How Writing Online Made me a Millionaire

in this video we’re talking about how

starting a blog and putting myself out

there on the internet has completely

changed my life and how it can do the

same for you hey friends welcome back to

the channel if you’re new here my name

is ali i’m a doctor based in cambridge

and around five years ago

i made the plunge to putting myself out

there and started my personal blog so

since basically my first year of

university i knew i wanted to start some

kind of blog i knew i wanted to start

writing on the internet but i had all of


fears around it that i just could never

really quite get over like firstly there

was the fears around

actually starting writing online in the

first place and it was things like you

know what the hell am i going to write


why would anyone read what i have to say

surely if my friends and family discover

that i’ve got a personal blog that i’ve

been writing online they’re going to

make fun of me and they’re going to

think i’m a terrible person and i had

this real barrier towards writing

anything which was that there was

nothing that i was going to produce that

was original i was stuck on this thing

of having to be original

thinking that you know everything out

there has already

already been written about i’m

interested in tech i kind of like


but there’s a zillion tech blogs and

productivity blogs and youtube channel

like what the hell am i as a 20 year old

medical student going to

contribute towards this wider world

there was fear of perfectionism you know

what if my

what if my article sucks what if people

think it’s awful what if my grammar is


or even worse what if 10 20 years down

the line some employer who wants to try

and hire me as a doctor

sees the fact that i’ve started a blog

and is like wait a minute why did you

start a blog in 2012 or 2013 like

i had all these like stupid fears in my

mind and for a solid like four or five


these fears stopped me from putting

myself out there online they

stopped me from right from starting a

blog from writing a single word

but then on the 2nd of january 2016 so

basically five years ago

i discovered this book show your work by

austin cleon and this book

single-handedly changed my life and it’s


the book that i have most gifted out of

any other book that i’ve ever read i

keep multiple copies of this book in the

house because often if i’m talking to


and they come over and they ask me for

advice about anything at all it’s always

around oh my god i’m scared to put

myself out there and i just give them

this book it’s really short it’s really

easy to get through and it was just

completely groundbreaking for me and

helping me get over these various fears

that i had

and actually taking the plunge into

writing online and one of the things i

really like about this book is that it’s


a guide to self-promotion for people who

absolutely hate the idea of


like i used to think self-promotion was

like a dirty thing and oh my god ugh

if i put myself out there on the

internet what are people going to think

but the way he talks about it is that

it’s not

it’s not about self-promotion it’s about

showing your work now if you imagine

for example if you’re watching me as a

youtuber you’re probably interested in

the behind the scenes what it’s like

being a youtuber and therefore if i were

to write about that on my blog

you know do a little like diary type

thing where i’m like hey so i’m filming

this video and this is what the script

looks like and this is what the finished

product looks like and these are

kind of the notes that i made and this

is the thought processes and the

diagrams that i make to get to the point

of the finished product

that’s actually quite interesting and

you know in the past when the internet

wasn’t really a thing

people couldn’t really get a

behind-the-scenes look at

other people’s work it would be like a

writer would go into their cave and

write a book and come out with a book

or an artist would go into their cave

and do a painting but everyone wants to


how the painting is made they want to

see how the sausage is proverbially


and so really starting a blog is not

about having to come up with hey i need

to write something interesting it’s

actually just about documenting the

stuff that you’re doing already

now i was a medical student at the time

and so i could have very easily

documented what life as a medical

student was like

and in fact that’s what i started doing

on my youtube channel like five years

later i was reading loads of books back

in the day and so i could have

documented the books that i was reading

and sort of sharing my thoughts about

them and writing book reviews

and in fact people often ask me what’s

what’s like one regret or that you have

or what’s one piece of advice you’d give

to yourself 10 years ago

and my answer is always i really wish

i’d started a blog earlier and i wish

i’d just been writing reviews of books

that i’d read

i first read this five years ago but i

don’t know what my thoughts and feelings

were when i read this because i just

didn’t document them and it would be so

interesting now to look back on

i don’t know you know the four-hour work

week which i wish i read at the age of

17 and how it changed me

but i don’t have any of that and i

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really wish i had documented things

