I’ve been thinking about the resources I use in my business a lot recently, trying to work out what’s working and what isn’t. I keep coming back to networking, mainly because business is often about who you know and partly because there are so many options. As I mentioned in this blog I’ve found that paid networking events have given me more solid relationships than free ones. But then I talk to other business owners and realise that not all networking is created equal. It got me wondering about the kind of networking I do and why it works for me.
There are so many networking event that you could feasibly spend all your time going to them, but you wouldn’t get much work done. The demands of family life rule out both breakfast and evening networking events for me which helps me narrow them down.
It means that I only go to daytime events, which has a massive impact on the kind of people I meet. They’re often senior employees of larger businesses, which usually means they have money to spend. (Yes, I’m totally capable of being mercenary.) I’ve also met people who’ve built up their side hustle or who threw themselves in at the deep end like me.
Connecting with people
Building a business is about creating relationships. Some of the people I’ve met networking have become customers, but others have become my unofficial ambassadors in their own networks.
My main networking group is women only and hugely supportive in lots of different ways. There’s always a listening ear and great advice. While approaches differ between business owners and employees, there’s still one common thread. We all promote each other, even though that’s not a requirement of membership. My network has widened because we mention each other on social media and attend each other’s events.
My favourite networking groups have become my favourites because they make it easy to build relationships. I’ve no problem with making the time to follow up with new contacts individually, but it’s easy for your email (or theirs) to get lost in the midst of a heaving inbox.
While social media can be equally busy, the memberships with Facebook groups have brought more lasting relationships. Other members ask questions or share their content and the hive mind gets to work. People don’t just learn what you’re about in a chat over lunch, they see reminders all the time.
Other networking groups
I often turn down events because they don’t fit with my schedule or my budget. But I’ve also said no without really understanding why. I look at some of the people I’ve met over the years and marvel at the connections they have and the events they’re invited to. Often the only difference between us is that they’ve been in business for longer and have more contacts.
Yet sometimes I think I hold myself back through fear. What if they’re just better than me? Maybe they’re ‘proper’ business owners and I’m just someone who’s going to be found out one day? I think it’s something I need to address.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s to look at the events you’re going to (or not going to). Are they the right ones for you? Is avoiding some holding you back? The reason I tell you this story is not because I have a networking event to sell (I don’t), but because I hope it’ll help. It’s also because being honest and sharing my story has helped me to build my business and meet some amazing people along the way.
If you want some help sharing your story in the right way, just get in touch.
PR (Public Relations) is a long-term promotional strategy aimed at building authority and influence over time. It’s a form of marketing that can be used to generate positive awareness of a company or brand and its products or services.
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”
– Chartered Institute of Public Relations
I like to think of public relation as a form of ‘attraction’ marketing. You can attract people to you, and your brand through PR.
Rather than pushing out a promotional message saying how great you are, in the form of an advert for example, PR is focused on helping others come to that conclusion themselves through what they have seen and heard from others.
Those ‘others’ might be the media, it might be celebrities/influencers/industry leaders, or it might be through other people – friends and family etc.
I particularly like this quote because I feel it states the difference between advertising and PR really well:
“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” – Jean Louis Gasse
While advertising messages are biased to highlight the positives of a particular product or service, in contrast, people speaking highly of you or perceiving you as an expert based on something they’ve read, heard or seen, is more persuasive and therefore more powerful.
What PR is not
PR is NOT…
You earn it, rather than pay for it. PR is about reputation and this has to be earnt and is developed over a period of time.
…a quick fix
My suggestion would be that if you need to sell a certain amount of product or service quickly, advertise rather than rely on PR. Positive goodwill and media publicity shouldn’t be relied upon to generate sales, especially not within a short time frame.
…a guarantee of business success
You can generate a ton of positive press coverage about you and your business, and be highly regarded by potential customers, peers and other third parties, but still not have a successful, profitable business.
Rather than rely solely on PR, I believe businesses should use it alongside other forms of marketing. PR should be part of an integrated marketing strategy, where all aspects of marketing work simultaneously alongside each other.
Why should businesses use PR?
