Tag Archives: Creativity

1000 True Fans Is Enough to Make a Living as a Creative

What Does It Take to Create 1000 True Fans?

When I reported the analysis of my Medium stats, some of my readers suggested to analyze the number of claps as well. I didn’t follow that advice back then. Unlike views, reads, and fans, claps cannot be downloaded.

I received a comment a few days ago, that made me reconsider analyzing claps. My reader wrote that one of her posts received a low fans to reads ratio, but a high claps to fans ratio.

A Small, Engaged Audience vs. Wider Popularity

She asked me whether she should cultivate a small audience that liked her style or go for a wider popularity. My gut reaction to that question was to stick to that small audience.

Before explaining my point, let me mention that I’m writing from my intuition. I didn’t make a comprehensive statistical analysis on this.

The Goal of Copywriters, Bloggers, and Marketers

Copywriters, bloggers, and marketers try to get their readers to take certain actions. In my case this is to follow me on Medium and to sign up to my email newsletter.

Here’s a sample funnel of a Medium writer:

  • View the post
  • Read the post
  • Clap for the post as much as possible
  • Respond to the post
  • Follow the writer’s Medium account
  • Sign up to their email newsletter
  • Purchase their products and services

The number of people on each level is lower than the number of people on a higher level. That’s why we call this sequence a funnel.

The More People at the Top, the More People at the Bottom?

We might expect that the more people there are at the top of the funnel, the more people would be at the bottom of the funnel. This might not be the case.

A blogger could be wildly popular on the level of post views, but they might have a difficult time getting their books sold.

Another blogger might have modest post views, but they could be successful at converting those views to premium program purchases.

Who would you rather be? The popular blogger with modest book sales? Or a modest blogger with high premium program sales? Honestly, I’d like to be the second blogger.

How to Have Higher Conversion Rates

In order to be the second blogger, we might need to sacrifice popularity. Instead of trying to appeal to a broad public, we need to be ourselves and double down on what makes us unique. If that is an odd sense of humor, we need to cultivate it.

The idea is to polarize the public. That way, a portion of the public wouldn’t want to consume our content at all, but the rest would love it.

This discussion reminds of “1000 true fans” who are ready to purchase whatever product a creative puts out. I don’t think that we can create 1000 true fans by trying to please everybody.

What Do the Numbers Say?

In order to back my ideas with stats, I made an analysis of my last 111 Medium posts. I calculated the clap to view ratio of these posts. Then, I calculated the correlation between the views and the clap to view ratio. This correlation was -40%.

This doesn’t mean that we have an inverse correlation, but it doesn’t show a positive correlation either. What my reader suggests might be true.

The most engaging posts aren’t necessarily the most popular ones.

I can see this relationship clearly in my most engaging and least engaging ten posts. By most engaging, I mean the posts with the highest claps per views ratios. The least engaging posts are the ones that have the least number of claps per view.

Table. 1. My most engaging posts

My most engaging posts aren’t the wildly popular ones. On the other hand, most of my least engaging posts have above average views.

Table. 2. My least engaging posts

When I look at my least engaging posts, I see that some of them are among “my most hated posts.” I already wrote a post about why those posts had low fans to views ratio.

What Makes a Post Engaging?

I’m intrigued by the most engaging posts. Even though I analyzed all kinds of stats, these posts didn’t show up in my radar.

I suspect that a high read ratio contributes to engaging posts. I’m going to analyze what made these posts so engaging and report that in a future post.

If you don’t want to miss my post on writing engaging posts, sign up to my email newsletter. Once a week, I send an email that contains my latest posts on writing, blogging, marketing, entrepreneurship, productivity, and personal development.


I thank Michael K. Spencer for recommending me to look at the average claps per article and Catherine Turner for her question that inspired me to write this post.


As copywriters, bloggers, and marketers, our aim isn’t necessarily to be wildly popular. Our aim is to get our readers to take action at the bottom of our funnels. This can be following us on social media, subscribing to our email newsletter, and purchasing our products.

If you want to create 1000 true fans, you might want to let go of trying to please everybody. You might want to be unique in your own way.

As a result, you might be less popular with the general public, but you might end up with 1000 true fans who are in love with your work and willing to support you in every way possible.

How Accurate is CoSchedule Headline Analyzer?

  • CoSchedule’s headline analyzer is a popular tool among bloggers.
  • I tested it with 82 blog posts of mine that were published in the Startup Publication.
  • The scores of the headlines don’t correspond to the number of views of my post.
  • Still, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the tool.

The Three Most Recommended Tools

Two weeks ago, I analyzed my Medium stats and published a series of posts about the results.

Getting published in a major Medium publication is the biggest factor in getting views. The title of a post is the second biggest factor. I published a few posts to come up with titles that get clicked.

After I published those posts, I received a lot of recommendations for three tools.

  1. Grammarly.com
  2. The Hemingway App
  3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

The Hemingway App was so good that it entered my standard toolbox.


I still have to try Grammarly. I’m postponing this, because it doesn’t have an easy access trial version like the Hemingway App.

Grammarly requires installing a plugin in my browser. Firefox warned me against that. Installing the plugin means that Grammarly can see everything I type into my browser.

As I have explained in my post about privacy, I don’t want that. I’ll find another way to try out Grammarly.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Today, I wanted to give the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer a try. The results are mixed. It has its strengths and weaknesses.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer didn’t enter my standard toolbox. Yet, I’m going to use it from time to time. There are lessons to be learned from it.

What is CoSchedule?

CoSchedule is an online marketing management tool. You can use it for the following purposes among others.

  • Plan and automate your marketing efforts.
  • Track your results.
  • Manage your team.

The Need for an Automated Marketing Management Tool

I haven’t tried CoSchedule yet, but I get the need for such a tool. I’ll write a separate post about automating marketing management. I could use such a tool, but I want to write down my requirements first.

Promoting Your Online Business with Free Tools

It’s a shrewd strategy to promote your online business with free tools. People like to use such tools and they recommend it to each other.

The headline analyzer is one of the tools in the toolbox of CoSchedule. They give free access to it in exchange for your contact information.

Headline Analysis Criteria

I expected this tool to give me a score and a few tips. It gave me a thorough report besides the score. It checks the title for the following factors.

