New writers to Medium ALWAYS seem to vomit out wordy paragraphs.
With long run-on sentences and no variation.
Medium has these wonderful tools to make writing beautiful and I’m going to show you how Medium’s elite writers put these tools to use.
First of all what are these tools?
Paragraphs (2 + lines, usually more than one idea). Organized into sentences, exclamations! and questions?
Lines (1 line of text = one distinct idea)
- Bullet points (• hit alt-8 on a Mac)
- Numbered lists (type 1. and press enter)
Italic text (highlight text, hit the small i)
Bold text (highlight text, uppercase B)
Quotes (highlight text, apostrophes)
Titles (highlight, uppercase T)
Subtitles (highlight, lowercase T)
Line breaks (hit the + on a new line and it’s the dual hyphen)
Embedded content (the arrow or brackets from the + on a new line. You can embed video, tweets and most social content.)
The incredible diversity of stories told on this platform and it’s through those simple tools… and this large letter thing I’ve got going on.
So let’s have a look at how Medium’s elite use them.
I made a spreadsheet where I broke articles by Charles Chu, Nicolas Cole, Benjamin Hardy, Tim Denning and John Westenberg into these components.
Notice any similarities? They all let their writing aerate.
They use quotes, italics, images, titles, bullets and lists to space out their ideas.
They link to their sources and aren’t afraid to quote directly if someone else has said it better.
- They’re efficient with their readers time. One thesis per article, less than 10 minutes. No wasted words.
- They have Call To Actions. They collect the emails of passionate readers to keep them reading and engaged.
- They’re aren’t afraid to let their writing style shine through idiosyncrasies.
- Charles Chu quotes his source material to add different perspectives to his arguments and bases his articles off books he’s read.
- Nicolas Cole uses bold, and italic text to highlight important, or meaningful words.
- Benjamin Hardy uses short, terse, heavy lines to give reinforce his article’s weight.
- Tim Denning uses line breaks for each “section” to show when he’s beginning a new line of reasoning.
- John Westenberg uses short articles to keep his points sharp, and concise.
How Can You Write Like Medium’s Elite?
Start with an impactful title, then an attractive, relevant featured image.
Introduce your topic immediately. What value will the reader get from reading this?
Organize your article into 2–3 distinct sections max. Each with a title, at most 2–3 paragraphs with some bold or italic text.
Finish each section with an image.
Link or quote your sources. Always.
Use personal experience and vulnerability. Where did this article come from? Personal experience? Research? Credibility matters.
Write about a niche your passionate about.
I wrote this article because I desperately want to write more attractive articles. I decided to study elite writers and by sharing what I learned with you I better understand it myself. What are you learning about today?
Finish with a Call To Action. Mailing List? Visit your personal blog? Maybe it’s just sharing other articles you’re proud of. Keep readers in your ecosystem somehow.
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Andrew is a design graduate student in Toronto who writes about leadership, design, and startups. Visit his blog Lead Boldly for exclusive content. Or say hey on Quora | Instagram | FaceBook | Twitter | LinkedIn.