A question I get asked a lot is how to make blogging a regular part of your business routine or to do list. Honestly, the first few times I got asked this question, it flummoxed me.
Uh, you just… do it?
Writing is natural for me, but I quickly realized that it’s not natural for everyone. A lot of us come to business with other skills, and writing is one we have to hone and develop. It really is something that people have to work at — or else they don’t, and blogging falls off the radar completely.
There are some simple action steps you can take to make blogging more efficient and routine; in fact, here are a few of them:
But beyond these more “physical” actions, I believe a lot of the reason people struggle with blogging is a mindset issue.
Great writing doesn’t just happen. It’s a skill, a practice, a craft. It’s magic and alchemy. It’s moving meditation. And it requires that you get in touch with the mindset that will spur you to begin. Start writing. Keep writing.
Here are some suggestions.
As micro business owners, most of us started our businesses out of passion — a passion for the work we do, or the people we help, or the greater change we want to see in the world.
But that passion can get lost in the day-to-day activities of running a business, in the relentless demand for content, and by the tips and tricks and rules we hear about crafting our marketing message.
Here’s a marketing truth: If you’re not passionate about your business (and content), your customers won’t be, either.
Be opinionated. Get ranty. Offend somebody. Inspire somebody. Show off your incredible knowledge and skill. Walk your talk. Talk your walk. Truly embody your passion.
When you don’t know what to write about, it’s because you’ve forgotten what you wanted to say with your business in the first place.
When you’re passionate about a subject, you’ll never run out of words to describe it — or the energy to share them.
I suspect another reason why many business owners struggle to blog regularly is because they don’t see the benefit in their bottom line.
Most of us would never blow off client work, or a sales call, or writing a proposal, because we can easily connect the dots between that action and the money (or lack thereof) in our bank accounts.
But blogging is easy to procrastinate because the lines connecting your blog to your bottom line are much fuzzier.
That’s why it’s vitally important to understand your business case for blogging: What do you hope to achieve for your business through your blog?
For many people, the most direct connection is email list growth. We all know “the money is in your list,” but even that can sometimes feel intangible.
Here’s a fun equation: Take your total revenue for last year, and divide it by the number of people you had on your email list at the end of the year. The resulting number is how much each one of those leads is worth to your business.
revenue ÷ total list size = earnings per lead
When I did this, I discovered that each person on my email list is worth about $50 to my business.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post that garnered me more than 200 new leads.
In theory, that blog post is worth more than $10,000 to my business.
Convinced that blogging is worth your time yet?
Another problem I often hear from business bloggers is that they don’t know what to write about. They sit down at a blank screen and nothing comes.
When I was in college, my first roommate was a creative writing major. She was a year older than me (a sophomore when I was a freshman) and cool. She had a tattoo and a pixie haircut. She carried a tiny, pocket-sized MEAD notebook with her everywhere she went, and would stop whatever she was doing, sometimes at the most inopportune time, to scribble down a thought, word, or idea.
I remember her sitting on a rock, writing in a New Mexico slot canyon as we hiked. I remember her freaking out about parking when we went into “the city” (Albuquerque) to see a concert, making me switch places with her to parallel park, and then writing about it in the front seat while I cursed at the curbs and the parking meters. I remember her pulling out her notebook from beneath her costume and writing in the middle of a Halloween party.
She was dedicated to her ideas.
That kind of dedication pays off. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her new book Big Magic, describes ideas as almost sentient creatures, looking for the human conduit who will bring them to fruition, and I couldn’t agree more.
You must nurture your ideas if you expect them to be there when you sit down to write. And you do that by paying attention to them.
This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. We all have a smartphone these days that makes capturing ideas even easier, like a giant digital butterfly net. Make a note, send yourself a text, take a photo, leave a voicemail.
The trick is the mindfulness. We must be able to pay attention to the cacophony of thoughts that play through our heads at any given moment, and really listen. And then, don’t assume you will remember it. You won’t.
Write it down. Capture those fleeting ideas and store them in one single repository where you can go back to them when you need them.
Writing — whether for fun or profit — is one of those pursuits that falls somewhere between art and skill. I have been writing since I was a child, and while I certainly showed some innate talent for it, I have been writing since I was a child.
I write every single day. Every day.
I used to think that some writing “counted” while other writing didn’t. I wanted to be a novelist, so I thought unless I was writing fiction, it didn’t count.
Bullshit. Every sentence I construct is practicing my craft.
My four-year-old is easily discouraged. If she doesn’t get something right on the first try, she gets frustrated and doesn’t want to continue (takes after her mother).
I am constantly telling her, “You just have to practice. Nobody gets better at anything without practice.”
This is especially true of writing. But for some reason, we don’t put it in the same category as other skills we practice. You want to get better at a sport, at music, at cooking, knitting, or photography? You practice.
But somehow, we expect ourselves to just be good writers — or not.
You want to get better at blogging?
Luckily, blogging is the kind of activity that is set up to practice. If you are blogging consistently, you’re going to have to produce a blog post regularly.
So look at each one as practice. Set a goal. I want to get 15 signups from this post. Then do your damndest to achieve it. If you miss, so what? Try again next week. If you meet your goal, set the bar a little higher.
Even the greats get better with practice. Compare the first Harry Potter books with the last, and you’ll see a great deal of artistic growth. If you want to feel better about your blogging, click back and read the first few blog posts on this website (and no, I will not link to them) and then compare them to the most recent ones.
I’m definitely getting better with practice.
In the classic book on writing by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, she describes the process of adding compost to your pile.
Compost, as you know, starts out as the scraps and garbage from your kitchen and garden, all eggshells and coffee grounds and moldy bananas. And after a while, you go out and turn it over and there’s black gold at the bottom: rich, dark compost that will make anything grow.
Goldberg argues the same is true of our brains. We have to consistently add scraps to the pile if we want the concentrated, valuable ideas later on.
How do you add scraps to your brain compost?
You read, mainly. A lot. And widely. Don’t just read business blogs and websites in your niche. Branch out. Read fiction. Read nonfiction. Watch documentaries and bad B-movies. Go to an art gallery. Visit an ethnic restaurant you’ve never tried. Play tourist in your own city. Shop at beautifully curated boutiques. Explore fashion. Explore thrift stores.
And as those new experiences add scraps to the pile, you’ll notice new ideas. Write them down quickly before they flit away. Nurture them. Practice your craft. Be passionate about your writing. And stretch to reach your goals.
That’s how blogging becomes a regular, natural part of your business and life.