How to be a Popular Writer on Devtome

Although I'm fairly new here on Devtome, I have been in the online content writing business for around 6 years now. I have written for lots of different revenue sharing websites like Hubpages and Squidoo, contributed articles to dozens of independent blogs, and run a few blogs myself too. During those 6 years I have had other income streams, but I have made most of my money from writing. I hope that qualifies me to write this article about how to become a popular writer (with an emphasis on writing for Devtome) even though I haven't been a member of this site for very long.

Titles Are Everything

The single most important factor which will determine the success of your article is the title. Your title is what the people who you want to visit your article page will see, whether it is on social media sites or while browsing through Devtome itself, and they will make a decision about whether to click through and read it or not based purely on this. Because of the importance of the title it is a good idea to spend a significant amount of time brainstorming different title ideas before you settle on something to use.

Whatever you come up with needs to be clear and succinct, but also expressive; it needs to be tantalizing and to arouse people's curiosity, but it also needs to be descriptive of the actual content of the article.

The title should reflect the tone and style of your article as well as the content. That means if you are writing a how to article like this one it should be simple, easy to follow and straight to the point. If you are writing a spiritual or metaphysical article, however, it should be somewhat mysterious, or (if at all possible) inspiring or uplifting. If writing a humorous article a plain descriptive title is clearly not going to showcase your comedic talent very well, whereas something oddball or funny, or perhaps the set-up to what is obviously a joke that people will find the punchline for in your article, is much more likely to tempt readers to click-through and take a look.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most successful articles published on the internet get most of their readers from Google and the other search engines. Making sure your article is 'search engine friendly' is therefore a good idea if you want to get more readers. You have to be careful though, as some content creators get way too caught up in this and end up trying to game the system using 'black hat' techniques, in a way that can actually get your content banned from Google.

Good SEO is actually very simple, because there are very few things you can actually do without crossing the line to become a spammer in the eyes of the all-powerful Google.

The first thing is simply to think about what people are searching for and tweak your idea accordingly. This generally means depersonalizing your articles and making them generalized enough to be relevant to more people. For example, people might not be searching for 'My first aerial photographs using a GoPro camera' or 'Pictures of a bird nest in a tree in my garden' - but they may be searching for articles on 'How to get started with Aerial photography' or 'Setting up a GoPro camera with a Phantom quadcopter drone' which include the same personal experiences as part of a broader guide.

It is often a good idea to identify a short phrase of a few words that you think people might be searching for and which you would like to lead to your article from the search engine results pages. If you can include this phrase in your title and then a couple of times in your article it will help. Single words and short common phrases are likely to put you in competition with big publishers - making them hard to rank for - whereas long and / or uncommon phrases may only generate a small amount of traffic. Its all about finding the right balance. The better you get, the more you will be able to successfully target popular search terms.

How To Write Viral Content

Not all article ideas are suited to getting traffic from the search engines, but can do even better by getting a lot of 'viral traffic'. This simply means getting lots of shares on social media and gaining readers from these shares. Most articles can get some traffic from both search engines and social media, but trying to write viral content is quite different from writing SEO optimized content, and most successful articles will get a large majority of their traffic from one or the other rather than evenly between both. Here are a few tips for writing viral content:

  • Include pictures if at all possible, and make them good: Not only does this make your article more visually appealing and so more enjoyable to read, it also optimizes your article for sharing on image-focussed social networks like Pinterest - which can drive a huge amount of new readers to you.
  • Write something your friends would like, and consider explicitly asking them to share it: Some articles do go viral after being shared by strangers,such as regular visitors to the site they are published on, but as a small publisher on a site like Devtome this is pretty unlikely. What is much more likely is that you write an article which your friends share, and that some of their friends subsequently share it, and then things just spiral out from their until you've got a viral hit on your hands.
  • Big is not Best: Many people on social media don't give the links they follow much of a chance - they want a quick hit that they can enjoy for a short while and then move on; they do not want to put a lot of effort into reading something. That doesn't mean you can't write longer articles, but if you do they should use short sentences, be broken up into short subsections that people can skip through, avoid long or obscure words, and make sure you don't require too much mental effort on the part of your readers.
  • Be Controversial: Obviously this isn't something you would want to do with every article, but good quality controversial articles can be very successful on social media, because even people who don't like your article will share it in order to express their outrage or disagreement with friends.
  • Represent something: people often share things because they feel that it represents their personality or aspirations in some way. Representing a particular spirit, sub-culture, or idea (or anything else) can really help - especially if it is something which would appeal to your own social circle.

Write More

One of the most important tips for being a successful writer, through any outlet, is to just keep writing. The more you write the more you will learn, and the more likely it is you will get that viral hit or that top rank in the search results. It is also a good idea to write your bad ideas - even if you don't end up publishing them. Sometimes the act of sitting down to write something can get the ideas flowing and either turn a bad idea into a good idea, or give you the inspiration for a better article.

This is one of the most important parts of being a successful writer, but it is also one of the hardest. When you have been writing for a while you will definitely start to run out of ideas - it happens to everyone, and can be really tough to get past. Here are my top tips for overcoming writer's block:

  • Stop trying: Sometimes trying to come up with a great idea for an article is like trying to remember something that is eluding you. What I mean to say is that no amount of effort will make it happen, but if you stop trying it will come to you randomly at some point when you are doing something completely different. I think this is because your sub-conscious mind is sometimes better than your conscious mind at this kind of thing, but as long as you are a making conscious effort you are preventing it from doing its job. As long as you maintain the intention to write more in the future rather than just giving up entirely, keeping that intention in the back of your mind, the ideas will start flowing again eventually. All of my other tips flow from this one.
  • Look for something interesting to read: Spending time reading interesting stuff by other writers is a great way to get inspiration, and can also help you to learn about different writing styles.
  • Collect hobbies: One of the best ways to increase the number of interesting things you have to say is to increase the number of things you are interested in. Making an effort to develop an interest in a broader range of activities can be great fun on its own, and is also a very effective source of inspiration for new article ideas.

Categories: Devtome | Writing

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