Have you ever sat there wondering just where the heck to get started? Getting more and more stressed and feeling more inadequate by the minute. I know I have. There’s just something almost intimidating about writing those first posts for your business.
At least, that’s how I think most of us feel when we first get started. It doesn’t matter how confident or together we are in business side of things; content creation becomes the biggest stumbling block to online marketing.
It’s not that we can’t do it. It’s that by obsessing over the process we create a mental block. Then, it seems like an unreachable goal, and then we’re stuck in a self-defeating spiral. To overcome it, all we need to do is break the task down into smaller pieces, work out what works best for us and then act on it, daily.
Easier said than done, yes, but there are some ways to kickstart the process without incurring too much stress.
1. Flying solo with determination
This is what I did when I broadened myself as a writer after focusing on technical content for a long time. It’s bold and challenging, admittedly, but it can be effective with a little tenacity. (I love last man standing films.) So, pitting myself against this type of goal spoke to me as a person.
You shouldn’t be put off by the inherent challenge. It can even be lot of fun if you use the free tool that I’m about to suggest. The aim is to get your ideas flowing daily without stumbling. You can use it for creating your content but I’d suggest you start off by using it to just get a conscious stream of thought onto the page.
To start with, you need to set aside some time during the day. Find the moment in your day when you’re most likely to stick with this habit. It’s likely to be the same point in your routine every day. For me, it’s the first thing I do before I get started on the project and client work of the day.
Sign up for 750 Words. It’s a free service with a strong community. Around 2,500 people take up the challenge to keep writing 750 words a day, every week and every month.
Why something fixed and perhaps oddly specific as 750 words a day, rather than sitting down with a document and no restrictions? There is a lot of merit to that exact number of words, and how it gets your conscious thoughts flowing. The experience they give you helps you stay focused, motivated and on track.
One of the most importing things, when bedding down the writing habit, is to be free from distractions. The browser layout works especially well for me when run in full-screen. You find your mind providing extra motivation and focus by knowing you’re being timed. A lot of anticipation builds as you race towards the goal. You’ll find yourself wanting to beat the clock every time.
Motivation by meta data
We all need a little bit of encouragement and motivation. The algorithm behind the 750 words software analyses your writing and gives you a brilliant overview of how you performed; timings, words per minute, how often you paused, your mood whilst you were writing and what the main themes of your writing were. All good useful data that will keep you motivated to improve, day-on-day.
You can even earn badges for your achievements along the way.
A community, if you want one
Another great thing about 750 words is that you don’t have to engage with it solo. You can start your journey with a friend, following each other for accountability. There’s also the wider community taking part in monthly challenges and longer streaks.
As you practise, you’re building up a body of content. You can go back to it, pick out pieces for editing and publishing in the format of your choice.
All in all, it’s a great piece of software if you’re self-motivated. I used it in this way for a year or so. I now use it for journaling and to get me back on track when I need it.
2. Free blogging or writing challenges
I enjoy getting stuck into challenges. They are a great way to motivate you when you’re first starting out. They are also a useful tool in helping to keep your skills refreshed.
At the outset, you might not want to publish on your own website, but it is vital to hit that button and put yourself out there. You’ll soon build confidence. And it will stop feeling like the world will end if you share what you’re writing.
WordPress.com is a great place to set up a blog. You can experiment as much as you want there. There’s also a supportive community to keep you motivated along the way. Everyone there is starting or continuing on the same journey as you are.
The key to this is to start off by going to WordPress.com and setting up a site. Don’t get blogged down in fine details. Pick a minimalist theme like Scrawl by Automattic and hit activate. This whole process to get up and running shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes.
Go to The Daily Post, which is a site run by the editors of WordPress.com. There you’ll find a whole hosts of options. Don’t let that sidetrack you. Look for the next course to signup for the next official event.
You’ll want to strike while the iron is hot. If there’s no official event running, join one of the community blogging events. This will keep you accountable. You can use the daily prompts to focus your writing, changing them to fit your needs. I’d join something like I Made It! Monday where you just check in, each Monday.
3. Guided courses from a professional
Sometimes it takes laying down some cash for us to value learning and invest our time in it. I’ve done this many times to pick up skills. It’s hard to succeed with your business if you don’t invest in yourself.
But then comes the problem of wading through all the different options. Who do you trust? Is the person who they say they are? Do they write their own content or has it been ghostwritten? Before handing over my cash, I want to know that the person has knowledge to share, that they’re not just re-branding second hand knowledge.
I’ve taken a couple of writing courses. My absolute favourite was by Chris Brogan, a New York Times best-selling author. He has a long history of writing in an engaging and conversational way. The way he communicates also resonates with me. I believe this is another key part of deciding who to trust with your guided learning.
The original course I took with Chris is no longer available. He has another good one with content I’ve worked through. He also recommends a shorter one from Joshua Fields Millburn. Here’s a little about both of them.
Blogging: The Master Class
I find that the content of this course flows well and succeeds in showing you how to create a solid writing habit. Chris concentrates on everything making sense for you and your business. Getting the most from the course means working through all the material and completing all the homework. You’ll get peer feedback in the community. But do take advantage of emailing back and forth with Chris.
You can check out details of the twelve-week programme on his website.
How to Write Better: Online Writing Class
This 4-week course created by Joshua Fields Millburn comes recommended by Chris.
You can check out details of the 4-week course over on Chris’ website.
I can’t stress how important it is to take a class with someone you trust. By doing that, you’ll be more open to learning what they have to teach. The two courses have quite different styles and one may suit you better than the other. I’d suggest you do research on both of the instructors before making the leap.
The key with the three methods is to commit and take action to move yourself forward. No procrastination allowed. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do.
Carve out 30 to 60 minutes today or tomorrow to get underway, and then keep doing it. Set a timer. Don’t spend longer on it initially. You’ll burn out and get demotivated.
Eventually, you’ll want to spend about 90 minutes writing the first draft of an article from your research and then another 30 minutes the next day polishing it.
In the short term, my advice is to try a blogging challenge or 750 Words. Then, if you need more help, go onto to finding someone to guide you.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes.