When Caroline Fairchild worked at The Huffington Post as Associate Business Editor in 2012 she published an average of five articles a day. Thriving on traffic and ticking views, the media landscape that now relies on engagement was drastically different four years ago.
Today, despite being overwhelmed by the number of publishing platforms, writers and producers are perplexed as to which is the right fit to maximize thoughtful dialogue around their work.
According to Fairchild, “we’ve yet to see the perfect intersection between quality content and quality platform,” which is why she joined LinkedIn as their New Economy Editor in 2015.
“Our goal is to bring you highly relevant content where you are coupled with built-in ways to meaningfully engage with your audience,” she asserts.
In addition to her own reporting, Fairchild works closely with startup founders and venture capitalists who lend their voices to trending topics like board diversity and the on-demand economy. Her core objective is to implant timely conversations into your feed daily.
In today’s featured interview, she details how writers can leverage LinkedIn's efforts to build their personal brands, simple techniques that will empower you to make writing a habit, and what to do after you hit publish.
Writing and Your Personal Brand
The evolution of the media landscape affords us a first of its kind opportunity to play a hands-on role developing our online identities. Whether you’re sharing your personal experiences or contributing to a relevant conversation, we have access to numerous platforms that enable us to immediately publish and share our thoughts.
You no longer need to go through a reporter to tell your story authentically.
LinkedIn is particularly useful to showcase your expertise as your articles are displayed on your profile. Thus, when an individual in your network or future network (think potential investors, hires, or recruiters) research you they can gain a clear sense of the impact you're making in your field. Your LinkedIn profile is often displayed as one of the top five results of your Google search and the first place potential connections come to gain deeper insight into your experiences.
While writing is undoubtedly labor intensive, in a media environment that is loud, crowded and cluttered, the opportunity to clearly demonstrate who you are and what you believe in is worth the investment.
Catalyze Your Creative Process
If you equate writing with a dreaded visit to the dentist, you're not alone. After working as a writer and editor at Huffington Post, Fortune, and now LinkedIn, Fairchild’s learned actionable techniques to decide how, why, and when to write.
The ease of publishing has created a false expectation that we should be prolific sharing anything and everything we've experienced. Fairchild often observes this amongst the founders she works with who feel compelled to share every part of their journey.
While there will always be a place for articles about fundraising, pitching, and management, the best way to leverage the LinkedIn platform is to avoid general topics and contribute to subject areas where audiences can tangibly learn and benefit from your insight.
For example, if you’re a social media expert, the news that Giphy has a higher valuation than The Wall Street Journal is an opportunity to add your perspective to the conversation. By capitalizing on topics that are trending in the news, your article will reach hungry readers who are eager to gain an expert's take on pertinent stories.
This is where LinkedIn’s desire to be the intersection of content and platform comes alive. The team strives "to be a place for breaking views, not breaking news." As a result, Fairchild spends a majority of her time collaborating with LinkedIn influencers to spearhead the development of these stories. The network currently includes writers such as actress, producer, and screenwriter Lena Dunham, venture capitalist Mark Suster, and author and Wharton Professor Adam Grant. The engagement on their posts (many boasting hundreds of thousands of views) demonstrate their loyalty to the platform.
According to Fairchild, the first step to publishing is being able to clearly answer these two questions.
1. Why am I writing this article instead of someone else? When you read your piece it should be very clear why you chose this topic and how your experiences posit a unique perspective on the current news.
2. Why am I hitting publish right now? Relevancy and timelines are critical to traction, especially on LinkedIn. If board diversity is trending on the platform, and you have a valuable story to contribute, this is the time.
While determining how and why to publish are foundational parts of the process, getting into a state of flow to actually write often feels like a daunting challenge. Fairchild highlights the writing processes of LinkedIn writers Tomasz Tunguz and Max Motschwiller to help streamline your efforts.
Tunguz, Partner at Redpoint Ventures, makes writing a habit by waking up at 5 a.m. every day, writing for an hour, and then publishing his thoughts.
Motschwiller, General Partner at Meritech Capital Partners, takes a different and shorter approach by posting a brief, sentence-long status update every day on LinkedIn and seeing which topic resonates most with his connections. He later writes a post on the update with the most engagement. This is a simple way to engage your community before committing to publishing an entire post.
If you continue to struggle shaping your thoughts, it may be a sign that you need to spend more time dissecting your ideas. For Fairchild, not having a lede to draw her reader in is an indication that she needs to do more research. Instead of interpreting this as a sign that you aren’t meant to write the article, recognize the obstacle as part of the writing process and work to diffuse it.
Creative breakthroughs emerge when you struggle with ideas.
The most powerful way to overcome writer’s block is to completely remove yourself from your space and engage in a new activity like taking a walk or spending time with a friend or colleague. Your best ideas will strike when you least expect them. As they'll very rarely hit you at your desk, it’s helpful to keep a notebook nearby to capture your thoughts.
Whether or not you decide to hit publish, adopting a frequent writing practice - daily is ideal - not only enables you to add value to important conversations, it unearths profound personal and professional realizations that you likely won’t uncover otherwise.
Leverage Your Network
Congratulations! You beat writer’s block! Final edits have been made and your ideas are out in the world for your connections to respond to.
The combined sense of adrenaline and gratification that surged through your body when you hit publish is quickly halted by silence as you wait for your community to engage. Life after publish, as coined by RebelMouse Founder Paul Berry, is perhaps the most telling difference of the media environment we currently live in. Whereas content creation formerly ended when you published your article or submitted it to an editor, writers are now responsible for driving thoughtful engagement around their work.
Your work as a writer begins after you hit publish.
When publishing on LinkedIn, Fairchild suggests sharing your post on social media (LinkedIn included) and tagging related individuals and connections you feel would be interested.
While LinkedIn notifies your connections that you’ve published a new post (one of the platform's perks), it’s wise to send an additional update via email to ensure that your piece is reaching the right audience.
For LinkedIn publishers, in particular, Fairchild welcomes writers to share their work with her by tagging her on Twitter (@cfair1) and LinkedIn. She also provided four detailed resources to help you publish your first post.
- What Happens When You Hit Publish
- [Presentation] Everything You Need to Know About Publishing on LinkedIn
- Here's What I Tell People When They Ask How to Crush It as a LinkedIn Writer
- What LinkedIn Editors Actually Want
Despite the implicit intimidation of being noticed in today's crowded media landscape, it's also the most profound opportunity we’ve ever had to broadcast the ideas that we believe in. As Fairchild puts it, you no longer need an intermediary to share the most authentic version of yourself. Why not start today?
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