Write Powerful Content: Blogs, Ebooks and More

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Writing content for the web has its challenges, but if done correctly can bring positive results to your business. You may feel that you’re ready to write your first articles, but without these fundamentals in place, your writing may not return the expected results.

These fundamentals of writing engaging content should help you create high-performing, web-friendly content:

  • Write with an Objective in Mind

Successful content isn’t written willy-nilly, it’s written with a particular purpose in mind. Writers should be asking themselves: “What is the point of this article?” You need to know what action (if any) you want to motivate and write the article with that goal in mind.

Do you want to sell something? Are you trying to educate the audience on your value proposition? Trying to highlight a pain point that you can alleviate? Do you just want to provide your audience with information that may have value for them?

When writing for the web, you should know what your objective is and how your writing can help you meet that goal.

Writing with an objective in mind allows the author to focus on grabbing the reader’s attention and conveying the essential information. Focusing on one goal when writing brings a level of focus to your articles and will draw the attention of those with interest in the subject.

  • Write with the Audience in Mind

Every business has an ideal customer. You should direct your writing towards that person.

What type of content will peak their interest? What level of knowledge does the audience have? How will your writing influence their perception of your brand? Is the subject you want to write about related to the rest of your blog? What messages do you want to address? What topics generate interest from your audience?

By having an answer to all these questions, you can create content that will draw higher audience engagement and keep them coming back to your blog. To get the best results, you should aim to prominently feature the most relevant, valuable information throughout your article or blog post.

  • Share the Content

Good writing gets shared across the web. Why waste time writing compelling, engaging content with an objective and an audience in mind if there is no chance anyone can find it? Share your content via every channel you employ, including social media, search engines, and email newsletters. You can even distribute high-quality content through traditional media publishers through sponsored articles (or earned media).

Regardless of which channels used, the goal of writing for the web is to communicate relevant information to as many members of your intended audience as possible. For that to happen, you will want to adopt a strategy of communication, building a relationship with your audience and encouraging them to share the content with their network.

To ensure your content gets in front of those interested in your subject matter, you also need to optimize your content for search.

  • Feature Important Information Prominently

One of the most important aspects of writing for the web involves prominently featuring essential information in your article. Most people do not read blog posts on the internet the same way they would read a novel. Readers often skim blog posts for keywords and other important information. In fact, studies have found that only 20% of the text on a web page is read. The rest is either ignored or skimmed.

Another reason you should prominently feature relevant information in a blog post is to increase your visibility in search engines. Web crawlers (robots created to index the web) look for the most relevant information as well. We have written several articles about SEO such as:

Beginner’s Guide to Improving Your Website’s Local SEO, and

Advisors: Why The New SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing.

Those articles explain how SEO works, and what you can do to create high performing content.

So, how can you ensure that your articles are informative and provide value to the audience, knowing that the content will not be fully read?

Feature keywords and other essential information in:

  • Headers
  • Tags (title, meta description, alt tags, image tags)
  • First paragraph of text (to ensure those reading it understand the article)

These tips can help your writing achieve more widespread success on the web. What else needs to be considered when writing for the web? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or follow us on LinkedIn.

How to Write an “About Me” for Financial Agents

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An “About Me” page is one of the most important pages on your website. Behind the homepage, it’s usually the second most viewed page. People will go to that page expecting to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your business. Your “About Me” page should answer those questions in a way that’s easy to understand.

You should keep these 7 things in mind when writing the perfect bio:

1) Know Your Audience

Whether you’re in finance or another industry, you most likely already have a niche that you service. Customers are too different to focus on attracting everybody, so you should have a specific type of person in mind for your services. The most important thing when writing an “About Me” page is knowing who your audience is. You will want to use language and imagery that will speak directly to your niche. Always have this group in mind when crafting any digital experience, especially your website.

You will need to understand the prospective customer before you even begin to describe yourself. How can you even begin to tell them who you are and how you can meet their needs if you don’t know who they are and what they need?

