There’s a method to my madness and I’ll share everything with you in this post.
Here’s what you’ll learn if you spend the next 15-20 minutes with me:
- Why Content Marketing Is the #1 Thing You Should Be Doing When Starting a Business
- How I Chose My 1.000 Words and What They Mean to Me
- The Actual 7 Hacks You Can Steal from Me to Write 1.000 Words Every Day
- What You Should Do Once You’ve Decided to Embark on This Journey
- How to Find an Audience for Your 1.000 Words from Day 1
With everything in life, moderation is key. However, brilliance, genius and masterpieces are only created through hard work and long hours. I know of no other way.
I majored in Journalism so you might think that writing comes easily to me. You’re only half right. It’s a lot easier and fun now. But I got here after many years of practicing. Some see practice as something that’s done behind closed doors, without anyone seeing them. Marketing is a different beast altogether.
The objective is not to get it perfect every time, it’s to get it done every time. As opposed to gymnasts, marketers get to improve every step of the way. They tweak things, learn and fail. They get up and try again. And that’s what writing is all about.
1. Why Content Marketing Is the #1 Thing You Should Be Doing When Starting a Business
REASON 1: Improve your users’ lives and delight them
If you’re involved in any type of business, your customers want to hear from you. Well not you specifically, more like: they’re looking for ways to improve their own lives. And if you can do that for them, mention it.
Explain the benefits, talk about how your product/service features improve your customers’ lives. They’ll not only thank you for it, but also comment or email you about. Delighted users share their opinions with the world. That means you’ll end up with a larger community, just by focusing on your target audience. Happy users, bringing their friends to your blog, are the cheapest form of growing your business.
REASON 2: Easily get shares and backlinks
There are 2 sides of Content Marketing and people starting a blog usually forget about that. Content Creation is all about generating great content – blog articles, podcasts, interviews, tutorials, guides, ebooks, quizzes and so on. You create all of these with a small team of designers and marketers. Starting out, you’ll probably be the content guy and, hopefully, get access to a designer that understand UX, UI and mobile-first.
Worst case scenario: you’ll have to build all the infrastructure and workflows yourself. But don’t despair – just like I’m building this blog myself, it’s simple to get started, once you figure out the tools and processes.
Having articles on your blog is just step 1. Step 2, and probably the most important, according to content experts, is marketing your content. Promoting what you’ve already built to additional audiences.
Content Marketing is easier than it sounds, Neil Patel of Quicksprout, HelloBar and KissMetrics fame links to more than a hundred other websites when he blogs at NeilPatel.com. Is that by accident? No. Every time he publishes a new article, he emails those other websites that he’s mentioned them in the blog post. The result? A massive number of backlinks and social media shares for that post.
REASON 3: Transparency builds trust
“Oh, your software is 10x better than the ones from your competitors? That’s fine and all, but I don’t trust you.”
“You’ll double my email list for free, in the next 5 days? I don’t believe you!”
When Buffer set out to become the biggest, baddest, awesomest social sharing platform on earth, their vision also included transparency. Not just for the product, but for the blog, business, employees and pretty much everything that goes on there.
And guess what? Transparency is inspiring. That also translates to responsibility. And ultimately, trust. You trust that they’re building the best product they can. You trust they’re treating their employees with respect and gratitude. And that’s the kind of service you want to use.
Over to you: starting a blog takes a lot out of you – thinking about content, marketing it, editing, titles, images…it’s just a lot. A lot of time, a lot of words, a lot of things you can get wrong. But that’s because you’re thinking about it. Every.single.detail. You want to make sure it’s perfect and that’s fine. Only it’s never going to be perfect. Ever.
Transparency will set you apart. And set you free. You don’t have to THINK about what you did last night or what show you love. You just KNOW. That’s exactly how you should integrate transparency into your blog posts (hint: me writing this post is 10% show off and 90% trust-building). Talk about what you know, share what you’ve learned (both good and bad) and most of all be a human being. Not a marketer trying to get links or sell you something.
