1. Publish a Lot More Free Content
When I was an amateur I wanted to be paid for everything. Now I realize that 80% or more of your content should be free. You only need to charge a small number of people, a small amount of money, to earn a living.
2. Go All-In on the Email List
I used to think email lists were stupid. Boy, how I was wrong.
An email list has helped me build a business rather than just be a writer. That business has given me the chance to buy back my time so I can live out my version of freedom.
Even though I never took email lists seriously until recently, I have always built an email list, starting from six years ago. This has allowed me to gain almost 50,000 email subscribers.
You know the dumb thing? Writers like Benjamin Hardy, who have been writing for roughly the same amount of time as me, have 800,000+ email subscribers. I’ve been doing email like a rookie.
Leveling up an email list looks like this:
- A weekly email newsletter that has value (and isn’t a glorified ad).
- My buddy Gavin said it best: Build the list. Email the list.
- Sending more valuable emails that have no links, and offer solutions to problems that readers have been asking about. Free emails build so much loyalty with a subscriber.
3. Start Using Twitter Like a Pro
My eyes were gaffer taped shut when it comes to Twitter. Nicolas Cole, a writer, introduced me to the idea that even after more than 14 years, Twitter is still a huge opportunity. The problem is I have been using Twitter like an idiot.
Three things I learned about Twitter:
- Never bother with posting external links.
- The default 280-character Twitter post is level one.
- A Twitter Thread is level two on the platform. It’s the key to building an audience on Twitter and I missed it for years. I’m doubling down on Twitter over the next 12 months.
- Put a call-to-action as your bio link. I previously put a link to my website in my Twitter bio and wasted years of audience building. I now offer a free eBook as my Twitter bio link which is accessed via a hyper-focused landing page where you can only do one thing: sign up to my private email list.
Think of a Twitter thread like this:
1st tweet is the headline.
2nd tweet is your intro.
3rd tweet is your first point.
4th tweet is your second point, and so on…
5th tweet is a link to the original blog post published elsewhere.
6th tweet is a link to your call to action.
A tweet thread is just a deconstructed blog post with a 280-character limit for each point. The way you know which sentences of each point to include in the 280 characters is by looking at the highlights of your blog post.
Pro Strategy: Take a successful blog post and turn it into a Twitter thread. Release each 280 character dot point of the Twitter thread slowly.
4. Double down on a Minimalist WordPress Blog
You can use other people’s platforms, sure. I have watched many writers I admire grow their audiences faster by adding a WordPress blog into the mix — and, most importantly, updating their blog regularly with fresh, free content.
I own my blog and use it to build my email list and private group chat communities. I am going to double down on this approach.
5. Implement an Unconventional Approach to LinkedIn
Social media algorithms look at your past history when deciding the organic (non-paid) reach of your latest post to their audience. The algorithm also pays close attention to your consistency and doesn’t reward one-hit wonders.
I have been writing on LinkedIn for six years and have a large content library to draw from. What I am currently doing is taking all my most popular LinkedIn posts from the last six years (the ones that typically have more than 1,000 likes) and reposting them from scratch.
Your most popular posts have proven engagement. You can use previous engagement on your posts to create engagement on your new social media posts. All my future posts will be text-only posts because I’m a writer. And because text-only posts perform the best on LinkedIn by far.
My LinkedIn posting schedule looks like this:
Monday to Sunday — One post at 8 a.m. that is from the archives and is tried and tested. One post at 6 p.m. that is brand new.
Pro LinkedIn strategy: I am going to direct message people, who ask to connect with me, a link to join my email list. I have hit the maximum of 30,000 connections that LinkedIn allows. Why should those excess connections go to waste though? They aren’t going to anymore. I’ve found direct messages are a great way to build your email list.
6. Add Major Publications That Agree to Link Back to My Website
Most major publications outside of social media will never pay you a dime.
A major publication like Huffington Post is only good for one thing: adding a link at the bottom of your story that sends people to your own website.
I am going to add more stories to major publications like Business Insider. I am not going to wait for them to come to me either.
I am going to use the habit of pitching them every week to get more stories published. I am going to take their rejection emails and archive them (they could tell an interesting story one day).
7. Utilize Substack to Offer Paid Newsletters
I first heard about Substack through POMP (Anthony Pompliano). He’s my favorite straight-talking Substack personality by far with 35,000 subscribers.
One of the best writers I have read in years, Sean Kernan, has started using Substack too. I’m going to take his navy seal approach and do the same. You can say whatever you want in a newsletter and it will reach 100% of your readers.
Whether they open your newsletter is up to them, but at least they are guaranteed to see it and get it. And you don’t even need to add images to your newsletter — people are happy with just the words (a writer’s dream).
A newsletter is the most intimate way I have talked to a reader. If they pay you for the newsletter, they’re even more likely to listen closely to what you say.
A newsletter is an MVP (minimum viable product).
If a reader pays me $5 a month to read my newsletter, they might buy my $20 eBook. Or they might buy a traditionally published book I sell through Amazon one day. Or they may like to be taught by me through an online course I create an offer. This is an idea I’ve been pondering:
“Start with $5 and see if a reader finds you helpful.”
8. Insert Even More Passion into the Writing
Dry content is everywhere.
