My name is Conor, the one on the left who forgot to rip the label off his scarf. The other guy is Leandro, a friend I was able to meet while travelling in Paris, all because of this newsletter.
I’ll tell you a bit about who I am, then I’ll tell you about what I write, and then I’ll conclude with a FAQ section.
Who is “Conor?”
I am a 26-year-old who grew up in Germany & England before migrating back to my homeland of Scotland where I currently reside and where I attended five years of university as an economics student. Following which, I explored various roles in fintech, and am currently part of a small start-up team based out in California. I am also a writer and have been building Investment Talk, the newsletter you are reading, for the last three years.
Originally I had planned on becoming an analyst. I have always had a fascination with business since secondary school; it was the only subject that I couldn’t wait to attend classes for. In university, this blossomed into a love of investing. Post-undergrad, I realised that economics, while fascinating, was not a profession for me. I took one year to figure my life out, taking on a masters degree to bide my time. During that year, I began working through the CFA, and somehow stumbled into a full-time post at an investment reporting solutions company. Once Investment Talk started building steam, I realised I had too much on my plate, and shelved my CFA to pursue this exciting new thing that I had discovered; writing. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Substack Pro program back in 2020, which allowed me to say farewell to my old full-time job and focus on writing for one year. I have not looked back since. Here is a memo I wrote in March reflecting on my first three years.
Elsewhere, I am immensely passionate about investing, cooking, and travelling. I recently started a YouTube channel to explore that passion for cooking even more. Now to what I write.
What is Investment Talk?
Great question, this is something that took me a few years to answer for myself.
Investment Talk is where I create & curate a range of articles about the stock market, the companies within it, and muse on everything from why we chase purpose and desire, how to place a value on the unknowable unknowns, why investment maxims are not applicable to everyone, and why PepsiCo paid $1 million for their logo in the biggest case of design gymnastics I have ever seen. If you are looking for stock picks or advice, then this isn’t the newsletter for you. If you seek alpha, then let me know if you find any, because I am too.
There are five sections to this newsletter:
Markets: Essays about the stock market and the companies within it.
Memos: Miscellaneous memos related to the stock market and life.
Market Talk: A bi-weekly, released on Sundays, that curates the greatest things I have consumed during that time.
Classics: Interviews and essays from the past with investment greats.
Journal: An investment journal of sorts. Notes on the companies I personally own.
Besides Market Talk (2x per month). I write anywhere between 5 to 10 articles in a month. Because I am trying to make a go of living from this newsletter and spend a lot of my time building it, most of the articles are reserved for supporters. If you find that you enjoy the content and would like to support the newsletter, you can do so here.
What’s the end goal?
The goal for me is to improve the quality of my writing, the value that it brings readers, and how much they enjoy the writing that I share. In the past, I have experimented with paywalls, advertising, and the like. In late 2021 I took a year off paywalls to focus on improving & growing the newsletter. It worked, and the number of readers more than tripled. Today, most of the content is free to read, some are reserved for paying supporters, and I occasionally allow companies to advertise on my free articles. This is all in aid of my attempt to grow this newsletter into something that can be my “job” in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What platform do you write on?
I currently write on Substack but have experimented with several others in the past. Truth be told, while there are platforms with greater product depth than Substack, I find that it does everything I need and I am content with it for the time being.
2) Can I advertise on Investment Talk?
Yes, so long as I feel the integrity of the product or service is worthy of showing to my readers. If you’d like to talk advertising, hit me up on Twitter, my DMs are open.
3) What do you enjoy most about writing Investment Talk?
That picture I shared at the beginning of this page? That’s what I enjoy most about writing Investment Talk. Over the years I have been able to talk to investors I’d never dreamed of talking to before; fund managers, tenured professionals, and other analysts. I’ve also been able to connect with hundreds of fellow retail investors, share ideas, make genuine friends, and learn from them. That was the reason I created a Twitter account in the first place; to expand my social circle as it relates to investing. When I was travelling to Paris with my partner, I shared a picture of the Eiffel Tower and received a message from Leandro to the effect of “I’m flying into Paris tomorrow”. We arranged to meet in person for the first time, after having chatted for hours previously on Zoom and in direct messages. My partner and I, as well as Leandro and a few of his close friends all met, had lunch, drank beer, and had a terrific time. It’s wonderfully random moments like that which make me enjoy life so much, and the newsletter facilitates things like that. So, that’s what I enjoy most.
4) How did you scale Investment Talk to 20,000 readers?
The short answer is, through trial and error, consistency, and hundreds of thousands of words. I have written non-stop for over three years. I see many people throw in the towel after six months. I originally started writing about my own portfolio, companies and their reported earnings. I transgressed to writing about companies in a more journalistic approach (because I wanted to get away from any notions of being a “stock picking” service) and incorporating my own musings on the market and life generally. Having your own voice is critical. There are so many investment research, finance, or money blogs out there. Many of them sound the same. The best ones are those where the readers are there to hear what you have to say.
The writing game is full of many wonderful people. Get to know them. Learn from them. Ask them for advice, and feedback, and be open to helping them in any way you can. Don’t view this game as a zero-sum activity (I only scratch your back if you scratch mine). Put good things out there, help people, with no expectation of return, and the byproduct is goodwill, friendships, and opportunities you might never have imagined.
The other important factor is Twitter, my only top-of-funnel.
5) How did you grow your Twitter to 50,000+ followers?
I don’t optimise for Twitter growth, but it was a pivotal factor in building my newsletter audience early on. Today, I rely more on recommendations and sharing from my existing network of readers. When I say I don’t optimise for growth, I mean that I largely use Twitter in a personal capacity; sharing things I find interesting, picking the brain of others, and occasionally I try to be funny. There are people who really know how to lubricate the Twitter engine, schedule content, share visuals they know will relate to the everyday investor, and write long threads about topical issues. Sometimes this is done with zero personality or originality, other times it is not. I am too lazy for that personally.
I create a Twitter account in February 2020, just before the pandemic started. It’s worth bearing in mind that during this period; when the public’s interest in social media and investing went ballistic, it created this mutated child of intense engagement that acted as a tailwind for my Twitter account’s growth for the better part of two years. At that time, I did lean into growing a following. Today, Twitter is less crazy and I am more lazy.
Your feedback is always welcome, and if there’s a topic that you want to hear more about, or you just want to chat, then reach out to me on Twitter.