7 Tips for Thought Leadership Writing

Are you aiming to create content that demonstrate thought leadership? Writing thought leadership articles has become a popular strategy for B2Bs who need to reach sophisticated audiences, and for professionals, consultants and business owners. This type of content can increase visibility, build credibility, increase connections and even generate high level leads. But thought leadership writing isn’t as easy as it sounds, as you might have already discovered if you’re writing your own thought leadership content.  If you’re a marketing manager at a large organisation, it’s all about finding the right ideas and stakeholder management.

There are content marketing services in Melbourne and Sydney that will do the writing for you, but if you’re keen to persist and do it yourself, here are our tips for making that work.

How to write a thought leadership article

The following 7 tips briefly cover some of the topics included in our recently launched Thought Leadership Writing Course for professionals, consultants and business owners.

It’s the thought that counts – don’t forget to include yours

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The term ‘thought leadership’ defines itself, but I’ve recently created my own definition:

Thought leaders are individuals who are forward-thinking experts in their field, who by sharing their views and perspectives, have the capacity to change the way we see something.

To be a thought leader means you must stand out from the crowd of topic experts, by having a unique perspective, or be sharing something of greater value than most ‘experts’ are sharing.

So if your aim is to write thought leadership articles, simply repeating other people’s ideas won’t cut it. Being a thought leader means you’re not locked on the current way of doing things in your role or industry. You want to improve the way things are done.  And you have an eye to the future. How are things changing? How might we be doing things in 5 years or 10 years from now? What changes or trends could impact our industry or the way we do things? How can we prepare for that?

Back up your thoughts with facts – real ones

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For some topics, your personal experience and some compelling logic might suffice to make a convincing argument. But often, writing thought leadership articles will require research. You’ll want to find facts, relevant research and sometimes statistics to back up your statements and ideas.

In an era of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’ you need to be able to sort the fact from fiction, identify reliable sources, and be comfortable reaching out for information when you need it.

By way of example, have you ever seen that statistic about the goldfish and its 9 second attention span? Someone appears to have made it up – or at least drastically misinterpreted a study on fish. Since then, numerous writers have casually stated it as an accepted fact. The flighty fish even made its way into some well-respected publications before a few diligent writers pointed out the fishy facts, or rather the lack thereof. But that hasn’t stopped the goldfish from popping up regularly in blog posts, eBooks and social media images.

Take a professional approach

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You might be considered a professional in your own field, but you’re probably not a professional writer.

Professional copywriters and journalists typically understand copyright issues and the need to avoid plagiarism. They’re familiar with the practice of citing sources.  Are you? If you aren’t, take the time to learn how to quote and cite sources, and to understand plagiarism and image copyright.

I was initially surprised to realise how many people don’t know that they can’t simply copy an image they’ve seen online and use it to illustrate an article – but for many non-writers, copyright issues just aren’t on the radar.

Understand the audience you most want to connect with

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Who are the people you most want to connect with? It’s a question so simple that people often get it wrong, by not thinking much about it.

Do you have one audience or two or three? Many businesses offer services to individuals, but also market to referral partners. If the people you most want to connect with are potential referral partners, be sure to write with their pain points, challenges and buying motivations in mind, rather than the pain points and motivations of your retail level audience.

Choose an appropriate style, tone and voice for your audience

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There are several considerations when it comes to choosing the style, tone and voice of an article. If you work for a large enterprise, you may have to work within their ‘style guide’. However, if you’re a freelance consultant or a business owner, you’ll have to make your own decisions.

Give your articles visual appeal

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We do judge a book by its cover. We just do. If your thought leadership article looks interesting, people will be attracted to it, and if it looks polished and professional, you’ll be creating an important first impression.

There are 2 aspects to visual presentation:

  1. Use short paragraphs and sub-headings to break up the text. Big blocks of text look like hard work and are unappealing to the eye!
  2. Include images and/or diagrams. We like pretty pictures – but there’s more to it. You can use pictures, charts, diagrams, infographics and even cartoons, to tell a story and help convey your message.

If you want to stick to basic images, you’ll find free image sites online (check attribution requirements), or you can purchase images from sellers like Shutterstock. For those who want more pizzazz, there are free and inexpensive tools for creating everything from basic charts and graphs, to infographics and cartoons.

Don’t rush – and don’t publish that first draft!

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If writing is a bit of a chore for you, you probably can’t wait to finish an article, hit ‘publish’, and move on to a more enjoyable or important activity. That’s likely to be a mistake.

A common habit among professional writers is to set the first draft of work aside for a short period, then go back and re-read it. There’s an excellent reason behind this practice. Whether it’s a couple of hours, or a couple of days, distancing yourself from that first draft gives you ‘fresh eyes’.  When you go back, don’t be surprised if you spot an error you’re sure wasn’t there when you left, or find a section that’s confusing, or realise that you’ve left out a significant point.

And always give your articles a final proofread before publishing.

Improving your thought leadership writing skills

If your writing skills are rusty, or you’re struggling with article structure, don’t give up on yourself too soon. As with many things in life, perseverance and effort can bring rewards. On the other hand, if writing isn’t how you want to spend your time, speak to the professional content writers at Article Writers Australia!

Article Writers Australia Pty Ltd | Website | + posts

Leonie Seysan is the Director of Article Writers Australia, and manages the team of professional writers and editors. She holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (Media Studies).

“Succinct, engaging
and accurate”

I’ve worked with the team at Article Writers Australia for over 2 years now. They’ve been instrumental in ensuring our articles and case studies are succinct, engaging, and accurate.

They do feel like they are part of my team – they know us so well I think I could write a brief on a Post-It note.

Fi Arnold, Digital Marketing Manager, Kennards Hire

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