Anti-Blogging for Creatives

How to start building an audience, by building your email list.

Shaunta Grimes
Jun 7 · 4 min read

Anti-Blogging for Creatives (ABC) is a series that will teach you how to get started building an audience who is eager to read your work.

Without a self-hosted website.

Without hiring a designer.

Without the echo chamber that brand new blogs often become.

I’ll be hosting it over at Write Already.

Building an Audience Changed My Life

That isn’t an exaggeration.

Three years ago I was earning $9 an hour as a teacher’s aid. My job sucked. I loved the kids, but the teacher I worked under was a miserable burnout who hated me. I earned two bucks less per hour than my son, who worked at Wal-Mart.

I also hadn’t written anything in a year. The first (and only) year that has happened since I was in the sixth grade.

I had to do something to improve my situation and I took the spaghetti approach. I just threw things against the wall to see what stuck. I was transferred to a different school, which helped (but I still earned less than I could have at Wal-Mart.) I started writing another book (which was awesome, but a pretty slow and uncertain way to change my circumstances.) I interviewed for different positions.

And I started a blog. I actually already had one. A lifestyle-type blog for people who are extremely right-brained. And it was doing okay. I made a couple of hundred dollars a month by putting ads on my website.

As I wrote that book, I wrote a series on how I was writing my book. Even though my blog wasn’t for writers, it was the most popular thing I’d done so far. And I figured starting a separate blog for writers might double the money I was bringing in.

When I started Ninja Writers, I got it in my head that building an email list was the most important thing I could do for this fledgling little thing. Within six months I had about 1500 people on my list and I was earning enough money to quit my miserable job when the school year ended.

I’ve earned about $80,000 a year for three years, in large part because I figured out how to build an email list.

There is One Major Thing to Remember

If you want to earn a living as a writer, obviously having a bunch of people who have let you know that they are interested in reading your work is amazing.

But the real key — the thing that made the difference between Ninja Writers and every other online thing I’d ever tried — is understanding that the work you do isn’t about you. It’s about your reader.

No one cared that I was writing a book. They didn’t know me. When I started teaching them how to write a book, my whole life changed.

When you put your reader first, no matter what you’re writing, something shifts. Because (this should be obvious) no one is reading to do you a favor. They’ll follow you because you’re writing something that makes them laugh or think or learn or cry. And they want more of that.

There Are Two Parts to Anti-Blogging for Creatives

1) Instead of putting money into creating a self-hosted website, I’d like you to consider investing in a decent email server. Your email list is by far your most important asset. I use, and love, ConvertKit.

Using that link will give you thirty free days with them. So you can go through the steps in this series and get a feel for it. See how it goes.

There are lots of other servers out there, but because I’ve never used them, I can’t speak to them. But you’re welcome to use whatever suits you.

2) Instead of posting your work in a self-hosted website, we’ll talk about using Medium as a platform.

In this series, we’ll go over getting your ConvertKit set up, how to make forms and sequences, getting your first emails, and what exactly you should do with your list once you have one.

We’ll also cover using Medium, including a strategy for figuring out what to post about, making an editorial calendar, and being seen.

And then we’ll work together on getting your first posts written and published.

A couple of notes:

I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes I’ll point you to ConvertKit, Medium, or another resource where they’ve already done a good job of telling you how to do something. I’ll walk you through it, but you’ll be directed to those tutorials.

Doing the work shouldn’t take more than about an hour a day. Maybe less.

My goal is to teach you to set up both ConvertKit and Medium, become familiar with these resources and how to use them, and start building an email list and readership for your work.

My goal for anyone who does the work is to finish the month with an email list of 100 subscribers.

Don’t forget to go to Write Already and subscribe so you don’t miss this series. See you tomorrow for day one!

Here’s my secret weapon for sticking with whatever your thing is.

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s represented by Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Literary Agency and her most recent book is The Astonishing Maybe. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the original Ninja Writer.

The Write Brain

Posts about productivity, business, and systems for right-brained creatives. Ideas aren’t enough. We actually have to do the things!

Shaunta Grimes

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The Write Brain

Posts about productivity, business, and systems for right-brained creatives. Ideas aren’t enough. We actually have to do the things!