The 100 + 20 rule

I read an interesting blog post, and it was talking about the different rules you have when creating free and premium content.

Every professional content creator faces a dilemma. On the one hand, you’d love to make your content as widely available as possible in order to grow your audience. On the other hand, you need to make money to pay the bills, so it’s unavoidable to add some friction in the form of paywalls, ads, and exclusive content for supporters. But those speed bumps inevitably turn away some potential followers. Content behind a paywall is less shareable, less searchable, and even users who would be happy to support you may be turned away by the hassle of signing up.

Coil blog

It starts by saying you can use the 5% free, 95% paid rule. This is when you have 5% of your content displayed as a teaser, and you hope to hook them into your content enough for them to want to subscribe and read the rest of the content which is 95%. It can be a good route if you have already built an email list of free members, and you want to persuade them to part with their cash for the extra effort you have put into your blog posts. However, it’s not great if you’re still trying to build some SEO and you’re attempting to rank your blog posts.

Then you have the 100% free and 100% paid plan. You have 100% free content that you use to lure readers in and build some SEO and page ranking. Then you have 100% paid-for content which is linked from your relevant free content. It’s a great way to build SEO, and build an audience, but it also requires double the amount of effort.

It then goes on to explain the 100+20 rule. You have 100% of the content free, but you add an extra 20% at the end. This is the bonus premium content. I realise that Medium, Ghost and Substack don’t have this feature. However, I realise they definitely should because it seems like a big win for both readers, supporters and the author themselves.

They use a recipe as an example. Say you have a recipe for a banana pudding. You would give your reader the entire recipe for free. Now, say you had a great cream recipe that would match the banana pudding. This would be your bonus content which your supporters can read.

It’s a great concept, and definitely something to think about when you write your content for your audience. Also, as I’ve said previously, I don’t think Medium, Ghost or Substack currently have this feature. However, there are two platforms I know who have this feature. WordPress if you pair it with their JetPack plugin and pay for a premium package and Coil which is currently a free platform. I think it will be paid platform at some point, but it will cost $5 a month, which I think is fairly inexpensive compared to other blogging platforms.

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How to start blogging? Start with a platform you enjoy.

To some, this may seem obvious. Others may be writing on a platform they don’t enjoy. Some will also still be looking for a platform they enjoy writing on.

Why am I saying this now?

I say this now because it’s the mistake I made, and I didn’t even realise I made it in the first place. Sometime last year, something went wrong with my WordPress blog. Restoring from a previous version didn’t seem to fix it. This made me think it was time to ditch WordPress and go elsewhere.

It was at that moment when I started looking at static site generators such as VuePress, Gatsby etc. In the end, I chose VuePress because it was using VueJS. A language I was using alongside Laravel, and I thought it would be a great experience. At first, things went well, and I managed to export and re-import all my current blog posts. They were converted from HTML into Markdown.

The site was then hosted with Netlify, which is an awesome free static website hosting company. During this time, my writing started to slow down, but I didn’t notice. After a while, I thought my site looked too much like a documentation website which is understandable because that’s what VuePress is primarily built for.

Gaining some inspiration and motivation

A graphic designer on Twitter inspired me with his amazing website designs. Someone on Slack also spoke about a new static site generator called GridSome. GridSome looked better for creating blogs, and so I went to use it for the next iteration of my blog. Inspired, I created a really nice design and moved everything to GridSome.

It was still on Netlify, and I used Forestry to create my blog posts. It felt slick, and I was happy with the results. At least, I was at first. After spending some time writing, I found I couldn’t fully manage my posts. I couldn’t create drafts, and I couldn’t schedule them for later.

It still wasn’t enough to keep me going

This really slowed my writing process down, and I found I was no longer enjoying the writing experience. I was trying other tools and apps such as Notion, Bear and Evernote. None of these was as enjoyable as using WordPress.

Finally realising something was amiss

However, I still didn’t realise this until today. Even though I purchased a WordPress hosting subscription a couple of weeks ago. I only did it because I thought it was something I needed to do, but I wasn’t sure why. Now it’s as clear as daylight. The reason I chose to go back to WordPress is that I truly enjoy the experience.

They have everything you need to make a start. You can write drafts, schedule posts and connect to a huge community. Unfortunately, I lost my community the day I left and moved to static websites. However, I really hope that now I know this is where I want my content to stay, I can rebuild my community.

Please don’t make the same mistake I did

If you’re not enjoying your writing process, maybe it’s time to find another platform that can help make it more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be WordPress. It can be Notion, Medium, Facebook, Twitter etc. The possibilities are endless, and it’s completely up to you. Find your platform, and find your community. Spread your wings and fly, but also enjoy the process and feel the wind through your fingertips.

