Sharing Your Blog Posts in Emails and on LinkedIn

When you’re trying to build community it’s important to share your content and get as much visibility as possible. The more people who see your posts, the more people who will know what you do and how you can help them. In the first post of this series on the importance building community in blogging, I shared seven steps you could take to build community on your blog. Today we are going to discuss the fifth and sixth step, as step five is REALLY EASY and will not take many words, even for me!

  • Share the link to your latest post in your email signature and on your LinkedIn page.
  • Share a condensed version of your blog as a LinkedIn article and then link to your blog for those who want additional information.

Linking to Your Post in Your Email and on LinkedIn

Email Signature

If you send a lot of email each day, an easy and free way to market your blog is to include a link in the signature section of your email. If folks want to click, they can. If they don’t, they don’t have to. If you work for a small business, this should be mandatory for all who work within your company. Send out the link each time you post and let employees know to include it in their signatures.

Don’t just include the URL, actually include text. “Are you struggling to grow your blog? Try this tip for engaging with other bloggers to start increasing your audience this week.” By including text, you show you value the reader’s time so he or she can choose if it’s a topic they are interested in.

LinkedIn Page

LinkedIn is a great place for professionals to meet. When I first started my business back in 2011, I was SO GREEN. LinkedIn is where I met my first 12 clients. I was involved in groups, commented frequently on posts that would show up in my feed, and would stay engaged. At the time, I was coaching people through starting their businesses, writing books, and changing their career direction by obtaining careers in their sweet spots. I was able to test out services and workshops on people who were willing to invest in my by trying them out and providing great feedback in return for taking them. When I finally started taking paying clients in 2012, I knew which services to offer based upon what I did really well and which ones I wanted to take more time to invest in some education so I could become better.

Since LinkedIn has other professionals, it is great for businesses who offer business services and products. Since it has humans, it’s great for coaches, writers, and others who have services or products that people be looking for. Some professions are more heavily represented than others, so look around and see what is there and make your decision about how effective it will be for you. If you find it will be effective, share a short post on LinkedIn each time you post and include a link within your profile. There is a “Media” option right in your Summary section (the top section of your LinkedIn profile)

Publish a Condensed Blog Post on LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to publish articles. This can be a great tool if you want to connect with professionals. Sharing condensed versions of your blog posts (or expanded versions if your blogs are short) and then linking to your posts will allow you to repurpose your blog content. This allows you to maximize your resources while reaching wider audiences. Because the material is already written, you are simply tweaking it for the new audience.

How would you do this? Great question! If I were to share this series on LinkedIn, I wouldn’t want to post eight separate blogs. Instead, I would share one post and then instead of listing the steps in a bulleted list as I did, I would include them as section headings with short summaries underneath that then linked to each of these individuals posts with more information. This would give them new content they haven’t seen but would save me time from having to write a new article because I already have the content written. Instead of hours of work, it would be a few minutes of pulling together what I already have.

Networking with Others Whose Products/Services Complement Yours

We’re more than halfway through this series on the importance of building community in blogging. I hope the posts have been helpful for you. So far we’ve covered:

The next item I shared in the original post was to, “Get to know business owners who offer complementary services and offer to guest post.” As I was thinking of how I could expand this bullet for this deeper dive, I realized that if you haven’t thought of this previously you may also want to know how to engage with them so you can get to know them before you offer to guest post for them. As we take this deeper dive today, note that these are folks who haven’t stopped by your blog yet so you haven’t been engaging with them already. I will save the guest post note for last because you may also want to ask them to guest post for you.

Reach Out to Them Via Phone or Email

If someone looks like they offer products or services that complement yours really well AND you like what they have to offer on their blog and website, I believe it’s worth sending them an email or calling them to introduce yourself and learn about them and the types of clients they take on. Why? You never know when you are going to need someone’s help with a client.

Think of your clients that the services or products they may require that you don’t offer. Then go out and find folks who offer those services and connect with them. Some may not have blogs and that’s okay even though this series is about building a community through blogging. As you reach out to folks, they may not have blogs but YOU DO! Ensure they know how to find your blog and social media so you can stay engaged.

Engage with Their Blog Posts

If you find some folks who have nice blogs but whose services you wouldn’t use often, follow their blog and make comments as you can and develop a relationship with them through those interactions. When they post new posts that you like, be sure to hit the “like” button. Comment when you have something to offer to the conversation. Show them support.

