0423 835 266 vicki@bloggable.com.au

Forget the Advice Write Like You Talk and Do This Instead

Do you write like you talk?

There are some masterful content writers and it’s common to feel a tad intimidated by how well-written their articles are.

Feeling less than 100% confident in your writing may have led you to search “How to be a better writer” and found the following advice:

‘Write Like you Talk.’

If you’ve taken this advice to heart, be careful because it’s not the best advice.

Although you can get away with it on social media (depending on your business), it’s not good advice when it comes to writing articles. It’s meant for the novice writer— to stop them writing like the mouthpiece of academia. (Unfortunately, even today, many writers still haven’t listened).

Advertising man, David Ogilvy is believed have coined the original phrase, but there’s a word missing from the quote, and that word is naturally.

Write like you talk—naturally.

~ David Olgilvy, Advertising Tycoon

The suggestion to ‘write like you talk’ shouldn’t be taken literally

When someone recommends that you write like you talk what they mean is write in a conversational style. Like a chat with an acquaintance, but with a bit of polish.

When we speak, we don’t usually pay great attention to word choice or sentence formation.  Eavesdrop on any conversation and you’ll hear half-finished sentences, sudden changes of direction, slang, ums and ahs and other filler words. Because as Australian’s this is how we ‘talk’.

Hey, How ya going? Dya wanna have coffee? Nah, sorry, can’t. Gotta go.

Writing online obviously requires more formality than the above example, however too much formality sounds impersonal and stuffy—it requires a balance. After all, you want to sound professional and approachable, but you also want to sound like ‘you’.

So how do you achieve this?

 

Ignore the advice write like you talk and Make Your Writing Conversational

Here’s how

Keep words simple

Don’t use convoluted words when a simple one will do. People will switch off if they don’t know what you’re talking about. Therefore, avoid using jargon, unusual words or sounding like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus.

Use simple sentences

Say what you want to say in the simplest way possible, using simple words, then add a couple of interesting words to spice it up.

Simplicity quote write like you talk

Lose the words you don’t need

Avoid using weasel words (words that suck the life out of the words next to them). These include words and phrases such as just, virtually, a bit, having said that, almost, fairly etc., and are common in a lot of writing. These words are vague, unnecessary and weaken your writing. If in doubt, read the sentence out loud, first with the weasel word, and then without it. If it makes your sentence sharper without changing the meaning, omit the word.

Plan in advance how your piece will connect with your reader

Using a conversational tone with a touch of empathy and blended with personality, will go along way to developing a connection with your reader. This powerful combination works because it shows them that you understand how they feel and what they’re thinking. And they’ll like you for it because as they’re reading they’re thinking— this person really gets me!

So let your personality shine through in every piece you write. Choose your words to match your tone of voice and create a mood for the piece. Plan it out in advance to suit the content. Will it be serious/passionate/informative/edgy/personal/wry or fun?

Then,

Read your writing out loud

Is your writing music to your ears? Does it have rhythm, does it crescendo and fall? Does it flow? Does it make sense. Does it speak to your reader?

When someone reads, they hear the words in their head. And what they want to hear is you speaking directly to them. Like you’re reaching out of the screen to connect.

Here’s how

Give Your Writing Rhythm

To get the rhythm vary your sentence length

A long sentence shouldn’t have more than 25 words.  A short sentence can have one word.  Honestly. Break up long sentences with a short one to add punch.

Keep your paragraphs short

Writing is visual and short paragraphs catch the eye and look inviting to read because they’re surrounded by white space. Unlike long paragraphs, which look discouraging. And please avoid walls of text.

Also,

Use contractions

Contractions are more casual and we use them in conversation. So also use them in your writing to sound more relatable. For example:

  • You’ve instead of you have.
  • Don’t instead of do not.
  • Could’ve instead of could have.

Use interjections to express feelings or sudden emotion

Words like Phew. Duh!  Yikes and Ouch are fun and convey a sense of humour and are suitable for informal and casual language, but don’t overdo it.

  • Avoid them in formal writing if you want to be taken seriously.

To make your writing personal

Keep your one reader persona in mind and write directly for them.

  • Use the word you instead of I.
    You may’, ‘
    ‘Here are 7 tips for you to’
    and so on.
  • Have a point of view.
  • Tell a story.

 

Finally, Edit Well

You may have heard of this well-known phrase—The magic’s in the editing.

It’s a well known fact that no one ever publishes a first draft. Every piece will go through a series of edits before it’s published.

I edit several times. Often I leave it until the next day then re-read it and edit some more.

If you have someone to read it through and edit the piece for you, even better, a different perspective always helps if you’re too close to the piece.

If it’s just you then have a go at using an AI tool like https://ttsreader.com/  to hear your writing. From personal experience I find it amazing how many things I pickup that I missed before.

But what if you’re comfortable writing like you talk?

You may be someone who always dictate your articles. If this is the case, my advice is to do so for the first draft. Then give it some polish— read it out aloud and edit it until you’re happy to hit publish.

In today’s world, where content drives business, there’s no excuse for lazy writing. The reader will not enjoy the experience and you’ll be wasting your time. So please ignore the advice to write like you talk and write like the professional you are.

How to Research a Target Audience to Have a More Effective Business

How well do you know your target audience?

I mean, really know them.

