Chris Brogan is a New York Times bestselling author. He has written nine books, including Find Your Writing Voice—which is, naturally, about how to find your unique writing voice. He’s also the CEO of Owner Media Group, where he teaches strategy and skills for modern businesses.
This is a great interview. We talked about how to find your writing voice and what it means to be an entrepreneur. Chris has a unique take you’ve never heard before.
Chris started blogging in 1998 when it was called journaling and nobody was on the internet looking for blogs. It took him eight years to get his first 100 readers.
What Chris likes about blogging is that there are no gatekeepers. You can write whatever you want, and that’s exactly what he did. He says, “I wrote garbage for a long time until I learned to write something that might be appealing to humans who have interests and needs.”
How to Find Your Author Voice
In order to find your author voice, you have to do two things:
- You have to write a lot.
- You have to read a lot.
In Chris’s experience, people do either one or the other—but you need to do both.
People who read a lot and never write usually end up mimicking other writers that they read. When most of what you are doing is copying other writers’ catchphrases, you become a poor clone of work that’s already out there.
Beginning writers often write from their feeling of being afraid of what people are going to think about them. So they use words that aren’t normally in their vocabulary to impress some imaginary brilliant professor or CEO who’s reading their work. If you write in a style and with a vocabulary that isn’t comfortable to you, it will show.
Be authentic! Let your personality shine through and you’ll start to find your place as a writer.
Why Entrepreneurs Should Be Writers
We live in a world where everyone is using their phone to look stuff up all the time. Good content will get you more attention. If you have a bunch of good content on your website about your industry while your competitor has a bunch of ads, you’re going to look better by comparison.
You want to write about how your customers can best use your product. You want to make it easier for the customer to understand what your product does—and specifically how they can use your product to solve their problem.
Creating content allows you to create a channel where people can find you. The more content you create on your website, the more likely it is that people will find you in a Google search.
Creating content also allows you to introduce yourself to people and let them know what you think about things. Consumers are more likely to buy from people they like. Your content allows you to develop a deeper relationship with your audience.
How to Make Your Blog Stand Out
There are several reasons a business or a blog would stand out in our minds. It stands out because:
- We like it more.
- We have an experience with it.
- We have a personal experience that it was the right product or the right service to solve our problem.
Everyone has restaurants they love and hate. A lot of people hate McDonald’s. But McDonald’s has a very specific brand strategy. You know that if you go to McDonald’s:
- The restaurant will be clean.
- The restaurant will serve your food fast.
- The taste of the food will be the same everywhere. A Big Mac in Indiana will taste the same as a Big Mac in Tokyo.
It’s those kinds of things that you build a brand on.
Building a brand is about finding the specific details you want your business to be known for.
When it comes to writing, the key is to find what makes your writing different. You need to make your writing different in order to make it clear to your audience how you see the world.
What Makes Your Business Different?
If you think your business isn’t different, you simply haven’t figured out how you solve your customers’ problems in a unique way.
In order to figure out what makes your business different, think of your ideal customer and the problem they are trying to solve: what are you going to help them with?
Then think of a solution that is interesting to you. Make that product and put it on the market.
Market Research Is a Way to Procrastinate
Chris doesn’t believe in traditional market research. He says it’s simply a way to procrastinate on releasing your product.
Chris believes the best market research involves releasing your product and then looking at your results.
If people aren’t buying your product, try to figure out why. If a lot of people are buying your product…try to figure out why!
To Chris, traditional market research is just studying other people’s results and their unique circumstances, then trying to copy those results—but your circumstances are completely different than their circumstances.
Chris succeeds because he’ll take 100 shots at creating a product. Out of those 100 attempts, two will usually be successful. That gives him two more successes than people who never try because they’re afraid of failing.
The antidote to fear is taking action.
— Tom Corson Knowles
The Cure for Analysis Paralysis
Create a product and put it out there. It’s much better to know how bad you are than to worry about how bad you are.
When you know how bad you are, you can take steps to improve.
Chris has published nine books. Two of those books have been commercial successes. The other seven haven’t sold many copies at all. He’s working on his 10th book.
There is no way to know how well your book is going to do until you release it into the world.
It’s all about where you want to spend your energy. Do you want to spend your energy worrying about success, or do you want to spend your energy creating?
The cure for any entrepreneurial challenge is work.
— Chris Brogan
What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur
If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need to understand that success is not a straight line. There are going to be times when you have a lot of money and times when you don’t.
There is no such thing as job security. If you work for somebody else, that means somebody else has complete control over your income and your time. And they can let you go for reasons that have nothing to do with you.
Successful people who are comfortable in their own skin never brag about their wealth. They always talk about what they can do with what they have, not their material possessions.
If you’re worried about being a failure, you’re already a failure. What if you could figure out how to be a success?
— Chris Brogan
Richard Branson started more than 400 businesses to get where he is today. Have an idea? Just try it! You don’t know where it might lead.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
http://chrisbrogan.com/ — Chris Brogan’s website
http://owner.media/ — Another place to connect with Chris
Find Your Writing Voice: How to write more like your amazing self, for books, blog posts, and email — Chris’s book on how to find your writing voice.
For more writing tips, read on:
- How to Write a Book in 60 Days
- Writing Prompts: How to Boost Your Creative Writing Skills with Fiction and Non-Fiction Book Ideas
- How to Write a Book – 7 Steps to Writing a Book That’s Ready to Be Professionally Published