Dozens of personal branding coaches and advisors are in the business of helping consultants "become authorities in their space." Look closer at their work, and it's easy to find the common idea at the center of their fancy acronyms and methodologies: the importance of being a prolific publisher.
In the consulting world, this is often associated with your ability to write compelling content your audience can read, relate to and share with others. These can be blogs, articles, reports. And, if you're willing to go for it, books.
Writing and publishing a good book will take you months or even years of effort, but every single one of my clients who did it say it was worth it. Nothing shouts “this person is an authority” as loudly as a book. Commercially published books often hold more weight than self-published ones, but I'm still to be convinced self-publishing is not the best alternative for 95% of us.
Of course, other types of media such as video and audio also count. Podcasts and online webinars are solid alternatives to communicate your ideas, depending on your field. Posting on social media may help you expand your audience and strengthen your digital presence, but I'd not count those as publishing - mainly due to their low marketing half-life.
The key question here comes down to this: Do you have published content that people can easily access?
It helps to go through some kind of diagnostic to evaluate how you're doing. I did one for my own consulting practice, and (surprise, surprise) found important gaps that I'm looking to cover in the upcoming months. Some questions that may be relevant for you are:
- Have you written a blog, article, or report in the last month?
- Have you ever published academic papers relevant to your industry?
- Do you have written case studies and testimonials showcasing your work?
- Have you authored a book or written articles in a respected industry publication?
- Do you have videos or podcast appearances on the web that feature you in a positive way?
Of course, you don't need to do it all. The time I've spent writing +300 blog posts could have been invested in writing a book, or doing branded research for trade associations and online groups I engage with. That's what leading a practice requires: making choices, and having a bias towards action.
Apart from a struggle to making decisions and sticking with them, there's a second challenge for consultants to publish more: anxiety, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism. It's universal, and the sooner you learn how to deal with it, the better. You can find some ideas to overcome the block here.
Be skeptical of everything you hear by consultants who sell content marketing. Creating time and a plan to publish your ideas won't immediately lead to a healthier business pipeline. It might not even be the limiting factor in your consulting business.
But it does make many things - from sales to new offering development - easier.