Website and blog stats review 2014

This will be the third time I have posted an annual review of my website and blog stats. It’s as much for posterity as it is for those who may be interested in such things. The 2013 review can be found here>>>

Once again, visitor numbers and blog posts read are all significantly up on previous years. I am delighted that an increasing number of professionals (not just accountants) seem to find what I write to be of interest and value.

Blog posts each year

2014 – 64; 2013 – 68; 2012 – 70; 2011 – 56; 2010 – 59;

2009 – 59; 2008 – 109; 2007 – 93; 2006 – 52

Visitor numbers

According to my WordPress stats the site has averaged over 30,000 visitors a month this year (2013: over 20,000).

The day the site had most visitors was 29 October 2014 (1,716) which is 35% up on last year’s most visited day which had just 1,272 visitors.

Popular Blog Posts

The top ten blog posts and pages of the site according to wordpress, in terms of the number of times they have been viewed/read are as follows. Figures in brackets are those recorded a year ago:

(1) Welcome 66,750 (44,110) This is the main landing page for my website.
(-) Giving constructive feedback 43,491 A post that has risen in popularity since it was first posted in 2008.
(5) Five modern marketing tips for accountants 31,112 (9,231) This popular searched for topic has generated loads of interest in what is now a 6 year old blog post from January 2009.
(6) How do you set charge out rates? 30,600 (9,076) Another popular searched for topic that has promoted interest in another 6 year old blog post.
(2) What’s your approach to the provision of business advice? 27,919 (22,441) This one only dates back to 2012 and has seens a smaller growth in readership during 2014 than the posts above.
(3) Examples of good facebook pages for accountants 20,604 (14,463) The most popular of the posts I wrote in 2012 is often found through searches for information on this topic.
(9) Will you get paid more for iXBRL accounts? 20,341 (6,039) I remain mystified as to why this niche post from August 2010 has again been so, relatively, popular this year
(4) Three elements of communication – and the so called “7%-38%-55% Rule” 17,501 (11,773) I got lucky with this title in 2008. It transpires this is a very popular searched for topic. NB: I doubt that many of the visitors who read it have any interest in anything else I write or do.
(-) Lessons for accountants from… dating sites 15,798. A popular post from 2013 that was not in the top ten at the end of that year.
(7) Why accountants don’t NEED to bother with twitter 13,288 (8,439) Promoted by me and by others who challenge the logic of this 6 year old post. It’s as true today as it was in 2008.
I will post a separate list of the top ten most read blog posts from 2014.

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2014 – Highlights of my professional year

In my last email newsletter of the year I promised to post here a summary of my highlights and what I have achieved and shared in 2014.

January – Started researching and planning the launch of what became The Inner Circle for Accountants

February – Appointed Treasurer of The Magic Circle. Very proud. Have been a member for about 30 years.

March – Conceived The 4 suits approach to having more powerful conversations. Referenced it in a blog post and have since found it to be a key element of The 7 principles anyone can use to STAND OUT from the pack.

April – First meeting of The Inner Circle for Accountants. Delighted by positive feedback and encouragement from initial members whose input has helped refine the offering.

May – Attended and spoke at two major conferences for the professions: Accountex and Legalex. Full lecture theatres for my new keynote talks on ‘How to STAND OUT from the pack’. Very positive feedback afterwards.

June – Launched a new Linkedin group for professionals who want to STAND OUT from the pack and win more work, be remembered, referred and recommended. Do join us.

July – Ran the first of a number of webinars for accountants this year. An easy way to share knowledge, insights and advice for free. Very popular. If only the technology was more reliable ;-(

August – I was appointed Network Independent Director for Winmark’s Tax Director Network. My first quasi NED role.

September – Published what has become my most viewed article (over 16,000 todate) on AccountingWeb this year: Twenty signs you’re a bad accountant

October – Attended my first convention as a member (a Fellow in fact) of The Professional Speaking Association. What a fabulous experience. Presented a ‘Meet the Pros’ workshop that was well received.

November – Attended The British Accountancy Awards in London – having fulfilled my role as a judge for a number of the award categories a couple of months earlier. Glorious evening celebrating with many well deserved winners.

December – Planning new online product and services to be available from 2015. Exciting. More news soon.

Before we get back to normal in the New Year I will be posting my 2014 blog stats and my PIPs for 2015 – that’s my Plans, Initiatives and Promises.

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Does anyone care or remember what you look like?

Whilst I recognise the name, Lennie Kravitz, I admit to not having listened to his music. So why did recent reports of his live performance at Wembley Arena catch my eye?

I think it has much to do with the emphasis on his appearance some 25 years after he first played the venue. Apparently he was “dressed in trademark aviator shades, ripped denim and leather”. His image has evolved though as previously he was worn “a white catsuit and red, high-heeled platform boots”. So not consistent across the years but sufficiently well known to be recognisable and highly regarded.

Of course the real focus of each of the reviews I saw was his music, performance and showmanship. But, I submit, if he didn’t look the part this would have been held against him. He was performing largely to fans who already knew him so he had little to do to influence their views.

