Stopping Writing For Other Web Sites

One of my goals, and a tactic for being happier, this year is Doing More By Doing Less More Deeply. To that end, I’ve decided to stop writing for other web sites and magazines.

Over the past few years, I’ve expanded the “channels” that my original writing appears in. In some cases, I’ve written specific content for sites and magazines like Inc. and Entrepreneur. In other cases I’m participating in the grand content expansion strategies of sites like LinkedIn, Huffington Post, WSJ, and Forbes. And in others, it’s just random stuff on sites from people building up their content in a particular area.

While it’s been a fun experiment, it has become an overwhelming chore. I get a request for something new from somewhere multiple times a week. I say no a lot, but I’m constantly having to think to myself “do I want to do this or not.” I’ve never been good at moderating, so it’s much easier for me to abstain and just say no to everything.

In some cases I’ve done this to learn about the content expansion strategies of either tradition or new media companies. I feel like that learning has hit very significant diminishing returns – sure there is more to learn, but it’s not significant enough to outweigh the effort and cost.

I love to write. And I very much appreciate the opportunity others have given me to contribute content to their sites. But I’ve gotten tired of the pressure from external sites to produce material for them on a particular time frame or in response to prompted topics, which some people love but I’ve grown to dislike. And most importantly, I’ve realized that I really like three types of writing best.

  1. Short form that I completely control, such as blog posts like this.
  2. Long form, such as books like Startup Boards.
  3. Commentary on other people’s writing, such as comments on other people’s blog posts or GoodReads book reviews.

I’ve been spending a lot of my writing energy recently on a new project that we are about to unveil. I expect that by stopping writing for other sites, I’ll free up enough energy to allocate what I want to for this project. And that feels like Doing More By Doing Less More Deeply.

  • JLM

    One of the marks of success is that everyone wants a little piece of your heart, brain.

    Do what makes you happy.

    You can do no more, you should do no less.


  • Reading about your depression in Inc touched me deeply. I was holding the physical paper magazine and I remember where I was even now. The juxtaposition of your article and all the others in the issue made it all the more special; very few humans write like you. Just like with food where complete abstinence is oblivion, I hope you consider writing for one or two top flight publications (NYTimes, say). That article in Inc is part of your legacy. Even if it was painful to write and annoying to deal with the magazine, looking back in a decade or two will, I believe, make you very happy that you did it.

    • Thanks for the kind words on the Inc. articles. Inc. is one of the few places I’d consider writing for at this point. When I agreed to do articles for them, I said I didn’t want to do more than one per quarter. That helps me focus on doing impactful ones.

  • channel_one_networks

    Well , that’s good to see. Do More Faster was not only a crazy title but a crazy idea which leads to your first heart attack or mental breakdown. At 25 maybe, but at 48 you end up looking like Bill Gates if you keep going.. The entire fabric of the Boulder image that “we” sell everyone is a little more chill that what you have been living and selling. Of course it is the “Boulder perception” bottled by Bob Greenlee and KBCO back in the late 70’s and 80’s.that made KBCO the highest selling radio station of all time and made Greenlee Boulder’s first Billionaire. welcome to boulder kid.

  • Such words. So free time.

  • Thank your Brad for sharing your personal decision.

  • mwaage

    Something funky going on. I see a blank screen for this post.

    • Strange – hit it again. It just came up fine for me. What kind of machine / device are you on?

      • mwaage

        Mac OS X 10.6.8 using Safari browser. I’ll switch to Firefox and see if that works.

        • Just checked on my end and that worked fine for me (Safari / OS X 10.9.1).

          • mwaage

            Text appears and then goes white. Onto Firefox. Hope it’s not a bug.

          • Strange. Tell me what happens with Firefox.

          • mwaage

            Google chrome worked fine and will take a look at Safari (uninstall – reinstall). I see your position and understand completely. Time is our biggest resource and how we manage time determines our best use. I love to write too and wish I could devote more time to it. Writing is analogous to thinking about things, something that leads to understanding the world. I’m glad to hear your thoughts and decision to redirect your energy. Best wishes on embracing what matters to you.

  • Christina Roberts

    There is nothing wrong with equilibrium. Remember? When the supply of Brad matches the demands made on Brad, you’ve reached it. Only you are in charge of the supply!

    • And without a doubt the supply and demand equation is still way out of balance.

  • Good move of course. Every time you do something new, something else doesn’t get done, one way or the other. Curious about what you learned here, “I’ve done this to learn about the content expansion strategies of either tradition or new media companies.”

    • I’ve got a pretty good handle on what drives page views and social engagement. I also recognize that most of these sites are transactional page view machines, which is no big surprise but it surprised me with how much focus there is on traffic, rather than engagement.

  • I tend to enjoy your blog most when you go into a bit more depth on a topic, also when the style is more of a narrative. The shorter blurbs are often informative, but not as memorable.

    • Helpful feedback – thanks!

  • Mike Schmidt

    Brad, Great decision. I dumped Facebook completely last year, (both
    personal as well as company pages) and I practice what I like to call
    “SafeSocial WebAccess” where I completely log out of Twitter and
    LinkedIn when I am not actively using or engaging them so I don’t get
    “sucked into the livestream vortex”. I find you can loose a lot of
    time when trying to scan the livestream and respond and react. But I do
    agree with
    Paravez’s comment below… you definitely should continue to selective
    write about those compelling topics or areas of interest that you are
    passionate about because the wisdom does come through effectively when
    you are fully engaged in a debate or presenting a position. Keep it up.

  • Anca Dumitru

    Interesting take, Brad. While I do share your views on writing short form


    Repost (At least I think it’s a repost, maybe I’ve been working too many hours):
    I’ve been wanting some way to write once – post everywhere. Kinda’ like the old days when programmers wanted to write once – run everywhere. I know from having articles published in the past that many places want exclusives. But it would be nice to be able to write something and with one click it’s all over the web. I’m not talking spam. But more or less a way to reach everyone everywhere as long as they want to receive it.