Software application developers release new programs in Beta all the time. Technically speaking, Alpha and Beta Testing is a formal part of their development process, known as User Acceptance Testing (UAT).
At the UAT part of the development process, developers know that not every desired feature of the final end product has been built in yet, but they still need to get their work out there for users to interact with.
Developers do test their own work, but after a while they become blind to certain aspects of functionality since they get to close to it and tend to primarily see it from their perspective as a developer, not as an end user.
Developers depend on user feedback to verify that what they have built up to that point in time works at the foundational level first before building it out further.
The same is true for writers. The best way to write better is to regularly get your writing out there and look for feedback on whether it meets functional requirements, for both the writer and the reader, or not.
Starting a blog and even participating in writing projects like this Group Writing Project are forms of beta testing for a writer which serve as a perfectly viable avenue to eventually becoming the subject matter expert or thought leader in your field of choice.
The key to writing in beta is to artfully acknowledge that is what you are doing and building from there. Following is my advice on how to get there:
1. Have a Plan
Have a plan for what you want to accomplish and why. You won’t know if you are achieving your goal if you never set any.
2. Don’t Claim to be an Expert, If You’re Not.
It is important to be confident, but don’t be misleading or arrogant about what you know or don’t know, your readers will see through that quite quickly.
3. Document Your Sources.
Let your readers know what you are basing your insights on; that way you can isolate feedback on your assumptions and conclusions from that on your sources.
4. Provide Some Form of Value.
If you aren’t the subject-matter expert yet, then be helpful by adding value in other ways. Share your insights and point the reader to resources that will fill any gaps between what you offer and what they may still need. Don’t write junk with little or no added value.
5. Ask for Feedback.
Solicit feedback directly and indirectly, offline and online, in order to work out the kinks in the basic premise of what you are trying to do. Remember: that’s what beta testing is for. Be patient and open-minded, too, since you don’t always get feedback when or in the form that you would like to.
6. Always Be Learning.
Even experts were beginners at one time. Be involved in the industry that you want to develop expertise in and constantly look for learning opportunities.
7. Join Communities.
It is important to interact with colleagues with all levels of experience and knowledge. Old-timers often help out the up-and-comers. It helps everyone to become more aware of a variety of perspectives and points of view on a topic.
8. Develop Your Communication Skills, Too.
Being a thought-leader is not just about being an expert in your subject matter. You need to also be able to effectively communicate that expertise as well. Learn how to communicate in a variety of ways and with a variety of media forms.
BONUS TIP: Always Be In Beta Mode!
Becoming an expert or thought-leader is not something that is ever once and done. It is an ongoing process no matter what level you are at in the process. Since there is always something new to learn, always operate in a humble and curious Beta mode. You’ll never go wrong with the right attitude and a positive approach.
Now, get back to your Beta-ing. And, Enjoy!