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Writing Online Is a Video Game with Cheat Codes. Here’s How to Play and Win.

by | May 19, 2024 | Writing

Gamification makes us take action.

Writing online is hard because it’s easy to get trapped by perfectionism, permission-seeking, fear, and overthinking.

But when you gamify writing everything gets easier. It’s why I’ve been able to write online every day for more than 10 years.

Here’s how to turn writing online into a video game (so you can make 6-figures):

Write 10 headlines every day

Without ethically gaining attention, you’ll never be a writer.

The romantics don’t want to hear this but it’s true. The simplest way to grab attention is with a good headline. But none of us are born with the blueprint to do it right out of the womb.

Blogger James Altucher taught me to master headlines by writing ten new ones every day. If you can’t come up with headlines, then take an existing headline from anywhere and rewrite it.

Headlines are the seeds of new stories.

Take notes every day

Coming up with stuff to write about can be hard.

The cheat code is to use a standard note-taking app and proactively collect ideas, articles, books, essays, videos, and stories from your life.

If you document everything you encounter, then when it comes time to write, all you do is pull out an existing headline, and add ideas underneath it from your notepad.

Writer’s block becomes extinct with a note-taking habit.

Publish on one platform every day

Most people write then never hit publish.

They’re paralyzed by fear. They think the whole world is watching and their essay is the equivalent of giving an Oscar speech for best movie.

The awesome reality is 99% of people will never read your writing.

Your friends, family, or boss will never encounter your writing unless you tell them. The only way to accept this truth, though, is to publish one post on one platform every day for a prolonged period.

Publishing is how you destroy your excuses.

When publishing is a habit the video game of writing starts to get played on easy mode. Published is better than “I’m waiting for this essay to be perfect.”

Perfectionists die with a mountain of regrets.

Network with one new person every day

The cheat code to writing is distribution.

The average writer wastes years of their life writing books that no one will ever find on Amazon because they think writing is the hack. But writing without people to read it is just ma$turbation in disguise.

Average writing with decent distribution will make you great. And you’ll actually be able to earn an income from your writing instead of being another starving artist begging with a “buy me a coffee” button.

Look at the data from your posts every day. Double down on winners.

Writers who guess give up on the video game of writing.

They trust their instincts which is the equivalent of ignoring the audience of readers. The cheat code is to post daily, then make it a weekly habit to go back and look at the data.

  • What posts got the most likes?
  • What did the comments say about how helpful your writing was? What additional problems did readers have that are mentioned in the comments?
  • What post got the most shares/bookmarks?
  • What writing made you the most money?
  • What parts of your essay got highlighted, and what sections did readers skip over?

Social media made data collection for writers simple. Yet most writers ignore the data and just keep writing, hoping to go viral or get lucky with a book deal from Penguin. Yuck.

Data tells you how to improve your writing.

If you improve your writing, you get more views and make more money. The video game is literally that stupid (a.k.a. easy mode).

Find an ethical way to monetize that you’re comfortable with

This isn’t obvious.

Making money from writing isn’t the reward. The money is what allows you to keep writing and do more of it — that’s the real hidden reward. So finding an ethical way to monetize is a crucial part of the video game.

The ethical way to monetize is different for every writer. Because what you’re comfortable selling, and the way you sell it, is deeply personal.

Selling webinars may be a great way to make money, but if it makes you feel like a used car salesman, you’ll never do it. Makes sense.

Here are the cheat codes.

1. Launch an offer

An offer is an outline of a product or service. It tells people what it is, the features and benefits, time required, and how much it costs.

The simplest offer for a writer is a paid newsletter. Read that again.

2. Sell the offer

To sell an offer you need to tell people about it. If you do it on your social media timelines, it feels like a smack in the face.

The best way to sell an offer is via email. You do this by sending sales emails to your existing email list.

3. Tweak the offer

The first time you launch a paid offer for a product/service as a writer, it’ll probably flop. That’s normal. Launching an offer is how you get the self-awareness and feedback to tweak the offer.

After enough tweaks you’ll find a core offer that converts at a decent rate.

4. Try different offers

Maybe selling a service is best. Maybe selling your writing is best. Or maybe the right solution for you is totally different.

The cheat code to writing monetization is to experiment.

You don’t know what you don’t know. You find out what’s best by looking at the sales data. Did your income go up? That’s your compass.

Final Thought

When I write online it feels like I’m a teenager again playing World of Warcraft or Counter-Strike.

One final cheat code I discovered is to learn from people ahead of the game. They’ll save you time and show you things about social media platforms that you would never have learned on your own.

Write online every day. Treat it like a video game. Then level up.

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