I have no idea how I came across Nicolas Cole but when it comes to building a personal brand through your writing he’s someone I pay attention to.
He’s been published in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post and others.
Out of all those accolades I was surprised when he attributed most of his success to writing regularly on the question and answer site Quora.
Quora Is Different – And Better
Q & A sites have been around for a long time.
Most of them – like Yahoo Answers – turn into spam factories.
What separates Quora from Yahoo Answers (and other Q & A sites) is that you get some pretty darn good writers there.
I’m talking real thought leaders, best selling authors, political candidates and the like.
Quora had clearly paid dividends for Cole – maybe it could do the same for me? So I decided to start experimenting.
In my first month I answered 8 questions which were viewed 68,800 times. I’ve received 120 ‘upvotes’ (this is when a Quora reader likes the answer) and was given the Most Viewed Writer In Nutrition designation.
I continued to write for a couple of more months and answered 16 questions in total.
Some were read a lot.
Others didn’t even make a blip on the Quora radar.
The Experiment Was Fun
But I Decided To Stop
Cole ended up writing everyday on Quora for a year and became one of Quora’s Top 4 writers in 2015.
He’s big on using Quora to build your personal brand and it obviously paid dividends for him.
Like Cole, I had some success (I’ll touch on my process below) – but I stopped writing there for a couple of important reasons:
- It’s dangerous to build your personal brand on someone else’s platform. They can pull the plug at any time. YouTube, Facebook. They do it all the time.
- Focus. While writing on Quora gave me insights into the topics that readers found valuable there’s only so much time in the day. I have to keep my focus. And since I had already determined that I didn’t want to risk building my brand on someone else’s platform it didn’t make sense to continue moving forward.
If You Want To Write On Quora
Here’s What I Found Really Works
You’ll see a lot of tips and strategies passed around by so-called experts on how to get the most from Quora.
In the beginning I tried to follow them.
They didn’t work very well for me.
Instead, I came up with my own strategies that seemed to work pretty well (based off my stats).
1. Start Writing Sooner
Cole said that for his first four months on Quora all he did was read.
I took a little different tact and lurked for about four days.
Then I started writing.
It’s helpful to get the lay of the land, but beyond that hop in, get started and add value.
2. Only Answer Questions Where You Can Add Value
I mentioned I was voted the Most Viewed Writer In Nutrition.
My nutrition articles notched just shy of 40,000 page views in one week for two articles.
One article ended up getting over 8,000 views in one day.
On the other end of the spectrum I’ve had articles only get 300 page views in nearly two years of existence.
Why the difference?
A lot of your ‘success’ on Quora has to do with the questions you answer.
Some of the so-called experts who are trying to leverage Quora to drive traffic to their blogs (the wrong way to go about it – by the way) have special 10 step processes they go through to try and identify which articles to answer.
Early on I followed that advice.
I struggled to get over 500 views on those articles.
I was about to give up on Quora when I got my daily email from Quora listing 10 of the more popular questions that were in my area of expertise.
I’d personally been doing this for over a decade so I definitely knew something about the topic.
I was also confident I could add value because even though the top answer had received over 40,000 views I didn’t think it covered some important issues.
So I jotted down a fairly quick answer in less than 15 minutes.
Within minutes the article had over a hundred page views and was getting ‘upvoted’ by other Quora readers.
At the time of this writing that little article has been my best performer:
With that experience under my belt I started taking a completely different tact and based my decision on whether to answer a question on a few basic criteria:
- Do I know anything about the question? Nothing beats real world experience when it comes to sharing your knowledge. It shines through in your answer.
- Can I provide value? I may have experience but if the question already has a great answer (my opinion) then I’ll pass on it because I’m really not adding any value to the equation.
- I avoid brand new questions that no one has answered and I avoid questions that have over 100 answers already (too hard to stand out).
3. Don’t Worry About Word Count
How long should you Quora answer be?
As long as it needs to be.
My egg answer was succinct – coming in at a mere 247 words.
I have other answers over 1,000 words that barely cracked 1,000 page views.
Don’t focus on the length of your answer – instead focus on the criteria I laid out above.
Find questions that you know something about and that your answer can add value to the conversation.
In short, focus on the needs of the reader.
Success Requires Focus
My goal is to build my own personal brand.To do that I need to have a platform to provide value on a regular basis.
Quora was fun while I did it. It helped me improve my writing and gave me feedback on what’s important to readers like yourself.
But ultimately I decided to turn my focus to building my own platform (this website). Not someone else’s.