When Blogging Becomes a Chore

What comes to mind for you when you see the words?

Chores. The very word conjures up memories of Saturday mornings spent dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, weeding and many other unpleasant tasks BEFORE I could play with friends and have fun.

Blogging. The other name for writing short pieces or longer articles that are timely, relevant, contribute to marketing efforts, and has the POTENTIAL to attract more ideal business inquiries.

SEO. Search Engine Optimization or as a gifted translator of a person I know put it to a newbie in the Weekly Writers Support Circle on Tuesday, “How your site and its content get found by people.”

Are you among the many who jumped on the WordPress/Blogging Bandwagon? Did you start excited, promise yourself you’d blog weekly or more and lose steam over time? Are you growing self-conscious that your last post was from February of 2012 or worse, in 2011? (Please read on and be gentle with yourself.)

Are you of the belief you must write according to a proven “form” or “system” or “with such intense regularity”?

How long was it before you lost your zest for writing a pithy bi- or tri-weekly post because you:

  • Ran out of “great ideas”?
  • Tired of how long it took to write a post worth publishing?
  • Got discouraged when no one commented (presuming commenting was turned on)?
  • Simply were forcing yourself to write in the first place?

Writing a blog is a wise activity when you naturally enjoy writing or can learn to love writing about your business, your process, your experiences, as yourself in a voice and tone that reflects you. It serves to let your site visitors (and potential clients) meet you even before they call or reach out via email. And who doesn’t want a warm inquiry as a business be you solo, small, medium or large in scope?

The new and exciting opportunity that blogging platforms offered was a “boon” (a gift) to those who were already prolific writers. And where once upon a time it was more difficult to get regular writing out in the world, if you weren’t also technically proficient with Website Software Programs that were Content Management Systems as well, the current era offers many CMS options.  Options that are very plug and play too.

It is Do It Yourself heaven. My first blog (that still exists) was a Blogger blog I started for myself alone in 2005. I chose a design of the 23 offered and started posting personal pieces. I actually still love that blog and its design and always mean to post to it more than I do these days. (Note to self: start next week!)

Then I met “WordPress.” It was love at first site.

Oh, WordPress! How much more I can do for myself than before and from anywhere and anytime and with relative ease. I am part of the choir that will forever love writing. I appreciate technology that lets me help myself and helps me get found that much easier. WordPress does that easily and while the Dashboard may be intimidating at first, once understood, it is LIBERATING to compose on the fly and in the cloud.

What do I say to clients who feel like they are running out of gas where writing “intelligently” and “consistently” gets in the way of writing “with creativity and enthusiasm?”

Stop trying so hard and give yourself permission to take a break.

Try crafting an editorial outline that reflects your new business goals (a professional bucket list)

Write some stories about your life and business lessons and then decide do you want to publish them or no?

Take some time to determine your ideal client and profile that person in rich detail and imagine that you are blogging to them.

If all else fails, take yourself or your dog for a walk! Get outside and get some fresh air at the very least.

Once when I was really stuck and in an unhealthy thought loop while I was on a writing deadline, I called a friend who was a professional coach for support. What did she advise me to do?

“Go outside for a walk for a minimum of 15 minutes and look for all the white and purple flowers.”

“Why?” I asked in complete confusion.

“Just do as I say please. Will you? And call me when you get back.”

So I did. And guess what happened!!! I took the walk. I saw some white and purple flowers and noticed other garden beauties too. I got home and called my friend. She asked me if I was ready to get back to it. And in truth, I was.

My Creative Block was GONE! And writing came with more ease and I liked the results.

If you aren’t a naturally obsessive writer like some of us, but see the value of blogging for business (or pure self-expression) know that becoming committed to it and enthusiastic about writing can be learned–provided you are willing. And use some tools to support you such as:

A community of like-minded people (I can recommend a great writing support group and facilitator!)

A calendar with dates you keep with yourself to write for writing sake (and take the best ideas farther!)

Practice. Practice. Practice. (You needn’t publish what you don’t want)

Read. Read. Read. (At least an hour a week the blogs of others you admire and consider…)

Commenting in a constructive and pay it forward style. (This has been known to inspire people to reciprocate!)

Use “the canvas” that inspires ease: maybe you compose emails well or write differently directly in the WordPress Post Window? Who said you have to write in a Word Doc first? (Do though save your piece to your hard drive and not just on the cloud)

Set the scene. Establish the environment. Dress the part. One client of mind laughed they might start wearing dress clothes to write for their business blog, even though they worked at home.

Try anything once to see if it frees your writing voice and stick with what works for you.

Writing and Reading and Interacting with other Writers is bound to affect your opinion of writing for business and pleasure, as well as develop a skill and an artistry in you and your own writing. Over time your skill and confidence will shift so notice and celebrate the breakthroughs.

Think of it as the equivalent of teaching yourself how to walk (fall down and get up again) or tie your shoes (bunny ears worked eventually) or learning how to print then write “cursive.”

Many talents aren’t second nature but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them so. WordPress makes blogging possible on your schedule be it planned out or in the moment.

So let’s reframe what we started with:

Chores. Serve to keep our creative energy and productivity flowing well and mastered can save us time and set us free to play that much sooner.

Blogging. It is at its most basic an opportunity to express yourself: casually, candidly, professionally, playfully, and virtually from wherever you may be wanting to capture a relevant moment.

SEO. Think of it like being on a scavenger hunt or geo-caching with a GPS device that makes it easier to find the prize. The prize being a happy client and a happy service provider or product “sold.” What are the magic words that used well get you found faster?

So knowing you have the platform, the best of motives, and the means, how about saying yes to the writer within?

 


 

 

 


A Short Ode To Spring's Latest Attempt To Arrive

I am the next bloom on the cherry tree about to burst wide open, the next new leaf about to unfold its green self, and the song about to erupt from the robin red breasted and boldly singing to source of its Gratitude.

May your writing this coming week erupt from that place in you that believes wholeheartedly in what you are doing and being in the world.

There are people in need of you and your offerings. They simply need know what your offer is.

My offer is to assist you get comfortable with being perhaps more forthcoming and transparent about who you are, what you are up to, what you are a resource for and authentically expressing yourself so that the people who want and need you, have an easier time finding you.

All “writing rules” aside, what would you add to your writing body of work?

There is Value in Writing Your Story

Once upon a time I wanted to be an author. Fact is: this is still true. Fact is: I am.

My love of writing has been deep within me since childhood and has very humble beginnings. It all began with a Hallmark Diary.

Age nine, Christmas included the gift of a Hallmark Diary that “locked.” A pretty pink and green plaid cover, a brass lock and key and fresh blank pages to record the highlights of my days and my secrets. Naive me thought that lock made it secure (smile.)

My 10 year old daughter loves the same compact diaries with the locks (that could be torn asunder in two seconds, but that doesn’t occur to her as it didn’t occur to me at the same tender age.)

In high school, I had the memorable honor of interviewing the Editor of the Poetry Shell, AND had a poem published in the publication. The young journalist I was, was so nervous as we met at a Pacific Grove Coffee Shop for the interview.  I had no reason to be. It was fabulous and cemented my love of journalism for  I see it as all about telling a story; be it your own or that of another.

Fast forwarding to the college years, I can recall how I dreamed of being a professional writer, a published author, an important editor someday. So, as one who had to work to put myself through college, I signed up to work for the college paper–in any capacity I could.

Typesetter, Copy Camera Operator, Layout Artist, and occasional Feature Writer. It was heaven. I would do anything to keep myself in the writing game.

After college, I jumped into working for a publishing company and it was my work on the college newspaper that got me that first job of reprint coordinator, of all things. I learned how make a book by taking it apart enough to get typos corrected for future printings.

My work for a neighborhood newspaper in San Francisco also kept me sharp at interviewing people and telling their stories. Deb Drake, girl reporter, one friend lovingly nicknamed me years later. The people I interviewed fascinated me not so much because their stories were over the top, but because they were so willing to share themselves with me. I’ll always remember the sandcastle artist, the ceramic artist whose oversized coffee mugs I cherish, and the family whose son needed a bone marrow transplant and got it. Real stories of creativity and courage. We’ve all got ours as well, don’t we?

Publishing and Journalism has changed so much since the earlier days of my involvement, and now a sense of urgency we might have is easy to accommodate. And we can tell our own stories if we are inclined, willing and able.

The stories of the people and places I wrote about inspired me then and remembering them does so again. Each person has a story to share that will inspire another, I believe.

Writing one’s own story is many things.

Clarifying.

Therapeutic.

A contribution to others.

A chance to impart learned wisdom be it business acumen or personal experiences that lead to growth and awareness.

If there is a story in you that wants to told, please share it.

And if you have trouble extracting it from yourself, by yourself, there are other ways to get that story out in the world. And it begins with asking for someone to witness your telling of it.  Then watch and listen how your story touches a nerve in that listener, that friend, that peer.

I bet if you asked for their feedback on the wisdom of your experience, you’d learn they are not the only one who’d benefit from the creation of a story–that others could then help them selves to reading.

Perhaps it’s an article or an ebook or a self-published work via the many user friendly self-publishing platforms. And if you need help in producing a quality piece, I hope you have the impetus to ask for it.

For it’s never been easier to share your inner wisdom and experiences that could impact one or many.