2. How I Chose My 1.000 Words and What They Mean to Me
From the get go I should mention – this isn’t an SEO thing. I’m not attempting to write 1.000 words each day just to appease good ol’ Google. In fact, the research shows that the sweet spot for ranking high in search results is around 2.000 words.
For me, it’s more about the Seinfeld method of productivity – don’t break the chain. It’s crucial to constantly be involved with anything you deem to be important. For me, that’s writing. And I’ve been lucky to study Journalism in the University. And I’ve also been able to build a small freelance career out of Content Marketing.
1.000 words is pretty much just a number. I knew I had to push myself – it does take me about 2-3 hours to write the words each day. Hours that I could spend watching movies, TV shows, playing games or taking walks outside.
I’ve discovered that writing not only calms me, but also connects me with people. And I strongly believe that opportunities (financial or otherwise) appear through these new meetings. It’s human nature to trust and want to do business with people you know. Rather than people you’ve never heard of.
I’ve mentioned earlier that 1.000 words is pushing myself. And to a degree, that’s true. It means ignoring the outside world (family, friends, work, girlfriend) for a few hours. It means focusing on the work and trying hard to make it the best it can be. But it also means falling in love with your material. Delivering great results. And starting a legacy.
3. The Actual 7 Hacks You Can Steal from Me to Write 1.000 Words Every Day
WARNING: Before we begin, you must understand these hacks weren’t easy to implement. Furthermore, these are what work for me. They might be incompatible with you and your lifestyle. But they do work. Now that we’ve gone through this warning, time to move on to why you’re here – the hacks!
This one sounds like a bit of a stretch, but stay with me.
Threaten yourself that you won’t be able to make rent without those 1.000 words. Tell yourself your girlfriend will dump you if she doesn’t see 1.000 new words by the end of the day.
Take the writing seriously and it will be good to you.
Family, television, friends, partner, video games, facebook…
You should create the environment for focus – shut the doors, put on headphones with engaging music (something instrumental and upbeat works for me – 65daysofstatic usually does the job), block the internet, shut off your phone and just be there in the moment, writing.
Without a plan in place you’ll find a reason to quit.
Don’t let that be an excuse for you – make a plan with your first 100 posts (titles will suffice). That way, you’ll always know (and feel guilty) about the remaining articles you know you can and should write. Create the plan as quickly as you can, so you’ll have a strong guilt foundation for constantly moving forward.
Post it on social-media, write it on post-it notes, announce it to your partner.
And that’s exactly what should happen. Although it’s not the most optimistic method out there, we’re looking for performance and results. We need to reach down to our most basic human needs, wants and desires. Announce your challenge to the world, Avoid embarrassment by actually doing it.
Have something to write about, good or bad.
They don’t have to be ideas about fun or educational things. They can be sad things, horrific things. Getting your 1.000 words doesn’t mean getting 1.000 GREAT words each day. It just means getting into the habit of writing daily so when you do have a great idea, writing the article will come naturally.
Commit to the title and write it down.
Having something opened or started is fun. You can jump back and forth between articles and ideas and work on what feels right at the time. And if you want to keep your focus for only one article at a time, that’s also fine. But always have another thing going after you’ve done these 1.000 words.
Writing will tear you down, if it’s not fun or a challenge.
That’s why it makes sense to enjoy your time in front of the computer: try to make it a speed contest, listen to an audiobook at the same time or jump from article to article, finishing them both in one day. Whatever you choose, don’t let the writing become a chore. Otherwise, you’re writing for the wrong reasons.
4. What You Should Do Once You’ve Decided to Embark on This Journey
You’re not going to get good or exceptional until you start. I wish someone had told me that when I first began taking writing seriously. It seemed like nothing was right – structure, language, titles – they were always off. It took me a few years to get to the state I’m in.
I consider myself to be a perfectionist, but over time I’ve learned to be less harsh on myself. A word on a page, any word, is a thousand times better than ideas flying around in your head.
