This is a post about writing online. It is written for myself, just to clarify something in my own mind, but I’ll share it with you anyway because if you also write online, maybe you have had similar thoughts.
Yesterday, I posted about the trip I took with Jana to Walt Disney World. I titled it, “Walt Disney World: World of Laughter and Tears.” Clever, huh? Originally, I named it “Walt Disney World: A World of Laughter, a World of Tears,” which better matches the lyrics of “It’s a Small World,” but when I googled the title, I saw it was already taken by TEN OTHER writers!
Still, I liked the post. When I started out writing it, I had three objectives, and I satisfied all of them.
1) Show off some new photos of Walt Disney World since I didn’t feel comfortable posting a million of them on Instagram where I would be mistaken for one of those dreaded Parent Bloggers.
2) Prove to my friend Danny that I could effectively mock the Disney ethos AND kiss Disney’s ass at the same time, just in case I ever want free tickets to some social media event there.
3) Prove to my friend Tanis that yes, I could go away for the weekend with a bright and attractive woman, and not have her break up with me.
Mission Accomplished to all three.
But did I really prove anything? And is this real writing? What type of writer am I? The stakes are so low. It’s almost childish.
Recently, I had bookmarked this article titled “6 Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your MEDIUM Posts.” (via Medium). I read it yesterday while travelling in the subway. The writer had very strong opinions about online writing.
You have to SELL your ideas in Medium, and the best way you can do that is to make it about people. Don’t say “I did this and that”. SAY, “You can experience this and that.” … why?… Because the viewer wants to learn something FOR himself. Not about you..
Let’s say you really want to tell a personal story about yourself and your horrible experience at a night club.
Don’t say, “I went there, I did this, and this happened, and then this happened…”
Start with something like,
“Don’t make the same mistake I did when you go to a NIGHT CLUB.”
See how that changed everything? ..The prospective? To other people?..
You can ALWAYS make any personal story about others if you told them what they can learn from the experience and how they can take caution so they don’t end up doing the same thing you did.
By the way, It could be a HAPPY story too.
But don’t write, “I went to Disneyland and did this and this and that, and it was amazing.”
No, you should start with something like,
“Here’s how YOU can maximize your trip to Disneyland with these simple (but essential) tricks.
I looked back over my last post. Immediately I notice that I failed to even write the traditional “I went to Disneyland and did this and this and that, and it was amazing” post. My post is a slight of hand, nonsense to fill the space until I have enough nerve to say publicly that I had a nice time with Jana.
Now, let’s imagine I come home from Walt Disney World, but with a different perspective, one of professional writing. The first question I would ask myself if “Now that I’m home from my trip with Jana, how can I best use my writing and/or photography skills to make at least a measly $100 by sharing something about my experience?” I know. $100. But better than nothing, right?
Now to make some money out of this, I would need to pitch some story idea to an outside website or publication. Which one? And what is the pitch?
Of course, the story is already there, hidden in the middle of the post, when I write this sentence —
“Can romance be found at a Disney theme park, a location crowded with crying children, stressed out parents, and senior citizens aggressively driving their rent-a-scooters like the extras in a Mad Max film?”
That’s it. That’s the story. Everything else is the piece is irrelevant to a reader looking for content. This becomes a post about me using my experience to HELP OTHER PEOPLE decide if they should go with their girlfriend to Walt Disney World. That is a successful pitch for a travel or dating site, no?
Now is the bigger question. Do I want to help others to “maximize the romance of going to Walt Disney World?” Do I want to write this post? Not really.
But that’s another problem.