What do you need to know about writing a blog post? Well, let’s take a look. You know having a digital presence is a good idea for the sustainability of your financial planning business, you know that content is king and you know Google rules the internet. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But what does this all really mean for the day to day operation of your small business? It means your website (and your business) needs a blog.
What’s a blog?
A blog is a way for you to share your expertise, opinions and experience with clients – and potential clients. It’s a place where you provide information that will lead to contacts and drive sales. Through the magic of Google and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s also a way for new clients to find you because you’re sharing information about a topic they are searching for on the internet.
A blog can be a standalone website (if you don’t already have one) or it can be a part of your existing small business website. A blog is a great way to keep your website up to date, it gives clients a reason to keep coming back, it can help cross-sell your services and it also gives you content to share on your social networks.
After your website is set up with the standard webpages (about, home, contact, services, etc.) the content is rarely updated, am I right? When’s the last time you updated your website? For many financial advisors the answer is “it’s been a while”. A blog keeps your website updated with fresh content and Google a.k.a. the ruler of all things internet ranks the most recent content the highest (all other things being equal). Have you ever read anything from the second page of Google?
How do I start a blog?
Just start writing. I promise, it’s that easy – well, almost that easy. The first step is to find a home for your blog. Will it be a standalone website or will it be a part of your current small business website? The answer depends on your current digital marketing strategy. If you already have a website, my advice is to add in a blog section because you’re already set up online and you’re already working hard to promote that website. Two different domains means double the work – and who has time for that?
I’m a big fan of using WordPress to create and maintain websites. If you scroll down to the very bottom of this blog post, you’ll see Proudly Powered by WordPress – and it’s true. (They’re not paying me to say that we don’t have a partnership, not yet anyway).
Most WordPress themes offer a blog feature and all you need to do is click on +New and Post to get started. If you don’t already have a website, the process is a bit longer because you’ll have to purchase a domain (your .com website address), set up hosting and choose a website theme design. I use Big Scoots to host this website (I will get paid if you sign up with them). Blue Host is another popular hosting service. You can also choose to go with an all-in-one platform such as GoDaddy to buy your domain, set up hosting and design your website.
What do I write about?
After you’ve found a home for your website a.k.a. your domain, it’s time to start writing. Writer’s block is a real struggle for financial planners. My best advice is to get out of your own head and write about what you know. If you’re a good relationship manager and are good at giving advice, the odds are you’re also a good writer. The hardest part is getting started.
Your blog posts should be an extension of your in-person work. If you’ve ever met me in person, had a conversation with me or watched one of my webinars, the odds are you’re hearing my voice as you read this. The same should happen for your clients. When starting to write all you need to do is take your in-person personality and bring it online – just be real and be yourself.
Think about your client appointments last week:
- What questions did they ask?
- What advice did you give?
That’s your next blog post.
How often should I post?
The answer completely depends on how much time you have. I understand digital marketing and content creation aren’t your full-time job, so you write as much as you can – or you can hire someone to do it. Whether you write once a month or once a week, my advice is to keep it consistent. Publish on a regular basis, avoid long periods of time without new blog posts and try to stay on a publishing schedule i.e. the 1st of each month.
Where can I find images for my blog?
Every blog post should have a bright, colourful image. There are several websites that offer free images for use. Pixabay, Pexels and Stencil are some of my favourites. Some free advice from one blogger to another. Of course, there are also paid options such as Shutterstock and Adobe, but the financial planner in me says why pay for it if you can get it for free. Please don’t steal images off the internet, always make sure the image is able to be used and is free to use.
An image is crucial for sharing on your social networks. It’s also a nice feature on your website if you show a thumbnail (small version) image with the preview description of your blog posts. An image doesn’t have to be literal. When choosing an image (and writing your content) always keep your target audience in mind. Ask yourself:
- What would they click on?
- What would they relate to?
- What do they want to see?
If you’re writing a post about retirement, you could post a picture of an account statement or a calculator. But why not post a picture of “retirement aged” people enjoying themselves – drinking, eating, walking, boating, golfing etc. The second option will be more relatable to the reader. Don’t believe me? Which one would you click on?
How long should my blog post be?
A blog post should be a minimum of 300 words because the rumour is Google won’t count it for search if it’s less. There was a time in earlier internet days when 500 words was the sweet spot for a blog word count. However, more and more experts are saying that more is better when it comes to your word count because (as we’ve already established) content is king.
My best advice is to write until you’re done. There’s a fine line between being helpful and being longwinded. That same line draws the different between giving advice and rambling on. Be helpful, give tangible advice (such as a to do list or a step by step process) and get out. Don’t write to just to write, always write with purpose. Ask yourself:
- Who am I talking to?
- What do I want them to know?
- Why are they coming to me for advice?
- What problem am I solving?
- Where should they go next?
How will people find my website?
That’s an easy answer. In the land of the internet people can find you in one of four ways:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media
- Directly (they type in your website address)
- By referral
In a digital world, a referral is someone sharing your social media posts to their network or forwarding your email newsletter to their friends and family. If your website isn’t optimized for SEO (start with Yoast), if you’re not active on social media and if you aren’t sending out an email newsletter, we should probably start a bigger conversation.
Who should read my blog posts?
This is the ROI part of spending time on digital, content and email marketing. Financial advisors are numbers people and we always want to know what’s in for me, what will I get out of it and will it be worth the cost? I say we because as a former financial advisor, I’m also (currently) a CFP.
Clients, potential clients and everyone in your referral network should read your blog posts. The goal is to create helpful content that they will want to like and share with their own networks. It’s not who you send it to, it’s who they send it to – and that my friends is the Facebook effect. Here’s what you’ll get out of creating content:
Current clients = Cross-selling and referral opportunities
Potential clients = New contacts, sales and AUM
Centers of Influence = Referrals and collaboration
Your target audience a.k.a. potential clients will also read your blog posts because you’re answering the questions they’re asking and writing about topics they’re searching for. Always keep your target client, your expertise and your differentiator in mind when writing your next blog post.