Technology and programming are two highly popular topics on Medium.
As a writer, one quickly runs into the problem of standing out in a sea of authors writing about technology and programming. So how do you do it?
Truth be told, when it comes to standing out with content there are a couple of key ways you can connect with your audience. One great way is to address common problems, like interviewing and growth as engineers.
Being able to write on these topics provides other people with similar problems and solutions. In general, this is what large companies do with their products: They find common problems and create solutions. It's also a great way to get a lot of traction as a writer.
This piece will go over a few of these subject areas as well as show some pieces that have done very well on Medium. We hope this inspires you in your writing!
One of the major problems many younger engineers have, especially once they get out of college, is getting a job.
This means if you write pieces that focus on interviewing or how you got a job at a FAANG or negotiated for a 200k salary, these will all be popular topics --- just based on the size of the audience.
This is like making a blockbuster film. If it's well done, it will do well. If it's poorly done, it probably will still do OK until people figure out it's terrible.
Here are a few examples.
"I interviewed at five top companies in silicon valley in five days and luckily got five job offers"
The first one that comes to mind is Xiaohan Zeng's post about getting five job offers in five days. First, the title pops out at you because it covers several hot ideas: Silicon Valley, Interviews → To Job Offer, and How-Tos.
Documenting how you got five job offers at top tech companies in five days is catchy, and it alludes to providing the answer on how to get an interview at said tech companies. Which, for those of you who recall being a newly graduated student, feels impossible. Thus, this was a very good piece with 52k claps.
TK [BP] Another great topic is focusing on what to study for interviews. I realized this when I kept getting questions about how I studied during my time interviewing. So instead of answering each individual question, I created a study guide that combined LeetCode questions, Youtube videos, and other resources I used to study. Yes, many people disagree with whiteboard interviews. But this is still the norm for a lot of tech companies. and a lot of people are trying to figure out how to pass them. So this piece did fairly well with 4.4k claps.
Most engineers want to grow and get better at what they do, so pieces that focus on tips and tricks for how to grow as an engineer often do well. Here are a few examples.
Patrick Lee Scott wrote a piece that got over 4.3k claps about learning five micro-service patterns that make you a better engineer. This actually checks two boxes. One, it ends up focusing on microservices, which are popular, as well as on the concept of growing as an engineer --- making this piece really stand out. In addition, the piece itself does a great job of helping people who might not have a lot of experience with microservices gain a good overview of what they are and how to use them.
Another article focused on growing as an engineer. What I really liked about it is that they took the concept of growing as an engineer and added their own spin. Thompson Marzagão focused on remote engineers. This is a great niche because it's very difficult to feel like you are growing as a remote engineer. Personally, I believe the author was empathizing well with the problem of growth as a remote engineer. The pieces where the author finds a common issue and personalizes it tend to do well. Generally, if I find that I am constantly asking a question, I begin to think about how can I make it into a piece.
If you have ever started a tutorial in any language or framework, you can understand why pieces that give an introduction to anything do well.
Generally, intros are easy enough for anyone to follow. They give a few examples and post some code snippets. They can be helpful but also somewhat distracting. Some of us even reference the state of constant tutorials as "tutorial hell." You can spend an infinite amount of time with intro videos and posts and get nowhere. But...the pieces still do well!
This first example did really well, with over 6k claps. All of which were well earned if you check out ConsenSys's piece on programming smart contracts. This is more than just a 101 --- the post does a great job of really breaking down smart contracts, building a basic application, etc. It also has a lot of great images that will keep you enticed as you are working.
Another great piece is this introduction to Git. This covers a topic that most any engineer or technical employee needs to understand: Git. For some reason, Git remains slightly confusing. Between dealing with merge errors and always remembering to update your version, it can get a little hectic. In addition, sometimes the commands aren't as straightforward as we would like.
This is why I believe this introduction to Git did so well. In addition, the author Vali Shah did a great job of getting images that really stood out. Having simple but accurate drawings that help consolidate information is always a plus.
Finally, pieces on problems that many people of a specific market face usually do well. This is why pieces that focus on project ideas are often successful too. They help inspire other programmers, even if they don't directly do the projects and use the examples as possibilities.
Here are two great pieces that got a lot of traction.
TK [dev.to] The first example I'm going to show is actually on dev.to and not on medium. However, it got a lot of traction there. Simon Holdorf did a great job of giving projects that would help you grow as a front-end. He did a great job providing examples, as well as pieces to help you finish these projects.
Again, I wrote similar pieces (and there are plenty of other examples) of just great projects. You will notice I referenced the resume concept again. My goal there was to try to entice readers who were really focused on getting a new job. At the end of the day, a piece is similar to a product. How you sell it is just as important as the quality of the product itself.
When it comes to writing pieces, it's a lot like creating a product. You either think about a product and then find a market, or find a market and create product. Whichever method you chose, thinking about who you are writing for is always a key step.
Just to clarify, there is value in writing technical pieces that solve very specific problems. Just don't expect them to get as many views as a more general piece. It's similar to the way some films, like the Marvel series, might reach a large audience, where more technical films may have better cinematography and acting but have a niche following.
Thanks for reading!
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