Let’s admit it.
Sometimes it feels like everything has been written already. There’s too much information on the web.
How can you write original content? How can you craft influential articles? How can you inspire others with your writing?
It may seem difficult (or too late) to imagine how you can become an influential writer online. An authority. A thought leader. Let me tell you, it’s not too late, not yet.
Hard work is required, but you can write authoritative content — even if you feel like a beginner. But you need to start right now …
To do it, you need to learn these three essential skills:
- How to create original content;
- How to develop your own voice;
- How to become an inspirational writer.
Let’s have a look at authority first:
What is online authority?
Google is quickly learning how to mirror offline authority.
In the offline world how often we talk is less important than what we have to say. Offline authority is based on your ability to influence, to change people’s mind-set, to inspire people to take action, and to change the world.
The AuthorRank algorithm will likely help Google to reflect offline authority better in the future because an online article’s status will also be influenced by its author’s standing.
What can make you influential? A few examples:
- Discovering the God particle or a cure for malaria;
- Sharing details of your dysfunctional life that speak strongly to your audience;
- Being insanely helpful and inspire your audience to change their mind or to take action.
The last example is — of course — a content marketer’s territory. An influential content marketer is both incredibly helpful and persuasive. He’s passionate about his field and generously shares his knowledge. But he might be divisive, too. He might speak strongly to a certain tribe of people, while others may not like his writing. His writing has personality and a recognizable voice.
How can you become an influential content marketer?
1. Steal ideas from different sources
All creative work builds on what came before.
~ Austin Kleon
The web feels like a giant echo chamber. Everything has been said, right?
It may feel impossible to create original content, but you can certainly do it. You can stop regurgitating the same information; and create unique content.
Create your own mix of sources. Don’t steal all your ideas from one or two bloggers. Steal from sources inside and outside your niche. Steal from writers, philosophers, scientists, musicians, and everyone else who inspires you.
Smart content marketers have a swipe file with inspirational quotes, fascinating ideas, and other stuff they like. Don’t use your swipe file to imitate. Don’t outright copy. Give credit to your sources, and let yourself be inspired by a multitude of ideas.
2. Develop your own voice
When I first started out in cartooning, I used to copy Hagar the Horrible. And my work was a replica of Hagar the Horrible. But then I added other cartoons, like Dennis the Menace, Calvin and Hobbes etc. And my work became my own.
~ Sean D’Souza
Who are your heroes? Which writers or bloggers speak directly to your soul?
To create your own voice, analyze the writing styles and techniques of your favorite writers:
- Why do their headlines grab your attention?
- How do they draw you into their blog post?
- How do they structure their posts?
- How do they inspire you with their closing paragraphs?
- How do they use copywriting techniques like analogies, trigger words, and cliffhangers?
- How do stories make their articles memorable?
- How do they bond with their readers?
- Why are they fascinating?
You craft your own voice by studying your heroes and stealing their techniques. Don’t slavishly copy but learn from them. Pick the techniques you like from each of your heroes to create your own personal style; and let your passion shine through.
3. Become a better writer
The easiest way to create new content is recycling existing information.
Change a how-to article into a how-not-to article. Turn a how-to into a list post. Turn your list post into an infographic. Combine two (or three) posts into a new post.
Recycling provides a quick way to create loads of content, but it won’t make you a better writer; and it probably limits your potential to be influential. You need to push yourself to get better each time you write. You need to try new writing techniques, tackle more challenging topics, and link different ideas together.
To become a better writer you need deliberate practice. You need to step up the quality of your content; and fully engage your brain when writing. Introduce new analogies. Tell different stories. Try another angle or structure. Take your time to experiment. Quality content requires time.
You need to get out of your comfort zone to become a better writer.
4. Write crappy first drafts
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
~ Anne Lamott
Combining new ideas and writing original content is hard; it requires writing, rewriting, and rethinking.
Of course, exceptions exist, but for most of us, writing original content is difficult. You might be beating yourself up because you’re not writing fast enough; and because you’re not producing enough content. But this idea that you need to speed up your writing could be killing your creativity.
Writing crappy first drafts is normal — especially if you’re pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. But how do you deal with crappy first drafts? Look for these issues:
- Your best idea is often buried. Try and find it, and move it to the beginning of your article.
- Your draft is heading in myriad directions. There’s too much is going on. Go back to your one big idea: How do you want to inspire people? Cut everything that’s irrelevant.
- Bad grammar, spelling mistakes, and redundant sentences. Don’t worry about this until you’ve sorted out the flow of your content.
Writing a crappy first draft may feel pointless. Why write something you’re going to change or delete? Don’t worry. Crappy first drafts can lead to something magical.
5. Create inspirational conclusions
How can you influence people?
Stop thinking you’re merely sharing information. You’re creating content to inspire people.
Too often online articles fizzle out, because the author gets tired and lacks inspiration. Rather than write your conclusion last, why not write it first?
Writing inspirational paragraphs that teach is one of the most important skills a persuasive content marketer can develop. Study how your heroes inspire you, and steal their techniques.
The truth about building authority
Writing influential content is tough. It requires hard work, creative thinking, and original writing. And most of all it requires passion for your subject.
Don’t just echo what others are saying. Have your own voice. Dare to be different. Research like crazy. Speak up. Share your opinion. Back up your opinion with studies and statistics. Let your personality shine through.
Remember: one epic post can have more impact than one hundred recycled posts. Stop acting like a blogging machine. Quit guest posting like a mediocre maniac. Instead, take your time to rethink and rewrite your posts.
Write less. Read more.
Talk less. Listen more.
About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to add sparkle to boring business blogs. For more writing tips, join her Enchanting Marketing newsletter.