I was trading emails the other day with Mike Iamele to get his feedback on our blog’s direction when he mentioned something that really stuck with me and served as the catalyst for this post.
“One thing that I think could be helpful is getting a bit more specific in how to do some of these things. It's absolutely wonderful to talk about thought leadership and content -- but how? Is it guest-posting? Is it videos? Or, if so, how can they do that?”
- Mike Iamele Boston Wellness Coach
It was great feedback and being that Mike is a branding and strategy guru for wellness coaches I thought he was probably on to something.
In truth I needed to hear this, but more importantly I realized this was something that deserved exploring as so many people try to position themselves as an influencer in order to try and boost their business, but unfortunately their efforts go unnoticed.
What works? Is it a blog, social media, speaking at conferences, or some combination?
This topic really needed to be covered as so few people really know where to begin, so I began analyzing everything we had been doing with Nudge Coach, as well as reached out to countless influencers to put together a series of posts focused on helping you map out a strategy to become a health coach influencer.
Defining who you are and the story you want to tell
After speaking with so many in the coaching industry we realized there was a massive void in the form of good content and continuing education on the business of coaching, so we decided to try and fill the void with our blog, Touchpoints, helping coaches navigate the business side of coaching.
Putting this together wasn’t easy and aside from the sheer amount of content ahead of us, we needed to identify exactly what we were trying to achieve and how we wanted to frame our story of getting there.
We wanted to be the logical destination for any recently certified coach, or anyone about to embark on a journey of starting their own business, answering business questions for coaches like:
- how much should I charge?
- how should I collect payments?
- how do I find more clients?
People are constantly looking for new sources of credible education to further their career and give themselves a competitive edge in the market place and it just so happens that there are more, inexpensive sources to turn to. Regardless of your approach, education is key, and this was one of the key lessons fitness personality and coach, Jill Brown had to share in our email exchange.
"...I spent a great deal of time getting perhaps overly educated. I got multiple certifications. I took many other peoples' classes. I became a master trainer for certain emerging brands and went to conventions and workshops. I was like a sponge learning as much as I could. This was over many years. I worked at the highest end health clubs and most famous fitness facilities in L.A. as I was coming up in the industry."
- Jill Brown Jill Brown Fitness
Identify the goal YOU are trying to achieve and craft a compelling story that can help someone further themselves and career.
Start Writing: Our Approach To Creating Effective Blog Posts
Putting together a blog is easy, but staying regimented enough to pump out consistent, solid content can be incredibly time consuming.
Think of content marketing like fishing… each piece of published content is like an additional fishing line in the water, whereby the “water” is the vast world of google search. When someone searches for something on google, you want him or her to find one of YOUR great pieces, bringing them to your site.
Ultimately, having more lines in the water is a good thing... as long as they are solid and well-crafted.
We chose to create our blog on Squarespace as its one of the most functional, well-designed, page editors for those not wanting to dive into code (you have the option if you want to though). This allows us to speed up our approach with publishing content, while at the same time not sacrifice design.
Once you have your platform established, it's time to lay out a strategy for crafting your content. Here is the approach we have taken and some of the factors we consider with every post we produce...
We create posts based on issues or questions we hear from coaches in the industry, this post being an example. Ultimately people are probably Googling these items so why not help ensure that they find us rather than someone else :)
Identify WHAT people are searching for and try to frame your content and messaging around that topic.
Everyone’s audience differs, so try and match your tone with your reader’s expectations. For instance, where we really want Touchpoints to be highly conversational and an easy read, you may be trying to cater to an audience in which our tone may not be the most appropriate. Take this into consideration and keep it consistent. Tone can be an incredibly powerful tool in connecting with your reader, helping ensure you are able to convert them into a fan.
Mike Lamele really touched on this fact in his response to me when I shared with him that his previous email had sparked my interest in this post.
"If a person falls in love with your blog post, there is no reason that she wouldn't love every other blog post you write, and your website, and all of your offerings. It doesn't mean she'll buy right away, because it might not be the right time or there might be money concerns -- but it just means that she'll fall in love. Because all you're doing is helping people to resonate with an energy, a tone, a feeling -- and then keeping that consistent across everything you do."
- Mike Iamele Boston Wellness Coach
3. Build trust with your reader ("don't be too salesy")
Mike brought up a great point - sell a person on your mission and values and they are far more likely to purchase your product down the road when it makes sense for them. Few people will purchase your product out of the gate... they don't know you or trust you... yet!
Carrie McMahon, an online trainer with a significant social following, mentions that the real work begins once the content is created, interacting with your readers and showing them you are worth their time.
"In order to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, the most important thing to do first is to build trust. Produce as much helpful and free content as you have, answer questions on websites and respond to every inquiry, comment or question you get from your followers. You need to prove to your followers that you are worth their time. In order to do that, you must build their trust. If they trust you, they are much more likely to use your services."
- Carrie McMahon ThisFitChick
On a similar note, globally recognized mobile health guru, Paul Sonnier, emphasizes the importance of building trust with your readers by creating valuable content through collaboration with other thought leaders. Through the lens of your reader, if you are able to catch the attention of other influencers you will start looking like a more credible source.
"Try to avoid making your online presence be gratuitously about yourself, self-promotion, and selling. Aggressively seek out others (including news sources, companies, and organizations) who do good work, have credibility, and whose work you admire and from whom you yourself derive value. Share what you learned, add your own unique perspectives and context, and publicly attribute those who you learn from."
- Paul Sonnier Story of Digital Health
4. Breaking up content
The way in which we include images and structure paragraphs is actually far more strategic than you may realize. No one likes to read walls of text so I try hard to ensure you don’t have to. Even if I throw a TON of content at you I try to include visuals in order to space out points making the points more digestible.
5. Find a way to keep in touch
Ultimately you want to stay in touch with your reader so find an effective way in which to collect his or her contact information. We use Squarespace forms and Sumome widgets, which are a suite of mechanisms you can easily plug up to your website to collect email addresses, but ultimately every piece of content should have some way to collect your reader’s email address so you can send them future emails.
Your email list will be incredibly valuable as you look to build your relationship with your reader, regardless of whether it's to spark a conversation or to eventually promote your product, so do what you can to build a large subscriber list of targeted individuals. These are your prospective clients, so make sure to use a services like Mailchimp to regularly send email campaigns to maintain regular touch points.
Very few thought leaders get to where they are from keeping their opinions to themselves. It all starts with generating content and networking your face off to find other thought leaders in which you can share ideas, collaborate, and help one another (i.e. create win/wins).
This initial post was focused on establishing your platform to get the word out, but In the next chapter I will walk through the steps I've used to collaborate with other influencers and share lessons I've collected with other industry leaders who have built their own brands. Stay tuned!
Mac Gambill (founder and CEO)
Thank you to those that helped contribute to this series so far!
Mike Iamele is a business coaches for coaches and is the founder of Boston Wellness Coach.
Jill Brown is a fitness personality who's been in the fitness and entertainment industry for over 20 years, and still offers private and group training plans. Jill Brown Fitness
Carrie McMahon is an online trainer and blogger through her site, ThisFitChick.
Paul Sonnier is one of the leading thought leaders on mobile health and the quantified-self movement, posting his thought through both his site, Story of Digital Health, and the popular Linkedin group, Digital Health.