Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay
This article first appeared in Towards Data Science
Simple techniques for creating content that’s easy to find and exciting to read
Want to learn how to write, publish, and get noticed?
I get a lot of views on Medium. About 100,000 every 30 days. As of April, I had been writing for four months and only wrote three to five articles each month.
It’s pretty exciting.
(Update: Thanks to all of you amazing human beings, I reached 100K readers in April!!!)
Everyone wants to know how they can write, publish, and get their articles noticed in the endless expanse that is the internet. Whether you’re running a business, launching a new product, or putting everything you have into a blog, you want your content seen.
Most people think that there must be some kind of trick to it. There isn’t! You don’t need to be a part of a team that writes hundreds of articles a day. You don’t need to pay for views or hack any systems. There are a ton of simple and free things that you can do right now to make your content stand out and get noticed.
Just remember that you need to do what works for you! My posts might be different than yours and my goals might be different than yours. The joy for me is in sharing the cool stuff I know with as many people out in the world as possible. You might want something different.
The internet is full of some “common knowledge” information that people who write and publish swear by. These include things like:
- Write shorter articles. Ones that take 6–8 minutes to read are ideal.
- Publish frequently.
- Publish on weekdays.
- Find a great featured image.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
These are great tips! But as you try what “everyone” says is effective, remember to always pay attention to what works best for you as you write, publish, and move forward.
You might be surprised.
Every couple of weeks I tend to write one 15- to 19-minute piece and publish it on a Saturday. That’s pretty much it.
You do you, boo.
Publish on Medium
There’s a good chance that you’re already doing this. But if you’re out there blogging all alone and wondering if anyone will ever notice your amazing work, republish your content on Medium! Medium has somewhere in the neighborhood of a gazillion views every month. Take advantage of this when you write and publish your work! You can easily import your content from your existing blog or website and Google will not punish you for it.
Importing your content is incredibly simple. Just click on your profile picture in the top-right corner, go to stories, click on “Import a story,” paste in your URL, and you’re basically done. The directions are right here and it’s crazy easy. Your original source will automatically be referenced by a canonical URL and both Google and your SEO will be happy.
Content is key
This is critical. I know everybody always says this part, but it’s important and I’m saying again. Write, publish, and share something that you care about and take your time with it. Put your heart and soul into it and then load it up with fun visuals.
Now spend as much time editing that thing as you did writing it.
Get Grammarly. The free version is great. It will edit as you go, saving you hours of effort and anxiety. Run your post through Hemingway App too. You want to write at an 8th-grade level or below. 6th grade seems to be the sweet spot for my articles. Hemingway will help you easily determine the reading level. This is not about dumbing your pieces down. I’m a top writer in artificial intelligence and technology and write articles at about a 6th-grade reading level.
Now spend as much time working on the title of your post as you did writing and editing your post. Seriously. The title can make or break you. You can look at headline analyzers (people seem to like CoSchedule) or just pay attention to which articles you actually click and read throughout your day.
Write out your title and then Google it. Look at the results.
If you were looking for exactly the information that you just wrote about, would you click on your title first?
Go hit that “Ready to publish?” button at the top of your screen to see what your article will look like. Would you click on that? Does it say what you want it to say? Does it accurately represent your content? (You’d be surprised at how easy it is to forget that part in the quest to be funny, clever, and/or attention-grabbing.) Did you include a power word? You don’t have to, but people do like them. Did you go too far and turn it into clickbait? Medium readers and curators generally don’t like clickbait, so it’s best if you avoid that. How does your featured image look? Is it interesting and exciting.
While it does make sense to use a featured image that works with your article, you don’t need to find an image that literally represents the content that you’ve written. Find an image that evokes an emotion that works with what you’ve written. Find an engaging image that makes someone want to get more information. That can be even more powerful than a literal representation of your content.
If you want page views outside of Medium, try Googling the main words in your title. Do you get a zillion hits? Are you ready to compete with that? It’s tempting to want to use keywords that get billions of links, but are you sure you can rank there? If you’re hoping people will find your article, the last thing you want is to end up on page 2,824,716 of a Google search.
They say if you’re anywhere past page two of a Google search, your article may as well not exist.
If you’re using a keyword tool, I’d suggest that you want to stay in the middle of the road. You’re looking for keywords that a lot of people are looking for, but not ones that absolutely everyone is writing about.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are joining thousands of other people who are putting their hearts and souls into their pieces and then tossing them into the vast, gaping void that is the internet.
Your job is to help people find what you’ve written. Make something that’s bright and shiny and then treat links like breadcrumbs along the way to finding your post. (We’ll get to links in a minute.)
Images, images, images. And GIFs!
Whitespace is your friend. You want short paragraphs with lots of whitespace. You want visuals. Get some good pictures! Medium offers Unsplash images inside of your post. Just click the plus sign on a new line and then the magnifying glass icon and you’ll have access to thousands of images. All you have to do is search for an image that makes you happy.
Click the plus sign
And search away!
If you want to step it up a little, check out Pixabay, Pexels, and any other free (or paid) sites. Take it to the next level and grab a GIF from GIPHY! You can find one you want, click on the little link icon, and grab the GIF link. Then come back to Medium, paste that link on its own line and hit “return.” Wait for a second or two (or twenty…), and your GIF will appear like magic.
(Paste the link on its own line in Medium and hit Return.)
Always make sure you put credits and links to the places where you found your article. If you didn’t take the picture, then use the caption space below the image link to the spot where you found it. If you don’t have the right to use it, then don’t use it.
Write something that you’re proud of, share it everywhere, and then write something even better and share that too. Don’t stop sharing. There are thousands of people out there who would love to read what you’ve written. Most of them will miss your post when you publish it. No one is checking every page of Medium every day. That would be impossible.
Raise your hand, shine some light, and share your hard work with the world.
As always, if you do anything cool with this information, let people know about it in the comments below or reach out anytime on LinkedIn @annebonnerdata!
If you want to take a look at some of the other pieces I’ve written for examples of whitespace, images, and post length, head on over to my profile.
Thanks for reading!