Your first attempt at writing content for your blog can feel like an uphill battle. Your to-do list seems long and your not sure how you’ll ever get through it all.
Now, you may not be a writer by trade but I feel that considering the task ahead of you, a bit of writing advice may be in order. This bit of advice comes from writer Anne Lamott and it is one of the most helpful pieces of advice I have ever read about the craft of writing.
In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott told us (the readers) a story about her little brother who, like most little brothers, waited until the last minute to write his report on birds. Her father’s sage advice to her brother for the situation at hand was “just take it bird by bird”.
Anne Lamott relays this allegory as writing advice to all of us. When we’re are faced with what we feel is a daunting writing task we can get through it, nothing is insurmountable, all we have to do is take it “bird by bird” and trust the process.
Taking it one step at a time is great advice, but what is the first step?
Choose The Best Content
The first step to writing a blog post is to choose the best content for your site. When you’re looking to build your therapy or coaching business, your end game is to build a community of fans, followers and potential clients. In order to accomplish that you must establish yourself as an expert in your field.
As a therapist or coach, you are most certainly familiar with common issues that your readers may struggle with. Don’t be afraid to use that as topics for your blog posts. Find the questions that they are asking and give them the answers, doing so positions you as the resource that they need and they will come back time and again, for more answers.
When you are brainstorming new ideas for blog posts, the overarching theme should be providing value to the reader.
Write for your audience
Once you figure out what your blog post topics are, then you can begin the process of writing. To this point, it’s critical to know your niche and what your core clients are seeking online. Focus your blog posts on your reader and their problems. You cannot and you must not write for yourself.
Just like we talked about in our post about why you should be blogging you have a few goals here. You want to increase your visibility, you want more site traffic, and you want to build your business. The truth is you can’t accomplish any of those things if you don’t speak to your audience in a way that they understand while offering them solutions to their problems.
A great blog post will not only give your reader answers and solutions to their problems it will also inspire them to take action and actually act on the information they just read.
Once you get the attention of your reader, reading your blog post should not be taxing. You want to write in a way that comes naturally, in the blogosphere that is referred to as conversational style.
Essentially, your blog post should be read as though you are talking to a friend. The tone and flow should be natural, closer to speech patterns than dissertations. You want to avoid coming across as uptight or preachy because those are the two quickest ways to make the readers lose interest and click off your page.
As a professional communicator, you have more skills in this department than you may know. Review the post above on conversational style for a detailed list on how to transform your articles from stodgy and overly academic to relatable and inviting for clients.
Also, bear in mind that the average reading level for most readers on your site is a 7th or 8th-grade level, according to Wikipedia. Given that, it’s important to keep your paragraphs and sentences short.
Ideally, for a blog post, your paragraphs should be 4 sentences or less. This allows your readers to follow your discussion easily and read all the way to the end.
By keeping your writing simple you have a better shot at engaging readers in your words while also teaching about the areas and topics covered in your article.
As A Rule, Limit Your Jargon Or Professional Terms
One of the most important notes for any professional is to limit your jargon or academic terms unless you define them for your readers. When your writing is simpler, it’s easier for people who are not professionally trained to connect to your points.
Consider this example: if you write an article about “how to stop obsessing about an ex”, you will reach many more people if you use language like “obsessive thinking” versus “ruminating”. The words are very close in meaning, one could argue they are almost the same, and successfully convey the same thing.
One is a more technical term that is used in clinical diagnosis or work, whereas the other is less clinical and more commonly used.
The punch line here is to avoid using too many technical terms that your reader won’t understand or relate to. Being relatable is a requirement for building brand trust. When done right, your readers will learn your opinions are ones to be valued and trusted.
Inject some personality
In addition to employing the best practices of conversational style, it’s wise to inject some personality into your blog posts as well. Remember that your goal is to build a community of loyal readers. People can’t make a connection with you if they perceive you as unrelatable or uptight.
That doesn’t mean you have to share personal stories or client stories, those can be reserved for the “right moment” or not done at all. Personality is really more about your point of view.
Consider your personal approach to the work you do:
- What makes you unique amongst your peers?
- What do you offer to clients that few other people do?
- It could be language, a deeper connection between your treatment approach + your view of the world.
- Maybe you serve a specific population and they have a particular set of challenges.
How you approach those issues make up your unique point of view. By leveraging that personality in your word choices plus the topics you choose to write on, you teach readers more about why you’re the best person for them to hire for the real work they need to do.
Make It Visually Appealing
To understand that we live in the age of a visual culture you don’t have to look far. The first things that come to mind are Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram is basically a visual news feed, and Pinterest positions itself as a visual search engine.
The truth is photos are the key to engagement. In fact, articles with photos get 94% more total views. I think that’s pretty convincing.
The good news is you do not have to have a degree in photography or photojournalism to accomplish this feat. With stock photo sites at our disposal, adding photos to your blog posts couldn’t be easier. The photos on these sites are curated especially for users like you and me. It takes the worry out of copyright violations, payments and I might add that all of these sites are pretty user-friendly.
