Do you struggle with writing captivating content in a timely manner?
I recently asked my Instagram community to share what they struggle with most when it comes to writing. The challenges they shared were all too common and ones I witness business owners fighting every day.
One day the struggle is not being able to think of anything to write, other days it’s spending way too much time editing. Some of these struggles, especially when experienced over and over again, make us feel like writing content isn’t worth it. But it is.
No matter if you’re writing content for a blog post, website, proposal, or Instagram, there is no question - writing can be hard.
Think about your writing process as you read through this blog post. I’m sure you’ve discovered a few strategies that work well for you, but are there ways you could be tackling these struggles more efficiently?
Here are 5 of the most common struggles I see (and you shared!) and a few tricks for beating them.
1. Struggle: Thinking of a relevant topic
Writing the actual content for your blog is tough enough, but sometimes, the hardest part is thinking of a topic!
Between waiting until the day before your post is supposed to be published and the importance of relating to your audience, you may find yourself stuck in a rut. Sure, there is an abundance of topics you COULD cover, but figuring out which one to focus on in the moment is harder than it seems. Here are a few ways to beat this struggle:
Plan topics a month in advance
When it comes to blogging, having an ongoing list of potential topics will help you avoid feeling like you have nothing to say. Better yet, pick topics ahead of time and put them on your content calendar! That way you don’t have to decide last minute.
Ideas can come at any time or place during the day. Keep a running list on your phone or use a tool like Trello to keep track of these ideas.
By having a plan, you can dive right into writing as soon as you grab that pen and paper or flip open your laptop. It’s amazing how much time we can waste staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen while trying to pick what to write about. Avoid this altogether by having your list ready to go.
Ask questions on social media
Many of us are in the same boat when it comes to what we struggle with. Thus why asking questions on social media can be so helpful.
I try to ask my followers a question on almost every Instagram post. That way, I get first-hand feedback! Do this with your followers to see what kind of content they are interested in. Not only will give you topic ideas, but it will boost engagement too! Notice that a post is doing particularly well? Make a note of it and follow up with a blog post!
Write posts based on FAQs
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that most of my potential customers have the same questions when they are getting started with content writing. This is probably true for most businesses. Make a list of frequently asked questions and generate content that answers them!
2. Struggle: Coming up with a catchy title
What makes people hit the pause button on their busy day to read a blog post? An attention-grabbing title. Many times, coming up with a show-stopping headline is easier said than done. Here are three ways to create catchy titles.
Include action-inspired words
Words are powerful. Well, they can be. The title of your blog post is what comes up first in a Google search and is the first thing people will read on your website and social media. So make a bold statement or an intriguing promise!
Use emotional and action words that capture attention, and ultimately, resonate with your audience. Action-inspired words include attract, create, or leverage. Also think about using phrases like, “how to” or “you need.” Tap on their emotions by appealing to their fear of missing out or make a promise to give them info that will make their lives easier.
Begin with a working title
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a flawless title, start with a working title. Hubspot explains this as somewhat of a guide to help you create a blog post. Starting with a working title gives you something to build off of when writing. Then, once your post is finished, you can refine your title. There is no reason your first title needs to be perfect. Most likely this won't be (or shouldn’t be) the one you end up using.
Use a headline analyzer
Headline analyzers are a helpful tool to give insight on keywords that will help your content flourish. Are your headlines and subheadings strong, engaging, and search-friendly? Use this headline analyzer to find out!
3. Struggle: Getting started writing
Motivating yourself to sit down and start writing can be tricky! Natural sunlight, a freshly-brewed cup of coffee, and good tunes is the formula I use! Whatever your ideal workspace looks like, put yourself in it. If you constantly put off writing and dread doing it, these tips are for you.
Create an outline
The brainstorming and outlining skills you learned back in school are extremely useful tools to dust off. Your outline can be as short and sweet, messy, or as detailed as you’d like.
