Most people who follow me online know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on Quora lately. I’ve been writing answers, participating in discussions, sharing existing Quora answers with my team and interacting with team members met through the platform.
Which is probably why my local team prepared that spectacular clock for my birthday, conveniently including Quora to my daily schedule:
How I Got Started With Quora
I stumbled upon Quora back in 2013 or 2014 while browsing Google and landing on their site. For the most part, they allowed for browsing the first question without signing up as a new user.
My first answer was published on Feb 5, 2015. I honestly don’t remember much of my activities in 2015 and early 2016 – even though I’ve managed to publish 115 answers in the period of time. I recall reading their weekly newsletter occasionally, and reading some answer threads as well (since their targeting engine was well-adjusted based on the people I followed).
— Mario Peshev (@no_fear_inc) January 7, 2017
I know that I was generally intrigued by Quora but don’t recall investing much time or energy in the platform. Most of my answers hadn’t received significant activity or led to active discussions. I’ve asked a few questions as well and read several answers with varying quality.
Fast-forward to today, I’m extremely happy to mark my first full year of using Quora actively, writing a total of 855 answers since day one and generating 1 million answer views for my profile:
Why I Initially Transitioned to Quora
I’ve recently answered a related question in Quora discussing “How did Quora change your life?” which I’ll share here as well.
Quora has gradually moved higher on my “top of the mind” list. I do browse around while doing research or exploring a new field. I follow a number of topics and get a better understanding of a certain community. And I receive the type of personalized insight that I can’t find anywhere else.
There’s social media on one end and blogs/Wikipedia on the other.
Most Quora answers on subject matters are in-between. They’re not formal enough to reside as a formal article. And yet, they are not condensed (or thoughtless) enough to materialize as a Facebook post or a LinkedIn one – let alone the privacy/visibility settings. That’s something that Balaji Viswanathan briefly mentioned at Balaji Viswanathan’s answer to What are your research patterns for answering on Quora?
Some Remarkable Quora Content
Quora hosts a good number of tech and business experts and CEOs, investors, employees at companies like Google, Amazon, SpaceX. People share different perspectives in a non-intrusive way through different stylistic approaches. There’s a handful of topics (probably hundreds of thousands) for everyone.
- I just read a condensed, yet curious, review of how Google search works by Paul K. Young who is an engineer at Google.
- A couple hours ago I read about the working hours policy in SpaceX from Josh Boehm who worked for Elon.
- I took some valuable business notes from the dawn of Sun Microsystems by Trausti Thor Johannsson who saw that first-hand.
- I’ve asked Moisey Uretsky a question about Is the ROI on Digital Ocean’s content marketing (and the vast tutorial base) measurable? How important is this branch to the org? and he shared some information that many business owners wouldn’t care to reveal publicly.
- We’re scheduling some technical interviews now and Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s answer to Is it better for a candidate to code on a laptop or on the whiteboard in a technical interview? was invaluable again. I bought one of Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s books based on her insightful process breakdown in a former answer of hers.
- There’s the brilliant overview of How big should the addressable market be to go into vertical SaaS? Is it a good idea to avoid the addressable market if it appears small? with another outstanding answer by Jason M. Lemkin
- While I wouldn’t go to a Tony Robbins’ seminar, a no-BS recap by Noah Kagan definitely validated my theory.
- I’ve noticed that Paul Johnson’s team at Netflix is split 50:50 macOS vs. Windows. It’s always intriguing for me to see what works in tech and how other teams handle different environments, virtualization, whatever.
Those are literally extracted from my Activity list over a 3 days interval. I can’t imagine reading those same stories elsewhere.
Quora as a Content Hub
From a writing standpoint, I’ve started using Quora as my go-to place. I hang out, read some intriguing stories, answer questions. Then I maintain a spreadsheet with some of the longer answers that I would reuse. And some of those get posted on LinkedIn Pulse, my blog, Medium, stories for guest posts or repurposed as videos or presentations.
Instead of spending hours on a single article covering a specific subject, I could answer random industry questions and connect the dots at a later phase. This allows me to leverage different mediums and reach other audiences as well.
I often work remotely and usually get more thoughtful and diverse insights from Quora than another forum, online community, or social network. Interacting with Quorans is also more personal as compared to a tweet or a random LinkedIn comment. Let alone sessions where industry experts such as Eric Ries take questions.
All in all, it’s been a great place to hang out once you learn how to filter out the noise.
The Community of Quora
One of the strongest aspects of Quora is the community.
When I reduced my activity here on DevWP, I did it for two reasons:
- The number of relevant topics I could cover slowly declined. I found myself starting a draft and realizing that I’ve discussed that problem or aspect of the WordPress ecosystem already, ending up with a closed browser tab.
- My readership was very narrow. I was talking a lot about the WordPress community while this is a tiny fraction of what I do. Other than being a WordPress contributor, I am a technical architect, a business owner, a manager, a certified Inbound Marketing & Sales expert with HubSpot, and hold a few more certifications in different areas. My content was constrained into the topics that my readers were generally interested in.
I wanted to broaden my horizons and connect with people outside of the community I’ve been interacting with for the past 3 or 4 years.
The first people I followed on Quora were lead engineers in Google, people working for NASA, serial entrepreneurs with multiple successful startups, marketing directors in Fortune 500 companies, investors, and other high-profile figures. Their perspective was adding on top of what I’ve seen before and what I have introduced to DevriX over the years.
— Jason M. Lemkin (@jasonlk) January 16, 2017
I felt challenged before writing an answer. I was fully aware of the top writers in the given category and had to “compete” with them while posting my answer. This made me rethink the way I present my idea – in a condensed yet very structured way, describing the context of the situation where my answer is applicable.
