top accounting bloggers

CPA Experts Share Secrets of Publishing Successful Blogs

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Ever think of blogging as a smart entrepreneurial move?

The essence of entrepreneurship is simple:

  • Find a problem worth solving
  • Solve it

The top accounting bloggers we interviewed excel at sharing their knowledge with others in order to solve problems.

Entrepreneurship is win-win: the consumer (in this case the reader) wins and the entrepreneur (blogger) wins.

For example one of our interviewees set out to close the knowledge gap between current and emerging CPA technologies. In the process, he gained a new career in consulting — thanks to his blog.

Now let’s meet the remarkable bloggers changing the future of accounting.

Who Are the Top Accounting Bloggers?

We talked to these top accounting bloggers to find out how they got their start and what success tips they have for other bloggers.

Here are the experts we interviewed:

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

Jeff Elliot passed the CPA exam at age 30. His blog was born out of frustration with the process of studying for and successfully passing this exam. He knew there had to be a better way, which led him to create his “NINJA’ system.

another 71 cpa exam
https://www.another71.com/

When he was studying for the exam, Jeff and his wife already had two children and a newborn baby at home.

As Jeff puts it: “I know what it’s like to study for the CPA Exam while trying to balance a full-time job, a marriage, a family, church commitments, a mortgage, Little League, and life!”

They’ve since added 5 more kids to their tribe. (We wonder, where does he get time to blog?)

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

Rita Keller, an expert on CPA firm management, has long been recognized as one of the Top 100 most influential people in accounting.

rita keller cpa
http://ritakeller.com/

She is the president of Keller Advisors, LLC, and co-founder of SurveyCPA.

For 30 years she was an executive at a top CPA firm, earning her invaluable experience in “partner issues, management, marketing, human resources, technology, administration, and governance.”

“I focus on profitable, efficient, engaging and caring cultures for CPA firms,” says Keller.

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

Mark Lee is a chartered accountant and popular speaker at prestigious conferences for financial professionals. Like Rita Keller, he has earned 30+ years of valuable experience to share with others.

mark lee stand out success strategies
http://bookmarklee.co.uk/

Mark tackles serious issues with original insight and verve. His blog is focused on supporting accountants who are looking to the future. His latest talk is about ‘The Rise of Robo-Accountants — and How to Beat Them!’ He also addresses related topics and helps accountants learn how to stand out from the competition so that they can be better remembered, referred and recommended.

Breaking stereotypes, Mark is not only an expert but an entertaining speaker. He usually has a few tricks up his sleeve too — magic tricks. Indeed, he is “one of only a handful of accountancy qualified magicians.”

Mark was listed in 2017 by Sage as one of the top 100 global business influencers.

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

Brian Tankersley is an accounting technology consultant, a certified public accountant (CPA), and a chartered global management accountant (CGMA).

cpa technology blog
https://cpatechblog.com/

As a widely recognized thought leader in accounting technology, Tankersley is in high demand as a speaker at conferences across North America.

He’s a widely published author whose work focuses on emerging accounting technologies.

He also serves as the Director of Strategic Relationships for K2 Enterprises, which specializes in accounting technology education via conferences, seminars, and online courses.

Tankersley is also one of the authors of the Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey, which has been published annually.

Brian T. Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Brian T. Stoner is a CPA with over 30 years of experiences working in small business tax preparation and planning.

brian t stoner cpa
http://briantstonercpa.com/

In 2010 Brian launched his own firm, “realizing a dream . . .  to have total control in how an accounting and tax practice should be run.”

He’s been quoted by MarketWatch, CNBC, and CNN and is a member of the National Society of Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants. Brian is also the founder of Referral Exchange Southern California.

His LinkedIn group “Tax and Financial Musings” focuses on current tax and financial events.

 

Q&A from the Accounting Experts

We asked each successful accounting blogger the same six questions.

Explore their answers to get valuable tips on how to launch and grow your own thriving business or career-related blog.

top-accounting-bloggers-how-started

Why did you start blogging?

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

Back in 2008, there wasn’t anyone else talking about the trials and frustrations of taking the CPA Exam — so I started an “online study journal” of sorts. It grew . . .  and then exploded after that.

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

I started blogging 12 years ago and have blogged every business day since. It was something new back then and differentiated me from others. I did it as a way to help others working in the CPA profession.

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

A desire to help my target audience to become more successful.

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

I started the CPA Technology Blog in 2004 because there was no place to go to learn about technologies which could change how business is done in the 21st century.

