If you're running a financial planning practice, you've almost certainly had someone tell you that you need to start a blog.
It's good advice. Blogging has some big benefits for financial advisors:
- It allows more people to find you (prospects, media members, collaborators, and more).
- It allows you to build trust with prospects who aren't quite ready to pay for your services.
- It clarifies your thinking around the topics most important to your clients.
But blogging is hard work. I know. I've been doing it for over 20 months now and I remember how shocked I was to find out just how difficult it was, even when it was just a hobby I spent some of my free time on. Now that it's also the main marketing tool for my practice, it's importance has only grown and I've had to find ways to improve.
Like anything else, the main thing you need to do is give it consistent time and effort. But to help you shortcut some of the struggles I had, here are 8 tips that will make you a better blogger.
1. Define Your Niche
The power of having a niche for your practice has been explained well elsewhere, so I won't get into much detail on it in this post. For more depth on why defining your niche is important and how to do it, this post from Michael Kitces has all you need.
But from the specific perspective of your blog, clearly defining a niche helps you in two big ways:
- It gives you focus. As soon as you start thinking about a specific person and their specific questions, topic ideas will start pouring out. The question will no longer be "what should I write about?" Suddenly it becomes, "which of these great ideas should I tackle first?"
- It gives your readers a reason to come back. When they find a post they like and they know that the next one will also be written with them in mind, they're much more likely to check back in.
2. Think Helping, Not Marketing
You're starting a blog because you want to get more clients. That's normal. This isn't charity. It's a marketing tactic.
But if you want it to be effective, you have to make it about more than that. Most of your target clients won't find your blog because they want to know more about your company. They'll find it because they have a specific question and one of your blog posts has the answer.
The overriding mission of your blog needs to be helping your target client. What are their questions? What are they struggling with? What are their biggest obstacles?
If you can solve those problems over and over again, you will build a trusting community of prospects.
3. Set a Posting Schedule and Hold Yourself to It
Your posting schedule defines when you publish your blog posts. For example, I publish a new blog post on my site every Monday and Thursday. That's my posting schedule.
Having a consistent posting schedule helps you in two ways:
- It holds you accountable, making it more likely that you blog consistently.
- It lets your readers know that you're dependable and that they can expect helpful advice from you on a regular basis.
Your posting schedule doesn't have to be incredibly frequent. In fact, I would try to start small, maybe once every week or two, and adapt as you go. The real key is in being consistent and finding a frequency that works for both you and your readers.
Here are some steps to help you get started with this right now:
- Pick a posting frequency (e.g. once per week) and the day(s) that you will post.
- Tell someone about that schedule (mastermind group, friends, parents, etc.). Ask them to hold you accountable.
- Stick to that schedule no matter what. No missed days.
4. Create a Writing Routine
If you want to get better at writing, you have to write. A lot.
The truth is that writing is hard. It's hard for experienced writers, and it's especially hard for someone who is just trying to start the habit.
As you get going, there will be many frustrating moments where the words just won't come out. That's normal. And although it can definitely get better, it never completely goes away.
But do you know what helps you overcome that difficulty more than anything else? Routine. Having a consistent writing routine will help you push through the tough days, get ahead on your posts, and find more of the good moments where the writing just flows.
I've written at least a little bit almost every day for the past 20 months. But recently I've created two habits that have made my routine much more structured and effective:
- Every weekday from 8-10am is my writing time. Nothing other than writing happens during this time.
- I outline each post at least a day before I actually write it. I always hated having to outline my papers in high school, but this habit has helped me separate the job of organizing my ideas from the job of making them sound good.
If you'd like some inspiration for creating your own routine, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a must-read.
5. Plan Out Your Topics Ahead of Time...
I'm most at ease about my blogging responsibilities when I know what my next 4-8 post topics are going to be. I'm not always perfect about staying ahead like that, but I feel much calmer when I am.
I also find that my topics are better when I do it this way. Instead of cobbling something together at the last minute, I've taken the time to be thoughtful about what my audience would like to hear.
6. ...But Don't Hesitate to be Spontaneous
Still, every now and then you have a flash of inspiration and you need to get it out on your blog. This is good! Embrace the flashes!
Unless you're in the middle of a targeted marketing campaign and a random post would throw you off track, those random flashes can be powerful. For me, they're often some of the best blog posts I write because I'm really excited about them and that excitement shines through.
Have a plan, but don't be afraid to deviate when inspiration strikes.
7. Get Off Your Blog
Your blog is your home. It's where you're comfortable and it's where most people will get to know you best.
But every now and then you have to get out of the house and into the world. And one of the best ways to build an audience for your own blog is to write for someone else's site.
Find sites that already have your target clients as an audience. If you can write an interesting post for one of them, their readers will naturally want to click over to your site and learn more about what you're doing.
And that's when your blog can really start doing it's job of turning interested readers into genuine prospects.
8. Be Patient; Better Blogging Takes Time
Building an audience for your blog takes time. I spent 3 months with pretty much no one coming to my site, and I think the only reason I have any stats at all for those months is because I hadn't yet figured out how to not count my own visits.
You can do better than I did by marketing yourself earlier on, but it will still take some time before you're seeing the results you want. Use that time to form the writing habit, solidify your posting schedule, and build a library of posts that you can point people to down the line.
With consistent effort, your blog will become a powerful marketing tool for your practice. Are you ready to make it happen?
About the Author: Matt Becker is the founder of Mom and Dad Money, a fee-only financial planning practice dedicated to helping new parents build happy families by making money simple. His free time is spent jumping on beds and building block towers with his two awesome boys.