Updated: May 10, 2021
Words, words, words. -Hamlet
Say "words" enough times and the word sounds weird. Unfamiliar. Like you've never heard it before. This is a phenomena called Jamais vu, the opposite of Deja vu.
Now apply this to writing. We all know how to read and write; texting, shooting off emails, making Facebook rants, these all seem second nature. But what happens when we sit down and try to write with intention? What happens all too often when we try to write our elevator pitch, website copy, About Me, blog posts, or our new book?
Rationally, you know how to write, you know good writing when you see it. But when you put pen to paper you are at an utter loss. Grammar? Out the window. Syntax? Falls through the cracks. Semantics? Don't know the meaning of the word.
Basically as soon as you think about writing, it becomes unfamiliar, awkward, and a momentous task to even put one word down.
For our 2nd week of April's theme of Business & Marketing, Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.L.C), unknowingly open a can of worms on the topic of Writing for Coaches.
In our CLCI Live we go over:
The how long
The how to
and the what
Our goal is for coaches to get their writing hustle and do so with confidence so they can make the best impression on an audience.
CLCI's Very Very Generalized Guide to Writing
Did we mention this was very generalized? Writing and the use of language itself is a broad and deep subject and self-purported "writers" love to use overly academic jargon and talk about extremely niche subjects. Our goal with this guide is to make writing for coaches far less intimidating than it actually is and improve the overall quality of your writing. This can apply to the shortest elevator post, to the longest articles, and even entire books.
What's the TL;DR? (For those who are not in their 20's this stands for Too Long, Didn't Read)
READ MORE, WRITE MORE
The Fear of Writing
Unless you have an actual fear of words and writing words (props to those who were able to read even this far) you don't have a fear of writing. You have a fear of being judged by people. Similar to the fear of public speaking, even though we speak all the time, what we are actually afraid of is the fear of somehow messing it up, tripping over our words, or fear/embarrassment.
This is a completely natural fear and is nothing to be ashamed of. But now that we recognize what the actual fear is, how can we minimize it and move past it?
Imagine you are coaching an aspiring writer and you ask them, "What is preventing you from writing?"
They may say a variety of things.
"I'm worried that I'm not being original"
"I'm not a real writer"
"I want it to be perfect"
"I've always been a poor writer"
"I don't know what to write about"
Now that you are in the coaching seat it's easy to see this imaginary client is setting up blocks and verbalizing insecurities. From this perspective, would you say these are actually good reasons to never write? Of course not! But for some reason when it comes to ourselves we very willingly come up with all sorts of ways to justify our avoidance of writing.
Coaches, this is a good time to coach yourself or find someone to coach you to overcome the fear. What are some S.M.A.R.T. goals you can set for yourself? Can you formulate a process that works for you to see a project to competition?
What follows is an example of my process when it comes to writing just about anything and can give you a framework to begin with and create a writing process that works for you.
Set the Intention
What is it that you are writing and why are you writing it? What information am I conveying and why is it important?
This applies to everything under the sun when writing for your coaching business. Whether its a website landing page, an About Me, service descriptions, copy for social media, articles, and books, you should know...
What this does for your audience
What this does for your business
With those two things in mind, an About Me changes from a very generalized, long-winded biography to a clear, direct message about who you are, how you appeal to your audience, and how you build trust. An article that was more so a journal of random thoughts can become a way to give free content that is useful to your audience and a way to generate interest, collect info, and accelerate a marketing funnel.
Thinking about your intention will guide you to what it is you should write about and create a clear picture of what the end result should be.
Your Two Audiences
Your audience's for anything that goes on the internet can be separated into two categories and will influence both what you write about and how you write it.
The human: Fairly obvious right? We want actual people to read and respond to whatever it is we are writing. But coaches, try as they might, cannot coach everyone and it is highly encouraged that you develop your niche. Your niche is a focused group of people that you tailor your marketing towards their identities and the problems in their lives that you can coach with a certain degree of expertise. Developing your niche is an excellent way to focus your writing and Life Coach Path has an excellent article on the subject along with a handy infographic to help guide you.
Google (SEO): Yes, the other half of our audience is google. Briefly, Google SEO is they way Google improves and directs web traffic to relevant searches. Google wants its users to find what they are looking for as efficiently as possible and it likes certain techniques in writing that you can use to increase your website traffic. Here are some helpful articles that can give you an overview of what Google looks for in regards to SEO.
Capitalize On Content – 10 Tips & Techniques For SEO Content Writing by Erica Garman.
Key thing to keep in mind. One audience does not supersede another. There should be a healthy balance when keeping both you human and Google audience in mind. Both audiences feed into each other and will create a healthy engine that drives page views to your website.