One great way to engage with a post you really enjoy is to share it by linking to it on your blog. You could write a post about the service you don’t provide and acknowledge its important and then share the other blogger’s name as a service provider in this area. This gives your audience one less search to make. (I typically don’t do this until I have been following someone for a while and know they offer quality or have had some interaction with them through comments already).

Ask them to Guest Post on Your Blog

When you find someone who offers a great service or product that would benefit your clients, ask them if they would be interested in guest posting on your blog to share their knowledge with your audience. Be specific about what you are looking for and offer to do the same for them if they would find it beneficial. Some bloggers will trade you guest post for guest post, while others will want payment for guest posting or a barter option. You can do what you feel is best for your business at this point. Be sure if you pay them that you note in a disclaimer that it’s a paid post so your audience is fully aware of that.

Building Community by Engaging with Others’ Blogs

Building community with your blog is one of the best ways to increase readership, promote awareness of your brand, and share your brand’s voice with your audience. Unless you are a major corporation or well-known influencer in your space, people don’t know about you until you raise your hand and show them you exist. How do you do that online where there is so much competition for the blogging atmosphere? We’ve already discussed sharing your posts on social media and engaging with others on social media. Today we’ll cover engaging with others’ blogs.

Visit the People Who Comment on Your Blog

Think of this like attending a networking event where you are learning about others in the room and seeing who you can connect with. You aren’t going to connect with every person who has commented on your blog, but you want to visit their sites, see what they are posting, and see if something sparks your interest. If you see several posts that spark interest, follow them by clicking on their “Follow” button, subscribing to their email list, or adding them to your RSS feed so you can engage with them often. Be sure to visit the blogs for everyone who stops by and has a connected blog. (Some folks will sign up for accounts only to be able to comment. They won’t all be other bloggers unless you are blogging on a platform where only other bloggers are allowed to comment.)

If someone isn’t really posting a lot that is in your interest area, chances are they will post something you enjoy. If there is a post that catches your attention, like it and comment on it if possible. This is especially important when you are a blogger by trade, a coach, or a solopreneur. Building community is especially important when you are young in business because when new prospects stop by to view your blog, some don’t realize that many business owners are too busy to maintain a blog and will think lack of community means you aren’t good at what you do or that you aren’t knowledgeable.

When you leave a comment, put some thought into it, please! Don’t just say, “Nice post”. Instead, find something within the post that you connect with. If the person posts about things way outside your comfort zone but you found the post interesting, say that. “I don’t usually read articles on this topic but your post caught and kept my attention. Thank you for sharing valuable content.” That will go a long way to the person who wrote the post because sometimes the writers of blogs can feel like no one is reading their posts when they are starting out or are within the first year or two as they start to grow.

Visit the People Who Like Your Blog

Think of this more like walking through the park. You may not have time to walk with everyone but there will be some people who catch your attention and you will want to visit their blogs and see if they share something that sparks your interest. If they do, like and comment on their post so they will know you stopped by. Chances are they will recognize your name and stop back by your blog. This is how community begins.

Let’s say you get a LOT of comments on your blog, so you don’t have a lot of time to visit the people who blog during business hours. If your platform has an app that you use, visit the folks while in line at the grocery store, while waiting for the doctor, or while using the bathroom (come on…you know your phone goes with you so you can play Best Fiends; this allows you to use the time for something more productive).

Making Time to Engage with Others

When people come and comment on your blog, it is so important that you engage with them. I understand as you grow your blog, it will become impossible to keep up with all the comments that come in. There will be a point where you will want to hire a Virtual Assistant or Community Engagement Assistant to keep up with commenting and listening to your community. While it’s just you doing all the positions for your company, do what you can by setting aside a specific half hour each day for engaging in community building activities we discuss this week.

The beauty of reading blogs is that you can do it from anywhere! Use your downtime as mentioned in the previous section. For most bloggers, the blogs will be under 1000 words. Some platforms even tell you how long it will take to read the blog! (That’s a super cool feature for when you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate and for when you’re reading longer blog posts.