Once you understand who your audience is, it’s time to get started on the why and the what. Why would this customer choose me? What can I do for them? Give your audience an insight into why you are the right person for them.

2) Show the Real You

Your “About Me” page should show the reader the “real you”. Give them insight into your personality, how you got to where you are now, your likes and dislikes, and your motivation for doing what you do. By explaining to your audience what your motivations are, you stand a better chance of connecting with them on an emotional level.

Your goal should be to explain who you are as a person and as a professional as honestly as possible. People are far more likely to do business with someone that they trust and empathize with. The process of developing that connection begins with showing those potential customers exactly who you are.

While facts such as where you went to school, what qualifications you have, and how long you have been in the industry are important, they are not the most important thing to many people. Try to pepper these “essential facts” throughout the description of yourself, but don’t focus on them. It will take away from your ability to tell your story. Don’t focus on what you’ve done, focus on why you did it.

3) Tell Your Story

When writing your “About Me” page, you should attempt to tell your audience an engaging story about who you are. Tell the story of how and why you entered the industry, why you want to help people, and what your strengths are. Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone according to a Stanford study. Not only should your bio be factually accurate, it should tell the audience an engaging story.

A secondary benefit of telling a story in your bio is that it shows off your personality. What you choose to highlight, what cultural touchstones are mentioned, the tone you choose to present yourself with, and how you describe your niche itself says a lot about you.

Framing your bio as a story will make you seem approachable, hopefully drawing similarities between you and your audience. You want to show the audience that you are a person, as well as an advisor. Telling your story is a fantastic way to do that.

4) Tell Your Audience How You Can Help Them

Another important part of your “About Me” page is showing what you can do to help your audience. You can describe yourself all you want, but if the reader cannot see the value you can provide them, they will simply move on to somebody who’s value they can see.

Tell your readers exactly what services you can provide them. Describe what it is you do for your clients, what value you provide, and the specific niche that your services can benefit. If you’re an advisor, whose niche is former CEO’s looking to maintain or grow their current wealth to pass on to the next generation you could say:

“I help retired CEO’s build a strong investment portfolio with the intention of preserving their wealth for their children and grandchildren. My goal is to help families be prepared financially for when a loved one passes on. I will do my best to assemble the perfect portfolio for you, so your children will keep as much of the nest egg that you built for them as possible.”

By explaining your value in your “About Me” page, people who fit within your niche will felt personally spoken to, increasing the likelihood that they will contact you, at least exploring your services.

5) Use of Images

A picture is worth a thousand words. With one image you can convey a lot of information about how you carry yourself, how confident you are, and how professional you are. Images are a very important part of any website, not only because of the information they can convey but also for the aesthetic enhancement they bring a page.

A high-quality photo can serve as a way to draw the reader’s eye across your page. Use images to guide the reader through your bio, down to your contact form. Without images, your page will look boring, potentially causing people to abandon their search.

Remember, the first time somebody meets you, they should be able to recognize you from the picture in your bio. Some things to ensure when choosing your main bio picture include:

  • You are dressed professionally
  • You are well lit in the photo
  • The picture is recent
  • The photo is a headshot

You may include multiple pictures on the “About Me” Page. If you do choose to include multiple pictures, ensure that they are diverse. For example, you could include your main bio picture, a group shot of your team, a picture of you with your family (to show you’re human) and one that highlights one of your passions. This will give the reader insight as to who you are (or at least who you perceive yourself to be).

6) Write the Way You Speak

When writing a bio, write from a first-person perspective. Use words like “I” and “We” to show your audience that you wrote it yourself. If you write from the third-person, it will sound awkward and forced, as if somebody from a marketing department wrote it for you.

