In a one-on-one before the holidays, a coworker expressed an interest in being more influential outside of the company and wanted my advice. There’s a similar email I get semi-regularly asking whether folks looking to advance their career should start blogging, write a book, or whatnot.
什么是技术影响者？Yeah, I’m not really sure. I think a lot of people would use the term to describe someone well known who talks about tech, and that seems like a reasonable definition. In this case, I’m thinking of it as someone who tries to shift industry practice or thinking on a given topic. For example, Tanya Reilly onBeing Glue那Cindy Sridharan onTesting in Production那or Dan Luu onHiring and the market for lemons。
大多数成功的人都不在网上众所周知。如果你经常在社交媒体参与,it’s easy to get sucked into the reality distortion field it creates. Being well-known in an online community feels equivalent to professional credibility when you’re spending a lot of time in that community. My experience is that very few of the most successful folks I know are well-known online, and many of the most successful folks I know don’t create content online at all. Maybe they have an Instagram account, but it focuses on their family and non-professional interests.
Further, the majority of successful folks I’ve worked with don’t write online. They haven’t written a book. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t have a YouTube channel. They don’t stream on Twitch. If you fall into a community that’s heavily online, you will be immersed in the message that you need to be creating content online to be successful, but that’s just not true. You absolutely don’t have to do this sort of thing.
Being well-known online can be bad.对于我所知道的每个人通过在线知名，谁改善了职业前景，我知道几个经历骚扰或伤害他们的专业前景的人。可见性可以在比它右转更多的方式出现问题。互联网是一个非常public space.
Content creation is an effective way to create prestige.制造声望最有效的战略是在几家着名的公司中花时间，但在线创建内容比加入旺业公司更易于获得。您可以从肯塔基州丹维尔，肯塔基州的内容创建内容，或者从飞翔市岐阜県从中写的，在那里教英语。
It’s hard to measure influence.If you have a concrete goal around influence, then you’re very likely to accomplish your goal, so long as you keep working at it for a decade or two. If you don’t have a clear goal, then you’re going to keep striving endlessly and to spend a lot of time feeling bad about your lack of progress.
Pageviews是a common measure of influence, but they’re a pretty bad one. It’s far easier to be controversial than to be influential, and while they’re related concepts, they’re very much different. Pageviews also incentivize selecting large audiences (“early-career software engineers”) over influential audiences (“technology executives”).
Social media followers是a good measure of reach. Reach is part of distribution, and distribution is a big part of influence, so this is probably a useful measure of influence, but again suffers from the challenges that plague pageviews. Most influential folks spend some time early on directly developing their followership, but that seems to be one particular phase of influence, not something that folks continue to focus on, and many folks develop their audiences in ways that are distinct from how they later hope to be influential.
书或美元销售是also tempting for folks since they’re easily quantifiable, but they’re not a particularly effective measure of influence from my perspective. Who reads the book and whether the book changes their behavior matters much more, and is very hard to measure.
Volume of writingis also tempting, but anyone can write a lot without that writing have much impact. There are a lot of LiveJournals out there to testify to that fact. Conversely, I think a lot aboutBeing Glueas an important post, and its impact stands on its own without an ocean of related posts written around it.
入站谈话是一个衡量,我发现有用的。有多少人是ach out for advice or perspective from you? To some extent, this could also mean your writing is confusing, but my general experience is that folks give up on reading confusing things and only reach out about things they’re moved by (or strongly disagree with, circling back to the previous point on controversy).
Personally, I set goals around my writing habit, which is the thing that I want to focus my energy towards. For example, in 2018, I set a goal to publish one post every month, which was helpful “influence funnel metric” for me. I don’t think this invalidates my advice that you should know how you’re measuring this, even if the best you can do is to acknowledge that you’re not really sure what you’re trying to accomplish–that’s useful to say out loud.
有点很长的路。I write a lot because I write to process ideas and free up space in my head. I don’t write a lot because it’s an effective way to be influential. I don’t even necessarily think writing a lot is a good way to become a better writer–I play at writing rather than practicing it. If your goal is to be influential online, don’t pattern match on a prolific content creator.
