Tonight I was talking to a friend of mine who is interviewing for a new position with a content marketing company, and she really wants the job. She is an experienced marketing professional and is being wined and dined by the company in question. However, there are two other candidates, and she's essentially in a competition to see who will get the position.
As part of her extended interview process, she was asked to create a blog article for the company. She was nervous, and venting to me about how she couldn't overcome her anxiety long enough to even understand the details of the assignment, let alone write it.
I looked at the instructions she was given as well as her notes so far, and I immediately understood the issue. She started off making 4 bulleted lists, overanalyzing and overcomplicating the instructions that she had been given. This paralyzed her to the point of complete inaction.
It became clear to me that the interviewer just wanted to see if she could write; they weren't really focused on the instructions or subject matter. I quickly typed out an intro paragraph and outline and sent it back to her, and she was overjoyed and finally felt motivated. I got the process started, and she was then able to get offline and go write the assignment herself, something I know she was more than capable of doing from the very beginning, she was just stuck.
She was just stuck because she was overthinking the project.
Writing and content marketing are not conducive to overthinking. I was able to dive right into my friend's assignment because a future job wasn't on the line, and so I wasn't worried about making a mistake or sounding stupid. As a result, I was able to write something faster and more efficiently than she was. I have no doubt that if the tables were turned, the opposite would be true.
This is the same reason why some deserving people never seem to get to the next level of success while some seem to effortlessly glide right to the top. We tend to reject people when they are overthinking, overanalyzing, and simply trying too hard. This isn't fair, but it's true. We prefer to feel like things that come naturally, whether it's a conversation with a friend, or a blog post that's trying to educate you about something difficult.
So be effortless! Sometimes the more we try to 'relax', the more tense we get. So if you can't shake the pressure enough to express your creativity and have a little fun with your content, there are a few things you can do:
1 // Write a first draft
Writing a first draft is the BEST way to take the pressure off when it comes to writing. Whether it's a blog, a landing page, an email to your boss about proving the ROI of your marketing efforts, telling yourself that it's just a draft will allow you to take risks and unleash your creativity.
2 // Get help from someone objective
If you can't get past the pressure block, reach out to someone who has nothing invested in the project, like my friend did. There is nothing wrong with getting a healthy push from someone who can offer a fresh perspective and give you some inspiration to get started.
3 // Talk it out
Who is your campaign targeted to? Picture yourself talking to this person. Do it out loud if you have to. Be conversational and as natural as possible. This is a great way to loosen up. So often, we try to make our writing super duper professional, and it loses all natural authenticity. Talking is more casual, so by using your voice to express your thoughts, you will have a more casual approach when you go back to write it all down.
Don't overthink it. Take it from me, I wrote this blog post putting no thought into it. (That's not true, I definitely did. Which brings me to #4)
4 // Caring isn't overthinking
No one likes reading inauthentic text that tries too hard. But no one wants to read garbage either. Write a first draft to get the nerves out, but write a second, and a third, and a fourth, until it's something your readers deserve to take time out of their day to read.
Want to be more effective with the time you have creating marketing strategies? You can read The 5 Step Process For a More Structured Marketing Strategy eBook for a more in-depth discussion of these concepts and how you can begin to implement them.
Multiple is a strategic design firm specializing in brand and digital marketing strategy, consulting, and execution.
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