🚮 Wasted effort

Hey Reader 👋

As a content creator/writer, you'll likely face a period where you're wondering if it's worth it.

You might feel like you're working hard but not seeing the results you desire.

You might be creating lots of content but barely reaching an audience.

Your dream is to make an income doing what you love and creating real value for real people, but it just doesn't seem to work. ❌

If that sounds familiar, I want you to know that you're not alone, and this email is going to help you stop wasting effort, so you can start to get paid for the work you do.

But I have a quick note to share before we dive in:

For the next few weeks, I'll be answering at least one question I receive from readers at the bottom of my emails.

Submit your question by replying to this email, and let me know if you'd like it to be anonymized. 📨

(Credits to Sahil Bloom, who inspired me to turn this Q&A section into an ongoing part of the newsletter through his last email.)

💸 Would you work 40+ hours for $5? - My friend did.

You know what one of the absolute best parts of running a content business is?

It's not the money.

It's certainly not "fame."

And it's not the endless hours of work you do *without* knowing if it'll be worth it.

It's the connections you build with incredible, like-minded people.

One of them is my friend Zulie - she's one of the most kind and smart people I ever met. And she's a brilliant writer with over 129 thousand followers on Medium!

While we collaborate on various projects, we don't always share the same opinions or have the same approaches.

While I love the business, marketing, and sales aspects of being a creator, Zulie tried to avoid those for a long time.

Her idea of being a creator looked different.

In a perfect world, she'd create great content and people would happily pay her for doing so (without her actively selling).

Sounds good, right?

Well, there's just one downside to this approach: It usually doesn't work.

In 2021, Zulie hosted a free Writing Challenge for her community.

She sent daily emails, went live five times per week, and supported more than 200 writers.

The participants could join the entire challenge for free.

At the end, Zulie encouraged them to pay what they want through a tip.

In a perfect world, participants would tip generously because they said they loved the challenge.

Wanna know what really happened?

One person tipped $5.

That's all.

The bottom line? If you hate marketing yourself, you might end up feeling frustrated about the work you do.

As Zulie puts it, “Feel-good” marketing might win you friends, but not much money. 🤷🏻‍♀️

✍️ Our first month as editors was..

Talking about Zulie.. she recently published a brilliant email summarizing what we learned after reviewing and editing over 100+ articles as the new editors of one of Medium's largest publications.

Here's my favorite takeaway:

There's more competition among Nominators for articles to Boost than there are Boostworthy articles. Out of those 100+ articles, I've only submitted a handful for the Boost -- not because I don't want to, but because I just haven't seen enough that meet my standards.

I seriously didn't expect this to be true.

Let me be honest: Medium's standards for boosting a story are high.

As nominators, we're looking for the best of the best, and we're using the quality guidelines to assess whether a story is worth nominating.

We're desperately looking for stories to nominate for a boost, especially in Better Marketing, and we're going as far as contacting individual writers to suggest changes to their stories to help them meet the quality standards, but it's tough.

But enough complaining, let's get actionable. If you're a Medium writer desperately waiting for your stories to get boosted, here's what to do:

✨ Sinem's Sparkle

The first question I want to answer in our new Q&A corner is this:

Is it essential to read and respond to other writers to build one’s business?

I receive this question at least five times in each live cohort I host for Medium Writing Academy, and I get it: So many people share advice like "engage with others."

But here's the truth: You don't have to engage with other writers to grow your audience.

So many people think that engaging with other accounts is the key to growing your audience while it's not.

Getting a few views, likes, and comments from other creators won't magically grow your numbers if:

BUT there's a different side to engaging with other creators that is widely underrated:

  • Reading the work of successful writers helps you better understand what’s doing well and what you could do differently in your own work.
  • Connecting with like-minded writers helps you stay motivated and encouraged. You want to connect with creators who’re at a similar stage, so you can genuinely support each other through feedback and collaborations (not just through "fake" engagement).

None of this is essential for success, but it can help.

😮‍💨 Whew - we made it to the end of this email!

It took me almost two hours to write and edit, so I hope you enjoyed what you read! 💡

Big love from my screen to yours,

Write • Build • Scale with Sinem Günel

I help you write confidently, build your audience, and scale your income. Subscribe for first-hand insights and actionable strategies to turn your ideas and knowledge into a thriving digital business, so you can make money doing what you love.

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