Lee Frederiksen, Elizabeth Harr and Sylvia Montgomery‘s “The Visible Expert” book (designed to promote Hinge Marketing’s content management services) outlines the five marketing strategies with the highest return on investment for Visible Experts — the gurus who have achieved reputation leadership in their fields. They are, in order:
- Online video
- Blog posts
- News articles that feature the Visible Expert, and
- Keynote addresses
From experience, blog posts are relatively easy — if you enjoy writing. Online video requires more production effort and co-ordination, though you don’t need to be fancy about it. News articles and keynote addresses require other organizations/media to give you recognition and opportunity. You can stage things and co-ordinate your activities to achieve the recognition, but it isn’t something you can control, at least in the early stages of your career. (When you become, as the writers describe, an “industry rock star” or “global superstar” of course you will be managing and gatekeeping the speaking and media inquiries, but I doubt many of us reading this blog are there yet.)
So that takes us back to books — a topic on which I can write with some authority, as I’ve written a couple.
Have they been the magic key to “Visible Expert” success/status? Not quite, but they have certainly been profitable. There is the ongoing revenue from book sales, and some cash from leads generated from the book-writing activity (probably in the level of a few hundred thousand dollars, so not a trivial matter).
I’ve seen some other people in my orbit do better though, where their books have propelled their reputation and generated even more income. And I admit to having a writers block problem — I haven’t quite got my hands around my third book; one that will capture a genuinely important specialized yet relevant topic of true interest to readers like you.
However, this problem probably relates back to the first book — the time from deciding to write, to executing the project — took far longer than I could have ever imagined. There were delays and roadblocks along the way; first in even getting started, then moving past the first draft stage to a version that had been edited properly, to finally achieving proofreading and production success. (Of course these days you don’t need a third-party publisher to produce your books; there are various services available to handle the technical responsibilities, and since my business is publishing, I could certainly co-ordinate that part quite easily.)
The process which worked for my first books (and should work for my third) is:
- Take the time to determine your theme/topic, and base it on solid relevance and research. This part is easy if you’ve already achieved your expertise; it is harder if you are breaking new ground;
- Set out a writing schedule and discipline yourself to follow it. I’ve generally found that when I’m ready to write, giving myself an hour to 90 minutes early in the morning proved most effective. I would simply allocate the time, and spend each morning writing a chapter or part of a chapter. I didn’t worry about perfection in the first draft; but knew that I had to get the core work done.
- Consult with trusted editors to review your work; and be ready for the criticism. The more eyes and read-throughs you have, the better the book will be. This can be a painfully slow process if your editors are volunteering and fitting in the time.
- Have it designed, printed and published. Print-on-demand services take out the need for investing heavy sums in printing and production; you can achieve instant distribution through Amazon.com and other online retailers without spending any money on marketing; and you are ready to go . . .
- Of course, you need to find readers, and here you own networking and relationships are needed to achieve the necessary publicity.
Now, you can obtain third-party support anywhere along the way, ranging from hiring a writing coach to perhaps help you over the initial writing block, to contracting with a ghost writer or even subbing out the entire process of building the book. The latter will be a relatively expensive endeavor, of course. You can probably produce a decent full-size book (allowing for contracted graphic/cover design and proofreading, but not your writing time) for between $1,000 and $3,000. If you hire others to do most of the work, expect to pay tens of thousands.
I can co-ordinate most of the back-end work for you, including some writing coaching, graphic design, printing, production and book marketing, for about $5,000 — but can’t write the book for you at that price! However, there is plenty of evidence that the proposed investment will have the highest yield of virtually any marketing you can do. If you would like more information, connect at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (888) 627-8717 ext 224.