In this post Mark Hayward shares some tips on blogging for small business when you’re not a writer.
image by tomswift46
Have you ever accidentally slammed your hand in a car door? OUCH!
I think that very unpleasant feeling can be compared to how some small business owners feel about blogging. Until very recently, I would never have published anything on the Internet because I have never considered myself a writer.
Well, that all changed when I purchased my small business and suddenly I was forced to start producing content so that I could try to rank in Google, educate customers, and develop my backstory.
However, even though I started producing content, I still suffered from the inferiority complex that can only be associated with IMNOTAWRITER syndrome.
This syndrome, I’ve found, can be deadly to your small business blogging and it can cause countless hours of wasted time and frustration.
Plus, telling yourself, IMNOTAWRITER, is a very easy and convenient excuse not to blog, isn’t it?
As a small business owner, do you struggle with writing?
Growing up I was not one of those people who kept a journal or felt compelled to write as a form of self-expression. In fact, if you looked in the dictionary for the definition of ìnon-writer,î I would have been the poster child.
If you suffer from IMNOTAWRITER syndrome, but you’re contemplating blogging for your small business, please know that you are not alone and the fear (pain?) of writing can be overcome.
Typically, when it comes to blogging and small business, the three biggest complaints that I hear are:
- I don’t have the time.
- I am not a writer (or I hate writing!).
- I don’t know what to write about.
That’s it. Three little obstacles keeping small business owners from reaping improved search engine visibility (SEV), attracting new customers, and engaging existing clients.
Today, however, I am going to share a little secret with just you. Shhh… come closer… Closer… CLOSER.
You don’t have to be a writer in order to be a small business blogger.
Yes, you read correctly. You don’t have to be a writer in order to be a blogger.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no writing fairy who will magically publish blog posts for you, so you won’t be able to avoid some of the hard work that producing content requires. But, to make the process more manageable, I am going to provide you with a couple of options and a bunch of tips that have helped me.
Option One: Blogging for Non-Writers
The suggestions below assisted me in getting over my uncertainty and fear of blogging and are recommended for those business owners who are hesitant to write, but are willing to give it a try.
1.) Start with your goals. What are you hoping to achieve through your blogging?
Do you want to be on Google front page?
Do you want to develop your brand?
Do you want to educate the public about your industry?
Do you want to increase your customer base?
Once you have your goals you can then create your content strategy around them.
2.) Get started. Make a commitment and set a specific date with your computer (or pen & paper) and get your ideas down. Do not skip this date for any reason, except an absolute emergency.
3.) Write your titles first. The titles will give you a simple, creative base from which you can structure the rest of your article.
4.) List out bullet points. Once you have your primary ideas down in a bulleted list you can then create formal paragraphs around your key message.
5.) Write in a human voice. You don’t have to be anyone else but you. There are a lot of impressive writers online (see: Darren Rowse, Seth Godin, Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Jonathan Fields, & Colleen Wainwright) which can be intimidating and make you want to mimic them. Writing in your own voice adds a human element and will go a long way towards developing trust.
6.) Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy language or intricate grammar. One piece of handy advice I received is write as if you are drafting an email. Also, I find that focusing on one specific item in my small business blog posts keeps it as simple as you can get.
7.) Read your posts aloud. Before you publish your post, read it aloud. Does it make sense? Then go ahead and get it out on the Internet!
When writing for your small business blog, your post does not have to be perfect in order for it to be effective, but it most certainly does have to get published.
Option Two: Blogging for Those Who Refuse to Write.
Option two is for those of you who refuse to write one word. Amazingly, you can still rank for keywords and appear on the front page of Google even if you never write a blog post. Although, you still have to be willing to do some work (sorry there’s no way around the work part).
1.) Try speech recognition software. Do you like to talk about your business, your customers, or your amazing product? Speech recognition software allows you to speak into your computer and without ever typing a letter. The program will capture your words and create a text file that can be published on your blog. (Special bonus, there’s even a speech recognition iPhone option.)
2.) Use photos. Have you ever done a Google search and noticed photos on the front page? If you refuse to write, but love to take pictures, then photos are a great way to provide content for your small business blog. You can upload them to a site like FLICKR and then seamlessly add them to your blog.
3.) Take Video. If photos are good; video is great! With video you can provide some really useful blog content in the form of tutorials or even customer interviews. Remember, people have limited attention spans so keep the videos short, about 1-2 minutes in length should be sufficient.
Always remember, if you skip a week, two weeks, or even a month don’t give in to the temptation to quit altogether. Just get back at it, don’t apologize and get back to posting your content.
I think that what scares people the most about blogging in general isn’t the writing, photos, or videos at all, but the publishing. Once you hit the ‘Publish Post’ button you have effectively given up control and you will be judged.