Do Your Research, Read With Intention
A major fear that people have is that they are copying someone else's idea or writing style. Unless you are directly ripping quotes and not giving proper credit to the author then researching is absolutely necessary to strengthen your writing skills.
You are researching not only the topic you wish to cover but how different business in your area of coaching reach their audiences and write their content. Being critical in your reading means actively evaluating what you think works in others writing and what falls short. Often the best writers improve by emulating another writer's style that they admire and then develop their own style as time goes by.
In addition to finding websites and works that are well written, being a good judge of credible sources is a skill that can be easily developed, especially when dealing with subjects of a more expert, scientific, or psychological nature.
Here are 4 quick ways to determine if your source of information is reliable.
How accurate is the information? Is there a way you could verify the information given?
What is the authority of the source? Is the source/author trustworthy? Do they have a certain bias or vested interest? Is their expertise relevant?
How current is the information? Is the information up to date in an ever changing fast paced world?
How relevant is the information? How in depth does the writing go?
As it turns out, both people and Google like well researched writing and the knowledge gained from what you read will manifest in the quality of your writing.
Sit Down and Write
The part that every writer hates the most, actually writing the thing. If you've set your intention, considered your audience, and done your research, writing becomes far more easier and enjoyable.
Once you are prepared, set a dedicated amount of time to sit down in an area where you can focus without distraction and write. This can involve both making an outline and the the actual writing but I find that just writing, even when I am unsure, is the best way to write.
You may see that of people try to give a lot of weird advice or "hacks" to trick yourself into starting to write, and to each their own, but I find that immediately writing no matter what the quality may be is the best way to get started. You will eventually find that as you write you will get into a groove and your thoughts will become more focused and lucid. You can always go back and edit, right now your job is to to bring your intention to the page. Write like no one is looking and no one is judging. Write like you just might toss the whole thing in the trash bin. It takes a whole lot of stress out of the equation when you become outcome independent.
Finally, consistency is key; the writing process can be quick as an hour or over several sessions over the course of a month or even years. Like any other goal that coach's help set with clients, being consistent and being able to measure your progress is one of the best ways to achieve the goal you set for yourself.
Take a Break
Whether its between writing session or before editing, taking a break is crucial. Writing takes a great deal of mental energy and does not come naturally to people the same way that speech does. Whether its to revisit a problem in your writing or move on to the editing stage, a break will help reset your mind and give you time to achieve a new perspective.
Give it 15 minutes, an hour, a few days if necessary but don't make it an indefinite break, actively dedicate a set amount of time you will step away from your draft and set a time where you will revisit it. You are in the last but most crucial stages.
With a fresh pair of eyes read what you just wrote and fix any obvious errors. Now is the time to use spellcheck and consider changing the structure and format.
As you edit move from the overall ideas, to the paragraphs, then line by line. Reading aloud is one of the best ways to fix awkward sentences and an editor.
Your editor can be anyone from someone you hire to a friend or significant other. Having someone else read what you wrote after you edited will improve the quality of your writing immensely. Tell whoever your editor is what your intention is and who your audience is and be open to revision and change. What makes sense to you may not make sense to a reader and the insight gained from an editor will help tremendously in making sure your writing is both effective and clear.
Paradoxically, a piece of copy or writing needs to be finished and is never truly finished. You can edit for eternity but at a certain point you have to eventually hit the publish button and send your work out into the world. Once you work up the courage and will to click publish, take a moment and reward yourself, take a break, relax, and allow yourself to be satisfied with your writing and your accomplishment.
Two more incentives to publish your work and a gifts only afforded to us through digital media. Online you have every opportunity in the world to revisit your copy and edit, add, and refine. And once published your work is automatically protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The more you write, the easier it becomes just like any other skill. And you may even find that you enjoy it and that it's At not as daunting a task as you once imagined it to be. But you will never know until you put fingers to keys.
For The Ones Who Refuse To Write
At a certain point you may realize that you may not have enough time to write, run a business, coach, and have a personal life all at the same time. Or you may just decide writing is not your thing and you would rather have someone else do it. Or perhaps you have reached the point that you want the expert insight and craftsmanship of a skilled professional.
There is nothing wrong with hiring a freelance writer and editor to take off the workload for you and it may be a savvy business move as well. At this point you evolve from a writer and become more akin to a publisher or managing editor who dictates what will be written, approves projects, and gives the final okay on edited copy and there are plenty of writers out there who don't mind being ghosts.
We at CLCI hope that this made the diverse topic of writing easier to approach and we encourage our coaches to go out there and write. We look forward to reading your copy. Write what you are passionate about. Write what will help your clients. Write what will make our business flourish.
The Bottom Line
Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Anthony Lopez
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