We live in a grand era of near-magical levels of outsourcing — if you command something done, a heady combination of technology and freelancers can deliver.
It’s easy to understand why a modern entrepreneur with a fiery ambition might anticipate mass delegation.
Can you succeed by exclusively adopting this approach?
Relying on whatever core abilities you already possess, and passing the buck on any tasks you’re not suited to?
To some extent, perhaps — but it’s a commitment to self-improvement that sets the real trailblazers apart, and there are certain skills that every entrepreneur looking to thrive online must develop.
If you’re looking to outperform your rivals, then, what should you prioritize?
Which skill will have the greatest effect on your overall ability to perform and achieve success?
As odd as it may sound, you should give the nod to writing. You may instinctively reject that claim. Perhaps you don’t write much, and you don’t think it’s held you back. But let’s consider the broader meaning.
Communication is at the core of the entrepreneurial world — that much is inarguable.
Whether you’re making your case to prospective customers, staff members, business partners, or even investors, it’s essential that you know how to articulate your thoughts and convince people that you (and whatever you’re selling) are worth their time and effort.
So if you’ve had a lot of success in that area, then you’re not far off being a writer. You just need to take the extra step of learning to set your thoughts out in a text.
Crystallize your passion and expertise in content, and it’ll return incredible value in the form of qualified leads, followers, and industry recognition. In modern business, the wordsmith reigns supreme. Here’s why:
A personal brand demands a personal voice
Skulking around in the shadows isn’t the smart play when there’s so much value in building a personal brand.
With social media at the heart of online networking, the line between industry experts and celebrities is increasingly blurred — no matter your field of choice, there’s an audience out there ready to follow you if given a compelling reason to do so.
Your job is to get the right kind of attention from the most relevant people, steadily building up your personal brand (something that spans businesses and ventures, remember, supporting you throughout your entire career). And that’s something you can only achieve through consistent and impressive creative output.
What’s more, that content needs a consistent style and voice unique to you.
Outsourcing won’t get the job done — you must assume direct responsibility for what is said and how it’s said.
If you let other people write your content, it will fluctuate tonally, and if you ever become a thought leader in your field (very important, as we’ll see next), you’ll struggle to live up to the brand you’ve fraudulently cultivated.
People who’ve never really written before can easily overlook how distinctive a writing style can be, but make no mistake: even if they’re not consciously aware of it, a reader’s mind will typically notice the subtle differences between any two writers.
To borrow from a point Jericho Writers makes about novel dialogue, how you express your thoughts reveals your character, highlights what makes you different, and allows people to connect to you — so only by taking complete ownership of your core branded content can you maximize your results.
Top-class content can be monetized
Producing digital content isn’t solely important for promoting your personal brand, or even for driving interest in whatever products or services you’re trying to market. It’s also viable for making money outright.
Establish sufficient expertise in your industry, and the perceived value of your content can increase to the extent that people are willing to pay for it.
The more adept you are at writing great content, the more easily you’ll be able to produce training materials capable of earning rave reviews and bringing in revenue while also improving your public perception.
Plenty of entrepreneurs have taken this route to diversify their income streams — look at Sabina Hitchen, an entrepreneur who created a subscription-based PR prep school, or Mimi G Style, a designer who set up a sewing academy.
Even if you’re not confident that people will buy your content in great numbers, there’s still value in charging for it.
That way, you can offer it for free to anyone who subscribes to your email newsletter, and subscribers will feel that they’re receiving more value as a result — value that they simply cannot find elsewhere.
Since your personal brand is your biggest strength, your content needs to reflect it. We’ll touch upon ghostwriting in more detail shortly, but for now, it will suffice to note that it’s your unique circumstances — your preferences, experiences, style, and intentions — that make you memorable and give your content some weight.
Great content will stick with your readers, and return value to your brand for years to come. It’s your perspective that people will pay for.
You can offer advice through sites like LinkedIn Learning or Teachable (here are some handy pointers courtesy of Courseography), create a monetized video series for YouTube, or even try Amazon self-publishing to get educational ebooks in the world’s biggest e-commerce marketplace (it’s easy, convenient, and surprisingly cheap).
