7 Things I Learned from Reading Medium Stories That I Need to Take Note of When Writing
Hint: It’s much more than what everyone is telling you.
Let’s be honest. Many of us here browse stories, leave claps, and add in responses in hopes of being noticed. Icing is getting claps and views for our content, and the cherry on top is a follow. It’s one of the old strategies used in the world of blogging.
I do the same, possibly even excessively. My routine goes like this:
- Click what other people are posting in the topics I am interested in or are writing about
- Skim if it’s interesting enough for me to even bother
- Scan for a noteworthy insight, usually the top highlight
- Leave a clap and a comment
- Move on to the next
It was monotonous and borderline robotic. It also got tiring fast.
So I started looking for articles that genuinely piqued my interest and started to read them for gold nuggets of wisdom. And then it hit me, there was a pattern to what I was clicking, what kept my interest, and what made me follow certain writers. Here are my discoveries:
Clickbait titles needed
The first thing people see when they browse Medium stories or scroll through the recommendations is the title. While I refuse to concede to clickbait titles when reading anything online, I come to realize that they are the type of pieces that I clicked subconsciously. The element of mystery tickles my curiosity.
You know what else made me click titles more? Negatives. Such as when it tells me I might be doing something wrong. Look at these:
Why You’re Too Late on Medium
We take too much credit for hard work and too little for being early
Good storytelling triumphs
There’s nothing that interests me more than humanized content. I’m on a blogging platform, not an e-learning course for my class, so I’d like to see content that draws from authentic experiences, not a company handbook.
I immediately close the tab for stories that inject so much branding guidelines or introductions that would remind you of whitepapers and thought leadership pieces. I definitely read those, but sometimes I prefer more personal blog posts.
Medium posts are called “stories” for a reason.
Writing content that uses my personal stories or relevant experiences is one of my most favorite activities. Creatively transitioning from the story to the points I want to talk about is all part of the fun, and that’s something I need to continue moving forward based on this learning.
I close the tab for stories that are just a chunk of text — no headlines, no text in bold, no pull quotes, no bulleted lists, no images, nada. They’re a pain to look at because you see that there’s so much to go through that maybe it isn’t even worth reading everything to find out if it is.
The simplicity of Medium’s formatting is great. It’s clean-looking, easy to use, and one thing less to think about. Two of my favorite features are:
- Preview links. Copy and pasting links show a preview of the piece and also break texts in the content.
- Kicker and subtitle. From my observation, many either don’t use or have no idea it exists. It organizes content and gives more depth to what you want to talk about.
The Best Medium Article Formatting Guide
A comprehensive guide to formatting Medium stories like a top writer
Balance between quality and quantity
People will read quality content. Producing quality pieces makes peoplewant to read even more about what you have to say. But if you only post once in a blue moon, they’ll soon forget who you are, what you talk about, and why they followed you.
Personally, how I determine quality relates to the value of the insights, how well the thoughts are organized, and how it is written. When I find these qualities in a content I read, I check out what other pieces they have in the same topic. If I like what I see, then I hit “follow.” On the other hand, if I skim the article and the narrative is all over the place, I usually just close the tab.
Submit to publications to get a bigger audience
This is one of the newbie tips I see everywhere when I started here on Medium. But I didn’t fully understand it until I started to religiously read content here. Here’s what I noticed:
- You get more audience when you publish. I see many stories published in publications that gain a lot of attention, despite the writers not having a lot of followers. That’s because they also tap the audience of the publication and not just their own.
- When I read articles that are interesting, the first thing I do is check the profile of the author. I have specific topics I like to read instead of a wide variety of things. If this author writes in this niche, then I almost always follow so I can read similar content.
- The next thing I check is the publication. Some publication titles are very obvious on the topic, while others are more general and cover a lot more interests. If I want to read more about a certain topic, where else to better find them than publications who have curated pieces from different contributors?
- Creating your own publication is one thing to consider. It help you organize your own content, such as changing the layout of the homepage and highlight stories you want to feature even if they were published a while back.
Odd numbers grab more attention
You know when you want to keep the TV’s volume on an even number? By nature, even numbers give you a sense of calm and symmetry. But there’s psychology behind why odd numbers work better in certain scenarios, such as lists.
Numbers were invented as exact, objective symbols. But as humans, we understand them subjectively based on arithmetical characteristics. They are more effective at capturing your eyes when skimming content. It sticks to our brain more and it influences our emotional responses and decision-making.
Third world countries have an advantage
I’ve encountered several posts in my recommended stories that talk about how the Medium Partner Program isn’t meant to replace a full-time job. I also can’t count the number of posts I’ve seen for side hustles that earn them a “little extra money.” But… they’re talking about $500 or more.
That got me thinking about how different the cost of living is. The minimum wage in the Philippines, for example, is less than 300 bucks per month. It’s amusing to know that many families can live even with less than that amount. Imagine having passive income from a Medium post that took off. $500 can go a long way.
While I personally can’t live with $500 a month, it made me realize that the difference in cost of living is an advantage. All I need to do is to create good content, and I might even be able to resign from my full-time job.
These are definitely insights I didn’t realize until I did one of the oldest blogging strategies in the book. Now I can arm myself with new learnings to apply when I write new content. Hopefully you do, too.
Azelle is a freelance digital marketing professional and copywriter for hire. Send her an email at email@example.com, and she’ll be glad to help you out with your goals and challenges!