As an independent professional, you’re responsible for every aspect of running your own business – and that includes tasks not directly related to your actual expertise, but necessary to continued growth, such as branding and marketing yourself.
One of the most effective ways to market yourself online is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, as an influencer whose words are quoted and whose content is shared by a large number of people.
According to research done by Appinions, there is a strong correlation between a company’s CMO’s status as an online thought leader in their industry, the brand’s influence on other thought leaders, and the market value of that company. The more influential a CMO is, the more other influencers join his or her online audience, and the more money the company makes.
The same dynamic comes into play for independent professionals, albeit on a scaled-down level. You are your business’s CEO and CMO, so becoming a thought leader is up to you. The benefits are clear. But how do you go about becoming an online influencer? There are four easy steps you can take that will get you moving in the right direction.
1. Create unique content. No one ever became a leader by following. The content independent professionals share with their online audiences needs to be unique, showcasing their own expertise and opinions. It’s alright to use information you glean from other blogs and articles online, but your blog should never be a simple rewrite of what you find; instead, you should add your own unique insight or twist. By creating original content that reflects your expert views on industry trends, you will come to be known as a thought leader.
2. Develop your own voice. The content that you write needs to be flavored with your own unique voice. Letting your true personality shine through in your writing will help your audience feel a more personal connection with you, and that relationship, coupled with your original content, will help them to trust you as an expert in your field.
3. Publish long-form content. Just about anyone can write a blog – but independent professionals who have the knowledge to fill an entire white paper or eBook are perceived as much more authoritative. Create some sort of long-form content to give away to email subscribers as a sign-up incentive, or simply offer it as a free download on your website. If you want to go the extra mile, you could write an actual book, and then self-publish it and offer it for sale on your site. Nothing says ‘expert’ quite like being the author of a book on your industry.
4. Write guest blogs. The fastest way for an independent professional to be seen as a thought leader by the public is to be accepted as a fellow expert by other thought leaders already established in the industry. Find influencers in your field and contact them, asking if you might be able to guest blog on their sites. Not only will this open up new audiences for you, but it will also establish you firmly among the experts in your industry.
Becoming established as a thought leader is a crucial tool for independent professionals who need to maximize every second of their workday. Perhaps the most efficient form of online marketing there is, thought leadership creates an audience of devoted followers who will continue to spread the word about you, even while you are busy running your business.