You may think you know them, but if I asked you to describe them, could you tell me what keeps them up at night, or where they hang out online and what they do in their spare time? Do you know what they aspire to in life or what drives them to buy your products and services?

You should.

Why it’s important to research a target audience

Marketers and business strategists are always banging on about how important it is to research your target audience.

For good reason.

The primary principle of powerful marketing is to get the right message to the right audience. So, regardless of what you sell, you need to understand their world if you’re going to succeed in business.

How does it make you feel when Facebook ads arrive in your newsfeed that you have absolutely no interest in? Or what about when you read that article on SEO that completely loses you? It probably makes you wonder why they bother.

One of the most common mistakes business owners make is trying to appeal to a everyone. They create generic messages that don’t appeal to the people they’re trying to attract, and they use language that their audience doesn’t understand.  They’re hoping that by casting a wide net they’ll attract the big fish— but instead they waste valuable time and money attracting the wrong type of customers.

research-a-Target-audience-everyone-is-not-your-customer

Imagine how much easier it would be if you could target your ideal clients —people you want to work with, who energise and inspire you, who want your service and are happy to pay for it.

It’s possible to achieve this through target marketing and target market research.

What is Target Marketing?

Target Marketing is the process of identifying a group of people your business serves, for example, business owners, women or overweight people.

This group of people are called a Target Market.

However, because a target market is an extensive and unspecified group of people, it’s necessary to break it down into a specific group (within that target market). This group will become your Target Audience.

 

The Benefits of Target Market Research

Whether you’re just starting or growing your business, you need to know who your clients are and how to attract them. Without clients, your business has no chance of surviving. Conducting target market research enables you to find the best clients to work with and has many other benefits. You will

  • Develop better relationships with your audience.
    Knowing what creates tension in their business and their lives means that you can empathise with them. This means that you’ll get higher engagement on your messages because your audience knows that you get them‘. You’ll begin to develop trust.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

~Maya Angelou, poet

  • Get more engagement on your content. Because you’ll know what  interests and connects with them

You’ll also

 

  • Be more productive. Creating marketing content will be easier (for the same reason as above)
  • Know what motivates your audience to buy, so you’ll know how to persuade them
  • Know where to find them online and off
  • Better understand how your products and services fit the needs of your target audience, so you can tailor them to suit
  • Learn other ways to serve your audience and develop new products and services that you may not have thought of.

How to Define your Target Audience

Now you know who your overall target market is, it’s time to break it down into a specific category of people within that group. The first step is to decide who will benefit the most from your solutions, who you’re most passionate about helping and who are most likely to buy from you.

These people will have commonalities based around a mix of demographics such as age, occupation or marital status, and psychographics such as aspirations, beliefs and, most importantly, a common problem or need that your business can solve. For example:

  • new mums aged 18-35 who struggle with parenting
  • overweight men over 40 who have irritable bowel syndrome
  • MAMILs: Middle-Aged Men in Lycra who ride bicycles

To narrow this list down even further, you may want to include your own criteria for the types of people you want to work with—those who you consider to be your ideal clients. Or you may decide to work with people from one particular industry. This narrow focus is known as a niche.

Once you have compiled this list, the ‘people’ on this list become your Target Audience.

The next step is to research and discover what makes that target audience tick, and you can reach them.

Happy-client-target-audience

How do you find a target audience?

The idea behind the research is to get as much information as you can on your target audience. The more you know and understand them, the easier it will be to sell and market to them. Therefore, knowing your target audience well is one of the most important things you can do for your business.

1.     A great place to start is to research your client base

Look at the characteristics of your best existing or past customers and for commonalities among them. Then, create a spreadsheet to record your findings.

For example:

 

  • Categorize by demographics: age, gender, location, profession, title and industry and then by psychographics: beliefs about your industry, hobbies, and interests. Include any other relevant or interesting information you find.
  • Add any groups they belong to (networking, social, industry etc.) and any conferences or events they attend.
  • Consider who are the easiest to work with. What qualities or behaviours makes them the easiest?
  • Where do you meet your clients? Are there particular types of people or industries you seem drawn to?
  • If they are past clients, look at what they purchased from you. Then, analyze what were they like to work with, adding anything else you know about them.
  • What do you know about your website visitors and people who have downloaded your offer or signed up for your newsletter?

2.   Go online to Research Potential Prospects 

  • Check out any Facebook groups your target audience may belong to—business groups, industry groups, special interest groups etc. Immerse yourself in the community to understand their problems and see the world through their eyes.
  • When you find someone who fits the criteria of your audience, look at the questions they ask – is it something you can help them with? Look at the answers they give to others. Do they say anything revealing? Have they recommended any businesses? Check out what they post, what links they share, any advice they give and what they’re interested in.  To search for a particular topic within the group. Simply click on the search tool and type in your criteria.
  • Look at your 2nd and 3rd level connections on LinkedIn. Do they have commonalities within the criteria of your target audience? Then, dig a little deeper and look at their activity, what type of content they comment on, what comments they make, and what content they share? When a person shares content from a third party, it’s because it resonates with them.
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

3.  Research your Competition

Keep a close eye on your competition. If their businesses are selling a similar product to yourself and have been doing so for years, they already know your audience very well.