You should commit to writing. Admit it’s something you want to pursue. Trust that you’ll get better over time. Share your work with your friends and your peers (mostly your peers, as friends won’t really know how to give constructive feedback, which you will need in the beginning).
Look for opportunities to guest post. This will make you afraid of failure and I’ve found to be a great motivator. Fear of failure and deadlines. Put those two together and I’ll write like crazy, ignoring sleep or friends, just to finish my post.
Never get bogged down by technology – use WordPress or something that feels easy and natural for you. Don’t think in terms of perfect, only make sure your words for the day are done. Once that happens, you can think about editing and improvement. But not before.
Read on to find out how to marry your writing to your audience, before you even begin.
5. How to Find an Audience for Your 1.000 Words from Day 1
You could go the Keyword Planner route. After all, think of all the SEO and the rankings you’ll get once you get your content all keyword-optimized. You could, you could do that. And I won’t blame you. Google Keyword Planner is a wonderful, if slightly flawed, tool to discover what people have been looking for. Connect that with Google Trends or BuzzSumo Trending and you’ve got yourself an incredibly powerful customer mind reading machine.
For me, that’s a bit too old. It’s too technical. It focuses more on the search queries, rather than people and their work. So here are the 3 methods I’ve found you can use to craft an audience, from day one:
- Do product/service reviews.
This is how I started the Janeiro blog. A simple review for GetSiteControl showed me that I do have what it takes to build beautiful, useful content. And away I went!
Why this works: “You scratch my back and I scratch yours”. You’re providing value for your audience and you’re also helping the product/service creators.
They might not be well known in the beginning, so every bit of press helps. Not only that, but since you invested all this time writing about them, you’re bound to get something for free (I’ve gotten t-shirts, promo materials and premium software trials, but I wasn’t writing JUST to get that – it was just a nice surprise in the end).
One more thing you should remember – if you write reviews for somewhat obscure apps (think webapps from Warrior Forum or JVZoo), you’ll help improve them in real-time. And if you throw in an affiliate link or two, you’re set to go.
How to get started with this method: It’s a no-brainer that if you want to if you want to earn affiliate money from doing reviews, you should start with Warrior Forum, JVZoo and various Click Bank Affiliate Sites.
Make sure to read all the terms and conditions before you do anything. You don’t want to spend hours and hours research, writing and editing a review, before you find out you’re not eligible for it.
If money isn’t your primary objective, start with what you know. Write about software you enjoy, about web apps you use and about products and you love. Then share those reviews on social-media and send the creators a little email letting them know about your work.
Top tips to be successful using this method:
- Write about what you know. This one’s an easy one to miss. If you really can’t think about anything, review the most basic of products – Windows/Mac, your PC, your keyboard…Just start somewhere familiar.
- Do it better than anyone else. Once you’ve seen 100+ reviews of the same webapp done pretty much the same way, it’s time for you to shine – add pictures, video, slideshows, audio. Make your review stand out.
- Always provide value. Even if you review is all about how bad the software is, don’t just leave it at that. Think about ways to improve it. Give suggestions, show examples of how other creators have done it better.
- Engage with bloggers/entrepreneurs.
This is a method I used for my first serious blog – StartUpsRomania – a series of audio podcasts with entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Why this works: You’re essentially “borrowing” the audiences of people you’re interacting with.
Why bloggers and entrepreneurs? Assuming you want to start a marketing blog, those people are your bread and butter. Bloggers come with audiences, they like to talk and be interviewed. They’ve always got an opinion to share and are on the lookout to increase their audiences.
Entrepreneurs are the people bloggers strive to be. Confident, courageous and, sometimes, wealthy. They lead amazing lives, they set in motion plans that might someday change the world. And that’s inspiring to read about.
If your idea of a blog is more celeb-related, then interviews with celebrities is what you need to get. Start small and work your way up. Go to festivals, send loads of emails, be nice and always provide value for audiences.
