Writing Tips From Repeatedly Going Viral On Medium

writing tips medium

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.

Headlines matter.

A lot.

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.

  1. Curation – When Medium staff select an article to be promoted internally on the site and pushed to people outside of your following.
  2. Publications – If you get published in a publication you have a chance of being promoted to all the followers of that publication.
  3. 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 matters

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
  • Tutorials
  • Reviews
  • App/Software Suggestions
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Industry Reports
  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers

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:

  • Videos
  • Emails
  • Brochures
  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Billboards
  • Testimonials
  • Commercials
  • 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.

Don’t oversell

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.


High ROI Marketing Content You Should Be Writing In 2020

Marketing Content

Creating high ROI marketing content is key to making your content marketing strategy work for you.

Unless you’ve got a huge marketing budget or a marketing team with plenty of free time on their hands (yeah right), creating enough high quality content is probably a challenge for you.

You’ve got a limited amount of time and resources to create content, so you need to get your time and money’s worth.

By being strategic and intentional with your content marketing, you can put out high value content that will continue to compound for you.

Content marketing gets three times the leads per dollar spent versus paid search (Kapost in partnership with Eloquoa)

You need to understand what kind of content to invest resources into in order to reach your goals.

In this article I’ll go over marketing content you should invest time in creating and how to leverage them.

Case studies

Marketing Content Case Studies

Case studies are a powerful content marketing asset for multiple reasons. Almost nothing carries more significance and relevance than the story of a customer’s success. 

They help you showcase your product or services within an extremely relevant context. 

A case study allows you to target different niches, which has a big impact on authoritativeness and relevance. If you can convince prospects and readers that you’ve helped similar individuals or organizations that were in the same position as them, they’re more likely to trust you.

If you have certain industries or verticals you target, a case study is a great opportunity to create highly relevant marketing content specifically for the niche they belong to.

A study from Hawkeye found 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content.

How to leverage case studies

Case studies are unique in that they can be leveraged at almost any stage of the buying cycle. 

You can typically find them in the form of blog posts or as downloadable PDFs. 

There’s also the option of repurposing the same overall case study for different formats. 

If you have a more brief or informal case study, you can put it on your blog. You can also highlight a specific section from a more in-depth case study.

Making the case study a downloadable piece of content is almost always a good idea. It’s especially good for a branded, more formal case study that you want to collect information for before sharing it.

Then the case study doubles as a lead magnet as well. 

It’s also good to collect information on people who want case studies because they’re most likely more probably buyers of your product or service if they’re taking out the time to look into case studies.

Lead magnets

marketing content lead magnets

If you’re looking to quickly grow an email list and collect more email addresses you can sell to, lead magnets are a great option for you to take advantage of.

Most people aren’t going to buy a product or service from you the first time they click on your website. 

Lead magnets are built to help you collect contact information so you can continue marketing and selling to them at a later time.

They’re a creative way to trade the value you can offer your readers for their contact info and permission to send them more collateral. 

The trick of a lead magnet is it has to be something a reader would actually want or find useful/valuable. 

Now you may have asked yourself at some point if you’re being annoying with promoting and pushing lead magnets. Aren’t those eBook and checklist pop-ups tiresome when you see them on other sites?

But for every number of readers who keep scrolling or roll their eyes at that lead magnet opt-in, there will be a reader who wants or needs it and fills out the download form.

Any marketing/sales strategy has to accept rejection rates.

This means putting significant effort into creating a valuable resource for people with no expectation of an immediate ROI.

Some examples of common lead magnets are:

  • How To Guides
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • eBooks
  • Quizzes/surveys
  • Contests/giveaways
  • White Papers
  • Free trial
  • Webinars
  • Case Studies
  • Industry Reports

According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.

Content marketing allows you to get people to opt-in to your offers voluntarily and that typically means a much warmer sale at the end of the day. 

How to leverage lead magnets

Employ your lead magnets strategically on your website, in your social media posts, and in your email marketing. 

Great places to use lead magnets are with calls to action at the end of relevant blog posts, on your social media channels, feature them in a permanent position somewhere on your website, and in relevant marketing emails you send. 

If you’re on a social media platform and have a post that’s getting lots of traction, attention, or going viral, you can also plug your link magnet underneath it in an additional comment/post to take advantage of the attention.