  • Word Balance
  • Headline Type
  • Length Analysis
  • First Three, Last Three Words
  • Keywords
  • Sentiment
  • Google Search Preview
  • Email Subject Line Preview

Some of the factors have links to blog posts with more details. I haven’t read those blog posts yet, but they are now on my reading list.

Let’s go over each factor and let me share my observations.

Word Balance

The idea here is that you have four types of words in your title.

  1. Common
  2. Uncommon
  3. Emotional
  4. Power

You need to balance those word types in your title. The tool recommends a certain percentage for each word type. Please check the tool for specific percentages for each word type.

I like the idea of balancing word types, but the tool doesn’t categorize all the words in my titles. As a result, the total of the words in each category doesn’t add up to 100%. That makes me question the accuracy of the final score.

Moreover, it categorizes words such as “skill” and “focus” as emotional.

The tool doesn’t recognize words conjoined by an apostrophe. For example, it recognizes “re” at the end of “you’re” as a separate word.

Headline Type

The tool recognizes several headline types. It recognized the following types in my titles.

When it recognizes a headline type, it gives you a green tick. If it doesn’t recognize a headline type, it gives you a warning sign and calls your title “generic.” I don’t like that conclusion.

First of all, it suggests that all blog posts should fit one of the predetermined templates. Sure those templates can help you come up with new blog post ideas.

Why should I follow them every time I write a blog post? Where is the creativity in that?

Moreover, “how to” titles don’t perform well in my experience. I believe that they are overused and people became immune to them. They don’t stand out in the crowd of other blog posts.

Length Analysis

This was one of the most insightful of the factors. The headline analyzer recommends titles that are approximately 55 characters and 6 words long. That makes sense to me.

If you want to include more information than that, break the title into two. Add the second part as a subtitle in italics to the content. That way, the title is not too wordy and the subtitle is still featured in preview cards.

First Three, Last Three Words

This was the absolute eye opener for me. People tend to read the first and last three words of a title. Do those words say enough about your post? Or are they common words?


I get that you have to include strategic keywords in your blog post title. But the keywords that the headline analyzer pulled out didn’t convince me. It featured “I” and “re” of “you’re” as keywords among others.


I agree with the idea behind this factor. The more emotionally charged your title is, the more readers it’s going to pull in.

The headline analyzer tells you whether your title has a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Having a negative sentiment isn’t bad, because that has an emotional charge too.

Sometimes, I’m criticized for using too strong words in my titles. For example, This Is What I Learned from My Most Hated Blog Posts. Nevertheless, those strong words pull readers in.

Google Search Preview & Email Subject Line Preview

I find both previews helpful.

How Accurate Is It?

This is the most important question about this tool. I can only answer it according to my own data. I tested it on 82 blog posts that I have written and that were published in the Startup Publication.

As I mentioned above, the details of some factors are not accurate. The overall score reflects those inaccuracies.

I compared the view numbers of my posts with the headline analyzer scores. The correlation was only 11%. You can see in Fig. 1. that there are no relations between both data.

Fig. 1. Scatter Chart. Headline Analyzer Overall Score vs Number of Views

This result might be my mistake. I normalized my data by using posts only from one publication.

I could normalize the data for the day of the week as well, because posts published on Monday tend to outperform the rest.

In either case, I expect a high correlation between the number of views and the overall headline score. Without that correlation, I won’t use this tool on a daily basis.


An automated headline analyzer is a great idea. I learned some important lessons from it. I’m going to visit it in the future to learn more. Yet, there is some room for improvement in this tool.

Points of Improvements

  • Categorization of words in Word Balance
  • Recognition of words conjoined with an apostrophe
  • It recognizes some simple words as keywords.
  • The overall score has almost no correlation to the view numbers of my posts.

If CoSchedule addresses these points, their headline analyzer can be a useful tool.


In some extreme cases, it gave me accurate points:

It’s an educational tool. I learned about the optimal word balance, title length, and the importance of the first and last three words.

Future Work

Here is a follow up action list for me. I’m especially curious about #2 and #3. I’m going to post about them as well.

  1. Read the blog posts linked by the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
  2. Use and Review Grammarly. What’s the added value on top of MS Word grammar and spell checker?
  3. Write down my requirements for an automated marketing tool.

Your Turn

  • Have you used CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer?
  • What do you think about it?
  • Do you use it for every post?
  • Are there other tools that you use and recommend?

The Read Ratio Is the Key to Convert Viewers to Fans

I analyzed seven factors that affected my Medium stats and published my findings in a series of blog posts. I thought yesterday’s post would be the last one in this series. I planned to wait for another 100 posts to collect new data and make a similar analysis.

I was wrong. My study of the stats was incomplete. I only analyzed the views and fans. I ignored the reads. I tried to rationalize that decision while writing yesterday’s post. I couldn’t.

There was no rational reason to ignore the reads. On the contrary, the reads were slightly more correlated to the fans than the views. The correlation between the views and fans is 91.9% and the correlation between the reads and fans is 92.4%.

Fig. 1. Fans vs. Views

You can see this difference, if you look carefully at the scatter graphs in Fig. 1 and 2. The points in Fig. 2 are slightly “tighter” than the points in Fig. 1. That means we better pay attention to the read stats as well.

Fig. 2. Fans vs. Reads

The reads act like a bridge between the views and fans.

Analyzing the Read Stats

This time, I don’t want to randomly dive into the analysis like I did with the views and fans. I want to make a structured analysis based on the results from the previous study.

I’ll come up with a set of hypotheses to test with the data. While doing these tests, I might come across hypotheses that I haven’t thought about. I’ll report them too.

Here’s an overview of the factors that I’ll analyze.

Publication the Post Is Published In

This is an interesting factor. My posts get 10 times more views when they are published in the Startup publication. However, that 10X factor doesn’t translate to fans. My posts get four times more fans in the Startup publication.

The readers of the Startup publication have higher expectations from a post. I will analyze those expectations. I will work on increasing the reads to views and fans to views ratios of my posts in the Startup publication.

The Title of the Post

The title of the post plays a great role in pulling in readers. My initial studies show that it also plays a role in the read ratio.

If the title charges the reader emotionally, the read ratio seems to be higher. However, this emotional charge is a double edged sword.

The reader could hate your argument and read your post to see how wrong you are. Or they could love your argument and read it to maximize their positive experience. You can see this in the number of fans.

