Expanding Short-Form Into Long-Form Content: 3 Easy Steps

Nicolas Cole
5 min readNov 14, 2023

One of the core frameworks we talk about a lot in Ship 30 for 30 is our Lean Writing framework.

Because most people don’t know that…

  • Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way is based on his blog post titled Stoicism 101.
  • Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck* is based on his blog post with the same exact title.
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is based on a column he wrote for The New Yorker in 1996.

And so on.

Writing Using The Lean Writing Framework

Lean Writing means starting small, writing about an idea in a low-friction way to gather objective insight and data around whether or not this is something readers want to read. Ryan Holiday wrote The Obstacle Is The Way because his blog post, Stoicism 101, went viral. Mark Manson got offered a book deal and the first question the publisher asked him was, “What’s your most popular article?” He said it was one called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck*, and so he turned it into a book. And Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller, The Tipping Point, is essentially just an expanded version of the column he wrote a few years prior.

These writers didn’t just wake up one day with a “brilliant idea.”

They wrote about their ideas online, in public. And then they waited to see which one of their ideas readers resonated with the most.

And turned their proven ideas into expanded versions.

(No wonder they sold so well!)

How To Expand Short-Form Content Into Long-Form Content

Whenever we explain this mental model, one of the questions we get asked most often is, “OK that makes sense — but how?”

Which is what this Deep Dive is all about.

  • How to expand proven short-form content into a longer-form asset
  • How to expand your work without being repetitive
  • And 5 simple mechanisms you can use to expand sections, over and over again, without the reader noticing the “magic trick.”


Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Look through your library of…



Nicolas Cole

100M+ Views | 5x Author | Co-founder of Ship 30 for 30 | Want to start writing online? Get the Ultimate Guide: https://startwritingonline.com