 

  • Look at their social media platforms and for the content that gets the most engagement. Also look at the people who leave comments. Can you learn anything about them? What type of content resonates with them the most? (This will give you an indication of the type of content you could consider posting).
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

4.  Look for them when you’re out and about 

  • Practice the art of networking— Visit networking groups, conferences, trade shows and anywhere your target clients hang out. Talk to people who match your target audience—practice 80% listening and 20% talking. Use open-ended questions and pay attention to their body language. Sometimes it’s about reading between the lines.
  • Add these to the spreadsheet.

What now?

Organise your target market spreadsheet

Organize your spreadsheet

By now, you’ll have a lengthy spreadsheet with lots of columns.

Go through the list and highlight the common characteristics.

Organize that list into at least one profile (ideal client persona) based on those shared characteristics,

Then,

Evaluate your decision

Once you’ve done the research and decided on who your target audience is, it’s time to consider the following; ask yourself

  • Has the research shown my target audience to be who I thought they were?
  • Are there enough people in my target audience who need my products and services?
  • Will my target audience benefit from my product and services? Will they see a need for it?
  • Do I understand what influences my target market to decide to buy? what influences my target market to make decisions?
  • Can they afford my product or service? What stage of business are they in? Are they a startup?
  • Can I reach them with my messages? Are they easily accessible?

 

What if you have more than one Target Audience?

Your product or service may be of benefit to more than one target audience. This situation can be challenging and is where segmentation comes into play.

If there are more similarities than differences, the best practice is to have one Primary Target Audience (those you give the most focus to) and one or more Secondary Target Audience(s), who you give less focus to. These people generally have fewer demands for your product or service.

Secondary target audiences generally differ from a primary audience by having different buying habits and characteristics. In this instance, it may be the case that your ‘primary’ target marketing will pick up your secondary audience anyway. On the other hand, it might be better to create separate personas if there are marked differences between audiences.

There is much contention around separate personas because they can be challenging to manage, particularly for small businesses. This article from the University of Queensland covers the consequences of targeting multiple audiences in online ads. Although its focus is on a product (an online game), it’s definitely worth the read.

Researching a target audience may appear time-consuming, but it will impact every aspect of your business and save you a lot of time, heartache and sleepless nights in the future because it will take your business from this:

To this,

So go ahead and schedule a couple of hours in the coming weeks to do the reasearch.  It’ll be the best thing you can do for your business.

I hope this blog post helps you with your target marketing. Please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues that may benefit from the information.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Just leave a comment below.

How to Write An Engaging Opening Sentence (with Examples)

Learning how to write an opening sentence is part science part art.

So, there’s a lot to be said about it.

An opening sentence has to be simple, really simple. And it has to be short, really short.

But it also needs to be captivating.

Trying to write an opening sentence can make you feel anxious because it carries a lot of weight.

As Stephen King explains:

 

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story.

It should say:

Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.

~Stephen King, Author

Novelist Stephen King admits to spending months even years writing opening sentences. But we’re business owners, we’re busy, and we don’t have that much time.

So what can we do?

To write an opening sentence that’s compelling, there are techniques you can use. But first, let’s look at what makes an opening sentence compelling, and then I’ll show you a couple of examples.

 

The Power and Passion of the Opening Sentence

The job of the opening sentence is to get the reader to read the second sentence. Sounds simple enough, right? But there’s more to it than that.

An engaging opening sentence grabs your attention and pulls you into the writer’s world. It introduces the writer’s voice and sets the tone for what’s to follow

 

The First Sentence is a Handshake

~Joe Fassler, the Atlantic

Let me explain.

The purpose of the first sentence is to get the reader to read the second sentence. And the job of the second sentence is to lead the reader on to the third sentence. It’s this vital progression —the first leading to the second, the second leading to the third, and so on— which bind together to form the rhythm of your blog post’s opening paragraph. The idea is to make it so engaging, that they hook the reader in.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

 

The most famous lines ever written were opening sentences

In Copywriting

For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

~attributed to Ernest Hemingway

In a Blog Post

You wake up. You roll over. You check your phone. You open your email.

~Nathan Collier,

9 Best Knowledge Base Software Options for Startups and Small Businesses

In Literature

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert,
when the drugs began to take hold.

~ Hunter S. Thompson,
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In Film

I had the craziest dream last night; I was dancing the white swan.

~ Mark Heyman, John McLaughlin &
Andres Heinz, Black Swan

Can you see what these opening sentences have in common?

They’re interesting. They’re unique. They’re short, and they make you want to keep reading. Legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman explains: 

Your first sentence should be very compelling by virtue of its short length and ease of reading. No long multisyllabic words. Keep it short, sweet and almost incomplete so that the reader has to read the next sentence.

8 Ways to Write an Opening Sentence that Hooks your Reader in

Let me take this opportunity to introduce you to William Zinsser.

William Zinsser is a writer, teacher and editor. The New York times credited his classic guide to non-fiction writing as a “bible for a generation of writers looking for clues to clean, compelling prose.”

In this book, On Writing Well, Zinsser discusses the opening sentence and the sentences that follow:

Your lead must capture your reader immediately and force him to keep reading. It must cajole him with freshness, or novelty or paradox, or humour or surprise, or with an unusual idea or interesting fact or a question. Anything will do, as long as it nudges his curiosity and tugs at his sleeves.

