This may surprise many of you who have read my blog posts and newsletters for years, but I am not a writer. For me, the blank page is intimidating.
I know writing is vital to my success so I’ve come up with a number of strategies which help me get past writer’s block.
Break the Block
Talk before I write– I naturally think aloud. I often brainstorm with other members of the team or my friends about potential topics. Working through the content verbally makes it easier for me to put the sentences together when I sit down to write. If no one is around, I will often dictate the same blog post several times until I get a version which sounds good. Then all I have to do is transcribe the audio file.
Work ahead – It is hard to be creative on demand so I write when the mood strikes me. Then I have several posts stacked up and ready to go. This gives me a chance to reread the content with fresh eyes. I almost always find one or two things which I want to tweak before the post is published.
Keep a notebook handy – When I find myself answering the same questions over and over again, I make a note to turn my answer into a blog post. Yes, I am old school and actually write in a notebook, or record a quick voice memo to capture the thought. This also works to channel my energy when I am frustrated by a client making a bad decision because of lack of information. I write a post to inform the next customer.
Build a list of keywords – While not every post on our blog contains every word which is important to your audience (or key word stuffing), a list gives you a starting point. I recently noticed a significant amount of our traffic was coming to “web design” blog posts. Unsurprisingly, our inquiries for web services were rising. While that’s great, we offer other services, so I knew we needed to add more content marketing, social media and email related blog posts to the mix.
Another approach to using key words to jump start your blogging is one we used with a client who had twelve very specific phrases to focus on. Each month, we featured one phrase from the list. This concentrated effort gave them a theme they could carry through all of their marketing each month.
Work from an outline – I am a stream of consciousness writer. Both Peter and Anne seem to work best if they make a list of their key points and then flesh out the content. If you are stuck, writing a few bullet points with fresh ideas might be enough to jump-start your writing.
Collect background information – I use Feedly to search for fresh content on specific topics and WebNotes.net to tag content I want to come back to. I like these tools because they allow me to highlight interesting quotes and make notes which form the foundation of a post when I’m ready to start writing.
Set a schedule – It’s easy to find something else to do when you sit down to blog. Set a schedule in advance. If you are blogging for business, write at least once a week and block out two hours to get your projects completed.
To make it easier, plan ahead, come up with a list of topics for the month. You don’t have to write anything, but use that list to focus your attention throughout the month as you look for content to add to your post.
Be flexible – Don’t be so rigid with your calendar that you can’t take advantage of something new or interesting. Be willing to delete a post if your ideas don’t come together. Occasionally I start a post and get stuck. If I come back to it several times and can’t finish, I give myself permission to delete it and move on.
With more than 60% of small businesses indicating they have a company blog of some type, writing isn’t something you can ignore. What are your favorite writing tips?