I started to write seriously in 2015. Until that point, I never thought of becoming a writer. I was also unaware of how writing is one of the best practices in life. And that it would teach me some of the most important business lessons.
Together with exercising, meditating, and reading; the practice of writing brought me many things, including a meaningful career. It also taught me lessons about life, which I’ve written about in the past.
In this article, I want to focus on the business lessons I learned from writing online for an audience. You can apply these lessons to any type of career or (solo) business.
1. Ownership is everything
Publishing something publicly means you take ownership of what you write. If you don’t stand by your words, it’s all meaningless and no one will ever care.
It’s the same with any product or service. If a business takes full ownership and stands by its product, it will guarantee anything. If you believe in what you create on a deep level, you simply do better work. And it will show in your end results.
2. You can’t fool readers or customers
In the beginning, I would sometimes write about topics I didn’t care about. They were popular, and I thought I’d get more traffic by doing that. But when you write something you don’t believe in, readers will know.
Most readers don’t care enough to share that information with you. They will just move on. But there are some considerate people who kindly say, “I don’t buy it.”
It’s best to be genuine in your writing but also in your business or career. You might be able to “fake it till you make it,” but it never lasts long. Long-term successful people are real.
Think Warren Buffett, Seth Godin, and Carol Dweck. People who are still admired and taken seriously. They always kept things real.
3. Service matters
As a modern-day writer, you can’t just rely on royalties or freelance gigs. You’ll also need additional income streams like courses, coaching, consulting, speaking, and so forth.
When it comes to those types of products/services, it’s important to provide excellent service.
- Responding to people you work with promptly.
- Being considerate, but also sticking to your principles.
- Just being a pro who cares about your work and your customers.
When you give people great service, they will feel happy doing business with you. And they’d become repeat customers.
4. Responding to readers means a lot
Some people say you should never read comments, reviews, or emails. Sure, there are some negative comments and that can sting. I completely get the idea of not reading negativity. Whether you like it or not, negative feedback does influence your mindset.
But I still read comments and emails because most readers mean well. And when you respond to readers, it means a lot. A writer should always remember that without readers you’re not a writer.
Similarly, a business is nothing without a customer.
5. Free attracts the wrong crowd
I’ve done a few free promotions of books, courses, and other products to find new readers. But I don’t recommend doing it too often.
When you do a free promotion you also attract a lot of people who don’t care about you or what you do. They just care about free. They get off on that type of stuff.
Especially when you do free bonuses or promotions, you need to communicate everything clearly. Otherwise, you get responses from people with the wrong intention and who want to scam you. I’ve had a couple of those. What helps is that I’m quite the confrontational person so I call them out. But it’s not good for your mental energy.
This is different from welcome gifts you give to people who join your newsletter or community. That’s fine. This is more related to free giveaways on social media. Anything that attracts people who just want something for free.
6. Don’t change what works
Over the years I’ve found what I enjoy writing about and what my readers enjoy reading about. I get that a lot of people want to be creative and always do different things.
But your reader doesn’t necessarily get bored if you stick to the same topics. If something works, why change it? In fact, if you change too much, you probably will lose readers. That’s why I’ve made a system for how to write effectively.
With an effective writing system, I can rely on best practices and steps that are proven to be useful. So my results are more consistent.
It’s the same thing with businesses. Remember the famous story about Coke? They changed the taste many years ago and Coke drinkers were upset. Don’t change what works.
7. Money comes when you have word-of-mouth
The highest form of marketing is word-of-mouth. All the other stuff is just a way to stay busy. Marketing tactics might work but they won’t help you reach super large crowds.
But word-of-mouth is hard. It only happens when something is truly worth sharing. “Hey, you need to read this article.” You only say that when you really mean it. No one shares something that’s not novel or different.
Money also comes when your work gets spread naturally. Unfortunately, we can’t do much to boost word-of-mouth. It must happen on its own.
The only thing we can do is focus on creating great products. This is both frustrating and beautiful. Frustrating because you wish there was something you could do to reach more readers or customers.
And beautiful because you love your craft and you get to do it until it takes off massively. But if that never happens there’s still nothing lost because you loved it all along.