Your bio should sound like you are introducing yourself to your client at an event. You want it to be professional, yet informal. Take a look at the example below:

“My name is Advisor Jones, I was born right here in Advisorville. For over twenty years I’ve helped retired farmers with over a million dollars net worth maintain their assets for the rest of their lives. I first developed an interest in helping farmers while attending the University of Guelph. I really enjoy…”

That description of Advisor Jones, a financial advisor from Advisorville, sounds a lot more approachable than this one:

“Advisor Jones has twenty years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Jones works with farmers with net worth’s of over one million dollars. Advisor Jones is a member of the ‘82 class from the University of Guelph.”

Writing in the first person will make you seem friendlier, more approachable and less “corporate.” It will help the audience see you as a real person, increasing the likelihood that they will contact you.

7)  Include Clear Contact Information

The final thing you need to include on your bio page is a clear call-to-action inviting the audience to contact you. This can be a form that records their contact information, a button that takes them to another page, or a direct link to your email address.

Regardless of which method you choose, including a way for the reader to contact you is essential to any “About Me” page. If you have followed the previous steps and wrote about who you are, what you do, and why people should trust you, readers looking for more information will be ready to contact you.

If they weren’t already thinking about contacting you; offering a clear, easy way for your audience to get in touch with you can motivate action. It’s possible at first they will just have a question or two that you can answer. As time moves on, and they move towards a purchase decision, they will remember who you are, remember your helpfulness, and potentially contact you ahead of others.

With no way for the audience to contact you, the effort you put into your bio may go to waste.

“About Me”: Conclusion

There you have it. Seven things you need to know to write an awesome “About Me” page. Your bio has several purposes, all of which are interconnected and related to gaining the audience’s trust. Tell an engaging story, explain who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Relate that to the needs and wants of your niche, and you will differentiate yourself from the competition.

What other tips do you use when writing bios? If you do, let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or on LinkedIn! Differentiate yourself from other advisors by telling an engaging story about yourself and your business on your “About Me” page.

Financial Advisors: 7 Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website

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Summary: The Internet is the first place most people look when they’re researching Financial Advisors. That’s why every Financial Advisor needs a sleek and informative website that is at once personalized and professional. Here are 7 simple tips for writing effective content for your website.

Include a Short Biography

Your website should include a short, well-written biography that lets prospective clients know a little bit about you. The key word here is Financial Advisors: Seven Simple Tips for Writing Effective Content for Your Website“little”; don’t overdo it. Keep your bio short – around 300 words or so – so that readers don’t get bored or feel as if they’re reading your life’s story. When it comes to writing a biography, make sure to include your educational background, career highlights, areas of specialty, and any other information that you think might peak someone’s interest and make you stand out from the competition; but remember to keep it short and to the point, and make sure you don’t include any personal information that you would not be comfortable sharing on the Internet.

Your website is often the first point of contact for prospective clients, which you means you want to make a good first impression and put your best foot forward.

 

Keep It Simple

The best way to write effective content for your website is to keep it simple. Keep your sentences short and direct, and avoid using overly metaphorical or figurative language in your writing, as it may confuse your readers. Similarly, don’t use a lot of jargon on your website: write for a general, non-specialist audience. In other words, don’t alienate your audience.

Skimming and Scanning

Most Internet users only skim a website’s content, rather than reading each and every paragraph word for word. One of the biggest mistakes that Advisors are making is treating their web copy like print copy. In reality, web copy is read completely differently than print; only 16% of visitors read word by word. Organize your paragraphs around one central idea so that even if your readers are only skimming, they’ll be able to pick up on key points. Don’t take too long getting to the point either; just keep your writing simple and direct.

Look Like a Pro

You should include a high-quality, professionally-taken photograph on your website. “Selfies” are a definite no-no. Remember: your website is the number one place where people will go to find out about your business and the services you offer, so you’ll want to make sure that it looks professional. That means getting your headshot taken by a professional photographer, and including only high-quality, non-pixelated images on your webpage.