on a personal blog as i was going

throughout my life the other big fear i

had was that this thing of i

you know i need to be an expert i’m not

an expert on anything therefore how can

i possibly write about it and

chapter one of this book says you don’t

need to be a genius you don’t need to be

an expert

to share your process and to document

your work and to show

how you’re learning stuff you can

completely embrace the beginner’s


i’m a beginner you know on youtube i’m a

beginner i don’t know anything about


i’m just documenting the stuff that i’m

learning and i’m like hey guys you know

here are some tips i found helpful for

me if you find them helpful

maybe you know you’ll enjoy watching

this video or something like that and so

if you’re watching this right now

thinking oh but i’m not an expert in

anything i don’t you know

therefore i can’t write about it just

like embrace being a beginner

someone who is a beginner is often so

much better at teaching other people who

are beginners

than someone who’s an expert c.s lewis

calls this the curse of knowledge it’s

like when you become so pro at something

you forget what it was like to be a

beginner at it and so like right now i’m

a total beginner at learning how to draw

i’m trying to learn concept art i’m

taking art lessons

and i’m documenting my process thanks to

austin clinton’s book show your work

on instagram and twitter and stuff and

i’m even going to do like a little

journey blog post on my website because

right now i’m not at all an expert in

art my art absolutely sucks i’m a total


but if you’re thinking of getting

started in art you might be interested

to be like hey

how is a total beginner approaching this

and what does the progression look like


not being able to draw anything towards

being able to draw things that look kind

of nice and so it really is all about

showing your work the other big worry

that i had was that what are my friends

and family going to think if i start a

blog and i’ve got my own domain at

and that again was just stupid because a

no one actually cares

like we all think that other people are

looking at us and judging us but

actually everyone is worried about their

own life no one cares i have a video up

there about how to tackle imposter

syndrome and really if you think about

it like let’s say you’ve got a friend

right now or a cousin or a brother or


and they’re thinking hey i want to learn

the piano and i’m going to write about

my journey of trying to learn the piano

would you really judge them for that you

probably wouldn’t you’d be like oh

that’s kind of cool you wouldn’t

criticize them you wouldn’t judge them

you don’t think they’re an absolute

freaking idiot for having the audacity

to post online

you would think oh that’s kind of cool

it’s cool that you’re documenting your

journey i want to follow along and so

it’s completely ridiculous how we all

have this idea that hey

other people are going to judge me but

if we imagine ourselves in those other

people’s position we think yeah i

wouldn’t judge anyone for starting a

blog or for starting an instagram

documenting their art journey i think

it’s kind of cool let’s talk about how

this has actually changed my life now

and there’s kind of three main things i

want to talk about

firstly is the idea of a serendipity

vehicle this is a term that my friend

david perrell has coined i’ll link to

his youtube channel and his writing

course which is very good down in the

video description the way you want to

imagine it is imagine you’re living in a

village the only people you interact

with are the other people in your


and occasionally a train comes by and

someone visits the village and you kind

of have a chat to them and stuff but


you’re really limiting the amount of

people you could possibly have

connections with you’re limiting the

amount of people you can be friends with

you’re limiting the serendipity that can

happen to you because you’ve just you’re

just surrounded by this tiny village of

people now imagine if you were the sort

of person who you know once a month you

took a trip to neighboring towns

and you started meeting people and

saying hello to people over there and

you started connecting with people who

are interested in the same stuff as you

that just massively exponentially

increases the

interesting things that can happen to

you it increases your surface area for

serendipity and i really like the

metaphor that david perrell uses about

this which is the idea of robots

when you create and share an idea is you


your ideas on to the internet

which means that little robots can

basically carry your ideas and they go

to to do all around the world and then

there’s people

who are sitting from malaysia to


to algeria who are scrolling the

internet and they want to learn about

whatever it is

that you have written about or created a

video about

and when you’re sleeping when you’re out

playing tennis with your friends when

you’re on a walk

on the river you pay no charge and those

robots are like

little carrier pigeons that deliver your

ideas to people

all over the world and what’s amazing is

you can make something

once and the robots will work for you

for the rest of your life and so as they

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your ideas to people serendipity happens

