Greg de la Cruz is an avid online writer. He likes sharing what he's learned along the way with his readers.
Writing 100 articles for HubPages was a goal I set for myself to accomplish before 2020 ended, and sadly, I fell short. But once and if this article gets published by arguably the best online platform for independent writers, it would be my 100th – and I can’t contain the satisfaction I’m feeling as I turn my thoughts into characters on a screen, pouring out my utter joy and excitement.
For my 100th article on the Hubpages platform, I thought that I’d celebrate and ensure that I don’t sell my emotions short, by sharing 100 things I’ve learned after writing 100 articles for this website. It has been a long and worthwhile journey to get to this point. I won’t waste any more keystrokes to get to the reason on why I wrote this – here are 100 lessons from 100 writings.
Section 1: On Writing
1. Write because you enjoy writing. Prior to HubPages, I felt something was missing – I failed to extract happiness from the whole writing process. This resulted in me not being able to follow up with new work, that it would take months for me to write anything again. Once I learned to write for the sheer pleasure of the activity, everything changed.
2. Write on topics that you are passionate about.
3. If you find yourself stuck midway, not being able to finish what you started, that’s okay – take some time away from the keyboard. If you go back and you still find yourself unable to finish, maybe it’s time to look for another topic. I used to feel ashamed of myself if I was unable to complete an article, but now I realize that it’s completely normal – and it happens a lot.
4. As much as possible, write about something you have direct experience or knowledge about.
5. Aiming to be informative doesn’t give you an excuse to be boring.
6. Writing in the active voice works wonders!
7. Writer’s block is what happens when you don’t outline.
8. Your outline isn’t set in stone – sometimes I found that some key information in the details was more important than the actual topic, and so I never hesitated to change the overall topic when I needed to.
9. Your first sentence doesn’t have to be your best sentence – don’t give yourself such a tough time to write things down. That’s also why you should take time to proofread and edit your work. Making your first sentence as catchy as possible, also matters – but don’t give yourself this ordeal from the outset.
10. Sometimes. Short. Sentences. Do the trick. Restraint in writing is important when trying to complete a train of thought. It can be a nightmare to read very long, winding sentences (as it was for me when proofreading my work).
11. Pacing your thoughts in articles is almost as equally important as the actual content. I found that when I wrote articles that were not very well-paced, the message I wanted to deliver failed to hit the mark.
12. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to know everything, or be the expert of everything. But fact-check, still – know that you need to be responsible in what you write, as readers can use or apply your content differently.
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13. Be ethical about what you write. Know that any person, of any age or from any background can come across your article because of the literary democracy that the internet offers.
14. Read from the best. Challenge yourself by trying to read works that you don’t immediately understand – this will help remove you from the reading ‘bubble’ that you currently reside in.
15. Reading-to-write is a pretty good strategy. I learned this before I wrote my first novel, Green Light in 2020. I’d read a bunch of books before I sat down and decided to write something of my own.
16. Introspection is another solid strategy that continues to work for me. As a deep thinker, I think aloud not by speaking my thoughts – but by writing them down.
17. Be patient with the writing process. Some days, words may easily pour out from you, and in other days your thoughts can be quite vacant. No days are the same in the writing process, so go easy on yourself.
18. Writing discipline takes time to develop. It’s difficult at first, especially when you don’t have a clear plan on how you’ll keep churning out new articles. But the more you put yourself in a position to write more – carving out focused blocks of time in your day – the better you’ll get at this whole discipline thing.
19. Which leads me to say that in some days, when you don’t have any inspiration or motivation at all, discipline will help you write about something.
20. And when something inspires you – go touch a keyboard!
21. Inspiration can come from idle time, too. A lack of external stimulation was often the key for me to get an idea of what to write about – because I was actively thinking.
22. Writing my articles in narrative or story form was often my favorite way of writing.
23. I learned that the best stories are the down-to-earth ones, those that people can relate to – not ones that seem too good to be true.
