All writing. No gimmicks. No SEO. No advertising. No cheat codes. My 3 best tips.
You may not know me.
I hail from another digital universe known as Quora.
It’s a Q&A platform, a place that many Medium writers farm for prompts.
And before I continue: My stats claim is real. I’m not some Life Coach rounding his numbers up to the nearest 100 million.
And — I’ll pre-apologize on the strange flex, these are my 12 months stats:
This is a premium article you are reading. It’s why I’m talking stats. It’s why I now owe you the goods.
How did I do it?
The 3 main things:
I harnessed the power of storytelling. And I committed, hard.
I let it all hang out right from the get-go. I brought all my memories bubbling up to the surface. I made them stand at attention. I walked the line. They stood, eyeing me nervously. They begged me not to be chosen. They begged not to be thrown into the gobbly gook of public opinion.
<paces further down line>
…. “and you”
<memories get the drug out, screaming as they are pulled along the floor by their arms>
Crash and burn dating stories. Foot in mouth flirting attempts. Red handprints across the face. Evil thoughts in pure moments. Insecurities that heralded my own public pussification.
And occasionally some happy endings. But not “those” kind.
Bathing in my own hellfire had a way of connecting with people. People rewarded that honesty.
The internet is filled with million-dollar rainmakers, dancing in the prose of their own downfalls and subsequent success that they will roadmap for you for the low low price of $199.99.
People were happy to hear from someone normal, someone flawed. I kept it simple. I wrote about life.
There is no such thing as bulletproof writing advice.
And the best writing advice isn’t always the sexiest. It won’t slowly peel its bikini off while explaining the origins of internet fame, or a sing a breathy Happy Birthday rendition to you, yes you Mr. President.
But one admittedly vanilla and surely gold advice is to stay consistent.
Hold yourself to a writing minimum, a publication minimum, a whatever-minimum. Treat that minimum as sacred.
Don’t let the effort torture you. Celebrate the grind. Relish the satisfaction that comes with hitting that number rather than checking Facebook one more time.
Writing online surely is the grindiest of grinds. You live in obscurity while shitposts sail over your head to cheering crowds. You are pit pattered with bored trolls. Writing online is tough in the beginning.
Just remember — it is about proving one’s self over time, not landing one knockout post. Expect to shadow box for some time.
Stay consistent, not only for your own output, follower growth and improvement but also to please the algorithm.
Feed algorithms reward those who produce on a regular basis. It signals that you are safe to be surfaced to visitors, that you are serious about writing. It gives you additional weight when your writing is considered in competition with others. And yes — on some level — this is a competition.
Write every day. Have a desire in your heart to be better while doing so. Find writers you admire. Read their content. Study it.
Even better — copy it.
Don’t copy it and go paste it as your own. Copy several paragraphs of writing you love as a form of practice. Do that every day for different pieces. Through osmosis, it can help program your mind to think and write like the pros. Their weapons can easily become yours.
Try emulating different styles of writing. Horror. Romance. Poetry. Try conveying different emotions with intent.
Think of these tips as exercises, like working different machines at the gym, hitting that muscle from several different angles. It may make you uncomfortable, but it will make the end product that much better.
The writing ghetto booty shalt be yours.
I killed my bad content.
I created my own Golden Metric. If I couldn’t convert 1 upvote out of 40 views, the post was sent to the chair.
And — fair disclaimer:
Internet points aren’t a perfect science. Some garbage gets in. Some quality gets kept out. The feed is sometimes clunky in its decisions. I tried not to take it personally.
But I did have to come to terms with the fact that something was fundamentally wrong on my part. I had to take more ownership of the situation rather than join the legions of complainers.
This was particularly important in the beginning. It got me to start thinking from a “reader first” perspective, to go back and stare down the content I couldn’t breathe life to.
After chiselling away, what I learned became the thesis for all my writing. It was surprisingly simple:
People are bored.
That’s it. Bored. They aren’t looking for the holy grail, the arrival of a second Shakespeare or that one post that will change their life.
They’re just bored. And not just that — they are easily bored.
They don’t finish reading what was written. Reader abandonment wasn’t a problem, it was an epidemic. The era of the distracted reader was real and it was on my doorstep.
How did I fix it?
I reasoned that fixing “bad writing” was too broad of a goal. A more productive goal was to focus my crosshairs directly on that boredom.
Writing became about working in small spaces, about getting people from one sentence to the next and killing any weak bridges that stood in between.
I switched to Active Voice and simplified my language. I shortened my overlong sentences. I broke up my larger paragraphs to avoid scaring readers away. I leveraged storytelling (point 1).
I practiced writing about extremely boring subjects, trying to see if I could make them interesting. I rationalized that if I could make a boring subject (like dirt or a bucket) readable, it would make my interesting content that much better.
I started moving my best sentences to the top of the piece and my weaker ones to the bottom. I forced myself to rank my bits and kill the stragglers.
Lastly, and most importantly, I envisioned my most bored reader on the couch reading, scrolling on their phone — and I wrote directly for them. I wrote for an audience of one.
If you can win over your hypothetical most bored reader, if you can get them to finish your piece without abandoning it, you can win most readers over.
And if you have gotten this far without abandoning this piece — I do thank you.