Most of my phone’s memory is dedicated to my extensive notes collection, peppered with forgotten to-do lists, poetry tidbits, weird overheard conversations, and full-blown stories. My latest entry chronicles items found on the side of the highway.
I love writing, especially when it comes to recounting interesting things that have happened around me. While we may not all enjoy writing, sometimes it’s necessary for business. It may seem like a chore for you, but here are a few ways to make the process more fun.
Stories are more authentic than stuffy shop-speak.
Once I moved out on my own, I realized I needed to find new ways to inspire myself. I’ve always felt at peace discovering cute stores in small towns, so I take a quarterly trip to Middlefield (Amish country in Northeast Ohio). While I’m there, I stop for cheese and hang out in the general store. On my way there once, I noticed a man on the side of the road, walking his goat. He had taken his shirt off because of the heat. And he looked at me like I was encroaching on his goat’s grazing space.
If you see something funny or out-of-place in your travels like I often do, write it down. It could be used for future stories, blogs, poems, or otherwise. Adding anecdotes humanizes your brand and makes your content more enjoyable to read.
Give more than you get.
This is my networking philosophy as well. You can’t expect people to read your content if you’re not giving them anything of value. So, pack your blogs with as much advice as you can. It establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, which can lead to wonderful connections and clients.
Trust that you’re an expert. You know what you’re talking about.
My 81-year-old grandma ran with me to the City Club, having just listened to me rehearse my speech for Engage! Cleveland’s Young Professionals Week four times during the car ride to downtown Cleveland. I had written an ambitious speech; the presentation was PechaKucha style, so I had 20 seconds per slide to wow the sold-out room with my knowledge on how to tell a story. I nailed my intro story and then immediately forgot my entire speech. When I shuffled off the stage and sat back down next to my grandma, visibly shaking (since I have terrible stage fright), she told me my impromptu speech was even better than the one I had prepared.
She was a little biased. But as usual, my grandma knew what she was talking about: Sometimes, really good content comes to you in the moment. Don’t shy away from off-the-cuff blogs.
Edit. Wait. Edit Again.
There’s that Peter De Vries quote that mistakenly gets attributed to Hemingway all the time: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” While I agree with the essence of this, I recommend less booze. Essentially, you want to straight up write, without stopping, for your first draft. Don’t overthink what you’re writing. The minute you look back at what you just wrote and start editing it, the more time you lose switching your brain back and forth from edit mode to writing mode.
After your first, very rough draft is done, read what you wrote out loud to yourself. Reading content out loud helps you catch little mistakes that you tend to auto-correct your head. You can slow down and focus on each word.
When you’re done editing the first time, put your piece away for as long as you can. Ignore it. Go about your regular schedule. Put a note on your calendar to check it out in a week or two. The more time that passes, the fresher your perspective will be when you look at it again. A few things happen when you do this:
- You gain a different perspective having lived more life while this story was sitting.
- You can be more critical, slashing lines that no longer make sense.
- You can catch little grammatical mishaps. They really pop out when you haven’t looked at your writing in a while.
It’s all about the content.
You might not always prioritize your business blog. It happens. But the benefits of posting regularly far outweigh the benefits of just watching another Netflix series.
You can show that you’re more authentic with stories and that you’re an industry expert. You can incorporate short-tail and long-tail keywords into your blogs for search engine optimization—so more people can find you. And you can offer your clients and your network an added benefit, whether they work with you or not. When it boils down to it, it’s all about helping others. And this is a small way to do that!