086: The Evolution of a Writer: How to Pivot Your Writing Without Losing Your Audience [Podcast]

As a writer first begins creating content, they quickly discover that narrowing the topic increases the growth of their audience. While writing for everyone is the quickest path to oblivion, niching down too far might get you stuck in the weeds.

The Evolution of a Writer: How to Pivot Your Writing Without Losing Your Audience

When I first starting writing online I focused on leadership topics. Over time the content shifted to marketing tactics and eventually to writing. Now, I write about the life of a writer, which intersects with who I am and my life experiences.

This may shock you, but I don’t want to write about writing forever. I want to earn your trust as a reader and have the freedom to write about a variety of things. I am a writer and I’ve got my whole life to do this and explore new ideas.

None of us are one-dimensional. The challenge is what to do as you continue to develop as a creative and embrace change without leaving your audience behind?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about perspectives on the writing process and maintaining your voice regardless of the topic. Listen in as we discuss being honest with your reader and how to go about developing yourself as a writer in front of your tribe.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

A tale of two coffee blogs

It’s no secret that I’m a coffee snob. I enjoy learning about the roasting process and trying out new brewing methods in my quest for the perfect cup of joe. Recently, I started researching espresso machines and have probably read one hundred different reviews by this point.

Here’s the problem—I can’t remember a single name of anyone who wrote one of those reviews.

While the content is valuable, there’s no worldview, no resonating voice, no personality to engage with. I don’t have a vested interest in a review website because it’s just a resource.

However, in my search for an espresso machine, I might stumble upon a blog written by someone so passionate about coffee that it drips into every post. Maybe they include a few product reviews, but the blog focuses on how coffee brings people together to create community.

Perhaps each post is written in a casual, conversational tone, and the writer sounds like a close friend sitting across the table from you at a coffee shop.

You’d buy whatever espresso machine they recommended, wouldn’t you?

A topic may catch a reader’s attention, but your personality—your voice—is what gains their trust and gives you permission to take them on a journey.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How writing is influenced by where you are versus where you aspire to go
  • The irony of not reading blogs about writing
  • Choosing what to write about
  • Defining your writing voice in a new context
  • How to determine how much of yourself to include in your writing
  • Why killing 15% of your platform is a good idea
  • Experimenting with voice and style over time
  • What you need to do to bring your readers along on your journey
  • The tension between a topical blog and a personal brand
  • Organizing the platform of your portfolio of work

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Take people with you on the journey so you can write more honestly.” —Andy Traub
  • Start with personality and you eventually earn the right to talk about other things.
  • Connecting people to a personality builds more trust than talking about what they are interested in.


BONUS: Tickets for the 2016 Tribe Conference are now available. To celebrate, I’ve asked the event team to discount the tickets for Christmas. Snag a ticket here for yourself or a friend before the price goes up January 1.

Where do you get your writing inspiration from? What you’ve already done? Or what you’re trying to become? Share in the comments

9 thoughts on “086: The Evolution of a Writer: How to Pivot Your Writing Without Losing Your Audience [Podcast]

  1. This came directly from my heart. I have what many would call a niche blog at A Teacher’s Blog that I use to help people on their journey to become a son of God. At times I really believe that I fenced myself in with the topic, even though it is endless, interesting, and rewarding.

    I am a computer programmer as well, and though I never want to write about the details of programming, software architectures, workplace culture, introversion and other topics in the realm of my profession would be a challenge.

    Listening to you, I probably am going to proceed through the route of “Christianity at the workplace” and dive into those topics from time to time.

    As for your final question: I definitively write from a place I want to be at times, but at the same time I have been to many places I write about and got a whole closet full of t-shirts. It is a journey.

    Another things I recognized: I will more often write in a more personal style just to connect with my readers on a personality level instead of just through my topic.

    If you all reading this like, head over to my blog (you know how: click on the avatar on the left, it will take you there) and leave me a feedback, if you would. How would you rate it on a scale from personal to niche? What would you like to read about?

    Looking forward to seeing a more diverse selection of writing, Jeff. Keep it up!

  2. It´s such an amazing blog that you have, I have it bookmarked and makes sure to check it every once in a while. It´s so fun to read from others about a shared interest, especially when you can learn a lot from it. keep up the good work!

    I myself is an aspiring writer, of the age seventeen, from Sweden. I choose to write in English in order to reach out to a greater amount of people. The language is not a huge problem for me, it´s only fun to practice it more and learn it better and faster than I already do in school. Writing is one of the greatest passions in my life, and have been for many many years and I wouldn’t
    know what to do of myself if I wasn’t able to write.

    I’ve recently started a blog where I post some short stories of mine https://hardstories.wordpress.com/

  3. Thank you for this post, Jeff! I recently took a WP blogging class on branding, and they were talking some about this. For a long time I didn’t understand why I had so many people visiting my earlier blog back when it was at MSN Spaces; it was because the “personality” part was there. I realize now that I have something I can still go with and as long as I remain true to it, I’ll do well. To truly emulate someone is one thing, but to mimic someone to the point of trying too hard to be like that person only sets the stage for messing up. I may check out this podcast again, as there are some points I want to be sure to jot down.

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