Think out loud.
Ten tips for sharing your business thinking on Medium.
“So you mean, it’s just another blog?”
“But why would you drive people to another website instead of your own?’
These were just a couple of responses I got when I started evangelising about Medium. That was last year. I hit publish on my first story in August 2013; this is my fifty -seventh.
Earlier in 2013 I’d written an article for the Financial Times, ‘Creative thinking out loud,’ where I explored the opportunity to use the web to share thoughts in development rather than just present highly polished opinions. Len Kendall, founder of CentUp, told me:
‘Medium helps me test ideas in public. That’s more useful than a traditional blog.’
Whether you’re a startup founder like Len, the CEO of a major corporation or a freelance consultant, Medium is a great place to share thought leadership — letting your ideas breathe, getting your opinion out there, making your ideas visible.
Recently I've been recommending Medium to those who want to get their opinions out there. So how do you get started? Here’s my ten-step beginner’s guide:
- This isn't your corporate blog, so don’t publish perfect. Medium is a place to think out loud, to share your ideas and test them by watching what gets traction and listening to feedback. Don’t wait until it’s perfect to share it.
- Sell an idea, not your product. This isn't the place for a hard sell. If you want to engage the audience, tell us what you’re thinking, not how great your product is.
- Don’t be a fence sitter. Your readers want to hear your opinion. Tell us what you think is broken in your industry and why you’re on a mission to change it. Inspire us with what drives you or what keeps you awake at night. It doesn’t matter if you polarise the audience — that’s half the point.
- Write straight onto the platform. Right now, I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing straight into Medium. That’s what it’s designed for: a blank canvas to capture your ideas (if you write it offline and then paste it into Medium, it never feels as good).
- Although if you do change your mind… Publishing here is like launching a product in beta: what you write isn’t set in stone. Is there some new research you want to reference? Have you thought of a better title or a better photograph? It’s easy to edit and republish.
- Give the audience something. Like any ‘sticky’ blog post, if there’s value for the audience, it becomes more shareable. Everybody loves a list, such as this one by IDEO’s Kerry O’Connor, ‘6 Ways To Design A Business.’ It’s a really useful post, but it also captures what IDEO stands for.
- Speak human. This isn't the place for long-winded white papers and industry jargon. Make sure it’s gettable.
- Cross-posting is okay. It’s fine to republish a post from your corporate blog or something that wasn’t previously in the public domain. Airbnb’s Brian Chesky published an internal memo ‘Don’t fuck up the culture’ on Medium which gave us all a great insight into his business.
- Don’t obsess over the metrics. When you start out, don’t worry about getting big-number traffic. It’s better that your story has only been read fifty times but that it’s been recommended or tweeted by an influencer you wanted to reach. Going viral isn't always the goal.
- On Medium you’re not playing solo. The way I think of it is that when you write on Medium you’re not playing a solo gig, you’re playing at a music festival. On here, you’re in the spotlight, but you’re one of thousands of voices: it’s a different context, a bigger stage with other performers, and a wider audience than you get on your own blog. It’s a platform where a new audience can find your ideas. Like Gary Vaynerchuk said, ‘it allows me to reach people who have never heard of me.’ In his post, ‘Cheers, Medium! You turned me into a writer’, Stef Lewandowski agrees, ‘Whereas on my old blog I’d only reach a handful of people, Medium magnifies good words, and I've found an audience of thousands.’
If you need a different perspective to: i) tell your business or brand story; ii)figure out and capture the essence of your business; iii) guide you through your career or work life, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org