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“What Would You Like Me to Write About?”

The #1 question that will alter the course of your writing life forever

After going through several years of business school, some of the best advice I can give you is something I wish someone would have told me before I started in this wondrous world of writing and publishing — and business building.

The fact of the matter is, when I first started my writing business I only wanted to write what I wanted to write about — and I was expecting readers to just start busting down the doors to read what I had written.

Truth be told, the old saying “If you build it, they will come” is nothing more than a myth. You see, it doesn’t take having to go to Wharton or Harvard Business school, and earn your MBA, in order to learn what I’m about to tell you.

Here is 8+ years of business school crammed into one sentence: The key to building and growing a prosperous business is by finding a hot market, asking them what they want, and then giving it to them. It’s that simple!

With that said, here are three essential steps to building a thriving writing business that will change the way you approach writing for Medium from here on out.

Step #1: Discover a Hot Writing Market

You wouldn’t believe how many emails I get from people, who are wanting to start a writing business for themselves, asking for advice about why their business is not succeeding, and what they can do to fix it.

Whenever I start to ask probing questions to find out how they started and where they are currently at, what I always end up discovering is that they always start their business building process backwards. In short, they build their product (articles, books, etc.) before they have a market to sell it to, which doesn’t make much business sense when you actually take the time to really think about it.

Now, don’t misunderstand me when I say this. I’m not telling you not to write what you’re passionate about. What I’m suggesting is — before you start writing anything — what you should be doing is identifying readers (a market) that are interested in the same subjects or topics that you are interested in.

When you find a hot enough market, like Medium for instance, that’s when you move on to step two.

Now, why do I consider Medium to be a “hot market”? When I speak in terms of a hot writing market what I’m referring to is one that is made up of highly active and engaged readers (as well as writers). As you can see, Medium is full of both.

Step #2: Ask The Market (Readers) What They Want to Read About

Once you find a market that is made up of highly active and engaged readers, then next thing you want to do is ask them what it is they want to read about.

With that said, another mistake writers do when they find a “hot market” (like this one) is they end up by-passing the second step to achieving success. Instead, they just start writing in hopes of getting traction and attention, and then they wonder why they are not getting enough readers, followers, likes, claps, comments, shares, and so on.

Photo Credit: Michael Hyatt

It was Michael Hyatt who said in his book, “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (AFF):

Blogging is communal, and those that participate in the community win.”

Moreover, one of my mentors, Dan Miller (founder of 48Days), dropped this enlightening nugget of wisdom on me a few years back. He said, “Whenever I get at least three people asking me the same question, I create a product for it.” I don’t know about you, but that’s very insightful information.

I would certainly suggest taking that statement into consideration before ever sitting down to write a new article. In other words, if you are just starting to write for Medium, and just starting your writing business, I would highly suggest focusing on making a few connections with readers (as well as writers) here on Medium and start nurturing a relationship with them.

Find out what kind of subjects they are most interested in or what kind of areas they are struggling with the most, and that are aligned with the subjects that you are, not only passionate about, but are most suited to help with as well. The areas that you are most educated or experienced in.

In other words, think about the kinds of areas that you are constantly being asked for advice on from family or friends. The fact of the matter is: We are all experts in something.

Now, with that said, there is one more point I would like to emphasize before I move on to the next step. And that is how important the Golden Rule is in regards to growing a thriving writing business and establishing yourself as a thought-leader and influencer in your field of expertise.

As I am sure we all know, the Golden Rule is simply: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In short, if you want others to read your articles, share your articles, like and clap on your articles, and post comments to your articles… then you need to lead by example.

In other words, taking into account the advice of Micheal Hyatt, you need to become communal, and participate in the writing community the same way you would want others to do for you and your writing.

In fact, I’m currently working on a new article that goes in-depth about increasing traffic (readers, views, etc.) through the art of comment posting — and, trust me, it’s not what you think.

Step #3: Give Your Market (Your Readers) What They Want

Photo Credit: Military History Veteran

The last step to creating a thriving writing business is to give your readers what they want. In other words, when you start to focus more on others, rather than yourself, amazing things begin to happen. Amazing shifts start to take place in your life.

The thing that you need to ask yourself is: “What does my market (readers and writers) really want?” For example, this particular article is written specifically for Medium writers that are trying to get paid what they feel their written contributions are really worth.

