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Category : Writing

Writing

The Simple Writing Formula I’m Using to Get an Additional 100,000 Email Subscribers

Additional 100,000 Email Subscribers

Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash


Writers need one illicit drug: traffic.

Without traffic to our work, any goal we have to earn a living from our writing is dead. Social media is how we get eyeballs on our writing. We don’t own those eyeballs though. We can’t message them whenever we want and say “howdy mate, how ya been?”

That’s why email subscribers matter.

So, if your online traffic is down then here’s the formula I’m using. I have over 50,000 email subscribers and know what I’m talking about. This formula is how I’ll easily get 100,000 more in the short term. Steal my strategy.

The platform many writers have snoozed on

There’s one platform I’m extremely bullish on. They’ve been around for 15 years: Twitter. It’s a great tool for writers. Here’s why.

  • The time required to write short tweets is low.
  • Writing tweets is fun.
  • Tweets give you data that can help decide which are your best ideas.
  • The organic reach on Twitter is still high after all these years. Meeting a new audience via Twitter isn’t hard if you invest a small amount of time each day.
  • You probably already have Twitter and have used it, therefore, zero learning curve. High five.

The way I’m using Twitter is different from how I’ve seen most writers use it. Let me explain.

Use Twitter (like this) to find a brand new audience

Twitter released a feature a few years ago called “Tweet Threads.” They’re like blog posts but better. Why? Tweet threads are a series of up to 25 connected tweets in a row.

What makes them special is each tweet is still limited to 280 characters. This matters because many of you, unfortunately, don’t get to the point fast enough in your writing.

Tweet threads force you to get to the point.

All the filler has to be deleted. The long intros go out the window. Full essay-style conclusions are dead too. Twitter Threads take you from being a traditional writer, and transform you into an online writer. This type of writer does better in the long run because you’re forced to respect the reader’s time, and this is so rare!

Once you master Twitter Threads you have a superpower that can drive fresh traffic to your writing. As crazy as it sounds most Twitter users don’t utilize threads. It’s a feature that doesn’t get used often, but one the Twitter algorithm gives a lot of extra support to.

The key with Twitter Threads is to hook the reader with a strong first tweet that explains what you’re about to say, and has a strong curiosity factor.

Then you hit them with the meat in each tweet.

Most writers stuff this part up (it contains all the growth)

The second part to the formula is to capture the email addresses so you own your audience. This is done in your tweet thread.

You write your tweet thread. Then you make the second last tweet a link to a Substack newsletter. Many writers unknowingly make their last tweet a link to a newsletter. This doesn’t work.

When Twitter shows your thread to an audience they’re going to see the first and last tweet. You don’t want people who don’t know you to see an external link as the first thing.

Instead, make the last tweet a TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) which summarizes each of your points. That way, a reader who finds your Twitter Thread gets the first tweet that contains your headline and subtitle, and your last tweet that summarizes the thread and helps them work out if it’s worth their time.

The Substack factor

This formula works the best if you use Substack. Let me explain. Twitter users are very familiar with Substack. It has a premium feel about it.

People are used to paying for newsletters offered through Substack. So when you use Substack to capture emails instead of something like ConvertKit or MailChimp, the chance you’ll convert a follower into an email subscriber is higher.

The best part is it’s free.

The alternatives cost money. If you’re not currently making money as an online writer then you’re best to start with free. The other part that’s missed is that landing pages, personal websites and email software require customization. This is often bad.

Most writers have not done the A/B testing work to know what looks good, what will convert, and what readers will fall in love with. Substack has. Their number goal is to help writers convert traffic into email subscribers.

Substack has a superpower

There’s another reason to use Substack to collect email subscribers. Substack enables writers to become media companies. Making money from writing and newsletters is a very narrow field. Substack is building other formats like podcasts into their platform.

These extra media types give you other income sources later on and allow you to expand beyond just writing, if and when, you’re ready.

This simple formula is pointless if you forget this

Many Twitter timelines are full of external links and content creators who keep asking for money. It’s modern-day begging. Don’t do this.

Sell in private not in public.

Forget websites. Forget eCommerce. If you want to sell digital products and services then do it via email. Add value to the email list you built on Substack and occasionally offer a paid upgrade. The secret is to underdo it.

Sell less than your ego tells you to.

Resist the urge. The more value you give, the more email subscribers might decide to invest money in your side hustle later. If you overwhelm them with ‘asks,’ they’ll simply unsubscribe. Then you’ll be stuck on the hamster wheel of always needing huge amounts of traffic forever and crying about platforms.

Takeaway

Fire up your Twitter account. Make sure most of your followers are still active. Write one tweet thread per week. Make the second last tweet a link to your Substack newsletter. Ensure the last tweet is a TL;DR.

That formula is going to easily get me another 100,000 email subscribers. It can do the same for you. Once you build your own list, don’t oversell. Instead, be generous and you’ll become a highly successful writer.

Follow me on Twitter to watch me implement this strategy in real-time.


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Writing

Tech Giants Can No Longer Stop Misinformation. It’s Every Man and Woman for Themselves.

Tech Giant

Photo by Dev Asangbam on Unsplash


“Abandon that platform right now! They’re allowing misinformation.”

