Publish everything, promote selectively

I’d previously corresponded with a prominent author who had dabbled with writing every day. They concluded that the practice wasn’t for them—they weren’t capable of developing a good new idea every day, which would reach hundreds of thousands of readers. 

This stood out in contrast to my recommended approach, which is to make a lot of acceptable work, publish it, promote it, and let the market decide

I could see where they were coming from, though; publishing subpar work drained them of energy, instead creating a lot of pressure for an impossible task (nobody can make something good every day). It would oversaturate their subscribers’ attention spans. While this was a feasible approach for them—a very established author with a huge platform—it wouldn’t be good for an emerging creator.

I’d recommend a slight variation of his approach: publish everything, promote selectively. 

In other words, set up a surface where you can publish your work, where people have to intentionally go out of their way to visit. Not a newsletter, not social media, not a forum—all of these are too serendipitous.

A blog is perfect for this sort of thing; someone needs to type in your blog’s URL in order to see every single post. If they don’t like what they see, that’s their problem—not yours. They don’t have to see it if they don’t want to; they make a choice to.

In order to get people to visit, you’ll still need to promote your surface. (More here in no specific order: working through mental blocks on self promotion, don’t be precious about promotion, share other people’s work, and depersonalize.) 

Choose the work you feel good about, or the ones you’ve heard good things about, or the ones you’ve spent a lot of time researching, writing, and editing. 

For example, Tyler Cowen writes every day at Marginal Revolution, many times publishing nothing more than a list of links. He also writes at Bloomberg and publishes a lot of books.

Similarly, while I definitely won’t promote every blog post, I occasionally publish work with Fast Company, I’ve spent a lot of time promoting my book

Or, since this post gained a lot of momentum at Hacker News, it’s probably a good candidate for me to promote more on other platforms. (I’d decided to initially share it there because I had a good feeling about it.)

To pick the best posts to promote, you’d ideally set up criteria for which posts deserve a chance at greater promotion, or which ones you want to develop further—a tweet turns into a post, a post turns into an article, an article turns into a presentation, a presentation turns into a book, etc.

There is a fine balance between scarcity and saturation. You want to present your work in a way that errs on scarcity; people want to see it, and are willing to spend a bit of their energy to give it a chance. It’s up to your work to earn the rest of the time a person needs to spend with it.

See also obscurity is a gift, appreciating obscurity.

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