For many of our clients, partners and colleagues, there is one prominent and sometimes even insurmountable obstacle to mastering a strong online brand and presence: creating content, especially written content. Creating good written content is difficult for many people for a variety of reasons, and even if an entrepreneur, owner or manager is capable of writing great content, that doesn’t mean they have the time or the willingness to do so.

Express Yourself

It is impossible to maintain a blog, newsletter or even a social media audience without a steady stream of effective content marketing, and many small businesses simply don’t have the resources to completely outsource this content. If you’re a small business owner or manager and you either want or need to write your own content, what are some of the most effective ways to motivate yourself to create great content? It all starts with thinking of yourself not as an owner or manager, but as an individual with a creative outlet to express yourself, show off your talents and expertise and share information with your readers, followers and prospective customers.

You’re A Subject Matter Expert, So Write Like One!

The most difficult part of creating written content is identifying the knowledge or expertise that you want to share and expressing it coherently in written form. Unfortunately, many of us – especially those of us who may have had an especially challenging English teacher in high school – believe that the most important elements of writing include spelling, grammar and sentence structure. These elements are sometimes intimidating enough to cause writers to abandon their efforts or pass the responsibility off to someone else. While it is vitally important to ensure that your content is free of misspellings and errors, it is usually easier and cheaper to have someone edit the content than it is to create the content. Don’t let anxieties left over from high school English prevent you from creating great content – you’re a subject matter expert, and you most likely have great topics to discuss and valuable information to share with your readers, so write confidently and with conviction!

Sometimes Business Content Can Be Personal

Business owners and managers often take the wrong approach to making their business marketing content personal. Some owners and managers refuse to go beyond dry, strictly informative content that often fails to attract an audience, while others inappropriately express personal opinions, usually relating to politics, over their business blog and social media accounts, alienating many existing and potential customers and subsequently wasting time addressing inflammatory comments and “flame wars” that usually erupt around controversial content. For most businesses without professional marketing departments, especially small businesses, the optimal solution lies squarely in the middle of both extremes.

Remain Relevant To Your Readers

It is okay to be personable over your company blog and social media accounts and to even share some personal information and expertise – the key is to remain professional and to ensure that the content you are sharing is interesting and relevant to your readers. For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to share information and pictures about an off-hours fundraiser or charity event held by your employees, or even to share photos of a joyous personal event such as a birth or wedding – with the expressed consent and permission of the employee, of course. It would not be acceptable, however, to share inappropriate personal information or to spread rumors or innuendo about a competitor or even a public figure. Additionally, sharing content such as recipes or other “how-to” tutorials is appropriate as long as you do not repost copyrighted material.

Sports And Politics

In other instances, the appropriateness of content may be affected by geographical boundaries – expressing support or “rooting” for a local sports team is acceptable and even beneficial if you share a target market with said team, but it may cause issues if your large portions of your customer base support other professional teams. Finally, it can even be appropriate, albeit in a very specific and limited manner, to discuss politics – expressing who you have endorsed in the next presidential election or sharing a controversial political opinion is always a bad move, but if your industry, business or organization shares a specific political goal or has staked a claim on a relevant issue, it may be beneficial to your readers, followers and customers to politely and eloquently explain why supporting this issue can benefit both you and your clients and customers.

If You Can Talk About It, You Can Write About It

The “golden rule” when it comes to content marketing is to ask yourself, “Would I say this in front of a client or customer in person, and would it be appropriate to do so?” In almost every situation, playing out that scenario in your head before hitting “post” or “send” can help you avoid sharing inappropriate content.