That’s a message I got. The reader wants me to turn my back on an entire platform because they claim that misinformation is allowed to be posted. I totally disagree.

Tech platforms can’t be the nanny police. They can’t protect grown adults from misinformation. Here’s why.

Misinformation is a problem in of itself

I don’t expect any platform to save me from misinformation. It’s an impossible ask. In doing so they will accidentally destroy freedom of speech. What’s misinformation, is up for debate. Let me give you a clear example.

For the last two years I’ve lived in lockdown. Now before you jump to conclusions I’m a double jabbed, mask-wearing, follow the government health advice kind of guy. And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

I’ve been pro lockdowns and so have most Australians I know. If during the global health crisis you said anything bad about lockdowns, where I’m from, then you’d be accused of spreading misinformation.

But the narrative has slowly changed.

Suicide rates have increased. Mental health issues have exploded. Even my own health has deteriorated.

I recently had sharp pains in my leg. I went to the doctor and he sent me to a physio. It turns out a disc in my back is stuffed. In fact my whole back has been screwed from sitting at home for nearly two years.

Then I screwed up my hearing and got tinnitus by listening to music every day through headphones for long periods of time. My fitness level has dropped too. My core is weak. I can’t run anymore. A one-hour walk leaves me tired.

Many people in my country are feeling the after-effects of lockdown. In a matter of months we’ve done a complete 360. We are now no longer so sure that lockdowns are the answer to coroni-macaroni.

How the heck does a tech platform decide whether the lockdown conversation is misinformation that’s harmful to humans, or a legitimate conversation that needs to be had on their platform.

They can’t.

No platform should play god

When tech companies try to play god it’s a giant flop. Look at all the examples from 2020. Did all of the moderation and banning stop anything bad happening? No.

Instead, humans found other apps that allowed their conversations to be had and switched to them. Did countries who oppose the internet stop it? Nope. Did governments successfully stop torrents? Nope. Did any country ban bitcoin and successfully stop their citizens from buying it? Nope.

The internet can’t be stopped. The internet has more power than any tech platform. If big tech plays god then users will go to platforms that don’t interfere with humanity’s desire to have important conversations.

The problem with big tech playing god is they’re too tempted by financial interests to make decisions that don’t align with the good of the users. Most content platforms are funded by ads. If an advertiser says “ban this content or we’ll stop paying you,” do you really think a tech company will ignore them? Of course not.

Advertisers outrank social media users.

Those who pay the bills determine the rules.

It’s too late to save the world from misinformation

Web 3.0 is already here. Every app and service we use online is being replaced by a decentralized one. Decentralized Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp are right on our doorstep. It’s only a matter of time.

That’s why the reader who contacted me about their disgust with a certain tech platform is tough out of luck. A decentralized internet works differently.

Take bitcoin for example. If you’re angry about bitcoin you can’t abuse the founder on Twitter. There is no bitcoin office in Silicon Valley that you can go and cry to. There’s no media relations or smug startup bro in a t-shirt you can reach out to on LinkedIn.

A decentralized internet is run by code. Code has no feelings. Opt-in or opt-out — that’s your only option. I admit it’s going to be a completely different future. Intervention by governments and authorities is going to be a lot harder.

You could argue we’re moving from each being part of a sovereign country, to becoming entirely sovereign selves. The web will become one big country. Code governs the rules. Global democracy enabled by digital votes from all users determine what can and can’t happen on each tech platform.

Content moderation is done by the users. Each app has its own guidelines. If you don’t like the guidelines you change the content apps you use to ones that you do agree with. That’s the best solution there will be based on the current Web 3.0 structure.

Final Thought

I won’t stop publishing content on any big tech platform because they refuse to take down content.

Misinformation is subjective. Freedom of speech is more important. Allowing conversations to occur is how we come up with important solutions. And even if they did agree to take down misinformation, it doesn’t matter. Pretty soon you’ll be using entirely decentralized apps (dApps) built on top of blockchain technology such as Ethereum.

We’re on our own folks.

It’s time to be adults and not let our minds be easily manipulated anymore by misinformation. You’re mature enough to dissect the content you consume and decide to be influenced by it or not. As soon as we start to protect adult minds from certain types of information we destroy free thinking.

In doing so we nuke creativity. Nobody wants to live in a world like that. It’s time to stop expecting tech platforms to do the right thing. Those days are over. They had their chance and proved the model to be flawed.

Web 3.0 is scary, I get it. But it’s here whether you like it or not. That’s why it’s every man and woman for themselves.

Work on your critical thinking ability to stay safe from misinformation.


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Writing

I Killed My Twitter Account with 20,000 Followers - and Started a New One

Twitter tips

Photo by Stacey Zinoveva on Unsplash


Twitter is the most underrated social media app there is.

Many people don’t get it. Twitter still has fantastic discoverability, their recommendations are solid, the newsfeed is killer, the quality of users is high, and influential people still use it. Twitter is what all the wannabe social media apps have tried to recreate. And failed.

I’ve spent a stupid amount of money on Twitter courses. I’ve spoken with the some of the largest accounts on the platform, which led me to delete my Twitter account with 20,000 followers.

People think I’m nuts.

Let me explain because this almost certainly applies to your Twitter account. If you don’t use Twitter then you’re about to understand why you should immediately.

