There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, and that’s fabulous. What’s not so great is that the awesomeness of entrepreneurship is hardly a secret. The freedom and success it can bring have made competition fiercer than ever.
Every industry has a pack of hungry wolves fighting over the same territory.
When you’re in business, the name of the game is establishing yourself as the head of the pack.
There’s an old expression, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. Speaking as a girl who has a lot of pens, and a lot of swords, I can safely say I’ve achieved far more with the former than the latter. (Unless having badass wall hangings counts as a great achievement!)
But the premise goes a little deeper than that, and it’s particularly apt for marketing.
You can (and should!) write your way to the head of the pack.
But with everyone and her wife branding themselves ‘experts’, that’s easier said than done.
Exactly how do you use writing to establish your expertise and claim the coveted spot as pack alpha?
Here’s how to cut through all that digital noise and demonstrate that your knowledge and industry savvy is more valuable than everyone else’s…
Write, Write, And Write Some More
Bona fide experts with multiple degrees and years of experience in their fields still start at zero when it comes to building an online reputation.
It’s an uncertain journey from online noob to highly successful digital expert and it can be long.
Writing is an incredibly powerful way of establishing that expertise but it’s not a quick fix.
You have to write a lot.
It takes time to develop your voice and style as a writer, and learn how best to create the type of content that catapults you to the forefront of your niche.
And it takes time for your writing to gain traction online. It’s not something that’s achieved writing bits here and there, or giving up after a month or two.
You need to write, write, write some more, and when you think you’ve hit your limit and you can’t possibly face any more content creation, you have to keep writing.
It’s not quite as simple as that (you have to write with purpose and have an effective strategy in place!), but writing your way to the head of the pack, becoming the go-to expert in your niche, and establishing yourself as a credible professional really boils down to this:
Own Your Expertise
While writing and content creation play a pivotal role in establishing your expertise there is also a crucial mindset shift you really need to develop as quickly as possible.
One way to do this is to literally refer to yourself as an expert in your niche.
Not everyone is comfortable with doing that, and it can sound a little arrogant, pretentious, or egotistical.
There’s another old adage: show don’t tell.
Don’t tell people you’re an expert, show them through the amazing content you create. Demonstrate it with every word your write. And allude to it by writing yourself a killer tagline, one that perfectly encapsulates your knowledge, understanding, unique talent, and the fact you are a standout leader in your niche.
For example, here’s mine:
Hazel is a freelance writer and content marketer helping fabulous entrepreneurs build dedicated tribes of ideal clients. Hazel is also an Urban Fantasy author, Huffington Post blogger, and editor at Sci-Fi Fantasy Network.
Here’s The Write Copy Girl tagline:
The kick-ass copywriting service every ambitious female entrepreneur needs to grow a dedicated tribe addicted to their passion and products.
I don’t use the word ‘expert’ anywhere in either. I don’t need to. It would actually be far less effective if I described myself as a ‘content marketing expert’, a ‘copywriting expert’ or (and it actually makes me slightly nauseated typing it) an ‘expert writer’.
The word ‘expert’ is used entirely too liberally.
Hear a word often enough it stops sounding like a real thing. Instead it sounds fake, and vaguely sinister.
If you have to call yourself an alpha to ensure people know you’re the head of the pack, you’re not genuinely the top wolf.
Wolves lead by doing, not speaking.
Wolves don’t get to be alpha by howling the loudest, they simply lead.
Actions, not words.
This may sound rather odd when I’m telling you to do this thing by writing and using your words, but there’s a huge difference between writing like an expert, and repeatedly telling people in your writing that you are an expert.
One positions you as a leader because you are leading.
The other is just howling at the moon.
And there’s nothing new about that.
Find Your Passion, Write For Your Ideal Client
One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is ‘What should I write about?’
While that’s a really good question, it’s not nearly as important as figuring out who you’re writing for.
You’re looking to establish yourself as the head of your pack, the leader of your tribe. You can’t do that until you know exactly who the other wolves are…
That means knowing your audience, and by extension your competition. Figuring out exactly who your ideal client is will not only ensure you end up leading the right pack (by which I mean niche), and working with the people you genuinely want to work with (it’s a lot easier to get this wrong than you might think!), but it will also answer the question of what to write.
