If You Want to Make Money by Writing, Study These Three Masters

Three great content creators you should copy

Justin Courter
Jane Austen’s Wastebasket

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Photo by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash

Charles Dickens

If you are addicted to the process of creating content, and would like to work from home, you might try the path taken by Mr. D. Here is an an excellent example of a content creator who had huge success even though he never outsourced. Chuck D. would spend all day writing pages and pages of content for which he did not even have a blog. Instead, he would sell the content to middlemen who published it in “periodicals,” which were the websites of his day.

The ironic part? Much of Uncle Charlie’s audience was illiterate. Often a villager who knew how to read would stand in the town square and read the content to a gathering of consumers who would stand (stand, for goodness sake!) and listen. Dickens himself — when he wasn’t incontinently pouring content onto his pages at home — would travel around and perform public readings of his content. To us now, this seems like an obvious waste of free content because there was no way to harvest user data from crowds of random spectators.

Chaz’s crucial innovation was his application of the series format. His fans could not consume all the content at once, as binging had not yet been invented. The consumers of the time did not have the internet, nor did they have seasons. They had to keep returning to the same content providers every month and listen to, or read, new episodes in the series until it was supplanted by fresh content, often from the same creator.

Marcel Proust

Proof positive that people don’t need to read your content for it to successfully move product from the shelves. Proust’s content has been translated into many languages and hardcopies of his content are still purchased in great quantity though it is largely ignored.

Why? Because there will always be a market for high-end content that denotes status and sophistication. Proust’s content is rumored to be luxurious, stimulating, enlightening and enriching — one could not think of better keywords to appeal to those with disposable income. Thus, consumers continue to order his content in bulk, to display among the other ornaments of cultivation that bedeck their interiors. Like Dickens, Proust was a one-man shop that produced an enormous amount of content that is still being monetized a century after it was created.

Jesus Christ

Among the first content creators on earth, Jesus remains the most successful and innovative professional provider of content to have, supposedly, ever lived. The content itself is the only evidence that he was anything other than a myth. This points to two critical aspects of content creation: 1) It is extremely powerful, and 2) Outsourcing and syndication can lead to lasting success.

Nepotism of course comes into play in this example, but as stated above, Jesus was (perhaps) on earth. His father was merely a virtual presence in consumer’s lives, though it was He who got them started on scrolling. He also recognized the general appeal of listicles, as evidenced by his wildly popular “10 Commandments.”

However, when Jesus took over the business, he enhanced the brand tremendously, and rapidly scaled-up by hiring freelancers, who in those days were called “apostles.” Remarkably, despite the tremendous success of Jesus’s projects, these associates stayed on as unpaid interns. Presumably the apostles were provided some form of primitive health care plan, as Jesus purportedly cured consumers with paraplegia by telling them to walk, and cured the blind by rubbing clay in their eyes.

If you have a specialization like this, you should never hesitate to “write what you know,” as they say. Jesus’s stable of freelancers wrote about how, in addition to providing innovative healthcare solutions, he could walk on water and turn it into wine. Who wouldn’t want to buy content by this guy?

Though he got started late, after a botched attempt at a career in carpentry, Jesus eventually got his content promoted globally, though some of the famous advertising campaigns, such as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, were rather crude. But to this day, Jesus’s content can be found in the bedside table drawers of hotel rooms throughout the world.

So here we have the important lessons to be learned from some of the most famous content creators: Create a lot of it; employ freelancers, or step-up your own production; through specialization and exploitation of niche markets you can grow your business to have broad appeal and immense success; and most importantly, remember that your audience need not actually read any of your content.

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Justin Courter
Jane Austen’s Wastebasket

More humor pieces at McSweeney’s, Little Old Lady Comedy, Points in Case. Books include the novel The Heart of It All.