How I crafted a viral (for me) article

{my writing process unpacked}

One of the biggest lessons I am learning from publishing daily articles is that having a process makes it so much easier to actually get it done.

Yesterday my process began with a hand-written outline and ended with an article that had 10X the usual number of views in the first 24 hours. Let me unpack my process and show you how I got there.

Structuring the draft

My process begins the night before when I write down my topic. Read My #1 trick to make writing every day easier to better understand why and how.

Next comes the outline which I write by hand in my Baron Fig Vangaurd notebook. Usually this outline consists of three main points, steps of a process, or concepts & illustrations.

Sometimes the topic and points of the outline become the title and headers of the final article. Other times they need a bit of refining. The latter was the case when it came to yesterday’s article: Private Journaling became Journaling ≠ “Dear Diary…” {3 different ways to keep a journal} and I changed the headers to be more clear and consistent with each other.

Every so often my first drafts flow out smoothly and need little editing. More often they are rough. I crossed out whole paragraphs of my first draft yesterday. Now that I have accepted this as a part of my process it’s a lot easier to spill words onto the page. In fact, I find the right words faster when I let myself write the wrong ones first and get them out of the way.

Another way I keep myself from getting unnecessarily hung up on details is to make notes in [brackets]. Yesterday I wanted to include information about Morning Pages, but I didn’t know the origin story off the top of my head. I made a note to research it and carried on with sharing my own experience with the method.

Refining and revising

After completing my handwritten rough draft I typed up the article on my laptop, making little changes as I typed. By the time I had finished I knew what I wanted the title and subtitle to be.

It is rare for me to come up with my final title before I write the article. Sometimes good ideas come to me while I’m sleeping on the topic, but other times it takes a whole brainstorming session. It’s worth it to take the time to come up with the right title though. The reader usually decides whether or not to click simply based on the title of a piece so it makes sense to work to get it right — even if crafting the title takes as much time as I spent writing the article itself.

Finally I added photos, chose relevant tags, and hit publish.

I should have given it to my proofreader to check first… She ended up finding a few typos after 50 or so people had already read it! Time to refine my process…

So how did I craft a VIRAL article?

The first thing to remember is that an article can’t go viral if it doesn’t exist.

I never would have had an article go viral if I were not writing regularly. This was my twenty-fifth article in twenty-five days. Twenty-five days straight practicing anything will push a person toward mastery, especially if the practice isn’t completely new. I have been writing and publishing for fourteen years but whenever I make a habit of publishing daily my skills grow by leaps and bounds.

Another relevant feature of yesterday’s article is clearly actionable tips. My second most popular article is titled My #1 trick to make writing every day easier. A reader knows what kind of value he can expect to gain from an article with this sort of title.

Lastly, Medium decided to promote my article. I am not entirely sure why, though I have my theories. I will continue to refine and test them and I intend to share my findings at the end of this 30-day experiment.

The main takeaway is this: I can’t make any of my content go viral.

It may be fun to watch stats, and positive feedback is encouraging, but ultimately if I want to write things that get popular I need to simply keep writing valuable content.

So please excuse me while I go write down tomorrow’s topic.

Written by

Wife💑Mama👧👦Entrepreneur✍️Cut the time you spend writing in half:

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