The Lean Writing Method: How To Expand Short-Form Content Into Longer-Form Assets

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

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!

The Lean Writing Method

We call this Lean Writing.

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:

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 an Atomic Essay:

Step 3: Expand “What Works” Again & Again

You can repeat this process as many times as you’d like.

The point is: you do not want to over-invest time, energy, and resources into ideas you haven’t validated first. So, before you set out to write a 60,000-word book, see if you can test some of your core ideas in a few 50-word Tweets. Or before you set out to build an entire online course, wouldn’t it be great to know which one of your “course module” ideas people really resonated with vs which ones they completely ignore?

This is Lean Writing 101.

And the more you can use data to inform your writing decisions, the more successful you’ll be, the faster you’ll grow, and the less likely you are to ever experience this thing other writers call “Writer’s Block.”

Because there’s no such thing as Writer’s Block when data is telling you what’s worth writing next.

You might also like...