We’ve all been there. We write what we think is a great story and have expectations of it doing very well. Then it just flops. It seems like we wasted even more of our precious time.
But why do some stories take off while others flop? It can feel that there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It can feel like someone flipped a coin. Heads means your article takes off. Tails means it flops.
Despite how it may seem, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that there are plenty of reasons why some article just don’t get many views. I cover four of these reasons below and offer advice on how to fix the issues.
If you just read this post and continue as usual, nothing will change. Sorting out these issues takes time and effort. If you want to succeed, you need to do the work.
#1 — Headlines
When one of my posts flops, the first thing I look at is the headline. That is often where the problem lies.
Usually, the headline is pretty awful. I’m not surprised that people don’t click it.
When I first started writing here around nine months ago, I just wrote any old heading. That didn’t work out too well at all. Soon after that, I took one of Tim Denning’s free courses. Day 1 was on writing great headlines. It was mind-blowing to me. I just didn’t realize how important they were or how much work they took to get right.
I summarized my 14 key takeaways about headline writing and started implementing what I had learned. I would suggest you read this post and implement what you learn. I’d also recommend taking the whole course, which is only around 3 hours. The link is in the post above.
If you want to get good at writing headlines, you need to get serious.
My articles started getting more views as a result of the changes I made.
But I didn’t stop there. I put in some more research and into headline writing. I now practice every day. Every morning I get my notepad and pen out and write 10 headlines. These are for possible articles that I could write.
Some days, all 10 are awful. I chuck them in the trash. On my good days, I’ll have one, two, or maybe even three good headlines. I add them to my drafts folder.
But I don’t stop there. When I write an article based on one of these headlines, I also re-write the headline in around 10 different ways. I then choose the best way.
It will be tough at first, but practice will make you better. Do this every day for a year and you’ll have written 3,650 headlines. Do you think you will have improved after soon much practice? Of course you will have.
What makes a great headline though? Instead of struggling to work this out, just take a look at the headlines that top writers are using.
If you’re writing about Self Improvement, for example, head over to https://medium.com/tag/self-improvement. At the top of the page, click “Best”, then “This month”. You can also look under the “Trending” tab.
What you’ll find there are the top stories under that topic. The top stories will usually have the best headlines. Read through them and take notes on why you think they work.
Do this for around 20–30 stories and you’ll start to notice some patterns. These are the types of headlines you need for your stories. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be copying any of these headlines. That won’t work at all. You need to use what you found to come up with your own headlines that are suited to your stories.
Does this take work? Yes. Welcome to the real world.
#2 — You’re writing about topics that Medium readers aren’t interested in
I’ve made this mistake many times. I like to learn the hard way. You don’t have though. You can learn from my mistakes.
Some topics just don’t do very well on Medium. Among them are poetry, fiction, and screenwriting. If these are topics that you like to write about, you may be better off writing on a different platform.
I don’t write about any of these topics, so I’m not someone that can help with this. If you have other interests that are more aligned with what Medium readers want, you might do better to write about those.
Popular topics on Medium include self-improvement, relationships, politics, life lessons, money, and marketing.
If you write about any of these topics, you have more chance of getting more views. Don’t forget that you still need to perfect your headlines
#3 — You’re not offering the readers anything
I’ve made this mistake numerous times. Are you starting to see a pattern here? If you want your articles to be read, you need to offer something to the reader. The readers want something that will benefit them. They don’t care about you.
I once wrote a post about sneaking into a holiday resort in the trunk of a car. It would make for a funny anecdote with I was having a beer with a few mates. They’d all laugh. But that’s all it is. An anecdote.
Readers don’t care about me. They don’t care about my anecdotes. It offers them nothing at all.
This article got 20 views. It’s my 4th worst-performing story of all time, out of 362 stories.
There is simply nothing there at all for the reader.
It’s ok to write about events that have happened to you, but you need to show what benefit that gives the reader. Can you show the lessons you learned so that the reader can learn as well? You need to help them in some way.
I know we’d all prefer to write about whatever pops into our heads, but that’s not interesting for readers.
#4 — Publishing in the wrong publication
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve also made this mistake many times. Sometimes I’m in too much of a rush to publish, so choose a publication that’s easy instead of one that’s the perfect fit.
I like writing about side hustles. I’ve had good results publishing those articles in The Side Hustle Club. It’s the perfect place for side hustle articles. Yet I still sometimes published side hustle stories in more general publications. They never did as well.
You may think this is simply common sense, and you’d be right to think that. But the problem is that we sometimes get lazy or are in too much of a rush. We take shortcuts that we shouldn’t take.
This is also something that takes some time and effort to get right. You need to put in the effort to find the publications that work for you. I recently wrote a post about what’s the best publication for your story. I’d suggest you read it and take notes. Don’t forget to also put in the work to find those great publications.
I hope this advice will help you increase your views substantially. I will repeat again what I’ve already said above — you won’t improve just by reading this post. You need to actually knuckle down and do the work.
Yes, it can be tough at times, but it’s doing this work that will set you apart from most other writers who won’t do it. Putting in the work is often all you need to succeed.
Good luck with your writing.