you meet new people they reach out to

you they want to give you money

they want to help you they have a

consulting project that they need your

help with

anything whatever it is but why i like

the word serendipity vehicle

is what they can imagine with the ideas

that they share

are beyond what you can possibly think

of what they would want and the things

that end up entering your life

are things that are out of the scope of

your imagination

and that you couldn’t have dreamed up

before and so really when it comes down

to it when you’re putting your ideas

into the world

you’re allowing yourself you’re opening

yourself up to get all of these really

interesting connections you might make

friends you might make business

associates you might even meet the

person you marry

because of the fact that you’re putting

yourself out there

on the internet and you’re moving from

this tiny tiny village to suddenly

opening up your network to the entire

world and that is amazing secondly

writing online has changed my life

because it’s really helped me get


over my own thoughts and i realized this

back in 2016 when my company

6med wasn’t doing particularly well

we’ve been doing really well for a few

years and then our growth started to

stagnate i had like all these

thoughts and feelings around this and

like feeling sad and feeling annoyed

that you know this company wasn’t doing

very well and i had a real crisis of

thinking like what the hell am i doing

with my life what am i doing with this

company am i am i

sort of letting this really good thing

go to waste and i spent ages thinking

about this but it was only when i


wrote a blog post about it about this

kind of balance between

time and money which is kind of what it

came down to it was when i wrote a blog

post about it and wrote it publicly and

published it on my blog

that helped me solidify and clarify my

own thinking around it and the cool

thing is that by putting myself out

there i connected with austin cleon who

wrote the book because i sent him an

email saying thank you this has changed

my life

and he actually came on an interview on

my youtube channel a few months ago this

is what he had to say about this idea of

clarifying your thinking what is

interesting about having a blog

or some sort of daily project even if

it’s like i post one thing to instagram

every day or

you know just something little like that

having something that you have to do

every day you find out it’s not that you

have something to say

it’s that you find out what you have to


so that’s so like writing every day some

people say oh well you must have so much

to say because you write every day i’m

like actually it’s the opposite

i have more to say because i sit down

and write every day and i figure out

what i’m thinking

and what it actually is that i have to

say so writing is actually

not just a way of communicating with the


it’s actually a way of communicating

with yourself because

the simple act of sitting down in front

of a keyboard for 45 minutes or

pulling out your notebook for a half

hour whatever it is

you are creating space in the day for


to kind of connect with up with what’s


and to figure out what’s going on and

what is it that i really feel and what

is it that i really think

that’s something the beginner has to get

over very quickly

is that this idea like well i don’t have

anything to say what am i going to blog

about it’s like

the the pressure and the routine

and the the muscles of blogging every


means that you will get to something

every day and there’s loads of other

reasons why writing online changed my

life but the third one and final one i

want to talk about here is the butterfly


now the butterfly effect is this idea

that if a butterfly

flaps its wings in like brazil then the

like air currents produced by that

further down the line can cause a chain

reaction that produces a tornado

and so it’s just this idea that like a

seemingly small thing

that you do can have a huge effect

further down the line and so the way

that starting a blog changed my life is

that it made me okay with putting myself

out there on the internet

it gave me the baby steps to write a few

blog posts in like 2016

and so when it came to 18 months later

in 2017 when i thought hey

should i start a youtube channel i

didn’t have that fear i didn’t have that

fear of getting started because i’d

already taken the baby steps and started

my personal blog thanks to show your

work and honestly i think if i hadn’t

started the blog

i probably wouldn’t have started the

youtube channel because i would have

been paralyzed by the oh my god

i can’t put myself out there what if

what if people find out my real name

what if my friends and family see my

youtube channel

what are people going to think but

because i had 18 months worth of

practice of starting of

like writing online and realizing that

no one actually cares

and my friends and family did not give

the slightest toss about whether i had a


i realized i can start a youtube channel

i can vlog my medical school elective i

can make videos about how to get into

med school and no one cares

all that does is that it helps people

and that’s good and it can grow my

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and that’s why i’m sitting here talking

