The first one took me hours.
I mean loooong hours to write.
I hired a professional writer I know to help me get into this whole writing thing, read books on it and even debated taking some classes.
My professional writer friend gave a great piece of advice when he looked at me and said:
“Jamie, writing is like a muscle, you have to use it and develop it to make it strong”.
Blog articles still took me hours to write, I wanted them to be perfect (but honestly not one of them ever has been).
However as time goes on things got a little easier, sort of like a new workout program. At first you’re sore all week, then a month later you’re getting a bit of a high after each workout and the pain goes away. But just like that workout, it’s usually better if you have someone coaching you and helping you.
So here are some methods to help you start getting some blog posts out for your clinic.
Getting Started With Massage Blogging
Before you get going, make sure you are setup to be distraction free and in a comfortable space.
Choose whatever you like best, computer or pen to paper. If it’s pen to paper you prefer, get yourself a really nice smooth writing pen to make it as enjoyable as possible.
If it’s keyboard you prefer, do your best to stay disconnected from the internet so you’re not tempted to constantly check Facebook, twitter or play angry birds.
I always like to have a really good cup of coffee and put some music on.
I know some people like to put on some hip-hop or reggae, but for me it’s George Strait.
Okay, now that you’re set let’s get going.
Telling Your Story
While blogging is a great way to educate your patients, the real thing you want to do is entertain them.
Tell them a story, tell them your story.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, I try to start every post off with a story as it is a great way to intrigue a reader (and hopefully keep them reading),
A good example is the post I wrote about dealing with someone who has had a stroke. I started off the post talking about a real life situation where I helped a friend of mine who suffered a stroke. It’s effective because it gets the reader involved and adds more weight to the post than me just simply saying: this is what you will see.
“It was around 1am Monday morning, when I realized there was an issue.
That night, something seemed different but nobody else really noticed. Standing with his arms crossed almost supporting one arm with the other, our conversation seemed confused as he constantly gazed at the floor.
As we walked to the First Aid shack for a coffee, I asked how he was feeling:
How was the weekend?
“I don’t remember, apparently I didn’t show up to work on Friday”
Did you leave the house to go to work that day?
“I remember dropping the kids off at school Friday morning, but that’s really the last thing I remember”
As we kept talking, his slurred speech became more noticeable. When he relaxed, those crossed arms became one crossed arm and one seemingly limp arm. Looking into the eyes and face of this normally strong, athletic man there was something missing. His left side was almost motionless, wilted.
Can you lift your arms above your head for me?
The right arm went up, left one didn’t move.
Can you kick your legs out for me?
The right one kicked out, left one stayed put.
We need to get you to the hospital.”
Seeing how this person moved and was reacting to our conversation paints a better, more realistic story than me just explaining what the symptoms of a stroke are.
So if you were doing this as a post for your clinic, using a real life experience of how getting a massage has helped you in the past, or how you have helped someone else with a particular condition. It will make your reader engage and think “yeah that’s exactly how I feel”, now you’ve hooked a potential or current patient who recognizes you as the professional and the Massage Therapist who can help them.
Always try to lead with a good story.
The Disney Method For Massage Therapists
One of the toughest things about writing is how hard we are on ourselves.
If you’ve ever tried to write anything there is a constant voice in your head saying:
“that was terrible”
“no one is going to read this”
“you’re like the Adam Sandler of serious writing” (okay maybe that one is just me, but you get the point).
This happens to everyone when they start trying to write, it’s our internal editor and it’s harder on us than anyone who reads our writing.
The hardest thing to do is turn off that internal editor, but to start that’s what you have to do, you can edit after you’ve actually written something down.
The Disney Method is how Walt Disney used to come up with ideas and he made it a three phase process.
It consists of:
- The Creative Phase (or dreamer phase)
- The Realist Phase
- The Critical Phase
Once you start to practice this, it can make the whole process of writing a blog a lot less daunting and time consuming.
