In this article, I’m going to go over writing tips from going viral on Medium and some of the marketing lessons I recognized.
Some of my wins from my first 90 days publishing regularly on Medium (Oct 2019-December 2019).
- Made over $1600
- Gained over 700 followers
- One viral article with over 1.5 million views
- Another viral article with over 30,000 views
- Had stories published in multiple publications
- Given ‘Top Writer’ accolades in two different categories
- Had several articles curated by Medium staff and promoted by the site
- An article on the first page of Medium and listed as the #1 recommended article
While writing on Medium is a unique experience from publishing on your own blog, there are lots of useful takeaways from a marketing and writing standpoint.
Headlines and descriptions matter
Headlines are one of my weaknesses when it comes to writing, so I always put extra time and effort into brainstorming good headline ideas.
But what I also noticed is the importance of descriptions. A great description complements a headline like peanut butter and jelly.
There’s an art to writing a captivating description to your blog post.
A good description can mean the difference between someone scrolling right past your article or taking the time to click.
This also relates to email subject lines and the preview text.
Don’t underestimate the follow up to the main headline or subject line.
Distribution is just as important as content quality
Creating that content, editing it, and hitting publish might seem like the hard part but there’s still plenty of work to do afterward.
Coming up with effective ways to share your content is in many ways just as important as the content itself.
On Medium specifically, content is distributed in three ways.
- Curation – When Medium staff select an article to be promoted internally on the site and pushed to people outside of your following.
- Publications – If you get published in a publication you have a chance of being promoted to all the followers of that publication.
- Followers – The people directly following your Medium account will see your articles promoted to them.
However, no method guarantees going viral or that your article will tons of views. They just increase the chance.
Having lots of followers is the best way to get consistent views on your articles but curation and exposure from publications can be powerful too.
Quality itself will help with distribution because it will naturally lead to more shares on social media and better SEO, but active distribution is also necessary.
Promoting content in social media posts, in emails, and making sure it gets shared within your network are all important.
It can be the difference between an article going viral or barely being viewed because of the snowball effect.
Quantity and quality both matter
This is a bit of a cliche answer but quality and content both matter. Every article isn’t going to be a viral hit but writing consistently is important for a lot of reasons.
- Practice makes perfect
- More consistent branding
- Better SEO and site authority
- More opportunities to get curated by Medium staff
- Condition your audience to get used to reading your articles
- More opportunities to pull in interested readers and potential followers
If you name any top writer on Medium or any top journalist or blogger I’d bet that person writes very often. At the very least they probably have a very large portfolio of past work.
Volume is important when it comes to marketing and writing.
Practice truly does make perfect and more opportunities to write, edit, and publish help build valuable experience. Whether an article is well-received or not, there’s always an opportunity to learn and improve.
Authenticity online has a way of cutting through all the noise and rising to the top.
“Real recognize real”
People can sense and feel the energy from authentic content.
When trying to connect with people and tap into a community, it’s important to be original and honest.
This is especially vital when it comes to any type of social media marketing, where people are interacting directly.
Use emotional appeal in your writing
Emotional appeal is stronger than logical appeal.
Writing that strikes emotional chords tends to resonate the most powerfully with audiences.
Some of the most successful articles I’ve released on Medium were pure passion projects I wrote because I felt like it. I didn’t even outline or plan them.
I simply wrote what I felt and thought, added some pictures, and hit publish.
My natural passion and interest bled into my writing.
Data and statistics are great, but storytelling is powerful because of how it makes us feel.
If you can tap into people’s emotions, you can move them to take action.
Give people permission to be in their feelings.
Recognize and solve a problem
Helping people solve problems is a tried and true marketing method that will never go out of style as long as problems exist.
Almost any type of content can solve a problem if you’re giving someone the information they need.
Some popular types of content that help solve problems include:
- How To Guides
- App/Software Suggestions
- Industry Reports
- Case Studies
You can also solve a problem just by sharing information the reader is looking for or fulfilling their need for entertainment or motivation with your words.
I recently published an article on Medium about 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Freelance Writer and a business owner found it helpful enough to reach out and set up a call to possibly hire me for a project.
A bit of good advice can go a long way.
Drive home transformation
Painting a picture in someone’s mind of a journey or transformation they’ll make is a key element of copywriting.
Many brands openly or secretly do this in their marketing, whether they’re storytelling through:
- Blog posts
- Case Studies
- Landing pages
- Social media posts
- Product placements
McDonald’s isn’t selling burgers. They’re selling the satisfaction you’ll feel from eating it.
Lamborghini isn’t selling a car. It’s selling the status the car will grant.
Personal trainers aren’t selling workouts. They’re selling the results you’ll get from the workouts and how confident and attractive you’ll feel when you finally get in shape.
What any storytelling medium has in common is they help the audience to imagine themselves moving from point A to point B.
Part of Medium’s policy is to limit advertising, affiliate links, and self-promotion to a minimum.
This keeps the focus on helping the readers and incentivizes informative and entertaining content over making sales.
So naturally, on Medium there’s no real danger of being too pushy or coming off as too “sales-y” to your audience.
Something can also be said about being tactful and reserved with calls to action.
Be mindful of pushy marketing and sales tactics in your content.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself
This may seem counter-intuitive with the previous section being about overselling but there’s a balance to be had between being too aggressive and too relaxed.
It’s okay to highlight your wins and showcase your successes.
This article is a perfect example.
While I’m providing educational information and tips, I’m also showcasing my own competence and achievements while doing so.
While writing for Medium is different than writing for your own website, there are some commonalities and lessons to be learned.
Some of the tips for writing on Medium apply directly to marketing and blogging in general.
- Headlines and descriptions matter
- Distribution is just as important as content quality
- Quantity and quality both matter
- Authenticity matters
- Use emotional appeal in your writing
- Recognize and solve a problem
- Drive home transformation
- Don’t oversell
- Don’t be afraid to promote yourself
These are some universal guidelines that apply to anyone writing or marketing content online.
For other writing tips, check out this article on how to write blog posts people will actually bother to read.