PR can be used by business owners to promote who they are and what they do, to establish and protect their image and reputation, and to build credibility and influence. In my mind, the potential benefits far outweigh the costs!
For example, being featured in the media is attractive to business owners, and rightly so! There is a vast number of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programmes, websites, online publications, blogs, podcasts and video channels out there, all hungry for fresh and relevant content. The opportunities are there for the taking!
By using PR tactics such as press releases, networking with journalists, and pitching story ideas to the media, you can put yourself on the radar of journalists who are seeking content and potentially gain valuable exposure for your brand and your products and services.
Leveraging the power of the media, which has large, established audiences, is a great way to increase your visibility, build your reputation, grow your audience, attract new email subscribers, and sell more of your products and services.
Of course, this can be great for your business!
What are some of the benefits of PR?
There are loads! These are just some further ways that you could benefit:
1. PR is more credible than advertising.
If a newspaper, magazine or online publisher has chosen to include you within a piece of content they produce, then they are effectively endorsing you and your brand.
Although you don’t have complete control over how your company is presented in the media, a positive editorial mention, for sure, packs a far greater punch than an advert in the credibility stakes.
2. Potential reach
My local paper has a circulation of around 19,000 and is read by over 50,000 people every day. National and online publications reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. So, being featured in the media helps you and your business to get exposure to a potentially huge audience.
3. PR exposure is free but worth a lot of money
Advertising is expensive. Ads in magazines and newspapers costing anything from hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds to take out. The Daily Mail charges between £20k-£60k for a full-page advert!
In contrast, publicity in the media is free. Yes, there is the cost of your time and effort to secure the publicity (or the cost of a PR expert if you choose to outsource), but this can pale in comparison to the equivalent cost of an advert within that same publication.
4. Boosts your SEO
Getting a mention and having your website linked to from a high domain authority site, such as that of a newspaper or media outlet, can help you rank on Google.
Not only that, but the fact that online press coverage remains published forever (unless it’s taken down at some point) is working for you all year round and helping you and your brand name to get discovered in organic search.
Is PR suitable for every business?
Yes, in my opinion, PR can and should be used by businesses of all sizes.
If you have a service-based business or have expertise in a particular area, journalists writing on that topic could be interested in hearing what you know. If you have a product-based business, it could potentially be the perfect fit for a product round-up type feature or gift guide.
There is likely to be a journalist out there right now looking for exactly the kind of content that you can provide!
Isn’t PR expensive though?
An independent PR consultant or freelancer, like myself, would be the most flexible and more affordable option for most small businesses. PR agencies, working on retainers, can cost multiple thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds per month, and you’ll typically need to commit to a six-month retainer at a minimum.
To minimise the cost of PR, many small business owners do their own, as they might also do their own email marketing, social media marketing or accounting. But if PR isn’t something that you understand how to do or don’t enjoy, then outsourcing can often be the more cost-effective option and help you can achieve results more quickly.
What are your three top PR tips for small business owners?
1. Recognise that you are an expert
Many business owners doubt their own expertise and don’t consider themselves worthy of being featured in the media. I would say, aim to fight the inner critic that is telling you that you aren’t an expert in your niche. Adopt a positive mindset and recognise the value that you can offer journalists.
2. Prep before you pitch
Before pitching yourself to the media, read the publications that you are trying to target and become familiar with their regular features and which journalists work on which sections of the publication. Develop a deep understanding of the publication, its target audience and the kind of content that they typically run so that you can align your PR pitch accordingly.
3. Recognise that PR is about serving journalists
The media doesn’t exist to promote your business. They don’t give away their valuable media space lightly. Journalists want genuine news, credible experts and, usually, timely responses. Aim to serve journalists and that effort could reward you with a positive piece of money-can’t-buy coverage for your small business!
PR takes time and effort to implement. It is a long-term, rather than a short-term, promotional strategy. Yet, it can potentially reap great rewards. I hope I’ve excited you about the possibilities!
Any professional photographers reading are welcome to join Zoe’s free Facebook community, ‘PR-Savvy Photographers’ for PR and content marketing tips, support and accountability.
Zoe Hiljemark is a PR and content consultant with 16 years of marketing communications experience. She works exclusively with professional photographers, helping them to attract, connect with and convert dream clients via impactful publicity and content.
