People are often surprised when they find out my big secret:I'm not a natural writer. Yes, I'm the CEO of a content marketing agency and a marketing speaker, but when it comes to putting paper to paper, I'm not the best. For a long time, I didn't feel particularly good or see the benefits of writing for myself, so I avoided it.
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However, as my business grew, I began to realize how much my writing discomfort was holding us back. It's easy to say "I'm too busy to write today" and keep pushing personal and professional thinking down the road. There is always something that needs immediate attention, and sitting somewhere to think and write freely is never high on the list.
But by not generating thought leadership content, I was depriving myself of as well as my business a valuable tool. I didn't need to become Hemingway. I just had to schedule time to write about my personal growth and the industry trends around me in order to become a better person and a better leader.
Writing is more than an escape for teenagers with magazines or artists who lock themselves in cubicles to focus on their craft – it's an invaluable tool that helps leaders organize their thoughts and create real human relationships with their audiences. In a modern marketplace where personalization, authenticity, and shared values increasingly drive buying decisions, content written by real experts bridges the gap between businesses and consumers.
Create Content on my own experiences and ideas helped me kill two birds with one stone. Not only am I able to challenge myself to grow as a leader, but I can also fuel my business with an effective content marketing program, providing valuable assets to our team in exchange for a little thought. All leaders, especially those who don't consider themselves natural writers, should learn from my early mistakes, get out of their own way, and start developing content.
Turn your thoughts into useful content .
As I mentioned, I've never been a particularly talented writer. I did not appreciate or receive much praise for my language skills. That's not to say I never had great insights, helpful advice, or a valuable perspective to share. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually have a lot to say.
Instead of fleshing out my thoughts by writing, however, I've bottled them up or shared them with a few people personally when I got the hang of it. chance, which was neither a particularly effective nor scalable way to share ideas or connect with others.
Recognizing the need to create more content, both for my own growth and to the good of my business, I started writing. I soon learned that the real value I provided came more from my insights and experiences than from my copy-editing skills, so I developed a “brain dump” strategy with my team. Now I can put all my thoughts, ideas and experiences on paper without worrying about proper style, grammar or structure inhibiting me.
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After some trial and error, I discovered what many professional writers already know:Streams of consciousness don't spring up on their own. They need a little encouragement and an environment where they can circulate. For me, that environment turned out to be on airplanes. Once I realized that travel made my brain-dump sessions easier, my team helped me organize my writing around my flight schedule. Flying allows me to get away from the distractions of phone calls and Slack messages and Wi-Fi to reflect on industry trends, current events and my personal development.
When I started write more, the pieces fell into place naturally. I began to see my leadership role in a new light. Disjointed thoughts about our industry became coherent connections that helped us design smarter strategies. Above all, my team helped me turn the raw material I created into a valuable tool to help our entire business grow.
Here's how every leader can start writing.
With so many reasons to write, every leader should take the time to do so. Even those who don't consider themselves natural writers (like me) can create useful and enlightening content with a little time and effort. These strategies will help even less experienced writers get their ideas to paper, reap the benefits of written content, and become better leaders.
1. Find your place.
Just as airplanes have become my place to write, every leader needs a place to think. Find a place where you can set aside the daily stress of running a business and write without distraction.
Consider how different environments facilitate different types of writing. If I want to write about an industry trend in my mind, the plane home from a conference is the perfect place. If I want to write about something more personal – for example, my family or my growth as a person – I prefer to write at home, usually in my garden. Pick an environment conducive to the type of content you want to create, turn on your phone, and let the words come naturally.
2. Throw away the rule book.
Leaders like to be good at what we do, which can make writing a frustrating experience at first. Those red squiggly lines under misspelled words discourage people with good ideas from writing them.
Forget everything your English teacher told you and write whatever you want, however you want. Don't even think about spelling, formatting, structure, or headings. Keep moving forward. If you remember something you wrote earlier and want to expand on, start writing about it again; you don't need to go back and edit the document before you start writing. Get all the information on the page first, then worry about the details later.
3. Trust yourself and your team.
None of us can do it all alone. Handing out personal written content to team members may feel like opening up your journal to strangers, but to take your content from personal musings to marketing gold, that's exactly what you need to do.
If you're not a great writer, hire people who are. Work directly with your team and trust them to stay true to your original intent while tweaking your work into something more user-friendly. I provide my team with disorganized thoughts from my brain dumps, then rely on their expertise to shape those thoughts into a solid, cohesive piece. By surrounding yourself with people whose skills complement your own, you can turn your writing into a powerful tool for your brand.
Writing has no barriers to entry. All you need is a laptop and your thoughts.
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