This was written for Endeavour and published in the Northern Newsletter.
I started blogging with a just-for-fun WordPress site and wrote about adventures that I had been on with my touring bike. Getting the first ten posts completed was really easy as the ideas for them were already in my head!
A friend of mine has a daughter who had written a blog as a final year option for her Degree in Journalism instead of a dissertation. She told me that some people from her course had gained offers of work as a direct result. I thought that blogging would be a great idea for many reasons, mostly to hone my skills, demonstrate my style and create a portfolio of articles.
Like journaling, blogging and writing in general are cathartic. Also the more you write, the better you get at it. I’m not an expert yet… I’m learning and enjoying the journey. I’m also getting braver at sharing my brand stories: why I chose to leave teaching to strike out as an solopreneur, how I feel about some of the pressures I’ve had to deal with. https://slow-cycle.com/2018/12/04/on-work-related-stress-teachers-can-knit-fog-and-plait-sawdust-until-they-cant/ The braver I’ve been, the more profound the reaction and engagement has been in response.
Ideally blogging is an extended conversation between friends. A favourite guest post on my blog featured the inspirational woman who first got me involved in cycle touring across France (when I was getting divorced and at a cross-road in my life). And this is what I want my business to do: to celebrate the successes and journeys of people who go out of their way to help others… Those who don’t always want to shout out or speak out for themselves but deserve recognition and thanks.
As human beings, we are hard-wired to love a good story. Stories shape our emotions and vice versa. We use them to define ourselves, to justify or explain our existence, the things we do, value and believe. Put simply: we define our stories and our stories define us.
Despite this, (or perhaps because of this) many of us find telling our own story difficult. Especially when we focus too closely on irrelevant details. Up close, it becomes almost impossible to find the central thread and make a coherent shape out of the complexities. Counter-intuitively, we need to zoom out and lose our personal perspective, to put ourselves on the outside of our story and look in.
This problem is particularly difficult for sole-traders, when you are your business and you are your brand. More than anything else, you need to get your story straight. Simply telling your audience who you are is not enough: you need to SHOW them. Your story must resonate on an emotional level, communicating your good value for them, your passion for quality and desire to meet their needs.
How we fail, and triumph, determines our journey and there’s always room for improvement. In the same way, it doesn’t matter if you’re struggling or have struggled, success is not the key here. The key is reflection, a sense that you are learning. You also need to leave your reader with a keen sense of hope and resolution…that you’ve reached a sustainable and useful solution that’s worthy of emotional investment.
I write stories for businesses, charities, individuals and projects. This involves listening to the little people who are not really little at all: they are giants fighting lots of difficult forces to keep their lives on track working for a better future.
How the process works:
- Listening over the telephone or Zoom meeting.
- Collaborative writing.
- Editing, editing and editing.
- Clients get their copy by email.
To help you get started, here are a few questions:
- Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
- What topics do you think you’ll write about?
- Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
- If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.
Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.
When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.
The next post goes here. What do YOU want to know?