Can new writers' community Write Together "make blogs great again"?

Can new writers' community Write Together "make blogs great again"?

This Amsterdam-based writing platform from journalist-developer Owen Williams aims to take the fear out of blogging for aspiring writers.

The pitch

Write Together is a community of aspiring writers looking to "bring back the spirit of blogging". There are two simple rules on the platform, which costs $8 a month with no ads: members have to write at least 300 words to submit a post, and they have a maximum allocation of one post a day, so they have to make it count.

"Building a blog is already so much pressure, then it feels like you're throwing your thoughts into the abyss, never to be seen or talked about," explains founder Owen Williams. "We make it easy to build a habit of writing publicly through writing every day, and are building a community around that. There's a 'streak' goal for keeping the habit of writing daily, achievements, and so much more that I haven't seen in writing platforms before." 

The team

Write Together is a solo project from Williams, who is based in Amsterdam. He's a former journalist turned full-time freelance writer and also works as a developer - his latest creation being Charged, a tech news platform. Already in the habit of writing every day, Williams developed the platform over last December "to make blogging a bit less scary" and continues active development while writing on the side.

What's the gap in the market? 

Williams believes that setting up a blog on sites such as WordPress and Medium has become too intimidating.

"First, you need to know what you want to say, or have a theme, then you need to go and figure out all these complicated tools before you can start writing. If you aren't a writer already, it's hard to start, and the platforms do nothing to encourage it. I wanted to build something that felt like people were the focus, and the tool should encourage that.

"Write Together tries to tie together both the community aspect, meeting others and sharing ideas, with simple, low-barrier writing tools. Why do we think we need a topic or theme to write? Sometimes I want to write about my feelings or how crappy the day was, but blogs don't feel like a good fit for that. LiveJournal and the early days of Blogger felt like the best place for it, but they were just based on old technologies and ideas, so it was time for something new."

Success so far?

One month in, Williams has 100 people writing daily, about 200 active users and 1,300 posts, with members joining at a comfortable rate. He's also continually shipping fresh features, including the ability to follow users or topics, comments, and a way to write in private if members prefer.

Biggest challenges?

Williams believes that there's a lot of stigma around writing online nowadays, largely because it has become professionalised so quickly.

"Everyone feels like they need a 'take' or a perspective on something to make a blog, but the best content from the old internet days was just people sharing raw human emotion online. Where do you even find that anymore? I don't really know many independent blogs, and it feels like a rare breed now, despite a clear space for it. We have to convince people that A) anyone can write and B) our platform is worth paying for, because we really, really want it to last, rather than just run out of money in a few years like everything else."

Ultimate ambition?

Write Together aims to "help make blogs great again." I don't think blogging needs to be this fancy, complex thing, and I want everyone to know they can learn to write too. Writing can help every aspect of your career, even if it seems unrelated, but doing it on your own is really hard."

Willaims aims to  get 1,000 people writing regularly on Write Together, sharing open, honest content rather than just self-promotion. "Long-term, I want to be a safe space for writers of all backgrounds to come and read or write openly, without feeling like there's all this pressure."

One piece of advice you’d give to other publishing entrepreneurs?  

"Charge money up-front. The venture-backed model is clearly a huge challenge because you're straddling yourself with massive expectations of revenue down the road, and few ways to actually achieve it. By charging up-front you learn really quickly what people value your product as, and whether or not they're going to stick around. I'm doing this with my daily briefing, reCharged, as well, because I'm just so tired of products I love dying. The ad-backed model isn't evil, but there has to be a better way than selling our eyeballs, right? I think users agree, and just want to pay so you'll be around for the long haul."