If You’re a Financial Advisor, You Need a Blog. Here’s How to Build One.


 
a businessman in gray suit in the office on a computer

Building a blog for yourself is the first step to marketing yourself online and developing a brand around your services.

The Axos Advisor Guide to Building a Blog is aimed at financial advisors who are looking for new ways to market themselves to potential clients online. It does not require any special technical skills. In fact, all that is needed to start your own blog is a computer and an internet connection.

We will take you through the process of finding a blog platform, finding a domain name and web host, setting up your site on your own domain, and designing your blog so that it looks just the way you want.

In many cases, starting your own blog can be done for less than $10.

So let’s get started!

Getting Started: Using WordPress as Your Blogging Platform

There are many free blogging platforms to choose from. WordPress, Tumblr, LiveJournal, and Blogger are all examples of free blogging platforms.

For the purpose of this guide, we are going to recommend WordPress. WordPress is the most popular blog-hosting platform with over one million new articles published every day, and it is trusted by clients such as CNN, CBS, BBC, Reuters, Sony, and Volkswagen.

Some benefits of working with WordPress include:

  • It is free to use
  • It has a great selection of themes, layouts, and add-ons to make it highly customizable
  • It has a thriving community of users; if you’re having a problem, someone else in the community has probably already solved it
  • It is easy to set up

Why You Should Pay to Self-Host Your Domain

While WordPress will allow you to host your blog on their domain for free, you should pay to self-host your site on your own domain. If you use WordPress’s free name service, you will end up with a web address that looks like:

www.yoursite.wordpress.com

This will, frankly, make you look like an amateur.

By paying to self-host, your website will be www.yoursite.com, without the WordPress branding, which will make you look much more professional.

Thankfully, paid web hosting is fairly cheap, as you'll find out in the next section.

Choosing a Web Host

To get your own self-hosted blog on your own domain, you will need two things:

  1. Domain Name: This will be the name of your blog and your web address.
    For example, www.wikipedia.org is Wikipedia’s domain name.
    You can acquire a domain name from sites such as NameCheap.com, GoDaddy.com, and similar providers.
    If you own a financial advisory firm, you should make that your domain name (e.g., www.myfinancialfirm.com). The important thing is to keep your domain name short and memorable.
    The price of a domain name is usually about $10/year. Try to score a domain name with .com at the end. These are more trusted than .orgs, .nets, and other website “suffixes” (properly referred to as top-level domains).

  2. Web Hosting: This is the web infrastructure that connects your website to the internet.
    Popular Web hosts are GoDaddy, BlueHost, and HostGator.
    We recommend BlueHost for their easy to use interface, good customer service, and cheap prices.
    Most importantly, they also have a one-click WordPress install, which couldn’t make things easier for beginners. Hosting with them is only $3/month.
    Even though we’re recommending BlueHost, the following steps should work with pretty much any web host.

Setting Up your Blog on Your Own Domain Name

  1. Go to BlueHost.com and Click on “Get Started Now”
  2. Choose a Blog Hosting Plan: For now, we recommend the “basic” plan, and upgrading as your blog grows and your needs increase.
  3. Choose a domain name for your blog:
    1. Already have a domain name? Write it in the box and just check “I already own this domain” and move on to the next step
    2. Otherwise, when choosing your domain name, be sure to:
      1. Keep it short. Long domain names are easy for users to mess up and short ones are easier to remember
      2. Make it memorable. You can do other things to make a domain name memorable by using alliteration and slant rhymes.
      3. Make it a “.com”. .com is the most trusted top level domain followed by .net.

Type the domain you want into the box then click next. If the name is available you will be able to claim it. If not, choose a variation, for example, one based on your location.

Complete Your Registration

a screenshot of package information during WordPress registration

Now is the time to complete your billing information and customize your offering. These options can be confusing for a first timer, so let’s review the most popular options.

  • Domain Privacy Protection hides your registration information from the WhoIs database, a worldwide database everyone can access. Check this box and keep yourself anonymous if you want to avoid people calling you.
  • All other boxes (such as Site Backup, Constant Contact, and SiteLock Security) are not required for security. You can read more about these options here.

Install WordPress

When your account is ready, BlueHost will send you an email.

This email will have all of the information you need to log in to your Control Panel.

The control panel allows you to manage your domain name, backend databases and front-end website.

BlueHost uses cPanel as its interface which is designed to make it easy for non-technical users to manage their web hosting.

a WordPress interface panel

Now you will install WordPress onto your webhost:

  • Log in to BlueHost Control Panel (the email you received will have all of the info you need to do this).
  • Look down the page for “Install WordPress.”
  • Click “Install WordPress.”

When you click this, you will be taken through a WordPress Install Wizard, just follow all directions and choose “install” instead of “import.”

After the loading bar completes, you will be given your login credentials.

Log in to WordPress

You will also receive an email with your WordPress credentials. Be sure to save both this email and the email with your cPanel information on it. These will be the most reliable ways to get access to your cPanel and WordPress.

