You Need to Form Good Writing Habits with Dickie Bush
I’m going, to be honest with you: I’m squarely anti-hustle culture. I think it’s unnecessary and puts too much pressure on people to make “Gary Vee money.” So when I saw Dickie Bush’s Ship 30 project, I thought we had more of that narrative. Well let me tell you, I could not have been more wrong. Dickie’s approach to writing and his frameworks can help anyone become a better writer, and Ship 30 helps brand new creators go through the roller coaster that is content creation faster, and with a better support system. There are TONS of gems in this episode, so you won’t want to miss it. Plus, in Build Something More, Dickie and I talk about competitive gaming.
- Twitter is a “home run-based” platform that allows you to go viral with the right stuff. Generally, that’s content Dickie called “Reach” content; these are tweets or threads that everyone can relate to.
- Dickie says creating content isn’t coming up with 1000 different ideas. It’s coming up with 1000 different ways to use the same idea across different platforms, so it resonates with different people.
- If you’re struggling to come up with content, do the 2-year review: look at everything you learned over the last 2 years, and then write content for you, two years ago.
- Dickie Bush 1
- Dickie Bush 2
- Dickie on Twitter
- Dickie on Linkedin
- Join the Creator Crew
Joe Casabona:I’m gonna be completely honest with you here. I’m squarely anti-hustle culture. I think it’s unnecessary and puts too much pressure on people to make quote-unquote, “Gary Vee money.” So when I saw Dickie Bush’sShip 30project, I thought we had more of that narrative: hustle, work all the time, work yourself to the bone and you’ll make a lot of money.
Well, let me tell you, I could not have been more wrong. Dickie’s approach to writing and his frameworks can help anyone become a better writer. And Ship 30 helps brand new creators go through the roller coaster that is content creation faster and with a better support system.
There are tons of gems in this episode, so you won’t want to miss it. Plus, in Build Something More, Dickie and I talk about competitive gaming. Look for these top takeaways about how Twitter is a home-run-based platform, how creating content isn’t about coming up with a thousand different ideas, and how if you’re struggling to come up with content to do a two-year review.
And again, if you want to get that add free extended conversation for this and every episode of How I Built It, you can head over tojoincreatorcrew.comIt’s 50 bucks a year. That’s less than five bucks a month. And you get those add free extended episodes, you get live stream archives, you get behind-the-scenes content, and you get access to my paid workshops. They’re usually 40 bucks a seat. So you do the math there. Again, that’s over at joincreatorcrew.com.
This is episode 275. So you can find all of the show notes over athowibuilt.it/275. Thanks to today’s sponsors, Nexcess and LearnDash. You’ll hear about them later on in the show. But for now, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.
Intro:Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast that helps small business owners create engaging content that drives sales. Each week I talk about how you can build good content faster to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.
Joe Casabona:All right, I am here with Dickie Bush. He is the founder of Ship 30 for 30, which in our pre-show he was calling Ship 30, so I think I will also call it that. Really interesting pre-show kind of about how you were working for an investment firm and you have a math and computer science background. I’m really bad at math, but I do have a computer science background. So it’s cool to talk to somebody who has a CS background and now is primarily writing, which is similar to my story. So Dickie Bush, welcome to the show.
Dickie Bush:Joe, thanks for having me on. Yeah, it’s gonna be good. I’m looking forward to this.
Joe Casabona:Yeah, my pleasure. I discovered you because my friend Brian Richards kind of pointed out what you were doing on Twitter. I was basically telling him I want to be better at Twitter because it just kind of makes me sad most days.
I don’t like when people give hot takes about really deep topics, right? Like, I don’t want to timestamp this episode, but a very big thing has happened this week and people are giving their shotgun opinion on it without knowing really anything about it. And that really bums me out. And that’s like mostly what Twitter is. But you have proved among other things that Twitter is a great place to grow and network and put out good thoughts, right?
Dickie Bush:On that front, Twitter is basically whatever you want to make it. So it can be a place of an echo chamber of negativity and politics and hot takes and all that, or you can do what I do and aggressively use the mute button or the mute keyword button. So the topic du jour that everyone wants to have an opinion on, you throw that into the mute function and it’s boom, out of there.
So I have all politics blocked, I have all real current events blocked. You can turn it for better or worse into your own echo chamber and kind of cut out things. So I use it in a positive way to meet people, share ideas, learn, build a business, all that good stuff. So it is very powerful if you use it correctly.
Joe Casabona:Yeah, I love that. You know, you’re saying this. The guest us who I’ve recorded already, but will be the next episode, taking things out of time a little bit, Sam Munos, said the same thing. Like she really loves Twitter… She’s really new to Twitter, and she’s been using it for networking and for like connecting with potential people for her mentorship. I think, for me… I don’t know. How long have you been on Twitter?
Dickie Bush:I created the Twitter account that I’m currently using in August of 2020. So 18-ish months ago.
Joe Casabona:Okay, wow. So now, caveat there. You said you’re using the one that you created. You’ve been a Twitter user for how long?
