[ Good writing helps people understand who you are, what you do and establish your credibility ]
Writing is a form of self-expression, it can remain long after you’re gone. There is the possibility for greater impact and influence compared to social conversations or presentations delivered which are limited in space, time and audience. There is, however, a dilemma many face in creating a body of work : whether it is good or not, it goes towards the creation of your legacy.
What kind of writing are we talking about?
This type of writing can take the form of maintaining a blog or writing ad hoc articles for publication on third-party websites, as guest posts or as a featured writer. It could also be books you choose to write and publish, although the time frame, cost and commitment involved in producing a book are significantly higher.
When you are first starting out, you consider the guest post submission because there is no other significant effort involved such as establishing a platform or gaining an audience.
But you don’t need to write a book. You can start with something lighter and smaller. You can take baby steps. You can test things out. You can evaluate the direction to take.
Guest posts vs writing your own blog
When you are first starting out, you consider the guest post submission because there is no other significant effort involved such as establishing a platform or gaining an audience. Having a platform and audience are the other critical components alongside good writing.
A guest post is an article you write which leverages the network and community built by someone who is already more established. The purpose of doing a guest post is to focus purely on the writing, leaving the bulk of work associated with marketing and leveraging that post to be handled by the person who has accepted your post and will publish it on their platform. You merely concentrate on delivering content that is interesting and provides tangible value.
You are writing to provide value to others, to help, to show them a way forward.
You will see, on closer inspection, that the majority of influencers and thought leaders out there do not just create compelling content. They also work at discovering and then building a community that relishes and supports them – a tribe, if you will – so that they have direct contact with their community. They do that by establishing a corner of the internet they call their home. Some do this by maintaining a blog or a podcast while others start their own website. They do this so they do not need to go through or be affected by intermediaries with their own agendas and timelines.
What should you write about?
Initially, choosing what to write about may feel tough. You could write about a whole host of things or you could just choose to write about one thing. That decision should be guided by your over-riding aim : why are you writing?
You are writing to establish yourself in your field of choice.
You are writing to provide value to others, to help, to show them a way forward.
You are writing not just to say you can, but to show them that you are.
You may be interested in many things around you. You may have opinions about many things. But the question is whether your audience would be interested in everything you have to say. If you’re writing and sharing opinions, you want for these opinions to be meaningful, to help establish what you’re good at and to provide value. Always.
Therefore, to do this, it makes better sense :
- to limit yourself to write about things you are knowledgeable about;
- to write about things you have a clear and passionate interest in;
- to build expertise in a particular niche so that you can establish even more value over time, through the contributions you make. This will distinguish you from more generic content.
What does writing involve?
To be true to you is to be aligned in your heart, mind and spirit. When it happens, there is no confusion. There is only flow.
-Writing involves the slow discovery of your voice.
What does it mean to discover your voice? It is more than finding out what your career is. It is about clarity of direction and values, it is about self-expression. You may wonder why you need to discover your voice, do you not already know what that is? But the fact of the matter is as you go through life, there are parts of it and times in your life, when you do what’s expected, what’s demanded, what’s true and tested, almost as if you were moving along on automatic drive. Does that make sense?
When that happens, it may be that you’re not entirely true to you but merely going with the flow of things. To be true to you is to be aligned in your heart, mind and spirit. When it happens, there is no confusion. There is only flow.
Discovering who you are, what you’re about, what you’re good at, what you care for, what drives you, takes time. It takes a lifetime to learn, to discover, and once accepted, to hone and improve.
-Writing involves perseverance and dedication.
When you first start, you are almost never happy with your writing. There’s a disconnect between what you’re trying to establish or articulate with what you know to be true. This internal struggle is very real and consistently present, able to single-handedly destroy your desire to move ahead with writing.
Yet, demoralising as it can be, the situation does improve. It gets better, less so because it gets easier and far more because you’ve gotten better at it.
-Writing involves reading and thinking.
Your writing improves as you seek the words of others, as you allow yourself to be immersed in new worlds, new experiences, new journeys. It does not work in isolation.
Who are you writing for?
Ultimately, your aim is to connect with another. To make the kind of impact that matters and it starts with one. Just one person. And another. And so on till a tribe is formed.
That is critical because you cannot write for everyone. Everyone is not your tribe.
I’ve found two strategies, in particular, that have really worked for me.
The first is to write for yourself. Write as if you were your reader. It’s as good a starting point as any other and the reason why it can be quite effective is because you’ve got a very clear persona in mind, for whom you are writing. That is critical because you cannot write for everyone. Everyone is not your tribe. Not every person will like what you write or even respond well to it. But the ones who do will be your followers for life.
The second is to have a very clear person in mind whom you write for. Rather than just a type of person (say, a young professional), it is a defined person (say, it’s a young, urban, ambitious HR professional who wants to be successful and will do what she needs to, in order to get there). The more specific you are about the kind of audience you want to attract, the greater the chances of making that happen.
Why does writing strengthen your brand?
Actually, it’s not writing in itself that strengthens your brand. It is good writing that does that.
Writing with a clear, powerful voice.
Writing with a defined purpose.
Writing to a very specific target audience.
Writing that provides immense value, that gives with no thought of what will come back. Writing that leverages the experience and expertise within and successfully showcases it.
When should you start?
There’s no need to wait till you get better, at whatever it is you do. When do you get better anyway? If you’re a learner and want to make things better, it’s a journey that does not end.
Start now, and let others in, on your journey.
How do you start? Where do you go?
Start with the one article. Just one. Pick something you care deeply about. Pick something you can talk about for a day or more. Write about it. Show others what it is, what it means to you, why it matters and how.
Then you do another article. And another. Find a place where you can get it published. Or publish it yourself on a free social platform like LinkedIn Pulse. Or if you know this is something you will commit to, get yourself a free hosted blog account at Tumblr or WordPress.
Before you get it published, have a few people who care about you, read through the piece. Make sure it delivers on its promise. Let your initial entry be memorable, impressive even. Take care of the little things like grammar, spelling and structure. Contact me if you need some help with this. Support your piece with good images, visuals help.
Once it is published, tell everyone about it, ask (you have to ask) for support.
Should you be paid for what you write? Or do you write for free?
The people who typically get paid are the ones who’ve made it. They have an established presence and a fee charged is merely a reflection of the importance of their time and effort. It is not that you are less important but that they have more things being presented to them as options alongside whatever else they are doing. The fee base is their way of managing their time and resources, allowing them to prioritise what’s truly important to them.
If your plan is to be paid for your writing, you have to start with free writing first. You need to establish yourself, not for the work you already do but as a writer. As long as you write, you are a writer, even if you do something else as an occupation.
Start today to strengthen your brand through your writing.
Make inroads into establishing your credibility and your brand promise.
Give people a glimpse into who you are and why that matters.
If you like this post, I hope you will share it. If you need help with your writing, with getting published or with strengthening your brand, feel free to reach out. Let’s have a chat.
#writing #branding #career
Writing in the dark headline image courtesy Ronen Ijansempoi of freeimages.com