How I Wrote A Successful Post On Medium

Step by step, that’s the strategy I used.


Medium and “successful posts”

Although I find Medium to be a fantastic tool I rarely use it, and, when I do, not systematically. Nevertheless, one of my goals for 2016 is to use it more often and on a regular basis.

Every time I deal with a tool I am not so familiar with, I always follow this pattern:

Studying, Practicing, Pushing to the limits

After studying a few months, I made the first experiment and wrote this post:

The words “successful post” may sound like a scandal, since it can obviously mean anything or nothing at all. A post may well be considered successful according to the number of visits, shares, conversions and so on.

As you will see, every time I started with something new I set some measurable goals which I eventually achieved and defined a successful post accordingly.

Strategy

Let me begin by saying I used some growth hacking strategies. Since this expression is often misused, let me explain what I mean by that.

Growth hacking is not magic, nor a spell that solves your product’s problems.

It is a mindset. An approach. A philosophy.

Sean Ellis, the person who first used this word says:

A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth

Every experiment I undertake is structured as follows:

  1. Setting some clear goals
  2. Planning a strategy to achieve them
  3. Have time to develop it

Goals

I set some not so pressing goals which could be achieved within a reasonable timeframe (1–2 weeks):

  • Reaching at least 200 recommends
  • Being featured in a big Medium publication
  • End up in Medium’s homepage or be featured in a tag page
  • Increase my followers

Choosing the type of post

There are two types of posts which work very well on Medium: lists and the what-I-learned type of things.

I opted for the first because, when I surf the net, I always collect many resources and, moreover, lists are easily assembled and written, especially if you are writing in a language which is not your mother tongue.

Moreover, there is a strategic factor, the possibility to “involve” many people into spreading the content.

Choosing the right tags

Tags are extremely important and powerful in Medium. Choosing the right tag at the right time makes a big difference.

I used this two-step strategy:

  1. Using tags with lesser competition at first
  2. After the visit peak, opting for only one strong tag

At first, I chose three tags that allowed me to hit the top ten and eventually chose the startup tag, which is often very used.

Sharing among groups

Let us not beat around the bush when it comes to sharing, being part of big groups is a big advantage.

Of course, I am not talking about spamming. Never spam!

More than 100 likes in a Linkedin group

Always share great contents and the group will promptly respond.

As for me, I shared a link in a dozen groups (Facebook and Linkedin) related to startup, marketing or product development topics.

Linkedin became the second referrer for the post

Asking to share the post

Remember when I said lists have a big strategic advantage? The advantage is being able to bring the post to the attention of all listed people.

Why? To have them share it, of course!

In my post I mentioned 50 websites where to recommend a product, then I contacted all of them and told about my post.

What was the outcome? More than 70% of them shared it.

Asking big publications to feature the post

By that time I had already reached the first 100 recommends on Medium and this was something I could use to approach publications.

I approached the two biggest ones in the tech and entrepreneurship fields and told them about my post.

Result? One ignored me and the other one replied.

The Mission (the name, at the time, was Life Learning) liked my post, they accepted me as a featured author and published it on the first page.

That was the turning point.

Right when daily visits were decreasing, this featured post made me reach another visibility peak and allowed me to focus on the long tail.

The long tail :)

Exploiting the long tail

A post, as any other product, can have great results when working on its long tail.

In the days following the featured post, I worked on the long tail to fully take advantage of this visibility. The most important things I did were:

  • Putting a link in all the other posts
    Medium gives little or no chance to customize, but if you work around it a little bit you can have some very interesting results.
    As for me, I took my previous three posts and added a read next line linking to the one I wanted to promote.
    My old posts do not make lots of visits, of course. Why, though, not taking advantage of them to direct traffic towards the most important one?
The “read next” hack
  • Adding other posts to the publication
    Once you become a featured author of a publication, you can propose any article you want.
    After adding a link to the main post in my previous writings, I submitted them to The Mission. Two were accepted and, as you can easily guess, led traffic to the main one as well!
  • Simplifying the social sharing
    Unfortunately, Medium does not emphasize social sharing as much as it could.
    I simplified the sharing procedure by manually adding two share buttons for both Twitter and Facebook at the end of the post, nothing more than two small images with a link attached.
The “social share” hack
  • Replying to the most important posts
    Medium treats comments as posts. During the following week, I made a few comments to some trending posts, pointing at my article.
    This is not spamming, just to be straight and clear!
    Answer only if your comment and the link relate to the topic and bring some added value to the conversation. If you follow this simple rule, you will be amazed by the results.
Replying Product Hunt

Conclusions

Results were outstanding. When I first wrote this post (February) the numbers were:

  • The post received more than 500 recommends.
  • I am now an author of one of the most followed tech publication on Medium.
  • I was featured in the startup tag page for a couple of days.
  • I had a 300% increase in followers.
An email from Medium

Indirect results are:

  • My future posts will start from a 140k reach from The Mission, not my usual 1100 followers.
  • I stopped working on this post, but I keep receiving visits, actually more than 200 a day. Before that, there were none.

I come to an end by confirming the concept I started with:

There are no magic formulas or spells that bring results at a blink of an eye

Most of the activities in this post can be successfully used in other fields or with other platforms. Others relate to Medium only.

What it takes are the right approach and a very well structured three-step plan: Goals, Strategy, Time.



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