1. The Creative Phase
Pick a topic, it doesn’t have to be fancy, pick something about massage therapy you’re passionate about and know a lot about, it’s a good place to start.
Just start writing.
Write with reckless abandon, like there is no chance anyone is ever going to read this.
Turn off that internal editor and just let whatever thoughts are in your head pour on the page or the keyboard, whatever your choice is for writing.
Be the most creative you can be, don’t worry about spelling, grammar, mistakes or anything and for god’s sake don’t hit the delete key. Use whatever tone comes natural to you because at this point it doesn’t matter, just let it pour out.
In the example I gave about the person having the stroke, when I sat down to write that, it was full of swear words (I kinda have a mouth like a sailor) because I remember that night and couldn’t believe my friend and mentor was in that condition.
It was a rough and I mean rough draft.
But that’s fine, you can clean up anything you write in the next phase, but you have to get that first draft out.
2. The Realist Phase
In the realist phase you want to make sure your story flows.
You’re going to go through and edit that rough draft with very broad strokes to make sure your story makes sense. Don’t worry so much about grammar and spelling at this point, just see if sentences need to be changed to give the story some real body.
Does a sentence work better a few paragraphs up or down?
Does a paragraph need to be moved?
Just shape your story to make sure it flows in a logical sequence and put the big pieces together so it makes sense to your reader.
In the stroke article, the story was the introduction, then the body of the post was video that gave instructions on how to deal with a stroke in your clinic. Go through your post and make sure the story ties in to what you can do for your potential patient with whatever topic you picked.
Now your potential patients are starting to put together how you can help them and why they should be coming to you for treatment.
3. The Critical Phase
Now it’s time to rip things up.
Go through and get ruthless with your editing.
Sentence by sentence trim what isn’t needed. Line by line slash what isn’t needed.
Take out any and every word that isn’t needed.
See if you can take as many words as possible out of each sentence without changing it’s meaning or tone.
When people are reading blogs they skim through them, it’s rare they get read word for word (seriously, you aren’t reading these posts word for word!?).
Go through and take out the word “that” wherever possible along with phrases like “in other words”. And don’t ever say things like “in my opinion”, we know it’s your opinion, you’re writing it.
You get to be creative in the first phase, but now is when you need to be critical (but don’t be super hard on yourself, remember writing is a muscle).
This is also a good place to go through and add any research you think is applicable that you have done for the post. It’s always good to add some kind of research into a post to give it legitimacy, especially if you’re writing for patients, it will reinforce you are the professional.
When adding your research to a post, you don’t have to use specific referencing styles, you can just add hyperlinks in the appropriate text of your article.
It’s a blog, not a research paper.
Photo by: fancycrave1
Coming To Conclusions
Now that you’ve gone through and edited things and the post is looking great, you’ll need to come up with some sort of conclusion.
A conclusion is a great way to wrap up the post and highlight the main points.
The conclusion is also a great way to leave an impression on your reader. Always try to leave them with a smile on their face, it will make them want to come back for more. This is how I wrapped up that post on dealing with strokes:
Later that morning I went to the hospital to check on him. As I walked in the room he looked at me and shouted to the nurse:
“Hey nurse there’s the little jerk that sent me in here” (they had him on some pretty good stuff)
“You should thank that little jerk, he saved your life”
I’ll be honest, that took some editing because the language he used was a lot stronger than “little jerk”, but you get the idea. While it can be tough getting into blogging for your massage business on a regular basis, if you start making it a practice it will get easier. If you try writing and you get stumped, take a break and go do something else, go for a walk, play angry birds for 15 minutes, just get a break. It’s amazing how much your ideas and writing can change with even a 10 minute break. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if the first one takes you a bit of time. Set a timer for 20 minute time intervals. Use each interval to go through the Disney method to be the creative, the realist and the critic. See how your article looks after each time interval and continually build it up until you’re happy with it. Feel free to share your posts in the comments below when you try it. Hopefully before too long we’ll be able to get a guest post on theMTDC from you.