Email marketing is officially still alive (and if you don’t believe me, read this). But how do you get it right? There are (of course) lots of different approaches you could take. Some of my favourite emails are written like letters, giving you an insight into the writer’s life. They always make a point but there’s usually a personal story behind the advice. Others have a mixture of behind the scenes insight and advice. As with any other kind of content, the most important thing is to offer something useful that fits with your brand and that your audience will enjoy. There are also a few best practice rules that you should pay attention to. Here are just a few.
Before you send any email marketing, ask yourself why you’re sending it. Yes, I know you want to sell stuff but that shouldn’t be your only focus. People are much more likely to buy from you if they know you want to help them rather than just rake in the cash. So, you could explain why a particular service might help them, or talk about ways to do it themselves. You could talk about practical steps to take – I’ve seen some great ones from accountants covering the Covid-19 financial support. I always view it as offering my services but enabling people to do it themselves if they need to.
Show behind the scenes
There are some emails that don’t feel like email marketing. It’s more like an update about what’s happening in their life before mentioning something you might want to buy at the end. Laura Belgray (aka Talking Shrimp) is great at this. Of course, that might not suit your style. I show glimpses of my life but don’t talk about every detail. Showing your customers what goes on behind the scenes doesn’t have to involve sharing personal details. You could tell them what events you’ve been to or where they can meet you in person. That said, the more they see you as a human being, the more likely they are to trust you.
Create a good subject line
A good subject line can mean your email gets opened rather than deleted. Just like good headlines, a good subject line should be relevant to the subject and have good emotional resonance. Even the most conservative audience will respond to it. It can also be a good idea to personalise your subject line using the recipient’s name. I’m hearing some suggestions that using emojis in your subject line can increase open rates. I think this probably depends on your audience and their views on emojis generally. I like them but not everyone does.
Whatever approach you take at first, it isn’t set in stone. Experiment and change things to see what works for you.
Get the basics right
Good design is important but doesn’t have to be complicated. Have you ever been put off reading an email because the design was so fussy it made it hard to read? Kind of defeats the point. Keep your design simple but with some appealing images – basically the same approach you’d take to the rest of your marketing. Most email marketing platforms allow you to check how your email looks on mobiles. A lot of people will read on their phones so check it doesn’t get scrambled.
Also, one final note. Pay attention to GDPR. There is loads of guidance out there, especially from the ICO, so make sure you follow it.
Test your headlines for emotional resonance with the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyser.
If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.
How many emails are currently sitting in your inbox, unopened or otherwise ignored? We subscribe to so many different things, ticking the box to accept email marketing because we like the look of a free download or a special offer. Then the emails start to land… The thing is, if we feel like this as business owners, why on earth would we bother with email marketing ourselves? Who on earth is actually reading? If you’re tempted to give up writing your email newsletter (or just not bother starting) here’s why you might want to change your mind.
The right people are still reading
There are techniques you can use to encourage people to open your emails (more on that later) and to keep them reading once they’ve opened. The key is to be helpful. Email is a great marketing tool but it shouldn’t just be about marketing. You can share knowledge and advice that will be useful to your customers in the same way as you do in your blog. The people who like what you’re saying will keep reading even if they don’t buy straight away. They might be keeping in touch, knowing that they want to work with you when the conditions are right for them. Or they could just be waiting for the right offer to come along.
The numbers are on your side
This helpful post from Optinmonster gives some great, detailed statistics around email use in the US. As depressing as it may be at this point, we tend to follow them pretty closely (plus I couldn’t find any UK-specific stats – sorry about that.) More than 90% of people have email (even my Mum and she resisted for years). Mobile apps give us the opportunity to check our emails even more frequently. Even teenagers are still using email despite having access to multiple messaging platforms. Email even outperforms social media for engagement. Generally speaking, as long as you don’t go into spam you’re pretty much guaranteed to be seen via email. How often can you say that about Facebook?
You’re in control of your list
There will be a few subscribers who never open your emails but don’t unsubscribe. What do you do about them? That’s where list cleaning comes in. If people aren’t reading, they aren’t helping you. Removing inactive subscribers means you’ll only be emailing people who are interested in you. Your open rates will improve and that reduces your chances of ending up in the spam folder.
