1. Do not write for an audience
I know this goes against all good marketing advice, which say “you should know your audience”, “you should speak their language”, etc. Etc. You know that already.
But somehow too much empathy leads to self-censorship. And writing is about self-expression, so you see the problem here. If you overthink about who is going to read you, then you might be tempted to be less authentic in favour of adapting to your imagined audience (that’s for all the people pleasers) or you might over judge what you write (that’s for the less confident ones) or you might even freeze for fear of judgement, or consequence on your social image (that might be for the overly self-conscious).
Writing a blog, and even a business one, is about having an authentic point of view and sharing who you are, your experience, thoughts, perspectives. It is not about being popular (no, really). Having positive business impact from the blog is a great side effect but should not be the goal for fear of losing in authenticity. Because your voice is in the end what the audience, “your audience” is looking for.
With Philippe, for the blog writing, we gave ourselves three editorial guidelines that suited our corporate and personal identities, and we know it may attract some and deter others from reading us. That’s ok. Let your audience find you.
2. This is a conversation
The issue when we write, and especially in business, is that we want to sound clever, expert-like, be professional, it may after all not be a hobby but your only marketing strategy for getting business.
However, you are not a professional writer, you are not a journalist, and you are probably not a researcher (you might have been in the past), and you are certainly not writing a PhD thesis… It is a blog, be it in the business sphere, at the end of the day it is just a blog.
And sure enough, if you approach it like a huge writing exercise, like a thesis or your memoirs, your legacy, aiming to be a bestseller… Well then the pressure is on. And so much pressure is not good at all for stimulating your creative juices.
So instead see your business blog as a conversation you are initiating with people on a subject that you find interesting. Share an experience, a tool or a point of view to engage with others. Don’t try to be THE expert, it might either stop you (if you have legitimacy issues) or make you sound arrogant (if you are over confident). No-one wants to speak to or engage with the overly-smarty pants.
You can still have an assertive point of view, and then be ready to be challenged. “Be opposable” says Philippe, which is one of our editorial guidelines. Don’t try to be a guru.
3. Build your writing trigger habits
You might have many things to share but cant’ always find inspiration or the the triggers to spark your motivation to sit down and write. It took me some time to find mine, and I’m still honing it.
For people like Philippe who are avid readers, there might be already so many triggers in their daily routine: reading of articles in newspapers, specialist or generic blogs, on various unrelated subjects, from different sources etc. From observing Philippe’s routine, I can see how his daily habits nourish and stimulate his writing, and the result is that he writes a lot. He even has a huge backlog of articles he wants to write. He might still complain that writing is hard, but all in all he has been very prolific.
Me, I’m not so much a reader, I read but a pale amount in comparison to a true reader like Philippe. However, I have found that I am stimulated by contacts with people, by my observation of the world. I need to directly experience things, then I get inspired. I like case studies, I like discussions, I like to reflect back on what I have heard or observed, I need to have my hands in the mud, to play with things and learn how they work.
So, last year I experimented with doing interviews. And it worked, I found the whole process of doing interviews a great source of inspiration for writing… It is still a lot of work, between the search for people I find interesting and want to know better, contacting them, the logistics of it, the retranscription, the analysis, the writing etc. It takes time and sweat but I did it with JOY.
So my advice is find your own source of stimulation for writing, these aha moments when your brain goes “I have understood something, I have a clear point of view on something that I’d like to share”. Maybe it is a daily walk in nature, or an evening journaling about your day, maybe it’s reading companies’ stories, or discussing with experts. And then incorporate these types of activities or moments in your routine. This will increase your level of inspiration and the words will write themselves.
This article was sparked by a conversation with myself (I’m not crazy I just question myself a lot) on why I did not write as much as Philippe did (accepting vulnerability in the process) and how I could share more (solution-orientation). So I did not write it for a specific audience but to remind myself of these insights and I am not pretending to solve all business blog writing problems.
In conclusion to overcome your business blog writing block: know yourself, be more self-centered and share it anyway you like.