January 2022: Why I joined the Ship30for30 cohort-based writing course, and the changes that it caused in my life

What I thought would happen, and what really happened, instead.

Matthias Bohlen
5 minutes reading time

I joined the January cohort of Ship30for30, the writing course with Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush.

My original assumptions (which changed quickly after I joined) were these:

  • I need content for my first SaaS business.
  • I don’t have enough ideas, time and energy to write consistently.
  • If I don’t write consistently, I won’t have enough content.

So that’s what I thought, but something else happened instead:

I became a consistent writer on day 1

The course introduced me to the concept of having a “sacred hour”: A time each day where you’re both awake and unavailable to others.

That did the job. (Dickie would prefix this sentence with “and … BOOM!”). 😀💥

I created that hour for me. In fact I use 90 minutes as the first thing in the morning, usually from 09:30 to 11am. I do nothing but research, writing, and publishing in those 90 minutes. In the end, I always hit the “publish” button.

No tweeting, no planning, no podcasts, no videos – I just write and publish. In fact, consistency was not the problem.

I discovered the power of my own digital library

Every day, I write one piece now. During the course, we used a form called “Atomic Essay” – basically a piece of 300 words maximum, conveying one important idea with an intro, three main points, and a conclusion.

I put all the daily essays in one place (in my case, a git repository with Markdown files).

The repo is searchable, browsable, and it has a flat structure with hashtags, not more. No folders, no categories, just a flat plane of meaning (as Luhmann would say).

Now I have a big pile of content to choose from. I can search, pick and combine it into blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, video scripts, to my heart’s desire. During the course, I published all of the essays on newsbundler.com/blog. I will go on with that to see what sticks.

I made my publishing social, and automated

From my blog, I can now publish automatically to Medium and Substack. (Technology: I use an API request for Medium and an RSS feed for Substack). This takes 30 seconds each morning.

As Cole said during the course: “Don’t start a blog. It’s like you’re downtown where the action is, telling people there is a private party in your own living room.”

People want to read on social platforms. They don’t go to your blog.

So I decided to publish on the big platforms (“downtown”) and link back to my blog (“this article was originally published on News Bundler”). Gives me a nice number of backlinks with high DA which is good for SEO.

Finally, I publish to Twitter. That takes me 5-10 more minutes because I need to write a good “hook” into the first tweet.

I found my “voice” = my basic forms of thinking and writing

During the course, I have seen many different forms of writing: Stories, articles, checklists, essays, ramblings, etc.

For my own writing, I discovered that I like the following basic forms, and I am able to use them consistently:

  • profile of an interesting person
  • growth patterns for paid newsletter authors
  • process with activities and results
  • methods and frameworks for thinking and doing
  • tools and templates that make something easier

I founded a new business connected to my writing

Originally, I thought I needed “a theme to write about” for the course. I chose “How I build a startup from scratch: a tool and platform that helps authors make more money with their newsletters”.

A few days into the course I thought: “Hey, this is actually a good idea, you should create that startup for real!“.

“And … BOOM!” – I founded it (and I’ll keep writing about it). 😀💥

Turns out – now that the problem of writing consistently is out of the way – I really love the Newsletter as an art form! Did you ever see newsletters from professional authors like Polina Pompliano or James Clear? Totally amazing stuff to read!

I now want to help authors grow their paid newsletters. The basic idea is: Instead of 2 authors selling their newsletters to their own 1000 subscribers for $10, enable them to sell a 2-newsletter bundle for $16 to 2000 subscribers and share the revenue. $32,000 is more than $20,000, right? 😀💰

News Bundler, my new software platform, will automate bundling, subscription management, listing in a directory, discovery of the “bundle buddy”, and payment. As an author you can focus on the thing you love most: writing. You can even stay on the existing writing platform that you’re used to, because News Bundler connects to it.

Next steps

Phew, that was a helluva ride for 30 days straight! 😅 Now I need to give my mind some rest, open the window and let the fog of the battle leave the room and be replaced by fresh air.

Cole would now ask: “Can you make that more specific?”

YES, I can. 😀💥 I want to…

  • End the podcast series I was doing (and prepare for a new one)
  • Unbundle my thinking into 3 Twitter accounts (one for me as a solopreneur, two for my two products)
  • Clean up the creative mess I created
  • Save links to all course material
  • Make the important learnings actionable
  • Integrate them into my daily working habit
  • Use my content library to fill the News Bundler landing page

And of course: I will release an alpha version of News Bundler this February. If you’re an innovative, paid newsletter author who likes to try out something new, please DM me, we’ll set up your newsletter gold mine, together!

Want your own small media business, together with another author you trust?

Download our FREE eBook called "2 Writers Making Money". It shows you exactly how to raise your income as a paid newsletter author by teaming up with a buddy, selling a bundle of your newsletters, and splitting the revenue.

Set this up once, then forget about it and get back to writing.

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