Unfortunately, there are no reaction buttons like Facebook on Medium. An angry face or a heart say much more than the number of claps. That’s a downside of Medium, but that’s the subject of a different post.

Post Length

I read claims about a strong correlation between post length and read ratio. Based on my conclusions from the fans to views ratio, I don’t think that would be the case. I don’t have any evidence at this moment. This will be one of the hypotheses that I’ll test with the data.

Readability of a Post

I believe this will be one of the top two factors that affect the read ratio. The other one is the emotional charge of the post.

My initial observations point out that increasing the readability of web copy is harder than I thought. More on that in the future posts.

Day of the Week and Tags of the Posts

Honestly, I have no idea whether the day of the week or tags play a role in the reads to views ratio. That’s a good thing. Starting an analysis with an open mind is always better than starting with a set of beliefs.

The Right Mindset to Approach Research

Even though I have some beliefs about the impact of some of these factors, I don’t do this analysis to prove myself right.

I’d rather be wrong, learn something, and improve my stats than prove myself right.

The Pitfall of Optimizing Your Stats

There’s a pitfall when analyzing and optimizing your Medium stats. You can end up overoptimizing a stat or two.

These stats are important and they add value to a content marketing business. They need to be seen in that context.

It is possible to overoptimize a parameter at the cost of others. For example, I can write an irritating piece and increase the read ratio. However, that high read ratio won’t translate to fans, followers, and email newsletter subscribers.


The read ratio turned out to be more important than I initially thought. That means I’m going to analyze the impact of different factors on the read ratio.

I believe the emotional charge and the readability of a post would have the highest impact on the read ratio. I’m especially curious about how I can improve the readability.

I believe there are a lot of lessons to be learned in the readability of web copy. Those lessons have probably a high impact on the bottom line of a content marketing business. For that reason, I’m going to analyze the readability next. I’ll publish my lessons here.

Your Turn

  • What do you think about the importance of the read ratio of a post?
  • What are the factors that impact the read ratio? Did I miss a factor here?
  • Do you have any suggestions for this analysis?
  • Is there any factor that you want me to look at when analyzing the read ratio stats?

I Analyzed Seven Factors that Affect My Medium Stats. This Is What I Found.

Medium provides us with three stats, number of views, reads, and fans for each post. The read ratio doesn’t seem to provide any extra information on top of these.

You can do a lot with these three stats. You can learn a lot of lessons from them. I’ve spent analyzing these stats for the last ten days. I published a series of posts on lessons I learned from them. This is the tenth post in this series.

My interpretation of views and fans is as follows. The number of views shows how successful a post is in pulling in readers. The number of fans shows how successful a post is in satisfying the readers.

I see the number of reads as a bridge between views and fans. The number of reads deserves its own analysis. I’m going to do that in the future and I’m going to publish my lessons. This post will be about views and fans.

In order to analyze my stats, I downloaded them with this script (Third party link and script. Please use it on your own risk).

I did some extra manual work, such as adding the publications and tags to the posts. I wrote a small program to avoid some manual work. If you can’t program, you can do the same work manually, by copying and pasting in Excel.

To give you an idea, I had more than 140 posts in my Medium profile at the time of this analysis.

Which Factors Impact Medium Stats?

In order to optimize my Medium stats, I need to know which factors impact them. Here is the list of the factors that I analyzed. If you think that there might be other factors affecting Medium stats, please let me know in the comments.

  • Publication the post is published in
  • The title of the post (*)
  • Post length (*)
  • The likability of the post, including its readability
  • Day of the week the post is published on (*)
  • Tags of the post (*)
  • Featured picture of the post (*)

My posts published in the Startup publication received 10x more views compared to the rest. In order to subtract the impact of that factor, I analyzed only the posts that are published in the Startup publication when analyzing the factors marked with (*).

Publication the Post Is Published In

According to my stats, getting published in a major Medium publication, the Startup, made the biggest change in my views and fans. It multiplied my views by 10 and my fans by 4.

The Title of the Post

Getting published in a major Medium publication gives a huge boost to your views and fans, but why stop there?

You can still optimize your stats by coming up with strong and counterintuitive titles. The title of a post has a huge impact on the views. I published three posts about writing impactful titles.

The Likability of the Post

I measured the likability of the post as the ratio of fans to views. The factors that make a post less popular are the following:

  • Incongruent title and content
  • Unbelievable claims
  • Arguments unpopular with the target audience
  • Low readability

I explained the details of each factor and gave several examples in the post This Is What I Learned from My Most Hated Blog Posts.

I use the Hemingway App to measure and improve the readability of my posts. You can see the details and an example screenshot in this post.

Featured Picture of the Post

Believe it or not, I checked my top 10 and bottom 10 posts for the pictures. I liked most of those pictures equally. I think they play a role, but I can’t measure it in my posts.

I’m convinced that each blog post has to have a relevant, beautiful picture at the top. Make sure this is at the top. Otherwise, Medium doesn’t display it in the preview card. This happened to me once.

You can find free pictures on Pixabay. Make sure you give credits to those photographers via a link.

Day of the Week the Post is Published On

This is one of the more interesting results I came across. Monday seems to be the prime time to publish a post, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the remaining days.

The posts published on Monday seem to get the 30% of the total views and fans. There is no reason to assume that the posts published in the weekend underperform the rest.

Fig. 1. Views and Fans vs Day of the Week

I came up with two conclusions from this data.

  • Publish my best content on Monday.
  • Publish on every day of the week.

Post Length

When I look at Fig. 2, posts that are six minutes long received the most views and fans. However, the fan to view ratio is the maximum when the post was seven minutes long.

Fig. 2. Views and Fans vs Post Length

To be honest, I didn’t normalize these values for other factors such as day of the week. Maybe, I’m just publishing longer posts on Mondays, because I have more time to write them in the weekend. This is something I have to look into as future work.

Until then, I’m going to stick with posts that are six to seven minutes long.

Tags of the Post

This was a difficult one to analyze. First, I had to fill the tags one by one. Then, I had to write a program to process these numbers. Finally, I realized that my more recent posts didn’t reach their full potential in views and fans yet.

As a result, I’m not 100% sure that the results of this analysis are accurate. I include them as reference for future work.

Fig. 3. Views and Fans vs Tags

The tags are sorted according the number of fans, the orange columns. The blue columns refer to the number of views.

