How the Biggest Online Writers Found Success

Lessons learned from the Foster podcast

This post was originally written as a tweet thread by Foster cofounder Stew Fortier.

I interview successful online writers.

Some are doing $1M+ in revenue – others have built six-figure audiences.

No two succeeded in the same way.

Here's one quote and one lesson from each:

“I spend very little time on distribution, partly because I find that the better the writing, the more it spreads.”

Lenny Rachitsky

Lesson: good writing is the foundation for growth.

“People choose products based on the single thing that they care about the most.”

Steph Smith

Lesson: don’t be average at a few things, be exceptional at one.

“The most important thing I did was picking the type of topic I was going to be writing about, doing it consistently, and trying to elevate the quality each time I wrote.”

Packy McCormick

Lesson: raise the bar every time you publish.

“I almost feel what some people attribute to genius is actually just time.”

Sari Azout

Lesson: to improve an idea, sleep on it.

“I recommend being ridiculously generous with your knowledge, your expertise, and your value. The more that people can see your thinking, the better.”

Marie Poulin

Lesson: lead with generosity.

“If we're fighting with each other for this really small enclave of attention, none of us are going to succeed.”

Mario Gabriele

Lesson: don’t compete with other writers in your space, collaborate with them.

"You can't just jump onto a platform and get what you want. When you walk into a room, shake hands first."

Michell Clark

Lesson: the Internet is filled with real people – act accordingly.

“When you become part of The Profile, you become part of a community – that is the difference between being a member of The Profile and a member of the New York Times.”

Polina Marinova Pompliano

Lesson: build something that bigger publications can't.

Here are the high-level takeaways:

• Good writing is a foundation for growth

• Be exceptional at one thing

• Continuously raise your bar

• Give ideas space

• Lead with generosity

• Collaborate, don't compete

• Treat the Internet like an IRL community

• Build what other publications can't

Write With Us