Whether it’s tweeting, newsletters, Hacker News posts, IG stories or longform, writing is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get your ideas out in the world. As Tyler Tringas, founder and GP at Calm Company Fund says, “writing well, to the public or internally to your team, is one of the most high leverage things a founder can do”. Here are some top tips for getting on and writing as a founder:
This post was inspired by a discussion at Founder Summit 2021 that took place between Tyler, Michele Hansen, co-founder of geocoding platform Geocodio and author of Deploy Empathy, and Dru Riley, founder of community and newsletter trends.vc.
Don’t be a perfectionist.
Founder mentality often entails failing and learning quickly, trial and error, starting with an MVP...But when it comes to writing, people freeze thinking they need to be Pulitzer Prize worthy before publishing 240 characters. But the same principle applies — you have to write a lot of scraps to get to the good stuff. Just start. The construction, spelling or grammar doesn't have to be perfect — if it helps someone accomplish, learn or do something, your writing is valuable.
Start keeping a backlog of ideas.
You’ll go through periods of inspiration and periods where you’ve got nothing. In those periods of inspiration, list all of the content you want to write. Note it down somewhere: a notebook, a notes app, a task management system... And then, in those moments of low creativity, go back and write that stuff.
Treat it like marketing.
If you’re not writing because you think it’s frivolous and you don’t have the time, change your mindset. Writing is a great way to market yourself and your work. It helps you synthesise your messaging, speak directly to your customers and get feedback. The more you give, the more people are willing to give back. If your writing is providing value, you also become trustworthy and a “thought leader”— these characteristics get inherited by the stuff you build.
Write to build community.
“You can use your writing as a friend catcher”, as Michele says. Founder life can be lonely at times with your IRL community, potentially, not understanding what you’re up to (or why...). You may also be the kind of person who dreads networking. Writing about what you’re working on, putting your belief system out in the open, and being transparent about your learnings, can attract “your” people. Maybe you want to imagine a persona when you’re writing to manifest that attraction — Dru says “I imagine a bootstrapped founder who believes in freedom over glory.”
It’s easy to think the topics you want to write about aren’t interesting enough. But your "boring" business process may be an everyday frustration for other founders. Often, many are facing similar struggles without ever talking to anyone else about it. Your writing can provide solutions and/or solace.
As Dru said, “it takes courage to write. But courage is a muscle so keep training it.”