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How I Built A $250,000 Writing Business In 3 Years

10 views.

“WOW! I’m really getting a lot of traffic today!” I said. This was back in 2016 when I started my very first blog.

Most times I wouldn’t even get 4 views on a blog post, but today, for some reason, I had 10.

I was ecstatic. I didn’t know where the views came from, but I was happy to each and every person who scrolled through my stupid article.

“I can do this!” I said to myself.

My dream was to be a travel blogger like Adventurous Kate. *Like all ignorant bloggers do, I wrote a bunch of articles without ever once considering how I’d get traffic to them.* I wrote posts like “I Want To Go To Istanbul” and other crap. It’s not that Istanbul is a bad place, it’s just — who would want to read a post with that headline?

I cringe every time.

Fast forward to today, five years later, and you’ll see I generate at least 3,000 views daily without breaking much of a sweat.

I found great platforms, built email lists, and sold products. *All-in-all, I’ve made over $250,000 from various avenues.* Hell, I even vlogged for three years and made over $50,000 doing that, too.

Here’s how I built a $250,000 writing business by myself.

I Practiced Without Pay For Years

I started journaling in 2014 while interning at Disney World. By the end of my internship, I filled up a 100-page journal front and back. Like the Drama King I was, I waited until my last day to fill up my last page — I cried in the airport while writing it.

During my last semester in college, I kept journaling and filled up another 100-page behemoth. Then I filled up another one after that.

By the time I started freelancing online making $100 to write 5,000 word ebooks, I practiced without pay for years.

I read tons of books about writing like Bird by Bird and The Elements of Style. I think I asked for The Elements of Style as a Christmas present (I am a weird guy).

That small 90-or-so-page book is still the most useful writing book I’ve ever read.

Are you willing to practice without pay for years before you ever make a penny from this?

I Found An Opportunity Online And Exploited The Hell Out Of It

I was one of the first people to write on Medium back in 2016. Nobody knew what this place was back then. Hell, not many people know what it is now.

If it wasn’t for Medium, I don’t think any of you would be reading me right now.

The fact that Medium was SO unknown back then, and is still SO unknown today shows you there’s opportunities all over the internet that people aren’t paying attention to.

Maybe it’s Newsbreak for you. I didn’t make a ton of hay writing on Newsbreak, but then again I don’t write breaking news stories about US politics. I write about life lessons and relationships and making money online. I’m sure if you played the game right on a new platform like Newsbreak, you’d end up winning.

And since so many people are now off the Newsbreak bandwagon, you might be able to make some hay if you played by the rules.

If I came to Medium back in 2016 and wrote about underwater basket weaving, nobody would care. It’s not just about finding undervalued platforms, it’s about playing by the rules of those platforms, too.

LinkedIn is also incredibly hot right now. Hell, even on TikTok you can make a killing. Be willing to go where the attention is, and jump on opportunities that will give you a lot of exposure.

Then leverage the hell out of it while you can.

I Grew My Email List Like My Life Depended On It

Building an email list is essential. This is where I lose a lot of the creative writer types who think they can change the world with one really good blog post.

Sure, you might be able to make some hay, but you’ll never be able to create a BUSINESS without an email list. Here’s how much you can expect to make with various-sized email lists:

  • 1,000 email subscribers — $1,000 monthly
  • 5,000 email subscribers — $5,000 monthly
  • 10,000 email subscribers — $10,000 monthly

*For every 1 email subscriber you have, you should be making $1 monthly.* It’s that simple.

During my first 6 months as a blogger, I won 30 new email subscribers. That’s terrible. Then I took the plunge and created a free ebook to offer in exchange for email addresses. I won 100 email subscribers in 24 hours. I tripled my email list overnight, basically.

*Unlike your followers on social media, email subscribers are people you can always reach.* On platforms like LinkedIn, you’re at the mercy of the algorithm. If the algorithm doesn’t put you in front of your followers (which happens a lot), then you’re done.

With your email list, at least you have some semblance of control. It’s also good to have if you want to shout out your online courses, books, webinars, or any other digital event/product.

Without an email list, I would not have a business.

I Created An Online Course That Nobody Thought Of Yet

In 2017 I kept getting the same questions in my comments section..

“Tom, how do you get followers on Medium?”

“Tom, how do you grow a publication?

“Tom, how do you make money as a blogger?

Puzzled, I took a look to find that absolutely nobody was offering an online course about how to grow on Medium. I was thinking of making an online course for a while because I love teaching people, but I had one problem:

*All the online course experts tell you to NEVER be the first to make an online course about something.* That means there’s no demand for it.

They were all wrong because I created a Medium course and sold $2,000 worth of spots in 60 minutes.

Since so many people were already asking me about Medium, it seemed like a good bet.

Because I was one of the first people to make a Medium course, I enjoyed a good run from 2018 until now. I’ve updated my course 6–7 times since. There are people who created their own Medium courses which is fine, but since I was first for so long I enjoyed that initial profit without any competition.

*Go on Newsbreak, make hay, then make a course about it.* You’ll be the first.

I Branched Off Into Other Platforms

In late 2017 I started posting heavily on LinkedIn. Now I have over 14,000 followers there. I also started vlogging three years ago on Facebook. Now I have half a million followers there.

Branching off into other platforms when you’ve found initial success is sort of like diversifying your investment portfolio.

You can’t put 100% of your investments into Gamestop stock. That’s a ticking time bomb. What’s better is to put your money in a lot of places to hedge against the possibility that one of them will fail.

And that’s what I did with Medium and my writing business. I made more online courses, got popular on different platforms, and branched out into doing something TOTALLY different, like vlogging.

If anything happens to me, I’ll at least know I have something to fall back on.

Conclusion

*Over the last three years I built a $250,000 writing business.* Here’s how you can get there, too.

  1. Practice without pay to get skin in the game.
  2. Find an undervalued platform and go all in with it.
  3. Create an email list like your life depends on it.
  4. Create an online course that nobody has created yet.
  5. Branch off into other platforms to protect yourself against platform failure.

I hope that helps.

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