Thought leaders are a unique kind of people – and they need an equally unique kind of content for their blog.
Ultimately, a thought leader wants to be seen as ahead of the masses, thinking bigger, more important thoughts than the average people in their sphere. They want to be seen as innovators, trailblazers, and… well, leaders.
So they need content that demonstrates their exceptional ability to rise above the ordinary and think on a higher level.
So, if you want to be seen as a thought leader, how do you do that?
Well, for one thing, you could take a peek at the Trailblazer Expansion Pack in The 1-Hour Content Plan (available in the Karma Store on pay-what-you-want pricing).
Additionally, you can read about 7 specific types of thought leader blog posts that you can start creating for your own blog today.
Ready to up your game on the thought leader front?
Let’s take a look at 7 options.
1. Create blog posts that challenge conventional wisdom.
Being a thought leader means not being a thought follower who simply repeats the conventional wisdom that other people do.
A thought leader doesn’t take conventional wisdom on faith, but considers it carefully – not only to decide if it’s correct in the first place, but also to see what other viewpoints might exist, and what those might be.
Creating content that tackles conventional wisdom head on and gives your opinions and insights helps separate you as a thought leader (as opposed to simply an expert or consultant).
Alternatively, thought leaders can also resurrect older conventional wisdom that’s fallen out of favor or replaced with something new. Make a good argument for why we should return to it, and a thought leader you become.
Seth Godin is a master of this and has been doing it for years. Take a page from his book (or blog!) and present your opposing viewpoints and supporting arguments to pull off these kinds of thought leader blog posts.
2. Create blog posts that expand a conversation.
Thought leaders don’t have to sit around like a hermit, coming up with random thoughts out of the ether – they can weigh in on current conversations as well.
Whatever’s important in your industry right now, whatever people are talking about – that’s fertile ground for you to plant some of your content in. Write about who you agree with and why, who you disagree with and why, and expand on their points rather than rehashing them.
And for bonus points, you can write about the elephants in the room that no one is talking about, or important points that are consistently left out of the conversation because no one has thought of them yet.
(This is where posts like Impostor Syndrome: The 1 Question Nobody’s Asking really shine.)
These approaches create exceptional thought leadership content – they genuinely add to the conversation with new thoughts and new perspectives, rather than simply reporting on what’s already been said.
If you can take existing conversations and add more breadth or depth to them, you’re showing your audience that you can indeed lead the charge into bigger and better thinking on whatever conversations are relevant in the here and now.
(Plus, throwing your existing opinions into the ring is pretty easy to do, so you can save your truly original creative juices for other content.)
3. Create blog posts about “higher ranking” concepts.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
The same concept applies to thought leadership – all ideas fall into a hierarchy of importance or weighting relative to each other. Some ideas have more impact than others.
- Choosing your next project has a certain level of importance.
- Choosing the direction of your business holds a greater importance.
- Choosing a business that’s good for you and your lifestyle is even more important on that hierarchy.
Another example is this very blog post. This piece of content is about “good blog post topics for thought leaders”. But the post it sprang from – What’s The Point Of Your Blog? 6 Angles To Consider – is a higher-level idea.
Thought leaders keep climbing the ladder, looking for the more important overarching topics and ideas to discuss. And since fewer people tend to create content on those topics, writing about the higher-level topics can make it much easier to stand out as the thought leader you are.
4. Create blog posts about the “most important” idea.
On that hierarchy of ideas there are escalating levels of importance, but there’s also an apex, a top of that pyramid. The idea that lives there represent the most important concept, the One Ring That Rules Them All.
When you’re considering your topics and ideas, you’ll hit a point where you just can’t identify anything that seems more important than that particular idea. That’s a clue you might have hit the apex.
Let’s go back to our earlier example about business and look at that hierarchy:
– Choosing a business that is good for you and suits your lifestyle
- Choosing the direction of your business
- Choosing your next project
Is there anything that ranks higher than that? Maybe there is. Maybe you can go one further, like this:
– Consciously deciding on the lifestyle you truly want in the first place
- Choosing a business that is good for you and suits your lifestyle
- Choosing the direction of your business
- Choosing your next project
There we might have found an apex idea. Maybe you could go higher than that, like “Choosing what might best serve the world” or something similar.
Wherever your path might end is up to you and what you consider to be the most important idea. In fact, you may have 2 or 3 ideas that jockey for the top position on the pyramid. But everything below them is not even close in terms of meaning and impact.
If you can find your apex idea, you’ve essentially found a platform that can be the basis for all of your thought leadership moving on. Creating a lot of content on that apex idea (or ideas) can take your thought leadership up a strata level if you concentrate your focus there.
5. Create blog posts that are genuinely original thought.
When creating content on your blog, the simple (and easy!) route is to ask yourself “What do people want to know?” or “What topics are popular or in demand right now?”
That’s not a bad way to create content – and if you’re taking one of the other 5 angles for your blog, it’s probably what you should do.
However, it’s not exactly thought leadership. A thought leader spends a lot of time thinking about big topics (as well as new perspectives on little topics). During all that thinking time, there are places where your thoughts wander and travel to – and that’s what we call original thought.
To tap into that virtually infinite stream of content ideas, begin noticing what you think about on your own time, what you think about purely because you want to.
Those are the topics where you’re exploring, experimenting, pushing the boundaries inside your own mind – and that’s where your true thought leadership is happening.
6. Create blog posts that truly challenge the reader.
So far we’ve talked a lot about thoughts, but what about leadership?
Leaders get people to follow them. They lead the way, or lead the charge, or lead a movement.
Any leadership involves change and growth and direction. As a thought leader, you need to challenge your audience to change the way they think about things, to apply concepts and do some thinking for themselves.
A good example of this is the post What If You Tried Really Hard?
In this post, Naomi challenged her readers to ask themselves to define what “trying” meant, and if they were really doing it. And she challenged them to stop defining the word in ways that weren’t really “trying”, but were actually excuses or ways to avoid personal accountability.
People have written in about that post saying that it changed the way they approached things from that point on. That’s what thought leaders do – they lead people to a bigger, more expansive world.
Challenge your readers, and you’ll lead them into a bigger world as well. And they’ll credit you as the source of their evolution.
7. Create blog posts about your own practice or evolution.
There’s so much that your audience can learn from you as a thought leader when you pull back the curtain of how you do things in your own life, or how you walk your talk when it comes to applying the thoughts you come up with.
By creating content that reveals how you use the concept you talk about in your real, everyday life or business, you do your readers an enormous service by “going first”, by giving them leadership by example.
When they see that you have been able to do something, to grow and evolve yourself, they can more easily picture doing the same thing themselves.
This also works for “how I screwed up” content as well – there’s nothing more humanizing than showing people how the path of expansion has had its ups and downs, failures and success, for you as much as anyone else. At the very least it makes you more trustworthy – and at the best it raises your esteem in their eyes more than can be easily measured.
So consider pulling back the curtain and showing them your path and daily practices. By showing that you’re human, you also demonstrate that you know what your talking about and deserve the title of thought leader.
This is the kind of content that thought leaders write.
If you truly want to be seen as a thought leader, you have to give your audience opportunities to see you leading.
Each of these 7 types of blog posts can help you do exactly that. Incorporate 1 or 2 into your writing now, and you’ll raise your profile. Start using them all, and there’s no telling how high your profile will raise up.
And while you’re at it take a peek at the Trailblazer Expansion Pack in The 1-Hour Content Plan (available in the Karma Store on pay-what-you-want pricing). You can build your own “thought leader content plan” faster than you think.