My Content Marketing Focus
I decided to allocate time for Quora in December 2016 – just a year ago. It was a well-thought effort which aimed to test my writing skills, depth of understanding in different fields, and general commitment to a certain type of activity.
We all know that writing is all about persistence. That’s how I approached Quora myself and described our content marketing strategy in another answer.
Since I’ve written a bit over 700 answers over the past year, this is approximately a couple answers a day. Not too shabby, yet not as exhausting for anyone willing to run the same experiment and see for themselves.
Approaching Different Content Topics
By expanding my horizons outside of the WordPress space, I was able to join different discussions related to programming basics, teaching technical courses, hiring and recruitment practices, management strategies, inbound marketing, running an organization, remote teams and several other fields.
This was also in line with the content strategy we’ve been utilizing in DevriX and my blog redesign on Sep 30, 2016.
DevriX has been publishing content in three main categories – business, marketing, tech. I’ve been primarily writing about WordPress here but, truth is, I was just as engaged in the same three categories, leading to the redesign.
And Quora allowed me to repurpose my content across different outlets – including my blog here, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, a recently started video series and even an attempt to craft an ebook (which may be released during Q1 2018).
A Passion for Writing
I’ve always been passionate about writing and my blogging efforts in 2015-2016 have resulted in a large group of folks discussing my blog posts here or during events. This was really exciting for me as I had never been incredibly regular in my writing activities (despite having my first blog launched in 2006).
I found HARO in the ultimate online marketing guide by one of my virtual mentors Neil Patel. And I’ve managed to land a mention (with a quote) on Entrepreneur early in 2015 out of my first 3 pitches in HARO:
But I kept going and decided to aim for an entire piece published on Entrepreneur, Inc., or Forbes during the first half of 2017.
Published on Forbes, Inc., HuffPost, Entrepreneur, B2C, Apple News
I joined a few marketing communities in 2016 aiming to understand the marketing field even better and learn from the best writers out there.
That’s how I met Josh Steimle as well, joining his influencer group and newsletter and talking shop with him. His feedback was invaluable and taught me a lot about writing for the top publications out there. His group connected me with outstanding writers whom I’ve been following since.
I also followed the Marketing School and other initiatives by Neil and Eric, along with a list of focused resources on content marketing.
One of the most practical communities I joined was Online Geniuses. I met thousands of entrepreneurs, marketers, PR experts and journalists who shared their practical know-how with the crowd. That’s how I met an Indian contributor to several large outlets who connected me with an editor in Entrepreneur India.
The Quora Media and Publishing Team
As I kept investing time and passion into Quora, I woke up one morning with a completely unexpected direct message in my inbox:
I was honestly baffled and couldn’t figure out what was going on.
And I got to admit that I was misinformed prior to this message. I knew that some folks had a “published” badge on their profiles but thought that they are columnist or journalists for various outlets who had some type of partnership with Quora.
None of the folks I was interacting with was contacted and republished back then. And I had just enabled messages from everyone on Quora weeks before I got the contact request.
Needless to say, I was “all-in” and impatiently waited for my first piece to go live.
My profile reports 18 answers republished now in nearly 30 outlets (some get republished in 2 or 3 places at a time if the publishers like the format).
I don’t have a specific process that I follow for that purpose. It’s still enigmatic and purely subjective on Quora’s end for all I know. But that makes it that more exciting whenever I get approached for a republishing request.
Which is why I stick to my writing process – defining the context, busting a myth or two, explaining the general process or a step-by-step workflow of what works and what – not. It may spark interest but often it doesn’t.
Writing on general topics such as religion, hobbies, life, relationships definitely yields higher engagement due to the millions of teens and folks interested in chit-chat. I’m certainly not into that sort of stuff and I stick to the topics that I understand or am interested in.
Content Goals in 2018
I don’t have a specific content wishlist for 2018 yet.
The past years have led to long gaps between my writing cycles. I’ve spent months without publishing and then 4-6 months of writing a post once or twice a week. Most of those interruptions were related to work overload – tough deadlines, onboarding new people, tackling a new internal project or anything in-between.
In 2017, I managed to keep writing “no matter what” with everything going on around me.
- We have a newborn at home and I’m trying to help my wife with anything I can.
- I work from home most of the time.
- We’ve hired about 10 people this year and I’m managing a number of folks at a time.
- I keep in touch with most of our clients on a regular basis.
- I participate in the long-term planning and short-term technical challenges at work.
- We’ve formed several strategic partnerships and launching into new markets in 2018.
I can easily spend less than an hour a day on Quora and still hit 1,000 – 1,200 words worth of answers if I have a good backlog of answer requests. It gets easier when I use the “Taking Questions” feature which could pop a dozen questions in a niche I’m familiar with.
Repurposing content is also somewhat automated now. All I need is a schedule calendar and cherry-picking the answers worth publishing elsewhere.
Specific Content Goals
I’m interested in compiling some of the best practices we’ve been using in DevriX and forming them as actionable processes. I’ll probably work on some lengthier guides or “How to” series in specific niches. The content I produce is still somewhat chaotic and organization may help specific groups of people interested in a single activity.
Regardless of what happens in 2018, I’ll keep pushing for more educational content that would impact more people.
And if you’re not using Quora yet, they just crossed 200 million monthly users. If you can gain a larger audience with your blog or social profiles, go for it. Otherwise, don’t neglect a network that could feed the right questions and let you focus on writing your best content with no platform lockdown.