A blog is a great way to attract and deepen your relationships with clients. But starting a blog doesn’t guarantee success, especially if you can’t generate a steady flow of posts with topics that entice readers. Your blog post topics should be tailored to the kind of clients whom you seek. They should also tap your passions.
The six techniques that I discuss will help you identify topics that draw ideal prospects to your blog.
Technique 1. Identify Your Ideal Clients and Their Concerns
A blog post that tries to appeal to everybody will appeal to nobody. Today’s busy readers don’t want generic answers to their questions; they seek solutions tailored to their needs.
As a first step, identify the clients whom you’d like to attract as specifically as possible. This may involve identifying a niche or a life stage for your clients. Then list all of their areas of concern. For example, their concerns may involve children, housing, career, parents, retirement, and estate planning. Next, list the questions that your clients have about these topics. These are great blog post topics because your future clients may look online for solutions to their questions.
Having trouble thinking of questions? In my financial blogging class, I suggest that students draw a mind map of their clients’ main concerns. A mind map is a visual, non-linear form of brainstorming (see 30-something parent image below). The visual nature of a mind map unlocks ideas for many people.
Technique 2. Capture Questions Your Clients Ask
Your clients, prospects, and referral sources know best what they care most about. Capture their questions as they arise in a paper or electronic notebook. If two or three clients ask a specific question, there are more that care about the same topic.
Another option: poll your clients about their interests using a tool like SurveyMonkey. In addition to measuring their interest in a proposed menu of topics, you can collect information to use in your blog posts. I’ve created some lengthy blog posts, such as “Who are the fixed-income commentary winners–and why?” and “White paper marketing: Walk a fine line,” based on anonymous reader responses to multi-question surveys.
Focus on the questions that are most compelling to your clients because they address WIIFM—What’s In It For Me. You should solve a pressing problem. “How do I change the address on my statements?” might be important, but it belongs on a “Frequently asked questions” page, not a blog.
Technique 3. Exploit Analytics
What searches already bring people to your website (and blog, if you have one already)? If you have Google Analytics on your website, you can get a sense of what those people care about. Are there specific questions that drive them to your website?
If you send an e-newsletter using email software, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, you have data from your readers. Look at which subject lines prompt recipients to open the newsletter and which topics attract the most clicks.
Use these analytics results as starting points for brainstorming more blog post topics.
Technique 4. Use topic suggestion tools
Have you run out of angles on your favorite topic? Whether it’s 401(k) plans, budgeting, portfolio construction, or some other topic, there are online tools that can shake loose new ideas. Sure, you may reject most of their suggestions, but if you garner a handful of powerful topics, that’s a win.
Here are some options:
- AnswerThePublic.com is one of a number of tools that let you tap other people’s Google searches to generate topics.
- HubSpot’s Blog Post Topic Generator starts with three words (preferably nouns) that you type in.
- Faqfox pulls questions on your topic from Q&A websites like Reddit.
Another possibility: look at your competitors’ blogs. If they identify their most popular posts, perhaps they’re onto something you can tackle, too. But don’t copy them. Take a distinctive approach to their topics.
Technique 5. Tap your passions
When you feel passionately about a topic, you’re likely to attract others with strong feelings about the same topic.
Look for articles and books that make you say, “No way!” or “That’s how things ought to be.” Add your opinion to a brief summary of the published item’s main points, and you’re done. This type of post can be fast and easy to write. I’ve explained the steps in “Financial blogging tip: Opinion + summary” and “4 tips for turning books into blog posts.”
Another technique is to use your passions as analogies for financial topics. For example, if you’re a triathlete, there must be lessons for your clients from the way you prepare for races.
Technique 6. Hijack the news
Look at the topics that dominate the news or check out trending topics on Twitter or other social media. As I wrote this, the hashtag #IfIcouldturnbacktheclock was trending. That’s a theme that lends itself to a blog post—perhaps about a bad asset allocation or purchase—that you could tweet out with the hashtag to reach more readers.
On Facebook, one of my friends asked if former Fox host Gretchen Carlson’s settlement with Fox would be taxable income. That could prompt a post about taxable income.
The more you blog, the more ideas will come to you. Brainstorming ideas ahead of time will help you keep on top of things when you experience a temporary drought or when you become too busy to write.
One of the students in my financial blogging class told me, “When I blogged regularly, I attracted great prospects. When I stopped blogging regularly, the prospects dried up, too.” Keep your blog—and your new client pipeline—flowing for your success.
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