Be The Advocate That Your Business Needs
Writers are often stereotyped as people staring at their computer screens while their spouses nag them about finding a "real job." Publishing is the hard bright line that separates the “dreamer” from the “success.”
You may not think you're a writer, but writing is how you share your business with the world. It's the late-night emails, newsletters, and promotional videos that communicate to people who you are and what you value. Your pitch is a thesis statement and your business model is the outline for how you prove your thesis.
Do you send other professionals letters, memos, and emails in the context of rendering your services? Do you take notes on client meetings and professional conferences? Do you copy all staff on client emails to ensure prompt responses? Those details support the body of your narrative. And, if you're already writing to run your business, then why aren't you incorporating that material in publications to promote your business?
People choose you and your services because you provide a skill that they need, in a way that will perform the job they want, in the way they prefer it to be accomplished. Providing your tips in a tweet, blog, book, or toolkit will afford potential clients access to your services for much less than the cost of retaining you, and, if it’s for free, the gift of your advice is one reason that they will ultimately retain you. It is human nature to want to reciprocate a gift. Retaining your services is their gift to you. Thus, if a potential client uses your blog about strategies to communicate with an uncooperative spouse and can thereby strengthen his communication skills, then he is more likely to schedule an appointment with you.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
If you commonly build an argument with clearly defined constraints, as most lawyers do, then writing without those constraints can seem daunting. If your meetings with your clients are confidential and you fear breaching that confidence in any way, then writing about conflicts you have helped them to resolve can seem awkward. If you work with high worth clients who value their privacy and that’s why they chose you, then where do you begin? The most common mistake that new writers make is assuming that they have to tell their readers everything about the scenario - every detail. Understand that your reader will fill in the details of what you don’t tell him.
Remember when you read that book and then you saw the movie? Did you say “What the heck?! The hero didn’t look anything like I imagined!” Of course, you did! We all do that, fill in the blanks with our imaginations. The director of the movie you saw filled in those blanks differently than you did. Your reader knows more than you need to tell him.
That’s not to say that you don’t need to describe the salient details. Not all the details, just those specifics critical to making your point and enough descriptive particulars to tell a good story. If you describe a conversation with a client, then the reader may wonder who that client is and the context of your relationship with her. Is she one of your favorite clients? Does your assistant mute her every time she calls because it takes her five minutes to get to her point?
When I’m trying a case in court, the details are what impact the outcome. Is my client living in his daughter’s school district? Does my client have a protective order against her former spouse? Details are what determine my client’s goals and how I help him achieve those goals. Your reader needs to understand the goals of your business and the quality of services they can expect from you.
On the other hand, what details can you describe to show your reader, rather than simply telling him what you want him to conclude? If you show him and he, therefore, reaches the conclusion you desire on his own, then he is more apt to believe you.
I advised one of my clients to send text updates to the mother of their toddler daughter about their daily activities together. Not only do those updates satisfy the mother’s concern for her daughter’s well-being when she is with my client, but, if entered into evidence, they create the narrative of a father-daughter relationship that will impress the judge. Reading about a father braiding his daughters’ hair, or having a tea party with her, creates a very different image than just seeing that father’s name on the paternity pleadings.
RESTRUCTURE, REUSE, RECYCLE, REPURPOSE
If you’re marketing your practice, then you are writing content. Starting from scratch will take time. You must outline, draft, edit, and obtain feedback on your content from other professionals before you’re ready to publish. Start with content that you already have, and half your job is already accomplished. Plus, it will help you identify areas that you can expand upon.
Once you have material, you can restructure or repurpose from one medium or channel into another. You can shorten a book into a blog or expand a blog into a chapter. Do you have an hour-long video? Transcribe it into an eBook. Did you give a 15-minute interview on a radio show? Edit the audio into a one-minute audiogram, or several of them. The more media of material that you have, the more likely they will be identified by someone’s search engine and come up in a potential client’s results.
TALK TO YOURSELF
What if you have to start from scratch? Every writer has a different writing process. Identifying what works for you, will help you make it your process. Some writers journal for one hour every day at the same time. Other writers journal between appointments or during their children’s naps. Do you journal with an end goal in mind, or do you write down your every thought? Sometimes, it helps to type out, I have no idea where I’m going with this because it reminds you to fill in those details later. If you feel stuck, walk away for a few days and come back with fresh eyes.
I send myself emails of my brilliant ideas in the moment they occur; otherwise, they are lost. I email myself marvelous quotes from the television show I’m watching before bed or from the theatre during the movie (pre-COVID). I dictate a blog about the magic in my Collaborative matter on my cellphone in an email to myself as I drive home from my full team meeting.
READ THE ROOM
The point of publishing is to share your passion for what you do with the world. Finding the right publisher is not always the same as finding the best publisher. Submitting a piece for publishing is a lot like applying for a job; you’re playing the odds. Research journals or publishers before you submit, and you improve your odds. What have they already published? Did you write on a similar subject matter? If so, they’re more likely to publish your work.
Consider the values of the journal and the background of its audience. If you know that the journal is aimed at collaborative professionals, then you should send them your article about conflict resolution and teamwork.
When applying for colleges, admissions officers often reject applications that don’t meet the minimum GPA or test score requirements before they even read them. Like admission officers, publishers often reject submissions that are not formatted correctly before they even bother to read them. Most publishers will have their formatting requirements on their website. To increase the odds of getting your work seen, follow the requirements. Make sure that your work is free of any grammatical or syntax errors. If you have great ideas, but the editor is distracted by errors, then it will pull them out of your content.
If you want more information on how to publish for your business, check out my book Open for Business, Changing the Way the World Gets Divorced. For more on how to market your professional practice, reach out to me at Joryn@JorynJenkins.com or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach, because your marketing is my marketing!