Anyone who has ever tried to run their own business blog will tell you that it isn’t always as easy as it may seem. In fact, there is an all-too-common cycle in blog-writing that demonstrates the struggles this process can lead to – Once you know about it, you will see it all over the place:
An individual decides they want to start a blog; a resource that will entertain, educate and inspire their audience, and even bring in some new leads. They’re excited to share their expertise, but don’t realise the scale of the commitment they’ve taken on. What follows is a flurry of seemingly random blog posts, all pushed out in a short space of time, before the author returns to their natural state of complete radio silence.
Eventually, they remember that poor, lonely old blog (which hasn’t been updated in months or even years), and the cycle repeats itself.
How can you avoid falling into this trap? If you want to create and maintain a successful blog for your financial advice firm, these are our top tips to help you get started:
1. Consider the Commitment
Regular, relevant posts are critical to building a following for your blog and a powerful tool for improving your website’s SEO. That doesn’t mean you have to write a new blog every day or even every week. The most important thing is simply to be reliable.
It’s best to start by committing to just one post per month. You can always increase this later, but it is more important at the outset to be realistic about what you can achieve and create a routine that your audience can come to rely on.
If you don’t believe you have the time or ability to commit to this in-house, it may be worth investing in the services of a marketing firm or freelance content writer to help you manage your business blog.
2. Plan Ahead
You should treat this like you would any other project for your firm, and act strategically to ensure you get the greatest return on your investment. Create a plan for the coming year which includes titles or topics for the posts you will be sharing each month. Set deadlines for drafts to be ready for proofing and ensure there is enough time for re-writes before your intended publishing date.
When deciding what to write about, you should consider subjects that are likely to be of interest to your audience as well as notable dates throughout the year – public holidays, industry events, International ‘Whatever’ Weeks etc – and prepare to be flexible if something topical comes up that you want to swap into the rotation.
You should also spend time thinking about the types of things that your clients might be searching for online, using keyword research to determine the most valuable topics for you to cover. This will improve your website’s SEO and help to organically increase your ranking on search engines.
3. Stockpile Content
Just because you plan to post monthly or weekly, you don’t have to write on that timeline. A bank of evergreen content (posts that aren’t time-sensitive) can be a lifesaver when you are pushed for time and means you will always have something to share in a pinch.
What’s great about building a content stockpile is that it plays into the nature of creativity – sometimes you just have an urge to write, while other times it can be a real slog to come up with something interesting.
Say you were to write six blogs in one month and nothing the next; it would be far better for you to hold back and share these posts periodically, than content-dump all at once and go quiet for weeks or months after.
4. Be Yourself
Writing can be tough, especially when you’re starting out. What will make this a lot harder is trying to sound like something – or someone – that you are not.
You might think your readers want to hear the thoughts of a wise professor or seasoned journalist but, if that isn’t who you are, you risk writing in a way that feels forced or even dishonest. Be personable, use your own voice, and that authenticity will shine through – far more engaging for readers and a lot easier for you to write.
5. Ask for Help
Oftentimes, business blogs flounder because one person in the firm believes they have to do all the work themselves. There’s no reason to go it alone; Ask your colleagues if they want to contribute or look into hiring a professional to research or write for your blog.
Whether you choose to engage a pro or enlist the help of a team-member, you’ll avoid being overwhelmed or falling behind simply by sharing the load. You may also find that diversifying your pool of authors will lead to better content – topics and opinions you’d have never come up with alone.
6. Can’t Write It? Say It
If you aren’t used to writing, it can be hard to get your thoughts out onto the page, especially if you are prone to editing as you go. A tactic many writers use is dictating their thoughts – also known as talking to yourself!
Recording yourself as you talk about a given topic will allow you to express your ideas without being slowed down by typing or the urge to find the perfect words. You can use the ‘Dictate’ function in Microsoft Word or the voice-to-text settings available on most smartphones (usually a little microphone symbol on the keyboard). If you don’t have access to these, simply record yourself speaking and write it down later. You might be surprised with how much you have to say.
7. Never Post Before Proofing
Just like any other content you might produce – brochures, presentations, email campaigns etc. – it is important to ensure that it isn’t published before someone you trust has had a chance to read it through and check for mistakes.
You don’t have to use a professional proofreader, just someone in your organisation (or even a trusted friend) with a reasonable knowledge of grammar and access to spellcheck. Sometimes you can be too close to your own content to realise that it doesn’t say what you mean it to – especially if you have rehashed parts of it while editing. A fresh set of eyes can pick up silly mistakes that might detract from the message you’re trying to put out.
Before you dive into writing your first blog post, it is worth pausing to consider whether you want to produce content in-house or would rather outsource the job. In the name of cost-saving, many business leaders will automatically dismiss the idea of hiring a professional writer. However, while you can save money by producing blogs in-house, that isn’t always the case.
Before making this decision, it is important to consider how much it would really cost you. Ask yourself:
- What tasks would I have to stop doing to make time for this?
- Can I commit to publishing at least once a month?
- Do I enjoy writing?
- Do I understand SEO and content strategy?
- Would I get a higher ROI by hiring a professional?
You might see yourself as a ‘free’ alternative to engaging an agency or freelance writer, but the time you spend on things like strategy, research and writing is time you can’t use for your regular work. What’s more, if you don’t actually like writing, this can become a bit of a monkey on your back.
However, if you do like to write and feel you have something to share, blogging can be a truly rewarding way to spend time. To outsource or not to outsource? The choice is yours!
Author: Holly Helps, Marketing Manager