10 reasons to consider writing a blog, even if the thought of it makes you cringe

I was a late-onset blog writer.

Early on in my small business, my resistance to it was like a force of nature. I saw blogging as a self-indulgent thing reserved for those who:

a) were blindingly brilliant and thus had a lot to say,  (not it)
b) had an awful lot of time on their hands,  (not it)
c) loved the sound of their own voices. (not it)

In short, years ago, blogs seemed to fall into a couple of types for me: Long, rambling tomes by scholarly types, or short, newsy updates on “what I ate between dawn and dusk today.” Ick.

Things have changed a lot since then, of course.

I think it was Seth Godin that eventually changed my mind. He’s been blogging for a long time and has a gazillion followers now. It was through him I discovered the concept of the bite-sized blog post that’s still thoughtful and useful. Checking out his blog – even just a topline view of it – will show you the variety of shapes, sizes & textures blogging can take (https://seths.blog/).

I don’t write on my blog anywhere near as often as I’d like (a situation I’m trying to remedy), not here and not on my personal/coaching site https://margaretrode.com/blog. But despite that negligence, I’ve not just become a convert to this kind of sharing, I also highly recommend blogging to anyone who has a business website and wants it to succeed. Below are some reasons to consider.

First: You don’t have to call it a blog. And maybe you shouldn’t.

To many in my tribe, even the word “blog” is uncomfortable and geeky. It’s not even fun to say (it sounds like “blah”). But being able to regularly share a bit of yourself with faraway people and benefit from that connection? Not geeky. For those who just bristle at the word itself, don’t use it. There’s also Articles and Writings and Notebook and tons of other possible names.

For now, I’ll just eliminate the word “blog” from the rest of this article and stay in the mindset of “sharing useful stuff online with people I want to help.” ‘Kay?

2) It’s neither hard nor expensive to set up.

For those of you who use WordPress or many DIY website builders, the capacity to write on your website, in the form of “Posts”, is already built in. You just, er, click “New Post” and start writing. If you want your writings to also be reachable through a click on your site’s menu, adding it there is generally easy-peasy as well.

3) You don’t have to write War and Peace.

Seriously, I think this was the hardest barrier for me to overcome. I had it in my thick skull that every time I sat down to add a post, I had to have a Big Idea. It had to be one that no living human had ever shared before. I had to lay in a thermos of coffee and a stack of Kind® bars because it was going to take hours to get my elaborate point across.

But although some long postings can be great (helpful for search engine rankings for example), a mix of long, kinda long, short, and super-short keeps both you AND your readers interested. I’ve stopped reading the online writings of some folks because I simply didn’t have time to read 5000 words today, thankyouverymuch. Mix it up.

4) It isn’t just you talking about yourself, or creating elaborate research papers, or being a genius all the time.

It can also be any or all of the following, super-short or comfortably long, your choice:—Popping out to share a short piece of news you just found that’s relevant to your unique audience
—A new tool or technique that you just discovered helps your productivity or peace of mind
—Something you just read that angered/inspired you as a businessperson
—A success story from one of your clients or partners
—An event that just happened that changed how you think about something
—A new idea you’ve just started to hatch
—A photo of where you do your work
—A little video or audio or TED talk you found (or made, or were in)
—A piece of poetry or prose that would soothe or inspire your ideal audience member
—An upcoming class, workshop, webinar, book reading, anything experiential and interesting

…and so much more. If you need a stack of ideas, let me know or have a look at this session.

5) You get a chance to show you’re good at what you do, and to help them feel comfortable connecting with you.

Making regular additions to your website by writing and sharing is a way your clients, prospects, customers, and donors can get to know you as a human being. They learn what you know, who you are inside, what’s important to you, what you notice.

This is one way new people can determine that you’re worth the risk of contacting you or giving your product/service/cause a second look.

6) It will make web search engines love you more.

People are looking for you on the web, even if most of your work happens to come via word-of-mouth. Writing something substantial even semi-regularly (once every couple of weeks) can please the Google gods in several ways. There’s a lot of goopy science behind this, but here’s a squooshed view:

Search engines detest abandoned/neglected websites cluttering up the data landscape, and will ding you (meaning: no one will find you) if yours is rarely updated. Publishing something regularly is a relatively painless and free way to keep your website out of that trap.

Search engines also prefer sites that are substantial, with lots of pages bearing the keywords and phrases pertinent to the work you offer. Posts you create are basically more and more pages…and that’s good.

Search engines like to see people come to your website and stay a while, versus quickly ducking in and leaving. Giving them something juicy to read helps keep them interested and staying put.

If you write things that people share with others, and/or link to from their OWN websites, that gives you even more brownie points.

7) It will help bring you new website visitors, clients, fans, and supporters.

When you write and publish something on your website, you can easily share that same material on social media. Often it’s as simple as copying the URL (web address) of your post and pasting it into your social media.

More pages, more exposure on the web, more of your words showing up on social media with links back to you… It all adds up to more people being exposed to you and to your work. And, most important, coming to you to learn more.

8) It will give you a space to have a conversation with your Your People.

