Advice to New Bloggers I Wish I Had 3 Years Ago.
I get emails every so often, even though I’m only marginally successful.
I blog. I write books. I write ad copy and content for companies here and there (not under my name). Between all those things, I scrap together an income.
I quit a corporate job almost three years ago because I just hated the idea of trying to climb a corporate ladder. I like doing stuff, not managing people, and it seemed if I wanted to advance, I had to become a manager.
Once in a while, someone emails me asking for advice on blogging and writing. I’ll be honest; I’m not pulling in a six-figure income. I consistently make over $100/month on Medium, and sometimes I make $500-$600/month on Medium. Still, I know a lot of people would love an “extra” $500-$600/month, which is why I get those emails.
So here is what I have learned in three years:
It’s work, real work.
Yesterday, a friend confessed something to me.
“I thought if I had more time, I would write a novel. But during lockdown, I didn’t do anything.”
Writing is more work than people realize. It’s not easy, even though nearly everyone physically can write. Crafting a narrative and being able to physically write are two separate things. It takes focus, concentration, organization, and goal-setting to consistently write.
Additionally, if you’re blogging for money, you need to create something of value. It’s not good enough to just write. Is this of value? Is it informative? Entertaining? Relaxing? Inspiring? Many bloggers use their blog more like a journal. I do this sometimes, too, but the posts that don’t hook a reader…don’t make money.
Some people think there’s a trade between creativity and writing for money. There can be, but not necessarily. If you only become good at blogging for money, and don’t care about creativity, then everything you create will be clickbait. Likewise, if you just care about being experimental, then you’ll develop that skill.
But you can develop both skills. A person can create helpful blog posts and creative stories. We get stuck thinking it’s one or the other, when in reality, it’s just…work.
Many people think writing will somehow be easier than the jobs they have. And that’s true, in a way, but it doesn’t mean every aspect of it is easier. You need to create your own schedule, your own goals, and your own posts. That’s harder than being told what to do and when.
I don’t really like trying to think of good titles for my stories. But it matters. It matters a lot. I’ve written thousands of articles and I promise, putting more effort into the title is worth your time.
The good thing about this is: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What makes a good, catchy title? Subvert expectations. Create lists. Offer something of value.
One of my top articles, “Why is Sobriety So Boring?” is largely successful because of the title. I have written about this subject many times, but calling sobriety boring really drove this title home.
Consistency is key.
You really have to do it every day.
I wake up and write an article before I even eat anything. Sometimes I work out beforehand, but most of the time, I wake up, wash up, and sit down in front of my laptop.
Whatever your routine is, just know consistency is key. I write a lot of stories that don’t get many views. That cannot discourage you. Keep doing it, day after day.
You won’t run out of things to write about. The world is constantly changing. Just write as much as you can, and publish consistently. Eventually, something you write will hit.
Anyone who says you can get rich quick is selling you something, and that’s how they got rich.
This is super important.
I personally would not buy any of those get rich quick writing things.
It’s not real, okay. People who are selling these things are getting rich from selling the class. It’s marketing. It’s great marketing, and that’s its own skill.
You’re going to spend your money and basically learn what I’m telling you in this article.
If you want to pay to join a class because you want to meet other bloggers and you value the network, that’s great. That’s actually probably the best reason to join something like that…for motivation, camaraderie, and networking.
But if you are paying for a writing class because you think it will help you be a rich writer at the end, just think about it for a second. If that were true, why would they be selling the class for hundreds of dollars?
Maybe I’m kind of blowing up my own spot here, because I could, in theory, get on the “sell a writing class” bandwagon, and I have thought about it, but unless you’re doing it for the community and to talk to other writers, which you could do for free in a Facebook group, I just personally feel they’re mostly scams.
I don’t recommend them to people. You’re better off writing, finding your niche, and getting that work out of the way. Join a few online writer groups. Get a group of your own favorite writers. All of that is free and more productive.
Use different platforms for different goals.
I write for NewsBreak and Medium. It’s not an either/or situation, and I feel like a lot of writers get swept up in the idea that they have to commit to a particular platform.
Each platform does take time, so if you’re going so sacrifice your consistency and spread yourself thin, then I do not recommend that. However, if you have the time for multiple platforms, you can use them for different goals.
I use NewsBreak for longer stories that are more fact-driven. I always include links to sources…usually for mental health articles. I write about mental health on Medium, too, but I tend to write more about my subjective experiences.
NewsBreak is more for…well, news and facts, for me, anyway. Medium is great for opinion, humor, short stories, and even poetry (again, this is my personal preference). I have different goals with Medium than NewsBreak, and using both is extremely helpful. Plus, NewsBreak pays the 15th of the month, and Medium pays around the 1st, which means between the two platforms, I have a biweekly income.
That’s always nice! Being paid once a month can be painful. You can help break this up by writing for multiple platforms.
This is basically what I tell people who email me. I also say — keep reading, know when to comment, and think about whether your topic is timely or evergreen. Both are useful in their own way. Timely articles may get more attention when published, but evergreen articles will consistently make you money over time.
Good luck in writing, blogging, creating, and building —