7 blogging lessons from painter Bob Ross

Do you remember the painter on PBS who taught us how to draw “happy little clouds”? His artistic advice applies to blogging, too.

Hundreds of thousands of companies around the globe have started digital community-building initiatives by asking staff members to blog and participate in social media.

This can be a win/win for companies and their employees, as blogging can help develop a company’s brand along with the personal brands of its employees.

Unfortunately, many employees whom companies have asked to blog haven’t spent any serious time writing since they wrote their college term papers or high school book reports. And for many who already have the writing chops, the idea of putting their thoughts on the Web where anyone can see and comment on them is intimidating.

Luckily, PBS’ famous afro-wearing painter, the late Bob Ross, has some advice for those of us looking to build our brands through blogging. PBS recently remixed some of his most insightful teachings about painting into a YouTube video mashup, and many of them translate directly to blogging.

Note: The rest of this article won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the funny, yet insightful, video first:

1. “I believe every day’s a good day when you paint.”

To get over the hurdle of writing your first blog post, you must first believe it will be good for you. Beyond the benefits of building your personal brand and gaining recognition, we’re genetically hardwired to enjoy creating. This is why humanity has come so far. If we didn’t enjoy creating, we’d still be stuck in the Stone Age.

Take Ross’ advice and believe that expressing your thoughts and creativity through blogging will better your days.

2. “Believe that you can do it, because you can do it.”

To blog well, you have to believe in yourself. It may sound cliché, but believing you can do it is the first key to blogging success. In the digital space, authenticity continues to trump formality, so you don’t need a master’s degree in creative writing to blog. All you need are some ideas, a little passion, and the confidence that you can crank out 500-plus words that will help people.

3. “This is your world. You’re the creator. Find freedom on this canvas.”

When you start a blog post, you start with a blank canvas. We may not have a ton of control at our place of employment, but when we blog, we’re in the driver’s seat. Enjoy the freedom blogging gives you to express your personal style at work.

4. “Relax. Let it flow. Think like water.”

Everyone is familiar with writer’s block. The opposite of writer’s block is flow, where words pour out of your head onto the screen almost as if you’re not even trying. This state of flow—which athletes and surgeons need to do their jobs effectively—is the ideal state of mind for blogging.

To increase flow, start by not worrying about perfection. Let your thoughts stream out of your mind, and worry about editing and revising after you complete your first draft.

5. “Make love to the canvas.”

Creating remarkable blog posts takes real passion. This is one of the principal reasons companies look to their staff members to blog. When you’re passionate about a topic, you don’t have to be an incredible writer to produce compelling content. Your readers can see your passion in your words, and it’s that passion that compels them to keep reading.

6. “We don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.”

It’s easy to avoid writing if you worry too much about the mistakes you could make along the way, and there’s no better way to get writer’s block than to dwell on potential mistakes. We all make mistakes when we learn a new craft, and that’s OK. It means we’re trying and, most important, getting better.

When a post gets redlined and shot back at you by compliance, or a troll points out an error in your thinking, take Ross’ advice and keep making happy accidents.

7. “I believe it’ll bring a lot of good thoughts to your heart.”

Great bloggers write because they enjoy it. It’s as simple as that.

Whether you paint or blog, sharing your ideas with the world can provide you with a rush. Blogging is a way for us to express our thoughts, entertain and help others solve problems. In gamification terminology, the feeling one gets from helping someone else overcome a challenge is “vicarious pride.” This sense of vicarious pride is one of the most rewarding feelings we can experience.

If you’re struggling as a new blogger, take Ross’ advice and believe you can do it, because you can!

Kevin Bailey is co-founder and vice president of strategy of Slingshot SEO. A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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