Writing On The Internet Taught Me Some Harsh Lessons

What you need to know if you want to make money writing online.

Writing On The Internet Taught Me Some Harsh Lessons
Image created by the author using Dall-E

What you need to know if you want to make money writing online.

My online writing origin story is different from how you’d expect it to be.

I didn’t write to make money or chase fame. I’d always loved writing since I was a child. My first published poem was written when I was four.

Words were my favorite form of catharsis. Writing helped ease the load off my chest. It gave me an outlet for my imagination and emotions.

I started writing online for a similar reason. I had a ton of stories I needed to say, and in 2014, the online publishing platform Quora gave me the perfect outlet. After writing consistently for a few months, I got followers and praises from people all over the world. In my hometown, I started getting recognized by random people on the streets. This was my first taste of “fame,” and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Writing on Quora started an avalanche of events that changed the course of my life. I sought out platforms to publish long-form content and landed on Medium. I published four books and started freelancing for US-based startups.

Fast forward to 2024, and I’m a full-time writer. I work on my own terms, can take vacations without worrying about money, and have found the ideal work-life-growth balance I could only dream about before.

Writing online gave me a new lease of life, and I can’t be more grateful. To give back to the community, I want to share all the lessons I’ve learned from more than a decade of publishing my work online.

Starting a new activity without knowing anything about it is hard. If you’re planning to start writing online, here are some things about writing on the internet I wish I’d known sooner.

It’s not as bad as you think

There’s no need to hurry to have a winning career as an online writer. Take small steps and see your writing graph grow gradually.

Your first draft, the stats of your first month, the money you made from your first 50 articles — everything compounds over time.

You might think it’s bad, but trust me, it’s the stepping stone for a wealth of opportunities to come later.

  • Start creating content without focusing too much on the results.
  • Take your audience’s comments and other stats as feedback to improve your work.
  • Don’t allow perfection to delay your progress as a writer.
  • Keep networking and pitching your services for better brand deals and collaborations.

You can’t make everyone happy

No matter how hard you work to create content, you’ll face criticism you don’t deserve.

That’s the dark side of the internet. And sadly, you can’t do anything to escape it.

Your job as an online writer is to create authentic and valuable content for your audience. It’s not your responsibility to convince everyone to love it. The sooner you understand this, the easier your online journey will be.

Even after posting content on YouTube for 3 years, people still tell me my teeth are weird. I’m not a beauty influencer and my work isn’t related to oral hygiene. And yet, I get such unwarranted comments so many times, I’ve lost count now.

A comment on a totally unrelated YouTube video (Screenshot by the author).

Let’s face it; the anonymity of the internet enables haters and bullies. You can’t please everyone.

Stay true to your goal of providing value, and learn to ignore the hate you get from strangers.

Showing up is all it takes

As an online creator, you can take breaks, but your content can’t. The attention span of people on the internet is extremely short.

Create content regularly if you don’t want to get lost in the sea of creators.

Don’t let a lack of ideas and motivation be your excuse to keep you from posting. Choose discipline instead to stay consistent and grow your online presence.

Even after knowing all this, there’ll be days when things won’t be under your control. You might fall sick, have some family emergency, or lack motivation to write on some days.

To not let these unforeseen situations affect your consistency, follow these steps:

  • Create your idea bank.
  • Batch create content in advance.
  • Learn the art of repurposing.
  • Create some basic templates for blogs, social media posts, etc., to produce quality content faster.
  • Delegate tasks that you can outsource to stay consistent even when you take a break.

Your goals will change

When I started writing on Medium, I saw so many creators making five figures on the platform. I let myself dream what life would be like if I could reach that milestone too. Without consciously aiming for it, I made a mental goal to make $10K a month writing on Medium. 

After 4 years, my values have changed, and my understanding of the platform and its algorithm have deepened. 

Now, my goal is to have peace of mind and the flexibility to work on my terms.I’m no longer driven by monetary goals. 

Does it mean I failed? 

No, it means my priorities have changed, and that’s okay.

Let your present situation guide you into what you want to pursue right now.

Be flexible enough to appreciate who the journey forges you into. You might not fit into your ideals of 5 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you failed. It means you embraced growth.

Work through the dips

Online creators chase virality without anticipating how short-lived that phase would be.

The void you feel after your first viral article is real.

I had my first viral article in Jan 2021. I thought my stats page was broken.

The views kept pouring in, the money was unbelievable, and people messaged me on LinkedIn and Twitter. They wanted to know more and to connect for further opportunities.

I thought I’d made it big. That my life will be like this from here on.

But once the viral article mellowed down, I was back to slower growth in my stats and average views. From 400k views in a month, I was back to getting my usual 40–60k views.

This created such a big void that I wanted to quit.

Facing slow growth after a huge success can leave you overwhelmed. The only thing that can help you in such a situation is knowing why you write. Your goal is to keep writing, not to achieve virality.

Put your head down and do some honest work. The accolades are not the answer, writing daily is.

Prioritize creating content over anything else to stay committed and win in your work.

Harsh lessons from 10 years of writing online: Final words

The internet has its pros and cons that every creator has to face.

I’ve had my fair share of haters, failures, and reality checks. But if I had to start all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I know the potential this career path has, and I’m prepared to keep putting in work to see where it takes me.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’m living today only because I started writing online.

  • I work on my own terms and conditions
  • I collaborate with brands and creators that align with my values and vision
  • I’ve built a supporting online community, and my audience loves to engage with my content.

On the contrary, the internet also has a dark side.

I also get trolled for how I look in my videos and get hate comments from people trying to prove their life is better than mine. The worst part is I really can’t do anything about it.

Earlier, it used to affect me for days and made me question my choice of becoming a creator. These doubts only delayed my success as a writer.

To not let this trolling affect you, grow your skin thicker and work beyond all the ups and downs.

If you’re just about to start your online writing journey, here are 5 harsh truths you must accept to focus on your work no matter what.

  1. Every article, script, or even small collaboration you do is preparing you for better opportunities in the future. They might not give you instant success, but they will compound with time.
  2. Learn to ignore the haters and bullies on the internet. Instead, put your energy into creating better and more valuable content
  3. Choose discipline over motivation to build your online presence despite all the competition.
  4. Embrace your creative journey by prioritizing your mental peace over your pre-defined goals.
  5. Don’t chase virality assuming success as an online writer to be linear. Instead, focus on writing daily to make it big.

I just launched Freelance Superheroes: A training program for writers who want to earn from writing online without leaving their job, attract gigs outside Upwork/Fiverr, and become irreplaceable. Get it today!

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