Down the line, you could easily find more ways to profit from your position as a thought leader: make guest appearances on podcasts, collaborate with other entrepreneurs, offer testimonials for products or services. The possibilities are extensive.
Quality control for outsourcing is arduous
Let’s imagine for a second that you strongly resist the idea of doing your own writing, and you’re entirely determined to have someone do the work for you, so you track down a freelance writer you’re convinced you can trust.
You reach an agreement with them about the required style of the writing and commit to a long-term association — in essence, you take them on as your full-time ghostwriter.
Couldn’t this work well?
Unfortunately, there are various problems that are hard to avoid.
For a start, you’d never be able to fully relax about the content: the more strongly you established your brand, the more important it would be to ensure its continued reinforcement.
Even if you trust the writer, it would never be advisable to allow the work to go unchecked, and even basic proofreading at a high level of quality can take time.
Beyond that, the writer would invariably have other obligations, as well as a life to live. What would happen if they got a more lucrative offer? Or if they got too ill to write?
You could suddenly find yourself scrambling to find a replacement with the ability to seamlessly match the existing style — not an easy task.
You could try to skirt this issue by using an entire team of writers, but that would only change the nature of the problem: to avoid the content coming across as woefully variable, the style would need to be watered down to the point of being quite generic (making the content ultimately ineffective for bolstering your brand).
Strong phrasing is a transferable skill
How much typing do you do during the average workday?
There are emails to send, web searches to make, instant messages to handle… typing has become a core concern for anyone who uses a computer for their work, which is mostly everyone in the entrepreneurial world.
And getting better at it isn’t just a matter of polishing the mechanics and mastering the quirks of the QWERTY layout — it’s also about phrasing.
The more quickly and accurately you can get to the heart of a matter (the heart of what people want or need to hear), the more productive you can become. You’ll produce written pitches that are vastly more compelling, dotted with powerful marketing words and completed in much less time.
You’ll also find it easier to empathize with prospective audiences: all the time spent writing for different people will make you adaptable (being able to smoothly swap between writing for formal audiences and informal audiences, for instance).
And the secondary effects don’t stop there.
The more writing you do (particularly of the creative kind), the better you’ll get at constructing your thoughts, and the more comfortable you’ll become at navigating the choppy waters of in-person networking. Confident speakers come across as more competent, and are better at directing conversation. Landing a top client is not only about delivering the right results, but also about finding the right words.
Writing is a great source of inspiration
Finally, writing confers a remarkable benefit that too often gets ignored: it sparks an invention.
As you pluck words out of the air and arrange them into grammatical strings, each tiny decision resonates in some minor way — our minds function through semantic webs, and one word can remind you of another, which reminds you of another still, which somehow leads to an idea.
If you’re running up against a stubborn obstacle in your entrepreneurial journey, you might well find that spending an hour or two writing will prove enormously productive (throw in some appropriate music to further enhance things): it will take your conscious mind off the issue, leaving it to marinate in the background. Return to it later, and you might have unknowingly happened upon the solution without realizing it.
That’s exactly what happened to me when I was trying to come up with a logo for my website. I was overthinking it, trying to get too clever, and couldn’t find a satisfactory solution — so I gave up, and started writing some stream-of-consciousness poetry.
Maybe 30 minutes in, I stopped, returned to the task, and immediately combined two basic elements to get just what I needed. The answer didn’t consciously come to me. It was just there in my mind, fully-formed and ready.
For all of these reasons, and plenty more, developing strong writing skills is an unambiguous positive for any entrepreneur who wants to thrive in the complex and challenging digital world.
Why not attempt the challenge? You might not feel that you have a talent for it, but you don’t need talent: you only need the determination to incrementally improve, and if you don’t have that in copious amounts, you might not be cut out for the entrepreneurial life.
Rodney Laws is an online entrepreneur who has been building online businesses for over a decade. Rodney uses his experience to help fellow entrepreneurs start and run their own companies.
Find out how he can help you by visiting EcommercePlatforms.io or heading over to @EcomPlatformsio.