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Templates Are BAD #metamondays #writingaboutwriting


Welcome to #metamondays where I write about….yup, you guessed it…WRITING!

Before we begin, let me suggest that you follow me on

Periscope: @alisonhummel
Twitter: @alisonhummel
Snapchat: @alison.hummel
Instagram: @alison.hummel

Why? Because I’m going to be digging in to the different topics that I discuss in my blog on those platforms and it’s fun! While I adore writing, being a screenwriter….something that really tickles me is when words jump off the page and come to life on the screen. So, taking it to other mediums kind of itches that scratch for me.

I wanted to begin with an “Alison-Rant” (read: kinda rant-y but not too off the wall)

What is this rant about?

Copywriting Templates for your website!

I don’t like them. Why? Because I’ve personally used them and felt all icky and weird for the few days I had the template with my fill in the blanks up on my website.

While they are usually shared by other writers to be useful to non-writers, they will give you a crutch that you really don’t need and can’t afford early on in your business.

Let me acknowledge how frustrating it can be to sit down at the computer and try to write something and not come up with anything.

via GIPHY

But listen, even though writing can be frustrating, it’s not an excuse to use templates. I’m gonna push you. Here are three reasons why templates don’t work:

  1. Acceptable Laziness
  2. Reinforcing A Bad Habit
  3. Voice Problems

Let’s dig right in with number one: Acceptable Laziness. In business, we often look to our peers for ideas, support and solutions to problems that perplex us. You have your business (or idea) you get your website, domain and maybe even an email platform to collect email addresses with.

You’re feeling pretty fancy and then something strikes you. You have to come up with STUFF to put on a bunch of different pages that explains ::gasp:: YOU and your business. And you need it to be compelling, interesting, catchy or funny. Something that will grab your readers attention and make them trust you.

Oy! That’s a tall order. Frozen, you try to come up with a bandaid to the problem. You venture down the rabbit hole of “getting ideas” from other people in the online space. You check out other peoples sites, blogs, yotube channels, snapchats, twitter feeds, FB pages, etc.

Hours months later, you emerge, still in the same place you were when you began: with a semi-filled-out website, nary a customer in sight and lots of reasons why Susie Sunshine is amazing and you (obviously!) suck and should take down any traces of life online.

You then find the holy grail for the tongue-tied-preneur: TEMPLATES.

You download several templates and begin feverishly filling them in with your information. It’s kind of amazing. As you’re posting the templates onto your blog you catch yourself looking around to see if anyone has noticed.

No one has. And you feel like you’ve gotten away with something.

I’m gonna go ahead and burst your bubble: You Have Not.

You got lazy and you downloaded something that was not yours. Granted, you didn’t plagiarize but that bar is so damn low, I wouldn’t use “not plagiarizing” as a bar to not dip below.

You gotta dig deep…laziness will NOT be tolerated in business. So you have to toss that template.

Now let’s look at a close friend of point number one: Reinforcing a Bad Habit.

Let’s assume you’ve made it a couple of months with your template workin’ for you on your site. Maybe you’ve even gotten some clients in the interim. You’re thinking you’re in the clear.

Until.

You have to write some more.

And let’s be real: you KNOW you have an online business and that means creating content (AKA writing blog posts as one form of content) and that means you are going to have to get real about what you’re writing.

I remember when I was in a basketball camp a while back (grade school). There was some motivational saying that really stuck with me:

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

I’m not suggesting you shoot for perfection, but I am suggesting that whatever your’re doing today is reinforcing that habit for your future. If you’re using other people’s writing to get you through your early days in business, you will need other people’s writing to get you through your next phase as well.

You cannot improve on a skill if you don’t acknowledge you need help and actually work at it. You will need to put in the time of writing to learn how to do it and learn what it feels like to bang it out. It feels kind of difficult but rewarding when you get it done.

I’m going old-school psychology on you here now: Albert Bandura has this term he came up with called “self-efficacy” it means one’s specific belief in one’s own ability to accomplish a task. One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks and challenges.

Yes, becoming the type of person who believes that they can accomplish their goals starts out in early childhood, but if you come from a place of not believing in yourself, it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel because your childhood was a little (or even a lot) rocky.

There are four major sources of self efficacy:

  1. Master Experiences. This means setting a small goal and mastering it. So, in the case of learning to write for your own business…that means picking a part of your site that you are going to write. Start with something other than your about me page (that one can be really hard because you’re talking about yourself. How about starting with your services.
  2. Social Modeling. If you’re hanging out in the crew of people who use templates, that’s going to be a detriment here. So, find people who have learned writing and hang with them. Read articles about people who became successful online.
  3. Social Persuasion. You could actually be talked into believing in yourself. Let me do that for you: writing is a bitch. It’s not just you. If you bang away at the keyboard long enough and do enough EDITING…you will become a decent writer.
  4. Psychological Responses. If you associate writing with stress, you will naturally keep on finding it stressful. Instead, make it soothing. Make a cup of tea, light a candle and sit down to write (if you’re doing it at home).

Any way you approach writing or doing anything for your business will have an impact on how you do it in the future. Bad habits can be broken, but not without care and concern

Tactical problems are bad but creative problems personally offend me. Hence my next point: Voice Problems.

In writing, there is something known as the writers “voice.” This is the way you say things that makes something uniquely yours. Odds are really good that you don’t talk like Susie Sunshine.

Even though you do the same thing as Susie, she has her own way of being in the world and that includes how she communicates with people.

If you’re using a template, you’re actually tapping into someone else’s voice and that will not only create a bad habit, it won’t allow you to naturally connect with people. Have you ever tried to be more outgoing at a networking event (if you’re not naturally outgoing)?

It’s friggin exhausting. I know because I’ve done that before. It’s not to say that networking events aren’t tiring or that writing is easy when you learn how to do it on your own. But what it does mean is, when you’re borrowing someone else’s voice, you have this kind of icky feeling because you know it’s not you.

You got into business so that you could impact people and not have to answer to someone (a boss) who is dictating your every move. So why give away your personality to someone else’s voice?

You can do better than that.

So we’ve covered a lot. Templates mean well, but they might be crippling your growth.

As an alternative, I encourage you to engage with me on any of the platforms I listed above and ask me questions about writing and how you can breakthrough. You CAN do this. I am here to support you.

Also, defining your own voice is the first step you need to accomplish in branding. You’ve seen all the best online business owners with the BEST branding. But none of them started out that way. The cheapest way to identify our online personality is through your writing.

How you say things, whether or not you curse, it you throw a hashtag in here and there or if you’re vehemently against using words like “amazeballs” and “awesomesauce” (please god tell me you are)…whatever your personality is, through continued writing…you will find out more about yourself and how to communicate your personality through your writing.

I LOVE writing. I dislike the actual act of writing at times, but there is something about learning what I believe in, how I say things and connecting with others that just makes me happy. Writing is one way that I can do that.

It is my goal to help you find your own voice and develop some discipline around writing so when you look at your own site you feel like this:

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Not like this:

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Thanks for reading…and check back next week because I am going to dish out a few alternatives to the template. But since you’ve read all the way down to here I wanted to give you a tip on how to find your voice.

  1. Pick a memorable experience from the age of 8-11.
  2. Write it down in first person.
  3. Find a moral to the story.
  4. Tie the moral of the story to your business.

Now, in the comments below…share something with me about YOUR experiences with templates or even my writing prompt I just gave you.

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