The big secret that will make me look stupid

Okay, I shouldn’t tell you this. Screw it. I set up my Twitter account in 2009 at the tender age of 23 years old. I was a young, loud-mouthed punk with a successful startup. The idea of followers tempted my oversized ego.

So I purchased Twitter followers on some random marketplace. I don’t remember how many. Somewhere around 5000–10,000. As you’d expect they made no difference — I didn’t become an overnight insecure male with a playboy mansion and a Lambo full of broken dreams.

I later realized almost all of the followers I got were bots. Haha … I’m a sucker. For years I didn’t do much on Twitter. Occasionally I’d click a link and end up on the app.

Then in 2020 I rediscovered the magic of Twitter.

The underrated benefits of Twitter

Content creators I admire led me back to the platform. At the height of the global health crisis everybody all of a sudden went all-in on social media, because they had nothing to do. That’s when I took a second look at Twitter. Here’s what I found.

A hidden audience

Twitter has awesome discoverability. There are 206,000,000 users on the platform. All you have to do is post good tweets every day. Two tweets per day is plenty. The platform is excellent at recommending your content based on its relevance to similar creators.

The hard part is getting the first 1000 followers. From there it’s pretty easy to build an audience, even in 2021.

The stupidly simple way to make passive income

I discovered last year that there’s a feature called Twitter Threads. A tweet can be maximum 280 characters. A tweet thread is no more than 25 tweets in a row. They’re all joined together with lines. A thread is like a blog post but without all the fluff. All you do is write a thread about a topic you know well.

On the last tweet you make it an external link to a paid book or online course (if you have one). Or you can link to your Substack or email list to capture the user’s details and perhaps offer a paid product or service to them later. I prefer to get their email address and give them free content forever. But I’m a weirdo so ignore this part of my strategy.

Many Twitter content creators have embraced a platform called Gumroad to sell products on. If you do decide to make passive income from your tweets then put your product there. Gumroad equals trust within the large Twitter community. The same way Substack has become the standard for premium newsletter content we’re happy to pay for.

Low barrier to entry

Tweets are short. They are quick to write. Even if you are a busy professional that has been ignoring your content creator dream, you can find time for Twitter. It’s a good place to start if you need a first step. I can write 10 tweets in 30 minutes. You can too. Do it.

Web 3.0

The Twitter community is one of the main places online to learn about Web 3.0. On a daily basis you’ll see Web 3.0 topics trending on Twitter. The co-founder of Twitter is a Web 3.0 enthusiast and even enabled Bitcoin payments on the platform. He’s one of the good guys. He even plans to completely decentralize Twitter in the future.

Why you might want to nuke your Twitter account

Many of you reading this have a Twitter account. It’s probably more than 5 years old. Let me explain your hidden problem.

The Twitter algorithm is simple in how it works. Let’s say for example you post a tweet and it goes out to your 1000 followers. Let’s say 100 people have it appear in their newsfeed. Let’s say only 2 of them engage with your tweet via a like or a comment. This tells the Twitter algorithm it sucks.

The problem may not be you. In my case I was posting tweets to a large number of bots. On top of that the followers I didn’t buy were from a long time ago. Many of those users have left Twitter or haven’t been active for years. So basically I had an audience full of zombies that did nothing. But there were a decent number of followers who did engage.

The problem is Twitter uses a ratio to measure the quality of a tweet. If you have 20,000 followers and only 50 of them engage with a tweet, then this signals to the algorithm that your tweet is crap. Your tweet may be good but the ratio is way off.

Takeaway: A lot of you have large numbers of inactive followers. They’re screwing the engagement ratio of your tweets.

How to start on Twitter again like a badass

There’s no way to remove followers on Twitter. The only option is to start again, so that’s what I did. Here’s the exact formula I was given from a group of well-known Twitter users.

  • Give your old Twitter account a new username.
  • Without a few minutes quickly set up a new Twitter account and make the username the same as your old one. This seems counter-intuitive but when you use your original username on your new account, it automatically links it to every platform you’ve connected Twitter to. This helps point people to your new account without lifting a finger.
  • Next, go to your old Twitter account and remove all the links in your bio. The sole purpose of your old account from now on is to point people to your new account.
  • Change the bio of your old account to say “Unfollow this Twitter account. My main Twitter is <Insert Username>.”
  • Update the banner of your old Twitter account to say the same with an arrow pointing down to the link in your bio to the new account.

How to hyper grow your new account

Your new account is live. High-five. Now do this.

The retweet method

Every tweet you post on your new account needs to be retweeted by your old account. This helps guide your old followers who care about your work over to your new account.

Tell your superfans

Make sure you’ve published a few tweets before doing this step. Once you have, say, ten tweets on your new account, let your superfans know. Mine are all on my email list, so I sent them a helpful article. At the end of the article I asked my superfans to follow my new Twitter account. Steal this script:

PS –Will you please follow me on Twitter right now? Here’s the link! twitter.com/tim_denning

It would mean the absolute world to me. I urgently need to start my account again. It’s where I share some of my best short insights you can’t find anywhere else, daily. I’m confident my Twitter will change your life.

The growth trick all Youtubers use

I’ve spent a bunch of time researching Youtube. All the top accounts do one thing: they share audiences. Youtube creators go on each other’s accounts and tell their audiences to follow other people like them.

