There I stood in a room full of small business owners, explaining why regular blogging was going to help their websites perform better online – and I had to admit it’s been quite some time since I wrote something for my own website.
I have a great excuse. I write blogs every single week for other people, and so my own business ends up at the bottom of the list. It’s not unheard of. The cobbler’s children have no shoes. The builder’s house is never finished.
But really – it is an excuse.
Over the last few months I’ve been focusing on taking control of the marketing side of my business. A blog is a vital piece of my marketing toolkit. I can share ideas, talk more about the services I offer, get excited about trips to second hand bookshops and the fabulous treasures to be found . . . and best of all, it’s free.
What’s stopping you blogging for your business?
So why do I, and so many other business owners, find it so hard to blog? My issue is definitely time. When you’re meeting customers, networking, hitting deadlines, balancing accounts and checking your social media, then finding a few hours a month to write your blog feels so difficult.
The next big concern for many is confidence. When writing doesn’t come that naturally, putting your thoughts into words and sharing them publicly can leave you feeling very exposed. You’re not sure whether your words will entertain, educate, or just bore people.
Grammar and spelling cause consternation. I wonder if this is a leftover niggle from school, where our imaginations were stifled by a red pen. A few mistakes in punctuation really don’t matter – but losing out on all that potential marketing does.
Coming up with content is another worry. I often hear people say, “but it’s all been written before.” Yes – it probably has. But – and this is the key – not by you. Not in your words. It’s your opinion and expertise your customers need to know about. If you don’t say it, the competition will.
How to overcome your blogging worries and start writing
There are plenty of ways to start blogging – but the hardest part definitely seems to be the first sentence.
Writing your blog should be a part of your marketing. So, as with every other business task, set aside a block of time in your calendar, grab a coffee, sit at your desk . . . and start typing.
Every writer has a different method that works for them. Some might plan it out carefully first, bullet pointing key points to make. Others may just splurge it out onto the screen, and go back in to organise it later. I often find that I have planned a paragraph or two in my head while driving or showering, and once I’ve written them down, the rest follows.
Writing the opening paragraph is often the biggest stumbling block – but who said you have to start at the beginning. I might go back and add that last. Or throw in a sentence or two to fill the space, and perfect them later.
Find a blogging workshop to get some pointers
I run a blogging workshop every so often. Three hours of focused time on the mechanics of blogging – answering the questions that I often get asked. How often should I blog? How many words should there be in a blog? Where do I find ideas?
It’s a great way to answer the basic questions, especially if you are the sort of business owner who likes to have guidelines to follow. Many of us are – I personally like to know how things work too, which is why I also go on workshops for marketing, business planning, goal setting, mindfulness . . .
The problem with all these workshops is that while I leave full of newfound knowledge and enthusiasm, the same issues arise. I don’t have the time to implement the marketing, or the confidence to set goals. I like to have a group around me who are brainstorming along with me – a collective effort. After all, it’s human nature to be reassured by knowing others are in the same boat.
Join Blog & Brunch and beat that blog wall
I decided to take some action – because I really can’t stand up in front of that group again and still not be practising what I preach. I’ve taken 2 steps. Firstly – write a blog. This one. My confession.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, I’ve launched Blog & Brunch – a members group where business owners can commit to two hours a month for their blogging. At Blog & Brunch there is a relaxed atmosphere where we encourage brainstorming, asking any question we want – some even on topic – and getting that first sentence written.
Then there’s the Facebook group where members are gently prodded and nagged into publishing their new blog by the deadline. All the while I’m on hand to offer tips, answer questions and suggest topics and the rest of the group are ready to critique, encourage and share.
At the end of the day, a short blog with the odd typo is doing more to promote your website than no blog at all.