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How to Blog When You’re Not a Writer

In this post Mark Hayward shares some tips on blogging for small business when you’re not a writer.

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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.)

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Well, I’ve been working with small business owners who hate to write. Because they hate it so much, they’ve decided to pay me to write for them. So I guess that’s another option – if you just can’t bring yourself to write, then pay someone else to do it for you.

    Also, while I continually suggest shooting some short videos, there are still those who don’t even want to be seen on video. So my suggestion – use a powerpoint presentation as a visual while you talk, or get someone else who’s not so shy.

    I guess my recurring theme is to pay someone else to do it for you.

  2. I know some people who find it hard to writing for their businesses. Though those I know aren’t using any of those methods. They just hire a writer to do the job. And that solves their problem.

    I believe that is a wrong way to do it, though I think it is a solution for those who don’t want to write.

  3. Well said. Blogging is something that you need to push yourself to keep going; Only then you will find the momentum. BTW, I have just started my tech blog recently. =)

  4. I’ve been thinking about buying the software. I can talk my posts better than I can write them.

  5. I blog whenever I feel that I wanted to do and this makes my blogging journey more valuable than any business. There’s no must for me when I blog and that makes me and my readers to enjoy it. :)

  6. Apologies – somehow the links to Brian Clark, Jonathan Fields, and Colleen Wainwright got messed up. The correct links are:

    Brian – http://www.copyblogger.com/

    Jonathan – http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/

    Colleen – http://www.communicatrix.com/

    Oh the problems that can arise when you send a post directly out of Windows live… :-)

  7. Mark,

    From one non-write to another I say THANK YOU!

    You have slightly lifted my inferiority complex. I have learned to write in my human voice simply because that’s the only voice I have.

  8. …or one could hire a professional writer/blogger for their small business :)

  9. Hey Mark, great post!

    This is one the main hurdles I run into when telling my clients they need to start a blog. My clients are those who run or just started ecommerce sites. Usually they’re the “set it & forget it” types that never thought they would actually have to DO any marketing for there carts and the thought of managing and writing for a blog usually gives them a blank stare.

    You’ve mentioned some really great points here, like the speech recognition. That alone is huge and I never thought of that.

    Great stuff! I’m saving this post to use as a resource for future clients.

    Thanks

  10. I can definitely relate to this post! I have always avoided writing. I would wait until the last minute to write all of my papers in college! Now that I have my own business, there is so much writing involved. What has really helped me is to make the commitment to write on my blog at least once a week and to stick to it! I can tell I am becoming a better writer just by writing more. And writing is starting to become a little easier.

  11. Thanks for the uplifting article.
    I really suffer from “iamnotawriter” and I appreciate you outlining a step by step process. I will definitely give it a try! LOL I’ll let you know how it goes!

  12. Hi Mark!

    Great ideas about using the voice recognition software.

    I just view most of my blog posts a giving out information, that way it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to acutally write a story or something.

    It makes it less intimidating and daunting.

    Have a great day!
    Twila

  13. Great tips here! For me talking in human voice makes it really easy to write my posts on my blog. The idea is to choose your writing style that you feel comfortable most.

  14. It is so true that not all and everyone can be a writer and a need for all those points that you covered are some point a need of necessity in the current net friendly business world.
    Though being a Health Consultant I have to accept the genius of blogging to propagate my business.
    Thanks for all the good points.

  15. I’m definitely not a writer…., so I keep my posts short, love to use quotations and the “technique” of re-writing what someone else wrote -which works in my case because I feature what I find on other blogs or websites.

  16. Yeah, I don’t think I could disagree more. I mean, your post still ended up transforming someone into a writer. Blogging is writing, and you must write to blog. If you are unwilling to do this, you probably shouldn’t blog.

    BTW a dislike of writing is probably why a lot of bloggers end up giving up.

  17. You can also figure different methods, whether make it a picture blog or even a vlog. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a written blog unless you need to write out certain info about your company.