In closing, I think it’s important to state that whatever avenue you choose to promote your business, the key is to make a commitment and do it consistently.
Do you have other suggestions that might help those of us who suffer from IMNOTAWRITER syndrome? Please leave them in the comment below.
(Mark Hayward is not the writing fairy, but he owns a business and can help improve the online presence of your business. Get his RSS Feed and follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.)
All are the good points for the non-writers. It’s the fear of getting ridiculed at which creates a block for bloggers. I remember a dialog from Matrix “free your mind!”. That applies to blogging as well, just let yourself go on writing in your own style and it will not be difficult anymore. Mind mapping can also help develop post to a great extent.
Another point I would like to add is to keep writing no matter how bad you are at writing. Writing is a technique which will improve over a time. Reading the contents of great bloggers will also help to minimize the learning curve.
Great post! Waiting for more such posts in future.
A fabulous and delicious insight into blogs showing the art form of blogging doesn’t necessarily have to be in the exclusive domain of writerly types.
I’m going to parade around my clients naked but for your post strapped across my loinage to show them there IS an alternative to ghost blogging.
Even though I offer the service myself, it’s in switching-off mode as I realise more and more the value of personal blogging over having a pro do the job for you.
Respect, authority and integrity is what it boils down to. And that means you can blog no matter whether you have the props of Pulitzerness or one finger and no creativity.
Just make sure you know your audience and they love your mind.
What a great tip! Write as if you’re drafting an e-mail … I reckon that if I published everything I’ve ever written down in e-mail correspondence I think I’d have thousands of pages of material. Gosh, just the thought!
Anyway, you’ve written a very inspiring post, thank you. I myself am always full of inspiration, but as soon as I’m confronted with a blank page, my mind goes blank as well. Dreadful!
Cheers from the Netherlands!
I’ve always found the ‘have nothing to talk about’ excuse is merely down to people not having thought about what they do have to talk about. Alternatively, it is about people thinking that what they do have to talk about being unimportant or not interesting enough.
In this case, it is important to realise that you are probably an expert in your field and therefore the little things you find unimportant may be valuable to those not so proficient in your field or niche.
I once had a client seeking better visibility for his landscaping web site. He showed me a beautiful portfolio of his work, in pictures.
I suggested doing a blog, especially since the web site was ugh and outdated. His English was so-so and he hated the idea. I have nothing to write, he said. What would I blog about?
Just use these terrific pictures and captions, I said. Every time you do a job put up the pictures.
Long story short, he was so nervous about writing even a few words that he wouldn’t go near a blog. Fear of writing is a very real thing.
Mark, Your headline really caught my attention even though I’m not afflicted with fear-of-writing. One thing that came through very clearly in the comments is that lots of people had teachers who taught them that they were no good at writing, who stomped all over their natural interest in using words to express themselves. English teachers are supposed to help and nurture and encourage their students. What a shame that they often do the opposite!
Anyway, your suggestions are great, and Dave Higg’s comment about writing as though you were “talking to a single person” is excellent. If you’re writing about something most people don’t know much about, think of someone–your mom or your neighbor or some one–who’s intelligent but doesn’t know anything about your topic.Then explain it clearly and simply. It really works!
I like this post… it’s very inspirational, yet informative… I’m not a writer, but still I keep on blogging… and you inspired me to do more about it… thanks
In the web 2.0 world, we are all writers, whether we know it or not. Almost anyone can improve by following my 3 step process:
1. Think about who you’re writing for, what you want to say and how to best say it.
2. Write like you talk. Don’t get caught up on those fears. What works in conversation works in writing.
3. Make it better. Focus, by chopping length and organizing. Fix the typos and the big get, baddest grammar mistakes Fascinate: Learn some tricks of the trade to make your writing memorable.
I’m writing an e-book called Write Like You Talk–Only Better, for all those good talkers who yearn to be better writers.
Before blogging I used to use the same excuses for not wanting to write. I started out just like you outlined got in front of the computer and stared at it for a while. Until I started typing something on the keyboards.
I did this everyday! Until I got comfortable with writing.
I really like reading blogs from individuals who write like they speak. It feels natural and like you know them.
Thanks for this great info!
A simple way that you can use to get other people to supply you with endless content is to always carry a notebook around with you.
Storytelling is the best way to get people to remember what you are trying to tell them and if you can jot downa few things that you hear in the news or in daily conversation, all you have to do is turn that story into a lesson about your product or whatever you are trying to teach.
If you do this for just a few days, you will end up with weeks worth of content that you don’t have to try and dream up.