Your email marketing platform statistics will tell you who’s opening and who isn’t. If anyone hasn’t opened an email in the last 60 days, get rid of them. You might want to give them a final chance, say by sending a final email letting them know you’re going to remove them unless they choose to stay. Chances are they won’t read that one either.
Getting email marketing right
The beauty of being a small business owner is that you can make decisions quickly. If something in your email marketing isn’t working you don’t have to consult with a committee to try something new. Maybe you started out with a sign up form inviting people to subscribe to receive exclusive offers or tips. If that approach didn’t work, or just ran out of steam, try something else. Perhaps you need a new offer to tempt people in, a free download or a tutorial video. Ask your existing subscribers what they would find useful, or talk to your network. That enables you to create freebies that will tempt people in and to write emails that help your audience.
If you’d like to receive fabulous marketing tips straight to your inbox, including hints on email marketing, blogging and much more, you can subscribe using the form below. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide helping you to get your business seen online.
Content marketing can get overwhelming at the best of times.
Even when you’ve got a clear idea of who your customer is and what kind of
content they’ll like, there are still lots of decisions to be made. Your
marketing could be a full time job, but you haven’t got time for that (even I
haven’t). I’m a big believer in repurposing the content you’ve already created.
It’s a bit like recycling except it won’t have any significant impact on
climate change. Here’s how I approach getting as much use out of my content as I
Write a blog
Writing a blog can seem like a massive effort, particularly when you’re struggling with it. If you’ve ever sat down and tried to write a blog only to end up with something you’re not happy with, you’re not alone. However, it is worth persevering. (Or getting someone like me to write one for you.)
A blog is a big, chunky piece of content in comparison to
virtually anything else you’ll create. You can take the topics you’ve chosen
and use them to inspire other posts. You can even lift phrases straight out of
your blog and use them on social media.
One of the best things you can do in your blog is to share
tips and advice with your audience. These will vary depending on what you’re
talking about. For example, I write about reasons why you might want to blog and
what the benefits are. I’ll also talk about ways to get started or come up with
If you’ve written a blog with multiple tips, separate them
and create images with one tip on each. You can share these on multiple
platforms so they go further. You can also create videos – and no, you don’t
have to be in them if you don’t want to! Facebook lives tend to get better
reach than other types of video so I’d recommend doing some if you can.
However, you don’t have to go face to face with the camera. You could just show
your hands demonstrating a tip or use computer screen capture. I also create
tip videos using images with overlaid text.
Unless you’re in the habit of writing motivational quotes or
meme-worthy copy in your blog, this one will involve going off on a bit of a
tangent. Take your blog topic and use it to search for related quotes. You don’t
necessarily have to stick exactly to the topic if you find something that will
resonate with your audience. For instance, I wrote a blog about finding time to
blog and one of the quotes I found was this:
Not directly relevant to the topic, but certainly something
that would get lots of us nodding our heads. You can use the same approach with
memes, particularly if you search on Pinterest. I post a fair bit of stuff that
isn’t directly related to writing but which I know my audience will enjoy.
However, I often find this type of content when I’m just doing my own social
media scrolling so don’t worry if the repurposing/search approach doesn’t work
well for you here.
There’s also a different kind of motivation you can offer.
Helping your audience to gain expertise (or realise that they know more than
they thought) is really worthwhile. You can do this by sharing useful resources
or by asking questions about their experiences. This helps them to share their
knowledge and also helps you get to know them better.
If you’d like some hints and tips on writing your blog, start here.
I had a completely different blog post written for this week. Yet somehow I couldn’t bring myself to publish it. It felt a tiny bit irrelevant to tell another story when the world has turned upside down. So here I am. The only question running through my head is ‘how are you’? Not just for you, but for myself as well. The last time my eldest son went to his fun football session, I got a funny look from one of the dads because I coughed. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him it was his aftershave! Now, every time I cough I wonder if it’s the first sign. Trouble is, I am a cougher. My youngest boy is too. Blame the asthmatic ancestors whose legacy wasn’t the condition itself, but extra sensitive airways. The last couple of weeks have seen me in extra vigilant mode in case the usual coughs become unusual ones. I’ve also been conscious of the different ways that people have reacted to this. I’m not going to talk about the crowds who treated social distancing as a green flag to flock to their local beauty spots. It’s a waste of energy and I’m going to need all mine. What I will tell you about is what’s helped me and what definitely hasn’t.