People interested in startups don’t seem to click much on my posts, but the ones they do tend to like it more than the people that are interested in management.

In this analysis, I only used the tags that had more than ten posts. There are other tags with less than ten posts. I will use some of those tags in the future, such as leadership. I’m curious how they will perform.

The results are not clear in this one. I’m going to make a similar analysis in the future.

Factors that I Haven’t Analyzed

There are some factors that I haven’t analyzed in this study. I don’t know how to analyze them at the moment, such as the number of followers when a post was published.

I have no impact on some of them, such as getting a high number of initial claps from the editors of the publication.

I’m not going to experiment with some of them, such as consistency of publishing posts or interactions with the readers via responses. I’m not going to ignore reader comments just to measure the impact.

  • Timing of acceptance to the publication
  • Number of followers of the writer
  • Getting a high number of initial claps from the editors of the publication
  • Interactions with the readers via responses
  • Consistency of publishing posts, including tags


Here are the lessons I learned after all the analysis I have done.

  • Do my best to get published regularly in the Startup publication.
  • Come up with strong and counterintuitive titles.
  • Aim for posts around 6 – 7 minutes.
  • Pay attention to the likability of the post, including its readability.
  • Publish my best content on Monday, but keep publishing on every day of the week.
  • Pay attention to the tags.
  • Experiment with tags that I don’t use often.
  • Pay attention to the picture of the post.
  • Respond to user comments.
  • Keep publishing a post per day, focusing on the better performing tags.

When looking at these results, please take into account that they are based on my posts and my audience. Maybe your posts and your audience like 3 minute posts more than 6 minutes posts. Or they’d click your posts about startups more than management.

So, please use these results as information only. Do your own analysis if you can and please let me know if you publish it.

Future Work

  • Normalize the stats such as length vs day of the week.
  • Analyze the read stats.
  • Download the stats every week and do a week over week analysis.
  • Try to find a way to use the number of followers when a post is published in the analysis.


I thank my mastermind partner David Nowak for giving me the idea to look at my Medium stats.

Your Turn

Please let me know what you think about this analysis and conclusions.

  • Are there other factors that would play a role in Medium stats?
  • Did you do a similar analysis yourself?
  • If so, what are the lessons you’ve learned?
  • If not, are you inspired to do a similar analysis yourself?

The Tools I Use to Capture and Organize Ideas, and to Outline, Write, and Edit Blog Posts

Since November 2017, I wrote and published a blog post per day. In case you wonder, I’m not a full time blogger. This is something I do in my spare time, next to my full time job.

How was I able to publish a blog post per day?

To be honest, this wasn’t easy. Sure, I could write down whatever crossed my mind and call it a post. I did not take that easy path. I wanted my posts to provide value long after I wrote them.

It takes me three steps to write a blog post.

  1. Capture ideas
  2. Organize ideas
  3. Write a post

I explained the details of these steps in the post Four Steps to Becoming a Published Author. The fourth step is about writing and publishing a book. I decided not to take the fourth step before I built a full size audience.

By a full size audience, I mean 100K Medium followers and 20K email newsletter subscribers. It’s a goal I plan to achieve in 15 months. Check the post How I Use Growth Metrics to Optimize the Stats of My Blog and Email Newsletter for more details.

Throughout the time, I experimented with different tools for each step. Lately, I divided the third step into three smaller steps, as you can understand from the title of this post.

Capturing Ideas

We all come up with at least ten ideas every day. Some of these ideas are repetitions. Some of them are fresh insights. In either case, when the inspiration strikes, it’s important to capture those ideas.

I use Evernote to capture ideas. It’s the app that I use the most. Its free version is good enough to use with a computer and smartphone combination. I have two Evernote accounts, one for my private projects, and one for my job. I can’t imagine a life without Evernote.

Organizing Ideas

Capturing ideas is great, but it’s 10% of the work. 70% of my blogging efforts go to organizing ideas. If you come up with 10 ideas, you end up with 70 ideas at the end of the week. Human brain is chaotic. Those ideas don’t come in a structured way. They are all over the place.

I write ideas about business, blogging, my private life, and a dozen different topics. Organizing ideas involves dividing them into different notes. Then, I have to group relevant ideas in a note together.

Sometimes, I have to delete duplicate ideas and the ones that I have already published. Once I have done this work, it’s much easier to write a blog post.

Outlining a Blog Post

In the past, I started to write a blog post in a text editor. I wrote down my ideas as they flowed from my mind. As a result, writing a blog post was hard, inefficient, and chaotic. I had to restart a post multiple times. Sometimes, I got lost in the middle of the post.

Sometimes, I started a blog post and ended up writing another post, because my mind jumped from subject to subject. My blog posts didn’t have the logical flow I wanted them to have. I realized that I had to come up with an outline before starting to write a post.

I started to use FreeMind for that purpose. FreeMind is an open source, free software. It’s great for brainstorming. I dump my ideas in there and organize them by dragging and dropping the nodes.

Fig. 1. Blogging Lessons Mind Map

Sometimes, many posts come out of a single mind map. You can see an example mind map in Fig. 1. I have already written seven blog posts from the ideas in that mind map. The eighth one is in the queue.

Adding More Structure

FreeMind is great to brainstorm ideas, but it doesn’t feel natural to outline a blog post. A text editor isn’t the perfect tool for this task either. I have three requirements to outline my blog posts.

  • Process text naturally, like a text editor.
  • Easily move around ideas, like a mind mapping software.
  • Focus on a single idea, when I need to.

Neither Evernote, nor FreeMind, nor any other software I know of meet those criteria. I experimented with the Guide and Scrivener for this purpose.

Luckily, I came across Workflowy a few years ago. It satisfies all the three criteria above. It’s a freemium software and I use the Windows client.

Fig. 2. Blog Post Outline in Workflowy

I have a blog post template in Workflowy (Fig. 2). Before starting a post, I duplicate that template and outline the post in that template. Once the outline is complete, I start writing the blog post.

Writing the Post

In the past, I used LibreOffice Writer to write my blog posts. I liked its autocomplete functionality. However, the advantages of MS Word outweighed the autocomplete functionality of LibreOffice Writer. So, I use MS Word to write my blog posts. I’m not going back soon.