Attention to your Appearance is the first The 7 Principles anyone can adopt to STAND OUT from the pack. We never get a second chance to make a first impression. Do you want to come across as confident and powerful or as a nervous novice? Your Appearance has a huge impact on people who have not met you before. Many will form an instant opinion that, if it’s inaccurate, you will need to work hard to revise.

The Appearance of your online profiles will also have a similar impact. What impression will someone you don’t know get from the profile or absence of such on your website? Or of your profile on Linkedin and on social media sites? The reaction someone has will determine whether or not they then get in touch with you.

You can access a free guide to craft a powerful Linkedin profile here>>>

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How to use the 3Rs when you’re seeking more work

In an educational context we refer to the three Rs as being those crucial elements that all children need to master. That is, Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. This is somewhat ironic given that only one of the three topics actually starts with an R. (The phrase is used as each of the three words, when spoken, has a strong R sound at the start).

Professional advisers keen to win more work would do well to focus on a different set of 3Rs.

You want to be Remembered, you want to be Referred and you want to be Recommended. Let’s consider each in turn, in a slightly different order (for reasons which will become apparent):

You want to be Remembered

How might you become more memorable – for good reasons?

One way to do this is counter-intuitive. Instead of talking a lot about yourself and your practice, develop a natural curiosity and interest in other people.

It can be really helpful to learn how to ask good questions and then to listen carefully to the replies. The more genuinely interested you are in someone else the more they will remember you as an interesting person. Yes, this means you talk less but your questions may themselves, if well worded, evidence your experience and credibility.

You want to be Recommended

This can only happen once your clients have experienced your advice and can express an honest opinion about your work.

Think about any service provider who has done work for you. If you are really pleased with their service you will gladly recommend them when someone asks you if you know a good decorator, plumber, mechanic, dress-maker or whatever.

You want to be Referred

Again I am grateful to Andy Lopata who helped me to understand the distinction between referrals and recommendations and also how these differ from tips and leads.

  • A tip – This is quite simply a piece of information. It rarely includes contact details and may even be based on a misunderstanding. Nice though it is to receive tips, they leave us with plenty of leg-work to do ourselves to determine if they are each worth pursuing.
  • A lead – This is more than a tip, in that you may receive contact information, but a lead is little more than the first stage in the sales process.

When someone gives you a name and a number and says ‘You need to speak to this person’ they are simply giving you a lead. If they invite you to use their name when approaching the prospect that is simply a ‘warm’ lead.

The other side of a lead is when an introducer recommends that someone looking for an accountant gets in touch with you; but the introducer is unable to recommend your services as they have not experienced them.

Referrals are much more valuable than tips and leads. Andy explains that there are three steps to referral heaven. In the context of this blog post these three steps would be:

  1. The person referring you identifies someone who needs a professional like you to help them.
  2. They talk to the prospect and determine that they are interested in speaking with you.
  3. The prospect is then expecting your call which will follow after the introducer passes on the referral to you.

Can you see how much more valuable this would be than a tip or a lead?

The importance of these 3Rs is a key reason why I speak on the subject of how you can STAND OUT from the pack. It’s so that you can win more work, but also so that you  and your colleagues are better Remembered, Referred and Recommended.

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Inspiring Excellence in the Accountancy Profession

‘Inspiring Excellence in the Accountancy Profession’ is the strapline for the British Accountancy Awards which I attended last week.

There were 25 award categories and well over a hundred shortlisted nominees in total. These were also the second accountancy awards this year for which I had been among the judging panel.

I am always honoured when asked to judge such awards and I enjoy sharing my views with other judges before we reach a consensus.

What I find quite fascinating is the wide range of entries and how sometimes the winner really does stand out from the rest. In other cases there isn’t much to choose between any of the shortlisted entrants.  That typically means that none of them really stand out – but at least they have entered the awards and evidently aspire to win awards.

Those who are shortlisted can then point to this fact as evidence that they are different to other firms. This can help with recruitment and retention of staff and can also attract the attention of influencers and prospective clients. Given a choice who wouldn’t be more interested in an award winning firm than one that seems much the same as all the others?

At a recent meeting of the Inner Circle for Accountants we were fortunate to hear from the owner of a small practice that had been shortlisted for two awards this year (unknown to me).

“Jon” explained how simply entering the awards had prompted him to ‘up his game’. He recognised that he needed to be able to evidence his assertions as regards the approach he and his firm adopted to client service and to embracing innovative change. He has driven his firm forwards further since drafting the award entries and is more committed than ever to re-entering next year when he will have a more compelling story to tell.  On hearing of his experience, other members of The Inner Circle were inspired to consider entering next year.

I am in no doubt, that whilst winning is a worthy ambition, simply being shortlisted as a finalist is a superb achievement for smaller firms.  This isn’t as hard to do as it may appear. It’s not as if all of your competitors will be entering. And a surprising number of those firms who do enter omit to provide all of the data and evidence requested by the organisers.

What about you? What’s your approach to entering your practice for awards?

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