The personal networks
I’m lucky to be in a brilliant range of business networks, but there are some beyond that too. The parents at the school gate and the local community associations are all a part of my network. It’s been heartening to see how many people have stepped up to help. There’s been co-operation that has helped quarantined families and vulnerable people to be fed and supported in other ways. There have been social media posts in my school groups giving ideas for things to do with the children. There’s also been a phenomenal level of whingeing. I know it helps some people, but the difference between that and the alternative is really striking.
Most of all, there’s been business support. The panic that your business won’t survive doesn’t last long when you’re in a community of amazing women who’ll help you to brainstorm ideas one minute and teach you how to implement them the next. They’ve also helped to alleviate the guilt. It’s more than working parent anxiety just now. It’s the feeling that you shouldn’t be promoting your business when other people are struggling. The truth is, you shouldn’t feel bad about offering something that will help people. There’s also nothing wrong with putting on your own oxygen mask first. If you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table you’re less likely to need a bail out and that’s better for everyone.
How’s your social media?
Life is being lived on social media more than usual at the moment. There’s been extra positivity because support groups are mobilising on Facebook. There have been the usual spats, but no more than usual. The thing that’s got to me, more than anything, are the people predicting what’s going to happen. I don’t mean the experts. I’m hugely grateful for the people who are providing proper data and explaining the psychology behind the guidelines. I mean the people fretting about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, if it ever does. It took me a long time to stop worrying about things I can’t control, which means I can’t deal with other people doing it. I appreciate that’s my foible but it’s made me much more careful about where I spend time.
I hope you and your loved ones are OK. Saying ‘how are you?’ has taken on a whole new seriousness, hasn’t it? If you need anything, whether it’s practical support, a listening ear or absolutely anything else, please shout. I’m helping quite a few people with finding the right words to market their business at this strange and crazy time, so let me know if I can do that for you too.
In the meantime, take care and I’ll speak to you soon.
When you first write a blog for your business it can be hard to get the tone right. Too serious and your potential customers will stop reading (unless it’s so dry you’ve actually caused them to nod off mid-sentence). On the other hand, if it’s completely off the wall you run the risk of looking unprofessional. So what do you do? Here are a few ideas from me.
What’s your personality?
I feel as if most of the blogs I’ve written start with knowing your customer. While this is still true, when you’re writing a blog you need to show your personality. The subjects that you talk about need to be ones that are important to your customers. That way you share your expertise and show them that you can help. But what if there are hundreds of other businesses sharing the same sort of content?
If you offer a service that needs to be delivered in person you’ll be competing with other businesses in your area. Go online and the pool is even bigger. Skills, experience and price are important but your customers will often choose to work with you because they like you. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. I know two fantastic marketing experts. One is in your face and bold, the other is calm and quiet. They both get results and their clients love them. You can do the same.
How do you talk to your customers?
If you’re wondering how you get your personality into your blog while still sounding professional, the answer is pretty simple. Think about how you talk to your clients face to face. When it comes to marketing, consistency is key. You build trust by sharing your knowledge and showing your customers how it helps them, but that’s not all. When you write a blog you’re giving them insight into your personality and what you stand for. If the way you come across is at odds with how you are in real life, the trust will be lost.
In practice, this means developing an awareness of the way you naturally speak to your customers. It’s also worth thinking about how you present yourself in other ways. If you’ve blogged about your green business credentials it’s not going to go over too well if your client arrives at your office to find you dressed head to toe in endangered animal skin. OK, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.
Blog in your voice
Most of us shift quite naturally between the tone of voice we use with business contacts and the way we speak to our friends. You might not even notice the shift. If you’ve found yourself wondering how you actually sound, start with your emails. They’ll give you a flavour of the way you communicate in writing in a business context. I often suggest recording yourself talking about your business when you’re trying to blog. This can be problematic as voice to text generally needs quite a bit of editing. Plus, if you’re talking to clients they might not want you to record them.
