Marketing

So You’re Thinking of Starting a Blog?

Blogging can be an excellent way of getting more people involved in business development and thought leadership activities.

So, you and your firm have decided to blog. Why? Not that blogging is a bad thing, obviously, but the first question you need to answer when you decide to blog is, why are you blogging in the first place? After you have the answer you need to determine the who, when, and what, as it relates to your blog.

Who will be blogging for your firm? When will you be posting new blog entries – also known as how often? And finally, what will you blog about?

Why are you Blogging?

Too many firms jump head first into the blogging pool without first giving thought to what they want to accomplish with their blog.

Is it a promotional tool? Is it to provide useful information to clients and prospective clients? Is it to showcase thought leadership?

These questions need to be answered before you move forward. Once you know why you want to blog you can move on to answering the other questions. I would suggest that there be more than one individual doing the blogging in your firm and have a marketing/communications professional act as the process manager and editor. If you do it that way, you can keep the content a little fresher, increase the consistency, and you won’t tie up one person’s time too often. This will also give more people within the firm a chance to participate.

How Often Will you Blog?

Now that you know the why and the who, it’s time to move on to the question of when, or how often you will post. Like any communications, you and the firm need to have a set action plan. Are you going to blog once a week? Twice a week? Every day or just on the 13th of every month? You need to gauge how much time you, your partners, and your senior managers have to write a blog entry each week and if you have enough topics to talk about that are timely or pertinent.

I would suggest that you look at once a week to start and adjust if it’s too much or not enough. If you have multiple contributors then maybe you have one tax entry, one wealth management entry, and/or one estate planning entry per week if it is for an accounting firm. In essence, you’ve just created a three-times per week schedule instead of one. On the flip side, if you, your partners, or your senior managers don’t have a lot of time each week or each month, then having multiple contributors means they have to write less often.

What are you Blogging About?

Finally, you need to have an idea of what you want to blog about. Have a meeting, gather input from partners, senior managers, marketing, etc. and put together a simple content calendar of topics to write about. I would suggest starting with a quarterly calendar and then refine as you get more comfortable.

Once you have those questions answered you’re ready to blog. Again, the secret is making sure you are prepared and organized so that you can gain maximum effectiveness for your blog.

Word of Caution

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some potential stumbling blocks. First of all, please be advised that blogging, as with any writing, can be addictive. Make sure you, your partners and senior managers spend only as much time on the blog as necessary. Don’t let it become an obsession for you whereby you can’t get your “real” work done.

Secondly, make sure you do your best to calculate the amount of time it takes for blog entry creation and gain that commitment from all involved. Nothing is worse than starting a blog only to see it fall apart due to lack of time in the day, week, or month to write.

You don’t want the blog writing to become a chore that you loathe.

Lastly, manage expectations. Just because you start blogging doesn’t mean that your clients, prospective clients, and COIs are going to read it immediately or beat a path to your door. Nor will everyone love what you have to say – you have to learn to take the good with the bad. You also need to understand that building that readership takes time and that there will be some bumps in the road. Remember, the better the writing and content the greater the readership and the greater the reception to what you have to say.

Blogging can be an excellent way of getting more people involved in business development and thought leadership activities. It can also be a great way of damaging the firm’s reputation. The moral of the story is, be careful, be professional, and be patient.

Tim Allen is an experienced professional services marketing professional with broad experience in strategy creation, branding and business development. Mr. Allen has held top marketing positions in both large, national CPA firms as well as smaller, regional firms where he has been instrumental in creating and implementing a firm-wide marketing culture. He has written and presented extensively on the intricacies of services marketing and is currently writing his first book on the transition from college to career and creating your personal brand for the millennial generation.

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