Bonus Information about Blogging

While doing some research for the links in this post, I came across this article that provides some nice statistics to help with your blogging strategy for this year. From the website Impact, the article shares 28 insights that will help you understand how others are using blogs. Read through it and then think of how you can apply the tips to your blog. If you need help, connect with me and we’ll do a blog strategy call. This month (March), I am offering 1/2 for all who would like to ensure they are ready for success with their blogs and read this series. Just tell me that you saw this offer and I will apply the discount for you.

Building Community by Engaging with Others Through Social Media

In this third installment of the series on the importance of building community if you want to see your blog be successful. Engagement won’t come just by typing up some education or knowledge, you have to get out of your comfort zone and engage with others if you would like to see engagement too. Let’s briefly discuss some actions you can take to engage with others through social media.

We previously discussed sharing your blog post through social media. When you share on social media, typically you will see two actions occur: people will like or comment on your social media posts and people will visit your blog post.

This post is discussing the former. When people engage with you through social media, it is important that your or a designated individual interact with them by liking their comments and commenting back. Show them that you value them stopping by and taking time out of their day to comment on your posts. If their comment warrants a response, provide one.

When you have engaged with all who took time out to share comments, take a half hour of your time and invest in those who stopped by to like your Instagram or Twitter posts. Instagram and Twitter make it easy to click on the feeds / profiles of those who like your posts. Do so and see if they share something that is worth commenting on, meaning that you would be able to add value to versus just make small talk. You want to provide meaningful input not just write something for the sake of writing it.

Facebook and LinkedIn don’t offer platforms conducive to visiting the profiles of the people who only stopped by to like your post since you have to be connected to comment. What you can do if you have extra time is visit the profiles of folks who liked your posts to see if they have linked their personal profile to a business page. If they have, you can engage with their business page if there is something that catches your eye. However, on these platforms, it isn’t expected that you would return engagement just for a “like” of your post, as it’s understood by those who use it that commenting is the only way to truly engage there.

When you invest in others by commenting back to them and showing them their time matters, they usually come back and may even start to follow you. Don’t get caught up in numbers. Engage with people. Show them you care about them. Value their input and show them you are listening. As you do this, you build a community of people who will stop by and read what you have to share if it helps them in their life or could help someone they know.

Blogging has both the science and art components to it. Enjoy both and you will find that you enjoy the people and the process!

Sharing Your Blog Posts to Social Media to Increase Visibility

You’ve written your post and you’re super pleased with yourself. You head out of the office, enjoy your evening, and get a great night’s rest. You arrive at work the next morning, grab your coffee, and sit down at your desk.

Not a single notification.

None.

You verify that you published and you check the phone connections and you wonder why something you spent so much time on wasn’t viewed. Not. even. once.

You Have to Tell People About Your Blog

You can’t expect people to know you have a blog if you don’t point them to it. According to a 2016 UMASS Dartmouth study only 36% of Fortune 500 companies have them so why would anyone assume that you have one when you don’t have a full staff and are trying to get by doing the work of CEO, CFO, CMO, and COO? When you run a small business or are a solopreneur, I understand that having a blog isn’t the top of the priority chain. (In fact, knowing that is why I began my business because you shouldn’t have to do it all yourself when fractional employees and ghostwriters are available to you.) But if you’ve taken the time to write posts and build a blog section on your website, shouldn’t you take an extra few minutes to ensure others know to read it?

In this this post, we discussed how important it is to build community. To share your blog with others and interact with those who engage with you as well as those you desire to visit your blog. Let’s discuss Step 1: Share your post on social media.

After you’re done writing, develop a graphic or two with Canva that shares the essence of your post. It can be a quote, something fun that you suggested, or the title of the blog post. Below find an example of a Pinterest graphic and Instagram graphic I shared on social media to lead to this post.

Pinterest Pin; also included at bottom of the blog post
Instagram post; can also be shared on FB
Twitter post, can also be used on FB or LinkedIn

Since I currently do my own social media and I am not at all a graphically blessed individually, you’ll note that I keep them simple. You can use the templates from Canva to help you or use templates provided by many stock subscription sites or graphic artists. This doesn’t have to take you a long time. The point is to have a visual you can share with your audience that will share something about the post to entice them to come over and read the full post. Add a catchy caption that tells them enough to whet their curiosity but not enough they don’t have to click.

