There are countless articles out there on how to become a better/more successful writer. I have read dozens of them, written some myself. I bet the same goes for you, too.
Most people focus on what you should do after you start writing — steps you can take to improve your writing, how to build an audience, get accepted by publications, blah blah blah.
The thing is, sometimes it’s way more important to focus on the things you should do before you hit the publish button and start sharing your content with the world.
Although I’ve been writing from a very young age, I started working as a writer right after I graduated from college. I had no one to give me advice, so I learned most of what I know about writing through trial and error.
From my experience, most writers fail because they decide to start sharing their work, without actually being prepared for it.
Sure, you may not aim to become a viral writer. But, if you’re publishing your pieces online, it’s because you want people to see it. And offering a reader a horrible article is like serving spoiled food to a client.
It makes them unlikely to come back.
Here are four things you should do before you hit that publish button.
1. Sharpen your writing skills
Okay, time to get honest here. It’s one thing to write daily in your diary and completely another to publish content online.
I don’t care if you write 10.000 words every day analyzing the secret meaning behind the words that guy from Tinder said. It doesn't mean you’re ready to enter the world of online writing.
It doesn’t matter if you plan on writing for a living or every once in a while. Before you start putting your thoughts into words and actually share them with the world, make sure you sharpen your writing skills. Thinks like grammar, vocabulary, and structure matter.
Online writing is a highly competitive field — and sometimes a bit chaotic. Your writing skills are your weapon. The more you improve them, the better the chances of your work being recognized and appreciated.
2. Understand the platform you’re writing on
Not every writing platform is alike. Different writing platforms have different readers with different interests. That’s why it’s important to understand the platform you’re writing on.
Let’s take Medium for example. Some topics like personal development, entrepreneurship, or politics simply tend to do better than, let’s say, animals or astrology.
And that’s true for every other writing platform out there.
Check what topics are trending. Read some of the top-performing writers’ work. Then, adapt your writing to the audience’s needs.
3. See what topics make your writing flow
I’m sure you’ve already heard some of the popular advice established writers give newbies. Write about what you know or love. Find your niche. Never write on a topic you don’t have extensive knowledge of.
Chances are, that kind of BS advice has made some of you believe you have nothing interesting to write about. You’ll come to realize that you know a lot about many topics, that you love even more. You can basically write about anything you like, as long as your heart’s in it and you write well.
The thing is, when it comes to advice, most people fail to mention something very important: the need to discover what topics work best for you personally.
What could I possibly mean by that?
Well, it’s simple. Not all topics are gonna make your writing flow. You need to discover which ones you feel most comfortable writing about.
Let me give you an example. I’m confident to say I know a lot about politics — a hot topic online. Hell, that’s what I studied in college. But, I simply fail to write about them without sounding boring and repetitive.
Maybe it’s because I actually find them a bit boring.
On the other hand, my personal takes on simple, everyday topics such as relationships, always result in more unique, authentic, and engaging articles that readers seem to enjoy more.
Anyway, the takeaway is that you should experiment a little. Write on different topics. See which ones make your writing flow.
4. Commit yourself to the right goals
I’ll start this one by admitting that planning and goal setting are not my strongest qualities. I tend to get spontaneous bursts of energy and creativity, and my organizational skills are also not perfect.
Still, during my journey as a writer, I’ve come to learn that committing yourself to some goals is important. But not just any goals. The right goals.
The moment I started committing myself to the right goals, everything became easier. I gained valuable time. I started writing more. I started writing better.
You might commit to writing a specific amount of words every day when in reality what you need to do is enhance your vocabulary and improve your grammar.
You might aim to be accepted by various publications when first, you need to work on the way you format your articles.
You get the idea. Focus on the things you really need to improve.