Dickie Bush:Yeah. So I used Twitter before that. But just when I really went all in on kind of writing and building a Twitter account, I’ve read somewhere that like when I’ve dug into it, it’s better to start a new one than one you’ve potentially had since high school because it’s got like a dampened social graph, it’s connected to a bunch of accounts that are no longer active, all that stuff. So I just was like, “No one’s really following me on this one, so I’m just gonna start a new one.”
Joe Casabona:That’s really interesting. And also I feel super old now because you’re like when you started in high school. I think I have 10 years on you. I’ve been on Twitter since April 2007. So 15 years-ish.
Joe Casabona:You know, maybe it’s because I’m like old man Twitter user. I’m like, “I remember when it was just like me and a group of people live-tweeting the Yankee game before @replies were a thing or whatever. It felt very community-based. And now it can almost feel formulaic, but I think I should heed your advice and Sam’s advice.
So I use the mute filter. I should be more aggressive about it. And also I do follow some political [inaudible 00:06:38], so I’m on both sides of the aisle. I think I either need to like put them in a list so I never see them or just when I want to check on major news. But I think that needs to kind of be out of my main timeline at the very least.
Dickie Bush:Yeah, it just makes it a better place to be for sure.
Joe Casabona:Yeah. Awesome. I also I’m one of those suckers who pay for Twitter Blue.
Dickie Bush:Me too.
Joe Casabona:Cool. One of the first things I did that I wish you could do in more than just the iOS app is replace the search button with the lists button or whatever. Just anything to make it harder to get to the trending topics, because that’s the thing that really gets me.
Dickie Bush:Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Joe Casabona:I guess we’re not really here to talk about Twitter but since we’re on the topic, you are a prolific Twitter thread writer. In fact, I think I saw at the end of 2021, you mentioned that nine threads or something like that is responsible for most of your follower growth. Is that accurate?
Dickie Bush:Yeah. What’s interesting about Twitter is it’s definitely a home-run-based platform where, by nature of it, you can extend far, far, far beyond your number of followers if you write something that has the potential to go viral, it’s got baked in virality.
And so the way I think about Twitter growth is you want to stay consistent and have things coming out every single day. But there are these big one-off things that end up going far more viral that are going to lead to 80% to 90% of your growth. And then the rest is just keeping people engaged and providing value to them. Right?
So every time you go and write something like that and it gets 20,000, 30,000 likes and you gain 10,000, 15,000 followers, you then have all these people who are coming to you for the first time, and they’re like, “What are you going to give to me? How are you going to provide me value?” So you’re consistently tweeting and sharing insights every day, but then a lot of the growth happens on these one-off spikes.
Joe Casabona:That’s really interesting. I’ve kind of noticed this. I had a Twitter thread where I talked about a free newsletter that I was working on on how to grow and monetize your podcast, which I think is finally something people are interested in. I’ve been like banging this drum for a couple years now. And most people are like, “It’s just a hobby.” And you know, it gained me like 30, 40 followers, which is more than any of my other tweets has ever gained me.
And a few weeks ago, I had Jay Clouse on the show talking a little bit about #Tweet100 and how he made that into his community. And I found exactly what you said, right? I gained a lot of followers by being consistent and then kind of doing these one-off things. I mean, is there a formula for your Twitter threads? Or is it you kind of try a few things and something’s gonna catch and something isn’t?
Dickie Bush:So there’s a bunch of different ways to go here. I think Twitter threads are… there are a couple of ways to write them. The way we talked about it in Ship 30 is there’s reach and there’s resonance. All content falls on a reach and resonance spectrum.
So if you are writing something, the bigger the question that you’re answering and the more number of people it applies to, the more likely it can go viral. Versus when you write something very specifically to a smaller group of people, it doesn’t have the potential to go viral.
So what you just said of “I wrote a thread about how to start a podcast and monetize it.” That is going to have far fewer of a total addressable market of people than 10 tips to make more money or be happier or have better relationships, right?
Dickie Bush:So the way I think about Twitter threads are about 75% of the time I think about them a little bit like content marketing, where you are writing something broad that is going to attract a large number of people and then you deliver value more often with resonance content.
So a lot of my Twitter threads are breaking down the writing routines of famous authors or the growth strategies of famous YouTubers, or what have you. And those were a lot of my threads that contributed to my growth. And then there’d be a handful of people that that would attract who then would follow me and get so much value out of the resonance threads that I was writing of, “hey, here’s how to build a daily writing habit.” That’s gonna have far fewer people interested than something broad like talking about David Ogilvy’s advertising.
So the way I always envision it is, Am I writing a reach thread or resonance thread? And you strike that balance of, Hey, I’m gonna write something that I think when I put it together I know it has potential to go viral because it’s got a large group of people who are going to be interested in it. Versus when I write something on hyper-specific I know it’s not going to go viral but the people that read it are going to become potential customers or lifelong followers because I’m solving a specific problem for them.
Joe Casabona:That is incredible. So little behind the scenes for the listeners, I type everything I want to have in the show notes in Notion. But the stuff that I want to specifically implement myself goes into a Field Notes notebook. And I just got a couple of ideas for reach threads that I’m going to try out. Because that’s such great advice.