to you today like three and a half years


because i took the plunge into writing

online five years ago in fact fun little

fact i actually went on a zoom date

yesterday uh with someone who i met

online who was watching my videos and so

if she and i end up getting married then

that would have also been down to

putting myself online and starting a

blog thank you to austin cleo all right

let’s briefly talk about how to actually

start writing online and what to write

about so how do you start well basically

you want a google

free website and you want to make an

account on wordpress which is completely


or sub stack which is completely free or

you can use ghost which is the platform

that i use it costs a bit of money but

if you’re genuinely serious about

starting a blog that changes your life

it’s something that’s very much worth

investing in

but if you are unable to or if you just

have like this allergic reaction to the

thought of spending money on the

internet you can always use substance or

wordpress which are completely free and

in terms of

what do i write about uh this is this is

a question i get a lot um and let’s

cut to another segment from david

perrell over here when you

start writing do not even

think about what the world is gonna be

interested in

just do what interests you and get to

the place where you’re writing about

super niche topics i mean if there’s any

lesson of the internet

it is that you are not the only person


in whatever it is that you’re interested

in like we know that

and the niche topics honestly are the

ones that are going to give you

the best benefits of meeting cool people

and having interesting things happen so

yeah start with the smallest thing that

you possibly can start with writing

about whatever interests you just

document your work

read show your work document your

process document you learning stuff

if you do that plus being slightly

active on twitter which we’re going to

talk about another time

then you’ll just connect with other

people who are interested in the same

things and you’ll make friends and

you’ll make business connections and

you’ll really enjoy

becoming a global citizen of the

internet so that’s all you really need

to get started but if you’re interested

in more writing tips from me

and from the authors that i’ve

interviewed on this youtube channel over

the last year

you should definitely check out the

extended version of this video which is

available on nebula if you haven’t heard

nebula is an independent streaming

platform that’s built by me and a bunch

of other creators and it’s a place where

we can put our content without worrying

about the youtube algorithm

and so for a video like this where the

extended edition is like 35-40 minutes


it means i can put that on nebula and

not worry about having to kind of cut

things down bit by bit for youtube on

nebula you’ll find a load of other

exclusive videos created by me and some

of my creative friends

i’ve got a workflow series where i talk

through my workflow for my favorite

productivity apps and you also get early

access to all of our videos completely

ad-free and so in the extended version

this ad completely disappears and

instead you’ll just get a load of

writing tips from me and the people that

i’ve interviewed if you want to join

nebula the best way is to sign up to

curiositystream who are very kindly

sponsoring this video

curiosity stream is the world’s leading

documentary streaming subscription

platform and they’ve got thousands of

really high budget high quality

documentaries covering everything you

can possibly think of and actually one

documentary series i’ve been enjoying

recently it’s called how to look at a

painting which i’m watching because

i’ve never really gotten the whole art

gallery thing and you know why do people

enjoy looking at paintings but now that

i’m trying to become a concept artist

this is helping me kind of get more of

an overview of exactly why this happens

and all the different things to look for

in artwork but the really cool thing is

that curiosity stream has a bundle with

nebula and so if you sign up to an

account for curiosity stream which is

like 15

a year you actually get free access to

nebula for a whole year bundled with


and so for less than 15 you get access

to tons of high quality documentaries

and also loads of my original content on

nebula and also loads of other creator

original content nebula which makes this

the single best deal in the streaming

world if that sounds up your street and

you want to see the extended version of

this video head over to forward slash ali

and then you’ll get your nebula details

emailed to you if you like this video

and you’re still struggling with the

idea of like oh i’m scared to put myself

out there you might want to check out

this video over here which is

three stories from my life about how i

fight and continue to fight this idea of

imposter syndrome

lots of people have found that useful so

you might want to click on that over

there thank you so much for watching and

i’ll see you in the next video bye