A personal or company blog is an excellent public relations tool that not only conveys an expert opinion, but also positions you nicely in terms of search engine optimization. What’s the end game? Retention and recruitment, of course. This means you and/or your firm will publish content that enables you to keep the clients you have while always prospecting for new ones.
Some may think blogging is as simple as sitting down and writing; that’s the best way to start, of course, but there’s much more to it than that. Here are 7 steps to writing a better blog.
Step One: Find a CMS that Works for You
A Content Management Systems (CMS) is what you’ll use to write, format and post your blog. There’s no need to know HTML because almost all of the well-known and FREE services use Microsoft-like commands. I like WordPress, but there is also Blogger, another very popular program. No matter what you choose, test the system out and be sure you’re comfortable with it. Here’s an article I found with more alternatives.
Step Two: Blog Weekly
You’ll want to blog often enough to create a consistent “buzz” around your postings, but don’t overdo it. The goal of blogging more than once a week is lofty; after all, you’ll view blogging as a non-billable activity, so don’t set your expectations too high. It’s OK, of course, to post more than one blog in any given week, but weekly is fine. I’ve found that the best way to blog weekly is set an appointment for yourself to write and post. If you’ll notice on the AccountingWeb blog, I generally post on Mondays.
Step Three: Make a List of Topics
If this sounds too planned-out for your taste, that could be a good thing. Most of the time, people do not know what to began writing about, so to avoid staring at a blank screen, come up with a proposed list of topics and work off of that. I guarantee your list will grow very quickly, once you get started.
Step Four: Blog What You Know
If you work in tax, then blog about tax. If you don’t work in estate planning, then why would you want to write about a Roth IRA, even if it IS related to tax? Keep you end game in mind: You are blogging to retain the clients you have and pick up new ones, so what kind of content would resonate with them the most? Stick to what you know, because if you aren’t well-versed in a topic and write about that topic, chances are you’ll be called out by someone reading your blog as to your knowledge.
Step Five: Start a File for Research and Topic Ideas
Another technique you can use to write a blog is to keep an active file of research and topic ideas. This could be a paper file or electronic file, but either way, you can append articles, other blogs and just about anything else that helps you come up with your content to these files, then refer to the file as needed.
Step Six: Be Authentic
If you’re wondering what this means, it’s very simple. Write as you speak; don’t come up with overblown, overused words or clichés. Remember that your blog is a reflection of you and your knowledge, so not being yourself is definitely not the way to go. The way I like to describe is this: If you were to have a conversation with someone about the top you’re writing about, what would you say?
Step Seven: Keep it Short and Simple
This step sort of goes along with avoiding overblown words, but at the same time, no one wants to read a novella – and no one will. The standard I like to use is 250 to 500 words with three to four paragraphs. Of course, that will vary. As I’m writing this, my word count is now 667 words.
Step Eight (Bonus): Read, Read, Read Other Blogs
I think the best way to become a better writer is to read what others are writing, so make an effort to read other accounting or business blogs as much as you can. My good friend Michelle Golden has put together an awesome, very complete list of accounting blogs. Check it out!