While blogging can be a powerful and inexpensive marketing strategy, some advisors are overwhelmed by the idea of managing a blog, says Kirk Lowe, founder of Tactibrand in Toronto.

The process can seem bewildering to professionals who may be more accustomed to dealing with numbers than with words. However, once you break down the elements of a good blog, it becomes a manageable, worthwhile venture that can expose your practice to a wider audience.

Here are the four components of an effective blog:

1. Content your audience can relate to
The ultimate goal of blogging is to produce posts that provide valuable information on topics that are important to members of your target market.

One way to get ideas for content is by speaking directly to your clients, which you already do on a regular basis. What are they telling you about their financial concerns and where do their frustrations lie?

The internet is another rich source of potential ideas — both from traditional media sources and people just like your clients who connect online. Discussion groups are one way to get a sense of what others are saying.

For example, if you check out a discussion board for young families, you might discover that a popular topic is whether parents should pay their young children to do chores around the house.

On your blog, you can offer advice on this topic, drawing upon your experience as a financial advisor and as a parent.

2. Specific suggestions
Don’t just tell your readers that something is or is not a good idea, Lowe says. Go further on your blog by providing tips they can use in their day-to-day lives.

For example, let’s say your target market consists of young professionals and you want to blog about the importance of beginning a savings plan early in life. On its own, this isn’t the most original idea.

However, your blog post would be more successful if it were to suggest the best and easiest ways for your readers to save. For example, you might discuss the cost of eating out on a regular basis vs making a meal. Want to make the post more fun? Include one of your favourite recipes.

3. A conversational tone
Although you are writing for a specific market, you are still writing for general readers — not experts. If you want your readers to consider you an expert on topics they care about, they first have to understand what you are saying.

So, keep your language simple. Have someone who is not in the financial services industry read your posts to ensure they are not overly technical and that they are interesting to a general reader.

4. A catchy headline
A good headline tells readers exactly what they’re going to get from the post, Lowe says. And it compels your audience to read on. Lists are a great way to keep people’s attention and they produce simple yet effective headlines.

For example, if your blog post offers advice on sticking to a budget, a good headline might be: “Five sure-fire ways to stay on budget.”

Your readers will know they can expect practical tips that can help them control their spending.

This is the second article in a two-part series on blogging.

For part one, see: Four reasons why you should be blogging