What are our Top 5 Blogging Best Practices?

Done well, seminars and blogs brand you as the expert, and directly lead to new business, new word-of-mouth referrals, and more speaking engagements. Done poorly, it can be a waste of your time and money.

Well, not a total waste: At least you’re getting your name out there. But will they remember it? Will they recommend you to others? Similarly, will they forward your articles or future seminar invitations to others? Self-check: How many new clients have you gotten from past seminars and written articles? Here’s how to boost your numbers:

Productive presentations and blog articles tend to follow this structure:

  1. Title
  2. Intro tease
  3. Body points
  4. Conclusion summary
  5. Call-to-Action Question

1) What’s the best way to title a topic?
In November 2010, I wrote a column for the CPA Insider entitled “What Should You Blog About?” It features 20 blog article topics, many of which can be used as seminar topics. Most of the ideas either ask a question for you to pose, or ask you to create a numerical list.

Questions are the easiest way to entitle an article or seminar. Questions are intrinsically engaging. Also use them in your sub-topics and segues throughout your presentation. Ask yourself the question, and then answer it. Ask your participants questions, and grab their attention.

Numerical lists likewise pique curiosity: “Top 3 ways to…” “Top 5 mistakes often made when…” “Top 7 myths…” You can Google all of the research done on odd numbers, magic number 7, etc. But all numerals (9, not “nine”) stand out in a sea of words. Less than 10? Use your fingers to gesticulate. It also helps organize your thoughts, which helps your audience to organize their notes. We all wait to hear, “And the number 1…”

2) Tease the value…
There’s an old thumb-rule in public speaking, “Say what you’re gonna say. Say it. Then say what you’ve just said.” Since blogs have proliferated? Nothing’s changed. You need to grab ‘em in your first 3 sentences. Why 3? Well, you got more than 1… but probably less than 5!

When you post your article — or better yet, someone else shares it — LinkedIn & Facebook grabs the first sentence or 2. Likewise, would someone be able to Tweet your first 130 characters (leaving 10 for a link)? Check out the first 2 sentences of this article.

In other words, your seminar or blog article introduction ought to tell your audience why they should keep paying attention; it’s your value proposition. It ought to tease why the title question is important, relevant, and top priority.

3) What’s your point(s)?
PowerPoint presentations are great when they are just that: Power Points, not palaverous paragraphs. Certain types of text are visually appealing:

  • Anecdotal or metaphoric pictures… are worth a thousand words
  • Bullet points draw the eyes
  • Checklists… are best numbered
  • Diagrams & Graphs… are worth a couple of thousand
  • Evidence… e.g., surveys, offer quantifiable results
  • Fill in the __________(s)… can be worksheets or act like pop quizzes

3 more body paragraph tips: Acronyms (like the above ABCDEF) are clever ways of organizing your thoughts; too many of them can be distracting. Alphabetical straight flushes (like above) beat fours (or more) of a kind (“4 AAAA’s of…”). Third, keep your paragraphs short (3 or 4 sentences). Make 1 point, and break up the text.

4) What did you just say?
Blog articles are generally less than 500 words. The best YouTube videos are around 3 minutes, like pop songs. There’s a commercial every 5 minutes, if not more. As for your seminar? How many breaks or breathers?

Our attention spans are short. Our memory is shorter. If your seminar or blog article is organized by Question, Teaser & Points, it’ll be easier for you to summarize – and for them to remember – what you just said.

5) What do you want them to do?
In marketing terms, we call it a “call to action.” Offer them the next steps: to e-mail you private questions, to e-mail you for the whole PowerPoint or specific worksheets, to meet with you 1-on-1, or a way to engage you on a specific accounting project.

Ask your seminar participants or blog readers for feedback, questions, comments, and introductions. What question can you leave them to ponder? Leave them wanting more.

What else have you done in your seminars or blogs to attract clients? What’s worked? What hasn’t? How did you get people to your seminar or blog? E-mail me your specific anecdotes, and I can feature you in an upcoming CPA Insider column and on my blog.

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