Advice is like air – there’s lots of it out there.
You’ve been told to start a blog, spend one hour a day on LinkedIn sourcing prospects, write a book, upload dazzling videos to YouTube, and build your tribe.
Okay, there goes the next ten years of your life.
The truth is that there is only one thing you MUST do to build your expert platform (your space as an authority that people know, like, and trust). And that is to write.
You need to do lots of writing. And you need to do it every day. Here’s why
WHY YOU NEED TO BECOME A WRITER (really soon)
Not only have did we slide irreversibly into a world of content marketing (I read your stuff and I’m more likely to buy), but we have more options for distributing content.
And all of that comes down to you creating that content.
Sure you can hire a ghost writer for a book, and maybe someone to help get tweets out on a regular basis. But, that won’t replace you creating original content that current, relevant, and valuable to your tribe.
I AM NOT A WRITER
My first stab at writing was for my blog and I struggled with it. After the excitement of the new blog being birth waned (think: one week) I was in the purgatory of writer’s hell trying to cobble together coherent thoughts on a weekly schedule. It was frustrating, laborious, and down-right painful.
Pretty soon my once-every-week-come-hell-or-high-water schedule became every weeks and then once in a while, and finally infrequent at best. Not good.
HOW TO BECOME A WRITER OF CONTENT
The solution I am going to share with you allows me to produce two blogs: www.hughculver.com and www.hughculver.com and the Experts Enterprise podcast every week. Plus, I crank out email invitations to webinars I’m hosting, proposals for clients, seminar outlines for conferences I’m speaking at, landing page text for campaigns we are running, and the occasional grocery list.
In short, I write a lot and I enjoy it.
The process I’m sharing here is available in different forms on this site. Probably the easiest to start with is my video in Resources (top menu) “How to write better.”
THE LAST 48 HOURS
I am stunned when people tell me they have nothing to write about. Really? Unless you just got out of some deprivation chamber (even that is interesting), you have lots to talk about. The trick is to not wait for cataclysmic, and instead notice the interesting. The other day I bought a woman I don’t know a muffin and coffee. No big deal, but I could write volumes about first impressions, her reaction, what motivated me, the wonderful conversation that ensued,and lessons learned. Watch for what happened in your life in the last 48 hours and think like a journalist. Record these little life moments (anther great use for Evernote) and then build them into your next piece of writing.
Before I write anything I get everything I know about that topic out of my head and onto paper (I combine creating a mind map with this step). There is always a temptation to find that great statistic or reference article on-line – don’t. This stage is all about momentum. Looking up factoids on-line is a distraction you can leave to the end.
I won’t write anything bigger than a grocery list without a mind map. Good structure can help save any writing, plus a mind map makes the process faster and I get clues to where I am lacking content. I am a big fan of Mind Meister: it’s fast, you don’t have to remember to hit “save” and it’s in the cloud accessible from anywhere I want to work.
I teach a certain template to experts that can be their saving grace for a blog, article, video script, and even new speech. This short list won’t do it justice, but the template I ALWAYS follow starts with this:
- The Problem – an example or facts that describe what you know they are experiencing (get their attention)
- My Story – your experience, report on someone else’s, or share research (build trust)
- The Solution – offer a (high level) promise/solution. Let them know that you have discovered what they need to know (offer hope)
- The Solution – details on what they need to do (process, points, model, details, examples, stories)
- Do’s and Don’ts – how to get started, what to avoid
- Next Steps – motivation to get started.
SHITTY FIRST DRAFT
I learned this one from Anne Lamott in her must-read for aspiring writers, Bird by Bird. Don’t worryabout how excellent your first draft is. It’s going to be a “shitty first draft” regardless. The trick is to get it done. That alone will move you forward and develop your writing discipline.
SLEEP ON IT
This is the secret to all great writing (IMHO), don’t push it. You subconscious mind will do the editing while you rest. In the morning the glitches in grammar, stumbles in structure, and foibles in format will be obvious and easily cured.
Now get to work and finish it as efficiently as possible. Try to avoid chasing any white rabbits that no one will care about. I find that most of my writing does not improve with more statistics, quotations, or facts. It takes me longer to get that content and eyes glaze over when it is read.
Have fun with this. Becoming a writer (which I still aspire to become one day) is a noble and damn profitable goal.