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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Here's Why Writing About Yourself is So Freaking Hard

You sit down to write your mission statement or “about me” section, pumped to finally get your messaging down, and—nothing happens. All of the words and phrases you’ve been stockpiling for months have disappeared, and the few sentences you write and re-write feel like they belong to someone else. And then you end up on Facebook for four hours. Sound familiar?

If you’re having trouble getting to the root of who you are and what you do, here are two things to know: First, you’re not alone. Writing personal or company messaging is one of the most tumultuous, awkward processes that everyone launching a website or running a business has to muscle through. The second? That it’s tumultuous and awkward because we all get hung up (to varying extents) on the same three self-sabotaging beliefs.

Which I am going to unshackle from you now.

Belief #1: There is a Right Way to Do This, and I’m Doing it Wrong

Incorrect. Contrary to popular belief, there is no right way to write a mission statement or an “about me” section. There are certainly frameworks and best practices, but some of the most inspiring marketing copy written by entrepreneurs doesn’t follow any of it.

With that in mind, the first step to writing authentic company messaging is to stop looking for the “right” way to write it, and just write it. Even if your first sentence—or first 25 sentences—sort of suck. Remember that even the most inspiring, creative copy probably went through 10 rounds of edits before it became what it is.

So, give yourself a few good brain-dumping sessions to get it all down. Then, start cherry picking the words and phrases that speak to the essence of your brand. If, at this point, you want to look for framework inspiration (like, should my mission statement be one sentence of five?), you can search for models that resonate with you.

Belief #2: I Need to Make My Marketing Copy Applicable to Everyone

I know—you don’t want to exclude anyone who might want to buy what you have to offer.

I see this all the time, and it’s probably the most harmful form of sabotage. If there’s anything you take away from any of my columns, I hope it’s this: You are not going to be able to make everyone love you. It’s impossible and a waste of time. Think about how much energy you’d need to spend crafting just one sentence of your mission statement so that it both inspires and doesn’t offend every age group, ethnicity, religion, and gender.

Instead, write to your key audience. Create an archetype for each type of person you’re trying to reach so you know exactly who you’re talking to—then talk to them. If your target audience is hipsters, talk to them like hipsters. If it’s women in their 60s, talk to them about the issues that affect them as women in their 60s.

When companies try to please everyone, their marketing usually ends up being too vague for anyone to really connect with it—and they end up pleasing no one.

Belief #3: There Are So Many Awesome People Already Doing This

I was talking to a few fellow coaches-in-training recently about a similar experience we all shared: At certain transitional points in our lives, we had our friends and family and coaches and therapists and colleagues all telling us the same thing at the same time—but we only got the message when we heard it the right way from a certain person.

If there’s ever a reason for entrepreneurs to keep the faith, it’s this: People are not only looking for what you can offer them—a kayak, a piece of technology, or a marketing strategy—but to connect with the person or company behind the offering.

So yes, there are probably many people and companies doing what you do—but no one is doing it the exact way that you are. Don’t forget: Your biggest differentiator is you.

If you’re struggling to get your authentic message down on paper, I’d love to hear what’s blocking you! Share your experience in the comments below.

Photo of man holding sign courtesy of Shutterstock.