There are Twitter groups you can join full of content creators. Basically if you share the same values and niche, you can share each other’s audiences. You can retweet their work. Or go on their podcast and share a link to your Twitter. Or make a guest appearance in their online course.

The secret to Twitter is to build your audience with other like-minded creators. That’s how you experience hyper-growth on Twitter.

The real power, though, is the friends you make in these communities. I haven’t found these Twitter communities, yet, so I can’t tell you where to look. When I do I’ll happily share the info.

Write Twitter threads

Most users publish single tweets. Tweet threads are rare, so if you create them then you’ll stand out and grow faster.

The Unexpected Results

It took me 12 years to get 20,000 followers and one day to start on Twitter again. Already in a short space of time I’m seeing a huge benefit. I have a tiny number of followers but extremely high engagement on my tweets.

If I keep this up my audience will grow fast. You can copy my approach and tap into the same magic.

The bottom line is this: a lot of your Twitter followers are probably inactive.

Start a new account to build an audience from scratch. The engagement rate will be higher because now that Twitter is 12 years old, there are mostly only the people who love it using the app. Those users are the ones you want as followers.

If any of what I’ve explained doesn’t make sense, then check out my new Twitter account (@tim_denning)to see this strategy in action and the results I’m getting.

If you’re a content creator or have a side hustle and don’t tap into the huge audience on Twitter, then you’re missing out. Start now.


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Writing

I Spent Three Months Collecting the Best Underrated Writing Tips on the Internet

Writers are salespeople. Sorry.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash


Writing advice normally makes me puke.

The focus is usually on a writing platform rather than writing itself. This leads innocent advice-givers to drift into the realm of fortune-telling.

These nuggets will light a fire in your belly and get you writing the best stuff of your life. Be warned: they’re not the typical cliches, like write shorter sentences. Nope. These are weapons of mass destruction.

“If you’re overthinking, write. If you’re underthinking, read.”

AlexAndBooks tweeted this. As writers we spend so much time thinking “what do I do next?” When your mind is full, dump your thoughts onto a page — especially if there’s something you can’t stop thinking about. When your mind is empty, fill it up with books.

Writers are salespeople. Sorry.

It’s called** best selling** author, not best-writing author — Robert Kiyosaki

The best writers lose. All the grammar ability means nothing. Throw your english degree in the bin. The writers who can package ideas into stories that sell the message win every time. Learn how to sell, not how to write.

Make free content. That’s the answer you’ve been searching for.

There is one common factor across the few millions of online creators who can make money from what they do: 90% of what they have to offer is free.

When I started blogging 2 years ago, I clearly outlined my strategy: first, make free content, and then convert some of that “free traffic” into paid customers, through downloadable resources and online courses. — Joseph Mavericks

If you seek to earn a living as a writer then follow the $0 strategy. Write as much content as you can for free without the paywall. Only put up a paywall between you and the reader when your bills stop getting paid. Short-term pain for long-term writing growth.

The need for rumpy pumpy on the first date kills potential romantic relationships. The same way paywalls kill writers’ dreams if used too soon.

On-chain writing is the future

Excited for on-chain writing.

Anytime anyone orders a copy, quotes it in a paid article, uses it in a paid book club, or monetizes it any way — authors receive a commission they set.

And otherwise, the writing will be free and open to the world.

Mirror.xyz makes this possible. — David Phelps

The old days of publications and ad models that screw writers are dead. Web 3.0 has built a new model for the writing business. It’s decentralized, democratic, and fair to writers. Learn about it.

Start with learning about Mirror.xyz

“No such thing as writer’s block (just insufficient research)”

Ryan Holiday slapped me across the face with this quote. It led me to buy the Roam Research app and prepare ideas before I sit down to write on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I even made a whole online course on this idea.

Sitting down with a blank page is the worst idea in the world. What I do is write headlines and a few dot points a couple of days in advance. I can always scratch what I’ve pre-prepared, but at least I have something more beautiful than a butt-ugly blank page.

Research determines quality writing.

Let a naughty thought sneak into your writing

One of the highest performing articles ever to be published on Medium is called “Five Signs of a Highly Intelligent Person.” The headline or subject matter has nothing to do with the article’s success. There is one sentence that made it a hit:

They [smart people] wear a mask during a pandemic.

This one naughty sentence generated 523 comments and made the story go mega-viral. If there’s a naughty thought you have while writing, that isn’t politically correct, dare yourself to write it. When you do you’ll stop people in their tracks and create a mountain of comments.

The purpose of writing isn’t to have people agree with you. It’s to make people think. Do that and you’ll be unstoppable as a writer.

The harsh truth no writer wants to hear

The platform is not the problem. It’s you. — Sinem Gunel

Datta girl. Sinem knocks it out of the park with this advice. When the quality of your writing goes down, the views go down. It’s not the platform’s fault. No social media app is constantly changing its algorithm every day to screw with your writing. Throw the tarot cards in the bin.

Focus on what you can control.

When views drop, increase quality, decrease excuses.

Edit like a murderer

Writing is 50% thinking, 5% typing, 45% deleting the bad parts.

Get to — and I cannot stress this enough — the point.