Before you can figure out who you’re writing for, you need to understand exactly what you’re doing. If you don’t already have a business, make sure you design your business model so that you’re working directly in your zone of genius and making your passion your paycheck.
If you have an established business, this is hopefully already the case, but if it isn’t, don’t be afraid to shift your direction slightly in order to position yourself more firmly in line with your true passions.
For example, in 2016 I felt totally stuck in my business. I asked myself three questions:
“What do I want to do all day?”
“Where have I achieved great results by doing that?”
“Who is in a position to consistently pay me to do that?”
The answer turned out to be easy, and I completely rebranded and launched The Write Copy Girl so I could focus on writing.
Just writing, because that is my passion.
I specifically focused on offering blogging and content marketing services, because I’d got great results for my clients with those already.
Once I made that shift, the question of my ideal client solved itself: I’d work predominantly with female entrepreneurs who were either ready to handle their content marketing like a boss and hire someone to do everything for them, or take an online course and learn how to do it all themselves.
Ask yourself these questions and you will have a basic understanding of your ideal client.
Once you know exactly what you’re doing and who you want to work with, you need to crawl inside their heads. Figure out what makes them tick, what they want, what they need, and where your particular talents, passions and expertise overlap with those things.
That’s what you write about.
Your ideal client should be the heart of your content marketing strategy; they should dictate what you write, when, and how frequently.
Develop A Goal-Driven Content Marketing Strategy
So, now you know you have to keep writing, and that you have to be writing for your ideal client. But what exactly are you supposed to write?
You’re going to be writing about the stuff your ideal client cares about and desperately want to read, but what form should that writing take?
It’s easier than ever to get your content out there, and the multi-media nature of digital marketing means there is a huge range of choice here. The go-to for establishing your expertise through writing is to start blogging.
You should definitely do that.
But there are loads of other forms of content that you can create.
The most important thing to do is ensure you’re not just banging out blog posts and other content without purpose. You need a goal-driven content marketing strategy.
When I first started out I didn’t have this key part of the puzzle in place. Despite spending a massive amount of time writing I had very little to show for it. After a couple of years of fumbling about in the dark I finally wised up. I dedicated myself to figuring out the perfect content marketing strategy to propel me to the head of the pack of ravenous wolves (aka entrepreneurs) loitering in the digitalverse, helping other entrepreneurs desperate to lead their own tribes.
Network Like A Ninja
All this writing isn’t going to do you a great deal of good if nobody reads it. The single biggest lie in marketing is the notion that ‘if you build it, they will come’ (I call this The Cornfield Paradox).
While social media marketing and email marketing go a long way towards spreading your content, and paid advertising is always an option, networking is essential.
Forging strong networks, through personal interactions, in relevant groups and communities (both online and in-person) will spread your content further and faster.
It will also, crucially, give you ample opportunities to further demonstrate your expertise.
People naturally ask questions. They need things, want things, and both need and want to understand things. How to make something work, how to achieve something, how to do something better, simpler, more efficiently, for less money. How to be more successful.
They also crave simple human contact, friendship, kindness.
While static content (content created, published and distributed) can offer the former, the latter can only come from personal interactions. Building real relationships with people is time-consuming, and generally can’t be easily outsourced, but it’s really worth the effort.
Here are a few easy steps to help you demonstrate your expertise while forging genuine relationships:
- Join key groups full of your ideal clients and regularly share your content with them in the appropriate threads each week (check the group rules and stick to them!). Spend some time looking at the content other people have shared. If something genuinely interests you, click through to their site and comment directly on their post, then let them know in the group that you liked their stuff and have left a comment.
- When someone asks a question and it’s in your wheelhouse give a genuine and personal answer – take a little time with it, don’t just copy and paste a link, existing text, or send them to your website.
- Wait for people to ask for a link to your site before you give them one.
- Ask your own questions – groups of this nature are often full of a really diverse range of people. Be a little vulnerable and give other people the opportunity to share their own skills (you’ll learn a ton in the process!).
- Post your latest promotions in designated threads, and again, take the time to check out other people’s stuff.
- Take advantage of opportunities to get involved in live events, showcases, or times when the group owner/admin needs one of the members to take over management or contribute their own content. Offer to collaborate with them in order to provide their group with a load of great content and insights – it’s great for their engagement levels, and perfect for getting you in front of the right people.
