What it Takes to Publish on the Internet For 10 Years Straight

Behind-the-scenes of building a full-time writing career.

What it Takes to Publish on the Internet For 10 Years Straight
Image from the author’s Instagram.

Behind-the-scenes of building a full-time writing career.

I realized a truth about myself early on in life: When I set my mind to something, I’d go to any lengths to get it.

My online writing journey started quite by accident.

Yes, I’d always loved writing, and yes, I’d published poems and stories in several local and national newspapers when I was in school. But I’d never intentionally set out to write every day or build a personal brand.

Things changed in 2014 when I was in my final year at college, and a platform called “Quora” became popular among my classmates.

Every day in class, I’d come across some friend either reading Quora or quoting something they came across on it. The platform had questions in every topic under the sun, and users could write their answers. 

I started looking for questions that let me exercise my creativity, something along the lines of Can you write a story in 11 words?, or Can you write a story starting with the words “She wasn’t the one?”

What started as a hobby soon turned into an obsession. My stories were getting views. People from all across the world commented saying how much they admired my creativity. I was getting 1000+ new followers every day. And before I knew it, Quora became the first app I opened after waking up, and the last I scrolled through before sleeping.

I treated Quora as a fun challenge to come up with new stories. I didn’t know I was sowing the seeds for what would become a career ten years later.

Some of the early writing I did on Quora 9 years ago. Screenshot by the author.

It’s 2024 as I’m writing this, and it’s been a full decade of me consistently posting my work online. How has this decade of writing changed my life?

I’m a full-time writer today who decides her work hours and vacations. I make great money by only working for a few hours each day. I work with some of the best minds in the world, and am building side projects I’m truly passionate about. I’ve generated millions of views on multiple platforms like Medium, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

None of these would have been possible had I not been consistently publishing my work on the internet. If you’re wondering how I managed this, let me take you on a little behind-the-scenes journey in this article. 

Here’s what it takes to publish content on the internet for ten years straight.

Know your why

“If you know the why, you can live any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

When you go in blindly on any new skill, you risk losing momentum. But when your reasons are clear, you’ll find it easier to stick to it.

When I started writing online, my reason was simple: I wanted attention.

I was a dumb college kid who’d just gotten her first taste of online fame. I couldn’t get enough.

I understood how the attention economy worked, that I needed to keep publishing high quality stories every day if I wanted to stay relevant, and that’s exactly what I did.

Subconsciously, I learned how to analyze platform trends, reverse engineer popular answers, and apply these learnings to my own writing. This helped me adapt and evolve as the platform kept changing.

As I got older and more mature, I wanted to leave a mark. I wanted my words to build me a legacy that would live on long after I did. I wanted to create something meaningful, and that’s why I ventured into the world of long-form articles and books rather than just publishing short stories online.

When I became a full-time writer, my goal was to make as much money as I could from my craft. For a while, things worked great. The more time I spent in front of my computer, the higher my paycheck would be at month-end. Seeing my work translate into direct results gave me a dopamine hit like no other. 

At that time, I couldn’t have known this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable.

12-hour workdays and hitting a brutal burnout made me realize that I valued certain things more than hitting the arbitrary goal of making $10k each month.

Today, my “why” has changed.

I no longer crave attention, money, or leaving a legacy behind.

Today, I’m happy to write something that makes my heart fulfilled. If I can add value to even one reader’s life, I’ll consider my job done.

My “why” for writing online has changed over the years, as have I. But at every stage of my life, I knew the reason I wanted to create content online.

If you’re connected with your “why,” like the quote by Nietzsche goes, you’ll figure out your way through any hurdle the universe throws your way.

Choose your rewards

Let’s be honest: writing is a lonely job.

You sit for hours at your keyboard, only to come up with a story only a few people might read. You’ve no one to hold you accountable, track your progress, or celebrate your wins.

Very few people might even be able to understand your journey.

Even now, when I tell people I’m a writer, they consider me a hobbyist. My biggest achievements seem like numbers on a screen to them, and my lowest points are merely “algorithm changes.”