Of course if you’ll talk to person X, his audience will want to hear what he/she has to say. And if you manage to get person X to share the final interview (they usually all do), you’ll get free publicity. Comments and links will follow.
Once you get enough of these interviews, you can use the material in other ways – infographics, books, visual tweets, guides and so on.
It doesn’t have to be podcasts. Smaller 3-question interviews work as well. Expert roundups still manage to pack a punch, if you’ve got good questions and great people to talk to.
How to get started with this method: I’ve used this both on my own blog – StartUps Romania – and for a freelance client.
For StartUps Romania I was actually terrified when I started. I didn’t know any entrepreneurs, nor was I one. So where do I go to find them? Lucky for me, Facebook Graph Search still works wonders. I was able to find startup groups, that allowed me to see who I was dealing with.
I didn’t really expect much. Entrepreneurs are busy people, I knew that. I positioned myself as a promoter, helping them more than helping myself. For some reason, the first person I asked said yes to a 15-minute interview. Then the next one came. And another. Pretty soon, everyone I contacted said yes. Only 1 person wasn’t interested, because he was focusing more on product than on marketing.
You figure all this engaging part out and, before you know it, you’ll be that guy/girl. An expert in the field. An authority in bringing people together. In packaging knowledge. Without actually having the knowledge yourself, in the first place.
Top tips to be successful using this method:
- Be nice. If the person says no, no point in harassing him. Get back in about 6 months, show him the benefits and see what he says then. Also, remember that you came with the ask, so it’s normal for busy people to deny requests from people they don’t know or trust. At least try to make it short and fun for the interviewee.
- Be helpful. You’re free to give feedback, if you ask first. Tell him about your experience and always lend a helping hand – maybe there’s a product launch just around the corner. You could be a content partner on that. Ask for something for your visitors, that helps his bottom line (my favorite is a huge discount on a service he’s selling).
- Be professional. This should go without saying (and also applies to all the methods mentioned here). Use tools to synchronize interviews. Be on time. Don’t delay the podcast episode release. Communicate throughout – when you’ll start, what the estimated duration will be, what topics you’ll talk about, what info you need from him, etc.
- Do teardowns for websites.
A teardown doesn’t mean to criticize its content. It’s more about taking it apart and looking for ways to improve it.
Why this works: People usually don’t do this. When you become the only person providing great feedback for free, you’ll get people’s attention. Samuel from UserOnboard.com has created a hefty compendium of first run experiences. As a UX Designer, he knows what he’s talking about. And knowing startups, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used his advice to improve on what they’ve already got. Richard from TheUserIsDrunk.com takes this up a notch, by asking for money in exchange for a teardown video.
How to get started with this method: Think of your daily habits. What are some of the websites you visit every day? For me, it’s Product Hunt, The Verge, Inbound.org and Growth Hackers. Now go ahead and look for ways to improve them. You don’t have to be a User Experience expert for this, just use your most basic gut feeling.
Next, what you’ll want to do is actually present the data. Start by researching why your way could help. For example – what if a social network forced you to follow 5 people when you signed up? It worked for twitter, so why not others?
What if you implemented infinite scrolling – could that help your site? Worked for Pinterest, so why not give it a try?
Package your data, your proposals in a neat package. For graphics you can use Canva and Skitch, for research use BuzzSumo and Topsy. Package all that within SEO Slides or Swipe.
Finally – tweet it and share it to your community and email the website creators about it.
Top tips to be successful using this method:
- Craft a story. There’s no point in just pointing our random thoughts or ideas. Make your teardown exceptional by explaining a purpose and a vision.
- Look for obscure opportunities. Join mailing lists, facebook groups, follow creators on Product Hunt and twitter. View source codes for pages and look for those opportunities to provide value and interact.
- Have multiple perspectives. Don’t just focus on who you are and where you come from. Try to understand a variety of users and get your points across.