You will want to log into WordPress using the Admin URL, which is always just www.yoursite.com/wp-admin.

You’ve just set up a WordPress Site on your own domain! Give yourself a pat on the back! Now let’s design it!

Setting Up and Designing Your WordPress Blog

Here, we will give you tips on getting familiar with the WordPress Dashboard, WordPress Design options and getting new features by installing plugins.

Remember that you will always log into your blog at www.yourblog.com/wp-admin using the credentials you created at BlueHost.

How to use the WordPress Dashboard

Here is a screenshot of the WordPress dashboard:

a WordPress interface panel

What the words in the sidebar mean:

  1. Dashboard: This is the control room-it displays things like your recent activity and other basic information, and lets you quickly manage your blog from a convenient location.
  2. Posts: Go here when you want to add a new blog post or edit an existing one.
  3. Media: Repository of all pictures, video files and audio files you’ve added to your website.
  4. Pages: 4. Pages: Go here to add a new permanent page like an About Me or a list of your services. This is different than a “post” as it is meant to be permanent and not its context does not depend on time.
  5. Appearance: This is how you will manage install new site layouts (AKA “themes”), this is where you will go to switch up your blog’s design.
  6. Plugins: You can add new features to your blog by downloading and installing plugins.
  7. Settings: The admin panel of your site where you can manage your site’s title and tagline, edit email addresses and edit important settings.

Using WordPress Themes

Themes are design templates that you can use to alter the layout and look of your blog.

To find a theme:

  1. Mouse over Appearance, click on first item from drop-down menu- “Themes.” panel screenshot of WordPress Themes
  2. On the next screen, you will see several already installed themes. Choose among these OR choose a new one by clicking "Add New." panel screenshot of WordPress Appearance sidebar
  3. You can sort themes by Featured, Popular, or Latest. You can also Filter Themes by color, layout and advanced features.
  4. When you find a theme you like, click “install.” panel screenshot of an installed WordPress theme
  5. Once installed, click “Activate” to switch over.

Adding Blog Posts and Pages

Your blog is on your domain and you have chosen a spiffy new design. Time to get some content up!

We will show you how to write posts, and add images links and formatted text.

How to Add Written Content to a New Blog Post

  1. Click the Posts section and click on “Add New.” panel screenshot of the WordPress dashboard

    You’ll see a screen that looks like this:

    panel screenshot of an installed WordPress Posts sidebar
  2. Add a title and write your content into the box below.
  3. Save your draft or publish using the options box on the right, shown below: WordPress publishing options panel

You also have the option to schedule a post to be published at a certain time. Once published, you can find the post in the ‘All Posts’ section of the left tab.

That is the basics of writing a text post - now let’s see if we can make our content more engaging by adding images, videos, links, and some fancy formatting.

How to Add Links

To add a link to another website, click on the link icon in the toolbar:

WordPress add new post panel

You will see this pop up:

WordPress insert new link panel screenshot

Enter the web address of the link in the URL field. Enter the text you want people to click on to get to the URL in the ‘link text’ field.

Check ‘Open link in new tab/window’ so people do not leave your blog when clicking on a link.

Click Add Link to finish.

An alternative way to create a link is to highlight text in the editor and click on the link icon to turn existing text into a link.

How to Add Images

Click "Add Media."

WordPress new post panel screenshot

Click ‘Upload Files’ tab, then click ‘Select Files.’

Insert media panel screenshot from WordPress

Browse to the photo you would like to upload and double click on it. WordPress will automatically upload it.

Adding Headers

Headers and formatting will make your long dissertations on financial markets much easier on the eyes.

Click on the dropdown menu in the toolbar:

a WordPress panel for editing typography

These are your options. Don’t overuse Heading 1, as it is very large and can be distracting.

As with links, you can also highlight text in the editor, then click on the heading you want to transform it. You can also italicize, bold, and underline words like this (just as in Microsoft Word).

Now let’s add some extensible functions to your site with plugins!

WordPress dashboard screenshot

Plugins

Plugins can be used to add functionality to your site that can vastly improve user experience and your website's usefulness. They can also:

  • Add forms so customers can get in touch with you
  • Add tools to optimize your SEO performance
  • Add a gallery of photos
  • Plus much more

Installing plugins is very easy:

  1. Mouse over “plugins”, then click “Add New.”
  2. Search for a function you would like in the search bar.
  3. When you find a plugin you want to install, click “Install Now”, then “Activate Now.”

You will need to keep your plugins updated to ensure compatibility.

Here is a list of top WordPress plugins.

That's it!

At this point, you have a domain, hosting, and a design. Now, you just need to write your content! We at Axos Bank wish you the best of luck as you use blogging to build your online brand and increase engagement with your clients.

If you have any questions about building a blog as a financial advisor, please email the Axos Advisor team at [email protected].

If You’re a Financial Advisor, You Need a Blog. Here’s How to Build One.