I guess I was always under the impression that like, “Okay, I want more podcasters to follow me, I’m going to do a bunch of resonance threads.” But those are going to resonate with people who are kind of already following me, right? You want to bring people in a different way, and show them that you’re entertaining, and then show them the value that you can potentially provide them.
Dickie Bush:Exactly. And while we’re on this, let’s just go a level deeper, right? So any type of writing you can do falls into one of four buckets. We call it the 4A framework. Everything you write is either actionable, analytical, anthropological, or aspirational.
So actionable is, “Hey, here’s how to do something.” For you. It would be: “Here’s how to start a podcast. Here’s how to set up recording. Here’s how to interview a guest.” Right?
Then you have analytical, which is analyzing or predicting trends or breaking something down. So you could go and say, “Hey, I looked at the 10 highest rated podcasts on Spotify. Here’s their thumbnail. Here’s how often they post. Here’s how long their interviews are. Here’s their advertising strategy,” right? So you’re analyzing something. They’re breakdowns.
Aspirational is your personal story. So, “Hey, I started podcasting in 15 years ago. Here’s 10 lessons I learned. Here’s 10 mistakes I made. Here’s XY Z. Here’s my story growing my podcast to whatever.
And then lastly, anthropological is the why. So the human nature, the psychology of it. Help people overcome the fear of starting a podcast, break beliefs around the fact that it’s too late to start a podcast, show them all the reasons why most people don’t or whatever it is.
So as you’re thinking about reaching resonance content, actionable stuff is usually resonance. But aspirational is more reach, right? Because you’re telling a personal story. People are going to be attracted to you versus coming in and saying, “There’s not that many people who want to know how to set up a Riverside recording like we’re doing right now.” But that would be your step-by-step Twitter thread of, “Hey, everyone that’s already following me that’s interested in podcasting, here’s something for you.” Versus people who are just interested in humans in the world I’m going to share my story of how the podcast changed my life. So there’s just a little bit of back story.
Joe Casabona:It’s like tutorial versus like my business was failing in 2017 and I had my podcast and it saved my business, right?
Joe Casabona:Absolutely true. Right? So that seems like a should be a good Twitter thread for me. Now, this is another kind of interesting thing to me. And this is how we’ll kind of parlay this into the Ship 30 conversation.
I’m a big proponent of reusing content. I think that is how people stay consistent. So when you do these Twitter threads… I would love to know your process as much as you’re willing to share. Do you write a blog post and turn it into a thread? Do you keep those two things separate and then like coalesce the ideas in a different way? How does that look for you.
Dickie Bush:I don’t have a perfect process for it. I’ll share a couple things. So your first point on reusing content. We say in Ship 30 that you don’t have to come up with a thousand new ideas. You need to figure out a thousand different ways to use the same idea. So reusing content is really figuring out new frameworks, new templates, new ways of communicating.
There’s only so many things I can say about how to build a daily writing habit, which is a majority of what I talk about, but presenting it in new ways, new formats, visuals, all that is really the name of the game. And so in terms of reusing content, I go back to things that are successful and say, “What’s the core idea here?” or “What’s the core way I communicated this idea? And how can I reuse that?” So I’m always on the lookout for things that work.
The best part of creating consistently is you turn into a more conscious consumer. Because when something gets your attention, you go, “What was it about this that got my attention? Was it what they’re writing about or the template or whatever?” And so you’re kind of on this hunt all the time. So when something gets my attention on Twitter, I’m like, “Oh, great. Save that. How can I use the exact way that they went about it?” So you’re always kind of looking for new ways to package your ideas into new formats.
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Joe Casabona:You know, I was doing… Well, I still do videos for hire for people, but when I first started it and I was under the kind of tutelage of my friend Shawn Hesketh and we were making promo videos and he was like, “These are the things that you want to think about when you’re creating a promo video. It’s not just a tutorial. You need to connect with people and these things need to match up.”
And after that, every commercial I watched I was like, “What story are they telling? How are they communicating this? Why does this feel like a miss for me?” So I think that’s great. You kind of become more aware of why and how things work. And I love that.
Now let’s talk Ship 30. I’ve said in a podcast interview with Alastair McDermott with which is, you know, several episodes before this, that I was suspicious of the idea of writing every… not necessarily writing every day, but creating a new piece of content every day. I try to write every day. I have to write every day even in some way shape or form, but the pressure of putting out a good piece of content every day felt like undue pressure especially for like a first time creator. Why do you feel differently about that?
Dickie Bush:Because there’s two different things with what you said there. The first is create something every day. That is real really hard, and not something anyone should do. And we call this knock knock writing, which is if I asked you to tell me a joke right now, your mind would go in 100 different places, right? You’d like, “Oh…” You probably freeze because you don’t know what the joke to say. But if I said, “Tell me a knock knock joke,” your mind would jump immediately to a joke, right, because I gave you some constraint.
