How to write Medium stories people will actually read
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I love reading articles on Medium, they provides me with useful information. On a deeper level, they (good writers) also show how a (good) long-copy format is still as consumable as a few seconds video format.
Here are some tips for new writers on Medium who are trying to build an audience base.
(Yes, that includes me)
You can write a great title with a powerful clickbait, but if your content is not as good as your title, you'll have to face angry comments from readers who just lost 5 minutes of their precious times.
Like a great advertisement with disappointing product performance.
You can write great content; a compelling story with a unique point of view that gives meaningful information to your audience. But if your title is too weak to drive click, then your great content will be sink in the sea of cruel algorithm.
Like a great products with low awareness.
Learn from how BuzzFeed creates compelling headlines.
Inject hyperbole and fear-of-missing-out.
Here are some types of headlines that work well on Medium:
Your opening image on Medium will serve as your story’s ambassador everywhere: social media news feeds, Reddit, Google News — even RSS readers.
The opening image in this article the writer chose an image of Emma Stone portraying an aspiring journalist at her typewriter in the 1960s. It’s from the popular 2011 period movie “The Help.”
A stock photo of someone sitting at their laptop would have looked too generic. Our news feeds are already filled with these pictures.
The images are there to visually reinforce each story’s message, while lending them flavor.
Once your reader clicks through to your story, the trial begins. Keep in mind that your readers are looking for any excuse to jump back to their news feed. Reading requires a lot more effort than scrolling through cat photos.
Don’t waste time with intros or updates — start making points and telling your story immediately.
Figure out a way to establish your credibility within the first few paragraphs. If you are a top expert in your field, say so. Don’t assume that people are going to take the time to google you.
Are you writing about health as a non-physician? Are you writing about personal finance as a non-millionaire? You’ll need to overcome any skepticism readers may have about your credibility.
Reinforce your credibility throughout your story. Support your arguments with data. Use inline links to (non-paywalled) research.
This isn’t the New England Journal of Medicine. This is Medium. So don’t use footnotes.
Good writing is hard. Like any skill, it takes practice. There are no shortcuts to becoming a strong writer.
Do yourself a favor: write what you know.
Have you ever heard the term “writers block?” Writer’s block happens when you don’t know enough about a topic to write about it. The antidote is research. Learning. Going out into the field.
Good Medium stories don’t come naturally. For every minute of story length, expect to spend at least an hour writing, re-writing, and editing your story.
Medium’s data scientists found that 7 minutes is the optimal length for a Medium story.
In practice, a story should be as long as it needs to be, and no longer.
If you can’t come up with at least 5 minutes worth of thoughts, rethink the premise of your story.
Paste your story into the Hemingway Editor. This will highlight dense sentences, adverbs, passive voice, and other style issues. It will also assign a grade level to your overall writing.
Despite what you may have learned in English composition class, people prefer short paragraphs to “walls of text.”
There’s nothing wrong with single-sentence paragraphs.
reading habits, gather your
remember what you readand stay ahead of the crowd!
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It gives tangible tips on how to write Medium stories that people will actually read.
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