If you’re in the beginning stages you have a ton to learn.
Without a roadmap telling you how well your online writing career is going, you’ll stay stuck, confused, and stagnant.
There are a few definitive milestones that let you know you’re on the right track, what to worry about, and when to move into the next phase. I’ve derived these milestones based on years of experience, observation, and experimentation.
Consider this your checklist to see where you are on the spectrum of “total newbie” to “professional wordsmith”.
Milestone 1 — Regularly Published Content
Most people who start blogs about the wrong things like the design of their website, about page, and social media presence.
None of these matter in the long run. Without a consistent publishing schedule, your blog has no foundation to stand on.
Before I even considered moving on to writing books and starting my own website to help other writers, I wrote more than 100 blog posts each containing 1,000 words or more.
I wrote so much because I love to write. I never had to deal with a lack of motivation once I started, because it felt right.
Milestone 2 — Your First 100 Email Subscribers
You’ve probably heard you need to build an email list to be successful in the blogging world. It’s true.
The ones at the top — the type who publish a book and sell 10,000 copies in the first week — have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Then, there are a handful of people like me who reside between the spaces of the unknown newbie and the aforementioned mega author. We have a few thousand subscribers under our belts, and can consider ourselves pros because we’re committed to the long haul.
Milestone 3 — Your First 1,000 Subscribers
Once you hit 1,000 subscribers, you’re in the rarified air. At this point, you can begin to focus on more advanced techniques to grow your platform online including things like SEO, paid ads, and influencer marketing.
You shouldn’t allow “shiny objects” to distract you whatsoever until you reach 1,000 subscribers because before that point you haven’t mastered the basics.
How do you reach your first 1,000 subscribers? By doubling down on what already works.
You continue to guest post and republish, but you do it more often. In the beginning, you’re trying to focus on being consistent and becoming a better writer. Most guest blogs won’t want to publish your work until you’re a decent writer. Once you crack 1,000 subscribers, the ratio of publishing on your own website vs. other websites should favor other websites more heavily. At my most rampant, I published 4 guest posts per post I published on the website.
Milestone 4 — Your First Book
Books are the new business cards.
Books demonstrate your expertise, increase your clout, and when done correctly help you earn money.
I made the mistake of writing my first book without an email list to speak of and the results showed. I profited from it, but the second book I published with an email list behind it is on pace to sell ten times as many copies.
Milestone 5 — Taking the Next Step
You’d think writing your first book would assure that you continue on with your career as an online writer, but it doesn’t.
I’ve seen writers fail miserably with their first book. It demoralizes them so badly they quit — I’m talking zero sales outside of their immediate family and friends.
You can find these books in the graveyards of different Amazon categories. Most self-published books fall into this category because the authors go about it the wrong way.
I went about it the wrong way at first. Fortunately, my book had mild success and perhaps I was delusional enough to think better things were ahead.