Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dan Lewis on finding yourself as a writer.

Dan Lewis is the writer of a popular mailing list called "Now I Know." I had approached him about writing a brief article about how he has come to find himself as a writer in his spare time between all his lawyering and whatnot.  Here's what he had to say:


I started Now I Know -- -- just under two years
ago. It was borne out of two goals. First, with Twitter exploding, I
wanted to build an audience for myself like many Twitter users had --
but I didn't want to restrict myself on Twitter to posting only about
certain topics. Second, I was enamored with email newsletters after a
failed attempt to start one about a year prior to that. So in a real
sense, Now I Know was a challenge to myself.

It's a hobby. I've never really seen it as more. I read a ton
anyway;coming up with topics isn't that hard. And I write quickly so
that part isn't terribly taxing on my time. The big time drain is
growing the list -- reaching out to people who can help, mostly -- and
I don't expect that to ever improve. I'm OK with that though, because
I really love how media and technology intersect, especially from an
audience building standpoint, so it's fulfilling watching the
subscriber count (hopefully) go up.

There are definitely times when it's frustrating. One of the things I
wasn't prepared for was the pullback after a big uptick in growth. In
April, I went from 40k to 50k, basically -- and in May, I'm net flat,
even though I've attracted about 1,000 or so new readers. What's
happening is that a bunch of the people who gave it a try decided it
wasn't for them, and I'm just treading water because of it. It's
disheartening to think that so many people just didn't like what I
wrote... but really, it shouldn't be for everyone.

Still, that's hard. I've been writing in one capacity or another for
over a decade, on and off. When first started, I was freelancing as a
sports analyst, sending unsolicited articles everywhere. It took me
months before I sold one, and even getting a rejection email was rare.
The typical response was silence, which I just ascribe to me being a
no-name. That's when I realized that writing for others would never
suit me -- I was too good at driving web traffic to ignore that part
of it. But the downside is that when you hit everything right -- great
piece, massive traffic, good conversion -- and it then recedes, yikes.

But those pass, and at the end of the day, I have a great conduit to
share my writings. It's been tough but well worth it.


You can sign up for Dan's email list here:  It's informative and fun.


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