So within Ship 30, the reason, first of all, that people are able to write and create something every single day for 30 days is because they join and we give them a tight set of constraints. You have an atomic essay. It’s 250 words or less. You’re using one idea. Here’s 30 potential prompts for it. And we do everything possible to make that doable. Because yes, if it was, “Hey, come in here and write every day for 30 days and figure it out,” that’s impossible.
Now, another reason we do every day for 30 days is because most people sit on the other side of they don’t create often enough at all. Right? It’s very inconsistent. So we package this 30 days into, “Okay, here’s the goal.” Now, not everyone reaches that. In fact, I very rarely. I try to do most cohorts, but I think I’m like two for twelve on actually finishing every 30 days.
And part of that is the point because it forces you to confront the highs and lows and ups and downs of creating content. Because you’re going to have some days where you wake up extremely excited to write, you’re going to have some days where it’s the last thing you want to do, you’re going to have some pieces that go viral, and have a ton of success. And then the very next day, when you hit publish and get no likes, you have to deal with that. Right?
So it condenses this entire creator journey into a 30-day. You feel the highs and lows. You get to really feel all the different things that I think take most people three or four years to kind of experience. You have to deal with yourself. If you miss a day, how do you react? Is it over? Are you not going to get back up and do it the next day, right? A lot of people do teeter on the edge of burnout. Right? And they have to address that. How do they deal with it?
So Ship 30 is… One thing our students say all the time is it’s a life transformation disguised as a writing course. Because you have to address all these different things, all these different emotions, all these different ways of thinking during your 30-day experience. That is a really one of the big reasons, right?
We don’t expect you to actually write every single day for 30 days if it becomes infeasible. Like we don’t want you staying up till 11:59 and hitting publish. It’s more dealing with the emotions of the entire thing, you get to learn so much more about what it means to write, what it means to create. And that’s really the foundational reason we do it.
Joe Casabona:Yeah, that’s really fantastic. I mean, first of all constrained writing… You know, again, when I think of creating every day, right, I’m like, “I need to write an 800 to 1,000 word blog post on something that people are going to want to Google?” And everything like, oh, just 250 words or whatever. So I think that’s really good.
And then it’s funny you mentioned burnout because this was one of the things. I was like, “This feels like hustle culture.” Like, “Hustle every day. Write every day.” And burnout is a part of that. But when you were talking about it, it kind of made me realize like, “Yeah, most creators whether or not they’re creating every day is going to experience burnout at some point. If they’re teetering on burnout in this support group, essentially, with other people it’s a lot better than dealing with it on your own? Maybe that seems like a really good benefit now to not really forcing burnout, but like you said, making people confront the journey together in a condensed amount of time. I really liked that.
Dickie Bush:And it’s not that you burn out on your own. And we know based on our internal tracking of who’s completing the course, who’s collecting badges and kind of our gamification process, who’s continuing to writing. We see very clearly when someone stops and then we send in the troops. We have, during our cohorts, the breakdown of people who are doing it for the first time versus returning alumni who are part of our follow-on membership. It’s really half and half.
So when we see someone fall off, we have alumni captains who reach out give them support say, “Hey, well notice you didn’t write yesterday. Is everything good?” Because then it’s “Wow, I didn’t just fall off. People are paying attention to me. I’m being supported.”
So just like you said, it’s almost they quote-unquote, “burnout” and then they’re immediately greeted with a ton of support to say, “Hey, let’s figure out why this happened.” And then they don’t give up. So our mission is to get every single person onto that day 30 celebration call whether they write every single day or not, because when they do, we know it’s going to transform their life. So we do everything we can to kind of intervene throughout the process as well.
Joe Casabona:Gosh, that’s awesome. I really love to hear that. I’ve been in a mastermind group for years. During the pandemic, I was live streaming every week, I was putting out a YouTube video every week, I was putting in a blog post every week, and I was putting out two podcast episodes every week. That’s too much… I’m like looking right at the camera even though this is not a video-based podcast, but that’s too much.
And when I realized that I was like, “It’s okay to not live stream every week. It’s okay to reduce the amount of YouTube videos I’m making to every two weeks or every three weeks.” That’s fine as long as it’s useful content.
Again, I have a long forged habit of writing every day or creating some piece of content. One of the reasons is I’ve developed what I think is a good framework for capturing ideas. And I know recently you tweeted or you had… Maybe it was a thread on capturing ideas. Where you mentioned, like, go for a walk, bring a notebook and a pen, don’t bring your phone.
Can you talk a little… I mean, I showed you my notebook. I love notebooks. I love pens. So can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think a lot of people expect to sit down in front of like a blank cursor and then the words flow. But even if I have like 10 ideas in my note-taking app, the words still aren’t flowing, but at least I have some place to start.
Dickie Bush:This is a bunch of different ways to go on the idea generation process. So idea capture is part of the idea generation process. The capture is finding all the different places you can come up with an idea. So when I say everywhere I mean everywhere. I have Post-It Notes sitting here next to my bed. I have a notebook that I take on walks.I have a waterproof whiteboard in the shower because that’s where almost all the good ideas come. I have quick capture on my phone. It’s giving your mind the freedom and comfort to come up with an idea knowing that you’re going to capture it or ever inspiration can strike.