In the above quote, Zinsser mentions eight ways to write an opening sentence. They are:

  1. Cajole with freshness
  2. Novelty
  3. Paradox
  4. Humour
  5. Surprise
  6. Unusual Idea
  7. Interesting Fact
  8. Question

Let’s explore them, shall we?

 

1.  Cajole with freshness

(Cajole is an uncommonly used word. I had to look it up and here’s the definition: To flatter someone in an attempt to persuade them.)

So what better place to find fresh, cajoling inspiration than a blog post from a dating app?

“What’s Your Idea of a Perfect First Date?”

This works as an opening sentence for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s a question.
  • Questions encourage the reader to pause and think about and answer.
  • It’s personal and it’s fresh. It’s probably something you’re not often asked to think about (even though you probably have!).
  • Anyone of dating age can relate to it. Therefore, it taps into a broad target audience.
  • It makes the reader curious and eager to keep on reading because it has the potential of being a fun read.

 

2.  Novelty

Where there’s novelty, there’s originality and where there’s originality, there’s personality.

Novelty can be quirky or funny, even outrageous. It leads you in. Sometimes it shocks you, then it makes you wonder, and before you realise it you’re hooked.

Here’s a perfect example:

You know me as James Chartrand of Men with Pens, a regular Copyblogger contributor for just shy of two years.

And yet, I am a woman.

This is not a joke or an angle or an analogy — I’m literally a woman.

This is my story. 

3.  Paradox

A startling statement, fact or statistic, that may or may not be accurate, is an enthralling way to start a blog article. The more outrageous the statement, the more it drives the reader to keep reading because they’re dying to find out if it’s true. They’re also a great way to start a conversation.

There’s the paradox:

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

~ George Orwell
Animal Farm

Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

~ Ghandi

There’s the (may or may not be true) statement:

My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six.

~ Alan Alda
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

There’s an opera house on the U.S.–Canada border where the stage is in one country and half the audience is in the other.

~ Buzz Feed, Blog Post: 42 Incredibly Weird Facts

And there’s the statistic:

In a 2011 study by Logitech, the computer accessory and remote controls manufacturer, revealed that there’s a 50 percent chance that your lost remote control is stuck between your sofa cushions. Meanwhile, 4 percent of lost remotes are found in the fridge or freezer, and 2 percent turn up somewhere outdoors or in the car.

Blog Post: Live Science:  8 Weird Statistics about Life

If you’re surprised by a statistic, chances are your reader will be too. Therefore, if you have one that’s related to your topic, be sure to put it in your opening paragraph.

4.  Humour

Telling a funny story is a wonderful way to open a blog post, particularly if the reader can relate to it. People love to be entertained, and what better way to do it than by telling an entertaining or hilarious story?

 

That time infamous singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson landed a stolen helicopter on Johnny Cash’s lawn to sell him a song.

Cole Schafer, www.honeycopy.com

I don’t know how other men feel about their wives walking out on them, but I helped mine pack.

~Bill Manville, author, Breaking Up

5.  Surprise

Grab your reader with something unexpected and you harness his attention to the story you’re telling. At least for that moment.

 

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

~ Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups

His children are falling from the sky.

~ Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

6.  Unsual Idea

Unusual ideas are generally founded on personal opinions. So opening your blog post by stating a strong opinion on a popular topic can be an effective way to engage your reader.

An unusual idea creates intrigue for what’s to follow and questions whether your reader might agree or disagree —which is a fabulous way to start a robust conversation. But, be mindful that if you choose this opening, don’t sit on the fence. Thought leadership needs to go deep.

 

Personally, I’ve never liked the term “thought leadership”.

~ Brian Clarke, Copyblogger

I’ve often wondered what goes into a hot dog.

~ William Zinsser

The moment one learns English, complications set in.

~Felipe Alfau, Chromos

I love this last sentence. It’s short, it’s simple, and it’s wry. It also has a substantial degree of subtext. Yes, learning English is complicated, but you get the sense that there will be another layer to this.

 

7.  Interesting Fact or Statement

It takes seven years for your body to digest a piece of gum.

Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

On average, you swallow eight spiders a year in your sleep.

People love facts because they back up what they already believe to be true. Facts stimulate conversation, are often shared, and can be controversial – we only have to look at the current discussions around Covid vaccinations to see how polarising people’s beliefs are.

Because facts drive conversation, they’re an excellent way to start a blog post. But not all facts are true. So, starting with an often believed but totally untrue fact—particularly if it relates to your industry— allows you to set the record straight by backing it up with evidence.

 

8.  Question

Questions can be a powerful way of starting a blog post, particularly if it’s a question that your reader may already be thinking, and one that resonates with how they feel. They’re also a good way of beginning a story.

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right?

Does your moody teenager rule the house?

How do you respond when a stranger calls you a bitch?

Are your readers doing what you want them to do?

Did you know that 9 out of 10 of your blog readers don’t get past the first line of your posts?

So now you get the idea, let’s sum it up.

5 Tips on How to Write an Opening Sentence to Grab Attention

1.  Make it punchy

Boom! Get in there. Mix up your style by trying different openings. See where it leads you.

2.  Keep it short

Readers are lazy and busy. You have less than 5 seconds to grab their attention, so try to keep your first sentence under 10 words.

The shorter your first (and first few after that) sentence is, the punchier it will be, and the more likely your readers are to keep reading.

 

You’ve been here before.