— Morgan Housel

Find the bad sentences and murder them so they die a horrible death. Find those adverbs and murder them too. Especially cut the throats of words like “really, potentially, and actually.” They’re weak as piss.

Loneliness is food for a writer’s soul

“How do I get traffic to my blog.” Or “how do I get buyers of my book.” or “How do I get people to follow me on Twitter.”

A lot of it is about loneliness. We sit in our house writing blog posts and then hit Publish. — James Altucher

The need for attention ruins your writing. Writers aren’t supposed to be famous. Loneliness and acting like introverts are hardcoded into our writer’s software. You can’t escape loneliness. Embrace it. That’s how your work gets seen — by sitting alone in a room with a laptop and punching the keyboard until you can write no more.

High-quality writing is an endangered species

People are vastly underestimating the demand for intelligent, high-quality writing on the Internet — David Perell

I get it all the time. How do I stand out? There’s so much writing online. Yep, there is … and most of it sucks. You’ve got to scroll for hours on some platforms to find one good article.

Work on the quality of your writing and most of the common problems will magically disappear, like the teeth the tooth fairy takes away when you’re a kid.

Writer’s block is a myth

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s simply a fear of bad writing. Do enough bad writing and some good writing is bound to show up. — Seth Godin

Sit down. Write a few bad sentences. Keep writing till it gets good.

My favorite writing hack is this: treat writing as a sport. Warm-up by writing a 250-word Quora answer or a one-sentence tweet. Once you get into writing, it takes over your brain and your fingers hit the keyboard.

Don’t under-research either. If you sit down with no pre-prepared ideas and zero research, you’re going to get your face ripped off. Write down ten headlines two days before. Use them when you sit down to write.

The online writing formula they don’t teach in literature degrees

How to build a mini traffic machine as a writer:

— Write one article every week (SEO)

— Repurpose it as a thread (social)

— Send it to your list (email)

— Post it in relevant communities (referrals)

Create once, distribute everywhere. — Andrea Bosoni

This sounds simple. There’s one big insight writers must tattoo on their faces: make the content you re-use contextual. Don’t go on LinkedIn and post a self-help quote without the words “work” or “career,” as an example.

“Never open with multi-sentence paragraphs. Ever.”

Alternating between single-sentence paragraphs and multi-sentence paragraphs is the fastest way to make your writing more accessible.

If the headline and the first sentence and the subheads all hook their attention, they start to read. — Nicolas Cole

I agree. Multi-sentence paragraphs and huge walls of text make readers click away in terror. Open with a grand idea distilled into one sentence. It forces you to focus rather than blabber on with a bunch of context, political correctness, apologies, and yogi hand-holding.

Personal stories that start with a killer opening line outperform everything

One of the best writers you can learn from is James Altucher. Repeatedly James shows us how one brain-busting first sentence followed by a personal story can hook you for 6–8 minutes without a problem.

These are James’ best stories to demonstrate:

  • How To Get People To Like You In 5 Seconds or Less
  • How to Be the Luckiest Person Alive, Again
  • How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy

Without personal stories your writing reads like a bunch of facts that belong in a scholarly journal at Oxford University. Too many facts and quotes put readers to sleep.

Personal stories glue human brains to sentence after sentence.

Light a fire inside before writing

Feel fire before you write. Or don’t do it.

I don’t write an article until I’m feeling it! I need to feel fire about what I’m saying because I’m trying to light that same fire in my readers. Until I feel that fire, I don’t hit publish. — Benjamin Hardy

Writers write snoozefests when we’re low on energy. Put yourself into a peak state before you write, or perhaps choose another day to write. The energy you have when you write bleeds onto the page. Bring your energy levels up with music or exercise before you dare talk to readers and take up their time.

My biggest writing hack

A fellow writer friend told me one skill I didn’t know I had. I expected them to say headlines, or subtitles, or images, or the choice of keywords, or promotion. Nope.

“Man, the angle you choose to write from is what makes you different.”

I never realized that. Many articles are snoozers because the angle the piece is written from is the same as 99 other articles on INC dot com. As an example, recently I wrote about astronauts going to space. The obvious angle was to talk about space and our wonderful blue planet … blah, blah, blah.

Instead, I chose the angle of what racism must be like in space. I found some quotes from astronauts who started to see humanity as one race rather than multiple. See what I mean?

Don’t pick the obvious angle to every story. Otherwise, you sound like a cliche writer that will drown in a sea of similar writing. No need to get fancy. Just choose a bizarre angle.


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Writing

The Creator Economy Will Slowly (Then Quickly) Migrate to Web 3.0

Creator Economy Web 3.0

Image Credit–Pixabay


Kelly Clarkson and “The Voice” tv show is a cheesefest.

And I love its cheesy goodness because I can’t sing. The other day I noticed something about the creators who sing on the show. They come to the studio in their best Sunday outfit. They shine their shoes. They do their hair. They put on Calvin Klein or Chanel Number 5 fragrance. And they sing their little hearts out. * Cries from the inspiration *

I watched carefully as each contestant sung. About halfway through a small box pops up at the bottom of the tv screen.

Screenshot taken by author via Youtube

Did you see it? The singers who provide most of the value for The Voice tv show get their social media accounts promoted for about 3 seconds.

This happens once.