Now, in terms of walking. I’m on the record saying that 95% of my writing happens during walks: thinking, outlining, pondering, brainstorming, listening to things that are sparking ideas, learning. The last 5%, when I sit down in front of the computer, I know exactly what I’m going to say. And so I do not write at the computer. I write everywhere else and then polish at the computer. Right?
So the idea of I’m sitting down to write and I open up a blank cursor blinking back at me literally never happens. My writing system and I’ve written about this a good bit is I want to do every single thing I can to make sure when I sit down its I have momentum. I’m starting something that’s 95% done, it’s time to just kind of polish it up together.
Joe Casabona:Yeah, that’s awesome. Giving your mind the freedom and comfort to know you can capture. I’m just gonna share… I have like a couple of… I don’t know if you have an iPhone. But I have a couple of shortcuts where I can just kind of shout into my house or into my headphones, like, “I have an idea,” and it creates a new note in Craft. I could do this while I’m driving, while I’m walking, when I’m running… I’ve never ran. I like jog steadily. But when my hands are not free I guess is the point. And it’s for that reason.
Again, I love my pen and paper. But you know, having a device on me where I can… I mean I like straight-up dictated most of the blog posts while I was sitting out at a fire pit and I was listening to a podcast and it sparked an idea and I was like, “Here’s everything I’m thinking about this right now.” And like you said, now it’s time just for me to polish it because I did most of the writing.
Dickie Bush:Yeah, otter.ai is a great tool for that as well that will transcribe. So sometimes if I’m feeling stuck, I just go for a walk with my phone and record myself talking. Otter will auto transcribe that for me. I’ll sit down afterwards with a pretty much a full outline done.
Joe Casabona:Oh, that’s really cool. So Otter has like… It has an iOS app?
Dickie Bush:Has an iOS app, automatically transcribes, and then we’ll send it right to you or you can just download it. I mean, probably 75% of my writing starts via Otter. The others all start with a single idea and then I do 10 bullet points. Anytime I come with an idea, it’s how can I just write 10 bullets underneath that because that is going to be a tremendous amount of raw material that again all goes back to how can I start writing with momentum?
Joe Casabona:I think that’s a really good point, right? You know, in high school, you learn how to outline research papers or long papers. That’s something that I’ve carried with me now for 20-plus years. And I was doing it one time and someone was like, “Are you actually writing an outline?” And I’m like, “How can you write without one?” I need it, right? With my books, I mind map and then I turn that into an outline, and then I have chapter titles essentially. I don’t know how somebody could do any long-form writing without at least bullet points, like you said.
Dickie Bush:So you just hit on an interesting point that we can pull on a little bit regarding idea generation. Because what you just said was, “I don’t know how anyone else does this,” after someone said to you, “Are you really doing that right now?”
And I think 90% of writing online is figuring out all of those ideas that are incredibly obvious to you, but amazing to others, and figuring out what those ideas are and getting comfortable sharing them. Right? Because so many of those things… the fact that… I wrote a thread the other day about before I go to bed, if I know I’m writing in the next morning, which is pretty much every single day, I will do that 10 bullet point brain dump. It takes me three minutes, I’ll write in an idea, and then 10 bullets, and then I shut my journal and I go to bed. That way I’m waking up the next morning with momentum.
Now, I’ve been writing threads for a while and I almost didn’t publish that one because I was like, “This is obvious. Most people know.” You just outline, right? The number of people who commented on that and said, “I did that today after reading this,”… It’s one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done. I woke up with clarity. I woke up with momentum. And that is the game right there.
Sitting inside your head is an incredible amount of resources, tips, tools, quotes, mistakes, all of these things that have become ingrained from your personal experience that now you can share that will be incredibly valuable to other people. But 99% of people never get comfortable thinking that. They say, “I don’t have anything valuable to say. I don’t have anything that I could write consistently that anyone’s going to really read and resonate with.”
And the way we help people unlock that is something called the two year test, which is you sit down, a blank piece of paper and say, “What are all the things I’ve done over the last two years? Experiences, hobbies I’ve created, big life milestones, mistakes, a new business, maybe you became a vegan, you started exercising, all of these things to help uncover all that raw material for what is now become obvious to what you do every single day. Right?
And you could extend two years to 20 years if you wanted, whatever it is. It’s just looking backwards and saying, “Okay, what are all the things I’ve done that I could potentially write about?” And then the beauty of the internet is it guarantees there are millions of people in that exact spot you were two years ago who would find an incredible amount of value if you go and share those ideas.
And that is how we unlock creativity for people was realizing, one, you do have something worth saying and two, there are millions of people out there waiting to read it. And the internet is going to help you find them.
Joe Casabona:Wow, that… man, I don’t even have any words. That’s so good. And it’s something that, you know, as an educator, you’re educating people… I’ve been a longtime educator. It’s really something that you need to keep top of mind. Is that this thing that I know that has been ingrained in me for so long has never been considered by a certain amount of people.
