Writing is a tedious art; not only because you do so much of it privately, but because sharing your mind on paper requires that you write in a way others can benefit from. This means rambling and prattling have no place in the modern information landscape, where consumers have already embraced that if one creator can’t provide the experience they want, they’ll drop it instantly to find someone they like more.
As such, modern day writing – at least from a non-fiction perspective – demands that you provide what people are looking for, and provide it in the context they are looking for, as well. This is how you begin to grow influence. To grow your influence stronger and wider, check out these four time-tested strategies.
One of the trickiest parts about writing is being willing to step out of the inevitable seclusion that comes second nature to this craft, and make connections – both online and offline – with people who share your goals. The Internet has allowed anyone to connect with like-minded people from anywhere across the globe, so if you haven’t found an online community you feel part of yet, I can tell you this – it’s out there waiting for you.
The first step in finding this community in which you can build partnerships is to identify your top three online destinations for writing communities and knowledge. Hopefully, these come to mind fairly easily, as if you’ve spent any lengthy amount of time online consuming material on writing, you can probably already name one or two.
These communities should be websites, blogs, forums, or other channels that you already have a good degree of familiarity with, and hopefully contain a few people that know you and are grateful for your presence. Online communities and friendships are just like offline ones; they require time and trust to grow, and can be shattered instantly if one or more people make the wrong move. As such, it should always be top-of-mind to treat people with respect, sincerity, and your real personality.
So, what are some great ways to slowly but surely build these partnerships? Ask people about their likes and dislikes. Ask them about their favorite writer or author. Ask them about trends they’ve seen in the news recently. Ask them what they’re planning on doing this year, or next. (Hint: You’ll notice these all pertain to asking questions – one of the top strategies recommended by relationships mogul Dale Carnegie.)
Once your conversations get going and you’re feeling good vibes from it, keep it going. Ask people to keep in touch. Make it a point to comment back and discuss things regularly with them. Friendships are about consistency, and showing that you’re willing to invest time with them. If you take a natural interest in others, others will take a natural interest in you! This is how partnerships are forged.
As this continues, simply ask your friends if they’d be willing to have you guest post on their blog, collaborate on a product, or cross-promote to each other’s lists.
If you need a few examples to get started, here are some of my favorite writing communities:
Keep in mind: a big part of growing authentic online relationships is to act the way you would in person; don’t force anything, and begin conversations with shared interests or interesting observations. This is how most friendships begin in real life. We usually meet new people through our existing friends, or discover that a stranger is into the same thing(s) we are. Strike up a conversation with one of these topics, and you’re virtually guaranteed never to go wrong.
Another important factor to bear in mind is never to go faster than another person is willing to go. In other words, there are 12 stages of human intimacy that, if broken, can cause immense discomfort or total destruction to communication. In short, the rules illustrate that eye-to-body contact takes place first, people usually make eye contact after that, speaking to the other person with your voice usually follows this, and so on.
The vast majority of people intuitively understand these rules are not to be broken – or at least, broken at one’s own peril. The same idea applies when building relationships online. You wouldn’t try to sell your $97 course to someone commenting on a social media post before getting them on your email list. Or at least, that’s not the order in which it’s optimal to build a relationship – for either party.
Continue focusing on people who are in your ballpark, and as you build the genuine friendship, offer your idea about working together, and how you can benefit from each other.
Look For Audiences Who Want What You Have
At the end of the day, you can be writing as much as you want, but without proper business strategy, you won’t be making the sales necessary to sustain a new career.
If you read that sentence more than once, I’m sure it will sting a little bit. I read it at least four times before deciding I wanted to keep it in this blog post! It’s not a fun or easy notion to consume, but it’s entirely true. If you don’t have the proper systems and structure in place to reliably generate sales in your writing business, you will keep spinning your wheels and not create traction. That’s not what I want for you, and I’m sure that’s not what you want for you, either!
What is the number one – and really, the only – thing all successful writers have in common? They have individuals buying what they’re selling. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Naturally, there are many channels in today’s world in which to interact with the people we admire and follow. Social media, email, and podcasts – broad umbrellas as they are – all create and lead to different opportunities to connect, and share ideas.
Look at your favorite writers – what are they doing and offering that people love? What kinds of content do they produce and share? What kinds of platforms do their users seem to resonate with? Look for ways to create similar, but different content. Oftentimes, people are looking for content that answers a question or solves a problem, but it’s the individual behind the content they truly resonate with. You can be that person!
Furthermore, what skill can you bring to the table today that people are already willing to pay for? This is how you begin making an offer in the marketplace. How can you take the skill you already have, and frame it for people to benefit from it?