Also leverage email list segmentation and sequencing to give contextual follow up emails. 

For example if you have multiple lead magnets you can set up specific and unique email cadences specifically relevant to the related topic.

In general, how well you leverage your lead magnets will depend on your email marketing capabilities. 

Blog content

marketing content blog articles

Blog content is the last, but definitely not least, type of high value content you should be writing. 

Writing regular blog posts can be a pain and cost valuable time or money. 

Thinking of topic ideas, writing the articles yourself or hiring a writer, taking care of editing and revisions, including graphics and pictures, and publishing consistently aren’t necessarily easy.

If your blog is currently collecting dust and cobwebs you’ll want to seriously reconsider.

If your blog is active, quality, and well-maintained, keep up the good work. 

Blogging is one of the most powerful content marketing tools around and it’s what most people immediately think of when they see the words “content marketing”. 

Blog content is adaptable, boosts your SEO, and is great for engaging with your readers and developing your brand identity.

According to TechClient, websites with blogs have 434% more search engine-indexed pages than those without.

In 2020, blogging is still one of, if not the best way to increase your SEO. 

If you want people to find your website, create content. 

Your blog can be a great tool for:

  • Generating inbound leads
  • Establishing your brand identity
  • Becoming a resource for readers
  • Developing relationships with readers
  • Improving your organic search rankings

Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that don’t (Impact).

Blogging is arguably the most common, versatile, and effective form of content marketing.

How to leverage your blog content

Leveraging your blog content comes down to three key factors:

1. The quality of the content – Does your content educate, motivate, or entertain? Is it relevant to the reader? Is it backed up by proof, studies, or statistics? Is it original and authentic? Does it go into enough depth? Is the writing clear and concise? Are the images attractive, high quality, and helpful? These are questions you’ll want to ask before you hit publish.

2. The quality of distribution – When an article is completed and published the work has only just begun. Distribute it on multiple social media channels and among any networks you belong to. If you have anyone in your network that you think would be particularly interested or inclined to share the article, send them a message with a link to the article. Especially if they’re an influencer you have a relationship with. Promote the article by basing social media posts and emails around it. Repurpose small snippets of text or images in social media posts or emails to maximize the usage and ROI of the content.

3. Consistency – To get the best results for both SEO and audience engagement, consistency is critical. Google rewards sites that publish blog posts consistently over infrequent publishing and posting consistently conditions your audience to expect regular blog posts from you. When people find blogs they like, they want to see fresh new articles of consistent quality in order to keep coming back. Hubspot found that publishing 16+ blog posts a month brings 3.5x more traffic than 0-4 articles.

Common Features of High ROI Marketing Content

High ROI marketing content all share some similarities with each other:

  • Branded
  • Authentic
  • Relevant
  • Evergreen
  • Resourceful
  • Authoritative

Case studies, lead magnets, and blog articles are all great options of content you can confidently put resources into creating in 2020 as part of your content marketing strategy.

If you need help with writing content get then let’s chat.

How I Went From Zero to a Million Views My First 30 Days on Medium

zero to a million views on medium in 30 days

1 million views on medium my first 30 days

Last month in October I decided to start regularly publishing articles on Medium and got well over a million views.

It hasn’t even been 30 days yet but I’m at 1.5 million views and counting.

I decided to start publishing on Medium because it’s a natural platform for a blogger and writer like myself. One thing I like is it allows me to republish posts I’ve written on other websites to try and reach new audiences.

And my favorite part of having a Medium account is I get a place to put my passion projects and blog articles I want to write that don’t have a true business purpose or belong on any of my professional websites.

I originally got into writing as a creative and expressive outlet.

Now that I’m getting paid to write full-time, being able to write for pure passion, fun, or self-interest is even more important than it was before.

Writing for clients and other people is great but it’s still work. You’re producing something for someone else and it may not be a piece you’re particularly excited by or interested in.

But you’re getting paid so you take it seriously.

When you write for yourself you get to enjoy the rawest expression of writing.

There’s no topic or tone that’s off-limits. You can be yourself instead of writing in someone else’s voice.

And I think that’s part of what helped me reach a million views in such a short time frame. 

I’m going to give some insights and share what I think went into my success as a writer my first few weeks on Medium.