I feel like having kids helps me with that. Right? Like my daughter she’s super inquisitive. She asked me what the word “sacrifice” meant recently. We were watching like Harry Potter or whatever and I guess they said the word. So she’s like, “What does sacrifice mean?” And I said, “Oh, well…” You know, I gave her a definition.
And then later I was telling her how I was going to do something for my son because he had pinkeye and I didn’t want her to get pinkeye, too. And she’s like, “So you’re sacrificing yourself for me?” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s perfect.” But like how many of us think about like what every word we use every day means? I guess my point which is meandering is, like you said, there’s tons of people out there who don’t know what is so instinctual to you at this point.
Dickie Bush:Exactly. And the beauty of the internet is it’s never been easier to find those people.
Joe Casabona:Yeah. I love that. So kind of last thing here on on idea generation and capture. Something that I try to tell people when they’re trying to figure out… usually podcast episodes, right? Because people are like, “what am I going to talk about for an hour?” And I’m like, “Well, you don’t need to talk for an hour, first of all. Like you could talk for 10 minutes is fine.” Is like use like whatever happened to you yesterday, right?
I’ve told stories about how good baby clothes are made by people who are parents. These like button-up things are terrible because it’s like two in the morning, your child’s hungry and screaming and you’re trying to fumble in the dark to button. And we have like these reverse zip pajamas. And so I wrote about that and I was like, “These people understand their customer. So how can you understand your customer or whatever?” And just like kind of stuff like that. Again, I think this is something I’ve ingrained in in myself that I think a lot of people don’t think of. So when you have idea capture… I guess, what are the most common places you find inspiration?
Dickie Bush:At this point, it’s if I’m talking about writing, it’s looking back at things I’ve already written and finding those same frameworks. Now, I’m branching further out into, just like I said, I’m doing a new two year test of what was I doing two years ago. And it was starting to think about building an internet business. And I had no clue where to start. Email marketing, copywriting, starting an LLC, all that stuff, hiring, how do I do any of that?
And so I’m starting to say my original content was to the person I was two years ago learning to write. How do you start writing on the internet? Right? My new thing is probably going to be how do you start an internet business? How do you get your boots on the ground, share your ideas, take all your insights that potentially you’ve been writing about, and turn that into something lucrative?
So I’m always thinking… my ideas come from just personal reflection almost all the time. I love sharing things. I think I have a unique ability to distill. If you could just describe my writing, my Twitter threads, it’s distillation. It’s taking these bigger ideas and turning them into something that they feel is far more approachable, far more tangible.
So I’m starting to think, “Okay, how can I go and share all those?” And a lot of my ideas simply come from questions of “When I share something, what are people asking me?” I think people get caught up of “I need this big audience if I’m going to write.” No, you need one person to read what you wrote and ask you a question, and then you know what to write tomorrow. And then something else is going to come from that, and something else is going to come from that.
So actually source a lot of ideas now from just kind of putting things out there, talking about email marketing, talking about hiring, talking about working with a partner, all that kind of stuff. And seeing what are people asking, because, again, the internet guarantees that if one person has a question, hundreds of thousands, probably even millions have that same question. And then you can go and answer it.
Joe Casabona:Yeah, right. I’ve said this to my students, and I’m sure every teacher has said this in the classroom. Right? If you have the question, other people in this class probably have that question. So you should just ask it. Ask an answer, right?
Looking back at things you’ve already written and is really interesting to me because I think a lot of people feel like maybe it’s part of the SEO game where, “Well, I’ve already written about this, so I’ll just like go back and update this post.” But I feel like there’s a lot of value in fresh writing where you’re not constrained to kind of how you worded it. You have the freedom to write it a different way. You can always reference that older posts like, “Oh, this is what I said then, but here’s kind of how that’s changed.”
I know we haven’t really talked about SEO. I don’t know if you’re an SEO expert or anything like that, but what are your general feelings on that?
Dickie Bush:I have mixed feelings on SEO because I think a lot of people when they think… So what you just reference, right, not reusing content because quote-unquote, “SEO.” The SEO game-
Joe Casabona:You want the canonical link or whatever.
Dickie Bush:Right. The SEO game is dominated by companies with massive content marketing budgets that I think 99.9% of writers have no business competing with. So instead of thinking, the immediate thing is, “Oh, I’m not going to be able to rank if I write something again.” You’re probably not going to be able to rank anyway for a lot of things because you don’t have the money to pay for a content marketing team to spend all day analyzing that. That is not a game that you really want to be playing.
I think you want to be playing a game that is providing much more… If you Google like a common like how to start X, Y, and Z, right, you’re getting met with pages from Zapier and Podia and all these other firm, companies that have huge content marketing budgets. I think most people aren’t actually playing the SEO game, because it’s not a game you want to be playing. It’s not a game to compete with. And instead, you should rely on social platforms to attract people to potential other content. And the way you do that is getting your ideas out there.
So say you have a pillar blog post on how to start a podcast, which one, I don’t think you’ll rank for, but I think if you had “how to start a niche XYZ podcast,” you probably could, then you want to take that and go repurpose it day after day for a long time because you’re gonna attract people who, once they find you, then they’ll click over to your blog and read all that stuff.
