Call it thought leadership, call it authority marketing, call it anything you’d like. Positioning yourself as someone who has useful ideas—and is ready to share them—is a sure-fire way to build your personal brand.
Sitting on your best stuff and hoping someone notices your experience? Not so much.
So, if you’re looking to build your credibility, jump into a new industry, or impress the pants off hiring managers, this crash course will show you the best way to share your ideas!
1. Choose a Topic
People tend to overcomplicate picking what they’ll write about.
If you’re job hunting, just ask yourself: “What area of my expertise is most valuable to my dream company? Which ideas can I share to show them I know my stuff?” Now, if you’re simply looking to reinforce your brand, you can move past writing content that shows off your skills and write an article that also reflects your work style, values, or personal philosophies.
And, of course, with anything you write, you want to present valuable resources and a relatively fresh perspective on your topic.
Ask yourself these questions to get started:
- What challenges do people face in relation to [topic]?
- Where do current mindsets and solutions totally miss the mark?
- Are there three to four tips or solutions your audience should try? (Outline why people should try each one and how to overcome snags along the way).
Doodles, question marks, and scratch-outs—or their digital equivalent—mean you’re on the right track. Remember, you’re not writing the article just yet. You’re just getting thoughts on the page and figuring out which one of your ideas actually has enough to it that you could craft an article around it.
2. Lay it Out
I’m not here to teach you how to be a better writer, but I will fill you in on my process, because it makes crafting a 500+ word masterpiece a lot less daunting.
Really, all you have to do is think of your article like a series of fill-in-the-blanks. Write down the following categories:
- Idea #1
- Idea #2
- Idea #3
Bonus: We’ve already done the legwork for you. Head on over to this free worksheet to fill in this outline.
Dumping and organizing your ideas is easier when there are a few sections on the page to catch them. (Oh, and some pieces may revolve around one or two points—that’s OK, too.)
3. Get Writing
I know: Finally!
Start by filling in a working title that describes what you’ll generally be writing about, knowing the whole time that you’ll refine it once you’ve worked through your ideas on the page.
Next fill out each of your idea blanks. These should be the main ideas or tips you’ll be sharing. Start with just the sub topics, then circle back to flesh out each one with your ideas. Don’t get too concerned about how one section impacts another. You can weave everything together as you edit.
I know it seems backwards, but fill out your intro and conclusion last. Waiting until I’ve worked out my ideas in the body of an article helps me open an article on a stronger note (because I know what’s to follow), and filling out my introduction and conclusion blanks at the same time keeps my message unified from end to end. Try it once: You’ll love it!
Finally (and most importantly): Walk away from your computer!
Eat lunch. Talk a walk. Sleep on what you’ve written.
Then, come back to polish your new content. Which parts need more detail? What can you trim? Would it make more sense if Idea #1 came before Idea #2? Where could you use more personality?
It’s not exactly scientific, but this approach works. If you’re just cutting your teeth as a writer, try these resources:
- How to Write Anything and Everything Faster (and Save Yourself Some Time)
- 7 Free Tools That’ll Help Anyone Become a Better Writer Today
- How to Write a LinkedIn Article If You’re Not a Writer
And don’t forget: Many people with published articles or interesting blogs aren’t operating alone. They bounce ideas off more experienced friends or team up with freelance editors to make sure their stuff is top quality.
Hire an editor on Fiverr if you have to. Sneaky? Some might say so, but others would probably call that very smart. Another option’s to ask a friend to look it over for typos, and share any questions they have.
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4. Share It
Publishing your article and sitting back to wait for some viral action sounds too easy, right? That’s because it is. But don’t worry, you don’t need to become an SEO guru or social media strategist to get your article some well-deserved attention.
One of the easiest ways to create some traction for your piece is to directly reach out to your network and ask them to share your article. You message might look something like this:
I just published a new article that I think might interest you. It’s called, “[Title].”
Here’s a link to it: [Link].
Thanks for taking a look; I’m excited to hear what you think of it!
Make your article a visible staple in your personal brand by sharing it across your social media platforms and network, but don’t stop there.
Plug it into your email signature “Check out my latest article at [Link].” Include it within your resume, or as part of your interview follow-up: “You mentioned XYZ during our chat. My latest article might help with…”—you get the idea. You worked hard on this bad boy, so don’t let it go overlooked, even if it means leveraging a little shameless self-promotion.
Establishing yourself as a voice in your field takes time, which is all the more reason to get started already. Stop sitting on your best ideas! Even if you don’t identify as a writer, give the steps above a shot, and then keep at it. The more you put your ideas out there, the sooner you’ll start getting noticed by influential companies (and people) in your industry.
By Erica Breuer
Article originally published on The Muse