How to write articles that create clients
How do you stand out when it’s SO noisy online?
I can tell you because I know how to write. I know how to write to create value. I know how to write to build community. And I know how to write to sell.
But it wasn’t always that way. In 2005, I was new to coaching. I didn’t have a single paying client. I didn’t have a newsletter. I’d never heard of an email list. I’d never written an article. And my ‘friends’ on Facebook were my actual friends!
I’ve been writing online for almost 15 years. I’ve published something online, every week, for over a decade. I’ve never used a copywriter. And I write almost every single day. (Often – like now – I write in bed at 5am, in the dark, on my iPhone. Hey, I’ve got 2 little kids. You take the time when you can!)
I wrote a book that’s sold almost 70,000 copies, by word of mouth. This isn’t an “Amazon bestseller” because 23 of my friends bought it on the day it was released… It still sells 1,000 copies a day, 7 years after publication.
Between my email list and social media, I have an online community of 20,000 people who regularly read what I write – and who write back to me about what I write.
So, I know a little about writing.
And I can help you.
But first, we need to look at the real problem…
Before I go on, we have 27 spaces left at our April Intensive. I’ll be your coach for the next 21 days, teaching you to create clients in challenging times. I grew my own business during the last recession… Reserve your spot.
It’s so damn noisy online, right?
My inbox and social media feeds are filled with tips to run better Zoom meetings, to work remotely, to scale your business during a pandemic, or the COVID-19 policy of every company I’ve ever used.
Plus, every coach on the planet is stuck at home. They’re posting articles on LinkedIn. They’re offering free sessions on Facebook. They’re emailing links to their website.
It’s noisier than ever.
But the noise is NOT the problem…
There are actually 3 main problems when coaches write:
Problem #1: Most of what coaches write is crap
Problem #2: When most coaches write they aren’t thinking about YOU
Problem #3: Most coaches are trying to sell to you when they write
Problem #1: Most of the stuff coaches write is crap.
It takes me hours to write an article. I sometimes spend days or weeks working on a single piece. I often share it with my clients first, to see its impact, before I share it with my community.
Problem #2: When most coaches write they aren’t thinking about YOU.
They write generic pieces. They write derivative pieces. They sound like everyone else. They rush out cookie cutter pieces that they spent minutes on.
Or they write about someone who inspires them – Oprah or Tony Robbins or Brené Brown. But Oprah’s and Tony’s and Brené’s fans don’t want to read another fan piece. And if your people have never heard of them, they don’t care about them.
Problem #3: Most coaches are trying to sell to you when they write.
They tell you about their proprietary coaching process. They tell you about their coaching programs. They tell you about the trainings they’ve attended, or the letters after their name. “I’m a certified Body-based, Mindfulness, Heart-centered Stratecore practitioner… I am an MCPP from the IFCC… And I am a member of the DWP…”
And nobody cares about this stuff.
There are only two things people are interested in, when they read what you write:
(1) Do you get me?
(2) Can you help me?
If people know that you get them and they see evidence that you can help them. And you repeat this, again and again and again. Then people will know you, they’ll like you and eventually they’ll trust you. And THEN you can sell to them. But not before…
I was writing to serve people and to support people and to connect people and to build a community – for years, before I began to sell when I wrote.
But even when I write to sell something, I make sure that I create SO much value that even if the reader NEVER becomes a client, they’ll be grateful for the Insights.
How to write amazing articles
1. Quantity beats quality
Action tops perfection. Don’t try to be perfect. Make a commitment to write every week. Then share what you write with at least one person.
I promise you’ll hate your first 50 articles. And you won’t even find your voice until you’ve written your first 100. So you may as well get them out of the way!
And don’t stop.
2. Quality beats quantity
But wait, Rich!
I know. It’s counterintuitive. But you’re a coach. Get comfortable with paradox…
Spend hours on a single piece. Do your research. Read what everyone else is writing and write something different. Make a list of 75 things people have written on a single topic. Now look for the one thing that no one wrote about. Write that.
