What Modelling Taught Me About Writing Blog Posts

In this episode, Ruby shares what modelling taught her about blog posts, and how it can help you write your own.

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Okay, so the title was a bit of a teaser. I mean you didn’t really think I’d done modelling, did you?! This is going to be a slightly different post to normal in that it’s more of an interview.

Click the play button below to listen, or scroll down and click ‘Read full transcript’ if you prefer to read the post.

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No, the kind of modelling I’m talking about is NLP. If you’re not sure what NLP is, it’s a powerful way to communicate. I thought I’d let Wikipedia explain it better instead of me bumbling my way through it, so this is what it says:

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s.

NLP Modeling is the process of recreating excellence. We can model any human behaviour by mastering the beliefs, the physiology and the specific thought processes (that is the strategies) that underlie the skill or behaviour. It is about achieving an outcome by studying how someone else goes about it.

Thanks, Wikipedia, you made that much easier for me!

So a couple of weeks ago, I had a session with a lovely coach in one of my groups, who wanted to ‘model’ how I got into a creative flow with my writing. I’d said at one point that I find writing quite easy and she wanted to understand the kind of beliefs, behaviour, physiology and thought processes I use that help me to write.

Once you understand those things about the other person you imitate that behaviour, you can start to piece the information together and model their behaviour to see if it puts you into a similar state. After time you then do it in your own way, it just triggers you to get into a resourceful state.

I have never been modelled before, so I found the process fascinating.

It’s so interesting how we all have our own particular strengths, and it’s only when you break them down with someone that you realize there are lots of very specific and different things that you do, so I thought it would be useful to share what I learned about myself and how I write in this modelling session.

If you want to become a more creative writer, listening to this interview can really help you. You can use the exact processes to put yourself in a resourceful state to write like you want to.

As you go through the interview, ask yourself the same questions:

  • What’s your writing like?
  • How do you feel about your writing?
  • What do you think about it?
  • What’s the best part you enjoy about your writing?

Compare your answers as you go along. You never know what you might learn about yourself too.

The session lasted about an hour, and the coach asked me lots of very specific questions. I’ve listed the main ones. It’s not verbatim, as I couldn’t type that much text, but it should give you a flavour of the call.

How do you feel about writing?

 I really enjoy it. It’s nice to be able to express yourself. If you’ve written something, you can go back and edit, whereas, with something like Facebook Live etc, it’s out there.

What’s the best part you enjoy about writing? (Is it about your audience)

For me, it’s all about business writing. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with writing a novel or something like that. I always have a person in mind that I write to. Her name’s Sally.

Where do you usually write when you write?

I get into the flow of writing when I’m in cafés. There’s a background noise, you’ve got a buzz going on around you. There’s noise going on, but you’re completely focused in on what you’re doing. I completely zone out when I’m in a café. If there’s a lot of background noise, then I’ll pop some headphones in, listen to some music or a creativity track to help keep me focused.

If I’m at home, I’ll end up checking out Facebook or being distracted by other things, unless I make the decision to get up early when the house is quiet. That quiet space before I start client work, or at the beginning of the day. It’s about not having distractions. If I’ve got client work, then I’d be more in client zone than writing zone.

Can you remember a time when you wrote a really great post that you felt really pleased with?

 I was writing a guest post article for someone, and as I was going back over the content I felt it came across as very serious. There was something not quite right about it. I’d spent ages writing it. I talk about ‘Ruby-fying’ my content, as in making it sound like me, and what I realised was that because I knew it was going out to about 12,000 coaches I thought it needed to be a bit more serious, but whenever I try to be more serious with my writing it doesn’t work, my writing doesn’t flow. I sent it over to one of my business besties and she told me it wasn’t Ruby-fied. I knew she was right, so I went back to the beginning again, worked my way through it and made it fun.

What did you tell yourself as you finished that post?

When I got to the end I said, ‘Yes, that’s the post I’m meant to write’. I said to myself, if they don’t like it then that’s okay. They’ve asked me to write for them because they like my style of writing, so I need to do my style of writing. It was really well received. It felt like I’d been true to myself, I was very authentic and not too super serious. It still gave a really good message to people

How do you know that you’re finished with a post?

I think there’s an element of you thinking you can do more and more, but there has to be a cutoff for a post. Sometimes there will be a deadline, so there’s the time pressure of it. I think I go through a tell-tell-tell process, so I tell people what I’m going to talk about. I talk about that thing and then I tell them what I’ve told them. Other times, I’ll think to myself, ‘Yes, I think that sums up everything I have to say, and I’ll just see where it takes me and what comments I get back on that post. I think when you’re sharing a story, there’s clearly a start, middle and end so that helps. There’s a mental set process that I go through, rather than a written one. I don’t always do that, but I often do, so when I do the process of tell-tell-tell I usually know that I’ve finished that post. There will be 2-3 key points and then I summarise those at the end.

