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Using Authorship as a Route to Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a great way for you to get yourself noticed within your industry, both as an individual and as a business. By creating and sharing smart, dynamic content, you position yourself as a leader within your field, amongst other benefits.
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If you want to start on the path to thought leadership, authorship is key. Writing solid, actionable content related to your industry is how you get yourself and your business seen.
 
Read on to discover how you can use authorship as a route to thought leadership in 2019.

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership is about drawing upon your wealth of business knowledge and experience and sharing it with your audience. Thought leaders are those individuals who are recognized within their industry as an authority, someone who people can turn to for reliable and respected thoughts and ideas.
 
Good thought leadership is cutting-edge and intelligent. It is backed by research and fuelled by passion. Finally, it shows that you are well-versed in your field and forward-thinking, capable of making accurate predictions about your industry that others can learn from.
 
And the benefits of becoming a thought leader are numerous. For example:

It provides you with strong PR

Public relations can make or break a brand. A bad image leads to a loss of custom, not to mention a loss of face within your industry. But good PR generates sales, encourages investment, and gives you better SEO into the bargain.
 
Regularly creating and sharing incisive and forward-thinking content shows your peers that you (and by proxy your business) are at the forefront of your industry. This gives you positive PR that works wonders for your brand.

It builds trust with your peers — and your customers

In business today, trust is everything. With the rise of review websites and the growing value of social proof, it’s crucial that you get your audience onside if you want to see sustained business growth.
 
Writing smart, reliable content shows your audience that you can be trusted. Your industry peers and customers will rely on you, even choosing you over potential competitors.
 
The rise of review websites like Trustpilot is a good example of this. These places are often the first place customers look when they’re considering a purchase. Good reviews mean a positive reputation, which in turn means sales.
 
Even search engines take these kinds of reviews into account for their SEO. A website with lots of positive reviews is one that can be trusted — it’s valuable. Strong thought leadership fosters great reviews, which in turn enhances the rest of your business too.

It creates opportunities that benefit your business

Make noise, and people will be forced to listen. But make the right kind of noise, and people will want to listen — and will stay hooked. Those people present opportunities, whether sales, networking, or otherwise, and that’s a valuable thing for a growing business.
 
Thought leadership is the right kind of noise. People recognize you as an MVP within your industry, and they’ll flock to you. On top of that, they will talk about you, referring their own clients and colleagues to you as well.
 
As this happens, you’ll need a solid customer-relationship management tool that nurtures these leads. Your existing lead management software should cope with the increased attention your business is getting. Tools like Infusionsoft help you manage these new leads professionally, giving weight to your newfound presence on a global stage.

It lets you lead globally and with confidence

The eCommerce industry is rife with big personalities who sell their brand through their innovative ideas and message.
Nasty Gal is an eCommerce-driven clothing company which originally forged its success through the passion of its founder, Sophia Amoruso. Beginning in 2006, she used social media extensively to talk to her audience, create awareness, and show potential customers that someone just like them was running the show. Today, Nasty Girl has a dedicated site for seven countries and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
In today’s business world, building a personal brand and activating a community matters more than ever. On a global scale, the personal brand of Sophia was instrumental to the commercial success of her business.
 
The lesson? Don’t limit your brand — think globally, and build a vast network from day one. If you’re expanding to a global market, you need a global platform that supports it. Shopify Plus is an international platform that provides you with a foundation for your online community. This bedrock supports your business and gives your thought leadership the evidence that you’re serious about expanding.
 
In short: you need to talk the talk and walk the walk.

How to use authorship for thought leadership?

The examples above are just a few benefits of thought leadership. But how does this relate to authorship?
 
Authorship is, put simply, the practice of writing. It is the essence of thought leadership, creating content that gets read and that people want to read. But how can you use authorship as a route to thought leadership?

Go back to basics

The first step on the journey towards thought leadership is getting the basic stuff right. To quote Isaac Newton: “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In essence: don’t run before you can walk.
 
You can’t provide incisive thought leadership without first knowing all that came before it. That means knowing the basics to create a foundation upon which you can develop your thought leadership.
 
Familiarize yourself with entry-level knowledge related to your industry. Even revisiting that which you already know gives you a solid bedrock that fuels the rest of your research further down the line.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty

The best thought leadership is backed by hard evidence sourced. That means getting your hands dirty and conducting thorough research to give you sound industry knowledge.
 
This is also about getting a solid grasp of the current state of your industry. Be aware of current industry events and keep your eye on the horizon to spot nascent trends.
 
Research can take many forms. A good place to start is by simply talking to the experts — go to their talks and read their content. The talk circuit is a good place to meet like-minded individuals who know their stuff.
 
Trawling industry news sites and the blogs of competitors is also a good source of research. Be warned: you will find a lot of useless or irrelevant content this way, but it’s worth sifting through to find the gems.

Flex your writing muscles

Writing is a muscle that needs to be used every day to keep it in top working order. If you’re already familiar with creating content, then this should be a breeze. But if you’re relatively new to it, it’ll take time to hone your output and style.
 
Set aside an hour every day to write 500 words. It doesn’t need to be world-class content just yet — simply writing a well-researched article on a common industry issue is enough for you to find your footing.
 
You don’t need to publish this just yet. Circulate it within your company via newsletter, or share it with associates from your industry. They can provide a critical pair of eyes that will help you.
 
Finally, don’t be afraid to lean on tools to help you develop your authorship skills.
 
For example, Hemingway Editor is a useful app that helps you get the technical aspects right. Grammarly works in the same vein, flagging spelling and grammatical errors as you write — I’m using it right now!
 
Every writer uses tools like these to improve their writing, so you should feel comfortable using them for yours too.

Develop a personal style that pops

The best thought leadership is unique — it has personality. The internet is awash with generic, forgettable content, and if you want your thought leadership to resonate, it has to stand out.
 
So beyond improving your actual writing, work on developing your personal style too. Writing in your own inimitable style helps your content stand out against a sea of noise, making your thought leadership resonate with your audience as a result.
 
Many major publications have bespoke style guides that you can draw upon to learn stylistic elements too. Indeed, perhaps you also have a set of company brand guidelines you can use to inform your personal voice.
 
A personal style isn’t a commodity you can buy — it takes time and effort to hone. But do so, and it’ll give your thought leadership shape and distinction.
 
Thought leadership might seem like something that’s done by other people, but that’s not the case. You can write thoughtful, intelligent content that puts you at the forefront of your industry. Follow the tips above and get writing and, with time, you’ll be a thought leader within your field.

Kayleigh Alexandra

Kayleigh Alexandra

A writer and small business owner, Kayleigh is an expert in all things content, freelance, marketing, and commercial strategy. Connect with Kayleigh on twitter @getmicrostarted or visit her site at microstartups.org.