Lukewarm thoughts without an ounce of passion rule the internet. I plan on adding even more passion to my content. I want readers to know I care and I’m excited about what I do.
Passion makes learning so much more enjoyable.
Passion makes reading a writer’s work a delight.
9. Do More Collaborations
I have a 100+ person army behind every one of my blog posts.
That’s what people don’t know about my work. There are so many people behind the scenes that do the following:
- Share my work.
- Help edit my work.
- Give me story ideas.
- Kindly point out spelling/grammar issues.
- Provide research.
- Invite me to events where I get content from.
- Tell me to keep going when I feel like giving up.
- Provide social media strategies I can use to respectfully and honestly reach readers.
- Tell me when I’m being a dick (it happens).
This year I met Todd. The collaboration has been mind-blowing. He’s my brother from another mother. He challenges me and uses this classic line:
“What feedback do you have for me?”
Open-minded people are extraordinary. They make you think.
10. Insert a Lot More Personality
Niklas Göke said my writing has an edginess to it. What he meant was that it has a little of my personality.
You can tell I’m a 6 a.m. Aussie that doesn’t know when to sit down, who likes the occasional Chai Latte. (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!)
Personality is going to be a differentiator moving forward. A lot of writing I read puts me to sleep. I don’t want to ever put a reader to sleep.
11. Write 2–3 Short eBooks a Year
My readers seem to enjoy eBooks. It’s a way for me to go deeper with them on a particular topic. An eBook has a higher perceived value than a blog post. Here’s how I think of it:
If a blog post is going to be more than a five-minute read then it’s better off as an eBook.
I am going to write more eBooks than normal to offer readers something they can take away and load up on their Kindle when they choose to.
12. Explore Kindle Unlimited/Amazon
Kindle Unlimited is a reading subscription. Kindle Unlimited is like borrowing a book from the library. Writers get paid through royalties from their work based on the number of pages readers consume.
Novelist and blogger Shaunta Grimes self publishes on Kindle Unlimited. She loves it because people can read her work, but have the added bonus of readers being able to outright buy her work.
Shaunta says the pool of readers on Amazon/Kindle Unlimited is much larger than any other platform. This is because Amazon was the first big online book store and has enormous traction and years in the game.
If I am going to reach more readers then I’m going to have to tap into Amazon’s audience of readers.
13. Have Customised Landing Pages for Each Topic
I lose about 50% of readers when they reach my landing page. The chance for me to be friends with them is lost, all because of a landing page.
Marketer Liz Willits taught me that a hyper-targeted landing page that is the same topic as the blog post that took the reader there in the first place should convert much higher.
In other words — if a reader reads one of my personal finance articles and then clicks a link to go to a landing page that offers a free personal finance eBook or email course, they are highly likely to sign up.
I have learned that building an audience of readers means engaging with them based on the topic you write about which they’ve shown prior interest in. There’s no point sending a reader who loves entrepreneurship, content that is all about spirituality. I was doing that :(
14. Launch More Online Courses
I am a writer because I am a teacher. I released a writer’s course that people have found helpful. Now I want to expand into other courses to help more readers achieve their personal goals.
An online course is a way to offer a superfan option to readers who like what I have to teach. You can do the same.
15. Expand the Team
I have tried to be a one-man freak show for way too long. Bringing Todd onto the team was an awesome decision. LinkedIn content creator Krista Mollion has been trying to get me to hire a virtual assistant.
I struggle to do it because I’m a control freak when it comes to my writing. But a VA could really help me remove admin tasks and focus on writing. If I’m going to reach more readers then a VA is going to be hard to avoid.
16. Publish a Book via a Traditional Publisher
This one is more of a bucket list item. I want to wait though until it feels right. Many books from bloggers feel premature.
I want a book to make sense for everybody involved. I sure as hell don’t want it to be about some attention-seeking personal brand mumbo jumbo.
17. Offer Free Scholarships
This one might seem weird to you. What has offering free scholarships to readers got to do with reaching a larger audience?
Well, when you write for as many years as I have you can easily forget the whole point of being alive: kindness. I never want to forget to be kind.
I had a nice lady message me the other day from the Philippines. She described her home and said there was a garbage dump right next door. She could only dream of spending $297 USD on a course. It would take her years to save up. Her story really got me. I don’t want what I have to offer to only be available to those who come from privilege.
There’s a lot of billionaires in the world who wouldn’t dare give away even 1% of their wealth. I don’t ever want to be like them.
So, I am going to add ways to my writing process to give something back to people who have nothing and are looking for a second chance. There’s nothing like an underdog. It pays to be a little generous, even though it might seem like it has nothing to do with being a writer.
How you treat people has everything to do with being a writer.
What I Am Never Stopping
- Consistently hitting publish.
- Flow states that lead to the best writing.
- Dedicating two full days a week to writing.
- Kindness/love toward others.
- Staying out of 90s rap battles between writers.
That’s my plan to become the most read writer on the internet. Maybe I’ll fail. Or maybe it will happen. Either way, I am going to try because writing gives me a meaning for my life that makes it all worth it.
Hack my writing plan to pieces so you can use it to reach an audience with your own content.
Life is beautiful when you look into a reader’s eyes and honestly try to help them with your words.