The Underdog Millionaire
There are some people who simply shouldn’t write, sorry to burst your bubble. If you can pull it off, then by all means go for it. But if you have nothing to say and are struggling with the basic elements of good writing like tone, grammar, syntax, spelling,voice, then hire someone write it for you. This is going to represent your business. It’s more than just filling up space with some words, pictures and video. If the blog is loaded with poorly written error ridden content that doesn’t offer insight into anything in particular, then it’s going to do your business harm, not good. It’s all part of brand building. It’s part of the image you are trying to project for your business. There are people out there who provide editing services as well. If you want to have the general idea behind the post come from you, then go ahead and write it, but hire someone to edit it to make it shine. Shiny things get noticed. (By the way, I am a writer and editor for hire).
Great Article! At first I suffered from this condition but I have overcome it and I’m now comfortable with blogging. I’m not a writer so it was hard at first. I was over thinking everything. Then after reading posts from Darren and Chris Garrett I learned to just be myself. Write with your personality and people will relate with you and enjoy reading your blog. :)
SUCH great info…thanks! I strongly recommended this post and your email subscription in my post today (Writer Like a Writer) and added my original tips at BusinessStartersOfAmerica.com.
It was so simple tips, never thought of how we manage the blog without writing skills. Very interesting!
This title attracted me-it’s my blogging adventure in a nutshell.
I’m a physician and scientist. I avoided classes in college that involved writing because of my frustration with it… and now here I am blogging; putting my writing struggle out there for all to see.
I’ve approached blogging like talking to patients. I try to write the way I teach patients about their skin problems. I have a good track record with speaking and using this approach to create a blog has gotten me over the creative hump. For me, blogging is fun because speaking to and socializing with my patients is fun. I still have my grammatical and spelling problems, and posting puts them out there for everyone to see, but I’ve decided to just embrace this as part of my back story-I’m a science geek not a writer.
Cynthia Bailey MD
List out bullet points!
I cannot tell you how much easier this makes writing an article when you have just a basic structure on your screen to follow.
‘IMNOTAWRITER’ is on of my favorite excuses and yet when I do sit down and write something it is so rewarding – even if it’s crap! At least I wrote something.
Great pointers. I have to continually tell myself that I can write. My title may not be writer, but if you have the knowledge there are others who want it. Writing is just the tool I use to share it with them.
Video blogging is a great idea for those of us who are not comfortable writing.
Mark Great Post
I will refer to this post with my new team members and clients. They always exhibit IMNOTAWRITER syndrome. Or try the “I don’t have time excuse” Your tips on starting with Goals are right on. If you don’t know what the results are you want…chances are good you will be successful – and not get any results!
I always find that setting a time limit, starting with an outline and your keywords and writing to complete your idea in that time period is the best for improving your results over the long haul. Stay focused, don’t allow interruptions and have a comfortable setting go a long ways!
Great post. The date point is right on. It’s amazing what you can do if you actually sit down to do it.
I started a file in my Blackberry for ideas and stories. Sharing stories is a great way to get over the “I don’t know what to write about” issue.
There are many excellent points here.
What I would add is that what is most important for your marketing is to establish a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is what sets you apart form other businesses. It is the reason(s) way someone should choose YOUR business over your competition.
Think about this — a lot. Ask friends, family, and customers to help. Write it down. Make it into a blog post.
Another EASY and POWERFUL idea is to tell STORIES. They convey so much — stories of great successes, happy customers, funny things that happened, disasters that you learned from, even wonderful trips with your family — all stuff that make you more human and helps to build a bond with your reader. Have FUN with this!
Oh, yes. Definitely IAMNOTAWRITER.
The thought that has inspired me to start is that – I will never have to write something twice again. I won’t have to hunt through my Sent folder in hopes that I kept something and can just resend it. Once it is on my blog, it’s done!
A lot of folks are uncomfortable writing professional copy because it can be difficult to do well.
One thing most small business owners do have though is a strong passion about their business!
So here is another way to get good content…download the free recording software called Audacity.
Then you strap on a headset and microphone and start talking…the software is fairly simple to use and you can edit, cut, move, or mute with the click of a button.
The recording can then be made into a .wav file and not only uploaded to your blog or website, but also sent out in newsletters and posted up to Itunes.
If you can’t talk, then you might have a hard time succeeding in business, so grab the free software, and record your way to creating valuable content!
You can always hire an inexpensive person from elance.com to transcribe your words into written content as well, so you have both mediums to promote.
I have experimented with blogging for the best part of 2 years. I was going to post every day, but I ran out of steam and when I reviewed my blog I found the content wasn’t great.
So I post once a week on average. I cleaned up the blog, there is around 50 posts in total and 5 videos on “You Tube”.
I can cope with one good post a week. Now its working out how to make good money out of the website with stuff to sell…
Just invite others to write for you, freely..