~ Stephen King, Needful Things

3.  Give it its own line

Put it on its own line —a one-sentence paragraph. This creates a visual impact that ensures it’s simple enough to seed its way into the reader’s brain.

 

4.  Show Empathy

Connect with your reader by showing them you understand their thoughts and feelings. What can you say that will make them break out into a grin or leap up and punch the air? If you’ve felt it in your business journey, chances are they’re feeling it too. Spell it out.

 

5.  Show Personality

Think about your favourite books, blog posts and writers. What is it that makes you keep going back to them? I guarantee that their personality is a significant factor.

Personality is not something that can be forced. You’re either hilariously funny and quick with a joke or not. But there is something about you that people love and relate to. What is it? Are you empathetic, do you like to shock, or do you tell it like it is? Whatever it is, try and inject some of that into the first sentence—while remaining true to who you are, of course.

 

There is no magic to writing an opening sentence

An opening sentence might come to you straight away. On the other hand, it may be the thing you write last— after your post has been written. Then again, it may be “a little like catching moonbeams in a jar” (Stephen King). The most important thing is to not to overthink it. Despite what Mr King says, it’s not magic. Try to get something down in the first draft, then work on it in the editing.

Spending a little time on the opening line can pay off. But if it makes you break out into a cold sweat, try this tactic: Think about your reader. What keeps them up at night? Imagine having a conversation with her. What would you say first?  Often, the best approach is a simple question.

 

 

Content Creation Mindset: How to Blast Through The 7 Barriers Preventing Your Success

What is a content creation mindset?

A content creation mindset is a set of beliefs that shape a person’s attitude towards creating content.

Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. Whether we do this consciously or unconsciously, it influences our behaviours, beliefs, and feelings.

Loathe it or love it, content creation, like any other business activity, relies on your own energy and drive to make it happen. And when you are solely responsible for creating content for your business, the biggest threat to success can often be yourself.

In the early days of my business, I experienced my own subconscious barrier— something I couldn’t put a finger on was holding me back.  I learn that it was imposter syndrome and set myself on a path to overcoming it. I did some research to define what it was and to understand why I was feeling that way. But what made the most significant difference was the realisation that I wasn’t alone, and once I grasped that understanding, I could begin to overcome it.

It turns out that most content creators have barriers to break through when they start their content creation journey. You may recognise some of them in the following list.

The 7 biggest barriers to hitting that PUBLISH button

Barrier #1 Imposter Syndrome

This is the biggie, the top of the list and the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. It turns out that I was in good company – Tom Hanks, Serena Williams, Arianna Huffington, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama and Albert Einstein have admitted to having struggled with imposter syndrome. All had feelings of being ‘found out’ — either as not competent, skilled, talented or deserving as people perceive them to be.

Imposter syndrome is tied to self-limiting beliefs and poor self-confidence. To tie in with content creation, it can be related to worrying about your credibility. Often expressed as a nagging doubt, a little voice that says, “Who do you think you are to being doing this?” (or versions of that). It can be a subconscious fear of what people think or a fear of being discovered that you’re not good enough, that you can’t write or because you aren’t expert enough to express your opinions, no one will read your content. Imposter syndrome is widespread among women and stems from the old-world narrative of ‘you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be doing this’.

Mindset Quote on Vulnerability

One of the best ways to overcome imposter syndrome is to understand it for what it is and talk about it. When you put these feelings out in the open, you’ll realise that you’re not alone, and you’ll get positive feedback on your abilities, which will give you strength. You’ll recognise that these self-beliefs are not true because you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing if you didn’t belong where you are.

So when that little voice rears its ugly head, acknowledge it, then tell it to naff off.

Here’s a thought: Imposter syndrome is so universal – they gave it a name!

Content Creation Mindset Barrier #2 Worrying About What People Think

If you’re new to publishing blogs, videos, podcasts or images of yourself, then you’re going to be pushed beyond your usual comfort zones. The hurdle to overcome here is the fear of doing it in public.

Putting yourself ‘out there’ can be daunting. But if you’re hesitant to hit publish, then there could be more to it than that. I’d like you to consider something.  Are you someone who needs approval from others?  Are you a perfectionist, so much so that it hinders your performance? Are you honestly worried about posting selfies because of what you look like? If you answer yes, then this could relate to imposter syndrome. Michelle Obama discusses this candidly, in a quote from this video when, with feelings of imposter syndrome, she had to show up as the first lady in a boardroom full of men

Michelle Obama quote on Imposter Syndrome Mindset quote

It’s important to acknowledge that you’ll go through a period when you start to publish content when you feel that hardly anyone is paying attention because very few people are reading your blogs or engaging with you. But it won’t always be like this. Because when you show up consistently, publishing content that you know your audience wants, you’ll gain confidence every step of the way— and your audience will grow. It takes time, but it will happen.

 

Mindset Barrier #3  Being Too Busy

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this…

Yep, you’re busy. You’re a business owner. To be fair, this isn’t an excuse. It’s a fact. People are busy.

The only way to overcome this mindset hurdle is to make it a part of your routine.  Set aside a couple of hours first thing in the morning for content planning and creation. Use a content calendar to map out your content and a social media calendar to schedule your posts.

