What you can do to make your articles shine.
If you want to know the secrets to grow on Medium, the best person to ask is a publication editor.
Especially if it’s the editor of a boost-enabled publication.
They can tell you insights and secrets like nobody else can.
I’m also the editor of Books Are Our Superpower, Medium’s largest book-related publication with more than 19,000 followers. And the best part? BAOS is in the Boost Nomination Pilot, a program where publication editors can nominate stories for Boost to Medium’s curation team.
I’ve nominated 120 stories, out of which 104 have been selected for a boost, giving me an 87% success rate.
Based on my experience, I’m going to share some secrets about succeeding on Medium from a publication editor’s point of view.
Before we begin, here’s a quick history:
- I started Books Are Our Superpower in 2020.
- There are more than 1,000+ writers from all over the world.
- We get more than 800,000 minutes read every month.
- The highest viewed articles on BAOS have more than 200,000+ views and have made around $6,000.
I think this qualifies me enough to tell you what goes into a successful Medium article. Are you ready? Let’s dive right in.
If you’d like to watch a more candid version of this in video format, here you go —
1. Listicles all the way
Love them or hate them, listicles are the way to go if you want to get viral on the internet.
I know many writers stay away from listicles because they think it’s easy content, but when you say it’s easy, it’s also easy for the reader to consume.
This makes it one of the most highly consumed types of content I’ve seen on BAOS. If I sort all the thousands of articles published on BAOS by stats, 18 out of the top 20 are listicles.
Let that sink in for a minute.
But with every writer churning out listicles, how to make sure your listicle stands out? I’ve got four tips for you:
1. Think of a unique perspective to club the books together
For example, you want to write an article titled, “10 Books I Wish Everybody Would Read.”
If you Google that, you’d find lots of articles already with this title and topic. Even if your book choices are rare, your article isn’t unique.
Instead, if you can think of a unique way of clubbing books together, for example,
- “10 Books with Iconic Male Characters” or
- “10 Books with Iconic Queer Villains”
These titles have a strong curiosity gap.
Don’t go for generic titles like “10 Books to Read Before You Die” or “10 Books to Read in Your 20s.” Think of a unique way to club the books together, and I’m sure your listicle will stand out.
2. Add brief summaries of each book
Don’t just write your review, like “I think it’s a good book.”
Instead, write a short synopsis of what the book’s about, so that even if the reader hasn’t read the book, they can still appreciate your article.
3. List your takeaways from the books
This is something that’ll set your article apart from AI-written content.
Any AI can give a summary of any book you assign it, but it can’t add those personalized insights and unique takeaways that only you can come up with. Make sure you add them in the article.
4. Don’t use a random, generic feature image
I know it’s tempting (and easy) to stick to images from Unsplash or Pixabay. But the issue is — every other book-related article will have the same feature image.
Instead, click your own images. You can also generate your images using AI tools like DALL-E or MidJourney.
2. Don’t just write reviews. Share how a book impacted your life.
In all my years as an editor at BAOS, I’ve seen the most successful articles are the ones that present well-thought-out deep dives into the impact a book had on a person’s life.
Any AI can write a book summary, as I mentioned before, but if you have read that book, tell us about why you like it, what part about it changed you the most, and what parts of it helped you. Make it as personalized as possible.
- Use quotes,
- Use images from the book,
- Add screenshots from your Kindle,
- Include anything you feel will add value to the article.
The takeaway here is that you want the article to read like a story. Make it sound like you’re talking directly to the reader about how good a book has been to you. Make it interactive, add lots of personalized elements, and I’m sure the story would do really well.
3. Pick a lesser-known book
At BAOS, we get tons of articles about the same five books every time, especially when it comes to non-fiction. I see the usual suspects: books like “The 4-Hour Work Week,” “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” “The Power of Habit,” etc. I’m sure readers are also bored about reading about these books all the time.
If you can pick unique and lesser-known books that are well-written and of high quality, then the audience will love your story for making them aware of books they hadn’t heard of before.
“If you read the books everyone is reading, you’ll also think what everyone else is thinking.” — Haruki Murakami
If you want to stand out, not just as a writer but also in the world, you should make a habit of reading lesser-known books. And if you do, please send your listicles or your book review articles to BAOS.
Medium Secrets Only Publication Editors Will Know: Final Words
Quickly summing up, here are the 3 insights I can share with you as the editor of a highly successful publication on Medium. These tips will help your article stand out, make it more likely to go viral, and help you make better money on the Medium Partner Program.
- Listicles work, but make sure you pick a unique topic for the listicle. If the topic you think of has more than 10 results on Google, it’s not unique enough. Think harder, I’m sure you can do it.
- Talk about how a book impacted you. Don’t just blindly write book summaries. Remember, any AI can write book summaries better than you.
- Pick unique books. Articles about lesser-known books tend to perform better than articles about books everyone knows about.