When you look at your website, does it have any place where people can have a two-way conversation with you? Posting new writings on your website gives you the ability to accept comments (which you would pre-approve via email). These comments can form a conversation, something that everyone can learn from. Suddenly your website is a gathering place for people you’re hoping to get to know and work with.

9) It creates a place to gather, shape, and store important ideas.

Every day we come across things that, as they pass through our consciousness, make us think “I’d love to share that with my clients—they’d get so much out of it.”

And then…it’s gone. Replaced in your short-term memory by something more pressing. Or stuffed in a computer file and buried. Or torn out and filed in a folder, where it stays for months or years until it’s no longer relevant.

Having a space for writing on your website becomes a repository for all of those helpful, meaningful things, which you can quickly share with the world. (You can even publish them to your website via email.)

10) It helps you continue crafting what you offer the world.

A regular writing/sharing practice helps you write (and share) what matters most to you AND to the people you’re trying to help.

In terms of cultivating good ideas for new ways to help my audience, nothing has helped me more than writing regularly. Nothing.

The great poet Mark Doty, when asked why he writes, responded that “…it is the way I know what I think and feel.” (so true.)  And in his Intro to Authentic Business workshop, coach George Kao has also said, “Every time you write an article, you discover more about yourself, you know something else about your mission, what you’re really about. You discover yourself as you communicate, as you express, as you create.”

I could not express it any better than those two have. Regular writing and sharing has its own peculiar and powerful magic.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

So, there you have it. Writing a blog probably not make or break your small business, but it has so many benefits that it seems a shame not to at least give it a try. You may be very surprised at what you find.

If you need help getting started, or if you have a blog that’s languishing and you’d like to breathe some life into it, contact me for a chat or check out this fun and bite-sized blog-building session I offer.

Go forth and multiply those words!  🙂


How to prepare for a Zoom/video meeting so you’re not pulling your hair out

Many of my people either already use Zoom—the groovy online tool that lets you do video conferencing on the web—or a similar service like Skype or GoToMeeting. They give people like us the ability to hold meetings with faraway clients, as well as offer workshops, classes, coaching sessions, group meetings, and any number of other business-building offerings. I previously wrote about business-building ways you can use Zoom, currently my method of choice.

Using any of these services requires “bandwidth” —a good internet signal. They’re sending a lot of bits and bytes over your internet connection, whatever it might be. Just keep that in mind if you are sharing your internet signal with Netflix, mobile phone(s), tablets or Kindles, an online-gaming teenager, a neighbor stealing your signal, and more.

If your computer is using a wireless signal and sharing that with all of those things, your video connection can be very choppy, with lots of freezes and hiccups. Super-frustrating, especially if you’re doing coaching, a workshop, or other services that people expect to be smooth and problem-free.

Also, if you’re a person who habitually has lots of software applications and documents open at all times, this too may work against you as Zoom competes with all of them for memory.

For the record, here are some things I do when I’m about to go on a Zoom call/conference, or hold one:

30 minutes before:  I turn off the power to my wireless router, wait 20 seconds, and power it back up. These devices often have software updates that take place when you “cycle” it like this, and it gives your router’s brain a refresh.

30 minutes before: I restart my computer or laptop completely. This can clear out memory caches, stuck software, and other stored stuff that might interfere with my computer’s memory or signal.

15 minutes before:
I walk around and do the following:
Turn off my wireless printer.
Turn off my iPad, Kindle, and my husband’s laptop  🙂
Turn off the TV and leave it off.
Put my mobile phone on airplane mode. If I need to make a call (say, if my meeting attendee doesn’t show up) I can.
Make sure I know where my wired headset is. (I have a noisy Mac, so a headset is essential…and a wired headset doesn’t need any signals)
Test my video and audio on my computer by going to Zoom and trying them both out
Turn off ALL OTHER APPLICATIONS that I’m not using.
Pause things that might decide to auto-update while I’m talking, such as Dropbox synching, system backups, and virus protection updates

5 minutes before: (these are the non-tech things that are just nice)
Pour a glass of water
Hang a “do not disturb” sign on my doorbell, front door, office door, and have a chat with my dog, Gordon, about barking 🙂
Review my notes and make sure I have something to write with, and on.

1 minute before:
Breathe deeply, and remember how lucky we are to work for ourselves, bringing our best energies and talents into the world to do something great.

Enjoy your trouble-free Zoom session!

Panic is purely elective: Bringing your site back from a WordPress 5 update

If your WordPress-based website auto-updated to the new version of WordPress before you were ready, give this simple trick a try before you panic. I’m referring to WordPress 5, which I talk about a bit in this post.

In many cases, there’s nothing at all wrong. It’s just that you’re viewing the site through the “block editor” in the new software, and some WordPress sites and themes just still spit up hairballs.

If your website person is asking for hundreds or thousands to put it right, consider doing this little trick first to see if you can return things to normal. (It may still be that things have gone wrong, but at least you can try a two-minute trick before going down that road.)

And of course, you can always contact me for a non-geeky, plain English, calming & comfortable conversation about it any time.