If you’re part of the Gotham Ghostwriters network or you follow us on social media, you’ve probably heard of Avery Blank. After all, her regular contributions to ForbesWomen often offer pertinent business and communications advice for freelancers of ever variety—not to mention excellent tips for women in the business world.
Avery comes by this expertise honestly: She’s a writer, lawyer, speaker, and strategist who advises clients globally on business, leadership, career, and policy. In addition to Forbes, her work has appeared in The Washington Post, TIME, Fortune, Fast Company, LeanIn.org, and Levo League. She has been recognized for her work in strategy, women’s leadership, and policy by Bloomberg Law, Stanford Law, the National Association for Women Lawyers, and the Maryland Daily Record.
Learn more about—and from—Avery in the conversation below and at averyblank.com.
Tell us about your journey as a writer. How did you begin writing, and how did you break into your niche? When did you know you could make a career out of it?
I started writing for smaller platforms that I read to start my book of work and then began publishing with professional associations. As a writer, I think about how I prefer to consume information, which is digestible chunks of content. I focus on actionable steps related to what I have be trained to do as a lawyer: advocacy. And editors took notice of my bottom-line, actionable advice. People quickly want to know what to do. Readers continue to share with me that they never knew X or never thought about Y in that way, which reinforces the value I bring to the table.
What special considerations are required for writing online content like you do for Forbes?
You must write within your “swimlane,” the angle that you are known for. My swim lane is: “I help people advocate for themselves and leverage opportunities.” Whatever topic I choose to write about, it must align with this focus. When I think of an idea, I ask myself, “How does this help people speak up for themselves or take advantage of a situation and lead in their lives?”
How do you generate your writing ideas?
I read a lot of articles and keep up with the news and current events, which regularly spark ideas. When an idea comes to me, I write it down so that I can come back to and reflect on it when I am focused on writing. I also interact with readers, who will share ideas for me to consider.
What’s a strategy you use when writing?
To enrich my writing, there are a few elements that I consider to try and make each point more powerful: examples, quotes, data, counterargument, and asking who, what, when, where, why, and how. This information can help to better illustrate an idea, make an idea more convincing, and ultimately increase yourself credibility as a writer. Attorneys know how to persuade. Writing is a persuasive tool, and these are elements or instruments you can have in your toolkit.
If you could go back and change anything about your writing career, is there anything you would choose to do differently?
My opinion comes across in my writing but not always so clearly or forcefully. I may have wanted to more directly share my opinions earlier on. Opinions attract criticism, and criticism is difficult. But writers are criticized regardless of what they say. So I say what I want, learn from constructive feedback, and ignore the trolls.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to be a full-time writer?
Start writing somewhere. If you don’t know your own thoughts, other people won’t know them. What you say and how you say it is what makes people interested in wanting to read your work and learn more about you.
Looking for thought leadership or writing help? Pitch it to us below, and we’ll work to match you with a writer like Avery who can help you bring your vision to life.