As Medium writers, what do we all want? We want more engagement on our articles. We want more views (readers), more comments, more shares, mores likes and claps. The reason we want these things is because we know that the more engagement we get on our articles, the more we are able to earn for our written contributions.

The things is, so many newbie writers want every other writer to do these things on their articles, but they don’t want to return the favor. Like Micheal Hyatt and I suggested earlier, the writing industry and/or profession is communal, and those that participate in the community are the ones that are bound to win. I keep referring to this because it’s so important.

Bonus Tip: Your Net Worth is Highly Dependent Upon Your Network

Now, with all of that said, there are many new writers who look at this market (Medium) as being too saturated. In other words, they look at other writers as being their competition. And, quite frankly, this is the wrong kind of attitude to have about your fellow writers.

Photo Credit: Wealthy Web Writer

In fact, there is an article written by Michele Peterson over at Wealthy Web Writer entitled, “Colleagues Not Competitors: Why It’s Smart to Develop and Maintain Relationships with Fellow Web Writers,” that I highly recommend checking out. (By the way, notice what I did there? I’m participating in the writing community by sharing a fellow colleague and writer’s work with you).

Now, in that article, Mrs. Peterson refers to this idea of thinking of other writers as your competition as being a scarcity type mindset. And she goes on to say that those that look at their fellow writer companions as colleagues rather than competitors end up displaying more of an abundance mindset.

I don’t know about you, but she makes a very good point. In fact, I think it was Bob Proctor who said, “Amateurs compete, while professionals create.”

I’m currently reading a book by Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstrale entitled, “Fast/Forward: Make Your Company Fit For The Future” (AFF). Within its pages, they go on to discuss the progression from the Industrial age to the Information age, and the Age that is to come.

One thing I found interesting is the following quote:

“For us as individuals this paradox [the more I know, the less I understand] implies that we need to develop both the depth and the breadth of our competence. In a competitive world, we need our special area of expertise to help us stand out from the pack. But we also need the ability to work collaboratively, so that our fragment of knowledge can be combined with the knowledge of others — which is the ability to maintain a reasonable level of understanding in multiple fields of study.”

Now, check this out: There is one group of people that I’ve come across in the workforce that tend to think in terms of: It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

I don’t know about you. Perhaps you’ve heard this before. In fact, maybe you may have said it a time or two yourself. However, to me, it’s a statement that doesn’t make much sense. You see, what good is knowing someone (someone that can get you a sit at the table, if you will) when you having nothing of value to bring to the table?

With that said, there is also a second group of people that I’ve come across in the workforce (so many go to one extreme or the other) that tend to have this kind of attitude: I’m here to do a job, not make friends.

I don’t know about you, but that just sounds like a pretty rotten attitude to have. I mean, let me ask you this: How many high school kids have you heard say, “I come to school to learn, not make friends?” Not many, I’m sure. You see, in high school, kids make socializing a top priority, but they put learning way on the back burner of importance.

That changes, of course, when we go to college. College kids begin to realize how important learning and gaining knowledge in certain subjects is, but they still emphasize a healthy social life.

However, for some reason, once we enter the workforce, people start to think that the job is more important than anything else. And completely disregard the need for a healthy social life among co-workers.

Now, I’m not implying that the jobs we do are not important, but what I’m trying to say is that both are equally important. Our knowledge and competency in the job we do is important, but so is our relationships with our co-workers. And since these are the people that we are going to spend eight to ten hours with on a day-to-day basis, why would we not want to cultivate strong healthy relationships with them?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be all up in people’s business, or tell your co-workers everything about yourself. But, as humans, we are naturally social beings, and it’s essential that we also see our relationships as being just as important as the jobs we do.

Now, when it comes to writing for Medium, I know we’re talking about a “job” that seems more “solitary” in nature than any other job that is out there — which is all the more reason why we need to become more community minded if we want to succeed.

In other words, just because you may be at home alone in your pajamas bear foot right now doesn’t mean you still can’t be social.

In fact, Julian and Jonas, in their book Fast/Forward (AFF), went on to say:

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When success is a matter of getting people with the right ‘know-how’ to collaborate, ‘know-who’ also becomes a critical factor to consider. The smart thing to do, for even the smartest of people, is to hone your social skills so that others want to team up with you and complement your strengths with their own. Today, more than ever, Lone Ranger needs Tonto.”

