When you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner, you’d best invest in a hatstand because you’re going to be wearing many hats. One of those hats (in my view, the most important) is that of Chief Content Creator. And wearing the battered, ill-fitting hat of Chief Content Creator often brings with it a paralysing fear of writing your own web content.
You’re not alone. Being afraid to write your own website content is a natural response to feeling out of your depth.
The first step to overcoming the fear of creating your own online content is to identify what’s holding you back. Let’s look at some common obstacles that may be causing you fear or chronic procrastination, plus four simple strategies to get past that fear and start writing your website content in your own authentic voice.
1. Fear: Not having a strong or authentic writing voice
When you haven’t had much experience writing for the web, feeling scared can hamper your natural voice. The internet is an intimidating place. You know how important strong content is for your business and your ability to attract website traffic. So you’re putting pressure on yourself to Get It Right. It’s no wonder you’re feeling scared.
And that fear is robbing your writing of personality. You’ve identified your most important content: Home Page, About Page, Services/Products/Work With Me – whatever best suits your venture. But you feel like you’re copying everyone else and you’re wondering how the hell you will ever stand out in the crowd when your content feels about as lively as warm snails.
Write your draft content in an email. Whether you send it to a friend for feedback or just to yourself, write the email with one particular person in mind. This person should be your ideal target persona – wherever possible, someone real instead of a fictional “avatar”. Just think of a person in your sphere who you know would be a perfect fit to work with you.
Maybe it’s a client you’ve already worked for, and the relationship was blissful on both ends. Maybe it’s someone influential in your niche, and you’ve fantasised about getting on their radar. Think of the qualities that make them someone you’d love to work with (or work with again), and picture them as you write. Address them by name as you write content that you think will be valuable and useful for that specific individual.
Once you’ve sent it and reviewed it, copy and paste it to your blog. Tweak. Publish. Done.
Writing your draft content in email form achieves two things:
- It allows you to get into the mindset of addressing one person in all your web content. Don’t talk about “my clients” or “all you guys out there”, talk to “you” directly. This gives your content personality and intimacy.
- It removes you from the context of your website. It allows you to disconnect from the idea that you’re writing something to be published on the big scary world wide web. Often, there is a degree of performance anxiety that can freeze you up when you are popping content right into the back end of your website, knowing that it will soon be live and subject to scrutiny (and maybe judgement). But how much more free do you feel when you are simply shooting off an email to a friend? Making that contextual switch is subtle, but it can be powerful.
2. Fear: Not being at home with the written word
If you’ve long held a strong preference for speaking instead of writing, then it may be counterproductive to try to force yourself to communicate through written text. That’s totally ok! If you’re a verbal communicator, rather than work against it, adjust your methods to maximise your strengths.
Signs that you’re a verbal communicator include:
- You are fond of recording notes and ideas in a voice recorder (easily done with a smartphone)
- You enjoy long phone calls with friends and family
- You can happily speak for long periods at a time without a break (for example, you enjoy podcasting or public speaking)
- You’re at home with making video for your website or social media that shows your face or at least features your voice
- You’re often described as “chatty” or “bubbly”.
Nurture the quality of being a verbal communicator by dictating your web content into a voice recorder. Most smartphones come with a simple recording device built in, or you may want to look into a neat little app to help you out.
Here is a list of 10 awesome voice recorder apps for iPhones
You can either talk your content with a friend present so that it feels like a natural conversation, or do it alone if you’re shy. Describe your product, service or information in your usual casual voice and tone, then transcribe it to text and bash it into shape. This is a great way to lay claim to your authentic voice without feeling stunted by a medium that feels unnatural to you.
The other option? Skip the written blog post altogether and opt for video. Video is a powerful format for communicating online, so if you prefer it over written text, capitalise on that! It’s an advantage.
3. Fear: Being chained to your desk
Writing your own content of course brings with it a time and creativity commitment. Starting your own business was meant to bring you a freedom lifestyle, right? Less time online, more time in the sun?
Being stuck online in front of a computer is not ideal, neither for work/life balance nor creativity. The extra demand on time is often what drives solopreneurs to seek the support of a professional writer in the first place. I get it.
For bootstrapping wellness entrepreneurs and lean startups, outsourcing content creation is not always viable. When you hire a writer to create your content from scratch, you don’t just invest in the time they take to literally sit down and write your words. If your content professional knows what they are doing, they will take the time to understand your business and brand, content aims, tone of voice and many other things. Their aim is to design words that convey the message you’re sending out into the world, in a voice that is especially crafted for your brand. This all takes time and it’s part of the fee you will need to factor in.