I had a strong pre-existing social media presence

Medium is a great platform for me because I already have a significant social media presence on Twitter (around 17,500 right now) so I can easily promote my own work.

I’m used to posting and publishing content and linking articles to my audience. I have a loyal base that are interested in my writing and other things I have to say.

Getting recognized for your writing isn’t as easy as producing quality content and hoping people will flock to it.

You have to market and publicize yourself if you want to be recognized.

Being shy on social media and not taking it seriously is a big mistake for modern writers. I think it’s realistic to have a significant social media presence on at least 1 or 2 platforms. 

In the days of the internet and social media marketing, closed mouths don’t get fed.

Being savvy and having experience with social media marketing is definitely a big advantage I have to help me with sharing my content and getting views and exposure.

I committed to writing every single day

Last month I told myself I’d start writing more and would make an effort to write every day. Not necessarily publish everyday, not have a set time, not have a word count goal, but just sit down and write.

It didn’t matter whether it was for a client or if it was a self-published article, as long as a significant amount of writing got done that day.

As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss every shot you don’t take”.

Every article a writer puts out isn’t going to go viral, but there’s no way you can write viral articles if you’re not writing.

What people don’t see when a piece of content goes viral is all the work that went behind creating the piece. Or all the other content they made that got little engagement. Or the years they’ve spent improving and getting better at creating quality content.

They can see an “overnight celebrity” but they don’t see all the practices and rehearsals that went into making something a hit.

The content game requires consistency, whether it’s writing or producing any other form of content. 

I wrote a viral article

So now we’re finally at the juicy part. How in the hell did I get so many views my first month?

Simple. I wrote a viral article. 

On October 19, I published an article about the Mexican cartel’s attack in Culiacan, Mexico that occurred October 17. I told the story of how they caused mayhem in the city and forced the Mexican government to surrender to them.

I wrote the article because I found the story extremely interesting and wanted to give my opinion on it.

It was a pure passion project.

I had no idea how much traction my article was going to get when I hit publish. 

There are a lot of things that go into the combination of factors that result in a “perfect storm” that allow a piece of content to go viral.

In this case I broke an incredibly powerful news story, I gave a summary of events, and I gave a pretty nuanced and detailed analysis of a complex geopolitical situation. 

This was more journalism style writing than the typical blogging style you’d associate with content marketing. 

What I explained earlier with having a pre-existing social media presence and committing to writing every single day both played major roles.

I decided I want to get that article out because it was a story I was personally passionate about. 

Writing everyday is a lot easier when you write articles you find personally satisfying and stimulating.

When I first finished the story, I shared it on my Twitter account where it would end up getting hundreds of likes and about 1,000 link within the first 24 hours I shared it.

That initial traction on Twitter is what helped me get even bigger organic reach and sharing on Facebook, which is where the article truly went viral.

It wasn’t until people started sharing my article on Facebook that it took off, and the majority of all my traffic came from Facebook, a platform I’m not even personally active on. 

Who knows if it would have made it there without the initial exposure and momentum from Twitter. 

It certainly wouldn’t have been successful if I didn’t maintain the discipline to keep writing every day. 

And of course, it was a well-written article, it was very timely, and it was simply an amazing story that captivated me enough to write it, and clearly captivated other people as well. 

Eventually, my article was actually curated by the Medium staff which means they approved it as a quality piece of content and promoted it to a larger viewership. 

I even managed to make it to the front page.

I don’t know if that would have happened had I not gotten so much organic traffic without any internal promotion from Medium. 

By the time my article was curated it already had over a million views, lots of comments, and almost a thousand claps. 

So at that point, I’m sure the internal team at Medium responsible for curating articles and deciding which articles get promotion took notice.

As the saying goes, be so good they can’t ignore you.

My key takeaways from having an article go viral

  • Many people might say going viral is all about luck but I believe you create your own luck. 
  • Don’t neglect the importance of promoting and marketing your work. You aren’t done after you hit publish. 
  • Quality work stands on its own merit and no one can stop you from getting some buzz if you create truly amazing content that resonates with people.

All in all, I’m enjoying publishing work on Medium so far. I mean who wouldn’t if they scored a viral article practically out of the gate?

Regardless, it’s definitely a platform with lots of potential and value for writers to promote themselves and connect with audiences they otherwise wouldn’t have. 

I’m looking forward to publishing more content there.