Actually, the people with the biggest audiences are drunk on their own ego and tend to make the least amount of money.
You want a small, deep audience. Not a shallow, wide one.
Recently a young guy (let’s call him Mark) replied to my tweet on Twitter with this message: “I’ve been on Twitter for two months and made $50K writing for clients. I have no clue what the f*ck I was doing before.”
I asked him how. His in-depth answer surprised me.
“I send more direct messages than I post”
I always tell content creators to focus on posting content.
But that’s because I’m trying to optimize for growing my writing audience. If your goal is to make money online then you can simply skip this step entirely and head straight for the DMs of Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
Mark says he’s always talking with people behind the scenes.
One way he found clients was to DM SaaS business owners. He would boldly edit their blog posts without them asking.
The errors he typically found in their writing were:
- Too wordy
- Lack of flow
- Bad readability
- Veering off topic
- Too many ideas presented in one article
After tracking all the errors he’d rewrite their content and send it to them.
That got him some easy gigs. Although he says he copped plenty of negative responses too. I love his humility though when he told me “I deserved those responses.” Bloody legend.
It took guts. The noes hurt. But the yeses got him to $25K a month.
No courage, no reward.
Build in public
Mark just started writing online.
He’s not afraid to post “83 view” article stats on his Twitter. Many people can relate to him because they’re starting out just like him.
He regularly tweets helpful things people can learn from. And it’s obvious what he does for a living: freelance writing.
The hidden skill of the biggest online earners
Mark has great writing skills. He wouldn’t get hired if he didn’t. That’s not a fluke either. He’s been writing for 12 years for fun.
I can tell from reading his work he’s done a copywriting course. It’s the secret skill some of my favorite writers have mastered — Todd Brison, Nicolas Cole, Justin Welsh.
A lot of content creation is about persuasion. Copywriting teaches you to use words to sell an idea.
Learn to write copy, not just words.
See hidden responses
Many of us get DMs or emails daily. The problem is we don’t think there’s an opportunity in the message.
- We’re too skeptical.
- We’re too quick to dismiss.
- We’re too busy to go back and forth a few times.
But Mark isn’t.
One business reached out to him on Linkedin after reading a tweet of his. He was responsive (key skill) and replied. What looked like a random question was a hidden freelancing opportunity.
Now he’s writing all the content for their website which will keep him busy and well-paid until November.
Reply to public social media posts
Mark replied to one of my posts about mental health with a short comment about his own ADHD battle. This message showed up in his DMs…
Now a reader wants to pay him to have a Zoom chat about ADHD.
Lesson: people want to pay to hear your experience and see how it can apply to them. Let people pay you.
Collaborate with former work colleagues
Mark knew freelancing could be lonely based on his research.
So, he started a blog-writing service with some of his past colleagues. Now they’ve got the band back together and already made $8k in 2 weeks before launching it.
Partnering is a faster way to make money online. It’s why I got a business partner a few years ago — I’d never have made 7-figures online without him.
We all start out as fearful
What struck me with Mark is what came next.
He started to become vulnerable about his freelance journey. He says he can remember writing for peanuts not long ago. He stayed trapped because he was petrified to return to his cubicle job.
Then one day he says he went to himself “fuck it, I’m gonna start on Twitter.”
The thinking was he had nothing to lose. If it failed he’d still end up back at his job licking his boss’s butt again for a Just-Over-Broke paycheck.
Once he started sending a few DMs he made another bold decision: “I’m going to charge whatever the heck I want for freelancing. Screw them.”
“Broke as a joke” is excellent motivation
Mark told me he grew up with nothing.
He doesn’t know what it’s like to have money. He said he had to work hard to get the $25K a month freelancing income. He aims to optimize going forward for work-life balance.
Mark made $50k in two months from freelance writing. After my conversations with him here’s how to duplicate his success.
Be proactive. Be passionate about what you do. Be non-salesy in your approach. Be thoughtful. Ohhhh and…
Master the art of sending badass DMs that actually get replies.