by Amanda Miller Littlejohn, personal branding advisor and founder of Package Your Genius Academy
One of the most frustrating things about having strong communications and marketing skills is knowing how to effectively market the ideas of others, while not being able to harness your marketing powers for yourself.
Seasoned marketers are accustomed to communicating ideas on behalf of clients.
We know how to craft an idea. We know how to write well. It's what we do everyday. And we're paid handsomely for it.
The challenge is turning the marketing mirror on ourselves.
How do we talk about what we do in a way that helps us reach our goals?
How do we take off the consultant hat, don the "expert" hat and begin writing from that perspective?
How do we come out from behind the scenes and start jumping into industry conversations - not on behalf of client x, but on behalf of ourselves?
How do we conquer our fear of self promotion, and come across in a way that is true to ourselves?
If you have no problem writing to promote the expertise of your clients, your boss, your team, your CEO or Executive Director but struggle to write from the perspective of expert, here are three starting points to help you take the first step.
Where do you have additional commentary to add?
Pay attention to the stories in the news
What's your media diet consist of? What news stories do you always gravitate to? For example, if you tend to always pay attention to corporate diversity and inclusion blunders, can you offer advice to corporate teams who are navigating a culture shift?
If you're a therapist who helps high achieving women work through the challenges of isolation, you may pay attention to news about women CEOs. If a high profile female CEO is in the news for alienating her male clients, could you write about the issues that may have led to her misconduct and the mindset one has to have to navigate a similar situation?
Use what you're reading and watching to prompt further exploration.
What conversations do you want to be a part of that don't already exist?
Sometimes there's a deafening silence around the issue that you want to debate. Mainstream media and your industry publications don't seem to know about it. They certainly don't acknowledge it in their pages.
If the silence around a question, issue, or topic is driving you crazy, that's a sign that you should be writing about it.
For example, when I pivoted from journalism to communications, it was right around the time that social media was becoming "a thing." Twitter was gaining traction and I became obsessed with how my former colleagues in the newsroom were using social media to find sources for their stories or even uncover breaking news.
I started writing about the topic and eventually launched a successful panel series featuring journalists from the Washington Post, NPR, CBS and others.
But it all started with my curiosity. I wanted to have a conversation that wasn't currently on the table.
Follow your curiosity. What conversation are you dying to have?
What questions have people asked?
This is perhaps the easiest place to start, especially for coaches and consultants. You likely have a long list of writing topics buried in your email inbox - they came to you in the form of questions, contact form entries, and Linkedin direct messages.
As I always tell my clients - the world is telling you what they want from you in the form of the questions they're asking.
Here's an example from my own business. I offer free discovery sessions to get to know members of my audience. A great way for me to come up with new ideas for writing, social media and online programs is to simply look at the responses on my calendar form. Here's the most recent entry:
What are your concerns about your brand? What specific project do you want to discuss?
My concerns are I don't understand how to package all that I am and do into one concise brand that anyone can understand.
I have many humanitarian projects in the works, but need to go after more funding. I know that I cam not adequately branded to do this yet.
This particular entry gave me not one but two great writing ideas!
I could write "Multi-Passionate Professionals: How to package all that you do into one concise brand" or I could write "3 ways to properly position your nonprofit brand for massive funding."
Like I said, you likely have an inbox full of writing prompts - it's just up to you to uncover them.
You're also likely getting tons of verbal questions that you should start paying attention to. These are your writing prompts!
How easy was that? Do you see how much content is all around you? How will you transform your existing interests and email inbox into thought leadership writing content?
This is what I live to do, and it's so much fun for me.
I truly believe we can all be more effective writers if we only pay attention to the opportunities around us. It's definitely a learned skill but you can learn to do it, too.