24. The past can be a valuable source of ideas, too. I found writing about past experiences to be quite enjoyable. These mini memoirs sometimes give me the motivation to write more, and share more.
25. Write purposefully. I found that the articles that I didn’t get around to finishing were those where I wasn’t able to nail down my objective.
26. Take your time. Yes, give yourself deadlines – but reasonable ones. Feeling that you have to rush an article because you want to do a 1-hour challenge to write 1,000 words will usually result in writing for the sake of finishing. Kind of reminds you of movies that had to finish filming because the director ran out of budget.
Section 2: On Content Creation and Strategy
27. You need to wrap your head around the idea that just because you’re a prolific writer, doesn’t mean you’re a terrific content creator.
28. Content creation can be as systematic as you want it to be, or it can just stay a hobby forever – in which case, you might never progress as an online writer.
29. In order to turn content creation into something more than a hobby, you have to be more organized in your approach. You need to plan your content beforehand.
30. I found that creating content made me want to create even more of it – suddenly I find myself wanting to write videos and become a YouTuber.
31. Content creation as an occupation has been around for a very long time – it’s just that we are seeing it being more democratized today. Fifty years ago, you might have needed to establish or be part of a publishing company or your own radio or TV station to put your content out in the world. Today, there are countless available platforms for independent creators.
32. Consistency in content creation means not only do you produce content regularly, but the type of content you are producing must have consistency.
33. According to textmetrics.com, “It’s important to be consistent in what you share, how you share it, and when." Quality and frequency are key when it comes to consistent content.
34. Furthermore, the same website says that consistent content is important in creating authority and trust. It creates brand recognition.
35. Having a content calendar is usually the bare minimum for those who create content on a regular basis – but I found that it’s not completely essential.
36. I found that understanding who my readers were, was more important than keeping a well-planned content schedule.
37. I’m only beginning to understand the importance of reader personas which semrush.com defines as a “breakdown of your average reader” and you may need a list of different personas to target for your articles.
38. Content strategy has been around long before the Internet existed – the media, news, advertising, films – all of the type of content we used to consume before the tech boom were designed by having a specific content strategy in mind.
39. To learn more about content strategy, I found it best to learn about how my favorite content creators approach their strategy.
40. Johnny Harris creates content about his field of expertise and passion. He’s also known for being the ‘map guy.’ A lot of his content is about places, borders, and politics – carrying momentum from the Borders series by Vox media.
41. Adam Ragusea is one of my favorite home cooks on YouTube. His content is usually on home-cooked recipes in a no-bullshit format. It helps that his speaking voice is radio show quality – a deep, clear, smart-sounding voice. He also does content diving deep on curious questions about food – how cereals look under a microscope, what cooking oil actually does for cooking, and more. Having more than one facet to your content strategy is important, too.
42. Ninong Ry is another food YouTuber, who worked as a chef full-time before the pandemic disrupted the restaurant industry. He’s also Filipino, and his content is in that language. His cool, no-bullshit, and informative style is one of the reasons why I want to keep creating content.
43. JJ Redick is another favorite – although YouTube isn’t his full-time platform. A retired NBA player like him shouldn’t be this great at creating content – but he is. The success of his podcast shows that even non-full-time content creators can thrive.
44. I’m pretty much the absolute beginner when it comes to content strategy – and I’m eager to learn more about it as I continue creating content.
Section 3: On Work and Work-Life
45. Oh boy, where do I begin? There’s so much to unpack when it comes to work and work-life. Let me start off by saying that in the process of writing my first hundred articles on HubPages, I really felt the need to spread the message that your work shouldn’t be your identity.
46. Building on lesson No. 45, I’d also like to advocate the need for people to not to equate their self-worth with what they do for a living (their full-time job). It seems like the generation before us made it too normal for people to idolize their own job.
47. But that is not to say that jobs aren’t important – because full-time jobs are what run the world, still. What I’m really trying to say is that you shouldn’t make your job the everything in your life. Remember your family, friends, your interests, etc. There’s this meme on the internet about how if you died today, your company would put a job posting the following day to fill the position you vacated (This is probably not true all the time – employers grieve, too. Though an employer always has to consider business continuity).
