What do you do when … you need to write but you’re not a good writer?

Sticky situationsYour service business is going great. But all of your competitors are doing this thing called content marketing. You read their stuff and you think, “I have more to offer than they do,” but you struggle with getting your thoughts out of your head and into written form. So, they have you beat in this category. Content marketing is something you want to do … but you don’t have the confidence to do it. What do you do?

I’m not a good writer, but I need to write. I’ve been writing about this problem from time to time, and I’m also speaking about it next week.

As someone who sells his expertise for a living, content marketing has always seemed like the obvious thing to do. It gives me a chance to demonstrate my expertise and to show my prospects what it would be like to work with me. This means that prospects come to the table much more ready to buy. They already know they have a problem and believe that I can fix it because they went searching for help and found my content.

computertypingThere’s only one problem — writing. Writing is hard, at least it is for me. I wasn’t born a small business advisor; I started out as an engineer. So despite getting a college education, I never really learned to write. It was always a struggle for me.

Writing reminds me of when my father and I used to go fly fishing together. I’m not very good at fly fishing, so I would nervously obsess about what fly to use, how I was casting and where I should cast. One time the fishing guide (the guy we hired to make sure that we caught fish) saw this and told me,

“Brad, you can only catch fish when your fly is in the water. It’s more important that your fly is in the water than it is that you have the perfect fly, perfect cast or perfect placement. Fish are in the water, so spend as much time as you can with your fly in the water.”

I caught a lot of fish that day and his advice continues to help me, even with writing.

You see, I have lots of ideas about what to write.

  • I hear myself answering the same question three times in two weeks — that’s a blog post.
  • I watch several of my clients bumping into similar problems — that’s a blog post.
  • I read a book, or hear a talk, or read something on someone else’s blog that challenges my thinking — that’s a blog post.

But if I sit down to write any one of them, it turns into a 2–3 hour slog and I don’t even like what I have when I’m finished. It’s just so hard to craft a compelling blog post with a catchy intro, a hook that carries you all the way through and a brilliant call to action. So I don’t try to write a blog post, I just write.

  • I write down a question, and summarize the answer that I gave all three times.
  • I summarize the problem that I see recurring for some clients, then write about what I’m seeing or saying about it.
  • I share the insight I just gained from a book or seminar so that someone else could benefit from it.

Most importantly, I don’t try to make it good — I just try to get it down. That’s the first step, and the most important.

So if you are struggling to keep your blog alive, to produce more content, just write. Write crap, write drivel, write anything. But, as Yogi Berra might say, “If you never write, you aren’t likely to have anything written.”

What’s your biggest challenge with writing? What’s worked for you in overcoming that challenge?

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