Why Writers Should Be Like Portfolio Managers
When you write your first book, blog post or magazine article it’s all new and exciting. How will it be received? How many people will read it? Will it lead to any exciting opportunities? You’re taking a step into an uncharted territory. Most people have a purpose with taking the plunge, however, most often that purpose won’t be fulfilled with the first product launch. Especially as a short form writer, you might need to write a lot to start gaining any kind of traction. So you keep on going and until you have a bit of experience and a portfolio of products. Maybe you have a small following that can’t wait to see what you turn out next. You know that it’s not the individual product that will make or break you but that they all contribute to the totality. Now enter me. I started writing for real more than two years ago and not long ago I had my 100th blog post celebration which you can read all about in “What If I Never Pressed Publish?”. So here I am writing my quarterly post to report on my progress and I realize how I have moved into a different phase of my writing. I’m not really a writer anymore. I’m a portfolio manager. A portfolio manager of blog posts.
What do you mean you’re a portfolio manager?!?
It doesn’t mean that I don’t write anymore. In fact, I still write every week and I’ve even been invited to participate in a book project since February. So the writing is definitely not slowing down. What it means is that I now have more than 100 blog posts multi-posted on different platforms (you can read about the battle of the social media publishing platforms in another recent post here) that need to be maintained because opportunities could just as well come from old posts as new posts. In fact, it’s less than 63% of my views that have come from posts I’ve published this year. A post like “Financial Analyst vs. Finance Business Partner” has gotten almost 2,000 views this year despite being published in September 2015. My past seven posts have landed less than 1,500 views. Of course, there are a lot of dynamics at play here but the fact remains that my older posts are getting a significant number of views. Re-sharing an old post can easily lead to 100 new views in a week. What this means is that I spend more time managing my portfolio of posts than I do writing a post. It takes 30-45 min to write a post and equally long sharing it and engaging with the readers. On top of that, I spend 30-45 min a week as well dusting off old posts and sharing them on different platforms. That’s 1/3 of the time as a writer and 2/3 of the time managing the content. Now you can be lucky and a platform like LinkedIn features your content on Pulse leading to 1,000s of views instantly but most of the time you have to work hard to earn these views. Like I've said with personal branding. Writing is like building a business. If you’re expecting a return from anything you have to work hard to get it. No free lunch and all that.
So what does all the hard work lead to?
Sometimes it feels like it leads to less and less as views are diminishing at least on LinkedIn but it’s just another challenge to find new ways of having your content read. With that said let’s look at the numbers for the 2nd quarter of 2016 compared to 1st quarter of 2016, 2nd quarter of 2015 and YTD 2016 vs. YTD 2015. Remember the stats are based on all posts but the KPIs only count the number of posts published in the quarter while including all views, likes and comments.
Two things jump at you immediately when comparing 2016 to 2015. The number of Pulse posts has declined with 90 % yet views have increased by 58%. You can say that’s playing tricks with the numbers as obviously, I have another full year of posts to benefit from and if I look at views from posts only written in Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2015 I have 7,431 views in Q2 2015 compared to only 5,128 views in Q2 2016. This is where my portfolio comes into play. I’ve gotten almost 10,000 views from my portfolio in Q2 2016 or double of what I got from posts written in the quarter alone! There are other details to dig into if you’d like but I do think this is the main takeaway. So how can writers be more like portfolio managers?
Note to beBee users: I haven't been active for long on beBee but my views are significantly higher while likes/comments are in the same range as LinkedIn. Whether you're active on one site or the other you still need to apply the portfolio mindset though!
Do these 6 things and your portfolio will thrive
Now you know it’s not just about writing as most of your time should actually be spent on managing your portfolio. How do I do that? I’m writer. I don’t deal with stocks or investments. I just enjoy “putting the pen to the paper”. You can continue to do that but if you want your writing to reach your audience I recommend that you do these activities.
- Share your latest post as much as possible and on as many platforms as possible
- Share your old posts frequently and I recommend you build a repository of text to go with each share. This will enable you to share your posts quickly
- Don’t be ashamed to “overshare” as only a very limited part of your network will see each share
- Spend most of your time on posts you know are performing well. I’ve found that there’s always a reason why some posts perform well while others don’t because even I re-share old posts with a now much larger network the good ones (measured as views) will receive a lot of views whereas the bad ones don’t really receive any more views
- Scan the internet for traces of your posts as you might be lucky that other people re-share them on different platforms, refer to them on their own blog or even re-publishes them (in which case you might want to be on the fence to make sure they give your credit for your work)
- Refer to your own content (including a link) when you’re making a point as part of commenting on others content. I know some say it’s spamming but if it supports your viewpoint you’re only doing people a favor by providing them a more in depth view
Change your mindset. Become a portfolio manager and your writing will become a lot more rewarding!
If you’re a writer how do you go about spreading your content and keeping it active long after it was originally published? Do you agree that most of the work lies in promoting your content rather than writing your content? As always let me know what you think of the post by liking, commenting and not least sharing!
For previous posts about writing and personal branding please continue to read below.
Anders Liu-Lindberg is the Senior Finance Business Partner for Maersk Line North Europe and is working with the transformation of Finance and business on a daily basis. Anders has participated in several transformation processes amongst others helping Maersk Drilling to go Beyond Budgeting and transformed a finance team from Bean-counters to Business Partners . He would love the chance to collaborate with you on your own transformation processes to help you stay out of disruption. If you are looking for more advice on how to get the most of LinkedIn Anders also has a few tips to share as well as if you want help in your job search. Don’t be shy! Let’s get in touch and start helping each other.