In my other life, I spend some of my free time blogging. It is something I began after having my second child and I blog mainly as a way of emptying my head, exploring my thoughts, sometimes with a message I want to convey, other times seeking out messages or reassurance from others who may feel the same. It is cathartic, therapeutic, and natural for me to write my thoughts down. Blogging for me is a way to get my writing fix as I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. I imagine there are many other bloggers like me – hobby bloggers, but I’m aware that blogging is a form of writing that serves many uses and purposes, not least for communicating messages about businesses and the services that they offer, or engaging people to support a cause, or communicate a powerful message.
In the blogging world, we refer to what we do simply as blogging or writing. In the commercial world, it is referred to more often as producing content. However you define it, the thought of doing it can either fill you with excitement at being able to make your words mean something, or with dread, if you are not a natural wordsmith.
I’ve been asked in the past for my advice to aspiring blog-writers on how to start a blog, how to think of ideas, and how to write posts. My advice has always centred around writing as a hobby, but I consider it to be relevant to blogging for commercial content too. After all, the aim from your audience is the same. You want them to read your words, to keep reading, to understand your message, and to remember even for a little while what you were trying to convey.
The biggest piece of advice I could ever give somebody who is contemplating writing their first blog post or establishing a blog of their own is this – be honest and write from your heart. Readers can see straight through you if you write words that you do not mean. Your ideas may not come thick and fast, there may be gaps between posts; that’s okay. What is important is believing in the ideas when they come. I realise this is easier for a personal blog or a guest blog post on another site than it is for your company website or company social media profile. People often have deadlines to meet in the commercial world to produce that content and to get it out there. But it is possible to meet those without stifling your ideas.
If you are creating content and you are not fully confident or familiar with how to structure it, I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and consuming other articles and posts. Look how they are structured, see how the writer brings you in when you read them, bookmark the ones that really stand out. My own writing process tends to begin with a ‘mind dump’ followed by me making sense of my words, re-ordering them and proofreading. I know of others who begin posts with a clearly written plan and structure, including pre-writing research, and take it from there. The best process is the one that works for you.
I would also advise not to be afraid to ask for help, if not with the words themselves then by asking a friend or colleague to critically read your article. In the early days of my blog writing, I was fortunate to be accepted to write for an online blogzine, Selfish Mother. I joined them at a time when they were in the early phase of growing their writer base significantly and I was very lucky to have my first posts submitted to and edited by the Founder, Molly Gunn, who offered me really constructive, useful and insightful feedback that I have taken with me for future posts. Having somebody else, even if it is not somebody with writing experience themselves, to look at what you’ve written is invaluable.
My final piece of advice for any would-be content writer is to be yourself and enjoy what you’re writing. Words are wonderful and the opportunity to make them convey your message is a gift.