Write something. Write anything. Just write.
This can be a challenge for someone whose expertise is not writing. Yet your ability to write is at the core of your ability to build a business online.
In the offline world, you can rely on whatever your talents are and word of mouth if you’re lucky. When you try to extend those talents and in some way package and sell your expertise online, writing becomes really important.
Why Writing Matters
Writing a blog is just about the best way to attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. It creates a space that is entirely yours. It’s the museum for your work. The stage for your performances, and the auditorium where people come to see them.
While the rest of your website may remain largely static, your blog will change and grow. It’s the place that people will come back to over and over to learn from you. To hear what you have to say. To engage in a conversation and connect.
What to Write About
You may be great at expressing yourself, but if you’re writing about your cat every week, you’re not going to connect with people who could become customers (unless you’re some sort of cat whisperer).
Figuring out what to write about is a big challenge, especially if you’re just starting out.
Here’s an exercise that I like to use when I’m encouraging someone who’s new to blogging to start.
First: What is it that you’re an expert at? If you were going to write a book to teach others how to do what you do, what would it be called? Grab a piece of paper and write down your title at the top.
Second: Now that you have the title of your book, think about what it might cover. Where would the readers start out? Where would you take them. Maybe you should scribble down some ideas below your title.
Third: Now that you have a better idea of what would be in your book, it’s time to come up with some ideas for chapters. Think of each chapter as an overall step in the process of teaching someone your expertise.
Got some chapter titles? Great. Try to come up with a chapter title for each “step” so that if you were to write them all, you’d have a complete book.
If you’ve come this far, then what you should now be looking at is a page full of blog post ideas. Yes, you can think of each “chapter” in your book as the title of a blog post.
Extra Credit: If you’re like me, then you like outlines. So if you’re feeling inspired, go ahead and write an outline for a few of your chapters. No complete sentences needed. Just some ideas with sub-ideas. The skeleton for your chapter or blog post.
(Here’s the really sneaky part, if you do go ahead and write all of your chapters as blog posts, putting together your first digital product will be as easy as repackaging your blog posts along with other resources: videos, worksheets, a membership site, etc. That’s not what this blog post is about, though.)
When Knowing What to Write Isn’t Enough
What should you do when you know what you want to write about, but the words just aren’t flowing? As someone who doesn’t consider themselves a writer, I often ask myself the same question.
Here are some things that I’ve discovered in the last two years of writing for Cloud Coach:
Write about something different: Sometimes you may sit down with the intention to write a specific blog post. Maybe it was something you were planning to write about that you felt passionate about at the time, but right now it’s just not doing it for you. Allow yourself to write about something different than you were planning. If the words aren’t flowing, try changing topics.
Try talking your blog post out loud: For some reason, I’m able to let ideas flow much more freely if I’m talking about them, rather than typing. Sometimes if I feel stuck, use my laptop webcam, my iPhone or my voice recorder to record myself talking about the topic I’m trying to write about. Hit record and give yourself permission to just ramble. See what ideas come out. It can help to pretend that you’re talking to someone else, or even giving them advice. Once you’ve recorded yourself for a few minutes, you can go back to the recording and try writing a blog post based on what you said.
Read your favorite blog. Some of my most inspiring moments related to writing come while I’m reading someone else’s words. If you’re really feeling stuck, give yourself permission to read instead. You may come across something that sparks an idea for a great post.
Stop. Close your screen and go outside. You can’t force creativity. Maybe you’re just not in the mood to produce a blog post right now. I’ve found that when I get writers block it’s often because I haven’t been outside or gotten enough exercise recently. When I simply don’t feel like writing, continuing to stare at my laptop screen doesn’t help.
How do you motivate when you can’t seem to get anything written?
I’d like to hear how you come up with your brilliant blog post ideas, and how you keep yourself motivated when you can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!