Anyone can claim to be an expert in their field. But only a few of the countless self-proclaimed experts are true thought leaders; those that people consistently look to for guidance and advice.
You know you’re better than the competition, but people won’t just take your word for it. So one of the best ways to showcase your knowledge and expertise is through thought leadership blog writing.
Remember: show, don’t tell. Well-researched and well-written thought leadership articles can help you prove to your target audience that you are who you claim to be.
- What Makes a Great Thought Leader?
- Research Like the Professionals
- Write Like the Leaders
- Get Your Headlines Right
- Keep It Simple
- Add Some Color
- Promote Your Blog
1. What Makes a Great Thought Leader?
Before we dive into the art of finely crafted thought leadership content, let’s look at some of the characteristics that define thought leaders:
- An oddly specific niche. If you’ve spent the past five years growing your small pottery workshop, you must have learned a thing or two—or ten—about small business marketing. That’s fantastic! Write about what you’ve learned throughout your journey and stick to what you know. Your target audience will appreciate your honesty and value your expertise.
- Enthusiasm. Pottery is an art form, and like any art form, it’s continuously changing. By keeping up with current trends on social media outlets and sharing your in-depth knowledge on the subject, people will keep coming back to your website for insights and updates. Share news on Twitter and Facebook, post pictures and motivational quotes on Instagram, and, if you can, create your own YouTube channel.
- A unique voice. With hundreds—or even thousands—of websites covering the same niche, you’ll need a unique voice to stand out from the crowd. Maybe it’s your witty humour or your snarky attitude. Perhaps it’s the way you talk about pots and vases as if they were part of your family. Whatever makes you different, own it, and go all the way.
- Credibility. Do popular influencers often share your work, commending your talent and creativity? Your followers will know. Do you provide your fans with an insightful weekly newsletter filled with all the latest industry trends? Credibility equals professionalism, and professionalism translates into more business.
- A dedicated following. You can’t become a thought leader without committed followers. There are many ways you can increase engagement and earn more fans, and writing thought leadership blog posts is a great place to start.
Do you think you have the makings of a thought leader? Don’t worry if you don’t tick all the boxes just yet. This is precisely where a great content strategy comes into play.
Research Like the Professionals
Every great piece of content starts with smart research. And when we say research, we don’t just mean thirty minutes of intensive searching on Google. If you want people to trust your word, you have to figure out what it is they really want.
Let’s leave pottery aside for a minute and take digital marketing as an example. If you want to write a thought leadership piece about optimising for voice search as a small business, you can’t just rely on your experiences. Chances are, you won’t have the data to write an article that’s both credible and relatable.
So what do you do? In this case, start by describing your journey but use credible sources to back up your claims. Since we’re talking about digital marketing, you can’t go wrong by searching for relevant topics on LinkedIn, HubSpot, SEMRush, Buffer, and Neil Patel’s blog. These are all reliable sources that most content marketers swear by. Once you've gathered enough information, you can create something unique by combining your experience with reliable data.
Write Like a Thought Leader
Every type of content you put up on your website should flow well and be free of errors. That aside, you should allocate plenty of time and resources into crafting content that’s designed with your thought leadership strategy in mind.
What does that mean? Take the five characteristics we listed above as a guide to success. When writing articles, always make sure that:
- You stick to writing only about what you know (your niche). When writing about stuff you’re familiar with, you’re less prone to errors and factual mistakes that can tarnish your reputation.
- You don’t give marketers free rein over everything that you write. It’s great to have a content marketing strategy in place, but don’t worry too much about SEO and keywords when crafting a new piece. Instead, focus on providing actual value and answering common questions.
- You maintain a unique tone of voice that’s recognisable throughout multiple channels and mediums. Most businesses opt for a friendly/conversational tone of voice that makes users feel at ease.
Make an effort to avoid clichés and unnecessary jargon. Remember, confusing people with complicated terminology and big words is not a sign of expertise or thought leadership.
Own your style and let your personality shine through your writing. Write as if you were speaking to a friend that you genuinely want to help. Your audience will appreciate your unique approach and enjoy your content for what it is.
Get Your Headlines Right
There’s no secret recipe to great headlines, but a catchy title can make all the difference. There’s a reason why some of the best copywriters spend hours just to come up with the perfect headline.
Before you begin writing your article, brainstorm four or five catchy headlines that you think would instantly capture your audience’s attention. Here are some of the most well-known tactics that both bloggers and marketers use to craft captivating headlines:
- Know your audience. The more you know about your visitors, the easier it will be to create headlines that will have an impact.
- Try to mirror search results. When searching for answers on Google, people often begin their queries with wh-words: how, why, what, when, etc. Try to formulate your headlines into questions so you can include common wh-words.
- Read your headlines out loud. If something doesn’t sound right, change it!
- Include your main keyword in the headline. This is a no-brainer and will give your blogs the boost they need to rank higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
- Make use of power words. These words evoke a strong emotional response (e.g., anger, joy, sadness, trust).
- Do make changes if you don’t see results. Crafting smashing headlines is an art form, so don’t give up if your efforts don't bear fruit right away.
When coming up with headlines, it’s all right—and often necessary—to put your imagination and creativity to the test. Whatever you do, however, don’t lie or employ heavy clickbait techniques.
Keep it Simple
Writing long-winded sentences and using complicated terminology is never a good idea and won't make your articles sound authoritative. This is true for both leadership content and any other type of content. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many new blog writers do.
There’s something about complex structures that doesn’t sit well with most of us. Maybe long sentences and big words remind us of the time we had to read boring literature at school. Perhaps we suffer from a mild case of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia—or fear of long words. Whatever the case, give your readers space to breathe by minimising sentence length.
Add Some Colour
It may be that you’re offering the world great leadership advice from a brand new perspective. You’ve done your research, laid out the facts, and done everything in your power to ensure you’ve created something valuable. Even your sentences are nice and simple.
There’s a problem, though; you forgot to season the dish. No one likes a bland, one-paragraph long blog. Break up your content with a few high-quality images that fit well with your article’s theme and tone of voice. There are countless websites you can use to access royalty-free images (e.g., Unsplash, Pixabay).
Even better, insert some graphs and charts to help readers better visualise your gathered data. Use free tools (such as Canva’s Graph Maker) to create beautiful custom charts and diagrams.
Promote Your Blog
Once you’ve written your blog, it’s time to think about leadership marketing strategies. Publishing your blog on your website is not enough. You need to share it on social media, tease it with your latest email newsletter, and get people to talk about it.
If you’re struggling with traffic, you can also give guest blogging a shot. Guest posts can help you build long-lasting relationships with other content creators in your niche. You can feature some of their content pieces on your website. They can then repay the favour by featuring and promoting your articles on their website. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!
Writing a thought leadership blog is easy - if you compromise on quality. Writing a great thought leadership blog takes time and effort, but the payoff can be enormous. Consider all the research and fact-checking that goes into every piece, then add in the time needed to format, optimise, and market an article.
For best results, stick to what you know best and stay true to yourself (i.e., don’t try to be someone you’re not.) As long as you have the knowledge and your writing is original and refreshing, your audience will appreciate the hard work.
Need help writing your thought leadership articles? Expert Machine is a content writing agency that extracts your expertise into incredible blog posts. Get in touch if you’d like to work with us.