5 Rules for Writing Like the Expert You Are

This post is part of a monthly series on how to best utilize your personal branding and media benefits. [Note: This benefit is for Forbes Councils members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]

Why do some people excel at using content to build a trustworthy brand and not others? What’s their secret sauce?

While there are a lot of reasons some content doesn’t work, the strategies influencers use to reach the right people and build credibility are really simple:

  • They write about one (or two) things, and they write about them deeply and well.
  • Those one or two things are clearly connected to what that person excels in professionally.
  • If you need trusted information about their industry, they are among the first people whose content you look up.
  • They don’t write to promote. They write to serve.

Think Tim Ferris on motivation and hacking your own productivity. Or Sallie Krawcheck on entrepreneurship and financial advice for women.

You don’t need to reach their level of visibility — it’s more important to reach 10 people who matter than 1,000 who don’t — but the point is that you know their brand and you trust their advice innately.

If you want to achieve this in your own niche, here are a few words of advice:

Don’t try to capture traffic by writing about the buzzword or trend of the moment…

If you can’t back up what’s in your headline, you’re writing for the wrong reasons — and your readers will know it. (You might even turn people away.)

Stick to your lane; consistency is important when you’re trying to build an audience.

…Unless you can offer a fresh, new perspective based on experience and expertise.

A finance expert specializing in small business accounting should absolutely comment on the implications of tax reform for entrepreneurs. A marketing agency owner who uses Facebook for her clients daily is the perfect person to dissect Facebook’s latest changes. (But please, skip the jargon!)

Offer relevant specifics based on firsthand knowledge.

Think “5 low-cost digital marketing strategies financial firms can use to attract new clients,” not “5 marketing tips.” The more specific your niche, the more likely you’ll earn the attention of the right people.

Avoid generic content — it’s not as shareable or searchable.

Don’t forget the takeaway.

Always leave readers with a fresh insight, new knowledge, or clear next steps. That’s the kind of content you care about and share with your network, right? Your readers do too.

Know your “why” before you start.

Having a strategy is still the best strategy of all. But don’t just ask “why.” Ask: Who are you writing for? What do they care about? When are they making important decisions you can help educate them about? Where is the best place to share your thoughts and reach the right people? How will you make an impact?

Remember: Be strategic, be helpful, be focused. These rules will help you craft better, more targeted content.