The best emails to look at are ones that you’ve written to people you’ve worked with for a while as you’ve already built a rapport. The way you write to them is likely to be on the informal end of the spectrum, while still being professional. When you write your blog in the same style you’ll give potential customers an insight into the kind of relationship you could ultimately develop.
If you’d like to start writing blogs that sound like you, I can help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can outsource your blog writing or get training that helps you to write your own.
Otherwise, sign up to my mailing list for monthly hints and tips on blogging and lots of other useful marketing stuff.
I know, I know. I’ve been urging you on to write a blog for your business since the last decade (feels weird to be able to say that) and now I’m telling you not to?! Well, no. Mostly, a blog is still a really good idea for most businesses. If you need a quick primer on why that is, here you go. Despite that, there are times when a blog just won’t be the right choice for you, either because of the industry you’re in or just because it’s the wrong time. If you’re thinking of writing a blog but any of the following apply to you, think again…
A blog won’t work for your industry
There aren’t many businesses that I would actively advise against blogging, but there are a few. If your business is scientific or sells something technical that’s on sale to the general public, a blog can be great. It helps you to demystify your product or service and make it more accessible. If, on the other hand, you only deal with other members of the scientific community a blog is pretty pointless. Blogs are chatty and conversational. If your audience is already very well informed and your articles need to set out technical data, a blog is just the wrong format.
It should (hopefully) go without saying that the same applies if your work is subject to a blanket NDA or national security level secrecy. If you want a blog to work you need to be able to share something about your background or life in general. If you can’t do that, a blog probably isn’t for you.
You don’t have time
Lack of time is one of the main reasons people tell me that they haven’t started a blog. It’s understandable. When your blog isn’t a core part of your business it’s one of those things that you can easily put to one side. While it’s great for marketing it doesn’t earn you anything on its own. Focusing on activities that generate income is far more important and I know you’ll have your own list of tasks that take priority over writing.
If you think you haven’t time to blog, this gives you some ideas for fitting it in. But what if you really haven’t got time? Either hand it over to someone like me or don’t do it. If you don’t have time to commit to writing and publishing a blog at least once a month, it will fizzle out before long. It won’t help your SEO and if potential customers come across it they might even think you’ve stopped trading.
It won’t be any good
This might sound a bit harsh. One of the advantages of writing a business blog is that anyone can write one. Of course, this also means that absolutely anyone can write one. For yours to work you need to put a bit of effort into making it good. Otherwise, it’s just going to disappear into the mass of boring, badly written blogs out there. The good news is there is lots of advice and guidance out there to help you. (Including mine.) You just have to make time to absorb it and put it into practice.
To put it bluntly, there’s no point writing a blog that no-one wants to read. If you’re already struggling for time, put the effort into creating something that your audience will find useful.
Do you need some help?
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OK, I know that’s a sweeping generalisation. There will be plenty of you who really can’t find the time. If adding another thing into your week means giving up sleep or spending time with anyone you care about, don’t do it. Maybe you don’t even want to blog, and that’s fine. That’s what I’m here for. Writing a business blog isn’t right for every business. There’ll be more on that in a future post, but if you’re a small or micro business a blog is still a great marketing tool for most businesses.
The problem, in most cases, is that you think you need to find masses of time all at once. You will need to sit down in front of a screen at some point, but that’s the most time consuming bit. With the right approach everything else can be fitted in around your other daily tasks and will even make the writing part easier. Here’s how I break everything down.
Nothing kills inspiration faster than sitting down in front of a blank screen and wondering what to write about. Having your topic ready to go before you start is a major time saver and you can think of ideas while you’re doing other things. You can write answers to your frequently asked questions, share insights on your services and learn about your customers’ struggles at networking events.
After that, create a quick outline plan by breaking the topic down into smaller sections and giving each one a subheading. I often do this when I’m making my lunch. Then when I start writing there’s a guide ready to go.
