How writing can help you SCALE your ideas, expand your reach and build a profitable brand

In 2004 I wrote an article that would change my life.

I had recently graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC. I remember taking my first Apple Powerbook with me to the newly opened Starbucks on U Street, and sitting down to write.

At the time, U Street (and the whole city of Washington, DC) was changing. The thoroughfare which had once been affectionately referred to as “Black Broadway” was changing before my eyes. I noticed that in the midst of constructing new condominiums, a beautiful mural of Duke Ellington had been taken down. The fact that the new condo building was going to be named “The Ellington” was more than I could take.

Fueled by Starbucks lattes and my youthful exuberance, I hammered out an essay on U Street, Duke Ellington, and my complicated feelings about gentrification. It was not lost on me that I was enjoying the first harbinger of gentrification on the block – a brand new Starbucks store – while simultaneously missing a relic of the neighborhood’s past.

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I wrote the essay and emailed Marie Arana, who was the book editor at the Washington Post. I only had her information because she was my English Professor’s sister and some months before had agreed to meet me for an informational interview. She sent my essay to the editor of the Outlook section who agreed to take a look.

Fast forward about a month later, that essay was published in the Sunday issue of the Washington Post setting off a series of very fortunate events for me. I had never published anything before, so to have my first piece published in the Post was huge. I didn’t have a website and there was no Twitter. I only had an email address which was included with my byline. I had never received so many emails prior to that article’s publication.

Seeing the response to my writing proved to be a powerful drug that pushed me to seek out other opportunities to feel that same euphoria. I got serious about freelancing, and with my one precious clip in hand, I pounded the pavement to find other opportunities to write and publish.

I scored two freelance reporting gigs at small local newspapers, and proceeded to build up my writing clips. Once I had enough good stories, I submitted them for a journalism fellowship at Northwestern University’s Medill School. I got the fellowship, spent a glorious summer writing in Chicago, then came back to DC and began writing for the Washington City Paper. I saw myself following in the footsteps of my two writing idols at the time – Kate Boo and Ta-Nehisi Coates – who had also once been staff writers there.

Things were going well until I lost my newspaper job at the beginning of the Great Recession. Luckily for me, I never lost my desire to write. I flipped journalism into communications and used my writing skills to help tell nonprofit and small business stories.

I craved my own creative outlet, so I started a blog. The internet was heating up and big publications like the Washington Post were no longer the only way to publish one’s ideas. So I blogged about working in communications after journalism, how social media seemed like it was going to be a big thing, and what I was learning about online tools.

As a new mom who didn’t get out much, I made friends online and connected with other comms colleagues. I shared my journey and shared what I was learning and I never stopped. Just by sharing, I inadvertently became a teacher and built a personal brand in the process.

***

The last few years, marketers and strategists (including myself!) have touted the use of new media to build your brand.

You’ve seen articles and posts about podcasting to grow your audience, live streaming to connect with customers, and instagramming your way to a fanbase through your photographs.

And it’s all true. Audio content, visual content and video content are POWERFUL ways to quickly connect with others – they’re certainly more immediate.

But while media content is powerful in the promotion of your brand – to ESTABLISH an expert brand and become known for a specific topic, my go-to format remains writing.

How 2004 of me, I know.

But in all seriousness, I love how Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Soundcloud, Instagram and Google+ allow me to share my content. But writing my ideas BUILT me. Writing established me as a person to listen to.

Not a week goes by that I don’t get a new client inquiry who found me through a Google search. After almost a decade of sharing content, I am fortunate to attract inbound opportunities through much of what I post and share.

I’ve used my writing to get media opportunities – many television segments started out simply as blog posts. Many guest writing opportunities stood on the shoulders of my existing body of writing work. And conference organizers have told me that while they may have heard about me via a referral, they checked out my blog and posts to verify I knew my stuff.

So while it’s not new, writing is still my first love. As I pondered what to teach next, I decided to go back to my roots.

***

Starting on June 1, I’m leading a 6-week writing intensive on writing  – how to pinpoint what you know, identify your ideas, package them into a format readers will care about and then publish them on the web.

 

Write Your Genius

I wanted to teach this class because I personally know quite a few BRILLIANT people who have great ideas. They share those great ideas with me when we meet up for lunch or connect 1:1.

But the world isn’t aware of those ideas because it hasn’t been packaged for consumption.

I know you can probably relate.

You are always getting great anecdotal feedback on how your ideas help others.

People in your network often send you messages to “pick your brain.”

It may have never occurred to you to scale your advice. But what if you could 10x, 100x, or 1000x the impact of that helpfulness and reach even more people?

If this resonates, this program is for you.

I’ll share how to integrate more writing into your brand building mix, what to write when, and different formats you can use to package your writing attractively.

I’ll then share an invitation to an upcoming small group coaching program where you’ll have the opportunity to work with me to shape your writing and get it into the world.

I owe my business and brand to writing. What started as a fortuitous post in a national publication fueled an entire business…

Wow. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the ability to publish my ideas whenever I choose. And it wouldn’t be nearly as easy for my clients to find me online. I am so grateful.

I want to help you unleash the power of your writing. Whether you just write the first 5 posts for your company blog or start sharing your ideas more regularly on Linkedin, the resulting body of work can establish your brand securely within your topic of expertise.

When people research you and find your writing, they’ll know you’re the real deal.

Join me for this video-based writing intensive to learn how you can use writing to build your brand. Enroll here.

Trying to figure our your NEXT MOVE? Get the inquiry process I use.

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Enter your details to download this easy to use assessment that includes the very process of inquiry I use to help me focus on my next move and determine a new area of opportunity. Whether you're thinking about a new niche, client demographic, product line or promotional strategy, this assessment will help you get the clarity you need to begin a successful pivot.

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