My quest to write 500 words a day has really gone off the rails recently. It was always an ambitious goal, but I also sort of set it up for failure by not designating a time each day to write. So I found myself scrambling at the end of each and every day to get 500 words up. As I’m finally figuring out with email, everything happens more smoothly if you designate a time to do it and stick with it.
And a place.
The other problem with the 500 word goal was that this site simply didn’t seem like a great place for it. You see, I run this site on Tumblr. And while Tumblr is amazing for many things, it’s not particularly well-suited for longer-form writing. Yes, even just 500 words. The text box that pops open when you set out to do a text post says all you need to know: keep it short.
Things are pretty different from when I started blogging a decade ago. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook was a social network for Harvard students. Basically, the only way to spread your words back then was either RSS or, gulp, email.
So in some ways, it’s easier to get the word out there now about what you write. But in other ways, it’s harder because there’s so much more content out there.
As you note, Medium (disclosure: in the Google Ventures portfolio) seems to be doing a good job facilitating the creation of new content and helping it spread. Tumblr has long been good at this, but honestly, I find it better for sharing pictures, links, etc, rather than longer-form blog posts. WordPress, of course has long been the standard there. Then there are newer entries like Svbtle and Hi as well.
Honestly, if I were starting out now, I’d still do what I did 10 years ago: which is write a lot. It may be discouraging at first if it seems like no one is reading what you write, but if you keep at it for long enough, people seem to have this funny way of finding you.
Be sure to link to others as well. This remains a great way for other bloggers to discover you and hopefully send some link-love back your way.
You could put ads up, but honestly, without a big enough scale, the money will be tiny. I’d focus on growing the readership first.
I’d also try to focus on one topic or a set of topics to write about most often. For those of us you mention above, that topic was obviously Apple. It certainly helped that interest in Apple stories exploded in the past decade, but I think as long as you’re passionate about something, a similar audience will find you.
The key, as with just about everything, is to stick with it.
The truth is that it’s both easier and harder to write 500 words on a daily basis than I imagined. When I actually sit down to do it, it’s actually fairly easy. When I start thinking about something, the words usually flow. But it’s the sitting down that’s the hard part.
As a result, I usually find myself waiting until the very end of the evening to write — like right now. It’s 11:50pm. I have 10 minutes and 400 words to go. Knowing myself, I know I like this self-inflicted deadline. I always have.
Story of my (writing) life…
December 27, 2007:
Hey. eric eldon here from venturebeat. i’ve been enjoying your posts.
are you set on a solo blogging career, or would you consider writing for another blog. say, venturebeat?
Almost exactly six years ago, Eric Eldon changed my life. That may sound like hyperbole — it is not. That message, sent via Facebook, truly did alter the course of my life.
Today, Eric announced he is stepping down from his role atop TechCrunch to “try something pretty different.” And while I have nothing but respect for that decision, the tech press is a little worse for it — as are we all, as readers.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit, actually. The main issue is that I don’t want these posts to overwhelm readers on either my site or on Tumblr. Even 500-word posts can be significantly longer than usual Tumblr fodder and interrupt the flow of the feed.
I know that I personally don’t like seeing these lengthy posts in my Tumblr feed — even if I want to read the post!
Having said that, I’m still thinking about it. I don’t love the “Read More” option either. I’m honestly just trying to make a better experience for followers, so your feedback is noted!
I’m not a huge believer in New Year’s resolutions (I tend to reflect more around my own birthday about the coming year). But I do like the idea of using the new year as a jumping off point for a new project. So that’s what I’m doing today, one day into 2014.
I’ve decided that I’d like to write more this year. Or, more specifically, I’d like to write more regularly this year. Last year, I wrote quite a bit, but I’d do so in large chunks of time and words and I never felt like I achieved a good cadence in my writing. So I’m switching things up.
This year, my plan is to write roughly 500 words a day in the form of a short post here on this site. Some days I’ll undoubtedly write more, some days I may write less. But 500 words seems like a reasonable amount to both write in a timely manner and for you to read in a timely manner.1