48. Work-life can be what you make it out to be, but in some cases, you are limited by the type of role you have and the company’s work culture.
49. Work-life balance means people from work don’t contact you on your days off, and ideally also not after work hours. I’m sorry, but anything other than that is a work-life imbalance. I’m sorry if you wouldn’t tend to agree with this – but people shouldn’t be thinking about work when they’re off work!
50. I’m not surprised at all why the pandemic workstyle caused a lot of burnout. Companies need to know that boundaries still exist, even when an employee works from home. It may not be written in a company policy somewhere that you have to try to be ‘on-call’ or reachable all the time, or that official office hours are existent – but all these efforts to create proper boundaries get thwarted by employees who encourage behavior that they should ‘go the extra mile’ and be always available.
51. I used to worship productivity before the pandemic – trying to outdo myself and squeeze in whatever work I could. I went on to realize that sustainability was equally as important as the results I could deliver – I had to learn to practice a sustainable workstyle, one that didn’t leave me burnt out every few weeks. I wrote about sustainability on this platform.
52. Burnout is a very serious issue – and it deserves to be explained in multiple facets. I’ve talked about burnout here on a few articles, and I aim to write more on it, tackling very specific issues.
53. I realized that I could write about my struggles as a job seeker on this platform. I thought that being a person who went through multiple instances of looking for a job would provide some genuine perspective.
54. I learned that I can help readers who are new to seeking jobs by focusing on their struggles. It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties before talking about the possible answers – these readers need to know that they’re not alone at all in what they’re going through.
55. Through writing about work, I learned that you can be demoted for low productivity in the Philippines.
56. That the pandemic, especially during the first few months of lockdown, wiped out monumentally more jobs than the Great Recession.
57. That the 8-hour workday started becoming a thing as early as the 16th century.
58. That Fordism means that the workers who make a product must also be paid wages that make them afford to buy it.
59. That the world’s first minimum wage law was enacted by New Zealand in 1894.
60. That in the Great Depression, 1 in 4 Americans were jobless.
61. And that the Great Resignation happening right now, might just change the way we work forever.
62. I also learned that employers have more responsibilities to society than just giving jobs to people – caring for the environment is one, promoting sustainable practices is another.
63. Through writing about sustainability, I was reminded of the concept of intergenerational responsibility.
64. That a mayor in the Philippines has the authority to close down any business within its local jurisdiction that harms the environment.
65. That there are already several companies out there who make biodegradable plastics as a main line of business. There’s a bunch of them in China.
66. That smartphones account for several billion tons of electronic waste annually.
67. And that energy labels could really help consumers make wise economic and environment-friendly decisions.
Section 4: On Making Lists
68. I used to think that creating articles formatted as lists, or listicles was selling-out, just because they usually were picked up well by search engines. I realized later on that making lists is the way to write an article more efficiently for the internet – because they’re also the way to read an article more efficiently.
69. Writing lists accommodates for a mobile reader’s tendency to scroll up and down and article, looking for the information that they find useful.
70. Also, writing lists for the desktop/laptop reader also makes it convenient for the reader to skip paragraphs without necessarily worrying that they missed out on the information they were looking for (as long as you write effective headings).
71. Listicles accommodate our spatial processing, says copypress.com and I agree with this a hundred percent. “Reading things that are organized into short lists rather than long paragraphs is far more intuitive,” the website blog continues.
72. I always wondered why Philippine case law – written decisions by the Supreme Court – are formatted as paragraphs (some longer than the average person can bare) instead of lists, as in other Supreme Courts in the world. Even the modern Bible is formatted in such a way that you can make reference to chapter and verse numbers, similar to how lists are made. Having written a few articles on legal issues, I conclude that writing in list form is a far superior methodology.
73. Earlier in my career, we used to have checklists for everything – checking machines, monitoring equipment, a maintenance routine – and because of them, we were able to maintain a standard of work. I appreciate the value of keeping lists more and more.