For a non-writer, that sure is a powerful article Mark!
Some excellent advice for non-writers… and writers. There are some out there that could do with following your simple steps and getting a good blog post together.
I agree with Keisha, in that paying someone else to do it for you is a great option for some folks who just cannot get over the hurdle of IMNOTAWRITER.
Just find someone that others seem to know, like and trust and jump aboard.
Personally, my blog is slow in developing, but I am persevering! I’ll follow the steps and keep going.
Thanks for taking the time to put this together and sharing it.
Is there any free speech recognition tool out there? I like the “refuser’s” list. I am getting my new Mac and I am thinking of starting a video blog.
I’ve gone into forums with people asking how to or what to write. I would also add that there are more things to write about than just the obvious outcome. Answer the what, where, when, why, etc., also helps. I use point form and have a hard time building paragraphs but find that having a main or central point is the best way to mix the points into the main point. Hope that makes sense. Great tips! :)
I have to admit I do have the IAMNOTAWRITER syndrome. Or I should say I’m recovering from it. I have spent many hours sitting in front of the computer looking at a blank screen but the steps here in this post are oh so true.
I find if you can manage to put your writing together as if you are writing an email to a friend things tend to flow a lot better.
Have to look into the speech recognition software too, have tried the one that comes with vista but that’s just too much like hard work it doesn’t really recognize anything.
I’ll take a closer look at some of your other points here too until I’m totally recovered.
You can try to record your speech and start writing it with no edits.
I have found that the most difficult aspects of blogging when you’re not a writer is the headline. Journalists tell me that it is one of the highest paid jobs in the newspaper industry, and for good reason. Not only have you got to ensure that the headline is reasonably “searchable” but also tempts readers into continuing with the story. There are many examples of this out there but it is not an easy task. Good luck to us all!
It’s really hard to write even if you have a goal set in mind still, if you’re not the type who loves writing, then that’s trouble. Personally, not that I hate writing, just that, it depends on my mood, and sometimes I just can’t get my thought straight.Now that you’ve mentioned speech recognition, it’s a good way to start, with the mood, I think I need an inspiration to get me going…Great post.
There’s one more option for those who feel blogging is a great option for their online business, but don’t have time to do it: OUTSOURCE your blog post writing job.
There are lots of professional SEO copywriting experts out there who can handle this aspect of your job for you. You have to only make sure they know what exactly your goals are and how they are going to achieve them.
As long as they are writing good copies, have a knowledge of SEO, are familiar with your topic, write relevant posts focused on your blog topic, etc … you set the objectives and show the road map to them, you’ll be OK.
Thank you very much for a great post. I am not a writer myself. At least not the one that keep on writing several paragraphs on and on about several topics or subjects. This post definitely has some pointers that I could apply when I write in the future.
Great posting! Keep up the good work. I thought perhaps a related blog entry from us might be helpful to keep this thread going:
No Blog? No Problem! Try these LinkedIn Ideas
Good luck bloggers! It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding!
– Matthew Ferrara
I am not usually drafting outline of my article but now I should think about this. Great suggestions for non-writer like me
This is something really impressive to learn from this post and i have got some nice points from here as i too wanted to do somthing like that. I have been thingking from a long time and it will be possible from this post. Now one can think how to blog when he is not a writter.
Right on the money! Great advice…especially #3 Write your titles first…some say never do that, but it really does help me find the direction and spark the reason for the post. Thanks!
This a little bit funny. I found your site via search engine a few moment ago, and luckily, this is the only information I was looking for the last hours.
This is what really gets me every time. For some reason I talk my self out of going as hard as I can. I’m always doing it. So, should I find something positive in my life and think about it before I do my work out and during? Would that be dissociation? Good article.
I have been thinking about buying the software. I can talk my posts better than I can write them.
Nice ideas. I look forward to reading more… Guessing from your other writing, you might, or you may not, enjoy this blog I have been loving. It’s pretty crazy, but I can’t get enough, you just never know what is coming next! http://tomperignon.blogspot.com/
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The hardest part of blogging for me is the consistency. I grew up thinking I could only write when “inspired.” But, blogging requires consistency over inspiration. Writing every day is sometimes a challenge.
One of the simplest answers to this question: “How Do I Blog When I’m Not I Writer?” is one that is seldom seen. Why? Because it’s the obvious answer, but not the one people want to hear. What is MY answer? Here goes:
Learn enough about writing to make your blog text interesting. In the professional writing field we know about the “ten second rule.” That means that you have only ten seconds to get the reader’s attention or he or she will go away. It’s no different with blog writing. Tune in to a few sources that will give you some tips for better writer. Mine is one of them, but there are many. http://www.ProfessionalWritingCoach.com.