The writing habits that got you this far in your career may not be enough for personal branding success!
As we progressed through high school and college, few of us have had either the opportunity, or the necessity, to develop strong, efficient writing habits.
Last minute was usually good enough to obtain passing grades–or better–on our reports and term papers.
As a result, we tend to associate writing with negatives–like deadlines, stress, and judgment– rather than welcome opportunities to share, convince, and build your personal brand equity.
The stakes are different now!
Today’s social media world puts a premium on strong, efficient writing habits–and the sentences and paragraphs that strong, efficient writing habits make possible.
Not everyone needs to write a book, although it’s widely regarded as the best tool for building a strong personal brand.
But, everyone in business–especially self-employed professionals and career-oriented recent graduates–need to effectively use words to: build relationships on Twitter and Facebook, create convincing blog posts and guest posts, write engaging email subject lines, and share ideas and recommendations in memos and reports.
7 tips for building strong, efficient writing habits
Here are 7 tips for cultivating the writing habits needed for personal brand building success.
Unlike a term paper due next week, though, there’s no need to rush! Not only can you cultivate the 7 habits over time, one step at a time, but they’ll provide a lifetime of lasting benefits.
- Practice. There’s no “silver bullet”, like a writing course or book, that will make you a better writer overnight. The only way to become a strong, efficient writer is to practice every day…making the time to write, creating a platform where you can communicate with your market, and–through practice–watching your writing improve a little each day.
- Listen. Avoid the mistake of writing what you want to read. Instead, listen to the conversations going around you all day, and write what your market’s concerns. What are the current topics and trends that are being discussed by experts in your field? What are the changes taking place and the challenges on the horizon? What are the questions your prospects and clients are asking?
- Focus. Don’t try to cover too much in one article, blog post, or report. Instead, focus everything you write on a central idea, problem, or recommendation. The more you focus on specifics, the easier it is to write. Writing is hard when you don’t have a purpose and you find yourself writing to fill up space. But, once you identify a central idea, and 3-10 supporting ideas, your writing suddenly picks up speed.
- Review. Never immediately press Send or Publish. Cultivate the habit of self-editing. Always put your project aside for at least 10 minutes before reviewing it from a fresh perspective. Print out a copy of what you’ve just written, and read it out loud. You’ll probably find long sentences that can be broken into shorter sentences, long words that can be replaced with shorter words, and unnecessary ideas. Watch how your ideas become stronger when you cut the clutter.
- Change. Constantly be on the lookout for more efficient writing tools, like mind mapping, writing accessories like the Pomodero Technique’s timer described in an earlier blog post, and ways to use more of the power built into your word processing program. Simple keyboard shortcuts, for example, can save a lot of time when editing and formatting.
- Observe. In addition to listening to your market, observe and analyze the writing of the leading authors and bloggers in your field. Identify the high-visibility experts in your field, those whose posts are popularly ReTweeted, Liked, and passed along. Select 1 or 2 each month for detailed study. Analyze their headlines and titles, and analyze their opening and closing paragraphs. Make a list of the words and phrases they use to engage readers. Study the structure of their articles. The purpose is not to copy, but to model and adapt the strong points of their writing.
- Track. As you commit to stronger and more efficient writing, track the popularity of your blog posts and social marketing. Likewise, when observing the experts in your field, don’t try to trust your memory, but develop a system for keeping track of the lessons you’re learning. Whether you use mind maps, spreadsheets, or index cards, develop a system for learning from the best and reviewing what you’ve learned.
You have the power
You’re the only one who can make you a stronger and more efficient writer. We live in a content-driven, social media, personal branding world. Writing is no longer a task that self-employed professionals and career-oriented employees can delegate to others. There are no mysteries to strong and efficient writing. Success is a matter of commitment and discipline. What do you think? What aspects of writing are you most interested in improving? Share your comments, below.
Roger C. Parker encourages you to download his currently-free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before you Write & Self-Publish a Brand-building Book. You can also use his online form to ask questions about writing and publishing.