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John Jantsch

Founder at Duct Tape Marketing

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Secrets to Creating Thought Leadership Content

October 17, 2017

Building a thought leadership profile requires high-quality, original content.

Everyone talks about wanting to position themselves as a thought leader, but ironically, there's so much noise around the topic that it's hard for anyone to stand out. Here's the thing about leadership: You're only a leader if people actually follow you.

Why you need original content

As so many knowledgeable voices fight for attention in the digital space, it's no longer enough to simply rely on good curation. You need to produce your own original content as well. Why would people want to follow you when they can just go to the original creator?

You need to build a track record of solid, useful content, to which you can point. The more interlocking pieces of content you create, the more valuable and effective your portfolio becomes as a whole.

When you're creating content, originality matters. Reading a few articles and getting excited about a new idea is a great start, but you need to be sure that you're very thorough with your research. Be certain you know where the idea started, what the influences are, and what other people have done with it. Basically, make sure you know what you're talking about.

And unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in this process. The level of your thought leadership will be directly tied to the quality and volume of content you create.

Filling the thought leadership gap

So who do you picture in your head when you picture a thought leader? Steve Jobs? Elon Musk? Sheryl Sandberg? It's natural to think that thought leadership is something that's only for the folks that helm massive corporations. The truth of the matter is that if nobody in your industry is thinking about thought leadership or themselves as a thought leader, it's the perfect opportunity for you to step forward and fill in the gap.

The goal here is building trust. How do you do that? By giving your readers useful advice, making things that they want to engage with, and being the expert that they turn to first when doing research. The more niche your topic, the easier it will be to position yourself as that person.

Don't just offer them general ideas--give them enough specificity through explanation, examples, and anecdotes that they understand how what you're saying applies to them. For example, don't just tell them how they can have great phone skills. Explain the skill, use some examples of when it might come in handy, and then share an anecdote or two that can help them see how the skills apply to them.

Make your content work for you

Congratulations, you've made a great piece of content. Now, how do you make sure that you get the most mileage out of it? Remix it. If you've written an article, think about how you can turn it into a video or a podcast. If you have a podcast, get it transcribed and repurpose it into an e-book or white paper.

Some people love to read as much as they can, while others prefer the immediacy of video or the flexibility of a podcast. Make sure that you're giving your content the chance to shine in every avenue available.

Doing is the secret

Nobody becomes a leader by sitting around thinking about how to become a leader. You get people to follow you by going out there and showing them that you're worth following. It's a slow process to build trust, but if you make useful things that people want to engage with, you'll find yourself with a following in no time.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

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