Starting a blog, or building an audience on social media?

When you start writing online, the first big choice you need to make is where to publish your writing.

There are experienced writers who passionately advocate both for and against starting a blog, there are ways to succeed with both approaches, and there's a way to get the best of both worlds.

Let's figure it out.

Pros and cons of social media

Social media websites, like Twitter or Medium, come with a distribution system.

(But you don't own it.)

It benefits them when people engage with your posts, and they have spent millions of dollars figuring out how to make it work well. So when you join a social media platform, you have a straightforward way to grow your audience.

It does not benefit Twitter when you take people off their platform, so they will reduce the reach of the posts that contain an external link to your blog.

Pros and cons of your own website

With your own website you own your distribution.

(But nobody knows your website exists.)

Social media platforms can, and often do, suspend or shadowban accounts (with or without a good reason). They can also limit your access to your audience to incentivize you to buy ads from them, like Facebook did several years ago. And your ability to say (or sell) things is limited by what the platform finds acceptable.

When you build your own mailing list on your own website, nobody can take that away from you.

Best of both worlds

Start writing where the readers already are, make it easy for them to discover your work, then convince them to join your readership on your own platform.

Use social media to build an audience of people, then create "lead magnets" - free and simple products you can offer people in exchange for their email address, and promote them under your social media posts.

That way you can build your own audience quickly, without building a reliance on platforms that are ready to take away your readers the second it becomes convenient to them.

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter, receive updates on new posts: