After that, it all went downhill.
I discovered, the very popular at the time, PHP frameworks which of course I now know they are the devil spawns brought on this world to torture front-end developers, like myself.
This went on for quite a while, jumping from Laravel to Symfony, Angular, etc and like every other developer out there I’ve had my run-ins with CMS’s like WordPress, Magento, Prestashop and so on.
Moving forward till about five years ago when I started getting serious about marketing and SEO. I always dabbled in the mystical arts of search engine optimization and user experiences but never really focused on those aspects until then.
I wanted to summarize my experience because I know there’s a lot of people are a similar situation and if was able to start writing and experiencing this amazing new way of contributing to my community, so can others.
Pick a subject you know
Before I begin the story of my first article I want to point out that even though I’ve written on smaller publications in the past, I was yet to do so on Medium. So there are no clickbaity shenanigans going on in the title. Calm down.
The first thing you need figure out is the what you are going to write about. Pick something you are comfortable with and go with that. Make sure you understand the subject enough to make it easy for the average user to understand. This goes double if you are a developer. Technical people sometimes forget that there are other less technical people out there and their understanding of the subject might be limited. This wasn’t a problem for me since I wasn’t that smart to begin with.
I ended up with writing about the serverless technology and AWS Lambda monitoring tools. The article turned out great and later in the article I’ll discuss the stats after a couple of weeks of posting.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. — Albert Einstein
So I did my due diligence and gathered as much information on the subject as possible. I wrote a little bit every day for like a week and at the end, I got an article that was around 1500 words. Not bad for a first non-technical article.
Formatting the article
Medium offers some decent, yet limited options to format the text on the page but if you know how to use them is more than enough to get going. Here’s a little post that might help up and coming writers.
Use Headings for each section of your article. This will make reading much easier and give your content a structured and well-organized look and feel.
Images will help you capture attention and shed light on different subjects. I usually try to free images I get from Pexels.com but there are hundreds of other similar sites out there that you can use.
Interacting with your readers
I started with 0 claps, 0 followers, and 0 expectation but luckily it went great and it seemed like people were genuinely interested. I got tweeted at, emailed and had comments either contradicting me, agreeing with me or finding different flaws in my logic. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed as I wasn’t expecting this level of interaction from my first article.
I took the time and replied to every single comment. Followed back everyone that tweeted the article or followed me on medium. Personally, I think it’s a way of saying thank you to all the people that took the time to read my half baked blog post about a new technology nobody really heard of.
So what happened?
The first day after I’ve posted this I had 41 views. It’s fine. I told myself it’s a Wednesday afternoon. Nobody had time to see the article.
The second day the counter went up to 100. Wow, double. Now that’s what I’m talking about. It can only go up from here, right?
The third day it went down to 21 views and I was confused as to why it doesn’t get any traction.
I did a little digging and found out about all the wonderful little publications on Medium through smedian.com, a website dedicated to publications. Here I applied to a few of them, some have yet to reply and some did accept me as contributor instantly.
One of them was Hackernoon.com, a blog dedicated to tech stories and 5 minutes later my post was submitted.
The next day, the fourth day since I’ve posted my wonderfully written article on medium, a Saturday I woke up with low expectations and a message in my inbox saying my post is approved and I’m officially a Hackernoon contributor. Great news. At the end of the day, the count was 153 views. More than I had in the previous 3 days.
On Sunday people don’t really read hackernoon, at least that’s what I thought. My phone kept buzzing all day, people were tweeting and retweeting the post, clapping, following me on Medium and Twitter. It was unexpected (to say the least). By the end of the day, the views counter was up to 906, which is 3 times as the previous 4 days. Combined!
And then came Monday. I figured that the bubble had burst. A thousand views and some change was enough for a semi-technical, highly niched article. I mean how many people even care about AWS Lambda performance?
Imagine my surprise when I looked at the stats and the daily view count was 4906 views. Incredible! I was used to writing technical documentation that a handful of people would read and even fewer would understand. I was left with a sense of awe.
The next few days things were settling down, and having a steady 500 to 1000 views a day. Two weeks after publishing the article I managed to get 14k people to open the article with a read rate of around 51%.
What could have I done differently?
Well, for one thing, I would have made efforts to write the article in a day. I was quite busy at the time and had little time to spare putting my “wordsmith” hat on everyday so what I did was write a couple of paragraphs every day only to change or remove them the next. It was redundant and counterproductive.
The second thing I should have done is to implement a newsletter signup form. Upscri.be has a simple tool that allows users to build embeddable newsletter signup forms for free. Having an email list that I can blast once a week with a curated articles list would have helped me build a following much faster.
The next thing is having other articles linked from within the one I published. Clickthrough rates are small but if you use the right combination of keywords they can prove very effective. Keep in mind that you can easily alienate your readers by having too many in an article.
At the end of the day, I’m more than happy with the outcome and will try to pursue this venue for my future content marketing endeavors.
Why is this important
I know there’s nothing special about the article I wrote on medium. I know there are thousands of people that wrote better articles than I ever will. I’m also well aware of the fact that I may never win a Pulitzer prize for my writing. I should. But I won’t be getting one.
Still, this experience has given me a different point of view. It has given me a perspective of what my career could look like if I were to take the time to share my experiences with my fellow colleagues. I’ve learned that it’s not just about getting those skills honed but about sharing your knowledge with people.
And I know what you are thinking, why bother with helping others, I already have enough on my plate. Do this for yourself. Educating others is a means of positioning yourself as a leader in your field.
I’ll leave you with a quote from John C. Maxwell, a man I admire: A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. Educate others not just to make yourself feel better, do it to advance your career. Tell your story and your experience to help yourself.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. — John C. Maxwell
For anyone interested in the actual article I was talking about here’s the link:
Serverless computing is the biggest game changer in 2018! (for developers)
It’s been about 9 months now since I first heard of the term “Serverless”. I can clearly remember feeling a sense of…hackernoon.com
Originally published at blog.markgrowth.com