This Golden Strategy is the Key to Growing Your Online Writing Brand

Gillian Sisley

I’ve tried a variety of tactics, and THIS was the one that has been working the most effectively.

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I'm newly a full-time online writer, but I also run a social media strategy company as my main source of income.

Troubleshooting different tactics for growth and success is my full-time job, and I’ve been having a field day online, testing out all of its nooks and crannies.

The online writing community is a really interesting landscape, because it’s built of a community of writer’s supporting other writers.

When the writing industry is so cut-throat and competitive, this is a safe haven for writers who are passionate about writing, and are interested in exploring the work of others.

I’m seeing just how far I can get through writing online, and to actively pursue that goal, I need to consistently be growing.

This is the data I’ve picked up from testing several different strategies.

First, I focused on content output.

At the height of my daily writing practice, I've published 3 articles per day.

It was as crazy as it sounds.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it only took a few weeks for me to reach burnout.

Some people are really talented at content output, and can write 5 articles a day in a flash.

I am not one of those people. It takes me an hour to draft, edit and publish one 1,000 word piece.

3 pieces per day, at 1 hour per piece, PLUS any further engagement, when I still have a social media company to run? Not feasible at all.

During my troubleshooting of strategies online, I’m looking to gather data to give me an indication as to whether I‘m’ on an upward trajectory, or a downward one.

My findings when I focused on this content output strategy were as follows:

Upsides:

  • Additional new content to share
  • New categories to explore
  • More content for readers to access/greater awareness

Downsides:

  • Increased effort with little growth to reflect it
  • Burn-out reached quickly
  • Increased overall
  • Decreased enjoyment
  • Decreased value in content
  • Little time to check notifications
  • Little time to read the content of other writers
  • Lower cost-per-fan with weekly projections

For the amount of effort and creative energy I was spending on this strategy, the balance wasn’t a right for me.

So I moved on to my next plan of action.

Next, I went category-hopping.

There are some writers online who swear by this strategy.

It’s about being versatile and flexible, and writing in a variety of different topics and touching on the most popular ones on the platform.

The premise behind this strategy is genius.

It allows the writer to pick up fans in a variety of topics, and further increase the awareness of who they are, and the content they have to offer.

These writers don’t depend on niche subjects — they depend on their enviable skill to be a chameleon and write exactly what readers are looking for, whatever that content may be.

These writers are incredibly talented.

I am not one of these writers.

I’m garbage at writing about something I’m not passionate about, or am not interested in.

It shows in my writing — and trying to get a piece written that doesn’t interest me is borderline cruelty when it comes to my creative writing process.

I write enough content about topics that don’t interest me in my copywriting business — when I try to do so in my creative writing, I’m more likely to procrastinate and write nothing at all.

It didn’t take long to realize this strategy was not a good fit for me.

Finally, I focused on daily, active engagement.

This was it. This was the one that stuck.

I couldn’t believe how quick and instant my growth was with this tactic.

But then again, it made total sense, when you consider the brand of this community — writers supporting other writers.

I initiated a daily pattern of publishing 2 pieces per day (which has already proven to be my sweet spot), as well as:

  • Reading the newsest content from my favourite writers
  • Reading content from fellow writers who write for the same publications as me
  • Reading work from new writers who are just getting their start
And commenting on each and every piece of work I read in a meaningful way.

Online writing is about community. It's about supporting each other. It's about authenticity.

If you’re just focusing on your own writing, and only prioritizing output without engaging with other writers, you will have a hard time growing quickly here, if at all.

The key to your online writing brand is putting your sincere self forward and recognizing the effort other writers are putting into their work, just as you are.

When I put this practice into effect, I immediately saw:

  • Boosted daily fans
  • Higher cost-per-fan when calculating my weekly projections
  • Increased follower count
  • Higher clap counts on my pieces
  • More comments under my work

But more than anything, I finally felt like I was in this for the right reasons, and found a hell of a lot of joy in engaging with other writers more actively.

Final word.

It makes total sense that authentic engagement is the best way to increase your growth most efficiently — at the end of the day, it’s the readers who choose which elements online soar, vs. which flop.

Putting greater importance on my community engagement online, rather than just putting out content for the sake of it, has seen plenty of fruit grow — and I know that’s not just the case for me.

It’s benefitting other writers too, and I’m fulfilled in knowing that I am doing my part to support them, as well.

Also, I’m far less stressed, because I can focus on quality rather than quantity.

I’m also improving myself as a human being because I’m reading so much incredible work from other writers that is opening my eyes to new world views I may not have previously considered.

We can all be successful online, the key to our success is mutually supporting one another.

That’s the way it should be, and I hope we can continue working towards the goal of supportive community in this fantastic space.

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