If you’re a self-employed professional who wants to get the attention of prospective clients by writing blog posts, magazine and journal articles, case studies, or an ebook, you already know this problem. Writing material like this takes up time and brain capacity. There’s nothing worse than sweating over a piece for hours and then having only a handful of people read it.
With a bit of care and attention, you can turn that situation around, and start attracting the readers you want. Here are six steps to get your desired audience reading what you write.
- Know your audience. Before you write a word, get clear on exactly who you want your readers to be. Go beyond defining them in general terms, and paint a detailed portrait. The most helpful approach is to develop a profile of your ideal reader. Examples: “Midlife professional woman choosing a new career direction,” or “overworked corporate marketing director whose company markets in both English and Spanish.” Then keep that reader in mind each time you write.
- Write on a theme. To make writing pay off for you as a marketing strategy, choose just a handful of themes you will write about, and stick to them. This will help you develop a following of regular readers. A theme is broader than a topic; it’s a subject area that many, many topics could fit within. Examples: “Sales and marketing for independent professionals,” “men’s fitness,” “impactful public speaking.”
- Be educational, entertaining, or evocative. Every piece you write should aim to educate, entertain, or evoke emotion in your readers. Don’t write just what’s on your mind today. Instead, consider the impact you want your piece to have on the reader. Examples: Educational – “money-saving tax tips for entrepreneurs.” Entertaining – “what my cat taught me about marketing.” Evocative – “your child needs you to show your love.”
- Drill down into topics. Write about specifics, not generalities. Short pieces should stick to just one topic. Longer pieces might cover several, but each segment should give enough detail to be useful. Examples: “Five-minute exercises you can do in the office,” not “exercising more often.” “What to include on your website’s contact page,” not “writing for your website.” “How to respond to ‘tell me about yourself’ in a job interview,” not “interviewing for a job.”
- Craft a great title. No matter where your work appears, readers will decide whether or not to read it based on your title. Titles should be specific and promise a benefit or result. Examples: “Seven Keys to Design a Stunning Brochure,” not “Graphic Design Tips for Entrepreneurs.” “Lose Your Fear of Cold Calling” not “How to Market by Phone.” “Sticking to Your Diet at Holiday Parties,” not “Dieting During the Holidays.”
- Promote what you publish. Don’t wait for readers to find your work online, or count on a print publisher to get the word out. Develop a promotion plan for your writing that includes places and people you will tell about each piece you publish. Your plan might include social media posts, personal emails, mentions on your blog or website, teasers in your newsletter, or printed copies at networking events or speaking gigs.
Spending just a few minutes on steps 1 through 4 before you write, and another few on steps 5 and 6 afterward, will make a significant difference in how many potential clients read your pieces. Not only that, you’ll find that those readers will more often turn into clients, because you’ll be attracting exactly the people you want, and demonstrating to them that you’re an expert in your field. That’s a winning combination for any self-employed professional.