Why it's so hard to write about your own business (and what to do about it)

Vanessa Green
June 30, 2023

There’s nothing more terrifying than staring at a blank document. 

OK, maybe a nuclear holocaust or the slow and inevitable death of our planet. But, like, RIGHT after that, it’s the blank document. 

For real.

If you have to write about your business, the thought of starting from scratch is paralyzing for most business owners. 

Illustration of a women working at her desk looking worried with her hands on her head.

They KNOW they know their shit. They KNOW they are experts in their field and masters at their craft. 

But sweet lord, please, do not make them write about it. 

Understanding The Curse of Knowledge

This paralysis is normal, and when you think about it, quite understandable. In many ways, it comes down to “The Curse of Knowledge.” This paragraph sums up the phenomenon quite nicely: 

“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it.  Our knowledge has 'cursed us.' And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others because we can’t readily re-create our [audience’s] state of mind.”

  • Dan and Chip Heath, 'Made to Stick'

The truth is, it’s really, really hard to get out of your own head. And that applies to almost anything in your life, but especially, when it comes to your business.

It’s why corporations hire outrageously priced external agencies, consultants and experts to advise them. They know that it’s almost impossible for their internal teams to see their business through an outside lens, to approach their challenges with fresh eyes and to provide a perspective that is customer-focused vs. company-focused. 

The downside of trying to write about your own business

But paying for outside support costs money. And often, in order to save their pennies, business owners decide to take on this marketing work themselves. Most of the time, this involves writing their own website copy, but also includes social media messaging, digital ads, email campaigns, you name it. 

[Read our blog post: Website copy: you are not your audience]

One of the biggest issues with this approach (and I am 100% aware of my own bias here), is that writing is more than just typing. Copywriting and content marketing require skill and practice. They require marketing knowledge, an understanding of customer (and human) psychology, tone of voice training, sales chops and, most importantly, an clear idea of who you are trying to sell to. 

Most business owners don’t have these skills, and almost none of them understand their audience. 

So what ends up happening is that what they write is all about THEM. How great their business is, how awesome their team is and how amazing their products and services are. 

[Read our blog post: Why the blandness of vague copy is killing your brand]

It ends up being boring, sweetie. Unengaging, navel-gazing and without focus. Not to mention likely rife with typos and grammatical errors because they also don’t have an editing background. 

Hiring a freelance writer 

Business owners may not be writers, but most are extremely knowledgeable about their business and their industry. 

Where the best writing comes from is the marriage of this deep expertise and the writing skills of a freelance writer. 

A great writer will pull out your insights and knowledge through thoughtful questioning during copy calls. They will pepper you with queries about your business, the industry you're in, your goals, your challenges and, crucially, the goals and challenges of your target audience. 

They will also talk to your target audience by interviewing current, past and prospective customers to find out how you provided value from their perspective. 

They will make you define your unique selling proposition (USP), and they will persuade you to both think more deeply about your business and who buys from you, and more often than not, they’ll force you to think differently about how you approach your marketing. 

[Read our blog post: Why your business needs a USP yesterday]

I’m not saying a great writer is a miracle worker, but the truth is, they have to be more than just good at stringing some nice-sounding phrases together. They have to get to the core of your business. They have to dig deep. 

And this is something that it’s almost impossible for a business owner to do themselves. It requires outside expert support. 

I mean, sure, you could interview yourself, but that would be pretty weird. And would probably make you feel a bit crazy. 

I won’t go into a whole thing about AI and ChatGPT, but I will say, while I have no doubt that this technology will fundamentally disrupt and change freelance writing, what I’ve outlined above is exactly where that human touch will outmatch robot-derived business writing. 

[Read our blog post: Why the AI writing robots will not replace us (yet)]

At least that’s what I’ll tell myself when the robots start to replace me. 

If you’re looking for a warm-blooded writing partner to help shape your copy and content, I’m your carbon-based life form. Let’s book a call and see how I can help prevent you from having a mental breakdown by trying to write about your business. Book a call with me now. 

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