Critics think Twitter is old and wrinkly.
I disagree. Writing there is just different. Until you try writing there, it won’t make sense.
Twitter has had a renaissance of late. People are going back for the written word. We’re exhausted by 15-second TikToks that are a sensory overload.
After nuking my 20,000 follower Twitter account and starting again, I wrote every day for 210 days.
Here’s what happened.
I discovered the odd world of micro-blogging
Traditional online writing has a lot of filler.
On Twitter you’ve got to get to the point before you run out of characters. It was like a Wordle game for me.
Twitter Threads are by far the most popular way to write on the platform. It’s sort of like a blog post. But not quite. It reminds me of the famous broetry posts on LinkedIn a few years ago.
Threads make you string together a series of tweets to form a full article.
- Short, sharp sentences
- No regard for grammar
- The look of the text matters as much as the info
Crafting a Twitter Thread is similar to how Michael Angelo carved the statue of David out of marble. He got a huge chunk of marble and just chipped way until a man with a huge willy emerged.
Twitter Threads are like that.
I took some of the posts from my WordPress blog and tried carving away the excess layers to get to the main points. They did okay. Then I had a huge discovery…
It’s easier and more fun to write Twitter Threads from scratch. It takes less time and forces you to channel the most concise thoughts known to humankind.
Saying a lot with few words is a superpower. The skill has bled into my long-form writing. Some of my article sentences now look and feel like tweets.
You don’t know what will pop
Twitter has many strange subcultures. The tweets that work best are odd.
One trend I’ve never seen before is all about doing your work alone and telling no one. I think it’s a rebellion against all the busy-being-awesome Instagram influencers that share every moment of their god-damn lives.
Random thoughts like this did well early on:
My friend’s wife is Ukrainian. Her family are trapped in the warzone. He is devastated. And here I was complaining about my broken garage door.
War puts everything in perspective. Today is a day to be grateful for peace.
As you document what’s going on the writing happens automatically. It’s not about what blows up on Twitter and goes viral. It’s about who you help.
Anonymous users are everywhere
Pen names on Twitter are the standard.
Your real identity doesn’t matter. Many of you will love this feature, because on places like LinkedIn, you get forced to use your real name. Welcome to the Cyberpunk metaverse of Twitter 🙂
Writing one thing per day is a powerful habit
Habits build creator careers. Read that again.
Twitter is a habit so small anyone can start doing it. I mean if you can’t come up with one sentence that becomes a tweet, then there’s something wrong. It’s easy-peasy-japanesey.
I found it’s not what I wrote on Twitter but the momentum my consistency gave me that made the difference.
Writing daily is harder than it sounds, especially if you got a work boss riding your ass. Twitter is how you get a powerful writing habit.
Tweets became the basis for all other content
What I loved about Twitter during my experiment was its speed.
You can post a tweet and get reactions, comments and feedback, fast. Some of my most popular tweets became headlines for long-form articles. I used tweet threads as the bones of new articles too.
Sometimes the tweet and the article it inspired were obvious. Other times Twitter just gave me a headstart to beat writer’s block over the head.
I used to spend hours crafting out long pieces of writing, only to publish them and discover they had zero usefulness in the real world.
Twitter solved that problem for me. I don’t guess. I use data to guide what topics I cover and validate ideas.
Use Twitter as a testing ground for ideas.
Email subscribers took a while to crank
Email subscribers are the lifeblood of a writer’s life.
Without them you’re left broke and homeless when Mark Zuckerberg decides to tweak the algorithms and line his pocket with ad dollars. I learned that to get email subscribers on Twitter there were three strategies:
1. Place a link in your bio
Twitter lets you place a link in your Twitter bio (LinkedIn now does too). I made the link go to my eBook landing page. From there, I collect a reader’s email address.
2. Create a Revue Newsletter
Revue is a newsletter app that got acquired by Twitter. Because they own it, they promote it.
All I did was set up a Revue newsletter to collect emails. Then every week I imported them into my main ConvertKit email list.
3. Write Twitter Threads and make the last tweet a link to your email list
The only other strategy is to write Twitter Threads and make the last tweet a link to your email list (example below).
At the start the number of email subscribers I got was low.
Now the numbers are starting to get much bigger. A quarter of all new email subscribers I now get come from Twitter. Some days that can be as high as 50 new people.
Without these gorgeous humans my writing career would already be dead. I’d be back at a 9-5 job, begging my boss to take time off so I could spend time with my soon-to-be-born daughter. No thanks.
Collect email addresses or die trying.
Back them up with a second email list or a Discord community as an insurance policy against unsubscribes — and Zucks.
What I still need to do
Twitter has been a blast. I’ve learned a lot. One thing I still need to do is turn on auto-replies and auto-DMs (direct messages).
This adds another way to get readers onto your email list. I use a tool called Tweet Hunter to schedule my tweets. It comes with these two features. I just haven’t turned them on yet. Why?
It’s best to go slow. If you spam people with too many requests to click stuff, they simply think you’re an internet marketer and switch off.
I’d rather be a human than a robot internet marketer. But that’s just me.
That’s what my 210-day Twitter experiment taught me. I’m sold on the platform and intend to be there until I’m a grandpa, or Papa Elon destroys it.