Lean Writing On Twitter: How To Turn A Tweet Into A Thread Into An Atomic Essay

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents


This week, we want to give you an easy framework for expanding short-form content into longer-form assets.

Because the hardest part about writing online is getting started.

But once you start writing, and building your library, you start to build momentum.

You write…

Which creates data points…

Which reveals patterns (what works/what doesn’t)…

Which shows you where there are opportunities to double-down…

Which makes it easy to write the next thing…

And the thing thing…

And so on…

That’s the game of Digital Writing in a nutshell.

And what most people don’t understand is that being a prolific writer/creator really isn’t about being “brilliant” day after day after day. It’s about testing ideas in small ways, and then doubling-down and expanding those ideas when you see an opportunity to do so.

So today, we’re going to give you an easy framework that will help you do that.

Let’s dive in!

Lean Writing On Twitter

Lean Writing is where you take a small piece of content (ideally something that gained a bit of traction/showed you that readers were interested in this sort of topic) and expand it into a longer-form asset.

And if that longer-form asset works, you can use the Lean Writing framework again and expand it into an even longer-form asset.

This is how you go from…

  • A Tweet
  • To an Atomic Essay
  • To a Twitter Thread
  • To a LinkedIn post
  • To a long-form blog
  • To a free email course
  • To a paid digital product
  • To an online course
  • To an entire business.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Start Small

Small is relative.

For some ideas, you can test them with something as small as a Tweet.

For other ideas, “small” might be an Atomic Essay or a LinkedIn post.

Or even a Twitter Thread.

The idea is to test your idea in a small, highly actionable way—IN PUBLIC—before over-investing in it. The mistake writers make is setting out to write a long-form Ultimate Guide, or even an entire book, before gathering data and validating whether readers are even interested in that idea to begin with.

Here’s an example of a short tweet to validate a very simple idea:

Look closely, and this tweet is actually the outline of a Twitter Thread, Atomic Essay, or even a 3-day email course.

This is the beauty of Lean Writing: it allows you to confirm whether your idea is something people actually want to read about (and are interested in) before you invest the time into building it out.

Step 2: Expand “What Works”

When you publish something that “works” (even if it’s a small amount of data), the next-best thing you can do is expand that piece of content into something longer.

Because you already know this IDEA resonates with readers.

Now, you just need to give them more of it!

  • A Tweet can become an Atomic Essay
  • An Atomic Essay can become a Twitter Thread
  • A Twitter Thread can become a long-form LinkedIn post
  • A long-form LinkedIn post can become an Ultimate Guide
  • An Ultimate Guide can become a 7-day free email course
  • A 7-day free email course can become a paid eBook
  • A paid eBook can become an online course
  • An online course can become a business

Here’s an example of the exact same IDEA (from the original Tweet above) expanded into a Thread:

Notice how the first sentence, and each of the Main Points, is the exact same as the original tweet.

This is the second major benefit of Lean Writing: the more you write, the more you write. Meaning the more you write, the more you don’t need to create net-new content, you just need to repackage old content in new ways. Which means the bigger your library grows, the less time and effort it takes you to create in the future. Do this for 5 or 10 years, and you’ll give off the appearance of being “prolific” (when really, all you’re doing is leveraging work you did in the past, over and over again).

Step 3: Expand “What Works” Again!

But why stop there?

When most writers find something that works, their takeaway is: “Well, I’m glad readers liked that one. But I can’t ever write about it again. Because then they’ll just say, ‘Hey! You already wrote about that!’”

And this is wrong.

Instead, your takeaway should be the opposite: when something works, you should write about that same topic again, and again, and again. You should reuse that same hook again, and again, and again. You should use that same format, or that same “style” again and again and again.

Data proving something “works” isn’t a stop sign.

It’s a green light.

Here’s an example of the exact same IDEA (from the original Tweet and Thread above) expanded into an Atomic Essay:

Again, notice how the Main Points of this Atomic Essay are the same main points in the thread, which are the same main points from the original tweet.

Now, we have 3 separate data points (same idea shared 3 different times) confirming this is an idea readers are interested in reading about. Which means it’s worth the time to turn into an email course, or maybe even an entire book!

Because we have data that proves “this works.”

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