Want to know the worst-kept secret in academia? University professors must either “publish or perish.”
It’s called brand building. In academic circles, it’s essential to advance your career and keep your job.
For sales professionals, while not a job requirement, individual brand building is a crucial component of career success.
Much like college professors seeking placements in professional publications, perhaps the easiest route for sales pros to establish themselves as industry thought leaders is through blogging.
The writing process instills feelings of fear and dread in many sales professionals, especially those emotionally scarred by traumatic sentence diagram experiences when younger. (OK, maybe that’s just me.)
Fear not, burgeoning bloggers, because what therapy or hypnotism cannot treat, these simple tips detailing how to write a blog when you are not a professional blogger can cure your content creation/writing woes.
It’s easiest to write about subjects and topics that you know intimately. However, you will still need to dedicate time to performing research and honing your craft. Familiarity with subject matter is not a shortcut, but it reduces your overall time commitment, and more importantly, the perception that blogging is difficult. We all want to work smarter, not harder.
Know Thy Audience
When choosing a topic for your blog post, always consider your audience. Are you writing to educate prospective buyers and hot prospects? Current clients? Both? If you really want to write about your inner thoughts and dreams, I recommend starting a journal – and keeping it private. Finally, ask yourself one fundamental question before writing: “Why should your buyer care?” If you cannot easily answer this question, select another subject.
Develop a Habit
Write every day. As you progress through the writing process, much like working out, or playing a musical instrument, or dieting, or anything that requires discipline, you begin to train your mind (and body) for blogging. And it becomes easier. Start with one day of the week, every Tuesday, for example, and slowly build your routine. If that’s too daunting, begin with twice a month, but always write during the same day and time. To ensure success, schedule your blogging time in your calendar as a regular appointment. And limit your distractions – turn off your email, cell phone, etc. Be great – don’t procrastinate.
Avoid the Blank Page (Outline/Answer Questions)
The blank page (screen) causes anxiety in mind of the novice blogger. This oft-paralyzing condition is also known as “writer’s block,” a term that describes an inability to write. I don’t subscribe to this theory. We’ve all been writing since kindergarten (albeit crudely-formed block letters), and a belief that you cannot perform a repetitive task is simply an excuse. Yes, writing is a creative process, but so is cake-decorating, and I haven’t heard of “cake-decorating block,” have you?
Think back to your expository writing classes in school (block out the sentence diagramming horrors…breathe) and recall that an outline is the writer’s best friend. An outline helps to organize your thoughts. Start with a simple outline – Roman numerals and subheadings are completely unnecessary – one sentence introduction, three bullet points, one sentence conclusion. Boom. Your blog post is effectively complete; you just need to fill in the details. Because your framework already exists, your mind (and keystrokes) will work faster.
Another technique to harness the advantage of speed is email. You write emails all day. I can write a 500 word email in minutes, whereas a 500 word blog post, by comparison, takes significantly longer. Why? Because you are usually answering questions in an email.
Turn your blog posts into questions. Analogous to an outline, answer five questions. What is the topic? What do you want to learn? What should I tell the reader?, etc. Put those questions in a row. Be specific. Then, write the answers. Use an email template to compose the blog post, it’s convenient and familiar. You will find that your mind will naturally relax and your blogging productivity will significantly increase.