Overcoming Social Media Writer’s Block

If your agency is going to effectively use social media for inbound lead generation then you must have content. You have to develop a system to write even during the of busiest times and also when you have bouts with writers block.

Overcoming social media writer’s block: If you put your focus on what your audience wants to read (rather than what you want to write), the whole game changes — and the shift is in your favor. Dave Navarro, Copyblogger

I’m now going on my third year of writing articles and post for small-to midsize ad agency new business through social media. At last count I’ve written 417 posts. My wife has asked me on numerous occasions what do I have left to write about.

I can honestly say, during all this time, I haven’t struggled with “writers block” until recently. My guess is that I’ve spent so much time online that I needed more offline time to recharge my batteries, gain a fresh perspective and regain my fire and passion for doing this.

I recommend a blog to be the central component for your agency’s social media strategy for inbound lead generation. Let it become the “gateway to your agency.” Content is vital. No doubt you will have periods of “writers block.” I thought I would share my personal insights in overcoming it. I hope these will be a help to you:

There was no getting around the fact that I had to pay my dues in social. The past couple of years I’ve put forth the effort to “catch up” and devised a plan to get a head of the curve just as if I were back in grad school. Which meant nights, weekends, very little time off, with very little time offline, just whatever it took. I know that I can’t continue to do that and I feel that I have developed some good habits that are maintainable but now I need a better diet, exercise, down-time with the family, etc. to recharge my batteries and stay fresh. So time off is important.

With the bouts of writers block and burn out, one of the ways to clear my head was to read. I turn to my Google Reader and my RSS subscriptions. I also rely on some good email newsletters such as The eMarketer Daily, Ragan’s PR Daily, SmartBrief on Social Media and Harvard Business Publishing. I have a great respect for some people within our own industry who are among the first to understand social from an advertising industry perspective. People like: Edward BoschesJay Baer,  Jason Falls, Avi Savar. I follow their blogs and connect with them through Twitter and Facebook. My reading keeps me up to date and generates new ideas and keeps my mental juices flowing.

You don’t know what you know until you write it down. That old cliche inspired me when I first started writing and stays in the back of my mind. When I get into a mental fog and have difficulty with writing, I simply write. It helps me to see the forest from the trees, think my way clear. I have over 230 blog post drafts. Some will eventually be published and a good number will never see the light of day, but they were a good mental exercise that helped me to clear my head.

Lack of focus. I’ve been privileged to work with over 50 advertising agencies to assist in developing their positioning, new business pipeline and social media strategy. The ones that have the most difficulty are the ones that lack focus. Reflecting on my recent struggle with content, I think that it was purely a lack of focus. I’ve been working on a plan for next year that I had not completed and felt like I was in a bit of a flux, in a state of limbo and I think that had a direct impact upon my writing. Focus makes the writing so much easier. Especially when you can clearly identify your target audience and you know your objectives.

A shortage of confidence. As I reflect back, this bout with writer’s block started about the time of my Social Media | New Business Round Table retreat with Jaci Russo, Razzor Branding, Stephanie Holland, She-conomy, Park Howell, A Brighter Shade of Green Marketing, S.A. Habib, Blue Collar Branding and John Sonnhalter, Tradesmen Insights.

These are all very talented creative people.To be very candid with you there are times when I have doubts about my own abilities and lose my self confidence. I’ve worked with enough great copy writers to know that I’m not one of them but here I am writing a blog. My readers are very forgiving and kind. For whatever reason, they seem to like what I write and want more. I simply try and provide help and be a resource to them. If I retain that simple formula it seems to work very well.

Most importantly – It is not I want to write about. I have to write about what my audience wants to read. I fully agree with Dave Navarro’s advice, particularly for social media, you have to zone in on what your audience is interested in reading. It’s not what I’m passionate about it’s what their needs are. To know what my audience wants from me, I  have to listen and engage with them.

Quick tips for overcoming “writers block”:

  • Identify a need
  • Create a writing schedule
  • Turn off distractions (TV, iPhone, etc)
  • Set deadlines
  • Research it
  • Nike’s “Just Do It” approach
  • Write. Stop thinking and start writing
  • Keep a list of blog post ideas
  • Connect ideas to your specific audience
  • Find your best time to write
  • When you don’t know what to write, conduct an interview
  • Free write without editing
  • Determine your topic

Additional Writer’s Block Articles:

 

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

Comments

  1. Good post Michael. I hope you don’t blame the round table group for the writers block.From what I can tell the round table ignited more good things for the group. Keep up the good work.

  2. We at Fame Foundry occasionally experience writer’s block too. That’s why we welcome guests columnists to contribute to the content on our site. We pay them too!

    http://www.famefoundry.com
    @FFcommunicator

  3. John,

    Not at all. There were lots of excellent things that came from the round table group. All of you guys rock. Just times I doubt my abilities.

  4. Having an editorial calendar/schedule and sticking to it really does help. When you know you have to write every other Tuesday, like I do, that looming deadline provides inspiration. Or is it perspiration?

    We’ve also recently refocused our blog, realizing that we were writing more about subjects that interested us, and less about the ways that our knowledge of these subjects are beneficial to our clients, present and future.

    One thing I found helpful recently was to develop the idea for a series of posts. Then I could sit down to write all of the posts in the series in one go–and voila, enough content for 6 weekly posts. (The series, by the way, is on how and why to start a company blog: http://blog.cdginteractive.com/my_weblog/2009/11/new-series-how-and-why-to-start-a-company-blog.html)

  5. Heidi,

    Helpful insights. Thanks for sharing. I’m trying to post 5 days a week and usually writing the bulk of those on Sunday and scheduling the post date.

  6. Sunday night seems to be a good, quiet writing day. I attended an event where Rohit Bhargava spoke, and he said his schedule was the same. He does 3 posts weekly and writes the Monday post on Sunday, and then at least starts the other 2.

    And now that “Mad Men” is over, the evening is free!

  7. I’ve been writing since I can remember and I’ve been making money writing for the past 11 years.

    There’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you’re not writing, you’re being lazy or you don’t want to write, for whatever reason.

    Writing is as easy as talking. Your recommendation to “stop thinking and start writing” is the solution to “writer’s block” — which doesn’t exist by the way.

    Good luck.

  8. Here’s my suggestion to solve writer’s block

    http://fredruffy.blogspot.com/2009/11/writers-block.html

  9. dougbrowncreative says:

    I am taking your advice about focus to heart. My agency is one year into our blog now, and although our growth has been strong (one of our posts recently hit 2,500 hits), we struggle with focus. I think it’s like someone telling me to write an ad. I ask, well, an ad about what? Who is your target? What is it about your product? It seems we need to practice what we preach with the blog too and get some tighter strategy.

    Thank you so much Michael, I’ve learned heaps from you this year.
    The Copeland blog: http://copelandcommunications.wordpress.com/

  10. Glad you found it helpful Doug. Its not rocket science. Just what we tell our clients every day.

  11. Thanks for the great tips in this entry Michael. I just started with an agency and am getting the blog and social media side of work up and running. Really appreciate all your great advice and the great material in your archives too. Thanks for everything.
    Tom
    @tbkuplic

  12. You’re welcome Tom. I’m glad you found them helpful.

  13. Thanks a lot for this entry and the quick tips. I have a tip for you too. Once a week, or once every two weeks, do write (and post) what you are passionate about. It helps to avoid writers block and it will inspire you (as well as your readers) to come up with fresh ideas for your everyday postings. You’ll be amazed at how people will react…

    Sincerely,
    Alecita

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