Literary Critic as an App

Once the blog post is complete, it’s time to edit it. I read it several times, format it, make corrections, and add pictures and links.

Formatting for readability is crucial for likability of your blog posts. Check the post This Is What I Learned from My Most Hated Blog Posts for more details. I go for short paragraphs, short sentences, and occasional quotes.

Like everybody, I have my blind spots too. It’s a great idea to have your blog post checked for readability. Luckily, there’s an app for that: the Hemingway App.

I thank my mastermind buddy David Nowak for introducing that app to me. That’s one of the dozens of helpful tips he gave to me.

Fig. 3. Feedback received from the Hemingway App

If you wonder what kind of feedback the Hemingway App provides, check Fig. 3. That screenshot comes from an earlier post of mine. It was an eye-opener to get my writing analyzed by the Hemingway App for the first time.

I learned a lot of lessons from the Hemingway app after the first use. I pay attention to those shortcomings. I do my best to not repeat them in the future.


Blogging might look like the easiest thing to do. But publishing a blog post day after day and providing solid value in each of them is hard.

I wouldn’t dare to work toward that goal if I didn’t follow a step by step process. Evernote, FreeMind, Workflowy, MS Word, and the Hemingway App are the tools that enable that process.

Even though I’m enthusiastic about these tools, I’m always open to new ones. So, I want to read your opinion too.

  • What are the steps you take to write a post, article, or a book?
  • Which tools do you use for each step?

I Multiplied My Blog Post Views by 10 with this Method

I restarted blogging in November 2017. I’ve published one post per day since then. This time, I imported every post to Medium. Medium has a great community of readers, writers, and publications. They also provide their writers with some stats.

If you have enough posts in your Medium account, you see certain trends emerging in your stats. I have already written a post about 8 blogging lessons I learned from my Medium stats. One of those lessons stand out among others.

Getting my posts published in a major Medium publication, the Startup, made a huge difference in my blog post views. That’s why I wrote the post The Only Tip You Need to Grow Your Audience as a Blogger.

In that post, I argued that commenting other people’s posts just to grow your audience wasn’t good advice. However, I still received comments about how that practice was better than getting published in a major Medium publication.

In order to settle the issue, I published a post called Is Commenting on Medium a Reliable Strategy to Grow the Audience of Your Blog?

In today’s post, I will provide the proof. I will show the difference in numbers between publishing on your own and getting published by a big publication.

What’s the Impact of Getting Published in a Major Medium Publication?

Table 1. My Post Stats for Each Publication

Now, let’s take a look at Table 1. In the first column, you see the publication. I have published in seven Medium publications. “No publication” refers to the posts that I published as an independent writer. Those posts are not published in any publication.

The second column refers to how many follower each publication has. In the third column, you see how many posts I published in each publication. In the fourth and fifth columns, you see the average number of views per post and average number of fans per post, respectively.

When I look at the average views and fans figures above, the difference is like day and night. As an independent author, I scored 10 views and 1 fan per post on average. My Startup Publication posts scored 640 views and 37 fans per post on average. That’s a 64X and 37X difference.

You might think that those independent posts might be from times when I didn’t have much following on Medium. In order to counter that argument, I took the stats from a recent 30 day period.

Table 2. My Stats from a Recent 30 Day Period

These stats are from a recent, consecutive 30 days. In that period, I published 5 posts as an independent author and 25 posts in the Startup Publication. My Startup Publication posts received 10 times more views and 4 times more fans on average.

Did I Sell Myself to Big Publications?

Believe it or not, I received that remark. Maybe, you’re thinking the same way. Let me ease your worries. You don’t need to sell yourself to big publications.

You need to become the best blogger you can be. That’s all it takes to get published in a major Medium publication.

I can hardly think about a blogger who would oppose the idea of becoming their best version.

Table 3. Before Startup

In Table 3, you see the performance of my posts before getting published in the Startup Publication.

It took me publishing 55 blog posts to get published in the Startup Publication. 17 of those posts have 0 views to this date, 12 only 1, and 7 only 2. Nine of those posts have somewhere between 3 and 9 views. I’m talking about views, not fans.

I had to go through that period of getting little to no views for my posts. I kept writing and publishing every day. I did my best to improve my blogging skills. Then, I got accepted into the Startup Publication and you see the spikes in the graph below.

Fig. 1. The Views of Individual Posts and their Moving Averages

The blue columns refer to the views of individuals posts. The orange line refers to the 7 day moving average of the views of individual posts. The axis on the left belongs to the individual posts and the axis on the right to the moving average.

The graph above is worrying me a little. As you can see, my view numbers are heading down. That means I need to figure out what’s going on in there.

The average line above reminds me of another post called This Is How Your Expectations Sabotage Your Success. In that post, I argue that we expect a linear growth. In reality, growth happens in spikes after long periods of plateaus. Something like the graph below.

Fig. 2. Linear Growth vs Quantum Leaps

Don’t Let Those Long Dry Spells Discourage You

You don’t lose anything when you go through a dry spell of getting little to no views. You improve your craft with every post you publish. You learn something. You make progress. Eventually, you can go back to those posts and rewrite them with all the lessons you have learned.

Maybe the content of a post was good, but you didn’t format it well for online consumption. Maybe you didn’t come up with a relevant, strong title. Maybe you didn’t use a picture. Maybe the picture you used wasn’t interesting. Now, go ahead and rewrite that post with all the lessons you have learned.

It all comes down to this.

You need to have a portfolio of quality posts in your blog or Medium profile. Otherwise, no amount of promotion will help you to grow your audience as a blogger.

In order to build such a portfolio, you need to write quality blog posts. If you write quality blog posts, you can publish them in big publications. That will grow your audience. Then, why invest your time in something other than trying to write the best posts you can?

Work Your Way Up

Trying to get published in a major Medium publication might overwhelm you. You might wonder how to get to that level. Here are a few tips to help you with that.

  • Make a list of your favorite Medium publications.
  • Find and read their submission guidelines. Sometimes, these are hidden. In that case, google it.
  • Write as many posts as possible paying attention to the submission guidelines.
  • Read as many posts as possible in your favorite publications to understand what those publications pay attention to.
  • If you can’t get into the big publications, try to get into smaller ones. You can find publications in your niche on Smedian.com.

As you see in Table 1, getting published in smaller publications provided me with additional views and fans as well. If a publication has 100 fans that don’t follow you, that’s potentially 100 extra views to your post.


