Do You Format to Help Your Readers Scan Your Stories? Stop It!
I know it goes against what all the gurus say, but hear me out.
Put your reader’s cap on.
Think back to the time when you were first introduced to Medium. Did you come here as a reader or writer?
What about when Medium introduced the paywall? Did you decide to pay so you can continue to read or to write?
I came to Medium as a reader. I believe it was Srinivas Rao who introduced me to Medium. I was a fan of his podcast and received his newsletter. He would link his stories over to Medium.
Once here, I found a wealth of stories by different writers. I loved it. Eventually, I decided to pay to read, because I was getting good quality material I enjoyed reading. There is plenty of stuff I can scan on the internet. I came to Medium to read, and that’s what I was paying for.
I am a slow reader, a very slow reader. An eight-minute article would take me about 20 minutes to read, and I enjoy it. Just as I am willing to pay to buy books, I am eager to pay to read quality stuff online.
That’s what I want to read on Medium, a high-quality content. The kind of writing that grabs your attention and keeps you glued to the screen. Not the stuff that I can scan through, because headlines and subheads are all that is worth reading, the rest is fluff.
When I started blogging years ago, one of the Gurus mentioned that if you want to succeed, write in simple language, something a seventh-grader can understand. No wonder I kept burning out without building a following. A seventh-grader was not my target audience. I didn’t even realize I was doing that until my daughter read one of my drafts. She chuckled, “You write in English like I write in Urdu, baby sentences.”
I decided to write on Medium because I saw the opportunity to connect with an audience that is willing to pay to read high-quality material without having to deal with the annoying pop-ups or ads that break up the flow.
A Medium reader is not your run of the mill internet browser or scanner. A Medium reader is selective and can discern between quality and fluff. If they come here and find the same things they find for free, they’ll have no reason to continue to pay for it.
Let’s not disappoint them. Let’s give them readable stories, not scannable ones. After all, what would you rather get paid for, reading time, or scanning time?