How to kick-start your writing
Now, little Ariels, if you’re looking for an article to help you to write the blog post that will break the internet, this may not be it. Instead, if you’re looking for an article to help you find your writing voice and in turn to help kickstart or re-find the magic in your words where you’ve lost your way, this is exactly the one you’re looking for.
Isn’t it one of life’s weird things that a lot of people don’t like writing, but everyone is expected to do it and do it aplenty? For some people, it’s as difficult as sitting down and repainting the Sistine Chapel from memory, as nerve-wracking as being in Harry and Meghan’s gospel choir or as painful as pulling teeth (the big’uns). However, writing – if done well - can seriously elevate your business and brand. And even if you have no intentions of starting a blog (though I’d recommend at least thinking about it – I’ll tell you why below) your voice is still totally crucial; any bits of copy you write, from PR pieces to emails to your instagram captions are an integral piece of your impression machine.
So, quickly – why would you even want to start writing a blog? You’re a small business owner, you’ve got a million things to do and you’re feeling on-and-off overwhelmed by that list, so why would you possibly add something on top? Well, first and foremost, it’s a great way of improving your SEO. Regular, search engine – optimised content can hoy you right up those rankings to where you wanna be (and deserve to preside). On top of that, it’s a great way of connecting with your target audience and engaging with them even more, cementing their beliefs that what you’ve got is EXACTLY what they’ve been waiting for. It’s also great to have an outlet where you can express yourself beyond grids of 9 images or beyond your products, and by this I don’t mean a weekly journal of Tinder date breakdowns and woe at the American political situation; it’s a great tool for expressing what makes your product or service so bloody great.
I’m going to break down finding your voice into the why, the what, and the how to help you get those creative juices a flowing:
Just like every other decision you’ll have ever made for your business, the answer to this is to increase visibility, engagement, and ultimately, money for yourself. With this in mind, a crucial thing to think about when writing (and simultaneously, an easy one to forget) is to remember the people you’re writing for. You’re writing for your ideal client, whomever they may be, so make sure your voice is appropriate. If you’re a sassy brand that deals with empowerment, make sure your writing reflects it. If you’re marketing yourself as everybody’s business-next-door, show ‘em how you live it.
Don’t know who your ideal client is? Me neither. A lot of the time, they take the appealing shape of ‘anyone who’ll pay’, but let me tell you, kids (without sounding too Ted Moseby) – that is not how it works. One of very few wanky business things I did when I set up shop was this customer avatar, and I am SO glad I did. It takes time and effort but it’s such a useful exercise in working out your ideal client and why you’re doing everything you’re doing. Once they have a name, you can envisage them, and you can guess exactly where they’d be when they were reading this, it becomes a lot easier to write. Every so often, reevaluate this exercise: if you’re feeling uninspired by your work or finding it a ballache to write, chances are your business has evolved, and so will your ideal client.
There’s loads of marketing suggestions as to what you should include on your blog, as you’ve essentially got to think of it as a sales funnel. Your blog should be grabbing someone’s attention, piquing their interest, capturing their desires, or spurring them to action (to buy your product or book in your services), and this is called AIDA. But how can you do this? Here’s some preliminary suggestions;
· Go through the calendar and mark events and holidays that can drum up business What questions do you get asked frequently?
· What misconceptions would you like to put right in the industry?
· What ethics and causes are close to your business' heart?
· What would you consider yourself an expert in?
· Are there any small businesses you'd love to shout out, that make sense for your brand?
· Could you create something free or downloadable to help people?
It can be a lot of things, but it needs to benefit your brand.
Now this is the bit that a lot of people bristle at: the actual writing. You’ve got the great ideas, now how do you translate them onto paper? (or screen, for us entitled millennials). The good news is, the first step is being passionate about what you’re writing about, because that comes through and naturally assists a piece take shape.
If you’re feeling really stunted, play around with some freeing creative writing exercises – think of writing as a muscle that needs to be consistently put into use to perform its best. Write unencumbered for a bit to get in the flow and hopefully get inspired. There are loads of different ways of doing this – loads of online resources will teach you different ways, as well as writing letters addressed to different people or inanimate jobs, or taking a notebook out with you at all times so you can just write when the mood takes you. I always carry around an actual notebook too, rather than the notes on my phone – there’s nothing so stunting as a notification-ridden phone, and nothing as transformative as ink on a page where you can feel all the bobbly goodness on the other side…
Try not to stop yourself mid-flow. Don’t be critical part way through because you’ll just psych yourself out and won’t be able to finish your train of thought. Bluster on blindly and gratefully instead, and you can always edit it together afterwards. Getting the good shit from your brain onto paper is the difficult bit; reordering it and jamming a few apostrophes in here and there afterwards is much easier (especially because by that point, you’ll know what you had to say, it’s just a case of working out what you want to say.)
Don’t be afraid to sit on it for a couple of days. It’s a little bit like when you get an angry and totally unfounded email from a customer or colleague and you want to send a reply that would simultaneously get you fired, crown you as fastest finger and also introduce them to a whole new host of swear words they never knew before. Taking a step back from the keyboard allows you to see it more clearly, and this is true of blog posts too. Give it a couple of days, and then read it again to make sure it’s perfect. And then – let it out into the world. FLY, BABY, FLY!