Continue Doing What Works, Ditch What Doesn’t Work
We’re nearing the end of this ‘How to Side Hustle Your Writing Career’ series. This is part 12 already. I’ve got one more planned and then we’re done!
I hope you’ve found some useful tips in these posts. I know I’ve benefited much from my writing journey and documenting everything I’ve learned.
The thing is, I’m never done learning (and neither are you). But that’s a good thing. This way, I can become better at the craft of writing and take the next steps in becoming a full time writer.
Here’s a crucial part in the Side Hustling Your Writing Career project, testing what you’ve been doing and make up the balance. What works and what doesn’t in terms of growing as a writer, marketing, growing your audience and earning some money?
Try, Try, Try
Nowadays there are so many possibilities for writers. You can write on Medium or for platforms like Thought Catalog or Thrive Global. You can publish eBooks via Amazon Kindle. You can start a podcast about writing or sharing your stories in audio form.
You may write short stories, novellas, novels or non-fiction blog posts.
To gain more followers and readers you can send your stories to competitions, other blogs or post them in Facebook groups.
Perhaps your trying different things to earn some money with your writing?
So many possibilities. But what works best? You won’t know until you try.
In the next sections, I’ll dive in to what worked for me (and what didn’t).
Test and Measure
Of all the things you’re doing as a writer, you have to reflect on what you’re doing. Measure your results as best you can and act accordingly.
Of all the things you’re doing, what works? What results in attracting more readers? What do you like doing most? What’s the thing you dread every time and keep pushing forward?
Try to find a balance between the things you like to do and the things that work. The things that give you energy and help you grow.
I’ll go through four aspects of my writing in terms of what I’ve tried.
I started writing short stories. I’ve published 16+ stories so far in 1,5 years. One 4,000-8,000 word short story every month.
Then I documented everything I learned in terms of writing and navigating the writing world.
I posted my blogs and stories on Medium. I read up on Medium, took courses and tried to grow my profile on this wonderful platform. Since March 2018 I’ve written 68 posts, had 50,000+ views, gained 2,400+ followers, and earned $700+.
I started a podcast in which I read my own stories. I’ve released nine episodes and had 200+ downloads.
I’ve started writing a novel in July and have so far written ten chapters, 50,000+ words and I have pages full of notes.
Marketing & Growth
When it comes to sharing my work and trying to present it to possible readers I’ve tried a lot.
I reached out to people I knew and didn’t knew and asked for reposts, backlinks or guest posts.
I’ve had some success with this, with some of my stories attracting thousands of views. However, it’s very time consuming to try to achieve this and I don’t feel very comfortable doing it.
Posting on social media can be very time consuming too. Plus there are so many possibilities. Which to pick? I’ve tested Instagram, Facebook and Twitter mainly. Twitter works the best in terms of engagement and attracting readers. Facebook up to this point is negligible.
Some stats in terms of followers:
- Twitter: 2750
- Instagram: 1215
- Facebook: 70
I post ad hoc on Twitter and I schedule posts on Instagram.
One aspect of Facebook that does work wonders is Facebook groups. I’m in some groups with fellow writers who publish on Medium where we support each other and our works. I’ve met some great people through these groups.
The best thing that I did though this year was posting on Medium and finding out how to become a better writer on Medium and use the platform to my advantage.
Medium has by far surpassed my own site when it comes to the amount of visitors I have.
I’ve written a whole post about this, which you can read here.
So I’ll be brief. Medium has worked best when it comes to earning some side income with my writing, followed by the publication of some books and ebooks.
Things like PayPal donate buttons or illustrated merchandise connected to my stories didn’t work at all.
Continue Doing What Works, Ditch What Doesn’t Work
Like I described in the previous section, it’s good to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Not only in terms of monetization.
Analyze and measure everything you do:
What types of posts perform best?
What length of posts performs well?
What do you like writing about?
Which subjects resonate best?
On Medium it’s easy to measure this since you can compare views, actual reads, and the number of fans you have. In addition, look at the number of responses or (re)tweets for your article.
Another tip: have you ever wondered what people search for on Google in terms of the subjects you write about? It’s well worth the effort. I found that many people search for ‘short story ideas’ and similar phrases. My post about coming up with writing ideas accounts for 30% of my website visits, without spending a penny. SEO isn’t dead folks.
Same goes for ‘short stories about planets’, my story ‘The Planet’s Party’ is my best read piece when it comes to SEO.
Continue what works and pick the things you like the most.
I tried many different things. Naturally, some things didn’t work out, like getting published in traditional short story magazines (I do keep trying, building an online merchandise shop with the artwork from my stories, installing a PayPal donate button on my site, articles about business… the list is long and full of errors. Which is great actually, because then it becomes clear what things you need to focus on and what not.
I put my podcast on ice. It’s too time consuming in terms of the amount of downloads I get.
What works best for me is publishing on Medium, short stories and blog posts. This results in the most views, engagement and earnings.
Next to that is publishing my stories in (e)book format.
In terms of social media, Twitter is my main focus. It’s great for reaching out. I’ve been invited to do a couple of interviews via Twitter. It resulted in my post being shared by Paulo Coelho and attracting more than 12,000 views. It even resulted in book sales.
When it comes to becoming better at writing and engaging with other writers, I must say the Facebook groups are golden.
In the end it’s all about creating a human connection. In your work, in your online presence and in seeking growth.
Create a Workflow
Have you find the things that work for you, the things you enjoy? Focus on those things.
One thing I struggle with is my time. I enjoy writing so much that I cram creative work or marketing efforts in whenever I can. This is draining.
Therefore it helps to develop a workflow.
Start simple. Do one creative thing every day and one for marketing/growth. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you do this consistently.
Try out different things. See what happens. Measure the outcomes. Continue to do what works and what you enjoy. Ditch the rest and focus on your growth as a writer.
If you want a summary of all the Side Hustle Posts, you can find it here.