In my final year of high school, I used to swap weekly letters with one of my best friends. These letter were epic, they would run to about 10 A4 double-sided pages. I have no idea what on earth we had to say to each other that took up so much time, energy and English language (unfortunately, in the intervening years, I’ve lost all those letters). I also can’t remember the real motivation behind why we did it, but I suspect it was a simple as the fact that we both just liked writing.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I find myself sitting in bar, genuinely and honestly telling other people about how much I don’t enjoy writing. That it’s not something I’m good at, or inclined to do.
This is the story that I’ve been telling myself for a couple of years now. It’s the story about how as a person involved in producing visual content, that stringing words together isn’t something I enjoy doing.
It’s a pretty unconvincing story to my own ears, and now I’m telling this story to other people?
Why is business blogging so damn hard?
Writing blog posts for my business is often the last thing I want to be doing, any time of any day. I’ve even created a fun anxiety response in myself whenever I think about having to sit down and write something.
The hilarious irony in all of this, is that writing is actually something that I’ve always done. I won’t embarrass myself by linking to any of them, but there are a number of blogs sprinkled around the internet which are filled with my writing. I’ve got piles of handwritten journals, diaries, attempted short stories, all sorts of stuff. I’m not claiming any of it is any good, or that I’m a great writer.
And yet, somewhere in the last few years, I started believing that I don’t like writing. And so I’ve stopped writing at all.
The problem isn’t that I don’t like writing. What I don’t like doing is ‘content marketing’.
‘Content Marketing’ vs ‘Writing’
We are told that our job when writing our blogs is to be authoritative, and knowledgeable in our niche. To write for our audience while sharing information, showing our expertise, giving useful information and yet remaining personable and (ideally) a little bit funny. All while remaining authentic.
Couldn’t be easier, right?
Is it just me, or does the whole concept of content marketing feel contrived? There are so many boxes to be ticked, rules to be followed, gurus to emulate. We’re awash in endless blog posts talking about the same things, with similar themes being rehashed over and over.
It’s overwhelming and underwhelming all at the same time. The honest truth is that I have not been able to find a way to be authentic, not while obeying all these ‘rules’.
So I shut down, shut up, and just stopped.
Is it a choice between ‘writing’ and ‘content marketing’. I’ve got no idea. Am I making a distinction that even exists?
I have been trying really hard to get on board the content marketing train, and while I manage to occasionally rustle something up, it’s nowhere near as consistent as it should be.
I sometimes wonder if it is worth doing, but the fact is that I do notice an upswing in enquiries and interaction when I do post something.
This is not a personal blog
I am aware of the difference between a business blog and personal blog, and so I know that this isn’t really the space to naval gaze and indulge myself too much.
I mean, this whole piece is breaking a fundamental rule, isn’t it? Look at all the pronouns about ‘me’ and ‘I’…there’s nothing in here for ‘you’.
I do think it’s worth exploring though. I know that I’m not alone in struggling with content marketing. We dress it up as not knowing how to write headlines, or struggling with what to write about, or focusing on the length of our sentences, breaking our paragraphs into digestible chunks, using great subtitles and getting the keyword density just right…(quick, take a breath).
Isn’t the fundamental block possibly something else?
Is it the inability to find our voice? The story that we tell ourselves about how we’re no good at this, or that we don’t even enjoy this, hiding behind a million excuses instead of working out what our truth really is?
My truth is that I’m an introspective over-thinker who (paradoxically?) likes to waffle on. This post is by far the most ‘authentic’ piece I’ve written on this website, and it’s little more than a long-winded piece of waffle. Content marketing? Not so much.
To show that I haven’t completed missed the point of the zillions of articles I’ve been reading over the past couple of years, I am going to do a follow up post to this one. I have been making some progress in this area, and so I thought it might be worth sharing some of the techniques I’ve been using. Because this blog isn’t just about me, it’s about sharing what I know and what I learn, because I am keeping – you – my audience, in mind. Just like I’ve been told to.
I’d love to know what you think. Do you struggle with business blogging? Have you ever sat down to work out why? And if you’ve come up with any solutions, would you like to share?