I had been thinking of starting a blog for at least a year, but I kept delaying getting started. I wasn't sure what to write about, and I didn't have a process for pouring my thoughts out on the screen.
It felt strange to put a piece of myself out there for the entire world to see. I was self-conscious about how my ideas would be received by people I knew --and the thousands of people I didn't know.
Today, four years later, I have 170 published articles on my LinkedIn profile, and I'm approaching 100,000 followers and direct connections. While I've certainly put in the work --hundreds of hours' worth, by my very rough estimate --it's also been an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Here are just a few of the things I've learned over the past four years that might help you with your articles on LinkedIn:
1. Write about what you know best.
I like to research and write about topics that interest me. Sometimes, these articles attract a lot of attention and engagement from readers. But I've discovered a pattern in my writing: Whenever I write about a topic I am deeply familiar with--topics I can write about without having to dip into other sources and quote experts or cite research-- the article flows more quickly and easily during the writing and editing process. And it's these articles that tend to attract the most reader engagement, as measured by comments, likes, and social shares.
Even when I do write an article that I've researched thoroughly, I still try to tie the results from the research back to something I know about from personal experience. I add my own personal commentary about what the research means for me.
2. Write to inform, educate, inspire, and entertain.
Of the 170 articles I've written on LinkedIn, I could probably sort them into four main categories: Those that inform, educate, inspire, or entertain. And these are not all mutually exclusive, of course. I've combined two or more of these basic elements in many articles.
Articles that inform appeal to the many LinkedIn readers who are hungry for information that will help their careers, or those who simply have a desire for fresh knowledge. Articles that educate are for the readers who want to learn new skills they can apply today to their work and their lives --and in the quickest, most efficient format possible.
Articles that inspire appeal to the powerful need everyone has for meaning and purpose. And, finally, articles that entertain scratches that itch readers have for stories that express emotions and ideas they can relate to.
3. Write about relatable topics.
Speaking of stories people can relate to, be sure to write about relatable topics. One topic that tends to resonate well with LinkedIn readers is work. In his excellent memoir and writing guide, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King observed that people love to read about work.
LinkedIn is a global network of professionals, and one of its core functions is to connect people with job opportunities. So anything that touches on the working world, if it relates to the challenges people face and offers ideas and tips for dealing with them, serves as good material to write about. Leadership is a topic of perennial interest on LinkedIn, and something anyone can relate to.
But you don't have to write about work, of course. There are hundreds of topics to write about, and I cover a lot of different ones in my articles: Technology, education, marketing, writing, parenting, and more.
4. Write consistently.
When I started writing four years ago, my mentor gave me this piece of advice that I've heeded ever since: "Glenn, make sure you write an article once a week. And make sure you stick to it, no matter how you're feeling at the time: Write and publish your one article every week."
I have a full-time job and a full-time family life, which leaves me little time to write my articles. But I've somehow managed to squeeze in an hour here and an hour there in the evenings, in the mornings, and on the weekends. I've done this because writing consistently helps me hone my craft, and it helps me build my audience.