Write every day. You can change everything.
Three Reasons My Goal Is To Write 1001 Words A Day
For a long time now I have had a goal to write 1001 words every day.
Anyone can do 1000.
I don’t always hit that arbitrary number but I’m convinced that by setting it as a specific daily goal I am setting myself up for profound long-term benefits. That’s right: I said “profound”.
First, by setting aside time to write–whether for one of the many websites I own or simply for personal ‘therapy’– the quality of my writing has steadily improved simply by writing more. This can’t be a surprise but it’s so significant that it’s probably worth restating: there is no substitute for daily practice and refinement of higher-order skills like writing.
Over time I feel satisfaction in the way it’s become easier to write, and I believe the quality of what I produce is improving. It’s a positive feedback loop. I’ve passed my ‘10,000 hours‘ –many years ago!–but I have much room to improve further. This is not about winning a Pulitzer. I’m competing only against myself and there is no rush.
Beyond improving one’s writing, I’m certain that producing written content every single day actually improves my thinking. It’s been said before but writing can be a process of “finding out what you think”, a way of delving deeper and formalizing your own thoughts in a way you might not otherwise do. The combination of mining your own thinking and ordering it well on the digital page feels as healthy and productive as almost anything else I do.
Time spend doing something that feels healthy and provides clarity: another positive feedback loop.
The third benefit of being a daily writer is slightly more subtle, and probably a lot more interesting to most people reading this article. In my opinion it’s becoming more relevant as the years go by.
If you have a presence online, whether it communicates your business or your own “personal brand”, it is clear that expanding your digital footprint has large and increasing financial benefits as time goes by. Growing your body of work in myriad avenues on the web means that you’re extending yourself and your impact on the world.
It seems obvious really, but I don’t think most people are aggressively responding to this idea yet. Are you?
If improving your writing and the quality of your thinking isn’t enough reason to write 1001 words each day, I’ll bet enhancing your financial situation is. That’s right, I said money.
An Aside: Some Context
Part of the reason why more people don’t put more time and effort into writing lots of high-quality content for their business or personal presence is because for many years reaching people was done with SEO in mind. I’ll expand the scope of this article because a little history will make the path forward for writers clearer.
Writing for SEO was about finding shortcuts to reach people, writing with the idea of getting your article or blog post well-placed in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) for keywords for which you wanted to rank well. Ranking well for these keywords brought you ‘targeted traffic’, ie people who would be interested in what you were selling. Google was between you and most of your customers or potential customers, so making sure your content was well-placed in the SERPs was essential.
Notice I haven’t mentioned quality writing at all. Instead, the process involved creating scalable systems to make content look attractive to search engine bots, rather than necessarily to people. (I use ‘search engine’ and Google interchangeably, since the big G still handles such a large percentage of search queries)
The scalability was key here: in conjunction with well-documented back-linking methods, low quality content often worked to impress search engines enough for good placement for targeted keywords. Low quality can be outsourced. If you could create and then ‘promote’ (get back-links to) a site in a matter of hours, then have the site rank well enough in the SERPs so that it produced a positive ROI for you from ads, why not create hundreds, or thousands of these sites?
Similar methods could be used if you had a single large ‘Authority’ site you used to target hundreds or thousands of related keywords on a given subjects. I’ll admit I had several dozen developed websites by 2009 or so, of various sizes, and even on autopilot they produced over $1,000/mo of income.
Well welcome to 2014. Over the last few years, Google has had a series of algorithm updates that have rendered old techniques mostly useless, and often downright damaging to a site if one were to still use them. The SEO industry has been shaken to its core, because the methods I’ve just described either don’t work as well (in the case of back-links from low-quality sites) don’t they really don’t work at all (as with low quality writing).
Well, if all the algo changes have been bad for traditional SEOs, they have been generally good for the Internet. Lots of lower quality web pages and sites which used to rank well have been culled form the search results over time.
Users have on balance benefited from Google getting smarter. But you know who has benefited even more? You can guess where I’m going: the real winners are people who are able to produce good quality content.
Now that you find articles on seemingly every subject in the Internet, Google has in effect come to our aid as producers of quality content by making it easier for US to be found. That’s right, I’m including myself as a producer of quality content. I’m including you too, even though I don’t know you.
Because I believe you don’t need to win a Pulitzer to win in this new environment. You need to expect good writing from yourself and work hard at it.
And what would be one of the most reliable ways to do that? By writing every day!
Branding People And Businesses In 2014 And Beyond
OK that was a long side note. I hope you found it helpful. Now lets get back to writing relative to money.
We used to think of a resume as something you got together when you needed work. You actively distributed it until you got the job, then paid little further attention to it until you needed to reintroduce yourself professionally to the world, ie the next time you were between jobs. This used to be a perfectly reasonable approach. It’s not anymore.
The world will bestow benefits you can’t even foresee if you will Always Be Introducing yourself.
It’s time to stop thinking of promotion as something only businesses do. Promotion is not synonymous with buying ads. Creating good content on subjects you know well then taking advantage of the way it flows around via social media and via search is promotion. For you.
You don’t want to promote like this only when you are actively seeking employment. It’s too easy now to create content on a regular basis to not do it. To be clear, I’m not talking about simply a personal blog, although that is still step one. Linkedin is obvious, and it now offers you’ve an opportunity to create content as it relates to your expertise. This is incredibly valuable since Linkedin has developed a real foothold in the minds of anyone looking to hire.
Just think about it: rather than directing someone to your presence, as in your blog or heaven forbid a resume attached to an e-mail, you have a persistent presence within a network used exclusively for matching employers with employees (as well as clients and contractors of course). The effort you have to expend to reach people is by definition reduced since you’ve given people what they need to reach you. When was the last time you were contacted about an interview when you weren’t looking for work? Do you see the power that gives you, the potential leverage if you decide you’re interested in the job?
Why stop at Linkedin? I believe everyone should create a YouTube channel and have an active presence on Twitter. Most areas of expertise can be presented visually on Pinterest. A Facebook Page is fine but the problem is that over time less of your content is is freely distributed as it once was (Facebook is getting more aggressive about essentially charging for distribution), so I’m less excited about it.
Now here’s the thing. Just about everything I just said about promoting your personal brand can also be said for a small business, especially if you have a freelance business. Or, if you have a skill that you can potentially do as a freelancer. Or, if you have an interest in a subject you can learn about, then sell your expertise as an employee, a freelancer or as your own agency.
Or, if you can write well, you have a transferable skill with which you can help any one of tens of millions of small business owners who aren’t able to handle this sort of promotion on their own. Many don’t even understand how valuable it is. But you can show them. Show them what their competition is doing, or even businesses in unrelated fields. You can literally create opportunities for yourself in this way.
I have outlined several directions you can go, across every industry there is. It all gets back to writing well.
Admittedly the scope of this post went beyond the apparent enthusiasm for writing the title might have indicated.
The current economic environment seems now to be characterized by a state of flux. I think it’s important to be on the lookout for ways in which people can redefine themselves and adapt to the new environment to turn it to their advantage. The cliche is that times of great change produce opportunity, and there’s value in pinpointing these opportunities so that you’ll be able to wage your own form of freedom, as you should.