- Show up without agenda. If the only time you participate in groups is to share links to your content or promotions, you’re not building relationships with anyone. Show up in the groups just to say hi, share a win, tell a funny story that the other members will relate to, or simple scroll through other people’s posts and join in the discussion.
- Don’t think of it as selling. It’s not, it’s building relationships. The less you think of networking as selling, the better.
Networking is time consuming, there’s no getting around that. There’s a lot you can do on social media that’s automated and scheduled. You can also outsource a load of it to an assistant, content marketer, or social media manager, but there are some things you just have to do yourself, in real-time. Networking is one of them.
The good news is, as your business develops and grows and you become more widely known, people will start coming to you.
If you don’t want to spend all your time trawling through other people’s groups, start your own and begin building your own dedicated community. You can grow your own thriving community, and rather than spending so much time in other people’s networks, you can focus on engaging with and growing your own.
When it comes to establishing yourself as an industry leader and an authority in your niche, nothing does it better than a book.
There are loads of great benefits to writing a business book, and if you’re already writing a lot of content it’s often a lot easier than you think. When you’ve been consistently producing content on core topics for a year or more you’ll find you’ve amassed a lot relating to the same subjects.
Collate them, edit them, add a fresh perspective or twist, and expand on some of the best points. Look at your content stats on Google Analytics and social media and identify the specific points and topics that proved most popular. Focus on those.
It will not only do wonders for your content marketing (and marketing efforts as a whole), but will propel you to the head of your niche’s pack.
Self-publishing has made it easier than ever to step up and become an author. Books enable you to attract media attention, dazzle your prospects and potential clients, and can even lead to speaking gigs.
A book is also a great way to showcase your signature services and methods, earn passive income, and create an incredibly powerful lead-magnet that directly ties into those services and any paid courses or coaching you might have, or plan to launch.
Be The Weird Fish
The hardest part of establishing yourself as a thought-leader and expert is finding a way to stand out. The digital world is incredibly full. The amount of content produced on a daily basis is excessive, and you can guarantee that whatever you have to say about your industry, it’s been said before.
By people with bigger audiences, greater reach, and more to spend on advertising than you have.
The newer your voice is to the crowd, the harder it is to be heard. Even established industry experts can struggle to stand out.
But you don’t need to be the biggest fish, you just need to be the most interesting.
Be the weird fish.
Do things your way, say things your way. Use your words to express yourself and all that fabulous knowledge and wisdom in a seriously interesting way.
Adding a little controversy to your opinions is a great way of ensuring you stand out.
Don’t box yourself into regurgitating the opinions and methods of other people. Think outside the box, look at things differently, develop your own unique ways of doing thing.
And if all else fails, and you have to say something that’s been said a million times before, find a way of saying it that’s completely unique, memorable, and genuinely interesting.
One way of doing this is to use storytelling in your writing. Storytelling is phenomenally powerful. Working personal and professional stories into your content, as well as familiar narratives from pop culture, will help your readers relate to you, and what you do.
It will also make your take on the subject completely unique. Even if you’re essentially parroting what other experts have said before, you’re placing it in a different context and explaining it in a new way.
Stories also shows that, even if you agree with what other people think about a subject, you aren’t simply repeating what others have said.
You understand it and connect that understanding to all areas of your life.
In other words, you know your niche so well that normal, mundane, everyday situations remind you of it.
You’re capable of taking lessons from real-world situations, film, television, books, the media, and anywhere else imaginable, and directly applying them to your zone of genius.
Be Consistent And Patient
If you’re thinking this all sounds like a massive amount of work, you’re not wrong.
Writing isn’t a quick fix for your online profile, an instant boost to your status, or an easy way of making you stand out as an expert. It can be incredibly effective, but it requires two things in abundance: patience and consistency.
You may not have the time for that, or the inclination. If you hate writing, really suck at it, or just have a million other things to do and can’t afford to make it a priority, don’t worry – that’s what ghost writers are for!
Whether you’re looking to establish yourself as a leader in your niche and work your way to the head of the pack through content marketing, or desperately dreaming of becoming a published author and want to release a book, I can help. Book a discovery call now to talk to me about my content marketing services, and how I can help you become the alpha of your niche.
And the best part? Nobody will ever know it was me.