How I Got 24,000 Views — The 80/20 Rule

I first became familiar with the concept of the 80/20 rule, a.k.a. Pareto’s Law in Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week book.

The rule states that for any endeavor, 20% of one’s energy results in 80% of the value created or received.

One year ago I began sharing on Medium in order to share ideas and receive feedback on what I’ve been brainstorming and experimenting with, ranging from health to tech.

After one year, I unexpectedly experienced my first viral post, R.I.P. Google Hangouts, a design review of Google Hangout’s new desktop messaging app. R.I.P Google Hangouts received 14,000 reads and near 23,850 views (now 24,000) within the first 3 days of publishing in part due to the success of the 80/20 rule.

Medium has a built-in tool to attribute where your posts’ traffic is coming from. Looking at the referring sources there were 14 meaningful sources. Google Search, Medium search traffic, and reddit delivered 19,835 views.

21% of the sources (3 out of 14) generated 83% of traffic.

Google search traffic and organic Medium traffic is out of my control for the most part.

What was in my control is the title.

When browsing through Medium it quickly gets old looking at post after post attempting to throw out the most extreme title they can compose. The reality is not every post can have an over-the-top title without quickly irritating anyone looking for quality content.

Writing a title is a balance between being descriptive of what’s in the post and novel to pique interest.

I used the keyword phrase of “Google Hangouts” as the descriptive element which helped with search volume and “R.I.P” to convey that Hangout’s originality is dead.

Also, the post was timely going live soon after the product update occurred. The day the post went live my post was in the 14th position on Google search under the search term “google hangouts”.

Often when I post, I like to do so in the morning before I head off to work. Before noon I curiously checked in and was happily surprised with the couple thousand views.

Great, I’m on par with some of my more highly received posts.

After bragging to my friend Eric, he told me to take a look at reddit. At that time I was shocked to see the 45 up-votes, which later turned to 200 by the end of day 1.

Before I post new content I glance at a list of social sites in order to consider what other channels would be relevant to share to. The Google sub-reddit was a successful pick as it launched my article to the first spot on the page.

How Is This Interesting or Useful?

Maybe it’s not, but for me when working on anything creative it is easy to obsess on the details. In some cases, it is worth spending the additional 80% time and energy to perfect the result. However, in many cases stopping to consider what value you can add with the biggest impact will help you to complete much more as opposed to iterating on forever.

In this case, I made a couple of quick strategic decisions such as exerting creative effort on the title for 10 minutes, posting in a timely manner, and sharing to alternate mediums such as reddit which overall contributed to 80% of the post’s traffic.

Lastly, if you incorporate my advice from above on your next piece of work, the chances are you will not reach 24,000 users/readers/etc. The point being R.I.P. Google Hangouts was my 19th Medium post.

Each post I enter with no expectations as to the popularity of the result while focusing on making the content better than the last. Taking this philosophy I feel increases the chances that every now and then you’ll create something that sticks.

I’m Adam Hurwitz — check out the rest of my writing if you enjoyed the above | Thanks!

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