While you’re planning your content, think of the benefits of why you’re doing this. And just to remind you of those benefits, here are 7 of them:

7 Benefits of Blogging

  1. More potential clients
  2. Higher profile
  3. Greater trust & influence
  4. More connections
  5. Strong website traffic
  6. Larger email list
  7. More social media content

Content Creation Mindset Barrier

#4  Giving up Too Early

This is where you need to draw on your resilience to keep going. The main reason new businesses fail is that they give up too early, and if this is something you often feel like doing, then reading Kanter’s Law may help. Keep it on hand and read it often.

Kanters Law Everything can look like a failure in the middle

It’s about showing up consistently

When creating content, know that recognition leads to brand confidence and that confidence creates loyalty, so if gaining loyalty is one of your goals, it’s essential to show up consistently. When you post a blog on your website, you get traffic, when you post on social media, you get engagement. When people engage with your content, their friends see it. All of it is eyes on your content, so you are on their radar, and as a result, your audience grows.  Statistics say that it takes at least 8 touchpoints before a potential client reaches out to you. So make it easy for them and show up regularly.

 

Make it enjoyable for your audience to read your content

Is the format of your content scanable? Most readers  scan the content first, particularly if it’s a long article, then if it piques their curiosity, they’ll then go back and read it. It’s important that your article looks inviting by being easy on the eye? A lot of newbie content creators publish walls of text which turn readers off. There are some tricks to laying out content which you can easily learn.

 

Barrier #5  Fear of Technology

There’s no way around this. If you want to get good at something, anything at all, you must build up your skill level. And if you’re going to DIY your online marketing, that means learning software. This usually involves several hours of learning and in the beginning, a fair amount of frustration. People call it a learning curve. And it’s always worth it because you’ll have control and save money. And it’s nice to know that it always comes with support.

When you choose a reputable piece of software, there’ll be tutorials on how to use it and communities of users that offer advice and problem solve. This is the norm. It’s doable, and it’s learnable. Case in point – remember when you first got a smartphone?

Back in 2012, I had an online jewellery store, and I needed a website. For $250 (so cheap back then), a start-up website company built a 4-page website for me using WordPress. As it was a jewellery store, I had to regularly upload a lot of content, which meant an outlay of money to the website company every time I needed it done. Having had a bit of experience managing websites before (in an ancient program called FrontPage), I decided I’d learn to use WordPress, which is NOTHING like Frontpage. If any of you have been on a similar journey, then you’ll know what I’m saying when I say – it was a MASSIVE LEARNING CURVE. But learn I did. Fast forward to today, and I’ve built my own website; I upload my own content and save a lot of money. (I’ve even learned SEO).

You must get over your fear of technology

If you want to make your business more streamlined and content creation more productive in the future, then you’ll need to learn new software programs. Accept it because technology here to stay.

Mindset Quote

Content Creation Mindset Barrier #6  Procrastination

“I don’t have time now; I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“Have you seen that document I was working on last week?”

“I’ll just check my Facebook page for a sec.”

Any of this sound familiar?

Another big hurdle for most people. Procrastination – derived from Latin to mean to put off until tomorrow, is one of the main barriers blocking people from living the life they dream of.

Lack of willpower is often blamed for our tendency to procrastinate. But the new thinking is that it’s our motivation that’s to blame.

If procrastination is holding you back from achieving your goals, there’s a couple of excellent books that I recommend you read

  1. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Based on the concept of doing the one thing that will get you closer to your goals, it discusses the dangers of multi-tasking and the truth behind trying to live a balanced life.  It will completely rewire your thinking to get more productivity from your work and life, master what matters, and have less stress and a better lifestyle.

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

This book shows you how you can change your life by thinking big. The precis is that by forming habits to become a part of your daily routine, you can accomplish more by focussing on less.

 

Content Creation Mindset Barrier #7 Forgetting your Content Strategy

Sometimes we get drawn towards new things. There’s always a bright shiny object in the distance beckoning our attention, and it’s easy to get distracted from the path we’re on to achieving our goals. We put aside our strategy,  try new tactics and reach for new opportunities.

When you often change tactics or publish random content unrelated to your business or target market, it can confuse your audience and dilute your message. But when you go off strategy, you’re in danger of losing your direction.

In Gary Keller’s book The One Thing, he identifies what makes people successful. After studying the careers of numerous highly successful entrepreneurs, he found that it’s their ability to prioritise and set goals, and then to focus on that one thing that moves them towards achieving that goal.

If you find that you often stray from your strategy, then perhaps it’s time to review it. Have your goals changed? Is your business moving in another direction? If so, then it’s time to develop a new strategy.

If not, then it’s crucial to get back on track.

 

It’s important to take action

Content is such a massive part of marketing a business online, so it’s crucial to approach it with a positive mindset. Should you recognise some of the unconscious barriers in this list, try and face them head-on. Because only then can you confidently move towards achieving your business marketing goals.

 

How to Fit Blog Writing into a Busy Schedule (without compromising time)

Does this sound familiar?

Yesterday, you promised yourself you’d write that blog post. You even allocated time to fit blog writing into your busy schedule. But it didn’t happen.

If this does sound familiar then join the club, because it happens to us all. We get super focused on a different task, or something unexpected pops up and before we know it, another day has gone by.

The fact is that writing a good blog post takes a lot of time. And time is something in short supply, particularly when you’re running your business as well as doing the marketing.

