As one who has been article writing with a monthly, then weekly newsletter for almost twenty years, I evaluate from time to time whether it is still worth doing so. Granted, I started out very simple. I listed my upcoming gigs, any new projects in the works and wrote a small article. I never called myself worthy of article writing as a profession because English and grammar were not my forte, but felt it was important to have consistent communication with those on my list.
My newsletter came out once a month for a number of years and was not fancy at all. This will date me a bit, but there were no beautiful templates and it was tricky to even imagine how it would show up on different browsers and formats. The colors I chose to frame my words were probably fairly bright and ugly, but I kept at my article writing with consistency and determination. I chose to not let the naysayers who asked if I ever hired an editor to help me write my newsletters discourage me and get in my head. (Yes, I did have a couple people do this! They thought an editor would really bump up my writing ability and probably rightly so, but I wanted to have direct contact at this point in my career)
So I kept writing and writing, more and more from my heart. The little stories about my growing family, about the washing machine that moved across the room when our sons started overfilling it while doing their own laundry. Stories about my travels, especially as I performed headline shows in some of the country’s large beautiful concert halls and arenas. Then challenges of producing multiple musical showcases in booking conferences around the country. There wasn’t a huge emphasis on growing a list at that time. However, recently I’ve seen the importance of growing my contact list and have stepped up my game. Article writing, in combination with my podcast and blogs has now become an integral part of my life and business. I continue to realize this when I see people still opening up my now weekly articles. It especially feels right when I hear from someone different, almost weekly, that I may have even forgotten was even on my list. (Get the FREE Article Writing Worksheet Download!)
Article writing is a way to consistently communicate with your audience. It is another voice besides an audio podcast or streaming video. It is a way to provide valuable content and a way to learn about something new. I have often learned something new in my personal writing journey. I will start writing about a certain subject and soon realize there must be plenty of other tidbits and research I can add to help my readers. This starts me on my quest for more documented information in viable sources that usually solidifies my point even further.
Hal David, lyricist that wrote for many years with Burt Bacharach, said he read 2,000 words for every lyric he wrote. I would have a hard time believing that unless I heard him say those words personally! Songs like, Do you Know the Way to San Jose? Promises, Promises… One Less Bell to Answer, and many more top hits sung by Dianna Ross and others. The take-away principle here is: If you write, read! One more tidbit. I was able to recently see Burt Bacharach perform his songs at ninety-one years young. He did not miss a conducting link or piano riff and looked like he enjoyed every minute of the ninety-minute concert! That should inspire us all as we enter our Halftime years! (above age 40!)
Article writing is similar to songwriting in many aspects. You write down some ideas then put them away. You then come back to them and rewrite those ideas in a way that makes more sense. I like what the book The Artist’s Way says about creating when they say to think of yourself as a gardener who takes care of ideas. This takes the pressure off of always trying to be super-creative. The ideas are already there, waiting to be picked!
The Blank Page
One of the fears of article writing is finding enough to write about. How many of us have sat down to write a paper and hear the crickets start to chirp louder and louder from every direction? Absolutely nothing comes to mind! Here’s where a healthy mindset comes in to play because you can’t be afraid of the blank page. Consistency will be your friend. Even if you put down a couple words or paragraphs, realize that is a start. You just can’t quit! Journaling is very helpful here. I’ve made the practice of journaling a couple sentences every morning. Sometimes it ends up much longer, but it serves the purpose to get the creative juices flowing. I have my entries numbered and have gone back to read some of my thoughts as I create memes and other social media posts.
Also realize it’s O.K. to repurpose material in your article writing. Since starting my Women at Halftime Podcast, I’ve started coordinating my weekly newsletter article, blog post and LinkedIn post with the same subject and material. I also add in a Facebook Live post and even a new free download many weeks. All of this helps to not only build my audience, but also the trust of my audience in what I can give them in my courses and keynotes. It also makes it easier for me mentally as I’m not trying to create content around four to five different topics weekly. That could prove confusing not only to me, but also to my audience.
One last recommendation is to pick a platform and stick with it for a good length of time to get going. Then re-evaluate. There will always be another new program that pops up with more bells and whistles. When you realize that no platform is perfect and no matter how good the others look, it is best to stay put until you can evaluate your move deliberately and prudently. Unless your current platform is unreliable and unstable you’ll be fine a little longer!
The sooner you can have those conversations, the better as most of us feel death is farther away than it could be. You can have a much more reasonable and theoretical conversation, not dealing with emergencies, if you start approaching those conversations earlier than later. Many reading this will live a distance from aging parents. Ideally, at least one sibling will live close enough to check in often. One of my sisters lived five minutes from the senior community where my mother was living. With the amount of health emergencies she faced in her last year, it was extremely helpful to have my sister close and I know she wouldn’t trade that opportunity of caring for our dear mother for a heap of gold.
I would urge you, if at all possible, to not stop your life to care for a parent. You may have great intentions and want to give back, but unless you are currently in the caregiving field, it will be super easy to burn out. Get help and explore your options. You can love them just as much and thoroughly with qualified and loving help.
Five Ways to Energize Your Article Writing:
ONE: Read! This can include audio books as well as physical books. (Make sure you check out Women at Halftime audio book too!) Hal David’s principle of reading 2,000 words for every lyric still stands strong and was proven time and again in his songwriting.
TWO: Reaffirm Value. Go through the Benefits of article writing to reaffirm what value you are giving your audience. If there is another platform that is better for your particular audience, that’s fine! But establishing expertise usually involves writing.
THREE: Mindset of Rewriting. With the mindset of rewriting, your articles will jump up in quality, guaranteed!
FOUR: Journaling as a Lifestyle. Your entries don’t have to be long—even a couple sentences will do. But be very consistent and do this daily, if possible. Consistency is your friend!
FIVE: Repurpose Material. Remember how valuable repetition is for you in learning. This will do the same for your audience. With the flood of material posted and put on social media sites, having your article on multiple sites gives you a greater chance to be seen. It will help you to really focus on a couple social media sites to repost any articles.
I hope these tips are helpful for you. Don’t be afraid of the blank page and remember, if you never start, you’ll never finish! If you are already writing, many congratulations to you! I love the story of the tortoise and hare because many times, the slow and steady wins the race!