How topics and tags can help you find your readers

Topics and tags aren’t just the way to categorize your writing. They can help you find your readers, too.

Linda Caroll
Nov 26, 2019 · 3 min read

Have you ever heard of the creativity test? The original creativity test was invented in the 60s for Nassau. Testers would set a timer and tell the test subject to list as many uses they can think of for a paper clip.

Most of us struggle with divergent thinking. Once we know “how” something works, we don’t think about it much more. Such is the case with topics and tags right here on Medium.

Not the topic, but the process. Because when we write and publish here, we all follow a similar process.

You write a poem about your struggle with depression. You come up with a strong title and find a great header image. Then you tag your poem with mental health, poetry, depression, anxiety and life — and you hit publish.

Then, the hoping starts. You hope it gets curated. Hope it gets read.
Hope, hope, hope…

Mostly, all that hoping gets us is the sound of crickets.

What if you did more than hope? Like the paperclip in the creativity test, topics and tags have more than one use.

We think of topics and tags as the way to ‘categorize’ our writing. So Medium can show it to people who are interested in those topics. Right?

But what if we used topics and tags to reach out and find readers?

What if instead of “hoping” your story gets read, you hit publish — and went straight to the related topic and tag pages to find posts that are relatively recent and left a comment?

I mean, where’s the best place to find people who like to read the type of content you just wrote about than on the topic and tag pages for that topic?

If you wrote a poem about depression, doesn’t it stand to reason that the people reading posts about mental health and depression are the readers you’re looking to find?

Everyone seems to say “write more” as though that’s a recipe for growth.

Whether you’re a fast writer or a slow one, leaving comments takes less time than you just spent writing and editing your story. It doesn’t take long to leave a small handful of comments on posts that reach the perfect audience. If they read your comment and come to check you out, what do they find? An article on the very topic they like to read.

If a story has 200 comments, no one will see yours. Look for stories that are relatively recent, but don’t have too many comments yet. Also, don’t just go to the bottom and leave a comment.Highlight the part you’re commenting on. When you highlight, a little asterisk appears linked to your comment. It helps.

Also, please, please do not link to your most recent story in your comment. That’s a guaranteed way to make sure no one will click. It’s gauche and tacky. Other people’s writing isn’t a platform to promote yours. But if you find people talking on similar topics and you join the conversation in a meaningful way, people who will click on your profile and discover your work.

Write Before Lunch

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Linda Caroll

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