When you place a call to a prospective client, does the person you are calling already know your name, even if you have never met? When new clients are referred to you, do they often say that they’ve heard of you from several different sources? Are you frequently contacted by people who are ready to work with you and don’t question your qualifications or rates? These are just some of the results you can expect when you make publishing part of your marketing plan.
In the academic world, the phrase “publish or perish” reflects the common knowledge that people must know who you are in order to hire you, promote you, or fund your research. No matter what client niche you target, publishing your work accelerates your ability to gain clients. According to the late Tom Lambert, author of High Income Consulting, “winning some level of fame is the surest way to higher earnings as a professional.”
Here are some guidelines to help you start getting published or expand your publishing efforts:
1. Publishing is easier than ever before. In the pre-Internet age, most publishing took the form of articles in newspapers and magazines or full-length books. Getting your work published usually required a lengthy process of approaching (and being rejected by) numerous editors. Now it’s possible to write a piece in the morning and have it in the hands of thousands by afternoon, often with no editor’s stamp of approval.
You can publish your own short pieces on the web via a blog, email broadcasts to your mailing list, posting them on your website, or posting them to social media. You can also contribute your writing to one or more of the many independent websites, ezines, and blogs eager for fresh content to inform or entertain their visitors. In addition, many print magazines and newsletters accept completed articles as either first-run pieces or reprints.
E-publishing and on-demand publishing also make it possible to easily publish shorter-length books as ebooks, web-based manuals, ecourses, or printed workbooks, booklets, and white papers. These could be in PDF format, Kindle books, or any other format that makes sense for your audience and goals. If you can put together ten pages of material, you have enough to publish in one of these shorter forms, and begin referring to yourself as “the author of…”
2. Write what you do. The best articles or workbooks are not those describing the type of work you do; they are the ones that actually help the reader do that work themselves. Instead of writing how working with an executive coach can help people complete important projects, a coach should write about tips for ending procrastination. An accountant could write about easy ways to track and categorize expenses, and a sales trainer could write about motivating salespeople when business is slow.
If you’re feeling stuck for writing topics, make it a habit after every client meeting to mentally review each of the subjects you discussed with your client and note which ones might be good for a future article or blog post. Or, think of the ten questions that clients or prospects most commonly ask about your line of work. Each one of those questions is likely to be an excellent article topic or chapter in a book.
3. Make all your writing count. If you’re going to take the trouble to write a good article, why not reuse it over and over? If you published a piece in your blog or ezine two years ago or more, you can republish an updated version now.
Many sites and publications happily accept articles that have already been published. If you want to write for an outlet that insists on “first rights” of publication for a certain length of time, no problem. Write a new article for that outlet now, then concentrate on getting it republished elsewhere after the first-rights time period has expired.
Remember, too, that any piece of writing can be re-purposed. An article can be expanded into a white paper; a collection of blog posts can become a book.
4. If you’re not a writer, work with one. You don’t have to be able to write well in order to get published. You can hire a ghostwriter, editor, or proofreader to strengthen and polish your writing. If you’re better at expressing yourself out loud, you don’t even have to write. You can speak your thoughts and have them transcribed and edited by a professional.
5. Get started now. The more writing you publish and the longer your work has been out there, the more you will increase your visibility, credibility, and reputation as an expert. Clients will come to you instead of you having to seek them out. Your sales cycles will be shorter, and the fees you charge can be higher. Each publication will become a salesperson to whom you never have to pay a commission, working tirelessly to bring you more clients.