Advisers have opinions. A lot of them. The internet loves opinions, particularly ones which spark debate, especially if you can impart wisdom on a subject few people understand well, like finance.
Blogging and advisers offer each other a great deal, then. But crafting a decent blog that people actually want to read – and which contributes something positive to your business – takes skill and (some) effort.
To fast-track you, we’ve pulled together hints and tips from some of the financial sector’s best bloggers, on why you should blog, what to avoid, and who you can look to for inspiration.
What’s the point of people in financial services blogging?
Phil Young, MD of threesixty
People like to buy stuff from people and it’s a good way to showcase your opinions and attitudes. I know people who’ve recruited staff off the back of blogs, developed professional connections and even set up businesses together.
Banker’s Umbrella, private banker
If you are representing a company then the only point of blogging is to bring in business. Blog well and it will bring in the big bucks.
Chris Daems, director, Principal IFAs
The process of writing is incredibly useful to clarify my thought process on a particular subject.
Abraham Okusanya, director, FinalytiQ
We live in an age where, you are what Google says you are. If there’s nothing in Google search results to suggest you exist or that you are an authority in your field, then people tend to believe it.
Pete Matthew, MD Jacksons Wealth
To provide value to your audience, so they can know you, follow you and want to work with you. On a practical level it is about driving traffic to your website where you can capture leads.
Dennis Hall, MD Yellowtail Financial Planning
There is the rigour of having to hone an argument or viewpoint for publishing, which helps when then talking about it.
Mark Polson, principal, the lang cat
If you’re a small business, blogging and general content creation is now, I’d suggest, the only cost-effective way of telling people what it is you have to offer and why they should give you the time of day.
Your top tips for a good blog?
Get to the point quick.
Don’t apologise. You’re going to have to make sweeping generalisations, be blunt and risk upsetting a few people if you want to express an opinion, the thing most people want to hear.
Ignore the rules. Just because it’s a blog, it doesn’t have to be light-hearted. Write quickly, write angry, get it posted.
Respect your readers. They are busy people bombarded everyday with digital messages asking for their attention. Respect their time by making your content easy to read and valuable to them.
If your content gives them something that makes them sound smart in front of their peers they’ll keep coming back to read more.
Be good at social media. If you aren’t, no one will read your blog, not even your mum.
Blogging is a long term project, forget sudden fame, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. You also need to be a champion boxer, because you will get punched… a lot.
Try to tell stories – I’ve found that stories about a personal experience seem to have most resonance with my audience.
Make your headlines memorable – I’m more likely to click on a link I’ve found which has been sent to me if the headline is either funny, insightful or sparks curiosity.
Be consistent. If you want results, you have to do it at least, monthly but probably fortnightly.
Find something your audience or potential clients struggle with and proffer solutions. Be opinionated but helpful.
Be authentic and have fun.
For video it’s about the audio as much as the video. Most microphones on video cameras are awful. Invest in a decent tie mic and recorder then sync the audio and video up in software.
Use graphics to add interest.
Keep them short, less than 4 minutes is ideal.
Be natural and eyeball the camera.
Don’t make it too long – people are not looking to read a book on the subject. If they are, write one and sell it.
Don’t make it about you, it’s always about them.
Grab their attention in the first paragraph, ideally in the first line.
If it’s a commercial one (‘please buy my platform pricing guide’) then just be clear about it.
Go easy on the cliches (‘if you look up the word ‘pension’ on Google you get 85m results’ etc).
Make it sound like you; don’t try and write to a style which has nothing to do with your personality.
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What should you avoid when blogging?
Weird headlines – you need to let people know what to expect. It also makes it easier to find on Google.
Too much detail – it’s good to back opinion up with fact but too much detail can be hard to read.
Infograms – occasionally good, often useless pictures which add nothing.
Corporate speak. Do not write like a management consultant. Anyone who does will be mercilessly ridiculed on social media and rightly so.
Blog so you sound human and don’t use profanity unless you are really, really good at writing and know how to use it for effect.
Making entries too generic is a big no no. Unless your content is unique it’s going to get lost on the web.
Avoid being boring and stating the obvious.
Avoid religion and politics, unless those things define you as a business.
Writing in a completely different style to how you would normally talk/converse. Highfalutin prose will alienate you from your reader.
Bragging or showing off. Keep your ego off the page.
Avoid trying to tilt the deck to what it is your company has to punt. That’s dull, and always obvious. If you have something to sell, just sell it.
Avoid clickbait lists (‘The 5 reasons to do blah blah’) unless you’re doing it ironically (‘the 5 reasons not to do lists’), when it’s fine.
Trying to make too many points – one thing is fine. Got two? Do two blogs and rejoice in your content marketing prowess.
Who are your favourite bloggers (inside and out of financial services?)
I always read anything @bankersumbrella and Dom Hiatt @dom_justintime. I enjoy anyone with a destructive streak in them.
Dom Hiatt from Just in Time PR. Dom really “gets” blogging. He goes for the jugular with a blunt wooden butter knife. Reading one of his blog posts is like taking a quick ride on a roller coaster right after taking a dose of laughing gas.
Seth Godin, Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science) and Pat Flynn. Inside of financial services I like Phil Young and Chris Budd’s writing styles, Pete Matthew, and aggregate sites like Adviser Lounge, Panacea or IFA life are always worth looking out for.
Brett Davidson is consistently insightful. Also US-based Michael Kitces of the kitces.com for excellent content on financial planning issues.
Tim Ferris – he’s been offline a while but recently stared blogging again. http://fourhourworkweek.com/blog/
Seth Godin – short but regular (daily) http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
Maria Popova’s Brainpickings www.brainpickings.org
Phil Young, John Lappin, The Bankers’ Umbrella
Alistair Dabbs (The Register), Hugh Macleod (Gaping Void), Kevin Buckle (Avalanche Records in Edinburgh), Gary Vaynerchuk