Remind Them Within a Few Days

I’ve tried various ways of doing this for my own blog (my guinea pig for all tests) and for clients but what seems to work best if you don’t post daily on your blog is to share a graphic leading to the blog twice during the week if you post weekly. Ideally you want to post at least twice to four times a week for the best results. The more you post, the more you will show up in others’ inboxes and feeds, the higher the chances someone will see a notification and stop by. By posting a second time, you will catch folks who didn’t see your first posting. Make different graphics if you are worried about the duplicate image on Instagram OR design your grid to account for the dual posts so it falls into line with your overall look.

We often see things on our phones and forget to go back to them so you don’t have to worry about someone getting sick of seeing your post unless you post daily, multiple times a day. Folks don’t mind a reminder about good content, and you should be proud of what your putting into the world on your blog so share away.

Helpful Posts About Social Media Posting

Here are some posts from around the web to help you with choosing a time. Ultimately, you have to play around a bit to learn when your specific audience is coming on to read and share posts, but these are good starting points and are better than not sharing anything at all!

New Lune: Social Media Posting Times. This is also a great post from New Lune on sharing your blog posts. 10 Ways to Share Your Blog Posts

Falcon.io – The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2019

CoSchedule – The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2018 based Upon Research. Since this was posted toward the end of the year and has a LOT of great info, I believe it’s worth checking out.

The Importance of Community when Blogging

Too often I’ve seen business owners decide they are going to write a blog and then become frustrated that no one is visiting it. They start to write more often but don’t share with anyone that they’ve written a post, mistakenly thinking that just because you built the blog, folks will come visit. The fact is you need to engage your audience and build a community not just write 300 – 1000 words every few days and hope folks will come. If you want to have a thriving blog where folks come to learn about your business, products, and services, you need to provide content that will help them so they want to come back. Next month (March), we will cover how you can engage your audience through your blog’s content, but today’s let’s focus on the importance of building community when blogging and how you can do so.

This post focuses on business blogs, meaning you are freelancer, solopreneur, business owner, or maybe even a corporate marketing executive who publishes a blog on your website to gain traffic and increase sales. (We’re honest here on this blog – as Transformation Church is famous for saying, “We are HOT: Humble, Open, and Transparent.”) Sure, you share knowledge and educate folks but it is always in an effort to get them further down the funnel toward a sale. That means when your posts are not being viewed and no one is engaging with them, you start to feel ineffective. BUT HERE’S THE THING: if you aren’t building community, no one realizes you have a blog, let alone knows to come interact with you on it!

So how do you build community and encourage folks to visit your blog?
Let’s discuss 7 steps you few steps you can take.

  1. Share your post on social media.
  2. Engage with people who like and comment on your social media posts.
  3. Engage with others’ blogs by liking and commenting.
  4. Get to know business owners who offer complementary services and offer to guest post.
  5. Share the link to your latest post in your email signature and on your LinkedIn page.
  6. Share a condensed version of your blog as a LinkedIn article and then link to your blog for those who want additional information.
  7. Visit social media pages and profiles of people you would like to visit your blog and engage with them.

We’ll dive into each one of these over the next week in short, individual posts. It takes a little work to build your blog but you can make it manageable. It typically will take some time to build your blog but as you engage with others and build your blogging community, you will start to see your customers’ pain points, which will give you more fuel for your content! You get to know your readers and understand what makes them tick, helping you deliver key information they want to read. Soon you may even forget that the reason you are writing and engaging with them is to make a sale because you get lost in the art of truly building an online community where people feel that you hear them, understand them, and value them. And isn’t that what we all want? To believe our dollars matter to the businesses from which we buy services and products?

You’ve Been Told Your Book Sucks. Now What?

You finally finished the novel you’ve been pouring your heart into. Sleepless nights, long days, no time out for friends or extracurricular activities. Just you and this story you’ve had in your head for the last six months. Full of excitement, you package it together and give it to three close friends and two beta readers and ask for honest input.

Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

A few months go by and you’re surprised you haven’t heard anything. You check your Spam folder and junk mail: Nothing. You check your voicemail and Instant Messenger: Nothing. Dead silence from all the people you’ve sent your story to.