Below the Youtube video of the singer is a description — no links to the singer’s website. On the show’s website there used to be a singer bio for each contestant. Even then, zero links to the singer’s website. And now those bios are no longer on the show’s website.

Creators have been screwed for years. We’ve let monopolies do it to us.

The Web 3.0 transformation

Web 1.0: The internet

Web 2.0: Social media / mobile internet

Web 3.0: Blockchain / AI

— WellPaidGeek

We’re in the third phase of the internet. Many Web 3.0 skeptics argue that decentralization isn’t going to change anything. I disagree. The CEO of American company Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, argues Web 3.0 is nothing new. He says we’re re-decentralizing the web, which is how the internet was originally. Why?

Because he says we need to “check the power of big tech.” And because many countries are excluded from the creator economy boom. Ask creators like my friend Chinedu in Africa. They don’t have easy access to monetization through PayPal and Stripe. That’s taken for granted by people like me all the time. The luck of where you’re born shouldn’t affect whether you can join the creator economy and earn a living.

Creativity isn’t limited by country of origin. Web 2.0 makes us think it is.

The “take rate” explains the exploitation of creators

Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have take rates of 100% — they don’t share any revenue at all with creators! That’s been great for them but bad for users. — Chris Dixon

I will step in here and correct Chris. Twitter never used to share revenue with its creators until the CEO, Jack Dorsey, saw the power of Web 3.0. Now he’s backflipped. He’s publicly announced he will decentralize Twitter, turning it into a Web 3.0 product. Then there’s the Twitter superfollows feature that just launched and allowed creators to earn money from content.

Then there’s the new Revue newsletter function that allows creators to charge money for a paid newsletter. That’s not all. The best feature launched recently. Twitter is now crypto-friendly. You can send money over Twitter using Bitcoin. This is game-changing if you’ve ever tried to send money from the US to El Salavdore, for example. Twitter proves the migration to Web 3.0 will 100% happen, slowly.

Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, though, haven’t understood the shift. They make content creators work like slaves to build a following and get views that are controlled by an algorithm that can decide tomorrow it doesn’t like the color of your hoodie. They use that content to attract consumers and show them ads.

$0 from the ad revenue is shared with creators. Read that again.

When content platforms were new we were just happy to use them and not pay a dollar. Now we’re used to them. Our standards have changed. Creators want to share the revenue (fairly) that a platform makes off our content. Makes sense. But change won’t happen unless Zuckerberg is forced to sell ads and share the money, rather than buy another house.

If creators stop giving their content away for free then platforms like TikTok are bankrupt. Think about that.

Platform ownership is broken

What’s different about Web 3.0? Ownership. Creators want to own the platform they create on and have voting rights. When the platform makes money so do they.

When a content moderation policy needs to be formed, it’s done through voting rights via blockchain consensus and thousands of computers all around the world that force trust in the process (not even a presidential orange man could debate a blockchain election).

Then there are the platform’s features. Ever opened your favorite app for content on a nice Saturday afternoon to find that everything has changed and looks like it was designed by a freshman UI/UX kid? Feel like you didn’t see the design punch to the face coming? It’s not the kid’s fault. They’re too far removed from what creators do. They’re an outsider looking in.

Web 3.0 is different. Features are decided by the users in a democratic process. If one group of users don’t like it then they create a fork. A fork is where two versions of the same platform run but with different features.

When ownership is fixed and transparent the incentives change. Ownership then leads to user democracy rather than Web 2.0’s dictatorship philosophy of “here’s the latest update, ya filthy animal.”

Smart contracts enable the revolution

2000s: Make a website.

2010s: Build an app.

2020s: Deploy a smart contract.

— Sahil

Many people misunderstand the role of ethereum in the new creator economy. Ethereum allows smart contracts to be executed by machines, not humans.

Entrepreneur Mike Novogratz explains that “blockchain is going to allow information that shouldn’t be free, not to be free.” Remember Napster? You could download music for free and nobody, not even the sooks in the band Metallica, could stop you.

The Web 2.0 version of the internet we use right now isn’t built for content ownership. You can take any video off Youtube and steal it if you want. It’s hard to detect. Heck, this article could easily be stolen with a copy and paste.

Smart contracts change that. Smart contracts tell everybody who owns what content. The innovation of NFTs then turns your content into a portable digital asset you can publish anywhere on the internet.

The time is now for Web 3.0 only because of the divergence of these three things, according to expert Eric Jorgenson:

Web1 = Costless Publication

Web2 = Costless Communication

Web3 = Costless Transactions

More ways to monetize

Now that Web 3.0 fixes the content ownership problem and makes our digital assets portable, we can unlock more ways to make money as creators.

Mike Novogratz says we’re going to “see a shift from businessmen to creativity. Creators will have ways to monetize their creativity. Not just artistic creativity — all kinds of creativity.”

He even says we will wear NFTs on our t-shirts, and only with a pair of AR/VR glasses will another person be able to see them.

You’ll be able to split money with multiple parties. You’ll be able to transport your content from one platform to another based on which is treating you the best at the time. Creators from all around the world will be able collaborate and come up with crazy ways to earn money from our work.

No more $0 days on Facebook while Zucks gets rich. Money can be streamed to you by the second based on the performance of your content.

