A crack team of freelance writers will shortly be available to add news and features to your website or to start up an editorial project such as a newspaper, magazine or mobile news service.
We can run an entire editorial service without an office and without the overheads. We can work flexible hours and can cover long days – well over 12 hours as standard. We can be your start-up team or your permanent, virtual, editorial operation.
The team currently provides editorial for the Capital.com website (a trading app) and has, for the past year, been producing features, analysis and, most recently, news. That contract is being wound down from March and will finish at the end of April.
Here’s how we work
Each freelance works from home. Chris Wheal runs the editorial project through an online and on-mobile project management system – currently Wrike.
Features, analysis and news shifts are commissioned as tasks, each with a price tag attached. The team can ask questions and share contacts. And Wrike reminds those commissioned about deadlines.
We also have a section for team documents, such as the house style, photos policy and picture library log-in details.
While working on news, we use online and on-mobile app Slack. Reporters engage with each other via our Slack newsshift channel, posting story ideas, source material and sharing contacts. They also post links to completed stories for fast checking and subbing.
This was all a significant step up from the days when Chris ran AOL’s money websites through a team of home-based freelances. That was all done by email.
Throughout the day, from 7am, often until after 9pm, Chris will be chipping in with comments or story ideas (or subbing suggestions), but sometimes he’ll be busy editing features or on other tasks. Chris could not physically be around all day every day. That was why it was crucial to have a team that could be entirely trusted.
We needed individuals who knew the law, their subject, copyright, how to do picture research and to upload content to the web. And they had to have their own contacts or be prepared to forge new ones.
All of the team have many years of experience and it shows:
Chris Wheal: Chris is editor. He set up and ran Daily Finance in the UK and then merged it with Walletpop to launch AOL Money. He previously edited three B2B magazines, including Insurance Times, as well as supplements in the Guardian. He has won awards for business and consumer journalism. He started in tech and industrial journalism and has continued to keep his hand in, including in the construction market and IoT. Chris on LinkedIn.
Neil Dennis: Neil left the Financial Times after 16 years writing about markets to pursue a freelance career. Neil has most recently acted as deputy editor for the team. Neil on LinkedIn.
Alison Bloomer: Alison has written on finance, insurance and pensions for various trade publications and was former managing editor of Insurance Times. She was launch editor of its Top 50 UK Insurers and Brokers reports produced in association with S&P Global Data Market Intelligence. She also edits a pharmaceutical industry magazine. Alison on LinkedIn.
Brian Bollen: Brian has written on international institutional finance, from corporate and M&A to the back-office functions of custody and settlement. He cut his teeth on an FT newsletter covering the international syndicated loan and capital markets and edited FT Mergers & Acquisitions International. Brian on LinkedIn.
James Hester: James began covering commodities markets before switching to the financial advice sector and then as an investment writer for asset managers, covering equities, fixed income and alternative asset classes. Today, he writes about the global capital markets and the drivers of investors’ returns. James on LinkedIn.
Dave Burrows: For more than 25 years, Dave has written for a wide range of newspapers and broadcasters including the Times, the Financial Times, the Independent, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Sky News. Previously nominated as National Financial Media Journalist of the Year, Dave specialises in investment features and business profiles as well as news. Dave on LinkedIn.
Graham Buck: Graham has been a financial journalist for more than 20 years and has both contributed to and edited a variety of titles, most recently as managing editor of the corporate treasury website GTNews. He has written regularly on insurance and reinsurance, risk management and pensions. His earlier career included several years with a major insurance group and with a broker, where he specialised in directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liability cover for corporates. Graham on LinkedIn.
Adrian Holliday: Adrian has written about pensions, tax and investing since 1998, from Teletext to the Observer and AOL, plus UK/US business and consumer titles. He also writes on ethical investing and SMEs.
Claire Hunte: Claire has worked in the US and UK. She was launch editor of the World Life Insurance Report, worked on FTyourmoney.com and was managing editor at Investor Relations and Corporate Secretary in the US. She has also worked for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and PwC. Claire on LinkedIn.
Richard Reed: Richard worked at a senior level in regional newspapers before becoming editor of a business magazine aimed at the start-up market. Since then he has freelanced for business and finance newspapers and magazines, including the Daily Telegraph, Investment Adviser (FT group), and Citywire. Richard on LinkedIn.
Claire Veares: Claire has written about finance, insurance and utilities for a variety of business magazines and was a sub-editor on an international petroleum magazine. She is also an experienced parliamentary reporter, working for the parliamentary record publication Hansard.
How it all started
Back in February 2017, when the Capital.com contract started, we were asked to write features on various aspects of trading. Some of these were highly technical, arcane and specialist – even strategies only available to large investors such as pension fund actuaries. We also wrote short courses and scripts for animated films on a variety of trading techniques.
At the time the website had not been launched and we had no access to the content management system (CMS).
Once the site was live we wrote about a feature a day and some analysis pieces and a handful of individual news stories. This was on top of a morning and evening UK stock market story and closing bell piece covering the US markets at about 9pm UK time.
This was enough for Google to recognise us as a news source, despite almost zero promotion on social media, no PR or any advertising. That was September 2017.
Then we were asked to try to produce 50 news stories a day. The idea was that, in the short term, we would copy across stories from Reuters, PA and Dow Jones, to which we subscribed, until the news feeds could be automated.
We implemented news shifts for this, with Neil Dennis becoming news editor to help share the workload and cover inevitable gaps. We had four news shifts a day, each of four hours’ duration. We expected the work rate of each person to be intensive.
We had two people on from 7am to 11am, one from 10am to 2pm and one from 1pm to 5pm. We always allowed the flexibility for parents to take or collect their kids from school and either start earlier or finish later to make up the time.
However, volume did not help with SEO – quality not quantity is what makes the difference – so, after a couple of months, the target to have a high number of stories was dropped. Automatically ingesting the news feeds never happened. We kept the news shifts, but focused on genuine, self-produced market news and more analytical pieces.
SEO and sharing
Much of our work was on creating articles that maximised search engine optimisation (SEO). The SEO team within Capital.com changed and the individuals tried numerous experiments. We were able to respond to all of them, from keyword cramming to writing seriously long-form, evergreen ‘skyscraper’ articles, which evidence suggests get shared more over time than short articles.
We also fed back our own expertise and produced articles that balanced SEO with reader interest and posts that were great for sharing on social media.
A significant gap had been social media. Eventually we convinced Capital.com to allow us to help. We sourced part-time expertise, initially only in Twitter and Facebook. Regular posting significantly increased our engagement level and helped drive a growth in traffic.
The combination of our news, analysis, features and the skyscraper articles meant we started to really grow once the right social media activity had begun.
Why are we available?
Capital.com has moved on to the next stage in its development. The new focus means it will employ staff direct in its London office. It will drop news completely from the end of February and wind down its current features and news coverage. It intends to alter its editorial focus, with more investment analysts writing technical pieces and making trading recommendations.
That’s an opportunity for us and for potential clients. We can come as an existing team. We can expand to meet your needs. We are not exclusively knowledgeable about finance and could help you establish any new ventures. We can work with you until you staff up, and can help train up your new staff. Or we can be your permanent editorial team.
If you have an existing project that needs a change of direction we can do that for you.
We are happy to work on open-book accounts, showing you the price paid for everything. We believe in being your partners.