what kind of format to use for thought leadership

Which Kind of Format Will You Make – a Book, a Podcast, a Magazine, or an eBook?

If you’re looking at several choices to enhance your personal brand presence or generate leads or similar, then this article goes through the most popular ways to expand one’s thought leadership.

The biggie: Do I write a paperback book?

If writing is your preferred mode of communication—or you want it to be—then writing a full book could be your top choice.

Tacked on my wall in 2002 was a tatty piece of paper with my goal written: “Write a book”. Sure, I had written many essays, but a book was a higher mountain to climb than that. I did not have a clue about it and only wrote a ‘booklet’, however… small steps lead to big goals.

The mistakes I made earlier on, such as never writing an outline, help to inform my advice now as a book writing coach. Even doing a mind map and writing various subject matter under the chapter headings on the map can be a great help in organisation. This is a visual form of outlining.

Nearly all beginners judge their writing as bad – unless we woke up as Malcolm Gladwell. Yet, there are no terminally bad manuscripts… (I’m sorry sir, there’s no hope for your manuscript, it’s terminal). It is all just experience.

Experience comes in levels, and correspondingly, writing a book has many aspects to it:

  • Trialling and finding the right tone for the audience
  • Always trying to see things from their perspective, including listening to what this group has said online or in interviews about their challenges.
  • Finding the right model of book to write that will suit your goal, rather than starting off writing a memoir and ending up writing a self-development book. (This is covered in my Establish Book Development coaching package). For example, business professionals have a goal to share their book to gain business attraction, and this means the topic and model should clearly relate to their client/audience goals.

More about getting a quality book result and editing is in the blog “How to write a book that people will enjoy reading”.

You also might look at my BAA article: How much does it cost to publish a book?

Do I run a Podcast?

If you want to know the ins and outs of setting up for podcasting, I recommend reading Amplify. I wrote a review on Amplify, the book. There is a bit more to it than just talking, as you need to subscribe to an audio distributor and audio editor tool. Or else outsource this to an audio editor.

Most people new to podcasting don’t stick with podcasts more than three, so if you’re going to do it, have ten planned out and a graphic done (in Canva) so you can at least beat these odds!  

Do I make a Digital Magazine?

For those with a multi-arm business or perhaps running a business group, a digital magazine would be good. This is because there is even more work in a digital magazine than in any other marketing content out there.

You’ve got your photography, your graphic design, article writing and your advertising sales. The advertising sales is important for those who don’t have spare capital, but if you have a multi-arm business or group, your staff time investment can pay off in increase customer awareness.

Print Magazines for Valued Gifts

Instead of splashing for a catalogue, consider printing a designed magazine. With the articles, it makes for a nice bonus gift for loyal clients and referrers. Referrers need to know your business’s value, and magazine or blog articles always convey this ‘educational’ value.

Printing a magazine is made easy at Blurb.com, however I found the packing and delivery price is around $40 for Aussies. The other way to make one is at your wholesale printers, such as LEP. Their delivery price is around $10, and the GST is usually extra over the quote.

Should I write several eBooks for Amazon?

With self-published eBooks now accounting for 31% of all ebook sales, some people think, great I’ll write several ebooks for thought leadership and also cash in.

But wait a moment. If you think it’s going to be easy income and ghostwriting is okay, I’m afraid you are mistaken. There is not much revenue for the average self-publisher. Using a poorly paid ghostwriter pretty much ensures the book will be in the bottom 20%.

  • The average self-published book sells 250 copies, but 90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies, reflecting that a small minority of authors have a big network and sell 1,000+ copies.
  • The average self-published author makes $1,000 per year from their books.
  • 20% of self-published authors report making no income from their books.

Statistics Source: WordsRated.

That’s why my Book Creation Self-Publish course teaches new writers the skills to place their book in the right category and publish with less production costs. (You still need to pay for editing and the cover design obviously). The tutorials on Kindle will help too. 

While WordsRated does house statistics, they are wrong about one thing: you can sell your eBook on other aggregator sites or websites other than KDP; it’s just that you wouldn’t tick Select in that case.

Right now, there is such a huge illusion that all you have to do is write, publish, jump on social media and wait for the checks to roll in that so many people who’ve ever had the slightest inkling that they could write are giving it a go. Eventually, as more and more realize that they may never make it, the herd will start to thin, not much but it will, and the ones who are able to grab a little fan base and keep putting out quality work will start to make a livable wage doing it. There are just a handful of very vocal, very successful self published writers who are touting how successful they have been on their blogs making it seem like the dream is possible.

– Kirk Jolly, KDP Community Boards, 2013

Who will buy your book? 

The people you know and who you can speak to in public are the ones who will buy your book – and they don’t want to hear from a ghostwriter. If you’re on the popular podcast interviews and your book is aligned with that audience, you would expect to sell a smattering or at least get new subscribers (if you offer a freebie). The one thing I know for sure is: if you leave the promotion of the book for months after launch, you won’t get much action.

Everything with book and product launches must be done ready for launch or just post-launch. Just like milk, books go stale… so once it’s out, the clock is ticking.


So, to make the most of your talents and skills, choose the publishing platform where you enjoy the process. At least your creative life will be fun, even if you only make pocket money. Bonus, if you spend time planning and creating extra content, your thought leadership will grow like topsy.

Jennifer Lancaster’s latest book is called My Personal Brand.

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