Woman holding clock with clockface of business woman running

However, if you want to get serious about publishing your blog more often— to reap the benefits, then you may need a blog writing schedule—one that doesn’t interfere too much with your day-to-day.

Now, I’m not waving any magic wand here (nope, no fairy dust on this page). You still have to do the work, but a schedule will make your life a whole lot easier, and you’ll be hitting that publish button more consistently.

The impact of Not Posting Consistently

If you want to be known as a go-to in your industry, it’s essential to be top-of-mind with your audience. With millions of content pieces published every day, it’s easy to be forgotten if you don’t post consistently.

You will also be forgotten by Google. Neglecting to add fresh content regularly to your website means that Google will stop sending their website bots to scan and update your content as often.

It can be difficult to fit blog writing into a busy schedule. Doing so depends on what kind of writer you are.

So what ‘kind’ of blog writer are you?

How you approach writing a blog post is dependent on what type of writer you are. Typically, you may fall into one of these categories:

 

Do you start writing only stopping when finished?

Sitting down and writing it in one hit can have its drawbacks.

With this approach, it’s challenging to maintain momentum over a long period of time. Do you get tired, lose your focus and become easily distracted? I’m guessing you may be nodding here, because this approach is hard work!

 

Are you a perfectionist writer?

Do you edit when you write? Do endless rewrites? Obsess over spelling mistakes and grammatical errors? No doubt, you dislike the process immensely, because it takes up so much of your time.

 

Are you a distracted writer?

You like writing, but it’s challenging to get started and stay in the zone. You’re easily distracted. Even starting involves a great deal of procrastination. But once you get into it, the words begin to flow. But eventually, you get there.

 

 

Creating a Schedule  helps make writing less of a chore and more of a delight

Blog writing is a creative activity with benefits— an outlet for your opinions and thoughts— the perfect opportunity to educate your client prospects and draw them into your world.

When you think about all the benefits a blog gives your business, you know it’s worth the effort. Plus, there’s the bonus that you have a supply of content to share on social media when you repurpose the post.  (Download the ebook ’10 Ways to repurpose one blog post’ on how to do this—The link is in the sidebar next to this post.)

 

Have you every wondered how the world’s greatest authors write so prolifically?

There’s no real secret, only real dedication. And a routine. Every successful writer sets aside time to write—every day—until it’s done.

I’m not suggesting that you have to write every day, nor am I suggesting that you write a tome, after all this is about writing blog posts, but they do have a point. If you publish your business blog haphazardly, because you struggle to find the time to write it, then setting up a blog writing routine may be your answer.

“Routine, in an intelligent man*, is a sign of ambition.”

~ W.H. Auden, Pulitzer prize winning poet

* quoted in 1958

Transform your haphazard blog writing routine into a passion

This isn’t going to be a long process, honestly. The concept behind fitting blog writing into your busy schedule is to break the tasks up into segments over a couple of days.

 

How to put a Blog Writing Routine into Practice

Have you read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear? If not, I highly recommend it. He writes about setting up routines and practices to achieve goals.

 

“You do not rise to the level of your goals.

You fall to the level of your systems.”

~ James Clear

James suggests deciding on a goal and implementing regular daily habits that progress you towards that goal. 

By fitting those habits into your lifestyle, they become, by their nature, so ingrained, they come to be a part of your lifestyle.

Habits, that because of the action, result in self improvement and become motivation.

Writing Habit Formation

The 3R’s of Habit Formation, James Clear

 

If your goal is to be regularly publishing content, the best, most positive way to achieve this, is to incorporate a blog writing routine into your monthly schedule and make it a habit.

How to Fit Blog Writing into your busy Schedule

DAY 1

SET UP

Choose your time.

Time may be a four-letter word around that can involve a lot of emotion—but we all have the same 24 hours. Ask Beyonce. Ask Stephen King.

The majority of writers find writing first thing in the morning to be the best time. I tend to agree. Even though I’m not a morning person, I find that if I don’t do it first thing, the day gets away from me and it doesn’t get done. (Bit like going to the gym).

I’m not suggesting getting up at 5 AM and forfeiting your morning walk or gym session, but how about scheduling time when you get back home, after dropping the kids off at school or when you first arrive in the office (before checking your emails!) Which brings me to dealing with distractions…

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

~ E.B. White

Author Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little + more

Turn off anything that goes beep, has a ring tone or knocks on the door. If you’re in a boss-office tell someone near you that you don’t want to be disturbed. So they can dive tackle them  before their knuckles hit the door. (In my previous life I an Exec Assistant – I did a lot of dive tackling).

Day 1 : Plan and Outline the Blog Post

Planning your blog post keeps you focused and will prevent you from from going off on tangents and getting distracted.

  • First up, set a deadline for the date you’ll publish your blog post— a deadline keeps you accountable.
  • Second, plan the content. Planning involves researching the topic for information that will support and strengthen your content—things like quotes from experts, statistics and visuals. It also involves doing keyword research.
  • If your post is quite in-depth you may like to take the research phase a bit further by reading and analysing 3-5 other published posts on your topic. This can help you discover what you can improve on or how you can add to the conversation— a different perspective perhaps?

To make the process easier, download the blog post planner template to start planning your post.

 

Outline your Blog Post

This task is an extension of the planning phase and involves drafting your:

  • blog title*
  • opening sentences
  • subheadings, and
  • wrap up:  conclusion, CTA and links.

