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Why you should give away your knowledge for free when writing in the thought-leadership style

As an editor and trainer, I have seen how people struggle with the question of how much of their ideas to give away in their writing.

After all, those ideas and concepts are the fruits of an expert’s curiosity, intellect and labor. Why should they share too much up front and cannibalize the business?

The reason is this: After a reader has learned something in your story, been made curious by a new perspective, or has experienced a complex problem made easier to understand, they are grateful. Downright grateful.

Think about it. The knowledge held by the human race is expanding so rapidly that no one can possibly keep up. To be treated to applied knowledge or to come across collected wisdom or best practices is refreshing, and the person who gave us that will gain the trust of readers and be rewarded.

Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards

Rewards come when readers share the information or become a client. Or, if you believe in such things, you may be rewarded when the universe sends good energy in the direction of the writer or company that produced the materials. It’s the law of attraction at work.

Well-executed thought-leadership writing makes you attractive to those who need what you have to offer, and that’s so much more valuable than just another promotion.

Yet even with these compelling arguments to give away your knowledge for free, people balk at doing it.

It is one of the most difficult things for people new to the genre to accept. I work with lots of consultants and hear over and over again why they cannot tell this or that point about their 3-step methodology or the 5-step plan, or whatever is the basis of the solution they’re writing about.

I explain why it’s necessary to do so: If the story is going to be about solving an urgent problem, which is often the case for consultants, you’ve got to talk about the solution in depth and show a fresh perspective.

In a short-form article, there’s no chance that you’ll give away so much that the reader can solve the problem alone. (In book-length materials, that’s not necessarily so.)

In the case of consultants, they are selling multi-million dollar projects with specialized skills and knowledge. They have benchmark data and best practices collected from across clients and projects, but they may resist writing articles with depth. As a result, the company appears to only scrape the surface.

If the article managed to get the reader’s attention in the first place, the reader will learn quickly to avoid such articles in the future because, frankly, they’re a waste of time.

That’s why I say you need to bring your best thinking to your writing and get it out into the world.

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