I have a framework, a proven system, for immediately 10x-ing the reach of your writing online.
It’s a bit controversial. SEO writers hate it.
And yet it has been my “secret” to accumulating more than 100,000,000 views on my writing over the past 7+ years.
This morning I wrote a Twitter thread about it in the context of writing and publishing Atomic Essays in the Ship 30 for 30 writing challenge.
Here’s how it works:
Some writers enjoy writing inside Medium (because their UI is beautiful). Other writers find inspiration starting on Quora, or even inside a Google Doc. I’ve done it all, and I think there’s benefit in trying a bunch of different formats. Each “writing environment” changes the way you think about the words, sentences, and overall layout in front of you.
For Ship 30 for 30, I actually write inside the Figma template given during onboarding. It helps me “see” exactly how long each essay should be to reach that ~300-word limit.
But wherever you get your best writing done is fine.
Part of the Ship 30 for 30 writing challenge isn’t just writing an Atomic Essay each day, but publishing it on Twitter for all to read. (This is where all the growth happens!)
A little eye-catching trick I’ve been using this year: Before I publish my Atomic Essay on Twitter, I use the Edit/Photo Markup function on the iPhone to highlight standout sentences. These are usually power-phrases: things I think the reader will skim and think, “That’s interesting,” prompting them to read more.
There are 2 cases where I like turning longer articles into Twitter threads.
The highest-performing Twitter threads are always hyper-condensed lists jam-packed with information. “7 lessons I learned building my first startup,” for example, would make for a great Twitter Thread because you can make each Tweet one of the seven lessons. But a more opinion/argument prose-style article is harder to turn into an effective Twitter Thread because, the truth is, most readers don’t “read” Threads.
They skim them — and THEN decide whether or not they want to spend 30–45 seconds reading the Thread with focus.
So listicles, bullets, actionable tips, walkthrough guides, all these formats are great for Threads.
If your article is referencing other articles, case studies, data, or just building on someone else’s idea (in their content), then turning your article into a Thread is an effective way of 1) showing your sources, and 2) making it easy for readers to navigate to the content you’re referencing.
For example, if inside my article I say, “According to Inc Magazine, XYZ% of writers use Medium as their #1 publishing platform,” then it would be nice (in that Tweet within the Thread) to link to the source — so readers can go further down the rabbit hole if they’d like to.
Even though it would only take me ~5–10 minutes to do so, those 10 minutes matter to me in my daily schedule and routine — and I know the result won’t be worth the effort.
This is the single most undervalued, under-discussed, and under-leveraged republishing growth hack for writers on the Internet.
Most people don’t realize that every single Question on Quora ranks on Google (as a long-tail keyword) because that’s why people use Google/the Internet: to find answers to questions. When you write on Quora, sure you’re responding to the Question, but you’re also attaching your name and your answer/content to a much larger web of questions on the internet. Which means the more questions you answer within a given domain, the more likely it is that anyone searching within that domain/category is going to come across YOU and YOUR WRITING.
Go find a relevant Question on Quora related to the topic you just wrote about. For example, in this Atomic Essay I wrote about the importance of not just writing every day, but publishing every day. So, on Quora, I searched (in the search bar) for Questions around “daily writing habits” and found one that was relevant. I then copy/pasted my entire article (text) and posted it as an Answer to the question(repurposing original content is allowed on Quora — however copy/pasting the same content across multiple questions is NOT allowed, so only do this once per article).
Then, since (like most platforms) Quora answers with pictures get more engaged than answers without pictures, I added the image of my highlighted Atomic Essay below the answer so it would appear in the thumbnail and grab people’s attention when scrolling through their Quora feed. In the past, I’ve done the same thing by including a picture (of myself) at the top of the answer. Both methods work.
Did you think we were done?
The fun just started!
Once you copy/paste your article as an answer to a relevant Quora question, you can then copy/paste your Quora answer as an article on Medium. To keep yourself from going absolutely insane keeping track of all your content way down the road, I recommend using the exact same title on every platform. Otherwise it becomes a mess trying to keep track of which article is which when they all have different names/titles.
Most people don’t know this.
Medium is essentially one big Forbes or Inc Magazine, just with a way better user experience. But underneath the hood, they’re identical: they both live and die off page views, they both get their page views by recruiting contributing writers, and because they have thousands and thousands of contributing writers, their sites have incredible SEO because they are constantly publishing new content.
As a result, articles on Medium have just as high of a chance to rank first page on Google as articles on any major publication.
While I really encourage writers not to care too much about SEO (unless you’re in the SEO game and that’s your business), it’s nice to know that republishing content on Medium is an easy way to rank for niche keyphrases on topics you write often about.
This is the big opportunity here for writers.
You can take your article and republish it behind Medium’s paywall, effectively earning dividends ($$$) on your writing. I have been doing this for years, and for context, I have gained 77,000 followers and made more than $100,000 over the past 2 years just from republishing old content on Medium on a daily basis.
*Note: If you want to see real growth on Medium, you need to 1) ALSO be submitting your content to publications there (otherwise your reach will be minimal), 2) publish 5–7 days per week (publishing 1x per week or 1x per month just doesn’t get you very far — Medium is a volume game), and 3) stay consistent for 2+ years. It’s a GRIND.
