I guess it started when I wrote and published my first website back in 1996.
When I began writing for the web full time in 1998, I was soaking up new knowledge from all kinds of different sources. I would read articles, buy books and listen carefully to fellow presenters at industry conferences.
And, of course, I learned a great deal from every new client project I took on.
But nothing compares, or even comes close to the knowledge I have gained from writing and publishing my own hobby website, CoffeeDetective.com.
Yes, it’s a hobby. I work on the site just in the evening and at weekends. Sometimes.
And before I get into the part about learning, let me just mention that the site has also become a significant source of income for me and my family. Since I began writing it in 2007, this hobby-site has earned me over $200,000 in passive income.
Now let’s look at how my coffee site has helped me learn so much about writing for the web.
1. It taught me to understand the big picture
When working for a client on a project, I am often focused on a particular page or group of pages. That’s fine, but it doesn’t give me any insights into how the site as a whole functions, or not. Every project gives me another narrow slice of learning.
But with my coffee site I have been able to learn how every element within a site works as a whole. I am responsible for the entire site.
This gives me a much broader and deeper knowledge of writing for the web…writing the home page, sales pages, content pages, product pages, e-newsletters and so on.
My coffee site has also taught me how to add to and edit an entire site over time. Again, a client project teaches you about one thing at one point in time. Writing your own site teaches you how to write and edit an entire site on an ongoing basis. This includes taking care of seasonal changes, like updating a site to take advantage of the holiday season.
So now, whichever aspect of writing for the web a prospective client might ask about, I can answer with authority. I have done it all. I do it all.
2. It made me keep up with what’s new
Take social media, for example. Because I want my coffee site to succeed and grow, I have paid close attention to the growth of social media. My site now has profiles with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare and Scribd.
To take full advantage of social media, I have also had to makes changes to how I create new content for my site, so it will be more shareable through social media.
Also, because my site makes me money, I have been highly motivated to keep up to date with Google’s recent algorithm updates. I don’t want to lose any organic search traffic. So I have had to make changes to my site to accommodate the Panda, Penguin and other Google updates and changes.
In other words, I learn by doing
Now, when a client asks me if I know about how to optimize a page for Google, I can do it and do it well. Because I was doing it for my own site this morning.
If I’m asked how to optimize content for social media, I know what to do. Because I do it for my own site all the time.
And so on.
My knowledge is broad and deep. And it’s current.
And all because I am responsible for the growth and success of my own website. When I do better, I make more money. When I slip up, I make less.
I’m motivated to learn!
This learning process is infinitely more powerful than relying on book learning.
Learn more about writing for the web, and faster, by creating your own money-making website.
My website is about coffee, because I’m really interested in coffee. Yours should be on a topic you find equally interesting.
How can you learn about setting up your own site? Well, it does start with book learning. After that, it’s on-the-job learning.
I have written a full program on how to write a money-making website of your own. It includes hundreds of pages of instruction, numerous training videos, and a 7-week, LIVE training series with me.
Once your own site is up and running, you’ll not only have an asset that makes you money…but will also have your own sandbox in which you can play, learn, and build your knowledge of every aspect of writing for the web.
And then, the next time a prospective client asks you if you have knowledge of some aspect of writing and publishing a website, you can say yes. Always.
You can find out more about my program, How to Write Your Own Money-making Websites, here.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…
If you found this post helpful, sign up for my e-newsletter and get a free copy of my 35-page guide...
Writing For The Web #1 -- 7 Challenges every Writer and Copywriter faces when writing for the Web.
Sign up and I'll send you the link for the download, and then you'll receive my most recent post as part of my e-newsletter every Tuesday morning.
(Your email address will be used only for the purpose of sending you this newsletter, and you'll be free to unsubscribe at any time.)