WWA #6: The Fundamentals of Writing Online

How to stand out in a saturated market.

Hey, I’m pumped for August! My aim for this month is to be PROLIFIC.

In a writing sense, it means to publish a high volume of content and to publish no matter what. The internet favours the prolific. You can engineer your own luck by sharing your ideas consistently online. Write for the opportunities you want.

“Succeed despite the odds, and they’ll say it was a fluke. Fluke it up anyway.”
― Richie Norton

Writing Lesson of the week: Gumroad — a platform for online creators to promote their work and get paid for it, shared a picture on twitter of the yearly earnings of creators using their platform. I find them intriguing. Study the picture below:

Look at the earnings in ‘Books & Writing’. Huge right! But there are 17,476 creators. Writing is a saturated market, my friend. The average top five in earnings are Comedy - $ 20,608, Podcast - $ 12,976, Apps - $ 11,442, Education - $ 8,094, Film - $ 6,142. Alas, we may have chosen the wrong interest.

What’s my point? If we want to make any lasting impact in this field, we must distance ourselves from the crowd. Hard work? Tell me about it. But the good news is that you don’t have to be exceptionally good, you just have to do the fundamental things better than them.

A saturated market means a market filled with mediocrity as well. If you master the essentials I’m about to show you and you write 1% better than the average guy, your work will exceed your expectations. Forget everything your English teacher taught you. These are three important fundamentals of writing online:

  1. Cut out the Jargon: Good writing is simple writing. If you wouldn't say it in a conversation, don't write it. It’s easy. Make a vow to never write a word that you don’t know the meaning of. There’s also no point in sounding too smart.

    “I pontificated to my friend yesterday” and “I spoke to my friend yesterday”. Which is easier to understand? Exactly. Keep those big words for your academic papers. Always ask yourself “How can I state this more shortly? “What paragraph is unnecessary?” Here are five unnecessary words to cut out from your writing:

    1. I think’: It’s dead weight. Everything you write is what you think. Own it.

    2. ‘Some’: Avoid this word and all her sisters (sometimes, somedays, someone etc) like the Egyptian plague. They make your writing vague. If you can’t describe that ‘something’, then you don’t know much about it. And if you don’t know about it, what’s it doing in your work?

    3. ‘Very’: “ ‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.” — Florence King. Enough said.

  2. Focus on your reader: Write to one reader and take them on a journey. What do you want them to know at the end, that they didn't know before? What new perspective to an issue are you bringing? Your writing should either inspire, inform, educate or entertain. Any other use of writing online is futile.

    There are a thousand things people could be doing with their time. But they chose you. Respect that and don’t write half-assed articles. Give it your best shot and make every word count. Have the value you want to bring your readers in mind and any paragraph that doesn’t add to the context— Cheeeeeriiiioooooooo!


  3. The Devil is in the details: Good writing requires precise construction. Excellence in writing is improving, refining and mastering. Revise your work like a crazed-fellow. I write these lessons on Friday or Saturday and up till 4 pm on Sunday, I think about it aggressively.

    What can I remove? Is there a typo? I once remembered to remove a paragraph while passing a stool. It was 10 minutes to publishing time. EDIT RUTHLESSLY. Think of your work like surgery. You’re the doctor and one misplaced use of a scalpel can kill your patient. One off-word, one wrong punctuation—can undo your grand paragraph. Use tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway editor to refine your writing and cut out mistakes.

    “If you would like to write better than everybody else, you have to want to write better than everybody else. You must take an obsessive pride in the smallest details of your craft.” -William Zinsser

We’re six lessons in and by now, you must be mentally ready to take the leap from a casual writer to a potential world-changer. Keep these tips in mind and heart. We’ll be delving deeper, month on month.

Keep writing,


Writing Challenge of the week: Go through this lesson again with a keen eye and look for typos or any of the unnecessary words I mentioned. If you don’t find anyone, aim to write in such a manner. If you do find, keep that same vigilance for when you write.

For the community: You are the best subscriber anyone can ask for and I want to do everything I can to help you improve. I have some ideas on how to do this. Including a one on one session once a month, with a progress report. A peer-peer group with five to ten people, so you have support between yourselves and accountability. Would you like these? Let me know if you have any further ideas on how I can improve the experience. Also, are we friends on Twitter?

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