Knowing it doesn’t take that long for any of your friends to read a good book your anxiety goes up and you begin playing scenarios around in your head, “What if my book sucks and they don’t want to tell me?” You realize that both friends usually check in every few weeks but have been unusually silent. And the Beta readers… it’s unusual not to her back from them since you used a professional and went with folks who do this regularly.

So you reach out. You send the email and make the phone calls and you ask them: “How’s it going with my book? What has caught your attention? What questions do you have? Is there anything that doesn’t make sense?” You ensure the emails don’t come back returned and you ensure you leave voicemails when your friends don’t pick up the phone.

And then it happens. You get the feedback you’ve been waiting for. As if your email server had been frozen suddenly all their responses are sitting in your email! You brace yourself for their comments and open the first email, and then the second, and you continue until you’ve taken in all the feedback provided. When you’ve read the last sentence of the last email, you exhale deeply while staring at your phone’s screen.

“Your story sucks! I am not sure what I read but seriously, you need to rethink putting this one out there for the public.”

“It’s terrible. Why did you waste your time writing this disaster?”

“I’m not sure what I read but this was a total waste of my time.”

That’s what may as well have been handed back to you from the respondents. Friends? You can’t possibly call them that now, can you? Who would say such harsh things to a friend?! You sulk all night wondering what to do next.

Have you been here? Does this situation remind you of a situation recently? Then let’s talk because we need to reframe this situation and pull you back into reality by taking 3 steps to get you back on track.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

3 Steps to Getting Your Book Back on Track

No writer wants to hear their work sucks. I get it. I am a writer as well. While most of my work to date has been published other names, I would have hated for anyone to come back and tell me something I wrote for them wasn’t good enough. Sometimes it is hard enough to make edits to what I write because I always hand off what I believe to be a quality product. When you have invested time into writing a story, even if just for internet consumption, you want to hear that people were touched by it or that it helped them realize something they’d not previously seen. Hearing that your book sucked is something none of us want to hear. But it’s time to get over it.

Thank your friends and beta readers for their honest feedback.

Regardless of what your friends and beta readers thought of your story, they took their own time to read the book you hope to make money by selling. They volunteered their free time and invested in you so they could give you helpful feedback. I get that you’re hurt, but you need to be polite and thank them for being honest with you and let them know you will take their feedback into consideration and see what changes you can make so your final novel is stronger. In the next step, this will make more sense, even if it’s painful the moment you press send on the emails or as you speak the words to them through a phone call or in-person conversation. You will soon appreciate that they didn’t lie to you, as some people would have done

Get a notebook and review their feedback again with a clear mind

Grab a notebook and pen, grab your phone, and get your favorite drink – whether it be coffee, chai, or wine. Open the first message and listen to or read it again with a clear head this time.

  • What points did they share with you that you can reassess within your book?
  • What flaws did they point out that you may need to go back and fix?
  • What strengths did they point out that you can build upon?
  • What questions did they have that you may need to answer within the story?

Whether you enjoy the feedback isn’t the point here. The point is that you trusted these people to read your story and offer feedback and now you need to honor their time by at least considering whether their feedback has merit in the larger scale or is based upon personal taste.

If the comments have merit, address them by editing your story. Reread the story when you are done and see how you feel about it. Do you feel that it is stronger? Do you feel like you addressed their concerns? If so, now it’s time to send it off to another group of testers or to your editor, whichever you feel most ready for.

Realize that people have different types of taste when it comes to books.

What if the comments your beta readers and friends made isn’t valid? What if you go back in to read your novel and you don’t see the same issues? This is possible! How much research did you do or consideration did you take before asking your friends and beta readers to read your story?

One of the most common problems I see when people ask others to read their story is they pick either folks who are close to them because they will get honest feedback or they take whoever is willing to do it free. They don’t take time to consider if the folks they chose would actually enjoy their type of story. When the feedback comes through and it isn’t what they expected, they feel like they have failed at their goal of writing a book. This is not true for two reasons: 1) you did complete the book and 2) you failed at choosing the right audience not writing a successful story.

This is where you take in what is good in the feedback provided and what can help you make the story stronger and you ignore the feedback that doesn’t help you with the type of story you wrote. Then you move forward by realizing we all have different tastes in what we enjoy reading. You will do better research next time and continue forward with publishing your book.


Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

What to Do if Your Book Really Does Suck

Listen, there will be times that your book really does suck. You didn’t get the flow right and you mixed up characters’ names and roles within the book. You left plots unfinished or forget to finish what you started when you were outlining processes. It happens. Especially if you’re a first-time writer. Don’t give up! Instead, press forward and apply the feedback you received from your friends and beta readers. Once you’ve finished, put the book down for a month and walk away from the project. In a month, pick it up and read it as though you are the reader.

  • What questions are still unanswered?
  • What characters are still confusing?
  • What processes didn’t you finish discussing thoroughly enough for the reader to take action?
  • What steps are missing in the overall book to help someone use your book as a go-to source for learning this subject?

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, you should end the book with a clear understanding of the story and closure about what you just read. If you are writing a series you should have some questions outstanding but only so many as you plan to answer in the next book and just enough that the reader will want to come back and read the next book in the series.

Go Be the Writer You Truly Are!

Writing is an art. With any art, it will be great for some and not for others. I can remember art exhibits that have brought me to tears while others stood and wondered what the artist was possibly thinking! I can also remember books I have read that have changed my life in powerful ways that others would skip right past because they weren’t into that type of book and didn’t need that type of information in their lives. Don’t let others discourage you on your journey. If you are a writer who writes with a passion to help others and to get out the words that swim around your heart and mind, it won’t matter if only one person enjoys the final book. If you’re writing to try to earn a six-figure income, well… you may want to hire a writing coach and work with them one-on-one to learn how to streamline your writing and choose the correct audience (and this isn’t a plug for me as this is not the type of writer I work with; I work with the former). Whatever your reasons for writing, it’s time to get back up and go write some more so you can be the writer you truly are!

Essential Oils for Creatives

  • Abundance
    • Combines oils that were used by ancient cultures to attract prosperity and magnify joy and peace
    • Can be used as a cologne / perfume when creating masterpieces
  • Joy
    • Produces an aroma that brings joy to the heart, mind, and soul
    • Supplies an uplifting aroma that can be enjoyed alone or combined with any YL personal care product
  • Orange
    • Has a sweet, uplifting aroma
    • Can be massaged into skin for an energizing aroma
  • Stress Away
    • Formulated with Lime, Lavender, Cedarwood, and other pure essential oils for a well-rounded and relaxing aroma
    • Promotes relaxation and a calming environment
    • Can be diffused, applied topically, and used as a personal fragrance during creative time
    • Has an inviting aroma that helps calm the mind and welcomes creativity
  • Peppermint
    • Produces a focused environment when diffused
    • Provides a refreshing experience when mixed with your favorite shampoo or when applied to skin after a warm day in the sun
    • Creates an invigorating and refreshing experience when inhaled
  • Rosemary
    • Can increase insight and inspire creativity when diffused
    • Can help you stay on task when completing a creative project for a client
    •  
  • Spearmint
    • Provides a refreshing scent when mixed with your favorite lotion and massaged into the skin before a creative session
    • Creates an uplifting and inviting atmosphere when diffused
  • Valor
    • Features a spicy, sweet, positive aroma that inspires confidence and courage
    • Helps freshen the air when diffused and improves the appearance of skin when applied topically
    • Creates a grounded environment for yoga and meditation

These oils have an ability to create an environment conducive to creating and expressing oneself. I use each of these whenever I am doing something that requires me to be creative and energetic.

Suggestion: Mix Orange, Peppermint, and Rosemary (2 drops each) for a refreshing small that will brighten up your space and inspire you to dance, sing, write, draw, paint, or whatever other creative way you express yourself.

For more suggestions, visit TheEssentialCreative.com, where I blog about all things creative and help folks reach new creative heights.

7 Lies People Tell Themselves About Sharing Their Stories

Whether you are in the church and call it a “testimony” or aren’t part of the church and call it your story, there are 7 lies I hear consistently as I speak with prospective clients and friends. These lies come from a variety of roots, such as self-doubt, self-sabotage, self-limiting beliefs, and words spoken over you from others in their lives. Which of these lies sound familiar to you?

The 7 lies we are about to go through listed on a graphic.

Let’s dive deeper into why these statements are LIES, no matter who you are and what you are currently doing. 

7 Lies People Tell Themselves about Sharing their Stories

No one wants to hear about what I’ve been through.