If there’s a story I want to share, the idea might be bubbling away for a while, and I might write a few notes about it, but won’t share it until there’s a purpose for it, in a Facebook group, blog post etc. Then I’d share the full post

Do you constantly think about your posts throughout the day?

I’m constantly thinking about posts, not necessarily consciously, unless I need to write something specific for the next day. I might be having a conversation with someone, perhaps doing a client interview to understand my ideal client, and they might say it’s great to know they’re not on their own. That would trigger a spark in my mind, and I’d be thinking that would make a great blog post – something around you’re not on your own, other people feel like this too.

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There might be something that I want to share around being needy, so I would think to myself, ‘Okay, how can I relate a story around life/business or something that’s happened to me about being needy that might relate to business?’ So, for that one, I related it to a story around an ex-boyfriend from about 12+ years ago who was really needy, to the point that he sat outside my house on a bucket wondering why I wasn’t declaring my undying love for him. So, that then relates really well to being needy with your clients, where we’re not ready for that longer relationship (That post hasn’t been written yet, so watch this space!)

It can be a word that triggers me, and I’ll be relating it to something for my business. I’ll often do a mini ‘Ooh’ squeal as I realise something could make a good blog post and then I quickly write it down so I don’t forget it. There’s an excitement around it, so I know it’s something I need to write, so for example what I might write down a title, in this case, it might be ‘needy client – desperate for clients’. I’m always linking it to business, so I’ve shared all sorts of random ideas as blog posts, down to bubble bath being described beautifully and how that help you in your marketing message, to odd names that I call my hot water bottle! Even my daughter inspires me, I’ll tell her I’m going to use that for a blog post! I get the usual teenager reply of, ‘Really Mum, you’re using my stuff again for a blog post?!’

I keep a little book or add things to Evernote as I go, to make sure I don’t forget them.

What do you think about your writing?

When I’m too serious, it doesn’t come across as authentic. It’s not grammatically perfect. If you went through it, you might be saying, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have full stops here and there’, but I just think I don’t care. I want my writing to be as I sound. If you meet me, I want my posts to be as if I’ve met you and we’re chatting over a coffee. I want my writing to come across as conversational. I can write in an academic way, by background is in HR, I used to write policies, procedures, manuals etc. but I want to inject fun into my business. I like to have fun with my writing.

I wouldn’t say I’m an amazing writer, but my feedback from people has been that they can connect with me, my writing is fun, and it inspires them to take action, and if I can get people to take action I’ve done my job. I say I don’t care about the grammar, but you’re not going to see me writing ‘them’ things or using slang, but you will get me using the word ‘so’. I’ve been told I say it a lot, and I just think, ‘Well do you know what, if you met me, I’d be saying it, so if you don’t like it then I’m not your person to work with, because I say it all the time and I can’t help it! I’ve got Grammarly on my MacBook so that helps me correct the grammar.

So when you press that publish/send button, what happens then?

I go off and do something else.

Do you just press it, or do you read it again?

I always read my posts all the way through out loud, before sending. I do that because I want it to sound like me, if it doesn’t then I change it. (Obviously not in the café though!) In the café, I’ll read it, but in my head only! I will read it all the way through, I’d have probably gone through sections as I go through it, but I will always read it through one final time, then I know that it’s as if I’m talking to you over a coffee and then it feels more relaxed.

I then think, well it’s out there and if I get feedback on it I can then choose what to do with that feedback. It’s not the end of the world, it’s a blog post. It’s about keeping it in perspective. It’s just a blog post.

Someone will read it and then go off and do something else, it’s not going to ruin your life if you got a bit of punctuation wrong or it’s something people disagree with. If people do disagree with it, then they’re not your ideal clients or it opens some great conversations and there’s nothing wrong with that either.blogging-visibility-biz

Once I hit publish, it’s a ‘Good, that’s done, what’s next’ and I’ll go down my to-do list to check what’s next. Once it’s done, it’s just publish. I will preview it to check it to make sure it looks pretty, it’s important to me that it looks good aesthetically because I’m visual and then I’d move on. I won’t ever read it again, there’s better things to do with my time. Don’t do that – Publish-move on. I don’t minimise the tab, I just publish, click close of the website and get onto the next thing.

When do you know it’s time to go back and check on it?

I don’t. I used to get really hung up about comments. I hardly get any comments, but I get loads of feedback and I just think it doesn’t matter. I almost took my comments off, but now and again people like to leave comments and get annoyed when I’ve turned them. I don’t get loads of comments, and I don’t worry about it.

I repurpose all of my posts. I write the script as if it’s a blog post, I’ll then record that as a podcast, so I’ll know it’s chatty. That goes onto my website, and I use my transcript as my post. People can listen or read the post.