Do Some Research

If you’re not sure how you want your website to look, why not browse other Financial Advisors’ websites to get an idea of what’s out there? The more research you do, the better you’ll understand what kind of website you want to build. You’ll also get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Hire a Pro

Many people will hire a professional web designer, but they won’t hire a professional writer. Ever go to a website that looks great but is full of grammar and spelling mistakes and bad, incomprehensible writing? Bad writing and errors in spelling and grammar will only make you look incompetent and unprofessional. If you’re not up to writing effective content for your website – and be honest – make sure you hire someone who is.

Use Readable Fonts

This one seems obvious, but many people don’t follow this advice: when designing your website, make sure that you are using simple, readable fonts. That means don’t use frilly or overly elaborate fonts or anything “gimmicky.” Use a serious font that will reflect your professionalism, integrity and success.

Advisors: Writing for the web creates 4 marketing benefits

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How can writing for the web enrich your Financial Advisory business? A Financial Advisor who publishes a newsletter gets
a call: “Your friend just sent me a link from your newsletter. My wife is planning to retire, and we want to make the best use of those assets, consistent with our family goals. Can we all get together?”

This story shows several marketing dynamics specific to the web: Easy broadened distribution that can create unexpected business leads; web analytics that enable the advisor to see which newsletter stories were clicked and any that were clicked multiple times; and an additional information source when preparing for meetings. Because newsletter links drove traffic to the advisor’s site, the prospect had easy access to further information that confirmed his positive impression and led to his call.

Writing for the web may require adaptation of traditional marketing channels like brochures, but the rewards are well worth your effort.  Here are the challenges and how to meet them successfully.

Special challenges of writing for the web

Challenge #1: Grab readers immediately

What drives readers most is timely information that’s communicated clearly in the title of your post. The advisor in the opening anecdote had written about a new regulation related to taxes. Quick publishing via the web speeded timely communication to clients.

Make your content easy to look at, with short paragraphs, headings and sub-heads that state your content clearly, and layout that makes information flow and location of specific topics easy to grasp.

Challenge #2: Use images

Research has shown that the web is essentially a visual medium. Images attract viewers more than plain text.

If, like me, you’re a “word person,” thinking visually can seem daunting. I always envied people who could draw clear diagrams of complex processes, while I required what seemed like too many words. The good news is that, as investment professionals, you’re familiar with potentially the most compelling pictures for your audience: data visualization in charts.

Effective charts use interpretive titles that state the main idea, or story, of each one clearly and are accurate and faithful to your data.

If you enjoy taking pictures, include your own, either to personalize your site (e.g. show the photos in your office) or to illustrate your content. Your own photos are much more effective than stock photos of, say, the generic “meeting.”

Another effective way to use images is to provide a visual metaphor for what you’re talking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not a good photographer, but I love art history and enjoy using paintings and photographs in my posts, especially as metaphors. Painters suspended on Brooklyn Bridge cables in 1914 means “risk” to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because finding inexpensive, easy-to-use image sources with a good selection is a perpetual quest of everyone writing for the web, social media experts frequently recommend their favorites. I’ve used Dreamstime.com and 123rf.com. Trustworthy sources will explain copyright and other legal restrictions on images. Be sure to respect copyright. Providing attribution of images you use is a nice touch, whether or not it’s required. This post supplies details as a hyperlink (“Image Source”).

Challenge #3: Distinctive brand “voice”

Write conversationally, referring to your own interests—family, leisure activities—to the extent that you’re comfortable, using plain English to discuss financial concepts.

A sure way to make your voice distinctive is to follow up insights from your web analytics. Are you compiling bookmarks on a social media site? Include these ongoing updates in your newsletter. If newsletter analytics show an unexpected increase in the number of clicks on a bookmark or section of your newsletter, explore the subject in a blog post or future newsletter item, mentioning that this is your response to client feedback.

The opportunity to develop and distinguish your own voice is a good lead-in to the significant benefits of writing for the web, which are interrelated results of information accessibility and communication speed.

