Ihave been documenting my journey of blogging where I published my very first article back in July of 2020. I reached the 1,000 views milestone the following October, increasing to 10,000 views two months later in December. Achieving 100,000 views has been no small feat — to date I’ve written 61 articles with more than 6 hours of reading content. I’ve written a few articles that have done well, and many articles that have flopped. But overall, I’ve found writing to be my favorite way of learning about the modern world while also being able to share that information with a broader audience.
This article details my writing journey, where I’m going, and any lessons I’ve learned that you apply yourself.
The Journey So Far
There are two factors that have pushed me farther into my writing experience than most. Those two factors are consistency and experimentation. Recently, I wrote about how entrepreneurship and content creation often follow what’s known as a long-tailed distribution. Essentially, a small subset of your content will be what resonates with your audience most. Here are the read counts for some of my own articles as an example.
Over the course of my 9 months writing, I’ve found the experience to have a distinct compounding effect. Consistently writing not only increases the average viewership of your posts, it accelerates the compounding factor of growth. Nearly half of my 100k views milestone have been achieved in the last 30 days alone. The current challenge is to sustain that growth.
Your writing is a direct reflection of your own passions
One of the main principles I’ve come to learn applies directly to writer’s block — if I can’t write a draft past the intro without a mental yawn, I probably need to reevaluate the article. It’s one thing to take a different angle on the piece, but many times I’ve realized halfway through a poorly written draft that I’m just not that interested in the topic. I’m not writing for a job, I’m writing for myself and because I want to. If I don’t find the content I’m about to share truly interesting, that disinterest will manifest itself in my article.
So, only write about topics that truly interest you. If you’re not interested in a specific topic, there’s always someone else who is — and they’ll be the one to capture the audience, rightfully so!
As somewhat of a tangent, I personally say screw writing for a niche. I enjoy writing about blockchain, math, software or just how to live a more balanced life. My most successful articles have usually been at a higher level technically speaking — with general tips and tricks for how to be a better software engineer.
Regardless, I truly enjoy writing technical articles with actual code and project examples as well. These are the pieces that I learn the most from and give me the most satisfaction in sharing that knowledge with others. I once wrote a piece about how to build a Proof of Stake Blockchain in Go. The article easily took me over 10 hours to make, yet had sub-par performance in viewer engagement. Do I regret that article? Hell no, I learned so much and can look back on that example for my next steps in learning the blockchain ecosystem!
The internet makes new ideas limitless
And if I ever do run out of ideas, I just look to the world around me. My three main sources for finding new content to write about are my work, YouTube and books. Anytime I run into something I feel shaky about at my full time software engineering job, I write an article on it to supplement my knowledge. I’ll review 3–4 quality videos or articles on the topic, combine their best points and add my own personal perspective to create a unique source of quality content.
If work is going well, I might look to newer technologies. I love the video community on YouTube with creators like Numberphile or Clement Mihailescu who publish extremely engaging content on computer science and software engineering. Watching YouTube on a daily basis has lead to more writing ideas than I can keep up with.
There is a third source of information that I would argue is even more insightful than the previous two. Books require you to take a significant amount of time in order to concentrate on their ideas. Reading on a sunny day or going for a walk while listening to an audiobook not only fills my brain with entirely new thoughts. Even more, books are a relaxing way to take a break from the screen! If you ever feel burnt out from writing or online endeavors, an interesting book may be your cure.
More than a Side Hustle
The initial reason I started to write wasn’t to make money, it’s because the modern world simply evolves too fast to keep up without taking time to learn every single day. I learn best by explaining the concepts to an audience — if I can’t explain the topic simply, then I don’t understand it well enough. Taking a complex idea and turning it into a simple article with code samples is extremely satisfying to me, because I know how it feels to be searching endlessly for an example that actually made sense to me.
That being said, I have been pleasantly surprised with the profitability of consistent online writing. For months I was lucky if I made more than a few bucks. That changed to an average of $5–10 each day, where the last few months have ranged from $200 to $800 each month. It’s all been based on my consistency and experimentation with new ideas. Writing has gone beyond buying myself a cup of blogger’s coffee and instead allowed me to add to my rainy day fund.
I’ve also found that affiliate links are a skill in and of itself. I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw links into every article in hopes of maximizing returns. Instead, placing thoughtful links that directly match the topic of your article can prove to be most useful to your reader. And that’s the goal that you should aim for — affiliate links that are important to your reader, not just you.
For example, if you’re writing about productivity in the remote work environment, it might be a good idea to include a healthy meal alternative. I did just that with one of my more successful articles, and now I’ll be drinking Huel every day whether I like it or not. What’s important is that my story made it clear to the reader why a meal supplement like Huel can give them time back in the day, along with nutrients that their diet may be lacking in. Your affiliate links are only as good as the story that drives them.
Beyond the profit, writing has allowed me to network even when I’m sequestered away at home for remote work. Many times I’ve contacted those who comment on my posts to talk over a quick Zoom call. As a fresh engineer out of University, it has been incredibly impactful to speak with leaders of the spaces I am most interested in. Surprisingly, I’ve yet to be turned down by an offer to talk over Zoom. I’ve spoken with a tech lead at Facebook, the CEO of a blockchain company, and many others who are passionate about their respective fields. I’ve even been contacted by recruiters because of my blog — writing is truly a fantastic way to get your name out there!
Where I’m Headed Next
I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. Writing has offered me so many new opportunities, and given me countless lessons in how to better articulate myself. I can easily correlate the amount of new information I’ve learned in a given week to the number of blog posts I’ve published. Put simply, I’m really damn grateful that I have the opportunity to share my thoughts for a positive impact on myself and on others.
Seriously, writing articles opens doorways to learn new technologies, improve your communication skills, share knowledge, engage in a community, drive profits and meet people in your fields of interest.
What’s not to like about that?
I fully plan on using writing as a platform for any future endeavors I may pursue. I have goals to launch my own mobile apps, create online courses, and even one day start my own company. Writing is my first step towards those goals, and will continue to empower me in the future.
It all starts with a new draft.