In such a scenario, if I didn’t devise a Zen mindset, I’d likely have given up on the online writing game years ago.

I’ve learned the art of detachment: detachment from both success and failure. Let me explain what this means in a bit more detail.

Detachment from success

In my early Quora days, I tasted success pretty unexpectedly. One of my answers went viral, clocking in 100k+ views and thousands of upvotes and comments.

In the days following this virality, I felt pressured to create more viral content. Every answer I published felt wasted if it didn’t cross the 1k upvotes mark. I kept publishing new answers, and deleting them within hours when they didn’t get the traction I felt they should.

It took me a few weeks to understand that if I kept postponing publishing new content for the fear of it not getting viral, I’d probably be waiting all my life.

And so, I learned to detach from success.

Online publishing platforms are unpredictable and wild. All you can do is put your best work forward. You can’t predict the results.

If you attach your self-worth to how well your content performs, you won’t be able to last for long in this fiercely competitive world.

Detachment from failure

My publishing journey hasn’t always been a joyride.

I’ve had weeks, if not months, of dry patches where nothing I write seems to click.

Even on Medium, my worst months garnered barely 20k views, whereas my usual here is 80k+.

In these dry patches, the urge to give up is strong. I feel all my efforts are pointless, and I should have stuck to my job rather than dreaming of being a full-time writer.

But as they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Detachment from failure allows me the breathing space to keep exercising my creatitivity even when I’m not seeing immediate results. It lets me keep pushing on, because the dry patch won’t last forever. It lets me keep my eye on the goal and not get disheartened by minor hiccups along the way.

Reinvent yourself every once in a while

As I mentioned earlier, my goals with writing kept changing, as did the rewards I used to push myself forward. Two other things that required constant upgradation were my mindset and skillset.

Working on mindset

“Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world.” ― Amit Ray, Mindfulness Living in the Moment — Living in the Breath

As a writer, the most powerful tool in your arsenal is your mindset.

Here are some mindset shifts that helped me throughout the years:

  • Know that I’m in it to enjoy the journey. There’s no destination, and the only goal is to find bits and pieces of myself along the way.
  • Not be affected by online trolls, and understand that most people who spew hate online do so because of their own insecurities. The rude words they say reflect more on them than on you.
  • Not be affected by ups and downs of platform algorithms, and keep publishing no matter what (aka, be detached from success and failure).
  • Not be affected when other people trivialize or undermine my career. A trick that’s always helped is this constant reminder: Never take advice from someone who’s living a life you don’t want to live.

Working on skills

As platforms change and new ways of making money keep opening up, one way to stay ahead of the competition is to constantly keep upgrading yourself.

I started as a writer on Quora, but over the years, here are some skills I’ve picked up that helped me build a strong portfolio and make more money:

  • Working with AI
  • Social media captions
  • Search engine optimization
  • Google analytics, AdSense, Ezoic, and more
  • Writing short-form content for Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Research and attribution, aka a journalistic style writing
  • Planning, outlining, and fleshing out characters for fictional plots.

As technology advances and more nuances to the writing world open up, you’ve got to be on your toes to keep yourself abreast of the new changes.

Final words: The road ahead

I’ve talked about how I published online for ten years straight. But now, let me share a bit about how the next ten years are going to look like.

I’m not going to be arrogant and assume I’ve got it all figured out. All I can do is try, and I know that’s something I’m never going to stop doing.

I’ve got some radical ideas I need to share with the world. But I know if I do so through non-fiction, it might come across as preachy. My idea is to weave those ideas into a story and present them to the world as a novel.

I’m currently in the character definition and outlining phase of my new novel. That project’s been getting me out of bed these days.

While the novel might take a while to be out in the world, I’m going to continue documenting my thoughts and ideas online. This will be in the form of articles, social media posts, and short videos on YouTube.

The world of online writing is changing constantly, and it rewards those who change with it.

I’m prepared to up my game and give my best in whatever challenge this career throws at me next. Are you?

If you’d like to have a career as a successful freelance writer, but don’t know where to start, grab Freelance Superheroes — the detailed roadmap to start from scratch and land high-paying freelance clients.

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