But guess who’s in the best position to craft that unique voice? YOU.
So the bad news is that writing your own web content will be a time investment on your part. The good news is that many, many writers and editors – myself included – don’t have great ideas at their desk in front of their computer. That confounded blinking cursor and colourful buttons and beckoning tabs and PRETTY BRIGHT LIGHTS are actually distractions for content writing. Sitting in front of your computer waiting for inspiration to strike is like blowing on a toothpick and hoping to ignite a bonfire.
The good news is that it’s beneficial to your writing to get offline. Head to a cafe with a good old notepad and pen, order a giant mug of coconut cacao latte or an icy tumbler of kale and cucumber juice (or hell, live a little – sauv blanc – organic of course) and let loose. If you live near the ocean, take your voice recorder app to your favourite cliff and speak those pages out over the wide wild waves! Go for a walk, head to the library… whatever it takes to get offline and away from your desk. Then when it comes time to actually write and publish, you’ll be refreshed and good to go.
4. Fear: Not being perfect
Aspirations of perfection can be stifling. You’re worried that your lack of experience in writing for the web could be the undoing of all your hard work on your brand. You know you’ve got the skills for your natural health business and you know you have a huge amount of value to share, but what if your content lets you down? What if it makes you look silly or inadequate?
As a perfectionist myself, I get it. I have some reminders that I turn to when I realise I am suffering analysis paralysis:Action Trumps Perfection #entrepreneur #contentwriting #productivity Click To Tweet Done is better than perfect #entrepreneur #contentwriting #productivity Click To Tweet Become comfortable with being uncomfortable #entrepreneur #contentwriting #productivity Click To Tweet
As an entrepreneur, you need to act quickly. Get that stuff out there. If and when it needs to change, change it. But first, send it into the world – then refine, iterate, test, edit, whatever you need to do to make it shine. Don’t allow your fears to cause stagnation, because the one thing that’s worse than bad content is no content.
Solution: Productivity hacks
Procrastination caused by perfectionist tendencies is best addressed by the Michelle Bridges school of thought: JFDI (JUST FUCKING DO IT!) The hardest thing is getting started. I find this to be true about 99.87% of the time. Once you start, the flow often follows.
There are lots of different ways to “trick” yourself into getting started. Here are a couple of my favourites:
- Commit to 15 minutes: Sit down to write and set a 15-minute timer. Have your materials ready, whether that’s your laptop, pen and paper or voice recorder. Get your butt in the chair and just sit in front of those materials. You’re not allowed to move for 15 minutes. Try to write. If the timer goes off and you are genuinely not feeling it, you can put it off for another time – this is just not your moment, and that’s ok. If you’re in the zone and starting to flow, go with it!
- The Pomodoro Technique: In this technique, you work in 25-minute spurts (timed) and after each spurt you have a 5-minute non-negotiable break. You must take your break even if you’re mid-sentence. This is based on the theory that our brains can work at high capacity for around 25 minutes at a time before becoming fatigued. You can use an online pomodoro timer, or set a series of timers on your smartphone.
For many more productivity tips and techniques, visit A Life of Productivity… unless you’re heading there to procrastinate, in which case GET WRITING!
There’s no one-size-fits-all hat for Chief Content Writer. The trick is to squeeze your head in until the damn thing fits. It might feel awkward at first, but over time the fabric will stretch and you won’t even know you’re wearing it. (Or the shape of your head might change. Whatever.)
Once you get past the fear of writing your own web content, copy editing will take your content to the next level. All the fears you feel about your writing not quite hitting the mark will fly out the window once your work has been professionally transformed. Making a start in your own voice is vital to your business growth when you’re a solopreneur, because you’re the unique selling point in your biz. It’s YOU that sets you apart. It’s YOUR voice your audience wants to hear. Perfection comes second.
Want me to copy edit your content? Contact me for specialist textual healing.
Cheat Sheet: How healthy is your content?
Grab a copy of The Content Health Check – a detailed cheat sheet for women wellness entrepreneurs. In just 15 minutes, this robust checklist will check the vital signs of your website, social media, mailing list, content calendar and more. Tick off your triumphs and know where you need help...and where to find it!