Here is hoping that story in you wanting to be told, is.


Authentic Writing Provokes: The 2am Ride of Paula Persevere (Revisited)

Albero e Luna by Francesco Marino

NOTE: This piece originates from an email sent to my still growing Writer’s Group for Reticent Bloggers at 3:03am on July 20th because quite frankly,  I was feeling DETERMINED to get the word out before we met again.

Reading it again, today, I giggle at the memory of all the teasing I get for being that nightowl from my most regular group members. Beyond being known as a nightowl, I am thankfully regarded as a good listener, and effective facilitator and that just warms this writing coach’s heart.

What reputation precedes you as the business or personal writer you are?  (I don’t mind for being known as a prolific writer between 12am and 3am on occasion. )

What are you known for  because of the copy on your website or the blog you author or that article, ebook or book you wrote?

Could you anticipate what your five closest peers might say about you? Do you even care?

To a degree I care about how I am perceived. Most importantly I want there to be a “nearly full eclipse” of who I say I am, who I know am and how I am experienced by people. Just like I appreciate online profiles with current photos that allow for immediate “recognition” of the real McCoy when meeting for the first time at a live event.

Be it that I am writing business copy for website updates, articles or a blog post or an email correspondence, or even micro-blogging on Facebook I am always alert to my underlying “voice.” And I have found that being “me” is the easiest way to get communication out in a timely, enthusiastic and meaningful way.

Can I interest you in exploring and developing your authentic written voice for your business or your creative aspirations?  It makes my heart sing to do so. For our Dharma (aka our vocation) seldom feels like work does it?

And about that late night experience that sparked this post…

*******************************************************************

At 12:40am or there about, this email was set to go, and Comcast deserted me.

Deserted me…but I am like the Captain of Galaxy Quest… I never/seldom give up and never surrender. And apparently I am willing to use the word never…

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of picking up my daughter from the airport, right on time, after her month in Carmel, CA with her grandparents. Her 8-day visit turned into a month when she got the opportunity to be part of the Children’s Experimental Theater group and we all said…what do we do to make this happen. We made it happen and she had a seminal summer experience. Who doesn’t want that any season of the year.

We, the dad, the mom and the kid had a catch up dinner at a nearby Neighborhood Grill and she had the AUDACITY…to ask for a play date after dinner with her best friend, Julia…I so get that she is simply glad to be home…and I would have let her go and play for two hours had it been approved… point is she was clear on what she wanted to be doing next–once she felt again in her element.

Well, I opened up a word doc, committed to write an article on behalf of Positive Daily Affirmations and figured if this email was meant to go tonight (or rather this early morning) I’d have the chance to send it before my head hit the pillow. Never Give Up….Never Surrender…or in other words cross that to do, off the list and sleep well.

Last week we had a wonderful dozen in the circle and surprise, surprise, the themes again were a common chorus.

Well, what do I have to say that people really want to hear from me?

(Hey, there, expert that You actually are with stories that span decades…I care and I am listening. And if I know you personally, I care even more…)

Can you hear/feel/sense the wisdom in this post of a friend of mine (a fantastic human disguised as a fantastic Real Estate Agent by day) that was inspired by a Copyblogger post? So much in so little a post…read on please…Go Casey, Go!

http://caseymuldoon.web864.com/2010/07/16/how-to-create-raving-fans/

I heard the request to start a Biznik Group last week! It’s done…

http://biznik.com/groups/writers-support-group-for-reticent-bloggers

You are invited to use this forum to share posts and ask questions of the resources in this growing community.

Sandy said she planned to start a personal blog.

Susan started writing creation stories for the buddies.

Pete is still committed to creating an editorial calendar.

Diane, I love your posts and your pictures.

Charles, please share those stories you have dozens of and educate by way of your 36 years of wisdom/direct experience.

Darylene, I’m writing articles as fast as I can….and hope I get found…

Blogs are living breathing entities filled with your essence, if you are okay with that. The more real you are the better. Being crafty and clever catches some but being authentic catches more people’s attentions and makes them Raving Fans.

Private blogs allow for R&D without scrutiny (go Sandy!)  And collaborative blogs allow for synergies to emerge between writers.

Favorite links found this week that made me smile long and wide:

Casey’s see above…which leads me to CopyBlogger and to this funny guy with a fabulous promo…

http://johnnybtruant.com/about/

I respect the writer’s with a willingness to really be themselves…what will it take for you to be so?

What makes my heart smile is how I see this group from week to week provide a space for the participants to get enthused and infused and inspired. For those who make it tomorrow…yahoo….for those who cannot…we will miss you.

I fully intend not only to be myself as I write and blog, and make a living doing so…how about you?  And to do so what support do you need?

Ask and you shall receive.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net