Having the foundation and big ideas mapped out beforehand will make the actual content easier to curate. Anytime I am dreading writing a certain piece of content, I make myself write a quick outline. I only let myself spend 5-10 minutes on it, but that alone helps me feel organized and ready to go.
Write about things you love
When you choose to write about topics you are passionate about or can relate to, not only will you feel motivated and connected to what you’re writing, but your audience will soak it up too.
Seriously, what is the point in writing about something you don’t care about? That is when we find ourselves regurgitating information in a non-inspiring way. Ugh, no one wants to read that. I recently titled a list of blog topics “Things I ACTUALLY care about.” It helped me put things into perspective as a business owner!
Just do it!
Your first draft does not need to perfect. In fact, I won’t believe you if you say it is! Sometimes you just need to force your pencil to start scribbling down words or make your fingers begin pecking away at the keyboard. A blank page is scary, so the quicker you put words onto it, the better. You will refine the content during the editing process.
4. Struggle: Being too wordy
Do you ever worry that you are rambling on and on in your blog posts or that your content is losing its focus? (I do!) Sometimes you sit down, your fingers get to typing, and the next thing you know your blog is 2,000 words long! (Ahem… speaking from experience.) Check out these tips to make sure you're staying focused and concise.
I highly recommend reading your content aloud - even if you think you sound silly! Often, you will hear yourself reading and notice a sentence that doesn't make any sense or a paragraph that is super clunky. If you get tired or bored reading something aloud, take that as a sign that you need to shorten things up. You will also catch silly mistakes or small grammar issues.
Split content into short paragraphs
The shorter the paragraphs, the easier on the eyes!
Not to mention, shorter sentences and paragraphs tend to be easier to understand. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't add slightly more complex and longer sentences in there as well.
Imagine someone skimming your blog post to see how long it is. If they see huge long paragraphs, the likelihood that they will take the time to read it is slim.
Use bullet points and clear subheadings
As I just hinted at, make it easy for your readers to skim and pick out key points! After writing your first draft, don't be afraid to delete chunks of content or peel away everything but the most important concepts.
Let's be honest, many of us like to skim posts, but we will stop and read the subheadings and bulleted lists. If this is the only thing a reader takes away, you want to make sure that your headlines and bullets are focused, powerful, and clear!
5. Struggle: Spending hours editing
As vital as editing is, no one wants to spend hours editing. But sometimes, the perfectionist in us can’t help it. The truth is, it’s better to hit the publish button (even if you don’t think it is perfect) than to have five blog post stuck in draft form.
Technically, if there are a few mistakes here and there or you left a few things out, the world will not end. Making mistakes, learning, and growing is what blogging is all about. Not to mention, you can always go back and fix something if you need to. Here are three ways to speed up your editing process!
Find a quiet space
When it comes to writing and editing, we all work best in different environments. But if you find yourself struggling to focus while making edits, relocating to an area with little to no distractions will help. If you’re at home, close the door, give the kids to dad, and put the dog outside. If you are in a coffee shop, find a corner, put your headphones in, and hop to it!
Limit the times you proofread
Have you ever caught yourself reading through your content over and over again because you keep finding tiny changes or little things to add?
No matter how many times you read through your writing, you are bound to find something you feel needs to be fixed. After all, the process of editing technically could have no end.
To help with this, I try to limit myself to 2-3 read throughs. Instead of rushing through 6 rounds of editing, slow down and just do a focused edit once or twice!
Use a grammar checker
The English language can be confusing. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember all of the grammar rules I was taught in school!
Whether it’s a blog post, content for a website, or even something as simple as an email - I love using Grammarly! I don’t always accept all the corrections this online tool suggests, but it does help me catch detailed errors I overlooked during my editing process.
Writing can sometimes feel like a necessary evil. But the truth is, writing consistently for your business, including blogging, will serve you and your customers well. Try these tips and let us know what you think!
What are your favorite writing or editing hacks? Comment below!