Content marketing, when done well, is all about creating a flow of fresh, interesting and (above all) REGULAR pipeline of posts on your firm’s website.
Central to this flow of content will be your blog channel – that little place hiding in the top right of your website menu. It’s the place to post your topical ideas, news about the practice and helpful tips and advice for your business clients.
But if you’ve never written a blog in your life, where do you begin?
Your blog is the heart of soul of your content
Your blog is right at the heart of your content marketing strategy. It’s the soapbox you can stand on when you’ve got something helpful and practical to share with your business clients, or when there’s positive news you want to shout from the rooftops.
But for some accountants (and we know a LOT of accountants, believe us), the actual WRITING of a blog can be a challenge on a par with asking a content marketer to complete a VAT return for a client that trades across EU borders – in other words, it can appear to be difficult, beyond your experience and hard to get your head around.
Well, the good news is that blogging is a LOT easier than filing an EU VAT return (hurray!)
And, in this post, we’re going to give you the tips, advice and ideas you need to go from being a blogging virgin to an expert accounting and business blogger.
1. Jot down your blog ideas and avoid that ‘blank page’
Sitting in front of a blank screen in Microsoft Word, or an empty page in your notebook, is not the best way to start your latest exciting blog. Before you start writing ANYTHING, you need a good idea that will form the theme of your post.
With this in mind, make sure you jot down your ideas for new blog topics whenever they pop into your head. You might be watching the news, you might be coming out of a client meeting, or you might be relaxing in the bath when your ‘Archimedes moment’ appears.
Write yourself a Post-it note, record a voice memo into your phone, or use a cloud tool like Google docs on your phone or tablet to jot down some quick notes and ideas. And do it the second you have the chance. With this library of blog posts ideas in place, you’ve got the foundations for a content plan – and the starting point for actually writing your first post.
2. Make sure you’re telling a good story
If people are going to read your blog posts, you’ve got to make them engaging. And the best way to do that is to think about your posts as stories– stories that get a hook into your business clients and reel them in to read more.
Rather than focusing on facts and figures (we know, you love numbers), think about sharing a story of how you’ve helped a client. Talk about the problem they came to you with, how you worked with them to overcome their financial or business issues, and how this client is now in a BETTER place – all because they came to ask for your help, and you listened.
3. Give yourself a structure to work with
Remember that blank screen and how you’ve got to fill it? Once you’ve got a pool of ideas, and a content plan drafted out, you’re ready to start writing.
Think about the topic, idea or helpful tip you want to write about and come up with your title first – the title will define the question you’re answering, the concept you’re going to cover or the news you’re going to share. And that title gives some real focus and impetus to the rest of the content.
Then, very quickly, jot down some rough bullets on the main things you want to talk about. These ‘key points’ are going to be the bones that form the skeleton of your post. They’ll give you a structure to work with, a roadmap to follow and will help you stay focused on your chosen theme.
All you have to do now, is fill in the gaps and give your audience the important detail. And, crucially, having this rough outline means you no longer have that scary, blank screen in front of you!
4. Don’t talk about technicalities: make it real
Accountancy is a deeply technical and numbers-driven profession. You’ve studied long and hard to learn these technical aspects, to think through business problems with calculated, rational thought and to come up with feasible solutions for your clients.
BUT (and this is a very important ‘but’ to take on board) most entrepreneurs, owner-managers, managing directors and CEOs are just not interested in the drilled-down technical aspects of an accounting solution. What they want is answers and actions.
So, don’t talk about the technicalities of the latest changes to tax law, for example. Talk about the potential impact, put it into a real-world context for business owners and then explain as simple and clearly as possible how they can overcome the potential hurdle.
5. The power of fresh content
One important thing to get your head around is this – blogging is not something you can dip into and out of every few months or so. Your content needs to be regular and fresh, so you can build a following and establish your firm’s brand.
As an absolute bare minimum, you want to be posting something on your blog twice a month, preferably once a week or more.
Regular content helps your search engine optimisation (SEO), gets you higher up the Google results page and gets more people reading your blog. And the better your SEO, and the bigger your audience, the more impact your blogging is going to have for you and the firm.
6. Underline your expertise to connect with clients and prospects
One brilliant thing about having a fresh, insightful blog on your site is that it gives you the perfect forum to answer the most common accounting questions– and give help and practical support for your clients and prospects.
If 15 clients have all asked you ‘What do these changes to dividend payments in Spring Budget 2017 mean for our directors?’, then that’s an excellent cue for you to go away and write a blog about the impact of changes to dividend income. Avoid the jargon and technicalities (remember point 4!) and explain precisely what the dividend income challenges may be, and how to overcome them.
You’ve then got an incredibly helpful and scaleable way to share this guidance with clients and targets – send them a personal email, with a link to your blog and they’re immediately up to speed. You’ve underlined your credentials as a trusted adviser, and you don’t waste time and energy repeating yourself to 15 different client in 15 different ways.
7. Share something personal
Your blog doesn’t have to be ALL about work, business and finance. Opening up and sharing a little personal information about yourself is a great way to help clients engage with you and get to know you more.
By dropping the ‘professional mask’, you become more human, more trusted and help to improve the strength of your client relationships. You’re a human first, and an accountant second, so show that human side of yourself and share the stories (remember point 2!) about what’s happening in your life.
8. Get your blog length and readability spot on
Here at the Profitable Firm, a common question we get asked is ‘How long should I make my blog posts’– and it’s a question that doesn’t have a simple answer.
The important things to consider when writing your blog posts are:
- Is it the right length for the topic? Are you repeating yourself and getting boring? Or am you failing to give the kind of in-depth answer your clients will want? Tailor the length to fit the message you’re sharing.
- Does it have the right keywords and search terms? – Your title, your opening paragraph and your body text all need to have relevant keywords in there. So if you’re blog is about dividend income, you need the words ‘dividend’, ‘income’ and ‘directors’ in your title and introduction somewhere so Google will find it and your SEO will pass muster.
- Make it as readable as possible. Long text-heavy blog posts with no breaks and sub-titles will put off your potential audience. Think about breaking up your text into smaller, more digestible chunks that will catch people’s eye and will mean your messages get read. Use plenty of sub-headings, bullets (like these ones), graphics and visuals to make your blog more readable.
Practice makes perfect!
So, there you have it: our eight top tips for becoming an effective and successful blogger for your accountancy firm. These are guidelines, of course, and each blogger will have their own style, approach and way of making their blog work. But they’re a great foundation to start from when you’re looking to find the style that works for you.
The really critical thing is to get out there and try it.
Start noting down those blog ideas, talk to the rest of the team and get their input, and start writing. The only way to learn, improve and succeed when it comes to blogging is to dive in and get your hands dirty.
So, good luck and have fun – we know you’ll soon be wowing your audience with fantastic blog posts.