Alright, you guys know me so I'm not going to mince words here but let's […]
Back in the day, there was really only one CPA exam blogger and it was Jeff at Another71 who chronicled his adventures (read: failures) while amassing a large audience of loyal followers who shared in his triumphs and defeats. Over time, Jeff transformed his humble little website from just a soap box for him to complain to an actual career, blowing off the idea of a day job for the somewhat lucrative but always entertaining world of blogging. By all appearances this has worked out for him and it may be no small coincidence that a storm of CPA exam bloggers have followed in his footsteps, including his own team of CPA exam bloggers writing for him at Another71.
The only other longstanding CPA exam blog we can think of is the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ Exam Cram, which has featured a revolving cast of characters over the years, all of whom share their individual CPA exam stories with NJSCPA members and the Internet at large. Who says blogs are dead?
One CPA exam blogger we haven’t seen in quite some time:
The Cooking Accountant has been at this for awhile now and appears to have allowed a BEC failure to keep her from her blog since June of 2010. Once active in documenting her journey, her last entry reads “It hurts twice as much to learn you have to re-take two parts because you failed one. This is reminiscent of when a little girl riding her bicycle hits a raised chunk of sidewalk and goes flying off her bike, landing on the hard cement. But this time, not only does she scrape and bruise her knee and elbow so bad she can barely get up, but the doll she had in the bike basket is now sitting in the gutter.”
But many other CPA exam bloggers are alive and well and blogging every dirty detail of their lives as CPA exam candidates, at least when it comes to disappointments and annoying coughing girls at Prometric.
The list goes on and on and if I missed any good ones, do let me know.
Here’s my concern: while it’s certainly healthy to form a community of miserable bastards who can share in the joy and misery of the CPA exam experience together, at what point does blogging become a distraction? If you notice, each one of these blogging candidates commit well thought-out, carefully written, decent length posts, something a lot of “other” bloggers don’t always do. So is there an element of procrastination that blogging about the exam allows?
If that’s the case, it’s probably a healthy sort of procrastination. Candidates might be taking a break from the MCQ but they are still focused on their goal of licensure by writing about, thinking about and reading about the CPA exam.
As long as they don’t start using that #twudygroup to talk about movies and their relationship problems, I don’t see the harm.
Initially Caleb got butthurt and thought I was writing this article about him but I guess that means he thinks he sucks. I can’t name any accounting bloggers that actually suck and know plenty so here’s how not to tip that number past 0 if you’re thinking of taking it up.
Write about what you enjoy Believe it or not, there are people who care about: CPA exam experiences, SOX compliance, non-profit accounting, accounting technology, Big 4 bashing, re nce, accounting education, the Fed (cough), tax law… you name it and someone is writing about and looking to read about it right now. If you write about what you think people want to read about, chances are they won’t read it. Someone out there is totally into keeping LIFO even after we adopt IFRS so if that’s your thing, go for it but stay true to what you’re into.
Don’t isolate There are some folks who get away with being reclusive hermits or narcissistic pricks that don’t engage with the broader group of us (I won’t name names) but for the most part, if you want people to embrace what you’re doing, you’re going to have to bite it and talk to them sometime. Don’t trip, we’re not that bad. You can pick and choose which of the bunch you associate with and no one is saying you have to like every other accounting blogger out there. But at least find a few who don’t annoy you to talk to and share ideas with every now and then. If Dennis Howlett can manage, so can you.
Don’t get stuck in your niche Even if you’re strictly into LIFO, think about reaching out beyond your specialty and even beyond accounting to areas like finance, law and politics. It’s OK, it’s all relevant. The great thing about writing about what you love is that no one can tell you how to do it, not even us. The broader your subject matter, the more appeal you’ll have.
Actually try The thing about writing for this audience is that you have to keep doing it without getting much interaction back. We’ve personally seen countless state societies of CPAs abandon or under-evaluate their efforts in this medium simply because they didn’t get the Seth Godin reaction they were expecting. You aren’t Chris Brogan and accountants aren’t going to flock to your content by the bazillions, there are only so many of them to reach in the first place. Being in such a small, specialized group, it’s important to remember that you might not get the reaction you want right off the bat, if ever. But if you give up early, you’ll miss out on that reaction later.
Don’t think you know your audience’s expectations The best way to figure out if you’re delivering to your target is to access your site’s analytics and see who is coming from where and how. But even if you’re a stat whore like some of us, you can only tell so much about your audience from your side. Listen to what people are saying and try to recognize patterns in what is well-received and what is ignored. This isn’t just a blogging thing, you can use that sort of wisdom with e-mail marketing, Twitter, whatever. They’ll let you know what they like so don’t be so busy yelling your point to listen.
And as a bonus 6th tip, try to shake things up a little. This didn’t make the list because it really doesn’t work for everyone but for some of us it’s the only way to do it. If you aren’t afraid of being humiliated out of the industry with your big fat mouth, try pushing the envelope every now and then. Trust me, it feels awesome.