So I think your blog… If you want to walk kind of out of the camp of you don’t need one, especially in the beginning because people aren’t going to know it’s there. You’re not going to rank highly, you’re not going to rank high enough or write anything that wins the SEO game. So instead of play the social game where there’s already attention, and you’re not competing with millions of dollars of venture money.
Joe Casabona:That’s super interesting. I like that because it jives with my personal experience and how hard it has been for me to… You know, Ahref is, full disclosure, former sponsor of this podcast. You know, I’ve been using their free tool and I’ve been waffling on whether I should pay for it or not. And I’m like, “Am I going to actually use it, you know, for 100 bucks a month? Is it going to help me?”
But I think I like this approach. I love the writing part of it. But I could always publish it to a blog, repurpose that as Twitter threads kind of based on your 4A Framework here. And then I can always direct people, right? I don’t know if you use any tools for… I think you do. I think you have a Twitter thread tool, right?
Dickie Bush:So we built a SaaS platform called timeshare shameless plug on it. But we had so many people coming into Ship 30 and we were sending them off to go right on these other tools. And we said, “Look, we’re responsible for, at this point, over 4,000 beginner writers beginning their journey. Why don’t we create the platform.” And that’s only via Ship 30. I mean, start writing online, we have a 13,000-word ultimate guide to help people who have never published anything to go and start writing online. And that’s been downloaded 40,000, 50,000 times.
Dickie Bush:So I can’t quantify how many people have used that to begin their writing journey but the ones we can measure are our customers. But it’s… yeah, yeah.
Joe Casabona:So that’s great. So I’m gonna name a competitor, I guess, but I’ve just recently started using Tweet Hunter. And I like that, right? You create the threads easily. And then you could add the plug later, right, depending on the number of likes that the thread gets. I don’t know if they like aggregate all of the likes from all of the tweets in the thread or what but you can auto plug or you can auto DM if you say like, “Oh, do this and then I’ll send you whatever.”
So I guess the whole point of that is that you can… Because Twitter, like we talked about in the top of the show, is a place where you could hit a home run, and then you could get people to your platform or to your mailing list or whatever it is once they find you. Playing the SEO game is hard. I mean, there’s a reason that there’s a lot of money behind it. Because people are willing to pay a lot of money to get themselves to the top of those lists.
Dickie Bush:Yeah, it’s worth considering who you’re competing with. And like I said, we built a 50,000-person email list just on Twitter from people reading our Twitter threads and going down. And if I write a high quality thread on writing and say, “Hey, here’s the 13,000 word ultimate guide that goes way deeper on this topic, all we want is your email and you can have it for free,” it’s game over. Like it’s very easy to build dense following of people who really find value in what you’re doing via Twitter.
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Joe Casabona:I had another thought but I lost it, so we’ll circle back to it. I know we’re coming up on time here. But I do want to mention this. You have a co-founder of Ship 30 Nicholas Cole, who you told me you believe is the most talented writer on planet Earth. And for the listeners, that statement was preceded by me saying it was a little suspect that somebody is going to write eight books in the year as somebody who usually takes a year to write one book. So how did you and Nicholas get linked up? And why do you feel he is the greatest writer on planet Earth?
Dickie Bush:The origin story of how I met Cole… So his online name is Nicholas Cole. I’m going to him Cole. That’s how he goes. He began writing online back in I think 2008, had one of the most successful World of Warcraft blogs, and has been writing ever since.
Dickie Bush:Now he was introduced to me by someone I was doing some ghostwriting for. He paired us up and said, “I don’t know why but I think you guys should connect.” So this is the first beauty of the internet, right? I was exposed to an opportunity. That person who I’ve worked with ended up sharing with another person they knew and so we were put in contact.
Now, we hit it off right away. We had very similar backgrounds. We were both professional gamers, him in high school, me in middle school, had athletic backgrounds, all that kind of stuff. Hit it off right away.
Joe Casabona:I feel so old. I was playing World of Warcraft for the first time in college when it first came out. And I know it’s like not an age thing, it’s just really funny that you’re like, “Oh, when I was in middle school…” and I’m like, “Yeah, I was like graduating college.”
Dickie Bush:He was a professional World of Warcraft player. I played RuneScape at a pretty high level and actual professional Call of Duty 4.
Dickie Bush:So we had just a mesh of backgrounds there. And then we-
Joe Casabona:That’s what I want to talk about in Build Something More-
Dickie Bush:There you go.
Joe Casabona:…because I also competed at the gaming level for certain things. We’ll talk about that. You can sign up over atcreatorcrew.usto become a member in hear that conversation.
Dickie Bush:There you go.
Joe Casabona:So continue.
Dickie Bush:You don’t want to miss that part.
Dickie Bush:So we jumped on a call, we met, talked, and then connected on Ship 30 because Ship 30 was in its very initial stages around that time. And he joined going into the January cohort, and he said, “This looks awesome,” because he had the exact same story as I did of… for anyone I’m familiar with Ship 30’s origin story, it started as a personal challenge for me to write every single day for 30 days because after writing online for nine months, I felt extremely stuck following the conventional weekly blog posts playbook.
