blog.
Q: Anything else that would be good to know?
A: A few little things that would help us and make us like you even more:
- Please type company names in bold on first reference, and if you’re tickering a company, please use this format: I think you should buy Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).
- We want our readers to get to know you. To that end, please pull in an avatar to help build your brand. Just go to https://www.fool.com/Account/SetAvatar.aspx to make it happen.
- If you go to http://my.fool.com/profile and enter all your information (including the stocks you own), it will efficiently and accurately generate your disclosure when you hit the Generate Disclosure button.
Q: I see a button that says Make CAPS Picks? What’s that about?
A: We feel that it’s important to keep score (as described here by one our founders), and this is our way to do it. If you feel strongly about one of the companies you’re mentioning in your post, back it up with a pick in The Motley Fool’s stock-picking game. In time, your CAPS score will be a part of your profile, so make those picks good.
Q: What do we get paid?
A: If you write a post that is thoughtful, well-written, and makes specific and relevant mention of businesses and their tickers, we’ll syndicate that entry (i.e., publish it to the financial world’s top ticker feeds) and pay you $50. If your posts are awesome on a consistent basis -- they make us think, they show us something new, they make a point and support it, they tell a story, they are clear, compelling, and Foolish -- then we'll give you a raise to $100 per post.
Q: How do we get paid?
A: After you've been syndicated for the first time, you'll receive an email from Elance, a payment services company we've partnered with, inviting you to a blogger job with us. Click the link in the email. If you're a new user of Elance, you'll need to set up your profile and your withdrawal options. If you already have an existing Elance account, you'll need to respond to our invitation with a proposal -- but don't worry about the terms, just send us something! We'll deposit your pay into your Elance account.
Q: When do we get paid?
A: Effective Dec. 1, 2012, we will be using the following payment schedule:
- All posts syndicated between the 1st and 15th of a given month will be paid on the 25th of that same month.
- All posts syndicated between the 16th and the end of the month will be paid on the 10th of the following month.
Q: My sessions didn't go up as much as I wanted, and they might have even dropped from one view to the next. Are you guys trying to hose me?
A: Nope, we're really not the hosing types -- in fact, we've boosted some consistently excellent writers to the upper tier even though they weren't quite averaging 2,500 sessions. The number oddity is happening because our traffic analytics use statistical sampling to generate session numbers, meaning that visit data will change or even drop as time passes and it gets more real data to process. Secondly, most blog traffic is generated through syndication with third-party aggregation websites. This means that for some popular tickers, you'll receive a large number of visits in a relatively small amount of time, but once the article scrolls off the ticker feeds, the visit volume will slow considerably. For some popular tickers -- such as AAPL or GOOG -- your post might be among the most recent links for a matter of minutes, in which case you could receive a thousand or more sessions soon after syndication, then only a handful more over the next month.
Q: It sounds to me that your distribution to portal partners is very stock-centric.
A: That’s technically not a question. But yes, posts about specific companies and their stocks will have the opportunity to achieve broader distribution through our syndication partnerships (i.e., Yahoo! Finance, AOL DailyFinance, MSN Money, CNNMoney). But we’ll also be able to feature top-quality non-stock articles on our Editor’s Choice page, on Fool.com, and in our emails that reach millions.
Q: Should we just slap on a blah and boring headline that amounts to an afterthought?
A: Surprisingly, we prefer engaging titles that make readers want to click. Remember, the title of your post is the most important factor in whether a reader will pick yours from among all the items in the ticker feed. It should draw the reader in, but not be overly provocative and, of course, the article must deliver on the title.
Q: Can we write about penny stocks?
A: Generally, no. It’s too easy to manipulate the market, even unintentionally, so we steer clear of those. Specifically, red flags are a market cap below $200 million, a share price under $1, and an average daily trading volume (three-month average) less than 300,000. If your stock has all three of those flags, it’s definitely a no. If it has one or two, ask your friendly neighborhood blog team member.
Q: Can we write about ETFs, foreign companies, and commodities?
A: You are more than welcome to discuss exchange-traded funds (ETFs), foreign companies, and commodities. However, understand that not every tradable security can be easily syndicated to ticker feeds with our partners. For the most part, we have found that American companies and foreign companies traded on American exchanges can be tickered. Outside of that realm, it's not a given. Also, we tend to avoid more technical-oriented topics like futures and foreign exchange trading.
Q: What about technical analysis?
A: That's not really our gig. Since our founding in the early 1990s, the Fool has practiced and preached a long-term, fundamentals-focused approach to investing. Just like Warren Buffett, we're notorious buy-and-holders.
Q: Is it OK to have just one ticker in a post?
A: No company exists in isolation. You're going to have a more thorough post with far greater context if you can incorporate three to five companies and their tickers in each post. Not incidentally, that will also allow you to get broader distribution. But should you just slap in a couple competitors and call it a day? Nope, we are strongly against drive-by tickering. But if you can include material discussion of a relevant company (i.e., competitors), that will get you more readers.
Q: Can you suggest a particular style I should emulate?
A: We’ve decided not to be prescriptive on posts – some folks will provide in-depth analysis of a particular stock while others will be lighter and chattier in nature. We figure that we have all types of readers, so we should produce content that appeals to everyone. So write what feels comfortable to you. The biggest things for getting your post syndicated are:
- having opinions and supporting them, not just listing analyst opinions;
- writing with original analysis, not just sentences listing financials and ratios;
- writing with a clear, clean, conversational voice; and
- making relevant and material mention of companies and their tickers;
- bonus if you correctly differentiate between its and it’s.
Some Technical Stuff
Q: Can we embed video in our posts?
A: At the moment, our platform supports neither video nor hand puppets.
Q: Can we make charts, graphs, or pictures to include in our posts?
A: Definitely. We have a tool above our blog post window that will make uploading pictures and creating tables easier. Keep in mind that any charts, graphs, or pictures should relate to the text and further inform the reader. If it's an article about Apple's sales around the world, show a visual. However, showing off your Angry Birds high score on your iPhone might not be relevant. Further, keep your visuals and stock charts simple, and your readers will appreciate it.
In the same way that you shouldn’t claim that other people’s written content is your own, you shouldn’t infringe other’s copyrights in images, charts, or graphs. In general, works that you made or that are in the public domain are always acceptable, but other works may require the permission of the author. You can find out more information on copyright law and the Internet at http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html.
Q: Can we include hyperlinks?
A: Yes, you can embed the hyperlinks in your text using the chain link tool at the top of the blog post window.
Q: OK, this all sounds reasonable enough, how do I get started?
A: If you're emotionally and otherwise ready to get started, just follow the steps below. If you already have a Fool.com username, skip to step 3.
- If you don't already have a fool.com username, head over to http://my.fool.com/profile. Click "Registering is easy" and follow the instructions to set up your free account.
- Navigate over to the "My Fool" tab, then select "My Profile" directly under that, and then click "edit" on the fields to enter the appropriate information. Please be sure to enter First Name and Last Name under "General Information." You can come back and enter the other information at your leisure.
- Come on over to http://beta.fool.com/join. If you’re logged in at fool.com, all your information should magically appear.
- E-mail us at email@example.com! You should automatically have the proper permissions to start blogging right away, but since we're still in beta, it doesn't always work that way. We'll check right away to make sure your account is up-to-date, and you'll be ready to share your thoughts with the world.
See? Easy! If you have any trouble along the way, be sure to let us know. We'll get things working as soon as we can.
If you have other questions, please drop them into the comments below. We'll answer them and expand the FAQ as needed. In the meantime, blog like the wind!