What I’ve Learned from My First Nine Months Writing Online

I’ve been blogging for a little over nine months now.

In this time, I’ve learnt a lot about writing. Like most writers, I look back on my early pieces and shudder a little. Its fair to say my writing has improved, and I have managed to build a good-sized audience on one of the platforms I publish on. Having spread my wings a bit further however, I realise how big this online publishing thing is, and how many people are working hard to get their voices heard.

The biggest surprise to me has been how many different facets there are to this game. With hindsight this sounds incredibly naïve, but it’s also most certainly true.

One of the things I try to do regularly is take some time to read as many different authors as I can.

While its possible to stumble across some great articles by doing this, often its worth doing just to take in what other writers are putting out there. You can learn a lot from reading widely in terms of the different styles that people use, and what types of articles are resonating with what types of audiences. If you are new to writing, then I would strongly recommend you do this early on.

If you take the time to do this some things start to become clear very quickly.

There Are Some Incredibly Talented Writers Independently Publishing Online

Some authors have a way with words that I can only aspire too. I think I write well, but others take writing to an entirely new level. This is not surprising. I never thought I’d be the best, but the sheer talent of some of those whose articles I read is incredible.

There Is A Lot of Stuff Being Published That Is Not Very Good

This should also come as little surprise. What is surprising is how successful some of it is. Some of the best-known bloggers on the internet write passably at best. Yet thousands of people read their work. Being successful as a writer is about more than just writing eloquently. Writing well is one thing. Writing well on a topic that other people will want to read about is another altogether.

Content Marketing Has Blurred the Line Between Writing and Marketing To An Extent That I Had Not Expected

Writers are not blogging just to have their voice heard anymore. People write to promote their business. They write to drive traffic to their website. They write to generate clicks on affiliate links to earn a cut on the sales that follow.

This is possibly the element of my journey so far that has surprised me the most. There are many authors out there who are writing for the joy of the art, to stimulate conversation and to spread awareness of issues that are of importance to them. There are equally as many, if not more, writing purely to sell you something.

I’m Getting Sick of Being Sold To

I’m really conflicted on this one. I want to make a buck out of my work as much as the next guy or gal, but its beginning to feel like every second article I read is little more than a sales pitch. I recently purchased a book written by a very well-known author and online blogger. The entire foreword to the book was dedicated to the sell.

I work in sales in my day job, so I possibly have a more finely tuned radar for this kind of thing than most people. It probably bugs me more than most.

In general, I prefer articles that are written to stimulate conversation, rather than simply for self-promotion. The counter to this is that it’s very difficult to make a living as an author these days if your only source of income is from applause you have received on Medium. I won’t say it can’t be done, but its certainly the harder road. There is a choice to be made here in terms of what type of writer you want to be. Its one I’m still pondering for myself.