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Woman eating popcorn with remote - Writing and selling an ebook

Writing and selling an ebook during COVID-19 lockdown

Coming up with the idea

Two years ago, I decided I wanted to write my first ebook and sell it to the public. That ebook was all about writing your first ebook (very meta).

I started writing and got so far, then suddenly stopped. I’m not sure what happened, it could have been a decline in confidence or an overwhelming sensation of anxiety and depression, but I didn’t go back to the idea until this year during the lockdown.


During the beginning of quarantine, I didn’t have any thought or motivation in writing a book. However, I did have a lot of inspiration for reading books, and this year is the most I’ve ever read.

It then got to a point where I felt motivated to work on personal projects again, and I started getting social on my Twitter, invited all my friends to my Facebook page, and, most importantly, began where I left off with my ebook.

I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

It wasn’t exactly a straight and narrow road, some days, I would spend an hour or two writing and other days, it would be 5 or 10 minutes. I did whatever I could to muster up the motivation and courage to keep on writing. The most important thing that changed is my mindset. I went from worrying about what people might think about my work, to not giving a flying f*ck what people might think.

That change in mindset ultimately helped me get to the finish line and release my work to the public. Once it was complete, I uploaded a PDF version to PayHip and a docx version to Draft2Digital. So far, I have made four sales totaling £7.96, and my ebook is still being published to the Amazon marketplace. Once it hits the Amazon marketplace, I think I can make a couple more sales, but I won’t be taking much of an income from that, so I’ll try and persuade people to buy with PayHip instead.

Marketing my ebook

What did I do to market my book? Well, I’m glad you asked because I haven’t done anything special.

I went to Twitter, where I have ~3,000 followers. This is a handful, but nowhere near the amount of the greats. I started off writing a thread on how to make and sell an ebook, and then posted that thread to Hacker News for more exposure. Which I’m not sure even worked. I then waited until the evening and posted an update to that thread announcing the release of my book.

Also, posting to my Facebook business and personal pages but didn’t receive any sales from there. I had a few likes and comments, but nothing too exciting. The same also goes for LinkedIn; actually, many people have had quite a bit of luck with LinkedIn, but I’m yet to see any positives from there just yet.

Once I received my first sale, which I believe was sent from Twitter, I took a screenshot of the graph and posted it to Twitter underneath my sale announcement. This announcement prompted another sale from a close follower, which I was super happy about; she’s always been a very supportive Twitter follower and friend.

This all gave me even more confidence to post on Indie Hackers. Now, I’ve never been very active over there, and that’s definitely on me, but everyone there is super supportive. From now on, I will be far more active on IH and hope to build closer relationships over there. I say this because I had two more sales from posting updates to IH, and there have been so many great, supportive comments which make me want to push further.

Moral of the story

The moral of this story, you need to find your circle of online friends. Be supportive to those you are personally attracted to, and they will support you back. That support will then grow further to new people where the reach and positivity can grow. Nurture and love your followers, friends, and family, and you will reap the rewards.

Gain confidence early and gain confidence now, because the longer you wait, the worse your fears will grow. There are plenty of books to help with this, and I recommend “How to stop worrying and start living,” “Feel the Fear and do it anyway,” “The Chimp Paradox” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

Gaining confidence to start a blog

I had this discussion on my Twitter to which I said…

To anyone that doesn’t have a blog. What’s holding you back from creating one?

I had a discussion with a lovely lady who said her posts aren’t well written enough. She’s worried people either won’t like them, or they’re too boring and blogging can be very stressful etc.

It’s your blog, you can write what you want, when you want.

The great thing about having your own website or your own blog, you can write what you want when you want. The only stress you gain is the stress you put on yourself. No one demands content from you, and even if they did they can go elsewhere. Because this is your turf, your domain, your property. Your audience is being welcomed in, and if they like what they see, they can stay and even converse.

Start a blog by writing about your interests and enjoy the process. Share it with other who you think will enjoy it, it can be friends, family or someone you speak to online. Let them give you feedback and be open to that feedback. Your first round of posts will probably be terrible, but you will get better and you will gain experiences like no other.

Let me tell you a secret…

My first ever blog wasn’t good, but it was a good start. If you look at my first round of posts on here, they’re probably terrible compared to now. No blog post will ever be perfect, you just have to start and the best time to start is now. You can always build your site as you go, and you can edit your posts if you need to.

As Susan Jeffers has written you should “feel the fear and do it anyway“. Life is too short to be worrying what people might say or think. If you don’t do something now, then when are you going to start?