Yesterday, LinkedIn published their list of ‘Top Voices” for 2016, which identified the top 10 writers across ten different categories, such as marketing, education, and entrepreneurship.
I was thrilled (and very fortunate) when I received an unexpected email a few weeks ago from one of the LinkedIn editors telling me that I was being considered to be a part of that list.
After seeing all the advantages that publishing on LinkedIn has had on my own life, I hope that my advice can help someone else experience the same rewards that being named a ‘Top Voice’ has provided me.
I hope that at least one of these tips will work for you as you pursue your writing journey, whether it’s on LinkedIn or on WordPress.
1) If you want people to read your posts, then the headline matters
According to Copyblogger, which is the number one most followed blog on content marketing, 80% of visitors will read your headline, but only 20% will go on to read the piece itself.
This is because people who read articles typically scan headlines in order to determine whether or not your work deserves to be read.
This means that what you decide to title your post is almost as, if not more, important than the actual content itself. The more engaging and interesting your headline is to readers, the better chances you’ll have of your post being read by more people.
Writing a great headline doesn’t guarantee that your writing will be loved and shared. The quality of your headline still needs to be backed up by the content of your post, but great content with a bad headline is certainly always going to go unread.
2) Make each, and every, line count
In an age of distraction, there is no guarantee that someone will continue reading your work all the way through. Especially if they get bored by something you said.
This is why creating great engaging work starts when you decide to cut out stuff that’s only “merely good.”
Directors, for example, will cut out good scenes in order to make a great movie.
Musicians will leave out good tracks to make a great album.
And writers will get rid of good pages and good lines to make a great book.
Creating engaging work requires you to say no to a lot of things, a lot of good things. The things you decide to say no to, the stuff that you choose to leave out, is what truly matters.
Try not to be romantic and get overly attached to your words. Constantly look for things to remove and simplify until you’re left with only the best stuff. Then do it again. And then again. And again. Eventually all you’ll be left with is what’s the most important. This is how you’ll make sure people finish reading your article once they’ve started reading it.
3) Make your writing about your life first, and ideas second
Individuals like Dustin McKissen, who was a 2015 and 2016 ‘Top Voice,’ understands that if you want to become a great writer, then your writings need to become one giant continuous story of your life.
In a similar article to this one, Dustin says,
“When you write, make it real. In my 168 posts I’ve admitted to, at various points in my life, being the following things:
- A thief;
- A general f*ckup.
I haven’t been any of those things in a long time, but if I hadn’t been those things, I wouldn’t be who I am now. Too many people present themselves as finished products. Hopefully we are never finished products. Share how you are evolving, and why, and the rest of us who are evolving might listen.”
Providing value through your writing, whether you do that with inspirational quotes or simple ideas that help improve people’s lives is important, but learn to throw your story in there as well. If you don’t then you risk not connecting with people because people naturally want to know what you’re up to. They want to know what you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you want to do, and how you’re overcoming your daily struggles to do it.
Without an attention grabbing narrative, people will lose interest. So make your life a story that you edit often and take your audience along for the journey.
4) Be unique: Who would miss you?
Brands are extremely valuable in the way that they have a lot of importance to our lives. Think about the following brands for example and the importance they have to people: Google, Apple, Jersey Mike’s, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Amazon.
If these brands all disappeared tomorrow, you would have millions of people feeling like they have a missing void in their lives. As a result, these brands would be missed.
This begs the question about the marketing of your own brand: If you disappeared tomorrow, would people miss you?
What do I mean by this? Well as a writer, if you don’t write an article or a blog post today, would anybody miss it? Or could they easily just get the same content from someone else?
Remember, that every day, 150,000 new websites are built and over 2 million new blog posts are published. If you want to stand out in this crowd, then you have to figure out what makes you different.
The reason the majority of writers wouldn’t be missed is because too many writers out there today are nearly identical to each other. This is okay if you don’t want to be noticed and just want to fit in. The problem with just fitting in though is that you become easily replaceable. And in this system, no one particularly misses the one that is easily replaceable.
If you don’t have anyone that would miss you, then maybe it’s time to think about doing something different with your writing.
5) Learn to stop pacing your productivity
If you’re a new writer on LinkedIn or WP, then try starting out with the goal of writing one post a month. If you already write an article a month, try writing two a month. If you already do two a month, try one a week. And if you can do that, then try doing one every few days.
This is because in order to get what you want out of life, you have to be prolific. This is even more true when it comes to writing.
Most of us, however, are scared to be prolific because we’re scared to be imperfect. But if you’re not prepared to be wrong, then you’ll never get anything done.
Remember, you can usually turn good into great later, but when you’re just starting out, “good enough” is just fine. The important thing is to begin writing and not worry about whether or not it comes out perfect. Like Voltaire, the great writer and philosopher, once said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”
As someone who has been writing consistently on LinkedIn for a while now, I’ve noticed a lot of things about writers.
They all want to build large audiences. They all want their articles to be read by thousands of people. And they all want to be picked by editors to give their work the attention they think it deserves.
All of this is definitely possible to achieve, but it takes a lot of hard work on the writer’s part to make it happen. Unfortunately, most people just aren’t willing to do this.
The question then is, are you, as a writer, willing to put in the work needed to achieve what you want to achieve? If so, then you too can get your ideas to spread and become the next LinkedIn ‘Top Voice.’ I wish you luck with your writing journey.
If you resonated with this article then please subscribe to my personal blog where I talk about the best ideas from the books I read. And as a thank you, you will get a free copy of my eBook How To Become A LinkedIn ‘Top Voice.’
Thank you for reading! Have a beautiful day.