A simple shift in mindset can help you make a better living from your ideas.

If you’re an idea entrepreneur, your work includes writing, speaking, consulting, and training or teaching.

All of those activities are simply vehicles for presenting your ideas.

Your career depends on consistently feeding your audience with kickass content — insights, information, and instructions that people are willing to pay for.

For 25 years I’ve worked as a writer and editor with idea entrepreneurs who want to publish books. Over and over again, I see them run into the same obstacles:

Skimpy content. In his book Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas, John Butman notes that you “need to build out your idea with analysis, stories, facts and data, references, and examples.”

Do you have enough supporting material to talk about your ideas for a full day without repeating yourself? This is what you’ll need, and many aspiring authors and speakers don’t have it.

Weak content. It’s all over the Internet: Stale stories. References to outdated or poorly designed studies. Misattributed quotes. Factual inaccuracies. Mindless recycling of information from second- and third-hand sources. Ideas that are illogical or unsupported by evidence.

I refer to this as “content that’s in a coma.” Sean Blanda calls it the “bullshit industrial complex.” If any of these problems creep into your work, your credibility takes a hit.

Chaotic content. Idea entrepreneurs are brilliant people who often struggle with information fragmentation. Their content is spread out all over the place — in blog posts, emails, social media, note-taking apps, PDFs, Office documents, handwritten notes, and the occasional napkin.

You might already have the raw material for many articles, books, and presentations. The problem is that your information can be stashed away in forgotten places.

All these problems have a single source. They are symptoms of a deeper issue: Seeing research and writing as one-off tasks — interruptions from your “real” work.

People who believe this end up creating one blog post, one presentation, or one book at a time. They have no over-arching vision, framework, or supporting material for a series of articles, books, and presentations. The lifeblood of their work — the regular care and feeding of ideas — is ignored or left to chance.

This mindset makes it hard to accumulate a body of work — one that’s that’s worth sharing with your audience over the full course of your career.

The solution — as the prolific author Ryan Holiday put it — is to “always be researching” and always be writing. This means:

  • Capturing information from a variety of credible sources
  • Curating the most useful information in a centralized, continuously updated, and searchable collection of notes — your “idea bank,” commonplace book, personal knowledge base, or “second brain
  • Creating a stream of publications and presentations based on your notes

These are the core processes in the emerging field of personal knowledge management (PKM). When done consistently, PKM can increase the quantity and quality of your creative work. Over time you gain clarity, credibility, and content to monetize in a variety of ways.

To learn about the principles and practices of PKM, explore my blog archives.

And to explore how PKM services can help you learn more and earn more, email me at doug.toft@gmail.com