With that said, have you noticed that, even in the latest Superhero movies, Superheroes are working more and more as a team? I mean, you’ll never find Batman without Robin. And even Superman is rarely without Super Girl and/or Superwoman — it’s becoming a family affair.

As you can see, who you know and what you know, are both equally important. One is not senior to the other, but both are two sides to one coin.

Actually, let me put it to you like this: Take a quarter for example. If you were to break that quarter in half and take off one side, would you then have 50 cents? Of course not! The coin is now valued at zero because it’s no longer 25 cents. When it is broken in half it is no longer worth anything.

The same thing goes with competence (know-how) and relationships (know-who). They are two sides to one coin. Take one side away and your value or worth is gone.

Lastly, when I say your net worth is highly dependent upon your network what I’m trying to get across is that the idea of a solo-entrepreneur is becoming more and more a thing of the past.

And when it comes to succeeding in the new Age that is to come, the writers that are quick to move into the mindset of collaboration are the ones that will win in the end. As information and knowledge is poised to continue to grow faster and faster, the only way to possibly keep up is through collaboration.

In fact, it’s Grant Cardone who’s quoted for saying your “net worth is your network” — not to mention the book written by Guy Kawasaki. In other words, you have to start looking at your network, your contact list, your relationships, as being your most valuable asset.

Photo Credit: Michael Hyatt

You see, if you want to become one of the top influencers in your space… like Grant Cardone is when it comes to sales, or like Micheal Hyatt is when it comes to leadership, productivity, and publishing, or like Tai Lopez is when comes to reading, learning, and social media… then you need to understand this ONE thing…

All of these guys have serious marketing budgets that allow them to get their face and message in front of more people than you and I do. In fact, both Grant and Tai Lopez have been recorded saying that they spend well over millions of dollars just to get in front of as many people as they can. And Tai has even said that he has put millions into Facebook ads alone.

If you’re like me, then I’m sure you aren’t working with that kind of marketing budget. So, with that said, how do you get the attention of super influential people like these particular guys I’ve mentioned, and persuade them to promote your articles (or link back to your articles)?

Again, we go back to the three steps that I mentioned above. First you have to identify what you have that these kinds of people want. It’s obviously not money. They got plenty of that. And you certainly can’t give what you don’t have. So, what is it that you have that they don’t have, and that they really want?

The answer to that question is your network, your contact list, your readership or audience. This is why both Grant and I say that your net worth is highly dependent upon your network. In other words, your network or your relationships is your most valuable asset.

I would suggest reaching out to as many influential people as you can. And I don’t mean just one or two. I’m talking about making a list of at least 100 top influencers in your niche or space.

I refer to this list as my Dream 100 list. Understand, not all of them are going to respond, so don’t get discouraged. Just keep reaching out.

Photo Credit: Joel Brown

I know this from experince. For instance, I sent an email to Grant Cardon’s office a few years back (When I was small time, and my list wasn’t that big.) asking if I could write a guest post for his website.

Believe it or not, he actually responded to me the next day and told me to send him some ideas.

Now, I admit it, I went about this the wrong way. I was thinking more about myself rather than others (Remember what Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want first.”).

What I should’ve done was asked if I could interview Grant and then share that interview with my readership, my audience. If I would have done it that way, what would have happened is… Grant would have linked back to that article sharing it with his millions of followers and subscribers.

In fact, as I am writing this… I’m going to implement that strategy right now. And I know Grant will be obliged to do that interview with me, not because I am so great or anything like that, but because he understands the value of networking and relationships.

Take Aways and Action Steps

  • Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them due unto you.
  • Remember that writing is communal, and those writers that participate in the writing community win.
  • Remember what Zig Ziglar always said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want first.”
  • Don’t forget that your Net Worth is highly dependent upon your Network
  • Remember: Amateurs compete, while professionals create” — Bob Proctor
  • Remember: The writers that are quick to move into the mindset of collaboration are the ones that will win in the end.

Finally, I challenge you to do one of the following two action steps:

  1. Start building your Dream 100 list of all the top influencers in your niche or space that you want to start reaching out to, then see if you can set up an interview with at least one of them that you can share with your audience (or here on Medium if you’re feeling up to it).
  2. Make a list of Medium writers that you would like to start building a collaborative relationship with and start reaching out to at least one of them this week.

William Ballard, MBA is a highly sought after business strategist and marketing expert. He is a highly respected master content marketing specialist whose passion is to help struggling firms go from merely surviving operations to truly thriving organizations.

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