Browse online course marketplaces – which courses of a similar nature are people raving about? Is there a course you see that you enjoy, but think: “I could do that better?” If so, how could you fashion a similar course – regardless of how you deliver it – through your own website? What would your subscribers and audience members love to see in it?
Spend at least 30-45 minutes writing down your answers to the following:
- What are my natural inclinations as a writer?
- What do I enjoy writing about?
- What are the questions about writing that always seem to plague me?
- Which business tactics do I seem to struggle with often?
- Which kinds of other writers do I look up to?
- What one solution or system in building a writing career has helped me more than any other?
Based on your answers to these questions, you should have a clear idea of what people would naturally come to you for solutions on. Taking it a step further, most of the time, the topics you have an innate interest in are the topics others who think like you will be interested in learning about. This is not to say you shouldn’t or can’t learn from others – or that other professionals haven’t “figured it out”. Quite the contrary. Your answers to the questions above will define the type of tribe that you’re able to build. Delivering quality content on the questions you have about writing will be the most effective tool in attracting people to your work and brand.
Jeff Goins writes:
“The writer’s greatest enemy is anonymity. The way to overcome this is through generosity.”
The number one way to stand out in a crowded market is to offer something valuable – all the time. Make it your foundational goal to offer more value than anyone else in your writing niche!
To further this point…
Bring Your Valuable Uniqueness To The Market
While you and I share the fact we both love writing and want to become full-time writers, I’m sure our lives are different in many ways. We probably come from different educational and work backgrounds, which means we have different insights and experiences we bring to the table.
Why do I mention this? It’s because art, including non-fiction writing, has more than enough room for everyone at the table. There are as many angles to write about the same subjects as there are people interested in making a living out of it. There are as many ways of cultivating a strong relationship with your audience as there are people learning how to truly cultivate an audience. It’s important to recognize this because it supports partnerships and gives up-and-coming writers a stronger outlook towards how to break into the scene. We recognize that variety and size are good things in the business world; why don’t we apply this same mental abundance to the arts equally often?
It’s because – unfortunately – the world of art is riddled with jealousy. If you’re making a full-time living selling your art or teaching creative strategies to others, there’s still a pervasive, unwritten hunch that you must have been “lucky”. When actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Success is not about luck; it’s about consistency. The only difference between people who “make it” and those who don’t is the successful decided to show up every day, doing what they care about most.
It’s also because they were hungry to learn, and took the time to figure out what unique angle they could bring to the marketplace. You can’t really differentiate yourself from the noise if you don’t sit down often enough, doing your work, to figure out what type of value you offer.
Most of the time, you need to sit down at least five to seven times per week, for a few minutes per day, to observe what rises to the surface most often. Use this time to write and get raw ideas down. It’s amazing how applying the discipline of your craft on a daily basis will tell you right away if you still love it or not.
If all is going well and you enjoy the process each day, take note of the kinds of headlines and topics you seem to have the most fun and energy writing about. These topics likely make up the core of what you want to keep doing in the future, and it will determine the tribe you attract, as well as what you’re uniquely positioned to offer them.
Then, continue to survey your readers and monitor their comments to see if what you’re putting out there is what’s resonating with them. Your supporters are the ultimate litmus test of if what you’re pouring your heart into is effective; they will mention if it’s not, and they’ll share your work (and you’ll see your metrics grow) if it is.
On a related note, it’s worth talking about ethical leadership in the context of tribe-building. The best leaders don’t teach with a top-down approach; expecting their followers to simply “get it” as soon as they’ve been told once. No – great leaders have a much more personal and guidance-driven approach. They freely share the most valuable wisdom and strategies they’ve come across, for as long as they’ve been in the game, knowing that tribe empowerment is far more valuable than simply seeking to exert power.
Offer More Value Than Anyone Else In Your Niche
By now it’s a trite phrase in the business world, but the real action of giving value is never going out of style.
Remember, the best way to stand out in a crowded market is to offer a valuable, convenient solution to a painful problem. While there are many questions people have every day about becoming a writer, here are some common ones that can get you started on providing a solution:
- How to have confidence in your writing
- How to believe that writing is a calling worth following
- How to make sense of limitless technology “demands” in today’s world
- How to build an audience of people interested in what you do
- How to generate an email list
- How to balance life responsibilities with writing
- How to fight guilt and shame as a writer (feeling like it’s not a “real job”)
- How to come up with enough content ideas every month
- How to build partnerships and create a writing network
That’s it! Use these strategies to begin building your influence as a writer. Remember that influence takes time – not many may understand or follow you at first, but little by little, people will see your consistency, and latch on. If you liked this post, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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