Creators will drive the acceleration to Web 3.0 because we simply want to get paid so we can do it full-time. Once the content captors release us, more ways to make money will overwhelm our creative brains. I can’t wait.

Web 3.0 changes every major industry

ETH: Decentralized Silicon Valley

DeFi: Decentralized Wall Street

NFTs: Decentralized Hollywood

— Sahil

The transformation isn’t unique to the creator economy. All industries will slowly change to reflect humanity’s obsession with democracy. Web 3.0 went after finance first and became a more than $2 trillion industry. The shift has moved to the creator economy with platforms like Bitclout inventing coins that allow creators to become stocks their audience can invest in.

The next wave will be decentralized Youtube, Spotify, and Facebook. Now is the best time to be part of the creator economy. Watch the transformation occur in front of your eyes and take whatever content type you love to Web 3.0. That’s how you take advantage of this awesome opportunity as a creator.


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Writing

The Untold Story of the Unknown Blogger Who Went Viral and Gained 150,000 Email Subscribers in 30 Days

Zdravko Cvijetic Writing

Photo by Pete Godfrey on Unsplash


It’s phenomenal when a nobody interrupts the thought patterns of humanity.

A few years ago I kept seeing an article pop up all over LinkedIn. Its momentum lasted about a year from the original publication date. Every social media platform I went on, this article got crazy engagement.

The article is called “13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful.” It’s the most viral article on the internet I’ve ever seen. Most people have no idea about the author.

His story has never been told and there are so many world-class lessons for you in it. I had no idea back at the height of the article’s success that I’d get to speak with the author, and later have them as a mentor. We became friends after our chats.

There’s a dark side to the story, and an uplifting ending.

150,000 email subscribers overnight

Two friends in Australia knew the author of this viral article. His name is Zdravko Cvijetic. Without hesitation they introduced me to him as an up-and-coming blogger. I was nervous to talk to him.

We jumped on a call right in the middle of the madness created by his article. He told me how he’d got 150,000 email subscribers from the call to action he placed on the article.

I expected him to be jumping for joy. Not quite.

When you have so many people googling your name the web hosting of your website and landing pages can’t handle the load. Your email software provider also requires an upgrade, which happens automatically with providers like ConvertKit

Both hosting and email software cost an enormous amount of money if you suddenly wake up with 150,000 subscribers. Zdravko wasn’t born with a silver spoon up his butt. The guy came from humble beginnings. Instantly he had to bankroll both upgrades to his side hustle infrastructure.

Lots of email subscribers are nice, but at this point he had zero revenue and therefore, no way to easily pay the two new expenses. He found a way but it was a real struggle.

Takeaway

Set up your backend to cope with a large spike in traffic in case you acquire loads of emails overnight. Have a plan. And remember these two things:

  • Zdravko says to turn off the need for a reader to confirm their email address. Remove friction. You’ll grow faster.
  • Don’t use website popups to collect emails. No. Use landing pages to collect emails. Always. Landing pages convert. Popups piss people off.

There’s always a secret mentor behind the scenes

I learned on a call with Zdravko that one of his early mentors was popular writer Benjamin Hardy. After Zdravko’s success he helped me a lot. He introduced me to Ben. He put me in contact with large publications. He taught me how to pitch my writing.

There was no need for him to do any of this. He had his success. He could have bottled it up and kicked losers like me to the gutter. Nope. Zdravko got a headstart thanks to Ben. I got a headstart thanks to Zdravko.

Behind the scenes it’s easy to think writers randomly become successful on their own. This is total bullsh*t. Massive success is never an accident. Success is a team effort, especially for a lone writer like Zdravko. I get asked my secret for online success all the time. I say “it’s the team behind the scenes. Not me.”

Takeaway

We grow as content creators by lifting each other up. The circle of life says if a person helps you then you help someone else in return.

The ingredients of a viral success require effort

Zdravko’s massive hit is no accident. He didn’t publish and pray. Here’s everything he did that you can learn from about the article.

Google your face off

The whole article is based on lots of research.

He didn’t want to include just any idea so he let data tell him what people might find valuable. How many shares did an idea have on LinkedIn? What did the comments below an idea say? Excessive googling helped make the article a success.

Engineer content success

The original article was a lot longer than what you see now. Zdravko says he did something like 40 edits to the article. Part of the reason is Zdravko’s native language isn’t English. This makes his writing success even more impressive.

Add content to an article without any shame. Cut content ruthlessly. Heavy edits are the spitshine that makes readers unconsciously smash the like button with their mouse until the button breaks.

Ask yourself “What’s happening right now?”

An article about all the things you should give up is gold on its own. What’s forgotten is Zdravko published his hit story on the 27th of December that year. This breaks every content creator rule in history.

December is when people are supposedly not reading and take a break. Zdravko thought differently. The end of the year is when people reflect on their goals. It’s the perfect time for a self-help article. Also, there’s almost zero competition on the 27th of December.

The lesson is to be conscious of what a reader is doing when you publish a heavily engineered, data-backed story with viral hopes.

Look at unusual past successes

Buzz Sumo is a key tool Zdravko used at the time to work out what self-help ideas resonated with readers. He also used Neil Patel’s and Pro Blogger’s yearly wrap as further inspiration to write his hit story. Past success helped him get on the right trail to viral superstardom in the blogger world.