74. I used to make a to-do list – a daily top three. I no longer do that these days, as I allow myself to work more naturally (and chaotically), resulting in missed items and forgotten errands. But I don’t fret about making to-do-lists anymore, especially since the pandemic made things slow down and allowed me to be more mindful.
75. Moreover, I find that to-do-lists are a tad bit overrated. Calendars are often more useful because of the time element, especially when others hold you accountable.
76. I follow-up and revise the previous sentence to say that making to-do-lists is super overrated. Know your priorities, and keep them at heart. Having a list of things to cross-off can be stressful, especially when you can’t cross that many things out.
77. Hence, making lists isn’t mandatory to become successful – but they are helpful when you need to prioritize things, especially when you’re overwhelmed.
78. When you are applying for something, or transacting (especially when it comes to the government) – please, please, please make a list of all the requirements. These people can sometimes be unforgiving and force you to only come back when you have everything ready.
79. Making lists made me realize that I could make a list of just about anything.
80. Making lists inspired me to write a series called Cherry-Picked, as well as multiple listicles, including the one you are reading right now.
81. I learned that I could come up with 5 ways to overcome manic Mondays.
82. That I could think of at least 6 struggles of a new job seeker.
83. I also made 7 wrong assumptions before studying law.
84. And there are 8 binary questions you should ask yourself before you resign.
85. And that there might be 9 perks of working a part-time job instead of going full-time which you might not have thought about.
86. Making lists also allowed me to write with emotion, and I wrote about 10 ordinary things that give me nostalgia.
87. Let’s also not forget that making lists is effective when providing informative content, such as the 11 times in history when work was disrupted.
88. As a mechanical engineer myself, I also wanted to share 12 possible career paths of a mechanical engineering graduate.
89. And lastly, making lists made me want to connect with my reading audience – a bunch of which may be second-guessing returning to their workplace after being stuck at home for a long time. I made a list of 13 anxieties of returning to the office and ranked them.
Section 5: About HubPages
90. Earning on HubPages takes a lot of effort. It took me four years and almost a hundred articles to get to the first 50 dollars.
91. HubPages will reward you for writing quality content. I found that the platform decided to publish some of my articles for its partner sites, without my asking. This was a great way to let me know that the platform does truly care about what and how I write.
92. It can feel regretful to publish lower-tier content on HubPages – but in the long run, these turn out to be good reference points to evaluate how far you’ve come as a writer.
93. The stats-keeping can make you a bit obsessive – I’m still trying to deal with my constant need to know how many views I got, especially from new articles.
94. There’s really no such thing as an overnight success in HubPages.
95. That said, HubPages is a good place to start establishing an online voice. Before HubPages, I didn’t have enough confidence to make a nuanced, well thought-out stand about a specific topic or issue online.
96. Connecting with other writers on HubPages is not the primary way to get traffic into your articles. Unlike other sites for independent writers (mostly dead by now) which worked like a multi-level marketing scheme wherein the vast majority of the consumers were the members/sellers themselves, HubPages is truly a site where you can share your content with the rest of the world (and not just inside a bubble, unlike a former writing site whose name explains it all – yes, I’m talking about Bubblews).
97. Time is an essential element to knowing if you really made a good article on HubPages. Your poorer-quality articles eventually fall down the wayside.
98. The HubPages Content Management System (CMS) is designed in such a way that writers can really focus on writing.
99. HubPages is a place for writers who truly enjoy writing. I learned this the hard way because in my first three years as a HubPages member, writing wasn’t so enjoyable. And so, I wasn’t able to write as much. As I wrote more in the past year, I enjoyed it more. About half of my published articles were written within the last three months.
100. Finally – don’t give up. If you’re struggling as a writer, but want to be one, just keep going. You can wait on inspiration all you want, but discipline is what will really help you get through days where you simply don’t have it. To quote Margaret Atwood:
“You become a writer by writing. There is no other way. So do it. Do it more. Do it again. Do it better. Fail. Fail better…”
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.