Give Your Authority a Lift with Thought Leadership Articles

May 29, 2024

mark gillespie director of content

Written by
Mark Gillespie

laptop with thought leadership article

You didn’t get where you are in life by following others. You’ve blazed your own trail and now, when you have something to say, people get out their phones and press record. You’ve been interviewed for blogs, news articles, and podcasts—and even been on TV a couple of times.

In other words, you’ve become a thought leader. It’s time to stop reacting to the needs of others and establish your Authority with thought leadership articles.

While the two have many things in common, thought leadership is not marketing. It’s a way to establish yourself in a class of your own. You’re not worried about competition or closing deals because that kind of success is already in your rearview mirror.
Instead, you have unique insights to share with the world. With your experience and perspective, you’ll set the standards of your industry and shape what others think and believe.

First, though, you need to find your voice.

Your Authentic Writing Voice

Finding your authentic voice is easy on a podcast or interview. It’s just you, sounding like you do every day. When you try to establish your voice in writing, it’s a whole new challenge.

People rarely read what you write by imagining what your voice sounds like. They read in their own voices using what scientists call internal monologue. This is the famous “voice in the back of your head” you hear when thinking to yourself. It’s also how writing “sounds” to most people.

As experienced writers, we know how to interrupt your internal voice. In this article, we began by addressing you directly, trying to sound like a knowledgeable friend sharing a secret. With this paragraph, we changed course and told you we were doing this on purpose. You’re now aware a real person is writing this article.

You’re paying closer attention, aren’t you?

The Poynter Institute, which supports quality journalism and op/ed writing, offers ways to find your authentic voice by adjusting your writing style. By choosing your “person” (first, second, or third), you affect how you draw readers.
Your chosen level of language, whether approachable or authoritative, can include or exclude the followers you seek. The way you use metaphors, examples, and personal anecdotes can create relatable touchpoints.

As you develop your voice, determine who you want to reach, what content they consume, and how you can weave in your personal flair and insights. Finally, check whether your voice transcends your discipline area or if you’re falling back on the jargon and vocabulary of your peers.

How you write is as important as what you write. It’ll take a lot of practice to nail down the best voice for your writing. It should probably sound close to your natural speaking style, but it will never be quite the same thing.
Once your writing voice is established, it becomes part of your personal brand.

Develop a Thought Leader Mindset

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs seek opportunities to build networks, establish partnerships, and build successful companies. Thought leaders are often business leaders who also do these things, but choose to share their rich insights with others as an established Authority in their field.

You direct your content and activities toward mentorships and relationships. Whenever you can, you recognize excellence in your field through case studies—not your own, but those of your peers. You gain respect as a trusted expert through this generosity with your time and creative efforts.

Yes, you’re “giving it away for free.”

Your blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and social posts are not your product. They’re your calling card. They’re the beginning of a conversation you can continue when you go to industry conferences, consulting work, or speaking events.

A 2022 Edelman impact report recognizes thought leadership as one of the most important ways to break through to clients. This method scored above traditional advertising or product marketing.

For many new thought leaders, accepting feedback and criticism is the most challenging part of entering the conversation as an expert. To do thought leadership right, you need an extra helping of humility and a willingness to engage with your community, even when it’s difficult.

Select the Right Industry Topics

Your content will come in predictable forms audiences already respond to.
This could include:

  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • Intelligence reports
  • Podcasts
  • Data visualizations

The key to gaining traction with those audiences is choosing the right thought leadership topics.

First, you’ll need to take stock of your expertise. What unique value do you bring to your industry? You’re not teaching a 101 course. Instead, you’re offering insights available nowhere else. Ask yourself what others are already seeking your advice about.
It’s best to gravitate toward topics you understand intuitively without needing to brush up on. Focus on why you put yourself out there and what you hope your audience will gain from your efforts. Make sure you are passionate about your topics and can devote the time and attention to a repeatable, authentic content calendar.

Here’s the most challenging part: choose topics that can be both current and timeless. You might be tempted to follow headlines and add your voice to today’s dialogue, but you should also create durable content that remains relevant years after publication. That’s why a reactive and proactive content strategy is so important.

Boost Brand Awareness

A brand is the impression you leave behind in someone else’s mind. Your personal brand is something you can influence but not entirely control. It requires constant maintenance and protection.

To build brand awareness with your audience, you must first seem always present. A consistent release of content keeps your message at the top of their mind, and your responsiveness to their questions and comments lets them know you’re fully engaged.

Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, are custom-made to build brand awareness. They offer content tools, such as video reels, event RSVPs, and calendars, that can help focus and amplify your message. You can engage your audience by posting on a consistent schedule, sharing the posts of others, and engaging in conversations.

As part of your thought leadership strategy, offer to collaborate with other thought leaders through guest posts, podcast interviews, joint webinars, and other partnerships. This can cement your position and associate yourself with other established personal brands.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and thought leadership authority go hand in hand. If your content sends the right signals to search engines, your content will be found by people looking for answers to their questions—even if they’ve never heard of you.

A solid public relations strategy can amplify your messages by helping you connect with mass audiences through articles, interviews, and feature stories in media outlets followed by those in your industry.

Above all, measure and monitor your content performance. Use content analytics tools to watch traffic to every URL, email, social post, or podcast where you appear. This will help you understand what approaches work best so you can adapt your approach.

Benefits of Thought Leadership

There are countless intangible benefits to building your authority in thought leadership. Establishing yourself as a recognized public expert opens your door to future clients and partners. Here are a few benefits you can expect:

  • Attracting Talent. Organizations led by recognized thought leaders naturally attract talent already aligned with your mission and purpose.
  • Competitive Edge. A thought leader is, by nature, strongly differentiated from competitors, making them a go-to source for insights and advice.
  • Credibility. You show others you are a trustworthy source, which builds trust with clients, investors, and peers.
  • Engagement. Thought leadership fosters deep audience connections. Engaged customers are more likely to remain loyal and advocate for you.
  • Visibility. Your audience will share your thought leadership content with their own networks, extending your reach beyond traditional marketing efforts.

Where Do You Start?

Advantage Media specializes in proven authority-building solutions. Visit our Authority Hub for dozens of free authority resources, including blogs, podcasts, webinars, ebooks, and videos. You can also request a free consultation with our seasoned team of content and media experts.

mark gillespie director of content

Mark Gillespie

Director of Content

Mark leads a team of full-time content developers and ghostwriters who amplify our Member voices through all available communications channels.

Mark’s background includes two degrees in English and more than 30 years of professional e...

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