An increasing number of financial advisers are blogging to connect with new and existing clients.
But without the right tools, publishing a first-class blog can be daunting. As with most technology, there are plenty of options to choose from, and finding the platform that provides functions helpful to advisers can be overwhelming.
Here are three popular tools to help advisers up their game as bloggers.
Pros: Quite possibly one of the most popular of the blogging websites, Wordpress.com is a widely customizable option for an adviser. Once an account is created, advisers can log into a dashboard where they may write posts, add media, create more pages — in the event they wanted to have sections on their blog for various topics — and review comments made from guests. In the appearance section, an adviser may choose from a variety of free and priced themes and adjust menu settings. There is also a section to work with widgets, which are applications that show on the blog site and include a list of fellow blogs the author may follow, contact information, most viewed posts and a Twitter feed.
Cons: Wordpress.com does offer plug-ins, which is software made compatible on the blog, but not nearly as many as are available elsewhere. There are hundreds of themes available, but an adviser cannot create their own and customization is limited to certain themes. Unless you upgrade to the premium account, your domain name will end with .wordpress.com instead of .com. Ads can be removed with the premium account as well.
Advisers can open a Wordpress account for free or get the premium package for $99 a year.
Pros:Wordpress.org has all the capabilities of Wordpress.com, but is a downloadable software that allows the adviser unlimited options to customizing their blog. Advisers who already have a fully functioning website can add their new blog onto their site, usually with just one step. There's a very heavy do-it-yourself component to Wordpress.org that provides the users with the ability to pick and choose exactly how they want their blog to look down to every detail, as well as a number of help forums and guides. Advisers can open thousands of plug-ins, including adding social media or special software coding. Ads are already removed on Wordpress.org.
Stephanie Sammons, founder of WiredAdvisor, said she uses Wordpress.org and loves it.
"You can publish any content format that you're comfortable with," Ms. Sammons said.
Cons: Although the blog is created, the site is not free, unlike Wordpress.com, and comes with a monthly charge. Like with any website, having a domain name requires an annual renewal charge too.
Pros: Perhaps the second most well-known blogging website is Blogger, a very easy-to-use blogging website that connects with a Google account. Advisers can choose a simple template and can see their posts, pages, comments and stats on their dashboard. The account will automatically connect to an adviser's Google+ account, which includes all the Google abilities like connecting with readers through Google+ Hangouts.
Cons: While Blogger is used among advisers, it is not as highly ranked in functionality as Wordpress. It isn't as customizable and it has a very limited number of templates to choose from.
Advisers can get Blogger for free.
Blogging has promise for advisers, who can attract potential clients with their posts. Jeff Rose, a CFP in Illinois, tweeted the other day that he had found a new client because of a blog post from four years ago. But in order to see returns on using blogs, it's important to get acquainted with the platform and stick with it.
Ms. Sammons suggests creating a content strategy plan, complete with a list of topics to cover and a content calendar.
"Blogging is an incredibly powerful tool for educating prospective clients and even existing clients, and making a human connection," Ms. Sammons said. "Any content that you publish is out there 24/7 for someone to discover."