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Every single day of my life, someone asks me this question: “How do I get people to pay attention to my writing? What’s your trick?”
So I’ll ask them who their writing is for and this is what they say: “Me, me, me, me, me, me! Me! Everyone look at me!”
OK, I’m exaggerating. They usually don’t scream, but the answer is always something about themselves, never about their audience. They tell me what their book or blog post or writing means to them. Most people write only with themselves in mind and not with an audience in mind.
And that’s precisely the reason why no ones care about their writing.
It’s really funny that Tucker Max is telling you this, isn’t it, to not focus on yourself? Because you’re probably thinking, “Didn’t you sell millions of books that were just talking about yourself?”
My books are the perfect example of the right way to do this. My books sold millions of copies because they are funny stories about stupid things I did, and they entertain the reader. Even if you read all my books cover to cover, you still don’t know very much about me at all. It’s all written for the reader.
And that is the one unbreakable rule of great content: To make your content great, make it about the reader, not about you.
What do they get? Why do they care? What does it matter to them?
I bet you understand that already, at least intellectually. We’re all sophisticated buyers of products and services, and this is how we decide to read things — by calculating if it is interesting or will provide value to us.
Yet when the roles are reversed and people start trying to writing their own content, they lose their minds and somehow think that everyone has to pay attention to them just because they want them to. It’s like as a society we have decided to be perfectly rational buyers and totally irrational sellers.
Most people see their writing as a piece of themselves, as a representation of their identity or some sort of personal validation. They think that getting attention for their writing will confirm and validate their idea and thus themselves. I have seen this over and over and over.
I would say less than 10 percent of the writing I see is actually about delivering value to an audience. The rest is ultimately about the writer, not the audience. You’re probably making this mistake too, without even realizing it.
This is literally what we deal with everyday in our new book publishing company. When we started our company, we thought the most important service we provided to authors was saving them time (our process turns ideas into books in about 20 hours). That time saving is great, but the real value we provide to authors comes from helping them see exactly what wisdom they have that’s interesting to other people — which is the only way to get attention for your book.
There’s three basic questions that, if you can answer them honestly and well, will ensure you don’t break this fundamental rule:
- Why are you writing this content?
- What audience do you need to reach with it?
- Why will they care?
Do you see what that process does? It centers the entire discussion on the audience, not on yourself.
I’ll give you a specific example of how we took an author through this process, how it turned his book from a dud into something that got a ton of attention and it will show you how to do this with your writing (or product). This entrepreneur wanted to write a book about how he built a large commercial plumbing contracting business, in order to raise his profile in the plumbing industry and drive clients to his business. He was very proud of his company and wanted more people to know about it (and I think he secretly had visions of this book elevating him alongside famous business people like Jack Welch and Sheryl Sandberg). There was a small problem. No one wants to read a self-congratulatory book about plumbing (I won’t make the obvious poop joke here).
We walked him through this exercise and he realized that the audience he needed to hit in order to reach his goal (people who buy commercial plumbing services or care about the plumbing industry) were never going to read his book — unless he said something of interest to them.
So we asked him a bunch of questions about plumbing, the problems in the business, his experiences and realized something: he had an incredible way of evaluating and speccing out commercial jobs that was genuinely revolutionary (at least as far as you can revolutionize plumbing). And guess what? That information would be incredibly valuable to the exact audience he needed to hit — people who buy commercial plumbing services.
So that’s what his book became — the definitive guide on how to evaluate and spec out commercial plumbing jobs.
Which will not put him next to the titans of business, but it will get him in front of exactly the people he wants (potential clients), in exactly the way he wants, to get him his goal.
And it’s happening only because he used his wisdom to help his audience reach their goals.
See how this rule works? This is the key to getting attention for any writing — books, blog posts, even tweets — first make your writing about the other person, help them reach their goals and that will inspire them to both engage your writing and then share it with others.
That’s the only writing that anyone cares about reading — because the writing helps them, not you.
As my friend Justine Musk says, “The question isn’t how the world can cater to your passions, but how your passions can cater to the world.”