By getting published in a major publication, my posts views are multiplied by 10 and fans by 4. You don’t need to sell yourself to get your posts published in big publications. All you have to do is to improve your craft and write the best blog posts you can.

Getting published in a major Medium publication can be a long journey. Your posts might get little to no attention during that period. Stick through this incubation process. Submit your posts to smaller publications to get some extra exposure.

Getting published in a big publication is not the end of the story. The views of my posts seem to have decreased lately, even though they are published in the Startup Publication.

I have to figure out why and deal with this challenge. I will write about the lessons I learn from that challenge. Sign up to my email newsletter, if you want to learn from my challenges.

This Is What I Learned from My Most Hated Blog Posts

First, let me explain what I mean with my “most hated blog posts.” My most hated blog posts are the ones that have the lowest fans to views ratio on Medium.com.

Medium.com provides their writers with three basic stats: views, reads, and fans. Unfortunately, they don’t provide any option to download these stats as an Excel file. Luckily, you can find some scripts to do that. Here’s an example. Please use it on your own risk.

How I Found My Most Hated Blog Posts

Once I downloaded the stats of my 140+ posts on Medium, I sorted them according to the views. Then, I removed the posts with less than 20 views to avoid statistical mistakes.

In this post, I’m not interested in what makes a Medium user click a title. I have already discussed how to come up with popular and counterintuitive blog post titles.

This post is about the posts that are clicked, but have a low number of fans compared to their views. I selected the ten posts with the lowest fans to views ratios.

I want to understand why people hate these posts, so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes. What gets measured gets improved. Let’s go over these posts and try to understand what made them so unpopular.

Of course, I don’t have precise answers here. I don’t have the opportunity to ask the readers why they didn’t clap for those posts. I’m just making assumptions. If you have further ideas why these posts underperformed, please let me know in the comments.

Incongruent Title and Content

As I repeat over and over in my posts about blogging, your title is your promise to your readers. You better keep that promise.

My most hated post is “Personal Development Can Be Detrimental to Your Self-Esteem.” You might expect that I’d elaborate why I believe that.

I didn’t.

Instead, I offered personal development exercises to improve your self-esteem, if it was weakened by other personal development exercises.

Not a good idea.

Will the Startup Bubble Burst?

You might think that I wouldn’t be so dumb to add this post to the Startup Publication. I did it, because the post argued that the startup bubble was something good for the startups, technology, and the society in general. As a result, I could neither satisfy the startup community, nor the readers who hate startups.

If I looked at my stats before writing this post, I wouldn’t make this mistake. This is the second time I make the same mistake. The first one is “Cryptocurrency Bubble and Why It’s a Good Thing.” That’s what I mean by “This is How You Miss Your Biggest Opportunity for Success.”

Use Your Curiosity as Motivation and Ask the Right Questions to Succeed

This post was meant to be an inner game post. In order to demonstrate the idea, I have applied it to my own blog. As a result, 80% of the post ended up being a discussion of how I can improve my blog.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Discussing your own challenges and documenting your own process are two ways to come up with content on a consistent basis. However, the title had to be congruent with the content.

The title could be something like “How I Use the Questioning Process to Improve My Blog.” That would attract the right crowd that would like to read and clap for such a post. It’s a lost opportunity, but a lesson learned.

Unbelievable Claims

I seriously believe that you can turn around your life by brainstorming about your challenges every single day. The readers of my post “One Habit That Can Turn around Your Life” probably weren’t convinced of that.

I don’t have any proof. I shared what I truly believed in, but it didn’t resonate with my readers. This is the only post in this list, about which I can’t do anything. So, it’s time to dust myself off and carry on.

Unpopular Arguments

Do not expect people to clap for your posts, if you’re defending unpopular arguments.

How the Hodlers Fail the Crypto-Economy

Hodlers, i.e. long term investors, are like heroes in the crypto-community. Nevertheless, they are mostly young and inexperienced investors. They didn’t handle the crypto-bubble in the end of 2017 well. As a result, they and the whole crypto-economy suffered.

Of course my arguments about hodlers didn’t resonate well with the crypto-community. Frankly, I’m not that much interested in writing about this topic anymore.

One Practice Startup Founders Hate

I already knew from my own experience that mastermind groups were unpopular with the startup community. I still wanted to convince my readers about the virtues of mastermind groups. This is a marketing mistake.

People won’t like a concept they hate just by reading a blog post. However, they might like it, if you provide them with an alternative. My post about online mastermind groups didn’t perform that bad.

Technical Analysis of Stock Prices is Useless

Technical analysis is like a religion among stock market traders. People probably clicked this post to see “what this idiot was talking about.” I received some heat as a result of this post and I’m fine with that. As a result, I’ve stopped writing about investing and cryptocurrencies.

My posts about investing and cryptocurrencies are in the archives. I am not motivated to write more about these topics to educate people. It’s a relatively small community and my opinions are unpopular in this community. It doesn’t make sense for me to write more about it.

It’s an old marketing trick to tell people the lies they want to believe in. I’m not interested in following that path. There are enough marketers that do that.

Long Paragraphs

Long paragraphs are a common theme among my unpopular posts. Readability is critical for online copy. Here are a few tips to improve online readability.

  • Keep your paragraphs shorter than three lines.
  • Keep your sentences short.
  • Use subtitles, bullet points, and enumerated lists.
  • Optionally, pull out some quotes.
  • Add some extra italic and/or bold formatting here and there.

Like all the good things in life, you can also overdo these readability tips. So, make sure you don’t overformat your copy. Otherwise, you risk distracting your reader.


If people read your posts but they don’t clap for them, then you are making some mistakes. You might want to make a list of such posts and try to understand why people don’t clap for them.

In my case, here are the top reasons I could come up with.

  • Incongruent title and content
  • Unbelievable claims
  • Unpopular arguments
  • Low readability, especially long paragraphs

The Fundamental Requirement Your Blog Posts Have to Satisfy

When you write an article in a scientific journal, your article is expected to satisfy a number of criteria.

  • Does your article mention all the significant studies published on your topic?
  • Do you add any significant results on top of the existing knowledge on your topic?
  • Do you back up your conclusions with sufficient proof, analysis, and details?