Find out what people struggle with

From Zdravko’s research with actual humans, he learned that habits and time are the two things people struggle with most. Those two struggles feature prominently in his article.

When you reference a struggle the reader is reminded of their pain. When you help them overcome the struggle they remember your name and fall in love with your work. That’s how you get superfans who will go to war in the comments section if any dumb troll ever tries to tear you down.

Let the crowd speak when lies about you — due to your success — appear online. Silence wins young padawan.

Trending topics lack a competitive advantage

“Don’t write about presidents” is one piece of advice Zdravko gave me. That’s how you sound the same. You won’t win an attention war with CNN. No point. My advice is to hunt down timeless topics. Go where no man or woman dare to explore. Then you’ll blog in your own lane.

Record yourself in audio and then write an article off that

Write how you speak is solid advice. This is how you do it like a $2 pro with any old dumbphone.

Flip the traditional narrative upside down

Every writer at the time of this viral story told readers what to do in their self-help articles. Zdravko didn’t tell us what to do, or what not to do.

He told us what to give up. He didn’t wait for us to admit our deadly sins. He recited them for us and then strongly encouraged us to give them up. Smart. Flip a common idea on its head. Look for an interesting angle in your article.

Don’t use just any quotes

Every point in Zdravko’s article had a quote. This is no accident. Quotes allowed him to look like an expert even though he was relatively unknown at the time this story was published.

You don’t need to be an expert. Borrow an expert.

A lot of the magic juice of Zdravko’s story is the result of the quotes. He picked ones that weren’t cliche. He made sure they illustrated his point exactly. They weren’t quotes he quickly found and inserted in. These quotes were curated over a long period of time and meticulously chosen for their awesomeness.

Many content creators forget the power of the quotes. They just chuck them in as though they don’t matter too much. Become a quote master. Silently sit at home during the night and sift through quotes like a Samurai master preparing for their next battle to save humanity from danger.

Polarizing works

The article punches you in the right eye. Then Zdravko sticks a needle in the same eye and twists it around until blood drips on the floor. Decide on a stance to take in your article and don’t back down like a pussy.

No one wants to read stuff written by fence-sitters who are strategically placed in the middle on every subject as not to upset the precious reader. Boooooo.

Nobody needs to agree. Make people think. Your beliefs will do a 360 in the next few years anyway. No need to be romantic.

Zero conclusion

Conclusions sound like university papers. You’re not writing a great essay to become teacher’s pet and get an A+. Who says you need a conclusion? Leave the reader on a cliffhanger. Say your points then shut up. I write conclusions too, but after this reminder I’m going to rethink it.

Write for people, not English teachers.

Say what’s on everybody’s mind

Lists make great articles. The problem is there are too many silly lists that say some variation of read, meditate, say I love you, and be happy. Snoozefest.

Zdravko’s story reads like a list of badass rules for life. Every point in his article is something that’s been on readers’ minds.

The story is not cliche AF like a lot of writing online. So, we quadruple press the share button, and we read his story over and over as if it’s the bible. (I saw hundreds of readers call his story ‘the bible for life.’ Nice.)

Be a ridiculously good person

The life of a writer who publishes a viral story is often ignored. Zdravko taught me you can’t have this level of virality by being an a**hole. He’s a good guy. He helps a lot of people for free. Every year he goes out of his way to send me a happy birthday message. He leaves random compliments on my work.

He always builds up other creators. We’re not competitors. We’re a team to Zdravko. Let that sink in.

Many people don’t know that this viral article got plagiarized and stolen by other websites a lot. The same happened to me. I cried like a 5-year-old. I asked Zdravko for advice.

His words still haunt me. “Let people steal from you. Move on.”

Build a tiny course empire

Creators deserve to be paid. The best way to make money from a viral, non-fiction article, according to Zdravko, is to sell an online course.

At his former job at Mind Valley, Zdravko learned how to build killer courses for his boss Vishen Lakhiani that would do six and seven figures in sales in a single day. After his story’s success he quit his job and sold courses to his 150,000 email subscribers. He told me courses focused on solutions sell the best. Take a problem from your writing, go deep, and turn it into a course.

Own your content. Always.

Always publish your content on your own site first and then everywhere else. This advice has stayed with me. I ignored it for many years until I learned the hard way with LinkedIn, what happens when you rely too much on one platform to publish content on.

What happened to Zdravko Cvijetic after his viral success?

The truth is Zdravko has stopped writing since his viral success. He spent the first six months after his fame working on his business. Then life smacked him in the face. Without revealing what happened, life became a struggle. Things got pretty dark.

Zdravko hasn’t published anything online for years. I miss his work. I miss the guy that gave me a headstart when everybody else told me to F off.

A few times a year, I message him and see how he’s doing. I ask him if we will ever see another article from him. For the last few years he has shown no sign of a return.

The uplifting ending to this unlikely story

I’ve reached out to Zdravko as part of my research for this story. There are zero promises. But I got a slight hint he may return at some point. If you like his article then maybe you could encourage him to make a return.

Even if Zdravko never writes another thing online, after gaining 150,000 subscribers in 30 days, his words which I’ll leave you with are etched in my memory forever.

Build the list. Email the list.

That’s what you can learn from the most viral article we may ever see published on the internet.


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