My Best Writing Practices for Growing an Audience and Increasing Engagement
Response to the prompt, “Teach Your Best Writing Practices,” found on Medium Magic.
A prompt on Medium Magic, which was to teach your best writing practice, has led me to examine my stories and see which ones seemed to resonate with my audience the best. I went through my stats and found out a few things that were illuminating for me and which may help you as well. At the same time, every writer is different and so your skills and knowledge may lead you to different outcomes with your own writing.
Write in Niche
Medium is a great platform for writers in so many ways. The size of it means there is the potential for an immediate audience. The number of writers and different subjects, genres and styles of stories provide a wonderful collection of reading material constantly at your fingertips. The articles on Medium also are a helpful source of advice on how to gain and audience and increase engagement for your work.
I think one of the best things about Medium is that there is opportunity to write about practically anything, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, interviews, photo essays, collaborative efforts and even experimental types of endeavors. For those of us who write magazine style articles, research based articles and creative writing forms such as flash fiction and poetry, this is incredibly liberating. I have loved the ability to write about all kinds of things from a professional and personal standpoint, fiction in response to prompts and poetry and have expanded my horizons into new forms such as Haiku.
This being said, as someone with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, among the most popular articles I have written are those on psychology. The articles I’ve written on psychology include both descriptive types and more research based reports on psychological phenomena and disorders. I have even written some humorous articles such as The Psychological Diagnosis of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and The True Nature of Glinda the Good in the Wizard of Oz.
I think when people have special training or expertise in an area, readers are interested in discovering what they have to say on the topic. Likewise, on this as well as other platforms, I have noticed that when people try to write about things they don’t have expertise in that are professional sounding articles, they don’t get the same readership.
We all have areas we are knowledgeable in, whether from formal education and training or just because we are very interested in the subject or activity and have spent a lot of time learning about it. If you can establish your expertise when writing an article in a certain area, I think this goes a long way to gaining readers not just for that article but for others as well. Mention it in your profile, at the beginning of an article on the topic or at the end in an expanded author description. If it is a topic that people might expect you to have a certain amount of knowledge or skill in, make sure to establish your expertise in the area right away or readers might click away.
Write from a Personal More Informal Voice
While a lot of my articles come from my area of expertise, I have been working on writing more informal sounding articles as well. This has involved finding my personal voice. This is not easy for an academic who was trained to write formally and according to an established formula. Relaxing my analness towards writing has been a journey I’m still taking but which has opened me up to the new possibilities for types of articles and subjects to write on. Some of my most popular articles are written in the first person like this one, and are written using a less formal tone.
Write about Personal experiences
Like learning to write in a personal voice, learning how to write about personal experiences and having the courage to do so, has been something I am working on getting better at. I have published a number of more personal articles at this point, the most recent of which to date is, Your Words Can Do More Harm Than You Realize, which is a personal account of an interpersonal problem I had in my business life that negatively impacted me.
We all have unique experiences in life and unique ways of seeing them. Sharing them is a great way to let readers get to know you better which I think, is linked with turning a one time reader into a regular reader. We also all have experiences that others can relate. Articles about these types of things can create a connection between a writer and their readers. Readers often look for solutions to all kinds of problems so when they find an article that can provide that which includes a personal account of how the writer fared when using the solution this increases the stories appeal.
Switch It Up
Now that I’ve said stick to a niche I’m going to suggest the opposite. As I said in the opening, Medium provides writers with great opportunities to publish stories about almost anything in almost any genre and style. While I do think it’s helpful for gaining an audience when you have a consistent niche you publish in regularly, I think it can also gain readers when you show that you have versatility.
Some readers love writers who can write on different things and in different genres. I remember being really impressed when I found out that Neil Gaiman and Stephen King were publishing graphic novels in addition to novels, novellas, and short stories. I have gained a lot of readers for my fiction and poetry many of which are different from those who read my non fiction.
The other benefit of switching it up, is that it helps me with writer’s block. Sometimes I want to writer a non-fiction piece but either can’t come up with an idea I think is worth exploring or I can’t seem to write up the idea I have. Other times I want to write a flash fiction piece and the same thing happens. Switching from non-fiction to fiction or poetry or vice versa will often help me not just get a new post completed but will decrease my frustration and improve my mood which helps me go back to what I wanted to write and successfully do so.
I mentioned above in the niche section that some of my most popular psychology articles were my humorous ones. While I don’t writer humor often as, well quite honestly I’m not really all that funny, every now and again my muse taps me on the head with her humor wand. The results were what I think are some humorous posts that others seemed to enjoy as well. Some of the ones that have the most popular are a funny take on Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, an article about applying for a muse and an account of a buggy bumping incident in the grocery story.
Those are my best writing practices to date. I have also written about other writing strategies I’ve used to increase the rate I publish at, come up with new ideas, and grow my readership which you can find listed on my profile. Thanks for reading!
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You can follow me and find links to all of the articles, essays, fiction and poetry I publish on Medium here. Thanks for reading.