  18. This is a very helpful blog post, thank you. I think many people, whether business owners or otherwise, have the desire to start a blog, but fear the writing aspect. Blogs can help bring attention to your small business or product, can share useful information with clients or customers, but can also be a useful outlet for the blog creator – a way to be expressive and creative. As you mentioned, this expression can take place through writing, or a variety of other forms. I had never thought before about using voice recognition software to blog – what a great idea! Yes, some people are much more communicative in person, through speaking. For those who have a natural ability to verbally express themselves or their message, voice recognition allows them an avenue to get their message out on the web, without them having to change their style of communication or leave their comfort zone. I am part of a student organization which created a blog on WordPress. Unfortunately, it has been very difficult for me to drive traffic to the blog and get organization members involved, partly because I think many students are too intimidated to contribute. One way I was able to convince members to contribute was by telling them of the different ways to add content, like you have outlined, not just writing, but uploading photos, videos, etc.. The first few students to contribute actually posted press releases they had written for class or for our organization. Because they were familiar with the press release style, they knew there was more of a “right” way to do it, they felt comfortable posting this to the blog. Because there is no “right” way to blog, I encouraged them to read other people’s blogs, to get an idea of the variety of tools that exist. I hope students in general realize the potential benefits in blogging and start contributing more.

  19. I’ve never slammed my hand in a car door, but I’ve slammed it in a tractor cab door – twice – when I was a kid. Lost the thumbnail both times, but it grew back. But I digress :)

    Reading your writing aloud is a great – and underestimated – tip. When you read silently, your brain often “reads” what it wanted you to write, and not necessarily what the words say. Reading aloud can chase out a lot of technical errors.

    Remember the words of J.A. Jance – “A writer is someone who has written today”

  20. Thanks for such tips.
    i am also not too much into writing, but m always trying my best to write some good stuff. we’ll i dont have much subscribers now, but i hope to reach that top level some day with my blogging writing skills. thanks to great bloggers like you.

  21. As a writing coach I often find people can write better than they believe – it’s often a matter of getting started as you suggest.

    Working with a coach… or just having someone you trust read your posts before you post can also help.

    Finally, if you truly don’t want to write you don’t have to… there are writers for hire. Paying someone to blog for you just may be the answer.

    A

  22. Hi there, Mark!
    I am not a writer! Well that could be the syndrome when we are out of topics to write! I sometime (or lot of) found myself stuck when I got to choose writing something personal, or something worth (Make money). It was a hard struggle as a blogger to counter this feeling of I am not a writer, just a blogger! I don’t know what others would think, but for me sometime the border between business and personal is so thin! Oh, I wish one day I will learn to make it a hybrid. Envy how problogger like Darren really writes his heart out while making money out of it…!

  23. Mark… This is a solid post. I agree with you wholeheartedly… write with your own voice.

    I think a lot of business owners just don’t see the value in blogging because it doesn’t equate to $ now. The way I explain it to business owners is, blogging is an investment…

  24. This is a really useful post because as much as I enjoy blogging
    I do find that quite often I have nothing to write about and it is more difficult to come up with ideas because I am not a witter. Either voice recognition and video blogging are great alternatives that I will definitely be looking into.

    :)

  25. Great article. I like to write and I find that writing on many topics to be fun and a way for me to express myself. I run a couple of blogs because of this. I will also write articles that relate to my blogs and submit them to article submission sites. As too I am a beginner i do know that it takes time to develop readers and give value.
    It can be very hard when starting out and writing because no one is reading what you have written. But with time and daily effort that begins to turn around, one reader at a time.
    I also find by writing and posting on other blogs to help also.
    Filling out and completeing profiles at any membership site.
    It only too one month to brand my name and get my name on the front page of google. Not bad and if someone googles me there I am building my credability. If all goes to plan I will own the page by december. I feel my connection with that will help anything else I promote as long as I am connecting it to me. Am I mistaken on that, please let me know what you think?

  26. The owner or operator of a business is the best person to get the vision and message across. That said, if every business owner did their own blogging, I would be out of a job.

    Wendy

  27. Great post Mark! I highly recommend that Dragon Naturally Speaking for those of you who just hate the writing part.

    It’s quite useful and effective if that’s your preferred method, and once trained not too much clean-up required.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well for me, it seems my thoughts stall when I try to verbalize them, but flow out through my little typing fingers with ease. LOL

    Thanks for the excellent post, I can’ tell you how many people I know, clients and peers who simply don’t like to write or feel they don’t know how to write. There are so many options to overcome this obstacle and still gain the benefits of ‘being a writer’!