How do you know this? Have you started talking to people about your past and they’ve walked out mid-sentence? Have you shared your story in a public setting and not received feedback? There are many people out there whose stories are so hard to digest that they leave people speechless. However, years later the person will process what was said and they will realize what an impact it had on them to hear someone who had been through something similar. Sometimes, the person will have a relative going through something and they will be able to say, “I once heard this young woman / young man speak about struggling with this same concern.” Then they can share what they heard you share about how you triumphed, walked through, or learned to handle your struggle. 

I’m still in my process. Sharing my story won’t help anyone.

Sometimes people don’t want to hear from the folks who went from homeless to millionaire and are speaking to them from their beautiful homes with their perfect family waving in the background. Sometimes what people want is to hear from someone who was homeless a month ago and is talking to them from a place of struggle to stay in their apartment because their first month’s rent is due and they are unsure how they are going to pay it. They want to hear how the person is staying calm, keeping their faith, and being proactive about getting the money needed. They want to hear from the business owner in year one who is shocked at the amount of taxes they had to pay and isn’t sure if they really want to continue doing what they love or if they should go back to corporate and focus on saving as much as possible. 

There are many people who don’t want perfect. They want authentic and reachable. They want someone who understands the pain of today. They want to know that someone gets them and understands the pain they are going through and to hear someone say from not too far up the road, “You are going to be okay.” 

I’m too young to have a story that people want to hear. 

This one always baffled me because I think it’s wonderful when young people have been through some stuff and share their stories with folks. To hear a 21-year-old share how they’ve been drinking since age 7 and partying since 13 and then something happened that rocked their world and now they are a year clean… it gives us an understanding of the true state of the world. It also helps adults understand where we need to invest in our youth and helps folks who aren’t in touch with the world gain some perspective. Additionally, and most importantly, when you speak with youth just a little younger than you and they hear how your struggle turned out, it can help them avoid diving into the same situations and running through the same struggles.

I don’t know how to write so I can’t share my story until I can hire someone. 

As I write this it is year 2019. We have speech-to-text programs, Grammarly, and all kinds of online editing programs available to us for free. Sharing your story isn’t about knowing how to write perfectly. It’s not about having a degree in English or Fine Arts. It’s about knowing who you are, what you have been through, and what you want to share with the world. As a ghostwriter, I have turned folks away because they didn’t need me. They simply needed to sit down with a pen and paper and get their thoughts on paper. You need to do this same if this is your lie.

By sitting with paper (or a laptop or computer), you can write what is in your heart. Don’t worry about whether it is linear or makes sense to someone else. The point is to get it out on paper and then reread it and see what stands out. Sometimes during this process you will learn that some parts of your life are for your eyes only, some parts are for certain groups, and some parts can be consumed by the public. Books, blogs, and articles are great for the public space. Workshops and classes, seminars, and keynote speeches are best for those consumed by certain groups. The format you share your story in doesn’t have to be a written format at all! Don’t get locked into a box of having to write a book. There are many other formats your story may be best told in but you won’ know until you have it written out and can evaluate it. Start writing today and then work on connecting with someone to help you determine whether you can do it on your own or need to hire someone. 

I am afraid to put my story on paper. Not everyone knows what I have been through. 

This one comes through more often than I would like to hear it, but I empathize because for so long I was afraid to share my story on paper or aloud. Sometimes this lie requires counseling due to PTSD or other concerns being present. Committing your story to paper or audio is very scary when you haven’t shared it previously. However, I challenge you to speak with a counselor and talk with them about the steps necessary to heal from the things you have been through and receive guidance on which parts of your story you are ready to share. You may have to wait or you may find that you are in a good place in your life to start letting folks know what you have been through. Even tough issues such as rape, sexual abuse, and affairs (which we will talk about in a moment) are stories that people need to hear about and know someone else has been through it. With a good editor or writing coach, you will be able to share the story in a way that others would like to hear it. 

The people I can help don’t read books and wouldn’t have access to them even if I did publish it. 

As I said earlier, don’t limit yourself to thinking your story must be told through a book, article, or blog. It could be a keynote speech, a seminar session, a workshop you offer or a presentation you do in middle and high schools throughout the country. Maybe it’s something you have to fly overseas for and present to a group of refugees or prisoners. Maybe you want to talk to people in some back woods land that doesn’t have electricity or running water. There is a way to reach everyone today, you just have to learn the audience and know how they best receive information. Then share it in that format. 

