There’s billions of web pages out there, written by millions of people who have something to say, all of them thinking it would be great to become a successful writer. Their work is important to them, and they want their work to be important to others too. But over time they get discouraged, because their writing isn’t getting the attention they wanted or the audience they expected. They give up. As the years pass they’ll remember with sadness about their failed attempts at writing, and wonder if things could have been different.
Yes, things could very well have been different.
This post started when I found a few posts yesterday in my ‘saved for later’ archive about how to be a better writer. I started reading them this morning, thinking that I’d use them as reference material for my own post about how to be a better writer.
But as I was reading them, I realised something. They all say the same things. And their words started to blur together and I got bored. And I realised that this post I’m writing now will say the same thing too.
Everything that can be written has already been written.
So I closed the tabs of those other posts and deleted the bookmarks. I don’t need their words. I’ll use my own. And this leads us to the first tip.
1. Don’t worry about writing things that have already been written
It doesn’t matter that you want to write about a topic others have already written about. Those topics haven’t been written with your unique perspective based on your own unique observations and experiences in life. No one else in the world can write about anything quite like how you can write about it. No one else has your life’s experiences or the thoughts in your mind that shape your use of these words.
If you have something you want to write about, just start writing. Be original in what you write about. Be informative, entertaining, enlightening, funny… Be whatever is natural to you.
2. Give people answers to YOUR questions
People are looking for answers to their questions. That’s why Google, Bing and Yahoo! are popular search engines. Every time a search engine is used, someone is asking a question and they’re looking for answers. The only reason people will come to your website is because their search for answers has led them to you.
Write about what you’ve learned. Write about the questions you’ve had and the answers you’ve found. Write about how others can apply your answers to their own life, so they can achieve similar outcomes to you.
What you write will be discovered by people who are searching for answers to the same questions. They’ll instantly connect with you because they’ll see that they’re not alone in their search. You’ve written about how you share their pain or their frustration, and you’ve found answers to their questions that have resulted in successful outcomes for you, and which might result in successful outcomes for them too. They’ll love you for sharing your journey and your achievements with them, and they’ll be inspired to share your writing with others too.
3. Make the time
One of the biggest issues most aspiring writers have is finding the time to write. They might have a busy career as well as a busy family, and by the end of the day they’re completely and absolutely exhausted. All they can do is watch an hour of TV at the end of the night before collapsing into bed and hopefully getting enough sleep to give them energy to make it through another day tomorrow. Or they might have a very busy lifestyle that leaves them with no time for writing, even though they’d really like to find the time.
It’s about priorities. If you want to make writing your priority, then you’ll make the time to write.
Don’t watch TV at the end of the day. Write instead. If you’re too tired to write at the end of the day, then don’t watch TV and go to bed an hour earlier. Wake up the next morning an hour earlier at 5am before anyone else is up and spend an hour writing in the early hours of the morning.
If you do have the time but you’ve got bad habits or distracting hobbies that are preventing you from writing, then make careful and conscious decisions about your priorities in life. If other things are just more important to you than writing, then let go of your desire to be a writer. Stop beating yourself up about it. It’s just not important enough to you. Maybe in a few years it will be, but until then, enjoy your life for what it is now. It might be that the experiences you’re enjoying now can lend themselves to creating better writing material in the future.
However, if you decide that writing is more important than the distractions you have, then you absolutely must let go of those distractions. Like me, you might decide to stop using Facebook so that you can have more time to write. Or you might stop playing that computer game so often. Or you might spend a few hours less with your drinking buddies each week so you can have more time to write.
If something is important to you, you’ll make the time for it. Just work out what you can do less of, so that you can spend that extra time doing more writing.
4. Write every single day
This definitely leads on from making the time. Don’t make the time once a month, or once a week – it suggests you’re not really serious about it.Make the time at least once a day.
If you want to be successful at writing, you have to be serious about writing.
Write every day. Write a few times a day. Write at least 250 words a day until you develop the habit of writing every day, and then decide if you want to write 500 words a day. Or 1000 words a day.
Or, like me, you can throw yourself into the deep end and start writing 1000 words a day for 30 days until it becomes a habit, and then you can decide if you want to write less or keep it up.
But write every single day. You won’t become successful at writing until you put a LOT of effort into practicing it.
5. Learn how to create more interest in your writing
It’s no good writing every day if no one is finding and reading what you write. So to become successful you really have to start looking into how you can improve not only your writing, but also how you’re delivering your writing, and how people can find it.
To that end you need to do the following:
- have your own website or blog to store your writing
- read other people’s writing every day, see how they write, what makes it interesting or compelling, and what you can learn from their work
- learn how to write titles that suggest ‘the answers to your questions are in here’
- make your first paragraph a compelling ‘hook’ to catch people and make them want to read the rest of your article or post
- learn ‘search engine optimization’ (SEO) techniques to use relevant keywords and phrases to help your writing get on to the first page of searches about your topic, making it easier for people to find
- integrate sharing functionality to encourage people to share your work with others in their favourite social networks
- engage with your readers who leave comments, being friendly and supportive
- take note of what people are searching for when they come to your site, and if it’s aligned with what you’re interested in writing about, then do more of those topics
- encourage visitors to join a mailing list to receive your updates in their Inbox
The more people you can get to find and be interested in your writing and engage with you, the more chances you’ll have of building a loyal and ever-expanding audience. The bigger your audience, the more chances you have of becoming ‘a successful writer’, because many of those people may want you to write for them too.
