The craft of writing, especially on the internet, is very obfuscated.
You will learn tricks from all kinds of people; from blogs, 10 tips on the latest craze, or how to focus more or get more ideas. It’s very convoluted, but what I actually think writing on the web is about is only two things:
Ideas come from all sorts of places and everyone will give you methods to get some, but the essence of ideas is to receive a bunch of information and connect the dots between them and make them your own.
You can do this by reading smart stuff and having conversations with smart people. Then you have to teach your brain to connect the ideas together into cohesive structures and learn to present them, but I think that comes with experience, so it isn’t worth worrying about.
I read a lot of posts that are really crappy that people link to from Twitter, etc. Maybe you think this post is crap, but trust me, those other ones are way worse. Anyway, if you think your post isn’t interesting, very few people will either, and the more you read, the pickier you’ll get, because you’ll develop a “this has been said already” mentality.
Whatever the case, you need to get good ideas, then put them together interestingly. That’s it.
The second part of the equation is audience, obviously, and how to find them. I think we can agree that when we have these two, we have a successful blog, a successful writer, and hopefully the basis of a successful career. It helps if your ideas are good, but even if they aren’t, if your audience is big enough, that’ll carry them. We see that a lot these days.
Audience has to come from somewhere, so the trick is finding effective ways to get people from outside to arrive at your door, and then capturing them for maximum attention. The first part of this means knowing where to go. The second means testing.
I’ve been testing the audience on my personal landing page for a few weeks now and I convert visitors more regularly because of the changes I’ve made. A/B testing is easy and a monkey can do it, so I won’t linger, but the more you do it, the less the traffic you do get will be wasted.
Getting the traffic to actually arrive is another matter entirely. Attention must go to existing content first, which means the content must be “evergreen,” or constantly relevant. The attention must come from elsewhere and be permanent, which means audiences like Twitter are difficult unless your investment in them is steep.
Even despite my experience, the audience part is the one that I find more difficult, and I think most people who write on the web feel the same way. But I am going to crack this one, and I’m going to do it the same way I talked about above.
I am going to read a lot about it, and talk to a lot of smart people. Then I will try what they say, and I will post the results. We’ll all be better for it. Good?