It’s a shame, but too often entrepreneurs and business owners mistakenly think that their blogs must be literary works of genius before posting on their B2B websites. Overwhelm sets in, resulting in procrastination and a backlog of blogs that never get written. This means less opportunity to engage with clients. Follow these proven tips and vanquish the terror of the blank screen and blinking cursor.
Stop the negative thinking. Seriously. “But I’m a terrible writer.” “But I don’t have anything to say.” “Why would anyone want to read this?” These inspiration-killers will sink your ideas before they ever set sail. Your blog doesn’t need to be Pulitzer-worthy. It simply needs to connect with your clients by focusing on something that your audience finds relevant.
Brainstorming is most of the battle. You know more than you realize. Take out a piece of paper and draw separate columns for the following three questions: What’s the most important thing to my clients? What are their biggest concerns? What does my company offer to alleviate those concerns? Now make a list of responses to each of these questions for each type of client you service. Voilà! Each answer is the topic of a new blog entry.
Be yourself. Different authors have different voices, and personality sells. You’re an expert in your field; now simply share it. Write in a simple, conversational tone. If you find that your writing seems too formal, dictate your work into a tape recorder or to have an actual conversation with someone. Grab a coworker or a friend and sit them down for a few minutes while you explain your thoughts on your blog topic. Once you transcribe those thoughts, you’ll have a good chunk of unique human-sounding blog content as your starting point.
Embrace the ugly. Too many people mistakenly think that every word must be perfect before they put it on the page. Save yourself the stress by writing it out in ugly plain old English. Keep the bad grammar, fragmented thoughts, rambling anecdotes and run-on sentences. Refraining from self-censorship will make editing much easier later.
Now print it out. Yes, on real paper. Hard copies allow you to work on your blogs in places that are inconvenient for a laptop, like your daily train commute or in bed at night. They also help you spot grammatical errors and typos. Up your font size and widen the spacing before printing to make it easier for you to read. Try Georgia 12-point font at a paragraph spacing of 1.5 for easy legibility and room for notes. Then go crazy with the red pen. Add periods, delete commas, and throw in more paragraph spacing. Now go back and type up those changes. Then print it a second time and repeat this editorial process. Make this “2 drafts + revisions” system part of your personal blogging habit.
Hack up your sentences. Be merciless. Most of your sentences are probably too long. Chop up as many as possible into smaller phrases. Less commas and semi-colons. More periods and paragraph returns. Blog readers want to get in, get some information, and get out. Remember what blogging on B2B websites is for: to grab your clients’ attention and give them a piece of helpful advice or interesting information. Make it easier for your audience by breaking up your thoughts into short, skimmable sentences.
Schedule a specific time to write. Maybe it’s at your office. Maybe it’s at home after your kids have gone to bed. But stay alert to your sense of when you feel compelled to work on your blog. A pattern will start to emerge. If you find yourself thinking of blog ideas during your morning drive, use the audio memo feature on your smart phone for a quick brainstorm session. Simply transcribing your ideas later will generate plenty of quality word count to kick-start your blog entry.
Just do it. It sounds cliché but it’s true. Work in whatever way feels most comfortable for you, be it dictation, hand writing in pen on paper, or scratching some ideas on the back of a playbill during intermission. Momentum begets momentum and once you start integrating blog writing into your regular work cycle, it will soon fold seamlessly into your weekly task list.
Enlist your staff. You are not an island. You’re surrounded by staffers who understand your clients, your business, and where the two intersect. Your staff can contribute ideas or blog posts that are relevant to your audience and will also relieve you of some pressure.
Do as the pros do: hire someone else. All big brands use content writers. Do you think Richard Branson writes his own blog? How about Martha Stewart? Well, Martha Stewart actually might, but most executives at top companies hire ghostwriters for their corporate blogs and then simply manage the message. Web development professionals make it their business to research and create compelling content that will support your company and its mission.
Whether you go it alone or enlist someone else, blogging will get easier, trust me. All successful writers who stick with it know this. Once you find your personal flow and style, the process will become less painful and-dare I say it-maybe a little bit enjoyable?