If you don’t satisfy any of these criteria, your article will be rejected. You will have to continue working on it until you satisfy the requirements.

The Golden Standard of Blogging

Luckily, blogging doesn’t have such strict standards. No one’s going to prevent you from hitting the publish button, because you haven’t read and linked to twenty different blog posts on your topic. No one can check and verify that your claims are backed up by any real world results.

Does that mean that you can publish whatever you want, however you want? No, you can’t. There’s a certain standard you need to meet if you want to build a following as a blogger. That standard is honesty.

If You Have No Clue about What You Are Writing about

There’s nothing wrong with writing about a topic that you have no clue about. However, you have to be honest and open about that. You can write about what you have learned so far and what you want to learn.

  • What are the questions that you are curious about?
  • What is intriguing you?
  • What is your plan to learn more?
  • What is your plan to experiment with that topic?
  • What are the lessons that you have already learned?

All of these subjects add value to the discussion. There are many ways to create content on a topic even if you aren’t an expert on it.

There is no end to learning about a topic. No one knows everything about a topic. If that was the case, the scientific activity would cease. Document the lessons you have learned as soon as they fill a blog post.

Take the first blogging lessons I have learned as an example. Those lessons are still the fundamentals of what I know about blogging. I build on top of those lessons.

Experiment, fail, learn your lessons, document them, and move on. That’s how you succeed in your craft in the age of technology.

It’s better to ask a meaningful question in a blog post than to write about an answer that you pretend to know.

By asking a meaningful, well-formulated question, you take the first step to success. You also invite people to join the discussion and increase engagement with your blog.

Your title is your promise to your reader. You better deliver on that promise in your post!

That doesn’t mean you have to write about the topics that you have decades of experience. You can still write about your ideas that you haven’t tested yet. However, if you do that, be transparent about it.

Tell your readers that this is the best solution that you could come up with and that you’re going to test it. In the meantime, ask your readers if they have a better solution. That way, you accomplish three goals.

  1. You demonstrate authenticity and honesty, which will be appreciated by your readers.
  2. One of your readers might come up with an even better solution that could help you.
  3. You might ignite some discussion among your readers. That type of engagement is good for your blog.

Don’t Shy Away from Mentioning Your Achievements, No Matter How Small

If you have any experience with what you are writing about, don’t shy away from mentioning it, no matter how small your experience is. Proof is one of the key factors in marketing.

Some people will ridicule you for mentioning your achievements such as becoming a top writer in a Medium category. Let that be. Don’t let a bunch of haters take you down. For every troll and hater out there, there are dozens of silent people who appreciate what you do.

Don’t let a handful of trolls or haters dictate what you do. That’s an injustice to the silent majority. Let the haters and trolls live their little pathetic lives. Don’t extend your hand to them. All they want to do is to grab your hand and drag you down as well, so that they don’t feel that bad about their pathetic lives.


Publishing a blog post might seem overwhelming to some people, because they don’t have the credentials to write about a certain topic.

There’s nothing wrong with blogging about a topic that you have no clue about, as long as you are honest and open about it. As a matter of fact, blog posts written by absolute beginners could add a lot of value to the discussion by emphasizing the challenges of beginners.

There’s always someone with more knowledge and experience than you. There’s always a different point of view that adds value to the discussion. Don’t shy away from joining the discussion with a blog post even if you have no clue about the topic at hand.

Just keep it honest and open. That’s the only requirement you need to satisfy when blogging.

A Creativity Exercise to Come Up with Counterintuitive Blog Post Titles that Get Clicked

In yesterday’s post, I shared a winning formula for blog post titles that get clicked. However, you don’t need to rely on the same formula over and over, day after day.

First, you might run out of ideas that fulfill that formula. Second, you don’t want to use the same template every day and drive away your followers. Luckily, there are other ways of composing blog post titles that attract readers.

The formula I’m going to discuss today involves combining two seemingly opposite concepts to come up with a counterintuitive argument. Remember, creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing. Creativity is finding new relationships in already existing concepts.

When you come up with a counterintuitive argument, you trigger the curiosity of a reader. Curiosity is a strong motivator.

Let’s go over a few examples to explain the formula.

A Buddhist Monk’s Take on Business. The term “Buddhist monk” reminds us of financial scarcity. Business, on the other hand, reminds us of financial abundance. How do these two concepts mix with each other? The reader is instantly compelled to read the post to find out the answer to that question.

Personal Development Can Be Detrimental to Your Self-Esteem. How can that be? We get involved in personal development to improve our wellbeing. Our self-esteem is a part of our wellbeing. How can personal development be detrimental to our self-esteem?

Doing Nothing is Not Wasting Time. We need to work, study, exercise, or do something useful to make the best use of our time. How can doing nothing not be a waste of time?

A Billion Dollar Disaster of a Business Model. If a business has reached a billion dollar valuation, it must be an outstanding business, right? Not always. It’s not common, but once in a while, a business reaches an extreme valuation without a solid business model. It is that rareness that makes this case interesting.

Abundance is Harming Us. Humanity had to deal with scarcity for millions of years. Finally, we have reached the age of abundance. Abundance is praised as something positive everywhere. Now, there’s a blog post arguing that abundance is harming us?

A Counterintuitive Argument Is Not a Guaranteed Homerun

In some cases, a post title based on a counterintuitive argument performs poorly. However, my Medium stats show me that this type of title has a higher probability of being a hit.

The probability of being a flop always exists, but I’d rather take that chance. Otherwise, I risk repeating myself or writing mediocre posts that perform neither exceptionally well nor exceptionally poorly.

For the completeness of discussion, here are a few titles that didn’t perform well.

What We Can Learn from Trouble Kids. I thought this was a cute topic to write about and I seriously believe that we can learn a lot from trouble kids. Nevertheless, my prospective readers weren’t convinced of this title.

How to Deal with the Challenge of Infinite Possibilities when Starting a Business. Having many possibilities is usually considered to be something positive. However, having that many possibilities when starting a business can overwhelm the founders and result in a mental state called decision fatigue.

I tried to explain how to deal with that challenge in this post. However, I made a mistake. I used the “how to” construction in the title. As I have explained in yesterday’s post, the “how to” titles don’t perform well, except a few specific cases.