As this is still a draft stage, it’s easiest to use bullet points.

Download the Outline template to start outlining your post.

 

*A Note about the Blog Title (Headline)

It’s not necessary to have a blog title written in this stage. Just use a draft ‘working’ title that contains your keywords. This will keep your writing focused.

If you prefer, you can start working on your headline during this stage, but please don’t get stuck on it for hours. Sometimes headline inspiration doesn’t come when you’re tired. Sometimes they come to you when you’re doing something else – like walking the dog.

That’s it for day 1.  Your job is done. Now you can get on with the rest of your day.

Never underestimate the importance of taking a break

Taking a break gives your mind time to re-energise and engage in passive thinking. Inspiration can strike when you’re doing the dishes, but not when you’re tired and trying to force it. After taking a break, you may return to your writing with a different perspective.

Even a brisk walk can make all the difference.

Day 2

The goal for today is to write the first draft

A big old brain dump.

Using your outline as a guide, begin expanding on those bullet points.

Try not to edit as you go and ignore word count. You’ll get to that later.

The goal today is to get it down on the page. A big ugly first draft.

Approach the First Draft with a Content Sprint

Writing a first draft is hard.  Some days it can feel like you’re on a mission to conquer a steep hill— you can feel the burn in the back of your legs and all you want to do is lie down.

The only way to face it is head-on. As the Nike slogan goes – Just Do It!  I tackle my first drafts first thing in the morning —it’s the time of least resistance. I may read it back and recoil in horror, but it’s usually something I can work with.

Setting a time limit helps. Even going so far as using an actual timer. Poise pen, start writing, end when beep goes off. First draft done.

Leave it and get on with your day.

 

Avoid the temptation to edit

The perfectionist in some of you will be itching to edit the work. Please don’t. Not at this stage. You’ll increase the possibility of getting bogged down in rewrites and spend more time on it than you need. Besides editing requires fresh eyes and a clear mind. Best leave it until the next day.

If you are close to your deadline, leave it for a few hours otherwise, return to it tomorrow.

No one ever publishes a first draft.

When Issues with Writing become Excuses

There are many excuses for not writing.

It’s too hard.

I’m not in the mood.

I don’t know what to write about.

But really, these are just excuses. The reality is that excuses are the result of a lack of preparation.

Here are some ways famous authors face these excuses head-on.

 

Got Writer’s Block?

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page.

You can’t edit a blank page.”

~Jodi Picoult

Author of 24 novels (8 NYT best sellers)

Not in the mood for Writing?

“I only write when I’m inspired, so I see to it

that I’m inspired every morning at nine o’clock.”

~Peter De Vries, author of 26 novels

Lacking Motivation?

“A lot of people feel like they lack motivation, when what they really lack is clarity.”

~James Clear, Author, Atomic Habits

Don’t know what to write about?

“I made a decision to write for my readers, not to try to find more readers for my writing.”

~ Seth Godin, Marketing Guru

Author 19 books &  1 hugely successful blog

Day 3

The Goal for today is to Proofread, Edit and Format your Post

Step 1

Read your post. Read it out aloud. Check for the following:

  • Does your writing flow, does it have rhythm? Or do you stumble on words or phrasing?
  • Does it make sense, is it easy to understand?
  • Do you get your point across clearly?

Tidy up where necessary.

 

Step 2

Format Your Post

This step is about making sure your content is easy to read and scan.

  • Break up long sentences and paragraphs into short sentences and paragraphs. This will give your post its rhythm.
  • Ensure everything on the page stands out by surrounding text and visuals with plenty of whitespace.
  • Help readers scan your post using bold text or italics.
  • Put items into bulleted lists.
  • Indent quotes or important points.
  • Ensure that you have included alt tags on your images.
  • Upload the post to your website.

Resist the urge to obsess over perfectionism…

“Done is better than perfect.”

 ~Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook

Day 4

The Goal for today is to Promote Your Post

The hard work’s done. Now it’s time to get it out into the world.

Promote your post on social media by lifting pieces of content from your blog post and turning them into quote posts, 30-second videos or information snippets – infographics, statistics, interesting facts etc.

(Download the ebook ’10 Ways to repurpose one blog post’ on how to do this—The link is in the sidebar next to this post.)

 

Will this blog writing schedule work for you?

Don’t stress it if the 4 days spread out to 5. Some days we have more time than others. After all, this routine is a guide only— to get you into a routine.

“[There is] evidence that environments, schedules, and rituals restructure the writing process and amplify performance… These practices encourage a state of flow rather than one of anxiety or boredom. Like strategies, these other aspects of a writer’s method may alleviate the difficulty of attentional overload.”

~Ronald T. Kellogg, cognitive psychologist

The Psychology of Writing

Work that isn’t scheduled doesn’t get done

Try to approach blogging with the mindset of— write like a writer and act like a publisher.  A publisher publishes consistently.

Even though it’s hard to find the time to fit content writing into a hectic business schedule, breaking it up into chunks makes it more manageable and less overwhelming.

Don’t let blogging fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Keep focused on why you’re doing it.

Each blog post is an opportunity to grow your audience. To strengthen your profile. To get more website traffic. To win more business.

Publish…and be proud of your work.

“Never, never, never, never—give up.”

~Winston Churchill

Author of 43 books. Including the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1953