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4 lessons I am learning Writing Articles on Medium

“It’s finished.” Is it? Really?

Are you sure?

All these questions come at me, fired into my sub-conscious by my self-doubting brain. I review what I have written, the word count will do. 500 words nicely formatted with a title that I have fretted about for ages.

The questions come again…

Yes, but is the title any good? Is it too good? Won’t readers just click on it because it’s catchy?

My last article got over 200 views, not a lot compared to some, but a lot for me. Half of those that viewed it, read it. But no one, not one, clapped to say they really liked it. What if it happens again? Or even worse, no one reads it…

Medium, the reader’s paradise…

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Medium is a great platform for finding interesting articles to read. I love it for the fact that I can read without being battered to death by adverts and the articles are really good. They are, in the main well written and even those that aren’t, contain enough substance to make each one worth the read.

There is a social element to it as well, with the comments presenting a great place to generate engagement and get feedback to help you learn. The algorithm filters the thousands of articles to help feed you with a topical feed of relevant stuff to read.

There just isn’t the space for the crap that you get in Facebook or LinkedIn. Those news feeds are just awash with so much marketing crap these days. So, for reading and learning, Medium rules the roost.

If you’re a writer though….

Firstly, Medium makes it easy for me to write and publish articles that I have written. Whether that be from my blog, or just writing in Medium it’s super easy.

You can even join the partner programme and get paid for writing. Wow, even someone like me who left school with a substandard grade in English can write and get paid. So cool.

To help you, Medium has even provided a Stats page so you can see how many readers viewed your article, read it all the way to the end and even present you with the number of fans of your article (the readers that really liked your article).

This is where writing on Medium can become a nightmare, quite simply you write, you publish and then you sit and watch the stats, clicking refresh every 30 seconds to see if your article is getting read (that’s me by the way).

The stats can give you a vanity complex, watching in the hope that people like what you write, and they clap. When they don’t you can easily be consumed by self-doubt and you question what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Oh, and by the way, just because I switched the emphasis from me to you doesn’t mean this isn’t me (I am just in denial).

Using stat’s the right way

As I have mentioned I don’t consider myself a good writer, my daughter is an A level English genius and way better than me at writing. But I love thinking, I think we all do to a certain extent, its how we to articulate those thoughts that becomes the challenge. For me, my challenge is articulation through writing and I want to get much better at it.

This is where the stats that Medium provide can become incredibly helpful.

1st Stat — Views

How many people viewed your article. At first glance, you may ask yourself what you learn from how many views you do or don’t get.

Several things.

1. When you post your article, you can add 5 tags that will be related to search terms within Medium. How relevant is your article to these tags? Have you used a tool like a word count to see which words/terms are the most used in your article? Do these relate to your tags?

2. Is your title relevant to the article and the tags used? Relevancy is key here. Much as the first point, Mediums algorithm is checking these attributes when posting your article.

Writing a title is not as easy as you think. There are tools like the Co-Scheduler headline writer that assesses your title and gives it score. Be warned though, it can very easy to write a title that scores well but misses out on the points made above.

I have been guilty of this on many occasions.

2nd Stat — Reads & read ratio

Okay so now people have viewed the article, reads tells you how many of those went on and read the article and how does that appear as a ratio compared to the number that viewed the article.

What can you learn from this?

This is the first indicator of the quality of the article you have written. If viewers read it all the way so that your read ratio is though then it would indicate that the subject matter was interesting.

3rd Stat — Fans

This is the ultimate quality indicator if a viewer reads your article and they get something from it then they are encouraged to clap. If they are a paying reader, then you will get paid for that clap. The amount varies based on how many other claps they give out during the month.

But forget the money for a minute. What makes someone clap?

It’s a difficult question to answer, the easier question to pose is what would make you clap an article? Check back and look at the last few articles you clapped and ask yourself that question. Why did you clap?

I am guessing that you really enjoyed the article, it may have sparked an emotional response from you or even made you cry or laugh out loud. It might have taught you something by challenging what you thought you knew.

Now read some of your older articles that maybe didn’t get many views, reads or fans. How did they make you feel? Would you have clapped the article?

Go back to that article you clapped. Invert those points that prompted you to clap. Work backwards from them. How would you factor these into your writing? How did the writer of the article you clapped factor them in?

The lessons I learnt

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Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

I have many lessons to learn when it comes to writing. I spend some time thinking about an article subject and without much more thought I sit down at my computer and start typing.


Lesson 1 — plan

Start with a plan, do you have a framework. I often don’t, I just get the urge to write and off I go for a few hours. I am pleading to myself now, Don’t!

Produce a simple outline of what you are writing about. How are you going to get the article started? Set the scene, make it personable and emotional.

What key points are trying to make? How might you frame these within your article?

How will it end? Every story ends, so consider how you will finish. Will you summarize or leave the reader to do that.

Lesson 2 — time

Set aside some quality time to write. A 500-word article will take you a good hour, and that doesn’t include formatting. So, remove distractions so you can work deeply.

Lesson 3 — edit

Get someone or something (an online app) to proofread your writing. I think much faster than I type, and I am guilty of publishing articles with errors. It puts readers off.

Lesson 4 — make it a process

Make writing a process, remember its not about how many people read or article. Its that fact that you are writing it that’s the important bit.

I am always learning, every article that I write has a failure point in it. Only by reading and continuously writing will I give me the opportunities to learn & improve.

Written by

I’m curious about decisions, strategy, and how to live my best life. Follow me as I write to figure it out and share some wisdom along the way.

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