Re-Discovering Your Weird

The biggest mistake new Internet writers is writing about what they think other people want to read instead of following their obsessions.

At the beginning of every podcast episode, Tyler Cowen says: “This is the conversation I want to have, not the one you want to have.” The lesson: Weird wins on the Internet. Create things for yourself and if it’s good, you’ll attract an audience of like-minded people. 

Having taught more than 500 people to write in the past 18 months, this is one of the hardest ideas for students to wrap their heads around. We’ve been trained to ignore our interests so we can please a target audience. Better to write for yourself and let the audience find you.

“How can I be weirder?” I have good news for you. All of us are weird, but social conditioning makes us suppress our unique interests and character traits. Building an online audience is about shedding the skin of conditioning and re-discovering what makes you weird.

Here’s a hint: If you’re passionate about an idea, but the market for articles about it feels uncomfortably small, you may have discovered an intellectual jackpot. If the idea was obviously popular, somebody would’ve written about it already — which creates an opportunity.

“the most economically efficient outcome is for media coverage of that niche to be dominated by exactly one person, who works fairly hard and has more comprehensive knowledge of the topic than anyone else.” — Byrne Hobart 

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