Welcome to my first contribution here at Bitcatcha. Thanks Daren, for having me!
I thought long and hard about where to start, but there was only one obvious place for me: writing.
Writing 1,000 words is something I do every single day. It has helped me grow businesses (my own, and for others). It’s landed me work at The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Sony. Writing pays my bills!
I think it’s the single most important thing any entrepreneur can do with a spare hour.
That’s right. 1,000 words. One hour! I’m setting my timer now, let’s see how far we get.
Content, blogging, eBooks. They’re the closest thing you have to a magic bean on the internet.
Most of us don’t have million dollar budgets to promote our small business online. So we need a cost-effective way to reach a lot of people.
So you write. You write something clever. Something witty. Something controversial. Anything. Write anything that’s relevant to your business.
Here’s a big, long, useful infographic from the experts at QuickSprout that explains why blogging is so powerful. These are the highlights:
Content builds an audience. And audiences buy things.
But, you can’t spend all day writing. There’s other business to take care of! So give yourself an hour (and only an hour!) to get 1,000 words onto paper.
Writing is never perfect. You’ll spend hours trying to make every sentence or word exactly right. And, it usually ends up getting worse. Trust your first instinct, and run with it.
Perfection is a pressure you just don’t need. Aim for great! Aim for funny and informative. Accepting that it doesn’t need to be perfect gives you the freedom to splurge your thoughts onto the page.
The trick to effective writing is knowing exactly what to write before you start. If you’re staring at a blank page wondering where to begin, you’re doing it wrong.
Before you set your timer, spend at least half an hour reading. Jot down notes, formulate a plan. Create a conclusion. Personally, I do this by hand with pen and paper, but it’s totally up to you.
When you know the ending, you just have to keep writing until you reach it!
That’s how you turn a blank page into 1,000 brilliant words.
Writing a blog is like doing a dot-to-dot.
When you’ve got your conclusion, you just need to create a road map to get there. A series of bullet points and stops that help strengthen your point.
For a 1,000 word blog, break it into 8-10 chunks or parts. Turn them into sub-headings, and type them straight into your blank document with bold headings.
When you start writing, all you have to do is link them up. It gives you eight small goals to compete, rather than a huge chunk of writing to battle.
Write like the wind!
The hardest part is starting. But once you write that first word, don’t stop.
Don’t look back, don’t edit as you go.
Just keep writing until you get to the end. Some of it will be terrible. That’s fine! We can tidy it up later. But most of the time, you’ll realise it’s exactly what you wanted to say.
Get into the zone, and keep it flowing. It usually takes a couple of paragraphs to get into the flow, but you’ll find that good stuff eventually starts pouring out.
There will be a few parts where you hit a brick wall.
You’ll curse yourself because you can’t remember a simple word or phrase! There might be some research missing or a crucial quote to back up what you’re saying.
The trick is to forget about that right now. Leave a space or do what the journalists do and simply write ‘TK’. (It means ‘to come’, but spelt incorrectly. Don’t ask.)
Every time you stop to research or look up a word, you lose flow. Come back to it later, and tidy it up.
(PS, so far this blog is full of holes, and TKs.)
Writing fast isn’t just about time management. It actually gives you a unique voice and tone.
Writing fast means that you channel your natural speaking voice. You write like you talk. And that’s a good thing! We’re not writing poetry or Shakespeare. We’re writing a straightforward blog.
People like to read blogs quickly. Actually, they scan them, and pick out the useful parts. You’re not trying to impress your old English teacher or win a Nobel prize for literature.
Just imagine you’re chatting to someone, and make your writing simple and clear.
Here’s how it works. Set yourself a timer for 25 minutes. No distractions, just pure work. Turn the timer on, and start writing.
When the buzzer breaks your concentration, take a 3-5 minute break. Stretch your legs. Make a coffee. Play Angry Birds.
When five minutes are up, set the timer for another 25 minutes, and power through to the end. You can break up your entire day like this for ultimate productivity. But, it’s especially good for blog writing. It gives you two long chunks of productive writing, and a short break in the middle.
Don’t worry if you’re not quite finished when the hour’s up. Chances are you’re pretty close, and you’ve made a great start.
Online distractions (especially social media) are like eating a whole chocolate cake after a big meal. You feel guilty as hell, and let’s face it, you didn’t even enjoy it anyway.
As a freelance writer, distractions cost me money, so I use every trick in the book to avoid it. Here are two awesome tools that really work:
Once you’ve done your research and planning, turn these apps on, and set the timer for an hour. No more distractions. Just writing.
That’s my time up. Okay, so I’m not quite at the end of the article, but that’s a solid 1,000 words under the belt in a one hour period.
This part will probably take you another 30-60 minutes. But the hard part is over. You’ve got 1,000 words on a page, and that’s 1,000 more than you had an hour ago.
Look out for grammar, spelling mistakes, and repeated words. Try not to chop up the flow too much, but tidy things up.
The best way to see if your blog is readable is to say it out loud. Sometimes sentences look fine on paper, but sound awful when you try to get your mouth around it. (Like that one).
If you’re feeling brave, let someone else read it back to you!
Total writing time: 1hr, 12 minutes
With additional research, note taking, and editing, it’s closer to three hours total for a 1,000 word blog. But, that’s a pretty lucrative way to spend three hours if you’re running a small business.
You’ll draw hundreds of visitors to your site. You’ll build up a bank of useful content, strengthen your search engine presence, and create an audience.