Having spent five years working with accounting firm technology at that time, I knew that there were other like-minded people around — I just couldn’t find them (and they didn’t exist in my third-tier city), so I created a blog to help them find me.

Ultimately, starting my blog has led to a new career in consulting, given me opportunities to speak in 47 states and two foreign countries, and writing opportunities like being the technology editor for one of the major industry publications. The opportunities which my blog created have been beyond my wildest dream at the time I started.

Brian T. Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Decided I needed to get professional exposure and blogging seems to be the most efficient way to do that. I can post my blog on my website and share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get my message out.

motivation-accounting-blogging

What’s your secret to staying motivated & inspired long term?

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

There are a number of phases you go through — and sometimes you get too busy to maintain your momentum. I try very hard to write something every day, and then I decide how to use the piece I’ve written.

If I’ve got a client who needs some targeted writing and analysis (which pays the best), I try to do that work first. If I’m stuck on those efforts, I work on my columns for major industry outlets. If I’m stuck on those items, then I write for my blog. Either way, you have to remember that a writer writes — so set aside some time, shut up and get to work.

It’s helpful to have colleagues you work with read your stuff and provide feedback. Not “rah rah” stuff — even though everyone needs motivation from time to time — but you need someone to tell you “that post is crap — change it this way to make it more effective” or “this discussion we’re having — you should write about this.”

There are a couple of people I collaborate with on a regular basis, and we have a very straightforward relationship — if something is factually incorrect, unsubstantiated opinion, or poorly written/explained, we tell each other before we sent it out to the world.

There really is no substitute for good feedback, and you need to look for ways to get that feedback to make your content better.

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

I have a passion for helping accountants in practice and routinely note down ideas for new blog posts. These might be inspired by thoughts that come up during my talks on stage, during mentoring sessions or during the round-table groups I run. I have many dozens of part-completed blog posts – some are in draft on my website. Others are recorded in Evernote.

With me, it’s more of a question of limiting myself to one blog post a week now after a few years of posting almost daily.

I realised that my audience doesn’t have time to read a new post every day so I limit myself to a new blog post every Tuesday morning. And I flag this in my weekly Magic of Success email. So I know I am directing traffic to the blog which is also quite motivating.

And the feedback I get from accountants I speak with who tell me they’ve been reading my blog posts for years inspires me too.

Brian Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Being a tax professional, there are always federal and state income tax issues that people need to know about, so I try and post as consistently as possible to get tax changes to people.

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

There’s no explanation for the success of the site other than God’s blessing and hard work. It’s a grind. People quit because it’s hard to keep cranking when there’s no income coming in.

You have to keep your day job and grind away at a small payday that may be years away. Hopefully, eventually, that payday will replace your current job and you can quit . . . but never until then.

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

There are many on-going challenges for CPAs managing a successful firm. They often focus on their clients more than on their own business. Through my many years of experience, I can offer them best practices for managing a firm. They are slow to change so I always have topics that I can cover in depth.

successful-accounting-blogs

What do you think had the biggest impact on making your blog a success?

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

Posting a range of relevant commercial and practical insights, tips and tricks on a regular basis and over many years. It is all evidently aimed at helping accountants in practice to become more successful. So the overall theme is consistent too, which is key I think.

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

The one thing that makes me effective is that I actually lived through many of the challenges my readers face. It’s not like I am a consultant who has never really “walked in their shoes.”

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

As previously mentioned, God’s blessing is #1. Secondly — I have an amazing team.

Websites grow in phases.

1 – The business grows to a level where you can’t have both a full-time job and run the website — hopefully, the revenue supports you quitting your day job as well.

2 – The site grows to a point where you need to outsource your deficiencies (hiring a programmer).

3 – The site grows to where you outsource both your deficiencies AND the stuff you no longer want to do (customer support inquiries that don’t require your personal take on the situation, etc).

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

The most important thing for me was writing about something which I’m passionate about. I’ve always loved learning about technology, and I’m naturally curious about what’s new and what’s coming.

That curiosity has served me well as our industry has moved from paper-based workflows to digital workflows, and the next frontier — process automation and artificial intelligence — is even more exciting. If you don’t write about something which excites you, you won’t have enough enthusiasm in your posts to get the reader excited — and then they won’t come back.

Brian Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Posting relevant items that many people are interested in or at least feel they need to know usually gets enough people to look at my message when I blog.

 

lessons-for-accounting-bloggers

What lesson about blogging do you wish you’d known before starting out?

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

If you’re successful people will copy you and try to take you out. The barbarians will eventually be at the gate . . . better have a strong gate. I would also add that people, in general, can be very rude on the internet under the guise of anonymity. You’d better have some thick skin if you dare challenge the status quo.