I wrote every day on Twitter for 30 days. It changed my life. I got to meet people I never thought I’d meet, had a bunch of people, a bunch of threads go viral, my growth accelerated. I fell in love with writing and sharing ideas. He had a very similar story where his entire life accelerated when he wrote every single day on Quora for 200, 300 days. He was a top-ranked writer for a long time.
Dickie Bush:So when we met it was, “Wow, we both have had our lives changed by this. We have very similar backgrounds.” But I knew if I was going to build Ship 30 to anything more than “Hey, here’s how to build a writing habit,” I needed to have someone who was actually a talented writer because I wasn’t… This goes back to the two year test. I had no business teaching writing but I knew how to build a writing habit, because that’s what I’ve done in the last two years.
So, he on the other hand had been writing on the internet since forever. He wrote a book calledThe Art and Business of Online Writing, which is an incredible book on the game. A lot of the frameworks we teach are really just his repackaged into a slightly different format. And yes, he is the most talented writer on planet Earth. And I say that without any hesitation or exaggeration.
If you sit next to him and say, “I need X, Y, and Z email written. Here’s three bullet points about what I want,” he’ll churn out a 400-word email that is so potent and tight in eight minutes. Just types 200 words a minute. It’s absurd. So he was a ghostwriter, had a ghostwriting agency, and so has just the unique ability to communicate ideas.
And yes, it is a very strong partnership because we have different skill sets. He is a far far, far, far better writer than I am but I can see and operate a little bit more given my engineering and computer science background. Right? So it’s I see the pieces a little bit. I was a proficient enough writer but he really gets the game. So we work together extremely well.
Joe Casabona:That’s really cool. I actually did pick up the book you mentioned. After he tweeted he was gonna write a book, I basically like tweeted, “This is ludicrous.” And then I was like, “Well, let’s see what books he’s writing.” So I did buy one of them on Amazon. That’s amazing.
It was easy for me to flippantly tweet how ludicrous that is. But if you’re a professional writer and you’re writing all the time, right… I mean, look at James Patterson. That guy puts out like a book a day apparently. So if you’ve honed a really good habit and you know what you want to write, and you have these good frameworks in place…
They’re still going to be days when you… You know, I just sat down to write yesterday while my youngest daughter was napping and the words just weren’t coming. And I was just like, “I don’t know what to write. I know what I want to write about. I have the things I want to mention and I just like can’t squeeze them into something I think is suitable before my kid wakes up.” So I was very constrained. I went to a coffee shop this morning and I rocked out that whole blog post in like a half hour. So yeah, there gonna be days when you when you’re not feeling it, but the right habits, the right frameworks in place. You’ll feel it a lot more often than you’re not feeling it, I reckon.
Dickie Bush:I think there’s a great quote that’s “I only write when inspiration strikes. Luckily it strikes every morning at 9 a.m. in my computer.”
Joe Casabona:I love that. That’s awesome. Dickie Bush, you’ve given us such great advice. I do want to ask you my favorite question as we wrap up here, which is do you have any trade secrets for us?
Dickie Bush:Trade secrets is the advice I would give myself two or three years ago. And it’s every single thing that I’ve done that I can point back to I started before I felt ready doing it. And so if you’re listening to this, and it’s, “Hey, I think I could write someday,” or “I’m an aspiring x,” or “I want to start a podcast, you’re going to have to start something far before you feel ready. And no one has ever started something and when they felt ready. That time never comes. You always think, “Oh, I’ll feel X, Y and Z.”
Something I have distilled is kill your onces. So the “once I… blank, then I’ll start this” or “once work slows down, then…” If you find yourself saying, “Once I… blank, then I’ll… blank,” the onces never stop. So figure out where those are in your life with any creative project you have, realize they’re never gonna go away, and just get started.
Joe Casabona:Kill your onces. Oh my god, I love that. Put that on a t-shirt. Dickie Bush, this has been amazing. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Dickie Bush:They can go to Twitter where I spend a little bit too much time@DickieBush. If you’re looking to start writing online, you can go tostartwritingonline.com. Download our FREE 13,000 word ultimate guide that will show you everything you need to kind of start writing.
I’m also on LinkedIn. Dickie Bush on LinkedIn and in writing a little bit more there. You can check us out. And then if you want to learn about Ship 30, you can go toShip30for30.com. And that’s it.
Joe Casabona:Awesome. Awesome. And I will link to all of that and everything that we talked about in the show notes over athowibuilt.it/275. Remember that in Build Something More, which is ad-free extended version of this podcast, we’re going to talk about being a professional gamer and probably computer science and a couple of other things in the few minutes that we have. So if you want to… I lost my train of thought. If you want to sign up for that you can head over to, again, creativecourses.com or you can head over to the show notes at howibuilt.it/275. There’ll be a link there to sign up.
Dickie Bush, thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Dickie Bush:Thanks, Joe.
Joe Casabona:Thank you for listening. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to our sponsors for this episode. And until next time, get out there and build something.