A Creativity Exercise: Coming Up with Counterintuitive Arguments

Honestly, I don’t use any specific method to come up with counterintuitive arguments. I just write down around ten ideas every day as they come up. That’s one of the eight ways I use to create content on a daily basis. Some of those ten daily ideas are counterintuitive arguments that are worth a blog post.

Alternatively, you can use the following exercise to come up with counterintuitive arguments on purpose.

  1. Come up with ten concepts.
  2. For each concept, write ten words or sentences.
  3. Write down the opposite of each word or sentence.
  4. Try to find a relation between the initial concept and the opposite word or sentence.
  5. If you can, you have your blog topic.
  6. If you can’t, try to come up with ten new words or sentences that are related to each word or sentence you have found on step 3. Keep doing this until you find your counterintuitive argument.

An Example

Let’s say the initial concept I came up with is “startup.” Now, I come up with some example words or sentences related to the word “startup.”

  • Opportunity
  • Hard work
  • Trial and Error
  • Learning
  • Only for young and single people
  • Only for rich people

I stopped after the sixth bullet point, because I already have my counterintuitive argument: “startups are not only for rich people.” Now, let’s come up with a few blog post titles related to that argument.

  • X Startup Founders Who Succeeded on a Lean Budget

Actually, I have stopped after the first title, because I’m already satisfied with it. It’s counterintuitive enough, and I’m sure that it will attract a lot of curious readers.

Now, all I have to do is to Google the keywords “startup founders who succeeded on lean budgets.” Then, read those stories and compose a blog post around them.


One way of composing blog post titles that get clicked is to come up with counterintuitive arguments. When you come up with a counterintuitive title, there are two possible outcomes. Either you attract a lot of readers or your post becomes mostly ignored.

If you come up with an interesting counterintuitive title, the chances are higher that your blog post will receive a lot of clicks. So, this is a risk you might want to take.

If you want to come up with counterintuitive arguments, write down your ideas as they come up throughout the day. Some of them will be counterintuitive arguments. Alternatively, you can use the exercise above.

As it is with all the other winning title formulas, you better deliver in your post what you promise in your title. Otherwise, all the traffic in the world won’t help you achieve your goals.

Creativity for Problem Solvers

Self-awareness is the key to success. Peter Drucker has introduced several dimensions of self-awareness in his book, Managing Oneself. Here are a few examples from his book.

  • How do you learn?
  • How do you communicate with others?
  • What are your values?
  • Are you a decision maker or an advisor?

The idea in Managing Oneself is to know your strengths in each dimension and work from your strengths.

You Can Improve Your Weaknesses

I believe it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think you have to stick to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. You can work on your weaknesses to improve them.

For example, I have already written two posts about improving your decision making skills. The first post is about four simple steps to use when making decisions. The second post is about improving your decision making skills.

Creativity vs. Problem Solving

This post will be about another dimension of self-awareness, creativity vs. problem solving. This dimension wasn’t mentioned in Managing Oneself. It’s a distinction that I observed among people.

Throughout the years, I have observed that people can be divided into two, creatives and problem solvers. Creatives are the artists, painters, musicians, poets, writers, and so on. Problem solvers are typically engineers, medical doctors, and so on.

As a software developer, I’m more of a problem solver than a creative. This post is written more for problem solvers. Who knows, maybe it would benefit some creatives as well.

Problem solvers need creativity as well.

Obviously, the society needs both, creatives as well as problem solvers. However, some creatives are compensated royally for their efforts. Moreover, a little bit of creativity would help a lot when solving problems as well. Therefore, I want to introduce a method for the problem solvers to improve their creativity.

Problem solvers could trigger their creativity by triggering their curiosity. They can trigger their curiosity by asking a set of questions to themselves and trying to come up with answers to these questions.

Define Creative Challenges as Problems to be Solved

In a way, by asking questions, problem solvers are defining their creative challenges as a problem to be solved. Then, they use their problem solving skills to answer those questions. That way, they use their strength to overcome their creative challenges.

I have already written two posts about the value of asking good questions. In the first post, I argue that asking good questions is the first step to success. In the second post, I argue that asking good questions is the only way to solve problems. Now, we are using the same method to trigger our creativity.

Ask Yourself a Set of Relevant Questions

When you need a creative solution at any moment, ask yourself a set of relevant questions instead of waiting for inspiration.

Suppose that you want to write a blog post about your business, but you don’t know what to write about. Instead of waiting for inspiration, write down a few questions and try to come up with several answers to each question.

Here are a few examples:

  • What can I write about my business?
  • How does my business benefit its customers?
  • Which message do I want to convey to my prospects?
  • What makes my business different than its competitors?
  • What is the unique selling point of my business?
  • Why should a customer choose my business instead of others?
  • How can I provide value to my readers in a blog post?
  • How can I write a post that would go viral on social media?

These are just some sample questions off the top of my head. Now, here’s a critical tip.

Don’t try to come up with the perfect question or with the perfect answer. Just try to come up with as many questions and answers as you can.

The problem solvers are usually perfectionists. They see things in black and white. A solution is either correct or not. That attitude might be correct when solving an engineering problem, but you have to drop that attitude when exercising your creativity.

Release Your Breaks

Nothing’s right or wrong when exercising your creativity. You have to exercise your creativity muscles as much as you can without censoring yourself or judging your ideas. Don’t think hard. Just start writing and let the ideas flow off the top of your head.

Just write down whatever pops up in your mind, no matter how silly it might sound. Just come up with twelve random questions and twelve random answers to each question. If you don’t judge your questions and answers, you can easily do that and end up with 144 ideas to write a blog post about.

Pick Up the Best Ideas

Now, pick three or more of those 144 ideas and compose a blog post around them. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. Just connect the ideas that you have selected with each other in a creative way.

Remember, creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing. Creativity is about finding new relationships between already existing ideas.


We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Working from our strengths is a good idea, but we don’t have to ignore our weaknesses. We can use specific strategies to improve our weaknesses.

If you’re a problem solver and creativity is one of your weaker points, you can use your problem solving skills to trigger your creativity. Just define your creativity challenge as a problem and use your problem solving skills to solve that problem.

Come up with 12 or more questions about the challenge at hand and come up with 12 or more answers for each question. Neither the questions, nor the answers have to be perfect.

Once you complete this exercise, you’ll end up with 144 creative ideas. Now, use one or many of those ideas to solve your creativity challenge.