If you want to make it easier on yourself, you can join a weekly/monthly challenge. If other people are motivated to do what you want to, you’ll get a boost of energy just from that. Here are five to choose from:
1- 750 Words
Sure, it’s not the exact word count you are aiming for, but it’ll get you there. It’s a great community of like-minded individuals who are all about creating a new habit, while learning new tips and tricks.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a wonderful style of writing and her illustrations are top notch. You can even place a badge with this challenge on your blog, letting people know you mean business.
National Novel Writing Month is November dedicated to writing your (first) novel. It’s all about getting support, getting inspired and starting something you’ll hopefully finish in a month.
If WordPress is your blogging platform (and it should be), then this should suit you well. Write about that Tuesday’s theme and try to make it 1.000 words. The pingback from your post will notify the challenge creators.
5- RooshV Forum
Ignore the actual website or the TYPE of writing being done (dating/pickup techniques, etc.). Focus on joining a community where people care about their writing and want to create a lasting habit.
I’m definitely not the first to write about 1.000 words, so I want to take this last section to thank the ones before me for giving me the courage I needed to start my own journey:
- Amy Hoy – Don’t Write 1,000 Words a Day
- Navid Moazzez/Charles Bordet – How to Write 1,000 Words Every Day and Massively Create Remarkable Content
- Steve Corona – Morning Rituals – 1/10/1000
- Jacques Van Heerden – How to Write an Average of 1000 Words a Day
- Danny Iny – Super-Efficient Writing: How I Consistently Write Over 1,000 High-Quality Words in Less Than 60 Minutes
- Srinivas Rao – How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life (Why behavior matters more than outcomes)
- Scott Berkun – How to write 1000 words
- Nathan Barry – THE COMMITMENT THAT CHANGED MY CAREER + MY NEXT PROJECT
- Ray Bradbury/Demian Farnworth – Why You Should Write 1,000 Words a Day
- Joseph Logan – THE MAGIC OF WRITING 1000 WORDS A DAY …and what I learned when I stopped
Thank you and if you have any tips you’d like to share about writing 1.000 words, the Comments Section is open below!
Honored to be mentioned alongside Ray Bradbury and Srini Rao. My advice: cheat. Dictate, write as a letter to someone else, create an SMS dialogue with yourself. Do whatever it takes to make the habit stick. That’s where the content comes from.
Love the tips, I’ll have to have you on my (upcoming) Content Marketing Podcast when it launches.
I know you’ve got plenty more tips to share.
I keep a five subject notebook & a voice recorder with me all the time. I bookmark websites and audiobook places in a special folder. I name the bookmark after the reason I bookmarked it so I don’t forget where my idea was going. Each new idea that pops in my head…and accompanying info gets joted down (recorded first if I’m driving) on its own sheet. When something to add randomly comes to me, I write it down on that idea or add a new page. When I’m inspired or have some free time, I transcribe my voice notes and add them to the notebook.
I have them (loosely, as some are changing from my original thought) organized by category. I’m starting to see a template form. I would never have remembered all this if it wasn’t for my dedication to notes.
My marketing plan was approved last week and I’m in the process of outlining the workflow for conversion to delight (any tips are welcome, please). I’m very excited that when I have the green light to post, I will already have a notebook of great ideas and a great daily discipline strategy thanks to Sorin!!
Amazing post, Sorin. The challenge for me is to overcome my perfectionism. If I would write an article on Monday, I would want to adjust it on Wednesday, to make it even better.
This is my version 38 or so for: http://www.raultiru.com/free-stock-photos And I still don’t feel like it’s quite there yet…
I will try to write more, because you are absolutely right about how important it is.
Glad to be of help, Raul.
Nice article, keep up the good work!
Ahhh so many good tips! The Seinfield approach is so awesome – I pretty much treat all my ‘habits’ like that.
Another thing I do is creating a note in Evernote (or wherever works for you) as soon as I have the idea for a post. I tag it, and when I’m looking for something to write I have all my #postideas as my fingertips!
Looking forward to digging into the rest of your blog 😉