3. Write to ONE person
If you want to do things that scale, start by doing things that don’t scale. Go uncomfortably small.
Don’t try to write to an audience. Write an article for ONE client.
Think of your favorite client. Think of her biggest challenge. Spend 4 hours writing her a letter to solve her biggest problem.
Then send it to her.
Now think of another client. Write them a letter.
I always think of one person when I write an article. Want to know why I’ve spent two hours – so far – writing this article? It’s because one of my clients asked me a question about writing articles…
If you don’t yet use an online system to send group emails, I highly recommend you send personal emails. You can cut and paste the body of your article. But begin the email by explaining why you are sending this article to each person. Yes. It will take you more time. But you will start far more interesting conversations. And that’s the point, right?
I hate the word ‘content.’ Don’t write content. Write to people.
If you have an email list with hundreds – or thousands – of people, don’t ever describe it as your “email list”. I never write to an email list. I write to my community.
I have written this entire article for my client, Jules…
4. Write long
In a world where people are craving quick tips, go deeper. Much deeper. I’m 3 hours into this article. So far.
5. Write short
Edit. Ruthlessly. As Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
After Steve and I finished writing The Prosperous Coach, I spent months editing it. I removed every word that didn’t add to the next word, every sentence that didn’t add to the next sentence, every paragraph that didn’t add to the next paragraph.
Take more time to write less. Less but better.
6. Write for the long term
Yes you could write an article about running better Zoom calls but even my mum and my son’s kindergarten teacher are already learning how to run great Zoom calls!
Write articles that stand the test of time.
I know this piece on writing great articles will be just as relevant in ten years as it is now.
7. Be innovative. Not derivative
When Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power Of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, dozens of authors began writing books for introverts. When Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k became a bestseller, scores of authors began putting edgy words in the titles of their books.
Susan and Mark’s books sold because they were writing what no one else was writing about.
Make a list of 100 things that interest you.
The first third will be the things you talk about all the time… The second third will be things that are a little unorthodox or that you’d feel a little uncomfortable to share… The third third will be really hard to write. These will be the things that you’ve never shared with another living soul, or that you’d be mortified to talk about.
You know where I am going!
Write about those things. Write about the things you’ve never shared with another living soul, or that you’d be mortified to talk about.
How do you create clients quickly by writing?
You serve people, powerfully. You help people dream. You solve people’s problems. And you do it again. And again. And again.
The best time in life to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time in life to plant a tree is today!
There was a time when I had never written an article. And now, I’ve written hundreds. This morning at 4.30am I saw a question from a client. And now I’ve spent the past three hours and forty minutes writing this article.
Two weeks ago, I created a program for 25 coaches to work with me for 100 Days. I wrote about it in two articles. And it sold out within ten days.
It wasn’t because of those individual articles. It was because I have been serving, by writing, for years. My community knows that and they can feel that…
Now that you’ve finished this article, please take a moment to write to me:
- Tell me one insight you got from reading this.
- Tell me your biggest challenge, right now. Maybe I’ll write to you, next week…
PS. Would you like me to be your coach for the next 21 days? I will help you create your next client… Whether you want a $5K client or $50K+ client. I’ll teach you everything I know about coaching top performers. And I’ll teach you ways to thrive in challenging times. I grew my own business during the last recession. We have 27 spaces left. Reserve your spot.
PLUS… Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you increase your income and your impact:
- Read The Playbook for Coaching in Challenging Times. I wrote it for you. You were born for this moment. And we’ve got your back.
- Join Serve, Lead, Serve – my Facebook group to support coaches, at this moment in time. I’m there most days, coaching, teaching and supporting our community.
- Create a business that stands out… It’s really noisy online, right now. To be heard through the noise, you have to think differently… In this self-paced training I teach you the mindsets, techniques and tools that can take your coaching or consulting practice to the next level.
- Be a world-class coach… Join me for deep support to create high-performing, high-fee clients. Learn how to coach elite leaders with power and confidence. Learn world-class coaching skills. Join my community of high-level leaders and coaches. Get coached by me… (Hint: you are supposed to feel a little Imposter Syndrome!)