How To Create An Effective Insurance Blog
The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study in 2006 that found that "eight percent (8%) of internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs."
Blogs may soon be as popular and commonly used as emails. And insurance agents and brokers actively pursuing online prospects are quickly seeing the need for blogs.
If you're feeling unsure about how to get your blog started, don't worry. You're not alone. This overview contains solid tips to quickly get you into the blogosphere.
Why You Need A Blog
Having a blog isn't just about getting in on a big thing. It's fast becoming a necessary marketing tool:
Increase your search engine rankings.
Google and Yahoo! look favorably on recently and frequently updated websites. A popular blog does both, with less effort, because of the feedback postings you'll get from readers.
A blog also helps to develop your image as an insurance expert by letting you showcase your insurance prowess as you engage in online discussions.
Blog search engines, readers and other bloggers often "bookmark" or create links to blogs they find interesting or informative. These additional links to your blog can help boost your site's page rank.
The Downside of Blogging
Let's get this simple fact out of the way. Many, if not most bloggers give up. They don't prepare for the task and are quickly overwhelmed when something that's supposed to be fun turns into a chore.
Many blogs are also nonsensical and useless. As one blogger noted, the average blog has the lifespan of a fruit fly - with similar intelligence.
To avoid being one of the many blogs that are abandoned or, worse, ignored, you need to prepare to deliver something worthwhile to your readers for the long haul. Fortunately, that's not as hard as it sounds.
Simple Set-Up Steps
A web developer can set up your blogging page in a couple of hours. That's the easy part. Then you're faced with the challenge of delivering a continuous flow of good content.
Here are 7 tips to help you launch and maintain a successful blog:
Keep it short.
You don't have to write a book or even a huge article each time you blog. Set a minimum of 100 words, or about the size of the opening three paragraphs of this article. If you've got more to say or a very important issue to discuss, wonderful. But avoid stressing yourself out with a huge requirement.
Scour the web for insurance newsletters and blogs that deliver intelligent content and news. These keep you informed and full of ideas. Shoot for at least a dozen strong feeders, although you should be able to get a lot more. By the way, this is something all agents should be doing anyway - whether or not they're blogging.
Going through all those newsletters can get tedious, so I recommend that you use an RSS feeder. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others provide them for free. They take all the content from those newsletters and informative sites and put them into one convenient dashboard.
Remember you're not a journalist.
Blogs aren't about delivering news. They're mainly used to analyze and discuss news, opinions and ideas. It doesn't mean you ignore the facts or the truth. But you don't have to worry about "breaking a big story." It's also okay to be controversial and opinionated-as long as you're okay with getting challenging feedback.
Set a realistic schedule.
You probably don't have time to blog everyday. Even if you did, it would get old fast. I suggest that you set a realistic blogging schedule of at least twice a month but no more than once a week, at first. If you find you have extra time, go ahead and add a bonus entry but stick to your minimum schedule.
Create an editorial calendar.
Before you write your first blog, sit down and brainstorm your writing ideas for at least the next six months. You can deviate from this schedule if something more topical comes up. But at least, you won't have to stress out over coming up with an idea.
In a pinch, copy, cite and comment.
If you need to blog but can't come up with anything, look to your news feeds. If you see an interesting news article that's relevant to your blog, copy the important sections and use that as your blog's main idea. Introduce it with your opinion about the topic or article; then wrap it up by citing the source, stating your questions and asking for comments.
Blog about things that interest you.
One of the fastest ways to get bored or frustrated with blogging is to constantly write about things you don't like. You need to find things that interest you.
Better yet, find relevant things you can get passionate about. For example, if you really get excited about politics, combine that passion with insurance by talking about how politics is affecting health insurance affordability or availability. Are you a sports nut? Take a look at injuries or diseases your favorite athletes have suffered and project that to the average family: which insurance policy offers the best coverage if your client suffers a similar fate?
By the way, it should go without saying that you should spell-check and proof everything you write. If possible, have someone proof it for you for grammatical mistakes.
Plan For The Long Run
You're not going to see results overnight. It takes time for word about your blog to spread. But an effective blog will eventually drive added traffic to your site, which should produce a few more leads for you.
As your internet marketing campaign starts to take off and pay off, you won't have as much time to devote to your blog. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, but that's no reason to abandon something delivering exposure and prospects. You need to plan for potential growth, so you won't get blindsided by the growing pains.
You may have to hire someone to take over the blogging, if you get big enough. If you can't afford to hire a full-time assistant to help you with your blogs, consider asking fellow bloggers or blog-readers to be active contributors.
For example, check with your carriers and vendors to see if any of them may be interested in contributing a linked article to your blog every month. Their submissions will contain links to their websites, but the articles will be in your blog. That can be a win-win partnership.
For more info, check out http://www.bloggingtips.com/archives/ for a listing of several helpful articles for developing and promoting your blog.
Also visit http://dir.blogflux.com/cat/insurance.html to see a directory of insurance-related blogs. Look at how other agents run their blogs - and how you can make yours better.