This time last year I thought I would start a blog.
Except I wrote 3 blog posts that I think just my dad read. Starting a blog is hard, you end up putting so much effort into content that no one is reading (especially in those early days).
So I switched my approach from my blog and used Twitter as my main publishing platform. Firstly, just with tweets and then with yellow atomic essays by joining Ship 30 for 30.
Since starting a year ago I’ve had over a million views on my content & built a significant audience. I’m convinced I couldn’t have done that if I had kept slogging away at that blog.
And at the same time, something quite surprising happened. Writing on Twitter fueled my content creation process on so many other platforms (including this one).
A Bottom’s Up Approach To Writing
Most writers have two problems that stop them from creating consistent content. They either sit staring at a blank page wondering what to write. Or they put so much effort into one piece of content but really have no idea if it will resonate or not with their audience.
But writers who take a bottom’s up approach to content creation discover:
- Their ideas are clarified further the more they write about them.
- They never start from a blank page because ideas get promoted upwards from tweets to essays to articles and beyond.
- They always have a good idea of what resonates because ideas have already been tested down the ladder.
- Their content creation feels effortless because each level builds on the next and the positive signal provides motivation to keep creating.
By using this bottom’s up approach my content creation process is like a ladder, testing ideas at the most basic level and promoting the ideas upwards as they resonate. Let’s explore it.
Step 1: Ideas Start Off As Tweets
If you’re a writer and you’re not on Twitter, start there and build an audience. Don’t discount the power of having an audience. Everything is better when you have one and Twitter is still one of the easiest platforms to grow organically, especially as a creator.
All you have to do is commit to writing one tweet a day.
I know you want to write all the thousand-word blog posts and you will. But if you don’t want to waste your time writing words that no one will read, start with a tweet.
Start by breaking down that big idea and distilling it into just 280 characters. That is the true sign that you know your topic.
Of course, you can write more than one tweet. day, but I found starting out that was the most realistic goal. If you need some accountability (and some friends) join my friend, Jay Clouse’s, #Tweet100 Challenge
At the end of each week, go back through all your tweet stats and find the ones that resonated with your audience the most. It’s not all about impressions or likes either. Here’s what I look out for:
- A higher amount of likes
- More comments
per usual indicates something is definitely resonating for people.
on a tweet are an excellent indication that people want to have a conversation and that’s a definite sign of something resonating.
mean people want to amplify your idea and that is an even better idea.
It might take some time to get traction, but once you are tweeting your ideas consistently you’ll see the best ones rise to the top like this one I wrote recently about my Writing Inbox.
A tweet I wrote about my writing inbox. Quite a few people requested to hear more (which is a good indication you should keep following the signal).
Here’s why this works so well. Instead of toiling away at an article that you only *think* is going to work, you get to test out your ideas first risk-free & let your audience decide what they want to hear more of.
Step 2: Take Your Best Tweets & Turn Them Into Essays
Once I find the ideas that are resonating each week I turn those ideas into atomic essays.
I’m a huge fan of atomic essays since first joining Ship 30 for 30 back in March 2021. Atomic Essays are quick 250–300 word essays that you publish as an image on Twitter. Two reasons why I love Atomic Essays (before writing articles):
- They are quick to write.
- They are easily consumable.
If you already have an idea it’s not hard to get it to that next step of 250 words.
You’re not asking people to leave the platforms (which Twitter hates) and they can be consumed in mostly less than a minute
I know what you’re going to ask. Why essays and not Twitter Threads?
Sure you could try and write threads, but I honestly think threads is a completely different art form and unless you want to become a thread writer, I’d make it easy on yourself and just try atomic essays.
They are not a replacement for long-form writing either. But they bridge the gap and give you more chances to (one) validate the idea and (two) keep exploring & expanding on it.
Each week I go back through all my tweet stats and find the ones that resonate the most. I have a free template I created in Notion where I record the stats but you can also use a service like ilo.so if you don’t want the manual labour.
By looking at my highest performing tweets I can turn them into atomic essay ideas and validate ideas further
Once I’ve found my top ideas I create a new atomic essay idea in Roam Research, toss the link to the tweet and do a quick brain dump so it’s ready for when I want to write the final essay.
I’ve found leaving about a 2-week gap between the original tweet and a follow-up essay creates the best results.
This essay was a direct result of people kept asking about my writing inbox process from the tweet above
The best thing about this approach is that I’ve already validated the idea, so it motivates me to keep writing about it. And I can use the comments and conversations as fuel for expanding the idea into an essay.
It’s literally like crowdsourcing your writing.
Step 3: Turn Your Best Essays Into Articles
Now that we’ve validated our idea with both a tweet & an essay it’s time to look at our top-performing essays and turn them into longer-form articles.
And because the essays are published on Twitter we can use the exact same criteria as tweets to find our top-performing essays. We are looking for higher than usual likes, comments & retweets.
And remember, that is valuable feedback you would never get if you just published straight to a blog.
Usually, a couple of essays make the cut which is when I dump them into Medium as a draft and start expanding on each point. The magic here is I already have a decent outline to expand on, so I’m not wondering what to write.
It takes me far less time to write an article because:
- It’s already half-written with an outline from the essay.
- I’ve articulated it previously in a tweet & an essay so I’m getting clear on the idea.
- I have feedback in the form of Twitter comments which helps me expand on the idea even more.
Since using this method to publish medium articles my articles have gone from being seen by less than 100 people to being seen by over 1000.
Let’s follow The Writing Inbox idea to its full conclusion. After tweeting about it with a screenshot, I created an atomic essay explaining the process that people resonated with. So I expanded that into the article you see below — and it has become one of the top 3 articles on Medium so far.
My Writing Inbox Article Became One Of My Top 3 Medium Posts
The surprising thing about this is the original tweet was just an off-handed screenshot that I didn’t even plan, but I thought might be somewhat interesting.
I never would have written the article about the Writing Inbox if I didn’t follow the signals from that original tweet.
Step 4: Turn Your Articles Into Any Number Of Things
And now that you’ve validated your idea via tweets, essays & articles you can bet that it will still continue to resonate and you can literally keep promoting it up the ladder.
This is where you can start to think about products like guides, courses or even books. If you’ve ever been scared to create a product wondering if people would buy it, you have your answer as the ideas get traction at each level.
Quite often as creators, we feel like we’re writing into the void.
It’s hard to get up at 5am when your alarm goes off to write not quite knowing if an idea is worth pursuing. But using this approach, you’ll hardly even feel like that again. Each level takes just a small step to validate the idea and tell you whether you should keep promoting it up the ladder further.
If you don't get signal, you try another idea.
By using the bottoms-up approach to writing you remove some of the risks in all those hours toiling away. You can easily take a few minutes to write a tweet and see if it flys…
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The Bottom's Up Approach To Writing That 99% Guarantees A Successful Article
This time last year I thought I would start a blog. Except I wrote 3 blog posts that I think just my dad read. Starting a blog is hard, you end up putting so much effort into content that no one is reading (especially in those early days).