Some of us have an inherent vision of setting somewhere in a secluded cabin and drafting a masterpice. This might have been the case back in the days, but digital writers have spun away from that image and incorporated writing in thier daily lives. They write everyday, share thier journey, gather signals, and iterate till they build an audience. This one is for the aspiring digital writers, here we go!
- Don’t start a blog. Not to say you can’t have one but go for a social blog where the audience are already active and swimming about.
- Volume Wins. Social platforms operate on algorithms so the more content you produce, the more the scales tip in your favor.
- Clear and not clever. The clearer the headline the higher the chances your readers would read it. With so much distractions online, and offline, be ridiculously specific and clear.
- It’s only clickbait if you fail to keep your promise to the reader. You're not writing for everyone out there. Make your promise but don’t just keep it in the headline, deliver it in the content.
- When you find a structure that works, Exploit it. The online writing game is about publishing a good amount. Find the best performers, take them and write more variations while following a similar structure, and repeat this infinitly. Whatever works, keep doing it!
- Skimmability = Readability. Digital readers don’t read, they skim. Yah they’re quiet judgmental in a matter of seconds. That’s why digital writers leverage subheads, bullets and lists, anything that makes it easier for the reader to decide.
- Your subheads should tell a story. Organize your content and seperate your ideas with subheads. They should be main points highlighted in your content. They are the most powerful sentences that will anchor and keep them reading.
- Practice in public. Digital writing is practical and run’s far away from perfectionism. The feedback loop is almost instaneous, and it becomes more of a collaborative approach where the readers guide you to your niche and those winning ideas. Yes, follow the crowd!
- Use engagement data to decide what to write next. Build yourself a publishing engine and let the readers guide you. Look at the data points, they are your market signals guiding you to the promised shore.
- You are not the main character, the reader is. Better yet, balance between the two. What you want to write about, and what the reader wants to read about. Unfortunatley, the reader always wins.
- The size of the question dictates the size of the audience. Every piece of writing answers a question. Go broad if you want to reach more readers, but go more niche if you want to engage them.
- Specificity is the secret. The more specific you get, the more relatable it becomes to the reader. The piece becomes clearer, fine-tuned, original, and overall different.
- Don’t compete in someone else’s category, create your own. Writer become known for the niche they own, find yours!
- Imperfectly published is better than perfect but unpublished. Digitally speaking, visibility trumps ability. Don’t shy away trying to be perfect, be generious and share your journey of figuring things out. Consistency is what will build your audience.
- Don’t focus on individual pieces, build your library. Go for timeless content that maintains its value through the long haul and compounds over a lifetime.
- Repeat you ‘Core Narratives’. Add credibility to dominate your niche, something that will resonate with your readers and acts as proof of expertise. A few relevant stories the reinforce your positioning, and keep the record on repeat.
- The more you write, the more you write. Make your writing an atomic habit for a compounded effect. Hit publish and build your library, follow the signals and keep writing. It will only get easier from there onwards.
- Word count is a poor measure of value. Great writing is short, concise, and to the point. Provide your readers with new and different ways of thinking, that’s the real value you seeketh.
- Writing for ‘Everyone’ means writing for no one. Find an answer to who is your target market, how do they look like, and why is your content relevant to them. Make your writing so specific that it is meant for the few, this way you will find some true loyal fans out there.
- The golden intersection is answering the reader’s question and telling them a story. And you make the answer stick through storytelling, let them discover the answer themselves through your journey.
- Optimize for speed. Your competition isn't ‘other writers’, it’s every existing content on the web including the distracting ones. Make your writing to the point from the 1st sentence and make easy to consume. Understand digital readers to become a digital writer, they like short articles and even skim through those ones.
- Time spent reading should never exceed time spent writing. Reading doesn’t make you a better writer, writing does! Reading helps, but a daily writing habit builds them muscles you want to flex so much. Don’t let consumption overtake creation, Period.
These laws aren't written in stone, though are pretty awesome for a perspective shift. Digital writing isn't like essay writing and what they taught us in school, it's the dawn of a whole new era.
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.
🎧 What I’ve Been Up To Lately
Last week I was going full speed on a bicycle and someone through a stick in the front wheel, made me flip and land smack on my face! Yah that's exactly how it felt like. Put me in a mental pressure rollercoaster that wasn't easy to shake off, until I got reminded that life's too short and the things we get caught up in are near meaningless in the face of death. What we think sometimes is important in reality could be so insignificant, and simply not worth it. One thing that felt right is that trying is better than standing still, even if it hurts. Hell, nobody can say I didn't try. And I will keep trying over and over as long as there is breath in my lungs and a beating heart in my chest.
In a conversation with some of my seniors, they pointed out that I tend to push the bar too high for others. Where I should bring it down so that it doesn't backfire on me. Another senior said that I'm too ambitious. You know what I think, I'm gonna build a spaceship away from everyone and blast off to new territories. Keep my spirit from wavering and live in a world I enjoy, beyond the stars exploring new galaxies. I told you I have a vivid imagination, and I'm both a gullable child and stubborn old man. What's it worth if we can't be ourselves, isn't life too short?
📚 Additional Resources
The 22 Laws of Digital Writing is Ship 30 for 30's e-book highlighting their top lessons that they incorporate into thier digital writing methodlogy. It's definitly worth the read, here's Nicolas Cole's free version. Feels like the original manuscript. Enjoys!