Success breeds jealousy.

There are accountants out there who are a lot smarter than me (it’s true — they probably are), who don’t think I deserve to be the “voice” of the CPA Exam candidate. There’s probably some merit to that sentiment.

On the other hand, those same people looking down their nose at me would also look down their nose at a struggling student because they lack humility and empathy.

I can’t speak to how humble I am — that would be ironic, however, I am a naturally empathetic person and combined with the fact that I’ve been where people are who are struggling — people like my website.

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

That it takes time to build an audience.

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

I wish I had learned more about tracking the reach of my blog, more about analytics.

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

It’s always important to remember that any kind of serialized writing — a blog, a column, a newsletter — is really a marathon and not a sprint. For your blog to be credible, you should plan on posting regularly. A lot of people set up a blog, write two posts, and then let it sit fallow for years — and it makes them look bad for not keeping at it. When I talk to someone about starting a blog, I generally go in three phases:

1. Make a list of ten to fifteen topics which will bring you new business or about which you are passionate (preferably both).

2. Create a calendar and roughly space those ten to fifteen topics across the year to provide timely coverage of issues which your clients and prospects will want to know.

3. Write six to ten posts of about 300-600 words in Microsoft Word before they ever set up their website.

Once these steps are complete, we can set up the website in WordPress or some other blogging engine, clean up the writing, time those articles to drop at appropriate times, and discuss how to promote the writing with a PR agent, an SEO consultant, or your social media consultant.

Brian Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Make sure you don’t put too many details into one particular blog. Better to have a series that breaks down an idea into many parts — people seem better able to understand things in that format.

advice-from-top-accounting-bloggers

Best advice would you give a new blogger?

Rita Keller, Rita Keller: Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders

Be consistent. If someone hits your blog site and they see you haven’t blogged in 8 months (or more) they will not come back. If you say you blog monthly — blog monthly. If you say weekly — blog weekly. I don’t think there are many, working in the CPA profession, who blog daily.

Mark Lee, Mark Lee: Standout Success Strategies 

Focus on the interests and needs of the people you want to read your blog posts. Make it about helping them.

The media love to report about how certain bloggers have built a huge audience simply by sharing their story or their passion. The number of successful bloggers who do this is very small compared with those who focus on providing information and insights of value to a target audience.

Jeff Elliot, Another 71 

Decide on a writing schedule (once a day? three times a week?) and follow it. Grind on Social Media. GRIND. Be ok with looking stupid at first.

Be ok with not asking permission to exist. If you’re successful someday — don’t forget where you came from — stay humble.

Oh — and have thick skin. :)

Brian Stoner, Brian T. Stoner, CPA

Try to consistently write something at least once or twice a month but don’t overdo it unless you are blogging a series based on a single idea.

Brian Tankersley, CPA Technology Blog

Don’t ever give up, and try to find ways to get paid more than once for the writing you do.

My resolution for 2018 is to own the copyright on as much of my writing/speaking materials as possible and to find ways to get paid more than once on that content. If you look at successful singer/songwriters, that’s what they do — they write a song, record it, let someone else record it, sell part of it for a commercial, and license it for use as elevator music.

Having multiple ways to monetize your work is the way many wealthy people got that way — and is the way many others stay wealthy.

Most people with capital let their money/assets work for them so they have choices about what they do with their time. One of the great tragedies of the early days of rock and roll is that the songwriters and the artists signed away their copyrights to other people and lost the ability to repackage and repurpose their content into new revenue streams.

Final Notes and Resources

A big thank you to our accomplished accounting experts.

We strongly recommend visiting their blogs by clicking on the links above: you’ll find an abundance of accounting industry insights and see first-hand what goes into a successful blog. Observe the variety of approaches that are possible.

Know an accounting blogger who we should feature here? or Have another idea for a blogger interview? Please let us know!

Key Takeaways

The impact you make with a business or career-based blog can include raising industry standards, helping others become more successful, and acquiring new opportunities to speak, write, and consult in your niche.

Sharing wisdom from experience, practical how-tos, and summarizing industry trends to save the reader time, are all winning tactics.

More Tips for Business Bloggers

Ready to move forward with launching or growing your blog? Here are some helpful guides, as well as encouragement for taking the next steps to success.

Advance Your Career Through Blogging

How to Overcome (And Even Harness) Uncertainty

Sherrie is a former magazine editor and marketing executive who helps small businesses identify and solve their biggest digital problems. That includes helping clients discover the power of a good blog.
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