There are six fears common to new business bloggers. Thankfully, all of them are easily addressed. This post shows you how.
Why are people worried?
The concern is more than valid. Blogging is very often new territory for businesses, and an entry into a new space is usually accompanied by trepidation, worry, and no small amount of fear.
The fears that business owners and managers have can vary widely. They range from a worry that the spelling or punctuation or grammar is poor; that they don’t know whether there is a Right Way or a Wrong Way; that they don’t want to blog too much, or not enough; that they have no idea what to write about; that the person designated as The Blogger has access to do so 24/7 and might find a High Horse on a Friday night after drinks with colleagues and some timely conversation.
Some businesses resist the notion altogether, because it just seems like more work. And not even valid work, at that, but additional stuff that ‘in the scheme of things’ doesn’t matter.
All of these fears are valid. Thankfully, all of them are easily addressed.
Fear one: spelling, punctuation, grammar
The sheer numbers of people who wail that they Can’t Write, who are scared of putting pen to paper, who are terrified that they are getting it wrong, astonishes me daily. I have a very deep-rooted belief that this started in primary school.
We all spend our school years having our writings viciously corrected, very often in red pen. We are tested on our spelling; we see articles in the press daily about the lack of literacy amongst the population; often our studies hang on what we can write.
Well, hang on a moment. The one thing that few people hear is: If you can speak the language, you know its grammar.
I’m an editor, and I never had formal grammatical training. I know all about the need to make lists parallel, about making sure that your tenses agree, that your plurals agree, and so on. I still never remember the names of all the parts. I know that sentences are constructed of phrases, that this is a phrase, and that so is this one (separated by commas, you see). I know when and where to use all the different types of punctuation.
My knowledge comes from a lifetime of reading, writing, and teaching others. What my clients rarely see are the tomes I have piled around me to make sure that I’m doing things correctly.
So the point of this? You have two options: employ someone to edit your blogs before they go live, or to teach you how to do it, or for gentle guidance. Or, buy reference books that will help you.
My suggestions are basic:
- The Macquarie Australian Dictionary — in whatever edition you can find. Obviously the latest edition is great, but if you’ve got an old one, it’s still going to work. The Macquarie is the Australian official dictionary — and it will tell you all of the correct spellings that you will require.
- The AGPS Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers. I have three or four copies, in different editions, because I’ve been using it for so long. This is my bible! It will tell you the right way to structure your words, when to capitalise words, how to use punctuation. Every person who ever writes anything in their working lives should have a copy.
You can buy grammar books, but unless you really need to, the Style Manual will be all you will ever need.
Fear two: I don’t know if I’m doing it right
Business blogging comes down to relevance, in all cases. Is your topic relevant to what you do, to what you promise, to what your clientele is after? If the answer is no, don’t write about it. If the answer is maybe, find the fit, and go your hardest.
There are some key rules with blogging, which will help you enormously. These are:
- Write your header last
- Use your first paragraph as a précis: the summary of the essentials of the post. You can write this second-to-last.
- Follow a logical structure or argument. How do you know if you do? Write out the first sentence of every paragraph end to end. Can you read it and make sense of it? Yes? Bingo, you’ve hit gold! If you can’t, you’ll know exactly where your problems are. This is an old, tried and tested editorial trick for structural editing.
- Make sure your heading is about 60 characters long (yes, spaces are characters)
- Make sure your précis is about 160 characters long (yes, spaces are characters)
If you can do all of those points above, you’re doing it right.
Fear three: I don’t want to blog too much, or not enough
This is one of the easiest fears to fix. Aim for one post per week.
Lots of people will tell you that you need to do this daily. The frequency isn’t so much the point, as is the consistency. If you blog once per week, and do that for an entire year, then you will have more consistent traffic than the business owner who blogs every day for a week and forgets about it for a month.
If you’re still worried, ask your clientele. Do they read it? Would they read it? How much time do they have? Asking questions never hurt anybody.
Fear four: I don’t know what to write about!
This goes back to Fear Two, and the notion of relevance.
Cast your eye over your website. What do you do? What do you promise? What are your values?
What movements in your industry, that are also relevant to your clients, could you write about? What notions strike you at 4 am and cause you to awaken early? Did you deal with something particularly tricky, or get asked a question that caused you some long thought?
All of the above make for great topics. The best thing to do in this situation is to realise that nobody is pressuring you to do it — you’ve existed perfectly well up until this point without a blog. So write things about which you are passionate.
Hopefully, your passion is your business and your clients. All you need to do then is to keep your posts relevant.
A free tip for you: write about one thing at once. Curly issues can be split into singular pieces over a period of time, and all of a sudden you have a blogging series, which will keep your audience coming back.
Fear five: The passionate social blogger (after Friday night drinks)
If you have delegated your blog to someone in your business, and that person gets really passionate about your people and issues that pertain to them, great! You’ve potentially found your blogging goldmine!
BUT — if that person has access 24/7, you may have concerns, big or small, about the potential for unprofessional, or unhelpful, posts to be published after a few wines on a Friday night.
The solution to this is so simple it will blow your mind. Only give them a contributor account to the blog on your site. Make sure that every post they write goes through a path of approval before it’s published.
Blogging is not a free-for-all in the world of business. It is like everything else you put into the public sphere, and it needs to be moderated accordingly.
If your blog user has moments of intense inspiration, he or she can write as much as they like; it just won’t be published until it’s been under another set of eyes (such as your own). The benefit of this, is that you will see the talent and passion you employ, and will likely get a lot of quality content that will not compromise either your business or your employees.
Fear six: Resistance: I don’t have time!
If you have a busy business (who doesn’t!), and you don’t want to spend your life writing more stuff, then you have a valid concern. What you need to do in this case is think about why you are blogging in the first place.
Let’s say you are doing it because you want to, but it’s the doing that you are resisting, I have some suggestions to make it easier for you:
- View your blogging time as time spent on your marketing or customer relations strategy. This will validate the time that you spend on it, and will do so properly.
- Don’t make your blog live on your site until you have put content into it. Most web design companies can help you do this by keeping the blog page unpublished until you’re ready to go. It gives you the ability to add your writing over a period of time, and then schedule them so they self-publish.
- Scheduling is your best friend! If you are hit with inspiration, don’t publish immediately. Schedule your blogs so they appear at a leisurely pace — say, once per week. This means you can write and run, and your software is doing the work while you’re too busy (or even when you’re on holidays).
- Keep a blogging plan. Dedicate 20 minutes, once per week, to the task. Follow your plan precisely. Once you start doing it, you’ll wonder why you were worried in the first place.
If you run a business blog, how do you feel about it? Were you concerned about doing it, before you started? And do you have any tips that will help others? Please share your information in the comments!
posted by brutalpixie
Filed under: Copywriting Resources