I was inspired to refresh this blog post that I’d written over a year ago after reading Brooke Southall’s post on RIABiz.com entitled “6 Ways RIAs Can Hone Their Expertise in Social Media by Acting More Like Journalists“.
He’s right. It’s true. We’re all self-publishers now. If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you probably already understand the importance of self-publishing, but perhaps you can benefit from hearing it again. Think of this post as a little reminder of the importance of your efforts and a boost to keep you going!
Creating and self-publishing your own content is not necessarily difficult (thanks to WordPress), but it does take time, some creative thinking, a well-planned content strategy, and ongoing research. I believe it also takes some confidence and willingness to put yourself out there and accept that it’s not going to be perfect. Content creation (through blogging) is a craft, and you will get better with practice and time.
Keep in mind that I use the words “content creation”, “self-publishing”, and “blogging” interchangeably throughout this post and other related posts. The blog is the actual digital software tool that effectively formats, categorizes, and showcases your self-published content. A blog can be utilized alongside your website (or completely separate from your website). See “7 Core Elements of a Powerful Financial Blog” for more information on how to structure your blog.
A powerful and professional financial blog can help you enhance your online credibility, establish yourself as an expert with your target markets, develop relationships, and ultimately attract the right kinds of clients into your business.
Quality content generates visibility and builds online influence for financial advisors
The power of the influence will be in the hands of the quality content creators. These are the financial advisors who are taking advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to build online equity through self-publishing their thought leadership insights. If you want to advance your personal or professional brand, there is no better way today than self-publishing.
Consumers are thirsting for knowledge.
Think about all of the low quality information on the web. Everyone’s looking for shortcuts and the quality of content suffers tremendously. It’s just hard to find trusted information, especially when it comes to financial insights and guidance. This means that there is a huge opportunity for financial advisor content creators!
What are the secrets to successful content creation? Quality and Consistency.
Developing and consistently publishing your own quality content that takes into account the unique needs of your target demographic, your geographical location, and your knowledge and expertise can establish you as the go-to authority online and help you get found by the right people. However, you also need to be interesting, relevant, and not afraid to share your opinions!
Self-publish high quality content that speaks to the needs, concerns, life changes, goals, and dreams of your clients.
What questions are your clients asking? What trending topics are interesting, exciting, and perhaps relevant to their lives? How can you coach, support, and guide your clients through the maze of news, information, and garbage out there?
Ultimately, with all of the noise, YOU need to be the voice of reason that your clients and prospects listen to, and the media channel they tune into. You can accomplish this through self-publishing. Otherwise, your clients can potentially be persuaded by your self-publishing competitors who are showing up with answers, ideas, and help in the places where your clients and prospective clients spend their time online.
Leverage Blogging Technology
To facilitate the creation and self-publishing of your thought leadership insights you’re going to need to launch a blog if you haven’t done so already (at last check less than 20% of all financial advisors have blogs.) WordPress is an open source content management system that is by far the most recognized and respected platform for blogs. We’ve put together an online guide for why financial advisors should use WordPress.
Brochure-based, static websites just aren’t built to allow for simple media publishing and easy content distribution/discovery. Traditional websites are also for basic information about your business and client tools for activities such as logging into their accounts! Most financial advisor websites serve as client portals, not tools for developing relationships.
A professional blog can become a piece of your digital portfolio. It’s time to move away from the concept that everything needs to live on your website. Blogging allows for your thought leadership to get out beyond your website, to where the people are. It allows your content to gain visibility in search, social media, and email inboxes. (See: The Power of Franchising Your Online Presence)
Blogging technology (WordPress) enables easy self-publishing for all of your content, supports multiple forms of media (text, video, images, pdfs, podcasts/audio), and integrates seamlessly with social media channels and email marketing platforms.
A professional blog site is a digital asset that can be built around who you are as a person, who you help, and how you help them. It’s focused on relationship development (helping) not selling products and services.
Content is the engine that drives influence.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader using the original content that you create from your knowledge, experiences, and insights is extremely powerful in building online influence. Influence builds trust, which is critical for financial advisors in developing relationships.
Building influence, by default, breeds business growth. It opens doors to new opportunities, from introductions and referrals to speaking engagements, media exposure, strategic business partnerships, and much more. Think beyond new clients. You can’t even imagine the opportunities that can come from establishing yourself as a financial planning thought leader online.
Blogs also make content easy for your contacts and social network connections to share. Want to get found by your ideal clients and prospects? Create interesting, insightful, entertaining content that is relevant to their needs. Teach them. Give them answers. Great content gets passed on and shared through email, social networks, and even through print.
Everyone has something worthy to share that can help others. You have a story and a message. You have a unique value proposition in working with your clients. Who is hearing your message currently? Instead of speaking to one client or prospect at a time, how about speaking to thousands?
Choose your content medium.
You don’t have to be a good writer to blog. It helps, and I would argue that good writers have a great opportunity to stand out. You can also improve your writing skills, or hire editorial help. Are you comfortable in front of a video camera? Do you take interesting pictures? Does speaking into a microphone and recording your own podcast sound appealing? What about recorded powerpoint presentations?
Choose one medium or combine many. Blogging technology allows for that flexibility.
Map out your content strategy.
If you’re serious about building a powerful and influential online presence, quality content is what works. But it won’t work without a well-thought out plan and strategy. Your content strategy should be unique to your knowledge and experiences, as well as the mediums you are comfortable with (don’t produce videos if you’re not comfortable on camera!)
Becoming a self-publisher is a way for you to lead, teach, inspire, and educate your target markets in a public setting and reach a bigger audience. As people get to know who you are and what you’re about through your blogging efforts, they will get to know, like, and ultimately trust you. That can and will lead to business opportunities.
Most importantly, don’t be boring and stale. This is the trap that so many financial professionals fall into with their marketing, both offline and online. You have to dig deeper to make your blog strategy soar! Show your personality. Show your beliefs. Show your life. Try to connect on a personal level with your readers. Blogging is both an art and a science. It takes time to find your voice.
Make the commitment to blogging.
You’re going to need a healthy dose of commitment to make self-publishing work for you. You can’t give up too soon. It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to start really seeing the impact on your business. Self-publishing through blogging is a long-term strategy. It’s like saving for retirement. You have to build your equity one piece at a time, but in the end, the contribution to your bottom line can be significant.
What are your thoughts about self-publishing? Have I convinced you of the importance of self-publishing? Please share them in the comments below!