    Warm regards,
    C

  28. Hi Mark,

    Great information and insights- I am a news writer (radio news) by trade and to me, blogging is a mirror of the same style. Short, concise and punchy sentences. No stuffy business jargon. Like you, I encourage the “nonwriters” to produce video blogs. This is good for writers as well, because your audience may prefer to see and hear you in action, rather than reading.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Susan

  29. Thank you Mark for this post ! I’m one of those that hate writing (English is not my mother thong) BUT I’ve created a really nice tutorial Blog. AS you said, I use a lot of photos (screen capture) to write less. I think writing difficulties appears just in the begining, after that It will become like drinking water :D.

    Younes TARCHOUN
    http://TutoriaLog.com

  30. You hit the nail on the head, I have been blogging for only 7months, failed my English at school, defininately do not class myself as a writer but have plugged away at it never the less.
    I find writting about subjects you are passoinate about makes the process easier. On the odd occassion I have a bit of a block, I usually write about something completely irrelevant (concerning my business), usually a bit tongue and cheak and humourous. These blogs are normaly very well received just because they are different!
    I do agree don’t give up, there is always something that you can write about regarding business, one thing I was told to remember “your the expert, the things you do on a day to day basis is alien to many of us” that piece advice helped me alot in coming up with subjects to talk about!!

    Great Blog!!

  31. Thanks for the excellent post. I’ve heard these complaints time after time from professionals and small business people: “no time, don’t write, got nothing to say”. It makes my heart sink everytime because I know how this can be easily overcome and how important it is to get over these invalid excuses. I’ll keep your post at hand next time I hear this and will invite people to read it.

  32. Very great tips.

    I like numbers 6 and 7
    “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!”

    :)

  33. Hey Mark! I’ve got a little secret to share too. Even the people who write for a living suffer from this syndrome, even me :) For me, the best thing that helps me is to just keep on writing. Don’t think about it too much…just write it! Faking confidence also works until your self-esteem gets that needed boost.

  34. Thank you for this article

    A lot of great insights to helping people get over
    that dreaded hump

    I use to be terrified of writing, but I came to the
    place the only way I am going to get better
    is be willing to go through the learning curve

    I think to many people are terrorized by their
    old english teacher

    Thanks for your contribution to the internet
    marketing community

  35. What a great post. I even laughed at the writing fairy (even though I will say some of these exist). What you say here is so true and that’s exactly how I write. Simple, natural and me. I can’t write anything else. I used to hate my writing, but now actually enjoy it. You get used to it after a while. I stopped worrying about what other people would think and just write. It’s good therapy! :) P.S. You write great!

  36. I’m not good at writing. but the strategy is to give to the word, “recommendation” “by” or the word, which refers to sites that actually provide the information

  37. I think this is all well and good, but it is very important for us to be honest with new bloggers about what it is going to take to be successful.

    The number one thing that it is going to take to be successful is an insane amount of hard work.

    There are no short cuts and you are not going to get rich quick.

    But if you are willing to work harder than you ever have in your entire life you have a chance of making it.

  38. Some business owners ought to write their own blogs, and some really shouldn’t. People who hate writing. People who do it badly. People who do it well, but only if they spend inordinate amounts of time on it. People who need that time for the things they’re actually good at.

    Fortunately, there are writing fairies after all — or at least professional writers. I (and probably a lot of the other commenters, too) make blog posts magically appear for people every day. Since pros are faster than non-writers, it’s usually more cost-effective to hire a pro than to take time from your main business.

    For those who want to blog themselves, though, this post ought to offer lots of practical advice and encouragement.

  39. You’re no slouch in the writing department yourself, Mark.

    I’d add that as much as you can, focus on helping someone else. It gets you off of fretting over yourself, which is most of what stops us from writing.

    If anyone’s looking for exercises you can do on your own, I highly recommend Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Yes, it’s a little “soft” (i.e., non-business-y). But her point is the same: get out of your own way, and get the words down on the page.

    Thanks for the nice mention. Always good to be in fine company.

  40. With your first line, when I was 5, I didn’t accidentally slam my thumb in a car door, my friend was in the car, somehow my thumb got caught and he locked the door on my. I was screaming for ages until someone could get into the car and unlock the door.

    I don’t know why people shouldn’t have a blog in the first place. You got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. If you are not sold, you should read this I wrote http://www.createasuccessfulblog.com/topics/planing/why-you-should-have-a-blog, and as you said, you don’t have to write!