You can do the exact same thing on LinkedIn.
While LinkedIn isn’t the best for distribution (and your reach there is going to be minimal), I don’t think of LinkedIn as a distribution launchpad as much as I think of it as a Timeless Resource Library Of Content for new connections to explore.
When you publish articles on LinkedIn, they are attached to your profile. And what most new connections on LinkedIn do when they connect with you is they:
I can’t tell you how many people (who I’ve never met before) have connected with me on LinkedIn, started reading through my Library Of Content, and then (after learning about me through my articles), sent me a direct, personalized message. Many times, it will go something like this:
“Hey Cole, I was just reading your article <title>, and I had no idea you were a gamer! I was a gamer myself back in the day. Anyway, I see you have a ghostwriting firm now, and I have been looking for someone to help me with my own content. Would you be free to jump on a call this week?”
This happens to me every week, multiple times per week.
This is the ROI of having a growing Timeless Resource Library Of Content.
After Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn, you can continue to copy/paste your content anywhere else you’d like:
In addition, you can also turn your written content into videos, images, infographics, and more.
The list goes on and on.
The order in which you publish on the internet does not matter.
I repeat: it does not matter.
You could write/publish on your blog first, then republish on Quora, copy/paste to Medium, copy/paste to LinkedIn, etc. Or, you could start on Quora, turn into a Thread on Twitter, copy/paste to your blog, copy/paste to Medium, etc.
What matters is that you are getting your content into all these different communities. Readers on Medium are different than readers on Quora, who are different than readers on LinkedIn, who are different than readers on Twitter, and so on. Every time you copy/paste the content onto a different platform, you’re essentially sharing a “new idea” to that group of people.
I hear this argument all the time, and it makes very little sense in the context of how most people write online.
Duplicate content only matters if you are playing the SEO game — which 99% of online writers are not.
For example, if you love writing about productivity hacks, the likelihood you are going to out-rank a productivity-oriented software business with an entire content marketing department cranking out keyword-stuffed written content on their website/blog is nil. You aren’t going to win that game. You also aren’t going to beat-out publications like Forbes or Inc Magazine who have thousands of writers all publishing productivity-related content and juicing their rankings by having hundreds of other pieces on the site link to their most valuable pieces (telling Google “This is a credible, high-ranking piece of content”).
So, instead of trying to gain reach and exposure by playing the SEO game, I encourage writers to avoid that game entirely and instead focus on reaching targeted communities of readers on social writing platforms like Quora, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on. Each of these platforms has millions, tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of users/readers, and by republishing your content within these communities, you are tapping into massive communities of readers with the added benefit of having social algorithms further distribute your content.
Your strategy for content distribution is going to change depending on where you’re at in The Online Writing Journey.
For beginner writers, your #1 focus should be succeeding on one platform. Just one. If you can succeed on one, you will learn the skills, frameworks, and habits necessary to succeed elsewhere. If you have the time and want to get a bit more mileage out of your control, then use this Ultimate Online Writing Republishing Framework and copy/paste your content elsewhere as you go along. But keep one platform as your primary. For me, in 2014, this was Quora. (And over time, your “primary platform” can change. Quora is no longer my primary platform. Twitter is. But I still republish content on Quora all the time.)
For advanced/expert writers, who have gone through the hard work of learning which topics and content categories perform the best for them, have published a significant amount of material, have gathered data and feedback and learned what it is people want to read about most often, your focus should shift more to where you want to direct readers next. You know which topics resonate. You know what readers find “most valuable” from you. Now, in all of your content — whether it starts or is republished on Quora, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. — you want to drive readers to a more valuable resource of that same topic. For example, taking a free article on personal finance and directing readers to your free 7-day “Get Your Personal Finances In Order” email course. If you host that email course on your blog, great. If you are driving readers to a product you sell on Shopify, that works too. What matters is less “where” the reader is going, and what matters more is what asset you’re directing them to.
There’s no benefit of sending readers to your site if what they find there is less valuable than the article they’re already reading of yours elsewhere.
You need to direct readers to even more valuable writing and resources in order to keep their attention.
This is another argument that drives me crazy.
Let me tell you something: if you are just starting out as a writer on the internet, it is going to take you 100x longer to learn what’s working, gather feedback, and iterate on your work if you start by writing on your blog. Nobody knows your blog exists! And so what’s going to happen is you’re going to publish something, maybe post links to the article on your social accounts (which, most likely also have zero loyal following), and then wait. And wait. And wait. And essentially what you’re doing is writing in a vacuum. Nobody is there to hear you.
Whatever benefit you think you “gain” by starting here (in this case, “ownership”) you lose by forgoing all of the most powerful publishing platforms on the internet today.
By choosing to write exclusively on your blog, you are simultaneously choosing NOT to take advantage of platforms like Quora that are eager to distribute your content to millions of readers interested in the topics you most often write about.
Second, whether you are writing exclusively on your blog or writing on Medium, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on, either way, you own the content. Medium doesn’t own your content. Quora doesn’t own your content. You own your content. So whether Medium runs out of money one day and closes up shop is immaterial to you. All the content you wrote is yours, which means you can bring it to any other platform your heart desires. And sure, you might lose the couple thousand followers you gained on Medium (if that day were to come), but that’s not where the bulk of the value you created is.
Which you still own.