If it’s a Facebook post, and you get notifications what would you do?

If someone’s commented on my post I will want to know, they might have said something awful so I do want to know, but equally they might have said something amazing. My first reaction is, ‘Ooh, I wonder what they’ve said. It’s more out of curiosity to find out what they’ve said. It depends on how busy I am as to how often I check my posts.

Take the pressure off. If someone comments on my blog and I get an email notification, if I answer that day they’re very lucky as I just don’t have the time to do it. It might be that I’ll answer the next day, but with Facebook, it’s more conversational so I might reply quicker. I won’t necessarily jump on it. It just depends on how busy I am in that moment.

I think it’s about trusting. You’ve put it out there for a reason. Somebody needs to see it for whatever reason. You’ve got that message that you need to share. They’ll see it at the right time and if they’re meant to respond to you they will, or you may never hear from them. I’ve gone to networking meetings, and someone will say, ‘Ooh I love reading your blog posts, I’ve been reading them for the last 3-4 years’ and I jokingly think, ‘Well you could comment, couldn’t you?!’, and I’ll joke with them and say something like ‘Yay, I’ve got one person reading my blog!’. It’s just about putting your message out there, and that’s helping you build your business

How often do you write?

Blogging I do weekly, the newsletter I do weekly. I link those together so they go out on the same day. Storytelling posts are usually when the mood strikes. I’ve got lots of social media set up and scheduled to go all the time, and then if I think I’ve got something important to share then I will. Because it’s a story about you or something you’ve learned that you can flip back onto your business. When you want to do the heartfelt ones, just think about something that’s important to you, and then think, well I could turn that into something that would really help my audience too.

What do you love about writing?

It feels like you’re sharing a bigger message. You can reach people through your writing. It’s something they can go back to, even when you’re not there. Even when people can’t afford to work with you, you can still help them through your writing. There are people who can’t afford to work with me, and I’m okay with that because I provide other ways to help them. I’ve had people come to me and say, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve just done this, that and the other, and it’s just because I’ve been reading your blog posts’. That to me is ‘Yes, I’m hitting the mark, that’s fantastic. Whether you’re working with me or not, I’ve still inspired you to take action.

What’s the trigger for you to know when to start writing?
Truthfully, it’s usually a deadline. I work really well to deadlines, and although I’ve had coaching and mentoring on it, I still can’t seem to pull things off way ahead of time. It’s just not how my brain works.
What’s your physiology like?

I’m quite intent, everything is zoned out. I’m completely focused on my piece of writing.

When I write, I’m very much about getting everything out of my head onto the screen, then I’ll reorganise things like this is the introduction, this is what I’m talking about, this is the summary. I’ll be tapping away madly to get it all down.

Quite often I write in that order anyway because I’m going from start to finish. If I get stuck, I will walk away because I know that when I get stuck with something it’s not going to work. If I’m in that space, I’ll get as far as I can and leave it until another time.

If there’s writers’ block, I get it sometimes but not very often, I’ll go back through old blog posts. I’ll ask my audience, I’ll go into my group and say I’m actually stuck right now, what would you like me to write about? That’s given me some amazing results, which ended in fabulous joint ventures. I’ll ask my friends for some ideas, and now more recently I’ve started using my oracle cards to inspire me. Sometimes I only need a couple of words to trigger an idea.

Another thing that might help is to share how I get content ideas. I used to keep a little book of blog post ideas, that kind of fell by the wayside where I didn’t have it with me, so I use Evernote where I add a couple of ideas, I also use the Pocket app to save inspirational blog posts, so I might give my thoughts around a particular article I’ve read, or it might just be a topic title that will trigger something for me creatively.

Final message

Take the fear away from it, and just think that by me not sharing, who’s missing out on this?

You’ll be amazed, even just a little image with a message on will get the result of ‘I really needed to hear that today’, and I think to myself if I’d just hidden away and not done anything then you wouldn’t have had that message. For me, it’s just about sharing the message you’re inspired to share.

Oh and PS. Did you notice how I turned something into a blog post?!

CTA: As you go about your day, notice different things that might inspire you to write a different blog post, it could be a feeling you’ve had that inspires you to share, a random item or something that you’ve watched on TV, a conversation you’ve had over coffee (I had to get caffeine in there somewhere) Drop me an email when you’ve done it and I’ll check it out and leave a comment. I’ll leave my email address in the show notes for you.

There were so many things that I learned about writing blog posts, things I would never have thought of if it hadn’t been for modelling. If you’ve been asking yourself similar questions throughout the interview, you might find that you have some new ideas too. My little brain cogs are whirring, wondering what I want to model now! What about you? What would you want to model?

NB: Ruby’s email address is ruby@rubymcguire.com

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