  41. Great tips. I really need to try Option 2 – recording audio. Just want to add one little step to Option 1. Here it goes:

    Step 8: Review your title – does it still make sense? can it be improved?

    I usually start with a title and then write a post, but even when I have a bullet-point list or an outline I sometimes veer off from the original idea.

    Also, I don’t like dwelling much on a title when I first write a post. Instead, I quickly put together a draft title and return to revise it later, after the post is written.

  42. Great post Mark. Other tips, if not mentioned already, might be to just try to provide information that will help the reader and make it interesting for them. After all, they are giving you their time to read your post and you should repay them back with good content.

    I kind of imagine myself as the reader and reading my posts; this usually helps me figure out if the post is worth reading or not. I think anybody can really write, but to write well, one just needs to put in the consistent effort and practice into it. Eventually, they’ll find their groove.

  43. I guess fear of writing is not much different from those of us who suffer fear of speaking in public.

    My advice is to always write your blog in draft and print it off to do an edit before you ‘publish’ it. Go away for a day and then come back to it if you are not sure whether it is good enough. You will probably find a few little mistakes but you may surprise yourself on how profound or intelligent you come across. Sometimes I look at what I have written and cringe as to why I didn’t see such obvious blunders, but hey, the beauty of your own blog or your own expert profiles is that ‘you can change them’. So don’t stress too much, just get your name out there and go for it.

    I guess now I should do the video thing so I am practicing what I preach.

  44. Great post… and great personality!

    I laughed out loud when you said you’re the poster child listed next to “INotAWriter ” as a definition! Hilarious, Great stuff. But seriously, this is so true I felt the same way when I first started blogging.

    Not only that, as you said I felt inferior, I felt like I didn’t know enough. But now, not only am I blogging regularly, 4-6 times a week, I’m guess posting regularly and receiving great feedback!

    I went from feeling inferior to educating others on a topic! So it’s possible. Just like an instrument or a sport, writing and creativity has to be practiced and exercised.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Jarrod

  45. Great post… and great personality!

    I laughed out loud when you said you’re the poster child listed next to “INotAWriter ” as a definition! Hilarious, Great stuff. But seriously, this is so true I felt the same way when I first started blogging.

    Not only that, as you said I felt inferior, I felt like I didn’t know enough. But now, not only am I blogging regularly, 4-6 times a week, I’m guess posting regularly and receiving great feedback!

    I went from feeling inferior to educating others on a topic! So it’s possible. Just like an instrument or a sport, writing and creativity has to be practiced and exercised.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Jarrod

  46. Maybe we need to redefine what it means to be a ‘writer’. Really, anyone who can write – is a writer. I suspect that someone who feels like they need a blog for their business, but doesn’t do it themselves, either doesn’t like writing – or doesn’t have the time to do it.

    But, if you do write, and you aren’t comfortable publishing your written word for fear of sending it out there into the ether where you may not be able to get it back – maybe you need a cheering section or someone to proofread it for you. I always run my posts by my husband for his opinion… and to make sure I’m communicating exactly what I intended to.

  47. This is one of the best posts that I have ever seen not to mention be able to relate to. So many of us go through this. If we wanted to be writers, we would have been writers, not do what we do.

    Unfortunately or fortunately the internet is based on content and if we want to be a part of it and use it to our advantage we are going to need to add to that content whether we like it or not.

    If you simply cannot write or just plain do not want to, find someone to get it done for you. What you write will show your lack of interest and besides writing isn’t what you like to do – managing your business is.

    The other point that I want to make is, make sure that your business is really your passion before you even attempt to write about something related to it. Writing about something that you love will make it that much easier.

  48. Love your post – quality, as always! You get at the heart of the issue – addressing people’s serious hang-ups about becoming a blogger. I recently blogged about this very topic: http://jessicajourney.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/areyoureadytoblog/

  49. I am not a professional blogger or writer. But i just wanna maintain a blog for my own. I just got inspired by your blog. Thanks for your tips.

  50. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the fairy well written post (sorry, dreadful pun)

    I am definitely case number 1: I don’t feel like I am a writer. This is probably because my father was an English teacher and my youth was spent getting my grammar and spelling corrected. You would think that by now I would be so good (and confident) that I would be an author!

    I find that when I relax and “talk to a single person” in my writing that I can get going and it becomes far easier.

    Thanks for the post.

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