What I learned from writing 50 articles in 50 working Days
In the last 10 weeks, I have published 45,077 words. This is article #50 of 50.
It was an experiment.
And this is what I learned.
First, I believe it’s important to set challenges instead of result based goals. Why? Because we can’t control results.
We can, however, control the processes which leads to results. Get the fundamentals right and the results will follow.
You need to build lead metrics to achieve lag metrics. Lead metrics are the process and lag metrics are your results.
You can get lucky without simple, repeatable lead metrics but it’s not sustainable.
For example, If you don’t make sales calls ( lead metrics) you’re not going to get sales and hit your target ( lag metrics)
My philosophy was to create and publish 50 articles and let the results take care of themselves.
I didn’t come up with this philosophy. It’s a contrarian sports psychology strategy employed by two of the most successful professional sports coaches of all time.
Bill Walsh won 3 Superbowls with the San Francisco 49-ers.
Phil Jackson won 11 NBA championships using this method.
Why does it work so well? It removes pressure.
How? Because you are in control. All you need to do is complete your lead metrics.
- Write X amount of articles
- Write X amount of tracks
- Edit X amount of videos
- Send X amount of cold emails
Whatever your lead metric is, all you need to do is turn up and do it every day. That’s your only pressure.
When you publish your creative work as difficult as it is you must surrender. It will be what it will be.
The point of the challenge is to complete it with no regard for the results.
Does this work? Mostly. I had one article which got 200 subscribers, added to various other newsletters.
A very high profile creator who I hugely respect reached out to me to congratulate me on the post.
The result? I got in my head, overthought it and my next articles were poor. I was trying too hard.
This is super common. It’s the mindset behind most one-hit wonders. It’s called loss aversion bias.
I was aware I was doing it but that doesn’t stop it from affecting my performance levels.
We can’t read the label when we’re stuck in the jar.
Parkinson’s law is the adage that works expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
I won’t go into it as I have written an article about it here.
But I have found this to be true. I spend 60+ hours researching, writing, formatting, and promoting articles.
I have seen huge leaps in my productivity and killing my procrastination.
I’m not perfect by any means but my public commitment to fulfilling the challenge has kicked me on where previously I would have slacked off and watched some shite on YouTube.
Accountability is a major factor in getting shit done. You need to create that in your life and career.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you've committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
You can do that publicly as I have or privately. But you must do it if you want to truly push yourself and fulfill your potential.
This is the idea that 20% of your work produces 80% of the results.
This is literally been my strategy to gain 752 subscribers in 10 weeks.
I posted 5 articles. Looked at the data to see which articles were the most popular based on which links you clicked.
I then took that article and posted it on Reddit and LinkedIn.
( yeah, I know…I know I need to get a Twitter account sorted asap 🧐 I just needed to pick my battles or risk burnout)
As you can see from the graph below this has been a successful strategy. Nearly all of it is from Reddit and word of mouth.
By writing 5 weekly articles I exponentially increased the sharing potential.
LinkedIn was a failure. I thought of it as an under-utilised marketing channel. Nobody really does content like mine on LinkedIn.
But it only got 4 subscribers and two of them I knew already.
It did generate a few inbound consultancy leads but they couldn’t be described as my ideal clients so I passed on them.
I set up the 50 articles in 50 working days as a creative challenge to myself but also an experiment.
I built a creative flywheel.
I wrote articles and published them on my blog. I then linked to my newsletter and sent it out to my email list.
I’m grateful people did click those links 🙏 which led to loads of visits to the blog on my website.
This is turn has helped some trickles of traffic on google. My website is 10 weeks old.
Hardly earth-shattering results but it’s a solid start.
Has my writing improved? Definitely but with a caveat.
I’ve had some lovely messages from readers which I’m super grateful about.
But, researching and writing 5 articles a week is a lot. I’m proud of everything I wrote but there’s not much time to write articles.
I have definitely got quicker but I do feel 5 articles is too much to keep them at top quality.
This has impacted in two ways:
- Lack of research time. The more research the better the angles
- Not enough time and space to bake ideas and let the ziegarnik effect have an impact
I’m not going to lie I was a bit nervous going into this experiment. I have burnout a few times in my career. It’s not nice.
I was keen to avoid it.
But I also wanted to create tension to test out Parkinson’s law and my own barriers of productivity.
What did I learn? Do the fundamentals and the result will take of themselves.
By focusing on the processes that you can control, rather than the results which you don't; your confidence will grow significantly.
Confidence is the biggest predictor of success.
I got a bunch of suggestions from readers. Thank you.
My favourite, was to do the opposite for another 10 weeks.
Instead of writing 5 medium-form articles, I am going to write one long-form article on a topic or strategy using the behavioural economics, mental models, and cognitive biases that I used to help artists sell millions.
Will it work? No idea. Everything is an experiment.
A bit about me
I’m an ex- multi-platinum artist manager. I created strategies and built audiences for artists who sold millions.
You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn
Too Much to do? Don’t know where to start?
I help creators and indie founders build no bullshit step by step creative business strategies to achieve their long term goals
I do discovery calls to see if we’re a good fit.
Cost? $0.00 Commitment? Zero. Time? 30 minutes
More info? Go here