As a branding consultant, I'm constantly shocked by the lack of confidence my clients have when it comes to writing. I simply utter the word "blog" and immediate concern falls across their faces, totally rocking the "deer caught in the headlights" look. It can be adorable, but most of the time it's just upsetting.
And I'm here to tell you that, if you're also terrified of blogging as a personal branding technique, you're not alone. I get it.
Here are the five most common questions I receive when it comes to blogging, and exactly how I respond... in the cliff notes version. I assume that if my clients are insanely busy and want things to-the-point, then so do you.
Here's what I share with them.
Why does blogging even matter?
Blogging matters because today's consumers no longer care about pure product value. Good products are awesome, but no one will notice if there isn't a story surrounding it first. Think about it - if you saw an ad on Facebook for a makeup product, would you click on it? Hell no. No one uses Facebook for the purpose of clicking on random ads. But if you hopped on YouTube and saw a real woman testing the same products for the first time, would you click on it for the sake of having an authentic, honest opinion? Hell yeah. And why? Because humans relate to humans, not to products.
Did you know that 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs? The proof is in the pudding - blogging establishes real relationships that last.
Blogging gives both companies and individuals an opportunity connect with customers on a deeper level, establishing further online engagement, increasing brand trust, and bumping up lifetime conversion rates. Because if a person trusts you and has a relationship with you, then they'll believe in you and whatever you're selling, and will be more likely to purchase it repeatedly. Basic relationship building, guys. Consider blogging as a way to network and make new friends. Simple as that.
What do I write about? I'm not an expert and I have nothing new to add to the conversation
Not true. You have a million things right under your nose that people would be psyched to read about. You just have to identify them. Start off by asking yourself two questions:
- Who's attention are you trying to grab? What do they like? Are they into yoga? Music? Dog training? Disco music? Who are these people, and what are they interested in? Write these interests down.
- What are YOU into? Do you like rock climbing? Science fiction? Cooking? Netflix? Write these down too.
Then try to understand where is the middle middle ground? What kind of content can you produce that speaks to both your interests and theirs? It's the same as making a new friend - would you approach someone and immediately start talking about fine art if they hated fine art? Probably not. And would you introduce their favorite topic, African politics, if you had no interest/knew nothing about the subject? No way. People bond over things that you both find interesting, establish trust, and help one another.
Okay, so now you have an idea of what to write about. But now, the next question is always: I like yoga, but I'm not an expert in yoga. I just go to classes twice a week. What do I do now?
First, I'll say this: No one has the exact same opinions, experiences, and personality that you have. NO ONE. Therefore, it's impossible for you to write something that's not original or special. Think about it: did every chair manufacturer invent the chair? Obviously not. They just took the original idea and put their own spin on it. No one expected them to be a chair manufacturing prodigy - all they expected was for them to bring something valuable to the table. Even though they didn't come up with something innovative or special, do people still buy chairs? Obviously, yeah. You don't need to reinvent the wheel here, guys. It's proven that people pay attention to and continue to buy chairs. Just take your interest in it and add your own twist. The readers will follow. A whopping 90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that companies creating content are interested in building good relationships. Does this mean that they're coming up with brilliant, life-changing ideas? No. But they are using their own unique voice to express themselves, and that effort is immeasurable.
The next follow-up question is always: okay, you've got me. I'm really into chairs. But now what? What do I write about them?
Luckily, there are a million tools that enable you to see what others are already talking about within the industry.
For example, BuzzSumo is a user-friendly platform that allows you to see what's specifically is trending within an industry. Check it out. Twitter and Instagram are also great ways to see what others are discussing, enabling you get inspired and join conversations with other like-minded people.
I'm really not a good writer - can I do something else instead?
Totally. I would never want you investing a ton of time in something that's completely hopeless. What other content can you create? Are you more visual? Maybe you can produce short videos, infographics, or GIFs. Believe it or not, 87% of today's online marketers use video content, providing that other mediums can be just as impactful as text.
The content type itself doesn't really matter, so long as it's high-quality, relatable, and beneficial to the end user.
Where do I publish my content? How do people even find my stuff?
I recommend starting with a basic blogging platform like Medium. Since 30 million people are already investing their time and attention there each month, it's a fairly easy way to connect with the right audience and gain exposure. Sharing your content on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other social platforms are also great ways to connect with the right people. If you're feeling confident, reach out to your favorite publications and ask if you can write for them, even if you have to do so for free. Everyone loves consistent free content. This is also a very effective way to gain exposure and interact with new audiences.
Now, take a deep breath
If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Cliff Notes aren't for everyone, but for those of you who are looking for some quick relief and inspiration on the path toward successful blogging, this is for you.