1 or 2 things I learned about writing
by Yann Girard
Writing can be a pretty dark and lonely place. Not to mention that it’s very, very time consuming.
And the rewards are usually so little that you must be insane to be willing to put that much time, energy and effort into it.
As of writing this I published 208 posts on my blog. With this one right here it’ll be 209. I published four books on Amazon. Actually five, but I’m reworking the fifth one, so you can’t get it online right now. I’m currently working on two other books.
I’ve about 10k+ visitors on my blog every month. I’ve almost 1 million views on Quora. I have a few hundred thousands or so views on LinkedIn and Medium combined. Mostly Medium. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to work any longer.
I’ve been doing this for the past two years now. I have no clue how much time I spent writing over the past two years. Probably more than I want to admit.
I probably spend more time checking my stats, my likes, comments and so on than I spend on the writing itself.
So I guess, I know one or two things about writing. But not more. Apparently it takes 20 years until you might be a successful writer. Whatever a successful writer is. I don’t know. I’m not a particular good writer. But that’s a whole other story. Still, I feel like sharing a thing or two with you what I learned over the past two years. The things I wish I knew when I started writing..
# There are no consumers left
The other day I had a great chat with Mike Thomas on my podcast. Mike has been a TV, video and movie producer for the past 20 years. He has worked with presidents, Larry King, reported about the Gulf War and many other things.
When I asked him about what the future about content is, be it audio, video or written content he said something that scared the shit out of me.
He told me that soon, there will only be producers. Everybody will produce content. And no one will consume content any longer. Because everybody will be busy producing content.
And I think this is very true. And that’s why it scares the hell out of me. If everybody produces content who is going to read it, listen to it or even watch it?
From 2008 to 2013 the number of self published authors increased by 437%. Not to mention all the blogs, video blogs and Medium posts. Insane amounts of content and data no one really reads anymore.
I’m probably the best example of what’s going to happen in the near future. I don’t consume any content at all. I don’t even remember when I read an entire article from someone who wasn’t called James Altucher or Seth Godin.
Actually I did. To get ready for the show, I read 20+ articles on Mike’s blog. He has a really cool blog. You should check it out. It’s called thedailyboss.com.
# Writing is like a monopoly
So what’s going to happen next, what’s actually already happening right now is that everybody will read the same stuff. Everybody will read the same stuff from the exact same people. Remember what I said just a few lines ago? I read only 2–3 blogs. The ones you’re probably reading as well.
And that’s what’s going to happen more and more.
Due to the ever increasing offer of content, of any product whatsoever, people will gravitate to the stuff they already know. It’s called The Paradox of Choice. It’s a book written by Barry Schwartz which explains this exact phenomenon.
The bigger the choice, the more confused we get about what to buy. And the more we gravitate to the stuff we already know. The stuff we trust.
And the same holds true for writing. To break through, to get into the top 1% of writers, you’ll have to enter the clique. You can’t make it without them. I don’t know if you realized this, but all the top content producers are like a big family.
They all appear on each others podcasts and seem to share their audiences. Which is really cool. But makes it even harder to get into these cycles. Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, Ryan Holiday, Tucker Max, Seth Godin and many more. They seem to be one big gang. Screw the PayPal mafia. The PayPal mafia was yesterday. Today it’s the content mafia that might already have passed an accumulated audience of 1bn people..
# Writing is the easy part
The easiest part is to write your content. The hard part only begins once you’re done with writing. With the competition getting bigger and bigger, with more and more people producing content and the content mafia getting stronger and stronger, content distribution gets harder and harder.
If you want to start off today, it’s not enough anymore to be on one platform. To just have a blog. You have to publish your stuff everywhere. On LinkedIn, Quora, Medium, you name it. You Have to be everywhere!
Still, this won’t help you to get noticed. Remember, the folks who already have a large audience will only get a larger audience over time. With the choice getting bigger and bigger we tend to gravitate to the stuff we already know. The stuff our friends recommend to us. And breaking through that cycle takes not only a hell lot of time but also mastery..
# Trying to predict the future doesn’t work
Every time I publish something I try to analyze the number of likes I get, the numbers of comments, shares or whatever. I try to find out why this post performed better than the other one. And so on. I try to predict the future. I probably spend more time watching the number of interactions go up than I spend writing.
When the numbers go up, I’m happy. When the numbers don’t get up, I’m upset. And I was never able to predict people’s reactions. Ever. Whenever I thought this would be an absolute hit, it was a total flop. And whenever I thought it would be an absolute flop, it was an absolute hit.
The thing is that no one can predict people’s reactions. I seem to particularly suck at it.
