New to the blogging world and not sure how to start one? Or maybe you have a blog, but feel like you want to be a “better blogger”? Well the good thing is that you found my blog and are reading it so you are off to a great start! As simple as “starting a blog” sounds for some, sitting down and actually writing a blog post can be anything but easy. Wondering what to write about, what approach should be used, who might actually be interested in what you have to say, along with knowing how to say it – the multiple aspects of blogging can be daunting.
In last month’s issue of Practice Management Solutions, I came across this list of 20 tips on how to be a successful blogger. I thought this would be fitting to share with everyone! As you read through this list, you will no doubt find some tips that may seem very “common sense” – and others that might be an area where you might be struggling with your blogging. After you’re done reading, leave us a comment and tell us what are some of your biggest blogging hurdles, and if this article is helpful for you to start overcoming them!
20 Tips for Becoming a Successful Blogger
by Gary DeAsi and Evan Stone
You’ve probably heard a lot about blogs. Many advisers are writing them, and why not? Blogs can be an effective way to establish your firm as a thought leader, drive traffic to your site and in the best of all worlds get a new client or two.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write a good blog. Instead, you need a clear idea of what you’d like to say, the determination to put your words in writing and the willingness to follow a few simple guidelines:
1. Have Something Meaningful to Say
Don’t just write a blog for the sake of it or because you want to jump on the blogging bandwagon. Write about what you know-something within your area of expertise. Put some thought in it before you write anything. This tip is crucial because the more time you spend brainstorming up front, the easier it will be to write a clear, complete blog that truly represents your thinking.
2. Write About Hot Topics
To identify trending topics and what’s buzzing in the investment community right now, be sure to take your cue from industry articles and headlines, social media platforms and conversations with clients, prospects, partners and colleagues. Put your own spin on a ball that’s already rolling.
3. Write in Everyday, Conversational Language
You don’t want to show off your vocabulary, you want to create a bond with your readers. Use simple words to convey your meaning. Avoid jargon where possible. And remember, you want to connect with readers both rationally (with your ideas and points) and emotionally (with your voice and style).
4. Keep It Short
The longer the Internet is around, the shorter the attention span of its users. So when you write your blog, get in, make your points, dust off your hands and get out. At times, you can make exceptions to this rule. For example, if you consider the content to be of the highest quality without any fluff or weak spots, you can write a longer blog; likewise if you feel as though you simply cannot accomplish the goal of your post in a short format.
5. Take Inspiration From Other Bloggers, But Don’t Lift From Other Writers’ Blogs
Read other blogs to get your wheels turning and to inspire your own original ideas on similar subjects. But don’t try posting a translation of someone else’s ideas in your own words.
6. Focus on a Single Topic
Again, we circle back to the reader’s attention span. Don’t shift from topic to topic and lead a reader all over the place. Rather, after you’ve earned a reader’s attention, be sure to stay on subject in order to keep it.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Write in Tried-and-True Blog Genres
All blogs are different (at least they’re supposed to be), but it is possible to place them in groupings of similar blogs. In fact, when you start out, try to determine if your proposed blog fits within any of the following genres-all of which are proven attention-getters. We’ve included some sample headlines to give you a sense of what these genres are all about:
- Advice: “How to accomplish the impossible in 10 simple steps”
- Collections and top lists: “Hottest 20 blogs of a sizzling summer”
- Reviews: “What we think of the Adviser Revitalizer Snake Oil”
- Predictions: “Why the Dow will be at 20,000 by year’s end”
- Motivation: “5 new ideas that’ll send your AUM to the moon”
- Troubleshooting: “An important tip for the economy’s double dip”
- Interviews: “Ben Bernanke chats with us over crumpets and tea”
- Editorial/personal reflection:”Why I think Dodd-Frank will really tank”
8. Use Enumeration to Organize and Title Your Blog
Readers gravitate toward articles that feature numbers in the title or that are structured according to a numerical sequence. Humans have a need to quantify and measure. Indulge it when you’re addressing your reader-it works.
9. Present Information in Bite-Sized Chunks
It’s always a good idea to organize your articles into sections. For example, use bullets and subheads to break up large blocks of content. This will help to distinguish one point from another-and will make the task of reading your article seem much less intimidating. After all, doesn’t a reader prefer to have information presented in neatly labeled, bite-sized pieces one at a time, as opposed to one big, jumbled block of text that needs to be swallowed whole?
10. Ask Questions and Provide Answers
Questions get people thinking and increase engagement levels. Ask people their opinions and share your own.
11. Don’t Bad-mouth or Insult
Your opinions represent not only yourself but also your firm. Plus, you get further with sugar.
12. Check Your Grammar and Spelling
Obvious, yet important-do you want to give the impression that your firm would hire someone who was too lazy to proofread their own work? Worse, what kind of message does it send if you’re a principal in your firm?
13. Don’t Spend Time on the Obvious
Don’t tell readers what they already know or have heard a million times before. If you want to talk about a trending topic or agree with a popular opinion, that’s fine, but just make sure your take is original.
14. Use Stories, but Only When They Work
The most effective stories are personal, real-life stories that people can relate to. But they’re only effective when they’re clearly related to the subject matter of the piece or if used as a strong, logical metaphor that demonstrates a point. Keep in mind, when you’re using a metaphor, you (and your reader) shouldn’t have to look hard to see the parallel.
15. Cut One-third After You’ve Written Your Rough Draft
This number is not an unbendable law that needs to be enforced with an iron fist. Rather, it’s more of a best practice. Get in the habit of overwriting and only keeping the best of the best, as opposed to overwriting or underwriting and keeping it all. We all know how painful it can be to say good-bye to what you’ve worked so hard to create, but if the rest of the blog can survive without it, lose it.
16. Keep Your Voice; Don’t Imitate Someone Else’s Style
Aim to establish your own authentic, consistent writing voice that over time readers will begin to recognize, connect with and appreciate.
17. Spend Time on the Headline; It’s the Most Important Part
In most cases, you have a split second-a couple of seconds at most-to get a reader’s attention and earn your article a view. The title of the article is just as important as the article itself. To make an analogy, if the Internet is a highway, your title is like the billboard or exit sign for your article. Without the right words to catch their attention, people will pass right by, without ever thinking to get off at your stop.
18. Take Your Reader on a Brief Journey
After reading your blog, readers should feel as though they have ended at a different place from where they began. Whether they have learned something new, had an interesting thought or idea or just liked the way your blog sounded, they should have the feeling that something has changed. If you make a lasting impact on your readers, they’ll store that fact in the back of their minds and hopefully return for later postings of your blog.
19. Link to Related Topics and Other Relevant Blogs
If you are using any keywords or topics that can be linked to other parts of your website, be sure to insert hyperlinks wherever you can. It is always preferable to reference and link to your own content to keep readers from clicking off your site, but when citing an external source or article, always be sure to give appropriate credit.
20. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Creative
These rules are meant to help, not restrict. Good luck with your blog! May it earn you lots of readership and lots of interest. And who knows, maybe help you garner a new client or two.
Gary DeAsi is the marketing coordinator at ByAllAccounts, and Evan Stone is a marketing consultant for ByAllAccounts. ByAllAccounts (www.byallaccounts.com) provides account aggregation services for financial advisers. DeAsi and Stone blog regularly on a variety of marketing and practice management topics at www.byallaccounts.com/blog. This article is an adaptation of two of their blog posts.
So I’m wondering – what are your biggest blogging issues? Were there any points listed above that might be helpful to you as you embark on (or continue on) your blogging journey? Be sure to leave a comment – and let us know if this article was helpful to you!