6. Seek opportunities to be paid to write for other people
Once you start becoming comfortable with:
- writing in your own unique way
- about how you’ve resolved questions unique to you
- while making it a priority in your life
- and doing it every single day
- in ways that are growing your audience
…then you’re ready to start working on building monetary value in your writing.
It’s all well and good to write for free, for nothing but the joy of it, but if you want to be successful then you have to build value into your writing. You have to make your writing so good that people will be happy to pay you for it.
The only way to do that is to start putting yourself out there to find clients who will pay you for your writing. You’ll have to start off small, and you’ll have very little confidence in people actually paying you for your writing, but they’re out there, looking for writers to write for them.
Take advantage of opportunities that come your way, or seek opportunities by signing up to websites like fiverr, oDesk, eLance, etc ec. Become a freelance writer, web content developer, ghost writer, whatever you want. Just put yourself out there on these sites (and there are many others out there) so that you’re offering your writing to people in exchange for money.
The reason for this is that you’ll be forced to improve your writing so that more people are happier to pay you for it. You’ll be forcing yourself to learn more about writing, and you’ll practice more, so that you’ll get better feedback on your profiles about how wonderful you are, so that you’ll get more clients, so that you can receive more money for your work. Your confidence will increase, and the benefit will be a significant and speedy improvement in the quality of your writing.
Don’t limit yourself to just writing blog posts for people, but also write articles, short stories, even novels if the opportunity presents itself. Focus on something that you’re knowledgable about. Become a technical writer for software development websites, or an article writer for moms and babies websites, or a fiction ghostwriter for Star Trek novels. Whatever you have knowledge of, that you’re intersted in and passionate about – there are people that will want to pay you for your words.
You can also consider writing eBooks to sell on your website, or to your mailing list subscribers, or even to Amazon so people can buy and read on their Kindles. Some of your articles can be turned into free giveaways to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list. You can also have a free mailing list for your post updates, and a ‘premium’ mailing list for people to pay you for receiving articles or information that will be of direct value to them, of a higher quality than what you put on your site for free.
There are many options and opportunities that can become available to you over time, once you develop your skills, your experience, and your ‘portfolio’ (or archive) of work. It’s all entirely up to you, how much you learn, and how much you promote yourself.
Your work has value. People will pay you for it. But you have to learn how to present it in ways that they’ll be willing to pay you for.
By the way, if you do a Google search for ‘ways of making money from writing’, you’ll get about 2.95 BILLION results. It seems to be a question that a lot of people want answers to, so there’s no end of resources you can find that will help you find how to make money from your writing. I’ll even do a post about it myself in the near future, because not a single one of those 2.95 billion results will be the same as how I’ll write about it (see #1 above).
7. Don’t ever give up.
For everything you aspire to achieving in life, as long as it’s achievable the only reason you would fail to achieve it is if you give up.
“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill, British PM, World War 2
Don’t ever give up on your writing. Keep going. Work through the frustrations, the self-doubt and the insecurities you feel about what you’re doing. Ignore the naysayers around you (or in your own mind) who say you won’t succeed, because they tried years ago and they didn’t succeed so they gave up and they think the same will be true for you. Their life is not your life. They failed because they gave up. Don’t you ever give up.
8. Quit your day job when your writing income covers your weekly expenses
You don’t need your writing to be earning you as much as your day job pays you, you just need it be consistently covering your weekly expenses. Once you reach that point, you no longer need your day job.
By this stage, you’ve managed to build your income only from the time you’ve been able to devote to it outside of your normal daily responsibilities and your normal day job. Your ‘part time’ writing has now become something that can replace your day job as your primary source of income.
Of course, you can still keep your day job if you want to, but if you let it go you’ll suddenly have a spare 8 hours a day – imagine all that spare time you can put into your writing to expand upon it and even increase your income even further.
9. Enjoy your success
You’re a successful writer now. Your primary source of income comes from your writing. You’re doing it for love and, surprisingly, you’re receiving an income from it! You have more time in your life to give to other things that are important to you, and you’re not tied down to a ‘day job’ that you hate. You’re ‘location independent’ and can travel while still being able to write on your laptop from anywhere in the world if you want to.
Congratulations! Well done. I applaud you for becoming a succcessful writer. It took a lot of hard work, time and dedication to get to this point. You deserve it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a successful writer yet, but I’m working on it, and this article pretty much outlines how I intend becoming successful. In writing about what’s important for me and how I intend going about things, while also providing answers for other people at the same time.
“We teach best what we most need to learn.” – Richard Bach
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