Some of the best sites for finding photos for your blog are:
While photos are a great way of adding visual interest to your blog posts, they can also serve another important purpose.
Avoid Walls Of Text
One of the greatest faux pas’s of writing is the dreaded wall of text or super long paragraphs. Now, walls of text are expected when it comes to term papers and medical journals. But, when it comes to the internet and reading on your smartphone (which most people do) walls of text are a big no-no.
When you fail to break up the text in your post you force the reader to work harder and dig through the information. Nobody wants to read a wall of text, not even you. The end result is that your reader will click out of your page and find another article that’s easier to read. It’s that simple.
Photos are a great way to break up the text in your blog post and honestly, simply putting an extra space between paragraphs works pretty well too.
One of the best things you can do to grab your reader’s attention is to create clickable headlines. Powerful headlines can attract a large number of visitors to your blog, whereas lackluster headlines are almost a guarantee of fewer clicks if you get any at all.
A good blog post is about one (and only one) topic. And a good headline piques the reader’s curiosity and grabs their attention.
Think of the tabloid headlines in the supermarket checkout lines. Admit it, sometimes you just want to grab one and read it. Why? Because the headlines are written with you in mind. They’re written to grab your attention and more often than not they succeed. Now, you may not pick up the tabloid and read it, but you will wonder which celebrity is hiding an alien baby.
That said, avoid what’s called “click-bait”, which is a fancy way of saying your headline is misleading or doesn’t truly represent what’s in the article. Great headlines always deliver on their promise.
Google search results
An important thing to note about your blog post titles is their relationship to Google search. A good title is important because it gives the reader an idea of the content in the post. But perhaps, more importantly, it lets them know quickly whether it’s relevant to their search.
The headline of your blog post is the gateway to getting readers to your website. In it, you want to use language that your readers use to describe the issue at hand. Again, avoiding jargon is important here, you really want to think like your readers.
Emotional language also helps. If your topic references something sensitive or feeling-oriented, what language is used to discuss those emotions? You’re not trying to be dramatic, but really nail the language that matches how clients feel. And who better to speak the language of feelings than healers.
In this case, you are likely very skilled and capable of being clear and direct, aligning with your client’s feelings and helping to draw them into your post.
Remember the concept of WIIFM, or “What’s In It For Me” from Economics 101? Well, this applies to your website content. When creating your headlines or titles, take care to create ones that show your readers why they should be reading it.
A good headline shows the reader exactly what’s in it for them and doesn’t waste time inflating the topic or embellishing the points to make it more than it really is.
Again, this is about trust. If you want people to value your work, you need to give it to them straight and in their language. That’s how you build relationships that are real.
One concern you may have with blogging is your typing skills. Let’s be clear, you do not need to type 50 words per minute to be successful at blogging. Would that speed things up? Sure, it would, but by no means should it be a deal breaker.
Lackluster typing skills may slow you down a bit but there may be an alternative, one that kills two birds with one stone.
When you think about it, as a therapist or coach you spend a great deal of your professional life talking. For that reason, you may feel more comfortable talking versus typing. This is where technology comes in.
You can use your smartphone to dictate your blog posts.
With just the press of two buttons, you can quickly compose a blog post. The easiest way I have found to do this is to use the notes app or google docs. In my experience, the notes app is a bit “smoother” when it comes to dictation.
Simply open up the notes app on your phone, place your cursor where you would start typing, but instead click the microphone icon on your keyboard and start talking. The same goes for Google docs, open a document, set your cursor and click the microphone icon. It’s that easy.
Not only will you be able to type faster than you can talk, but you get the added benefit of having a conversational style built right in.
Editing & Edit Tools
Once your article is written, either by typing or talking, you have to edit the post. Editing is one of those skills that when done right, turns an essay into a masterpiece. When done wrong, your content appears amateurish and lacking the professional polish you exude in the rest of your work.
Self-editing is a skill every writer needs to learn. We’ve covered that extensively and you can brush up on those skills here.
You can also make editing a little easier with a tool or two. Our favorite is Grammarly.
Grammarly is a free extension for your web browser (ask us if you’re not sure how to install it) and it is far and away one of the best tools you can use to help you write a better blog post. Grammarly helps you eliminate grammar mistakes that you might have missed, improve your word choice, avoid overuse of passive voice and helps you keep count of the words used in your post.
To sum it all up, the thought of blogging shouldn’t make you feel defeated. As an entrepreneur looking to grow your practice, it’s important to look at it as another tool for building your business. Marketing is critical for finding clients who need your service. Blogging allows you to own your brand and make your mark on the world by sharing your advice, insights, and tips with clients looking to hire someone just like you.
Our advice, start now. The sooner you do, the sooner you reap the rewards. Not sure how it all works? Read up on our case studies for practical insights into what blogging can actually do for a healing business.
And if you need help, ASK. We’re just a form away and with a track record of helping hundreds of private clients, we can help you too.