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7 Questions to Ask Before You Start to Write

Content Marketing

Ask yourself the following questions before you start to write your next article, blog post, or book to build your personal brand.

7 Questions to Ask Before You Start to Write image Roger 7 Writing QuesTHREE75The questions may appear to be simple, but always pausing to answer them can help you save time by focusing your attention on the key issues that determine the success of your writing projects.

1. Who are your intended readers?

Start each writing project by reviewing what you know about your intended readers. Don’t try to write for “everyone,” but narrow your focus to the specific types of readers you want to cultivate as potential prospects and clients.

Consider creating 3 or 4 personas–one-page composite descriptions–of the key prospects you want to attract to your business. Your personas should identify who you’re writing for, their characteristics and concerns, and why you want them as clients.

Frequently update your personas, and review them at the start of each writing project.

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2. What is the relevance of this topic to your intended reader?

Your writing and personal branding success is based solely on the relevance of what you write to your intended readers.

Unless you’re measuring your success by the number of Nobel Prizes you win, or the number of scholarly publications that footnote your papers in their yearly reviews, your success will be judged solely by the utility of your message to your target market.

So, don’t just share information! Instead, share useful information that will save your target market time while helping them solve their problems and achieve their goals.

When starting to write, review your ideal reader’s problems and goals. Then, reframe your message to show how your information will help your readers solve their problems and achieve their goals.

3. How will readers benefit from what you’re going to write?

The more specific you are in identifying the value of the information you share, and the more you highlight the benefits they will enjoy.

Look for ways to dramatize the value of the information you’re going to share using headlines and titles that stress the specific benefits. Look for titles like:

In general, of course, the smaller the number, the more manageable the topic appears, hence, the success of books like Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Individuals and blog posts like 7 Ways to Start Building Your Personal Brand for Free.

4. Has the topic already been covered?

Always check the competition before starting to write. Find out what has been already been written on the topic. Do a careful online search and analyze what’s been done. As you review the competition, note the dates when competing topics appeared.

Proceed with care if nothing’s already been written on the topic. This is often an indication that there’s either no market, or a small market, for what you want to write. Book publishers, for example, have always been notoriously leery about publishing the first book on a new topic.

As you research competing topics, familiarize yourself with the contents, as it will help you answer the next question.

5. Have you identified a fresh approach to the topic?

The presence of existing competition for your article, blog post, or book doesn’t mean you shouldn’t proceed, as long as your approach to the topic is obviously different from what’s already been written.

The presence of 73, 672 diet book titles on Amazon.com doesn’t mean there’s no room for additional titles…it just means that your diet book has to be clearly differentiated from existing books.

Thus, there are diet books for diabetics, diet books for women over 45, diet books for vegetarians, and diet books for teens, for gluten-free living, and for business executives on the go.

The success of the “…for Dummies” series shows that there’s always room for introductory treatments of even the most esoteric topics, i.e., Drupal for Dummies and ASVAB for Dummies.

Likewise, there’s always room for writing that interprets the latest advances, challenges, threats, and trends, in every field, especially writing that addresses specific market segments.

6. What do you want readers to do next?

Before you start to write, know how you’re going to end your article, blog post, or book.

Never leave your reader hanging, without knowing what to do next.

End on a positive note. Options include:

  • A short list of tips for implementing the ideas discussed in your article or blog post.
  • Suggested resources for readers to explore on their own, such as book titles, blog posts and websites to visit, or YouTube videos.
  • Special offers, like checklists, reports, worksheets, or other tools to help readers solve their problems or achieve their goals.

The success of your writing doesn’t occur until your ideal readers solve their problem or achieve their goal by implementing your ideas.

7. How do you intend to benefit from writing this project?

Although everything you write helps shape your personal brand, without a way of benefiting from the information you share, you can go out of business waiting for ideal readers to contact you and ask you for personal help solving their problems and achieving their goals.

That’s why everything you write should direct readers to your marketing funnel, the structure you have created to obtain your readers’ email addresses and permission for you to stay in contact with them.

This is the reason that your writing and personal branding strategy has to include one, or more, incentives that you can offer at the end of your articles, blog posts, and books, that will give readers a reason to contact you and begin their journey from stranger to prospect to client.

The better your incentive, and the easier you make it for readers to contact you, the greater your writing and personal branding success!

Author:

Roger C. Parker encourages you to create an IdeaTracking content dashboard to learn from, and apply, the good personal branding ideas all around you. Use his online form to ask questions about writing for brand building success.

Before you start to write your next article, blog post, or book, download my free 99 Questions to Ask You Start to Write workbook and review my tips for answering the first 25 questions. For help, use my online form.

Comments on this Article: 1

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  1. Excellent post Roger.
    Now a days not only must the content be good content but as you quite corrently stated there must be an incentive for the reader.

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