So you’re publishing now on your own blog or on LinkedIn, and you’re excited. It’s a wonderful opportunity that, when done right, can open hundreds of exciting doors for you as an expert and a writer. But you’re noticing something that confuses you – other writers’ posts are getting thousands more views than yours do, on the very same topic. No matter what you try, you can’t get the attention you feel your writing and ideas deserve.
Why is that?
I’ve been following and interviewing influential writers and thought leaders now for three years on my Forbes blog “Career Bliss,” and have observed what these generous givers and experts do that others don’t. In my own writing too (and in my work on the LinkedIn publishing platform since June), I’ve learned a few critical lessons about writing posts that have the potential to go viral and reach an audience far beyond our expectations.
I’m very grateful that my post 6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away is now the most-read post ever on LinkedIn, at 2.7 million views, and truthfully, the success of that post surprised me more than anyone else. I have some ideas about why it was so successful, but it’s not a science (as much as content marketing consultants want to tell you it is).
When you take the time to study what influential writers do differently from other folks (and I’d highly recommend you do), there are eye-opening lessons you can learn about how to stop “marketing” your content, and instead, start connecting more deeply with an audience you love.
Here are the top 7 tips I offer new writers, “experts” and thought leaders who want their content viewed at the highest levels:
1. Do a superlative job at the basics.
To reach a large audience, you have to tackle topics and issues that grab hold of the reader, making them feel that they would be missing something critical if they didn’t read your article. Don’t write about the same old topics – leadership, management, social media, marketing, sales, careers – in the same old way. Uncover completely new angles that are truly your own. Share powerful ideas that move, educate, and entertain. Use everything you are and you know. But your articles have to share more than just your personal opinion. To strike a chord in many, you have to know what you’re talking about intimately, and that insight comes from experience, research, and ongoing intellectual curiosity. It has to be more than you pushing yourself into the spotlight.
Your headlines have to be very powerful and compelling, strong enough to make people say, “Oh shoot, I’ve got to stop what I’m doing and read this now,” even if they feel they have no time to read another post in their entire lifetime. How to make your headlines irresistible? Think about the core theme of the story, and find a way to articulate the emotional heart of it so that even you would have to stop in your tracks and read it. What would make YOU stop what you’re doing and click the link to open it?
A great colleague of mine told me that his content marketing consultant friend said “Use numbers in your headlines, and odd numbers work better.” That advice irks me to no end, because now we see thousands of writers producing empty and useless listicles that read like shopping lists (but with odd numbers).
Yes, numbers do work in headlines, and often odd numbers work better, but rules are meant to be broken (as my 6 Toxic Behaviors post revealed). Use numbers when that’s the best approach (I use them frequently, but not invariably) for the content, but often it isn’t. Don’t be lazy with it.
Make sure you’ve found an image that grabs the reader by the collar, and touches them deeply, reflecting the heart of the story. That usually requires an investment – most free sources simply don’t offer images with high enough quality or impact you need (I use iStock photo and love them).
2. Reach the broadest audience possible within your area of expertise.
When the 6 Toxic Behaviors post started to go viral, I asked my 19-year-old daughter, “Honey, why do you think this is capturing so much attention?” She said something so wise and savvy. She shared, “Well, it seems that people will want to read this because, 1) they want to figure out if they’re toxic, and 2) they want validation that the person in their life who SEEMS so toxic, really is.”
Wow, there’s truth to that. If we think about the number of people on this planet who either wonder if their own behavior pushes people away, or wants to confirm that someone in their life is crazy-making, we’re talking about millions of people.
To go viral, you have to reach a large audience that says, “YES!!” to your material, even if it’s a hard pill to swallow. Think about how you can expand the interest level of your pieces by touching on more expansive themes, observations, and behaviors.
3. Learn to sense the “energy” of your messages and your style.
In my training as a therapist, energy healer and career coach (after my 18 years in corporate), I learned that everything is energy. We feel it, process it, and react to it, often without being aware. The energy of your messages can make or break an article. Try to sense the energy of the words and ideas you’re sharing. If your writing smacks of condescension, arrogance, or snobbery, your post won’t get the exposure you want (or at least it won’t be the kind of exposure you want).
4. Base your work on a solid understanding of what you’re talking about, and research, research, research.
Don’t make your writing just about you. Your story is interesting, but it’s not enough. I remember when I embarked on writing my book Breakdown, Breakthrough (about the 12 hidden crises working women face and how to overcome them) I thought I knew everything there was to know about professional crisis for women. But I was encouraged to do more research, and I spoke to over 100 women around the country about overcoming professional challenge, and it rocked my world. I’ll never make that mistake again, of thinking that my experiences were enough to have a solid understanding of a topic. What you know is great, but reach out to others to learn much more.
5. Create authentic discussions and engagement around the topic – don’t just push it out there.
When you post an article, don’t expect it to fly by itself. Start meaningful discussions on LinkedIn and elsewhere that will continue and broaden the conversation, even if folks never read your article that spurred these discussions. Don’t push your material – just engage with people about an intriguing question that your material brings up. Then be highly active on the discussion threads. It takes a great deal of time, but if you want connection, you have to be present, open, and thoroughly committed to conversation.
6. Build a large list on your website of loyal followers who love what you have to say.
One key ingredient that has helped me so much in my business and writing is building a large subscriber list (50,000+) and doing the work of growing it by 1,000 subscribers a month. There are numerous ways to do this, and they’re not overnight steps, but the result is powerful. Build your tribe of people who resonate with and connect authentically with your messages. (Check out my prosperity marketing coaching for more about building an ever-growing tribe of folks you love.)
7. Always – be of service first.
Finally, come from a mindset of helping and supporting others. Be a generous giver and don’t publish articles with your hand out asking “What’s in this for me?” Follow what your community cares about, and give them potent info that will move them forward. Brainstorm new ways that your expertise will help people thrive, grow, enjoy life, make more money, build healthier habits — whatever it is that you want to help with. Turn your “mess into a message” but keep uppermost in your mind that your writing should be a way of expressing your unique voice in ways that are of service to others.
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If you’d like to learn more about this topic, let me know. I’m developing a teleclass this Fall on this, and would love to hear your questions. And take my new Career Success Readiness Quiz to learn if you’re paving the way for more success.