You get to meet some great people in our profession. I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to talk to business owners I can learn from, advisers who are the experts in their particular sector, and innovators who are responsible for changing how the world of financial planning and advice is done. But during these conversations, one of the things I'm often asked about is my writing.
You see I love to write... and I write a lot! Morning, noon and night, autumn, winter, summer and spring… you get the picture. I write for my own business websites, for a range of press publications, and for websites like this one. And no doubt you’re already wondering, as many others ask me: how do I find the time?
What this common question really means is: "Why, when as a business owner you've got a million other things you could be doing, do you choose commit so much time to writing?" Well, let me explain.
1) Writing generates business
I started writing as a way to promote my business. This worked and generated a decent amount of additional income – but I found that writing with this purpose requires a number of specific traits.
Firstly it requires you to keep at it. The enquiries don't come rushing in on day one, so you’ll probably have to build up a decent back catalogue before the opportunities start.
It also needs a desire to write useful, good quality content. This gets easier the more you write, but take care in the early days, as shoddy or unoriginal content can do more harm than good.
Finally, you need to make your content distinctive. This takes creativity. I use a bunch of different techniques, ranging from personal stories to taking an unrelated idea and trying to link it to a financial topic, hopefully with a sense of humour.
If you're comfortable doing those things, then the queries should start to come. However, writing professionally does so much more than just generate business.
2) Writing gives you a sense of authority and boosts profile
Once you’ve written consistent, high quality, creative content for a while, and put it out into the world via email and social media, you may discover some unexpected consequences. In addition to generating business, it also has the effect of positioning you as an "expert" in a particular field, even as it boosts your profile.
This in turn conveys a number of advantages. One might be that you’re asked to write for a range of different publications (which then carries your profile and authority further). Another is that, with this newfound authority, it becomes progressively easier to turn that “new client” into a “loyal client”. Because by then you’ll have proven your consistency, knowledge and experience levels through your written body of work, including your appearances in the press. Indeed, it’s likely your prospective clients will Google you before they come and see you, and will see the large number of hits to your written work (and hopefully read some of it) before they meet you in person. In this way I’ve found it easier both to gain new clients, and to retain existing (and happier) clients too.
Writing has yet another important function, and it’s a bit of a strange one. It’s not just useful for promotion and for giving clients good quality information. I find that it provides me with an incredibly useful mental structure to work within. Or to put it in simpler terms:
3) Writing helps me think
Of course, all writing should be written to be read. But the writer almost always benefits too. You see, writing is different from talking. Most of us write with greater thought, care and consistency than when we speak, so we end up thinking about subjects in a deeper way. This has prompted me to think more deeply about my own business and to conduct more research into it, to read more and ultimately understand more. This has made a hugely positive difference not only to my business, but to my life in general.
4) Writing opens the floodgates to numerous other opportunities
The combination of a profile, authority and consistency is a great door opener. Since starting to write habitually, I've had the opportunity to travel the country and speak at a wide range of events alongside my peers. I’ve also created new businesses, and have even recently launched a new product (something I never thought I'd do).
So yes, writing has had a massively positive impact in my life. Could it have the same impact in yours?