Four Benefits of Writing for the Web

Benefit #1: Enduring presence and broader potential audience

The opening anecdote shows that easy distribution of information on the web broadened the advisor’s potential prospects by building service awareness and providing easy access to further information that confirmed the prospect’s favorable impression and motivated his call.

Have you ever lost a potential sale because the prospect lost the information you sent? Marketing on the web means that your posts remain available through search and referred links to existing clients, targeted prospects, and browsers. Your goal is to drive traffic to your site. The more you post to the web using multiple channels like your newsletter, blog, or social media sites like Twitter, the more people will find you.

Benefit #2: Extended marketing scope through easy sharing of posts

We saw sharing from friend to friend. Another way of sharing content is through social bookmarking sites like Delicious.com, which I’ve used for years to compile annotated lists of content recommended to clients. Here’s an example:

Advisors: Writing for the web creates 4 marketing benefits

 

Although all you need to post on Delicious is the URL, stating what benefits in the content led you to share it, as is done in the example above, is a greater service. Delicious.com also enables you to sort content by topic using tags, which can be bundled into groups, for example “Retirement.” Clients and prospects given access to your public account (I have a private account for my use and a public account with a different user name) can find what they need easily and become aware of new issues related to them and additional services you offer.

Benefit #3: Enhanced lead capture through offers of free content

What’s best for you about writing for the web? You can “repurpose” your content, turning it into a free offer available to readers who provide contact information requested.

Are you thinking of posting content that focuses on various stages of investors’ life cycles and includes the questions they should ask at each stage? Post it as a series, making readers aware of the series and future installments on your site, newsletter, and blog. When the series is complete, collect the installments and make them available as a free offer to visitors to your site and readers of your newsletter and blog.

Include a Call to Action with each free offer: e.g., “Are you making a transition to a new phase of your financial life? Click here to get a free copy of ‘Be financially prepared for all stages of your life.’”

Benefit #4: Varied content that shows what working with you is like

Services, unlike products, are experiential. Although clients can look at investment performance, they can’t take you home for a free trial. How to deal with this? The best answer I’ve found is to use your writing to simulate the experience of working with you as an advisor. Establish your distinctive voice through conversational analyses of market or regulatory events, explaining in plain language who they matter to and why.

Bring the words of your investment philosophy and practice values to life with stories showing how you helped clients fulfill their goals while staying within their comfort zone for risk: Parents funding children’s education; adults with financial resources to start a business, buy a home, or fund dreams of travel during retirement.

As you develop your sites and newsletters or blogs, you’ll want to try new marketing strategies and forms of content. To help you move ahead, here’s an excellent glossary of social media terms, with clear definitions and just the right amount of irreverence.

 


Susan K BeckerSusan K. Becker, founder of Manhattan-based Becker Consulting Services, is a marketing communication consultant, writer/editor, and presentation coach for organizations in financial services, professional services, and health care. She’s passionate about making communication more effective by maximizing the interplay of text, images, and design. Follow her on Twitter.

Advisors: How much copy should you write on your website homepage?

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Have you ever wondered how much copy you should have on your homepage? How much is enough copy?  The truth is, it depends on the product or service that you are selling.

According to a Neilson Normal Group study on users reading behaviour on the web, 79% of users scanned a new page, and only 16% read word by word. Making the copy more scannable, concise and devoid of marketing hype, increased usability by 124%.

Many websites have lengthy paragraphs on the homepage which speak about the company and its services, but perhaps this isn’t what your target market is looking for. Your target market is going to be engaged by copy that provides a solution to their problem, and persuades them that your the person that they need to solve this problem. According to Neil Patel over at Quicksprout, it is all about persuasion.   This is what you need to focus on when it comes to developing your homepage copy.  If it can be communicated in one word, then one word is all you need.  If you need more words to communicate your message, then more words it is. It is about writing just enough words to convert your prospect.

Check out this great Infographic, courtesy of Quicksprout which provides some actionable and research-backed advice on writing effective copy for your website:

 

How Much Copy Should You Write on Your Homepage?
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout