As much as we might like it to be otherwise, being a good writer – even being a great writer – generally isn’t enough to become a successful writer. And in this day and age, when the first instinct of many people is to Google something or someone in order to know more about them, if you aren’t on those first few pages of results, you might as well not exist at all. Unless other people are already talking about you and your writing, having a searchable platform is one of the keys to this.
When I Google my name (at the time of writing this post), six of the first page results are about me and my photo is the first image that appears. (It’s a very long way from when I used to really value being a nobody and would Google my name to make sure it didn’t appear – obviously before I began publishing my writing.) And the first two results are the two platforms on which I control my content, those being LinkedIn (where I’ve published twenty articles) and this blog (where I’ve now posted over three hundred times).
Apart from making me searchable, they also make my content searchable. Every day when I check my blog statistics, there is a fairly consistent 25% and 75% breakdown between fresh content being viewed and old content continuing to rack up new readers. It makes sense. Just because I’m ready to write and post something doesn’t mean people are ready to read it. And, after all, I do a lot of writing. I’d be very, very surprised if anyone was ever ready to sit down and read it all in one go. So it waits there on my platforms until they are.
My LinkedIn articles are a great example of this. Two of them really help to demonstrate the importance of keeping content available online. In September 2015, I published an article entitled, “Three books women in their thirties should read about misinformation, motivation and motherhood” and for reasons that have never been explained to me, it was chosen to be featured in the Professional Women feed. I’m not complaining – I have no doubt that’s the reason it garnered over 9,000 views within eight weeks of being posted. In the year since those 9,000 views, it’s had less than one view each day, which tends to confirm my suspicions about its initial popularity.
Compare that to an article I published in October 2014 called, “Nine reasons you didn’t hear back about that job application.” In the first year it was up, it had less than five hundred views. But for some reason – again I have no knowledge of why – in the second year, it has had over 4,500 views. And when I checked it today to get those figures before I wrote this post, it was still averaging over 100 new views every day. So far 5,047 people have read it and that number continues to climb – more than two years after I first wrote and published it.
I create a lot of new content every week – mostly because I don’t know how not to – but even if articles, blog posts and other shorter pieces aren’t the sort of writing you want to focus on, a searchable platform is still important. I recently helped a friend of my dad’s edit and publish his memoir and he’s admitted it’s likely it will be the only book he will ever write. Still, he recognised the importance of setting up a website so that when people go looking for it online, it won’t be an almost impossible search amongst the millions, possibly billions, of other times the words “Paula and Me” appear on other websites.
We hear a lot about the overnight successes but that’s usually because of how rare they are. For the rest of us, it can take months, years and even decades. But having a permanent platform will help you build your profile in the meantime, give you a place to publish content when you want to and make you very easy to find when the one person who wants to give you a shot at the big time finally comes looking for you.