I can’t lie, this is the most time consuming bit, but there are ways to make it easier. When you make your plan, if any key phrases spring to mind, write them down. Make voice notes if you like. Recording yourself can also work really well if you find it easier to talk through your topic. Even just talking to yourself could help you to get the words flowing.
Once you start writing, keep going. Your blog will be better if it sounds like you and that will come more easily if you aren’t constantly worrying about your grammar. That’s what the next stage is for…
The editing stage is every writer’s best friend. My mantra is ‘you can edit a bad page but you can’t edit a blank one.’ When you’ve written your post, leave it for at least a day then go back with fresh eyes. Run it through a spelling and grammar checker if you like (or visit Grammarly.com). Then, read to see if it makes sense. The best time for this is when you’re (relatively) relaxed. If you’re not already in the habit of taking proper meal breaks or stopping for an afternoon cuppa, this is the perfect excuse.
If you’re feeling brave give your blog to a friend and ask them if it makes sense.
Time for the finishing touches
The finishing touches on your blog are actually a series of tiny tasks that become much more straightforward when you break them down. Finding a good header image, on page SEO and sharing to social media can all be done separately when you have a few minutes. I put an appointment in the diary to find images for future posts, but do what works for you.
It can be a bit of a shift but when you stop viewing a blog post as one solid chunk of work and think of it as a series of smaller tasks, it makes it much easier to work out where you can fit it into your working week.
This is a lightning run through the things that go into a good blog post. If you’d like a bit more detail, sign up to my mailing list for monthly hints and tips on blog writing and all manner of other business marketing stuff. You’ll also receive a copy of my free guide ‘Stop hiding your business’ as a thank you from me.
I’m going to hazard a wild guess that since you’ve clicked on a link about stress free blogging, you find blogging stressful. Is that a fair assumption? The source of your stress could be the idea of getting your blog started in the first place. It could also be that you’ve got started but are finding it tough to keep going. I get it. I’m fundamentally lazy and will only work hard at something if it’s absolutely necessary. For me, the only things that fall into that category are strategic planning, client work and keeping my accounts straight. Even writing for clients gets easier as I get to know them better. Writing my own blog is about as stress free as you can get.
The thing is, if something causes you stress you’re more likely to dump it sooner rather than later. (At least, I hope you are.) But blogging doesn’t need to be stressful. You might never love writing blogs as much as I do but there’s no reason why you can’t have some fun with it.
Remember who you’re talking to
Knowing who you want to reach with your blog makes it about a million times easier than going in without a clear idea. The reason I refer to it as ‘talking’ is because it is a bit like a conversation, if a very one sided one. Writing a blog when you know what your audience is interested in is like having a chat with someone you already know. Compare that to doing a talk to 500 people you’ve never met before = loads more stress.
If you can relax and imagine the kind of person you’re talking to, your stress level drops. You can write in a way that feels natural to you.
Pick your topic
It’s a good idea to come up with a few potential topics before you plan to start writing. You can find some suggestions for ways to do that here. Then just mull it over for a bit. Which topic would benefit your customers? Is there something you particularly want to tell them about? Could you remove an obstacle that’s preventing someone from becoming a customer?
When you’ve chosen a topic, break it down. Take your time and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What knowledge do they already have and what don’t they know? Break it down into smaller subsections. Doing it this way means you can tackle each section at your own pace, which means, you guessed it – less stress.
Get fired up
When it comes to actually writing, stop being logical and just write. Your blog is your chance to talk about something that really matters to you. Enthusiasm is infectious so get excited and let people know why they need to know about this stuff. You might be thinking that the results of writing from your gut might not be too professional. I won’t say it doesn’t matter, because it does. If you want people to trust you as a professional you can’t be completely chaotic. But professional, or even formal, does not mean dull. Churning out bland content will only get boring for you and the reader. You don’t get the results you want and wonder why you’re going through all this stress for nothing.
The key thing to remember is that you can always edit. Write your first draft without putting any restrictions on yourself, then read it back. If there’s anything that won’t work for your audience, you can change it and no-one else will ever know.
If you want to get started blogging put need a push in the right direction, you can sign up for my blogging challenge using the form below. Over 5 days I’ll take you through 5 simple tasks that will leave you with a stress free, finished blog by the end of the week.