Six Strategies That Propelled Me from Amateur to Successful Content Creator

Jessica Lynn

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A few years ago, I went through a divorce that left me flat broke, and crushed my credit score. I had to find a job. Qualifications: zero to none. Unless you count buying and renovating properties and nursing a high-needs baby — my husband. Plus, nursing my actual baby.

When my husband left for younger pastures, I had to figure out a way to earn a living and quick, with no resume to speak of, while still the primary caregiver to our child. A friend gave me a social media marketing gig to market her new book, and I did that for a year. It was tedious and mind-numbing.

I wanted to create, not push other people’s creations.

As a social media manager for various clients and taking courses on blogging, I knew from the content I was reading online, I could do the same.I can write. I can create content. I may not be the best writer or have the natural ability to wax poetic like Hemingway or one of the Brontë sisters, but I can write clear and concise nonfiction.

So, I started to write, mostly out of desperation. I didn’t want a boss, and I didn’t want to have to be somewhere at a certain time on someone else’s schedule.

My goal: make money from home to pay bills and see where that takes me.

Thanks to sites like this one, and other platforms for writers, making good money fairly quickly if you keep at it is possible.

Here Are the Steps I Took to Get Here

1. I created a habit through devotion

I didn’t have a writing habit when I started. I didn’t know anything about how to be a successful content creator. I had written a few posts for a blog, and a blub for a book, but I didn’t keep it up because I wasn’t serious about it.

Getting serious meant putting everything on the back burner, except for writing.

I set a new goal: I would publish one post a day for 30 days, no matter what, whether I thought my work was just OK or great. That is not to say I didn’t try to write the highest quality content I could.

Once I accomplished 30 days, I added 30 more days to that (I didn’t take off Saturdays or Sundays). I couldn’t believe I got to 60 days straight, so I added 30 more.

The point of this exercise was not to be a great writer. It was to establish the habit of writing. The muscle got stronger with every iteration. The repetition of my process; getting up, having a smoothie, sitting down, and writing and publishing each day for 30 days reinforced my identity as a writer. When we identify with something we want, the chances of achieving the goal are greater.

I write, therefore I am a writer.

It was both easier and harder than I thought it would be.

Easier because I made money right away. And harder because it was exhausting to create content daily until I built the muscle. You build the muscle through consistent iterations.

The first 30 days were a beast. I dreamt about writing. I ate it, breathed it, slept it. I canceled plans with friends, didn’t clean the house for months, ignored my partner (he understood I was on a mission). The point was to get it out the door and then write again.

The single more important thing I did was create the habit.

After 90 days of publishing at least one post a day, sometimes two, the energy it takes to write is much less. Now, I don’t need nearly as much emotional and physical bandwidth to sit at my desk for an hour and bang out content.

2. I ignored stats and earnings to shut down my inner critic

I have a strong inner critic. She is a total b*tch. I didn’t want to give her anything to work with, so I ignored all stats initially. I got top writer tags quickly. I ignored those too.

When you first start to create content, ignore anything that could derail you from creating, whether that is your negative mother-in-law, your friends, or your stats. Steer clear in the beginning until the habit is firmly cemented.

Why?

Because you are already doing a brave thing, you are putting your ideas out into the world and sharing a part of yourself publicly. It can take a while to get used to being vulnerable in a public space. Until you have your writer’s legs firmly planted beneath you, ignore criticism, advice, and someone else’s metrics.

3. I took a writing class

The week before I published my first post, I signed up for an online writing class. This did a couple of things. It made my content better, more clear and concise. The weekly class kept me thinking about writing because I had to complete homework assignments. The homework assignments gave me content ideas to write about.

One class requirement was to find an accountability partner.

When we are held accountable by someone other than ourselves, we are less likely to miss a writing day if we have to check in with someone each day.

4. I made James Clear my mentor

I clung to James Clear’s advice in Atomic Habits like a religious man recites the Bible on his death bed. I can nerd out on habits because I can be a bit OCD and have been since I was five-years-old. I like order. It is both my strong suit as well as my Achilles’ heel.

Clear’s advice on habits speaks to me like he is my long-lost brother from another mother. I followed his advice to solidify my writing habit and routine, and in the process, gave myself the confidence one needs to be a creator.

His thoughts on identity and habits are spot on. He reminds us in his brilliant book that it’s necessary to develop a system to implement your plans to realize the goal. Creating a new lifestyle around the goal is a process, not an outcome. To do this, you need better habits.

To build better habits, focus on small wins.

When I started writing, I made my wins very small.

My wins were not in measured in views. That wouldn’t have kept me writing. My wins were not in the money. That wouldn’t have kept me writing for two years. My wins weren’t in the top writer status tags. That wouldn’t have kept me writing.

My wins were in the showing up. I have been showing up and writing consistently for two years. That is a win.

The more proof you have of something, the more you identify with the goal you are working toward — becoming a writer. Habits are the path to changing your identity.

The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do. — James Clear.

Your habits indicate the kind of person you believe you are, so mind your habits.

Identifying with the word “writer” is the first step to creating a writing habit that sticks. When we identify with a value we see in ourselves — or we wantto see in ourselves — it gives our habits a more significant impact.

I started to believe I was a writer, not just because I started making money from writing, but because I created the habit of writing each day.

5. I refined my system through trial and error

Once I formed the habit of showing up, through many iterations, I refined the process.

Every content creator has a system. A system develops over time and changes when your life changes. A system is simply a plan that tells you where and when to act. This is important because it gives you clarity and focus.

Those who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through and achieve their goals. Develop your system, and you will find it easier to create compelling content. If you have the system out of the way, the writing comes easier.

Your system is how often you write, where you write, what time of day you write, how often you submit to publications, whether you take a class to get better at writing, when you edit and how you break down an article to make it clear and concise for your readers.

Those are systems and what drives your life toward what you want. For success, focus more on the system and not the goal.

6. I renamed writer’s block “resistance”

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I do believe in resistance. When I read Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, I finally understood what writers mean when they talk about writer’s block, it’s resistance. Or what I call it, “not wanting to write.”

Each morning you wake and think about writing, there will be resistance;dishes in the sink to wash, notifications screaming red at you, emails to delete, and ideas to think of. All these things are true if you want to be a creator. All writers, famous and not, face resistance.

The successful ones who make a living from their content have a way to deal with it, and it usually includes that dirty word, “schedule.”

Find yours. The faster you do, the more successful you’ll be.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone’s creative journey starts or follows the same trajectory. But by following any one of these steps, you will be one step closer to being a person who creates and doesn’t just consume content.

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Writing on all things California and Texas. It unfolds here. Your daily dose of local news. From politics to food, from celebrity culture to current events. Follow me for the latest updates. Twitter: @girl_thriving

Los Angeles, CA
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