.: 28 February 2016 :.

What I learned publishing 25 articles in 25 weeks

Today I am writing you with a smile on my face. Why? Well, the last 25 weeks I published 25 articles.

So I thought it could be fun to write about this journey. I know that you could be doing a million other things right now, so the fact that you are reading this means a lot to me. Thanks for that. If it wasn’t for you, I would have given up on this months ago.

Even though I don’t have a dramatic story to tell today, publishing weekly hasn’t always been that easy, not even rewarding. I made some mistakes I learned a lot. I hope you gain some value out of this personal article. Next week I will get back to writing about portfolios.

Let’s start this story by going back 25 weeks in time. I had been blogging about my school projects for a few months and I wanted to step it up. I wanted to help others by sharing what I learned. This resulted in my first real article which actually helped me to get an internship at IDEO. My fifth article gained some exposure because Adobe tweeted about it.

So based on these minor successes I thought I had a good plan of how I could help hundreds of people with a topic I personally struggled with a lot: building a design portfolio. This ended up harder than expected.

I started doing research about building an online audience and the word “consistency” kept coming up. I realized that in order for people to care about my writing, I needed to publish consistently. I decided to publish weekly.

I published and published but no one seemed to care. I tweeted more, created a publication on Medium and designed a page about my mail list. Still no one seemed to care. All articles that I saw on Medium had hundreds of recommends but my articles weren’t even read by ten people. (Only later I realized that the homepage of Medium doesn’t represent the average post.)

All articles that I saw on Medium had hundreds of recommends but my articles weren’t even read by ten people.

I got quite discouraged. School got busier and after about five articles I nearly decided to stop. There was one thing that kept me going. I was never comfortable publishing imperfect work, but the weekly deadline forced me to. Hitting the publish button became easier every week. It felt as I was curing my perfectionism.

Then suddenly a reader reached out to me. He read my post and found it helpful. The articles even helped him improve his portfolio and get a job. To me, this was quite a magical moment. This single email completely changed my mindset towards the statistics I was staring blind at.

This single email completely changed my mindset towards the statistics I was staring blind at.

That moment I stopped caring about the number of people recommended my posts. I stopped trying to make a post go viral. I stopped caring about the number of subscriptions to my mail list. This one email made me realize that all it takes is one person. One person to appreciate your work. Making an impact in another person’s life is more powerful than a million likes.

Work doesn’t have to be perfect to be valuable to others. If there is one thing I learned in 25 weeks it is that publishing imperfect work is more impactful than publishing nothing at all. I am actually convinced that all of my articles contain at least one grammar error. So if you are thinking to start publishing yourself, I hope this encourages you. All it takes is one person. One person to appreciate your work.

If there is one thing I learned in 25 weeks it is that publishing imperfect work is more impactful than publishing nothing at all.

Don’t hide behind a lack of experience. I think your lack of experience actually gives you a unique viewpoint. There are many senior designers who write about design portfolios. But because I am a student, because I am still trying to figure this out I look at things differently. I can write about portfolio struggles not just because I have struggled, but because I am still struggling. There will always be people more experienced than you. If only the smartest, most experienced people were allowed to write, the only person who would have permission to write about politics would be Barack Obama.

If you don’t know what to write about, start writing and you will discover. 25 Weeks ago I never thought I could write 20,000 words just about building design portfolios. I thought I could write five articles at maximum. However once I started writing, I discovered what I knew. If you start writing, you will discover what you know. Give it a try.

If you don’t consider yourself as a writer, neither did I. But then I realized that all it takes to be a writer is to write. Writing one sentence makes you a writer. You don’t need permission to write, all you need is a pen and paper.

I am doing my best to write better articles and your feedback would really helpful. I am excited about the future because instead of feeling scared, I feel empowered. As promised, I will be back to portfolio writing next week.

© 2018 Martijn van den Broeck
All rights reserved.