As far as people not reading or having access, why couldn’t your book become the first book club book they read as you lead them in the discussion of what you have to share? Don’t limit yourself to small thinking. If you want to share your story and believe it is one people will benefit from, think outside the box on how you reach the people who need to hear it most. 

My story isn’t the kind you talk about in church.

Ahhhhh, the things we don’t talk about in church. The things we tell you don’t happen until you read a scandal about the very topic and wonder what happened to that not happening or being talked about in church. Here’s a thought from a former youth leader: Maybe if we talked about what isn’t talked about in church we would see fewer youth growing up to experience the very things some of us adults hoped they never would. Maybe if instead of saying, “Don’t do this…” we sat with them and share the reasons behind our not wanting them to do certain things, youth and young adults would feel more free to talk about the struggles they are facing. 

One night at church I felt the Lord tell me to scratch my lesson and share with the kids about some suicidal ideations I’d had that week. It was something I hadn’t experienced since childhood and really took me aback. I knew for sure I would be fired for talking about such things but long ago I learned if I feel like God tells me to talk about something, I do it. So I did. At the end of the night we had three youth talk to us about mental health struggles. I haven’t had suicidal ideations since that day. Sometimes people need you to talk about the things you don’t about so they can have the courage to share their story. 

What Lies Have You Been Believing?

Which of those lies stood out to you? I hope you were able to see why they are lies. Your story matters to someone out there. Your voice and who you are matters to the people connected to you and who are out there struggling, thinking they are all alone and that no one would understand what they are going through. Your story may be the difference between them making it and them giving up. It is scary to write your story down on paper and to share with the world this piece of you that can be judged and mocked and questioned. But what a joy it is when you share that piece of yourself with the people who need to hear it and they are able to change their lives in an amazing way all because you had the courage to write your story down. 

What are you waiting for? 

Graphic with title of blog so people can share on social media if they would like to.

 

Just Write Already!

As a ghostwriter, I often hear people tell me how scared they are of sharing their story. They’ve been holding on to thoughts and scraps of paper for as long as they can remember but fear putting it all into the computer, getting it edited, and publishing it. I hear excuses that run the gamut:

  • I don’t know how to write.
  • I’m not qualified to write anything about this subject.
  • No one wants to hear from me.
  • I don’t know how to put a book together.
  • I’m no educated enough to do this.

It’s time to stop lying to yourself and start writing the book that is within you. If the title of this post made you stop and read, you have a story within in whether you realize it or not. Maybe it’s in the form of a poem, graphic novel, or a medium you haven’t explored yet. Maybe it’s jumbled up and doesn’t make sense at the moment, but it’s there and it’s time to pull it out.

Maybe you know that you want to write your story but keep putting it off, like I have. In working with authors over the years, I’ve written, assisted in writing, and helped publish hundreds of books yet I’ve seldom shared my own works outside the blogs, anthologies, and contests. I have books half-written sitting on my shelves and computer archives. So this year I told myself it was time to stop “somedaying” myself and set a goal. I said I would publish my first book of my own by 12/31. I may make this goal – I have it almost complete and am learning the final pieces of the self-publishing process, as I’ve always worked with other publishers to do that piece. It’s been quite an experience and has helped me appreciate more deeply what my authors have experienced throughout the years.

This post wasn’t meant to be deep or share a lot of information. It was just a kick in the pants to say:

You have a story and it’s time to let it out, one word at a time. Don’t worry about what it sounds like or whether the writing is correct. Don’t worry about how it flows or what the structure is like. Just let it flow. And when you can’t flow any further, then reach out to a good editor or ghostwriter and they can help you complete it by sharing ideas, thoughts, and revisions.

Don’t hold yourself back any longer. Don’t let excuses stop you. It’s time to stop reading everyone else’s work and start writing your own! Coming in 2019, I will be sharing weekly writing prompts and ideas, highlights of publishing companies and individuals who can help you, and other helpful information. As I’ve prepared this year for how to best use this space in a way to help others, I realize you need to see what is out there to help you become a stronger writer and a published author. Let’s work on that together in 2019.