They used to say that everyone has one book in them. Nowadays we’re more likely to say, “You should start a blog.”
Easier said than done. Jade Alphonsine Tuan, a Novus Asia client services manager, has long wanted to blog but found it hard to begin. We hear you, sister.
Here she chats with Andrea Edwards, a longtime digital native with more successful blogs than you can shake a pixel at.
Jade: So here’s the thing; I’m afraid to start a blog.
Andrea: Don’t worry about the fear. Fear is not the issue: focus is the issue. The whole gist of blogging is working out what you want to be known for. As we talk, I’ll be walking you through some content from a recent presentation I did to businesses on this very issue.
People trust people. What you share is trusted because you are not a brand. This is the fundamental shift.
Then there’s information overload. We have created ten times more information in the last ten years than we have created in all human history. And it’s expected to double again in two years. That’s a lot of info, right? But it’s not all good, worthwhile data. And the average attention span has dropped from 12 to eight seconds.
J: So, what I’m sharing has to really grab people.
A: Absolutely. All this is turning the world of business upside down when it comes to content marketing. So what is content marketing? It’s about not talking about yourself, but addressing your issues alongside the issues customers are facing. Same thing with blogging.
So whether you are a brand or an individual you have to make your voice heard. The best way to stand up and be counted is to stand for something.
J: But why would anyone trust my own point of view? What kind of homework do I need to do to back up my point of view?
A: Well why does anyone trust my point of view, for example? Because I’ve been doing it for a long time. Because I have a unique perspective. Because I can put myself in my customer’s shoes. It’s about building a body of work that shows you are an expert.
J: But I’m not there yet.
A: But you have to start somewhere.
Daniel: I think the interesting point there that can help Jade start somewhere is “what’s your unique perspective?” Let’s say you want to blog about health and exercise. The question becomes: what do you offer that other bloggers don’t? It could be your unique cultural heritage, personal stories or quirky advice. Or how you tackle health within Singapore specifically.
A: Exactly. Everyone’s got a unique perspective on a story. Everyone. The fear I always hear is why would anyone listen to me. But you have something of value. And the biggest challenge is self-belief, recognising that you have an opinion of value.
D: So it’s about changing the question into an answer, right? It’s not “Why would people listen to me?” It’s: “Here’s why people should listen to me.”
A: Everyone is nervous about their first blogs. I have CEOs who, when I say, “Okay I’m about to publish your first blog”, they get nervous. They say, “Argh I think so. Maybe?” It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone is in the same boat: the first blog is the hardest blog.
So start with who you are, what you’re awesome at. What’s my voice? What do I want to be known for? Take a look at this list of questions. What I find interesting is that what you’re amazing at, you probably don’t even know, because it comes so naturally to you. Because you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone get this?”
So. Would you guys like to do a meditation exercise?
A: For one minute?
J: I can handle that.
A: Okay. I want you to choose one of those questions. It doesn’t matter which. Got it? I did this at RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) the other day. It was the first time I ever did something meditation-based in business. And it worked.
What I’m going to do is ask you to close your eyes and ask yourself this question in your head. After a minute you just start writing. Don’t think, just write. And what you write will answer that question. So close your eyes, take a deep breath. Now ask that question.
[A minute passes]
Now just write.
[A minute passes]
Would you like to share?
D: [Coughs nervously] “What gives me energy? What feeds my spirit?” Laughter and making people laugh. And learning something new. It could be a skill, or a lifehack, or hearing someone’s story. Or maybe just a fun new fact. Something that makes you look at the world — or just a tiny corner of the world — with fresh eyes. Ending each day having learnt something that starts a conversation. If it makes people laugh, so much the better.
A: I love that. And you embody that. Everything you do for Novus Asia, you embody that. So making that the core of what you’re doing and as a personal brand, that’s just awesome.
D: It’s an interesting exercise actually. I guess it’s not about “Oh I like health so I have to write about health.” You can write about whatever you want, a whole range of things each post. But having a mantra like this permeate everything you write really focuses your content into one voice. That was really useful, actually.
A: Jade, your turn.
J: Mine is the same question. What gives me joy is helping people find their true gifts, allowing people to discover their strengths and assisting them to understand their best selves. Whether it’s through encouragement or guidance, it gives me so much happiness when people realise their true potential.
A: Beautiful. So this is just a small component within a bigger picture we’ll look at next. And that’s a great place to have a personal brand.
Tune in for the next instalment, when we’ll focus more on the big questions that help you, and your blog, craft a unique message.