The only way to figure it out, is to get it out there as fast as possible. And then don’t waste any time watching your share count go up. You won’t be able to change it anyway. I know it’s hard. I struggle with it every time. It’s just so tempting to believe that you’re able to predict the future.
But the truth is that the only thing you’ll be able to predict is that you’ll most likely be wrong all the time..
# Likes, comments, shares
So here’s the thing. I posted three separate updates on my Facebook wall when I released my new book The Art of Being Remarkable. It got more than 300 likes, 10+ shares and 30+ comments. The number of sales? Less than 10..
# What you read about online never works
There are so many guides and how to manuals out there that want to tell you how to boost your book sales, your email list and so on. I tried them all. I tried all the how to boost your email subscribers, the how to sell more books and what not guides.
I gave away a few thousand copies for free on Amazon. I didn’t get a single review out of it. Maybe it’s just that my books suck. Which could be true. But I didn’t even get a negative review. And it didn’t lead to more book sales once I stopped giving it away for free.
None of the stuff worked for me. Maybe I’m just stupid. I don’t know.
Maybe it’s just that these things can’t be replicated. They might work for that one person and that’s about it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. And people tend to only write about the stuff that worked for them. I think they should write about the stuff that didn’t work for them.
Maybe one of the things that didn’t work for them might work for you. For me.
# Most people lose money writing books
I recently read that the average author makes $500 on an ebook. The thing is that this also includes the top 1% who take home 99% of the cash. That means that the average author makes a lot less than the $500 above.
If you have someone to design your cover, to edit your writing and so on, most people probably lose money on writing ebooks. Not to mention the countless days and nights you put into writing them.
I don’t know about fiction books. Maybe it’s different when you write about romance. Maybe you can still make money writing about love. Maybe I’ll write a book about romance next time. Maybe this will help me to find a girlfriend..
# Readers are not stupid
The thing is that readers aren’t stupid. They’ve been fooled many, many times by shiny covers and great sounding titles. And once you open the book, once you start reading it, you realize that it’s all BS. That it’s all been a big scam to get them into buying horseshit.
And readers don’t like it. I don’t like it. It happened to me many, many times already. It sounded like a great book and all I got was a lot of crap. So what I do now is that I only buy books from people I know who are trustworthy. Whose names I’ve already heard multiple times before. Whose blogs I wrote. And I only read two or three blogs. Again, this reinforces the top 1%. It helps the content mafia. Man, I really love this new expression. The content mafia..
Whenever I see a book from someone I don’t know, I skip it. Or if it’s for free, I download it and then never look at it. That’s the environment you have to operate in if you want to break through. That’s the environment I have to operate in, as well.
Another thing that readers realized is that no book will ever really help them. Some old books do. Most new books just don’t. You read them and when you’re done you ask yourself what the hell were all these 200 pages all about? I don’t remember a damn thing. The only person a book might help is the person who wrote it..
# Prices race to the bottom
So what most authors do is to decrease their prices. And not only bad authors do it, but also good authors. So if you get a book from someone you know for less than a coffee at a local Starbucks, you’ll get the book from that someone you already know. And not from the person you’ve never heard of before. This leads to the next part..
# Writing to pay the bills is dead
Writing, blogging and publishing books online doesn’t pay the bills anymore. Period. Even the top 1% don’t make their living with writing anymore. James Altucher, one of the most famous writers of these days makes 30cents (before tax) with every book he sells.
What the top 1% writers know is that you can leverage your writing into something bigger. You can use it to build your personal brand, your coaching career, your investment dealflow and many more things.
Writing a book is a new form of marketing your other services. It’s networking 2.0. Live video streaming is networking 3.0. If you don’t offer any other services on top, it’s not really worth writing. I mean it is. It just won’t pay the bills..
# If you write a lot you tend to skip life a lot
I think this holds true for everything in life. Whenever you want to become really good at something, you tend to skip many other things. Well, actually you not only tend to, you have to.
You tend to skip going out with your friends, because you could be writing instead. You tend to skip going to that restaurant because you could be writing instead. You tend to not use Tinder, because it might distract you from writing. You tend to stay at home all the time because that’s the place you write the best stuff.
So you’ll not only skip living life, you’ll also start to be a bad friend, a bad girlfriend, a bad spouse or whatever. You might end up losing it all, without winning a thing. Ever.
But then again, this is just my story. And writing is one of the greatest things out there. If you know all of the above and do it for the right reasons. Whatever your reasons might be..
After all, you need to live your own life.
You need to tell your own story. You need to shoot your own movie.
Just make sure it’s a movie worth watching. Or a book worth reading. Just don’t waste it.
Don’t even waste a single second doing stuff you don’t absolutely love doing.
You only got this one shot…