Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why Writers Need to Understand Marketing

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Danny Iny. Danny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the program that teaches expert marketing for non-marketers. Follow him on Twitter @DannyIny.

Writing is a noble pursuit.

It’s about touching pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and creating words where, just a moment before, there had been nothing. Writers take ephemeral ideas, and turn them into organized thoughts that can move people to think, feel, and act.

Writing is, in fact, the closest that we humans can get to telepathy – by way of the written word, we transport thoughts across time and space, into the minds of our readers.

Marketing, in contrast, is not quite so noble.

At its base level, it’s about getting people to do things, generally in the context of a purchase decision.

Writing is heady, powerful, and inspiring stuff. Marketing is, at best, utilitarian.

Marketing Billboard

Photo credit: Tanya Zagumenov

But writers absolutely need marketing, and there are two huge reasons why.

The first reason is…

You won’t make money without marketing

If you call yourself a writer (rather than writing just being “something you do”), that means you want to be doing it full-time.

And if you want to be doing it full-time, then it has to pay the bills. The trouble is that it’s pretty hard to make money if you don’t understand marketing;

  • Without marketing, you can’t grow an audience, and you can’t build a brand.
  • Without marketing, you can’t align your work with the needs of readers and buyers.
  • And without marketing, you can’t make sales.

In other words, without marketing, odds are that nobody will be reading your work, and even if they do, you won’t be making any money off of it.

But the truth is that marketing isn’t just about making money. If you’re a writer, there’s a second huge reason why you can’t do without marketing…

Your writing won’t be any good

Writing and marketing actually have a lot in common, and it’s very hard to be a very good writer who is a very bad marketer, or vice versa.

Writing, as I mentioned before, is about getting people to think, feel, and act. So is marketing.

Writing depends on truly understanding your audience. So does marketing.

And writing is a skill that seeps into every area of life. And so does marketing.

If you think you’re a fantastic writer, but you just don’t “get” marketing, then one way or another, you’re kidding yourself – either you “get” marketing better than you think, or you aren’t really the writer that you think you are.

Because while so much of writing is artistic – for example, voice, style, and tone – and so much is a function of creativity and inspiration, what sets the best writers apart from the rest of the writers is their ability to get into the heads of the reader, and create something that will truly resonate.

That is exactly what marketing is about; understanding the audience well enough to be able to create alignment between what they want and what you’ve got.

So if you struggle with voice, or style, or creativity, take a writing class.

But if you struggle with understanding your reader, then you should really be studying marketing.

* * *

If you’re a writer who needs to learn a thing or two about marketing, you can get Danny’s free video course on how to get more money out of your business, website or blog, or sign up (before September 1st!) for his full online marketing course.

Disclosure: Some of the above are affiliate links.

*Photo credit: Tanya Zagumenov

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • ” if you struggle with understanding your reader, then you should really be studying marketing.”

    That is so good. I love it.

  • It’s hard to find the balance between getting inside the head of the reader and just expressing yourself, your own voice, etc.  I want to be true to who I am and authentic, but I also want to be relevant.  Great thoughts here, Danny.

    • You’re right, Keri, it is very hard. Ultimately, those two things aren’t conflicting, though – the best way to express yourself to someone is to communicate in a way that the reader will understand, right?

      • Excellent way to put it, Danny!  I really, really like that. 

  • Anonymous

    Great post – the key is blending the act of creation with promotion…but to your point, the audience is the lynch pin that binds those two things together. Good stuff!!!

  • Ideally, save time and take a wriketing class. 

  • In doing research for selling an ebook I wrote I’m finding how important the marketing really is. More then that I’m finding how important it is to market to your specific niche (a specific group of people). If you focus on your specific niche you can build a real “tribe” who will also market for you!

  • AWESOME!! I love the idea of writing as telepathy.

    “by way of the written word, we transport thoughts across time and space, into the minds of our readers.”

    The comparisons between writing and marketing are even more closely related than I realized.

    • it’s like mind control. 😉

    • Thanks, buddy, I’m glad you like it – I think it’s one of the coolest things about writing! 🙂

  • Hey Danny,

    I’m extremely grateful you’re coaching me 🙂 It’s an ongoing learning experience. Great post!


    • Thanks, Matt, I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Marketing can be used for a lot of good in the world – it’s about connecting like people and inspiring ideas and knowledge sharing. Not just about making people buy! Just saying…

  • Marketing is the key or rather the gateway to the success of any online business. The more legitimate and better you do it, the more is the chances of you being successful in your business. For that, you need to understand the intricacies of marketing. 

  • It’s not that I don’t understand marketing, it’s that I have no desire to do it.

  • Clara Meierdierks

    Wow ! Havent really associated Writing with Marketing, probably ! because i am still new in The World of Writings Thanks anyway.

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