If you want to reap the benefits of influence, you don’t need to create a lot of content. Just create a few great things. You could start a Substack and end up writing a weekly post for years and never accomplish the impact of one great piece. For one example, consider Patrick McKenzie’sSalary Negotiation片。我怀疑更多的人可以称之为来自帕特里克的一件，而不是从帕特里克命名两块，但是单独的一件以一个重要的方式影响了行业。我写道数百个帖子但只标记了about twenty of themas influential (for a somewhat generous definition of influential–really it just means I like the piece), and by a stricter definition maybe onlyMigrations那四十年的职业生涯那Sizing engineering teams那and高生长年龄的生产力- 将帖子1：150的柱子与有影响力柱的比率。
Honestly, I still can’t guess which posts will be influential, but I can guess which posts have no chance of being influential, and I think most authors can self-edit to that extent as well. If your goal is to be influential, then distinguish between writing for practice and writing for influence, and don’t mix the two.
My advice is to find ways to experiment with all the mediums and figure out what you enjoy. Spend enough time at each to develop your skills somewhat. It’s valuable to you to have a few longer clips of you speaking online. It’s valuable to have a few pieces of your writing in a published book or magazine.
There are diminishing gains to having many published pieces or many talks online unless you have directly related professional goals (e.g., to support yourself financially from public speaking or publishing your writing). Unless it’s something you love doing, look at it as a self-development challenge, and then move on to something else afterward.
Distribution matters at least as much as content quality.Even if you create something amazing, it won’t be influential if folks don’t engage with it. The first part of engaging with something is discovering it, and distribution is a huge part of that. A coworker once told me, “Books aresoldrather thanbought。“这种推理界限适用于在线最多的写作。
为您的最佳内容开发分配计划。如果你想要你写influential, you should develop a clear distribution plan for it. Even with a distribution plan, what you’ve written may not get much traction, but without one it’s quite unlikely. The simplest effective distribution plan is coordinating with a few more visible friends to share your article. If you get ten people to commit to sharing your article around the same time, that’s honestly a good enough distribution plan for a snappy piece of content.
There’s an entire distribution ecosystem.If you create and distribute enough content, you’ll start to find there’s a fairly complex ecosystem of content distribution. There are secret chat rooms where social news voting rings promote content onto Reddit or Hackernews. There are weekly “best links” mailing lists that distribute new content. As a primary content creator, as opposed to these various forms of secondary content creation (e.g. “best links” lists), your interests are well-aligned with the ecosystem, and you can mostly ignore it.
Building distribution requires quantity and consistency.Nurturing most distribution channels requires generating an ongoing volume of work. Mailing lists, RSS feeds, social media—these all depend on consistent creating appealing content or being a noteworthy individual in some regard. You can’t create major distribution with infrequent, one-off content, which is why many folks end up thinking they need to focus on distribution in order to become influential.
Distribution is always a problem, but it’s never the only problem.A lot of folks get fixated on distribution as the sole explanation for why their work isn’t having the sort of impact they believe it should. You may need to edit your piece more. It might be boring. A lot of stuff that you write has been said before, and might not land effectively. Thought leadership is cyclical, with various viewpoints become popular and unpopular before switching a few years later, and your piece may be out of sync with current thinking.
Corollary: content is always a problem, but it’s never the only problem.People often get caught up on the idea that everything’s already been said. I’ve even chatted with some folks who were upset that someone else wrote a very similar post to one of their own. If you write something very similar to another recent post, you will likely get less traction, but that’s it. You will find some folks who get upset about stuff like this, but I think it’s fairly unrealistic and self-important to assume folks should check if others have written on a topic before writing on it.
你可以借用分发。If your goal is to be infrequently influential, then you don’t really need to bother developing your own distribution channels. Instead, just find folks who like you and ride on their distribution channels. Write a post on their blog, publish to their mailing list, speak at their conference, contribute to their book, or whatever. Prolific creators generally aren’t willing to let you publish a lot of content through their distribution (feels like getting taken advantage of), but they’re usually glad to help an irregular creator get visibility if they write something high-quality (solidifies them as a discoverer of a quality creator).
My last piece of advice is:don’t assume everyone’s playing the same game.One way that folks get into trouble in creating content is that they assume everyoneis playing the game that they are playing并应该通过他们的规则来玩。在实践中，人们在在线创建和分发内容时正在玩许多不同的游戏，以及规则和价值观冲突。很多人是focused on creating visibility for themselves, and assume others are doing the same. Many other folks are heavily financially motivated, trying to make a living by selling their content. Others make their living distributing others’ content, occasionally for direct compensation but usually for indirect compensation (e.g., podcast hosts and guests: a small percentage of guests do get paid for a small percentage of podcasts, but most podcasts don’t pay any guests and even for podcasts that do pay guests, most guests are not paid).