Finally, your spectacular writing is finished! You would never want this level of quality to go to waste. You would never want someone to leave your product un-opened, simply because they did not find the packaging appealing…
You must forbid this to happen!
Show people in the display case that your work is top-level and worth their time!
(From here on out, I am mainly speaking from the perspective of an article on Medium.)
What is the first thing people will see when they stumble upon your article?
You know it already, of course. The image is what draws a reader in.
When it comes to the image of your article, you immediately have two options — (1) find a relevant image on Unsplash, which can be done easily and quickly on Medium, or (2) find or create an original image.
Unsplash photos are viewed more and more as amateur. Oftentimes, the cover for an article is one that you have seen twenty times before. This steals an article of its originality. However, this is not always the case.
There are still a wide variety of Unsplash images that you can choose from (That I personally choose from. No, the irony was not lost on me), and they can still have a positive effect on your article. The point I am making here is, if you opt for the Unsplash route, choose wisely. Don’t use the image you’ve seen used plenty times before.
You don’t want people to identify their writing with writing that they’ve seen in the past.
The other route that you can take, which will require a lot more effort, is creating your own image. This can be done rather simply by creating a banner for free on Canva.
When you are setting your dimensions, Medium recommends that a screen-width banner be at least 2500px wide. Try keeping a 2:1 width-height ratio. Meaning, if your image is 2500px wide, it should be 1250px high.
Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software - Canva
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If you are tech-savvy, like graphic design, and are the ultimate over-achiever, you can create your images from scratch using free software like Gimp.
Even if you are unfamiliar with this area of technology and design, no one is stopping you from learning! Educate yourself on how to use this great design tool online.
This, like most things that require the most effort, offers the best reward. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to create a completely custom image for your article; this will best draw the reader in.
I would reserve such effort for your best pieces of writing! Usually, a relatively unique Unsplash photo will suffice and do its job. However, the over-achiever route is always available to aim for the next step.
Usually, it is the image that first catches one’s eye.
What does your audience immediately do next? They read the title of your article. This is the next critical presentation point. You will lose most of your potential readers because they simply did not find your title and image appealing.
This is detrimental to your success as a writer if this poor packaging was hiding a quality work of art.
The best thing you can do to improve your title is to not put down the first thing that comes to your head (unless you’ve been blogging for twenty years and you’re an expert at this by now).
Your title needs to spark emotion and interest in a reader; it should draw them into your room and ask them to sit down and get comfortable.
My favorite tool to use when creating headlines is CoSchedule’s headline analyzer. Not only will it analyze all of your headlines for free, it provides some free resources, including a list of emotional words that will captivate your audience.
Do your research and try some key variations to a headline idea before settling on one. This could be the difference of hundreds of views.
Write Better Headlines: Free Headline Analyzer From CoSchedule - @CoSchedule
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Once you’ve got your reader on the hook, your job is to keep them on the line.
Your writing will primarily determine whether a reader chooses to keep reading, but the aesthetic article will also greatly influence your reader’s overall opinion of your writing.
Medium’s editor offers great tools to work with here. Read through your entire article, which by now you should be well-acquainted with, and use a variety of bold words, italics, quotes, and line-breaks.
Sectioning off your writing with sub-headers will make your writing appear more consumable. You don’t want to put your reader off with seemingly endless text and huge paragraphs.
This brings me to my next point on the aesthetics of your article. Earlier, I briefly mentioned line-breaks. These are specifically important to Medium.
As you read, go through your longer paragraphs and break them up. On Medium, readers are more likely to scan through an article quickly, and the standard is choppy sections of text that allow a reader to move quickly. Long streams of text are unappealing. Break them up and utilize white-space to your advantage. Your article should have a lot of it.
Congratulations, you have made it to the end of the process!
I personally love the process of writing; it is an art that not many know or appreciate. It is a refining process to create something beautiful and share it with the world.
If you willingly read this entire series, I am both surprised and incredibly grateful. Don’t leave without letting me know. Thank you so much!
What’s that? You missed the rest of this series? Thank you for telling me!