The first article I wrote after quitting my office job gained 440 hours of member reading time, 80k views, 1k fans, and almost 4k claps.
Here is a post-mortem analysis of the article.
What programming language has the happiest developers?
There is a lot of stereotypes in the IT world, like “PHP is the worst language” or that “Python is for beginners”…
What I did right
Before I jumped into being a medium writer “full-time” I wrote some articles on the side, but I’ve never entirely invested myself in it. The most-read article before that had 9k views and made only a few dollars. Only when I went all-in I was able to write this break-through article. It was literally the first article I wrote, the day after quitting my corporate job, completely dissolving my fear of being independent and confirming this is the right life path.
I had an idea for this article in my to-do list. I was a Java developer before and the idea just came to me. So I googled some information about the “happiest developers”. Then I used the research data I found and made colorful graphs.
My theory that Java developers are not very happy was confirmed.. and interestingly enough, the most highlighted sentence in the article is exactly the one that was the root of the idea I had before starting research.
In the first version of the article, I had bland graphs. They weren’t interesting at all and some of the first readers complained that they are hard to read. I made a new version of the graphs in an online graph generator. The graphs are easy to read and everyone can understand them.
I chose the title image with some basic psychology and marketing rules in mind. People are automatically attracted to faces, especially happy faces (look at any YouTube thumbnail, famous YouTubers over-use this). Then the image emits a calm feeling, being in a cafe with your laptop just feels nice. It complements the title of the article perfectly.
The language I used for the article was simple, using short and easy to understand sentences. I am not a native speaker so I used editors like the Hemingway editor and Grammarly to check for any hard-to-read parts. I’ve also used positive language and tried to be as objective as I could.
I have posted the article on Reddit. I’ve used the online app Late for Reddit to check the most viable hours to post. I also have a Reddit account with thousands of karma points, so the post had a better status in the post hierarchy (posts from new accounts are not as visible in my experience).
I’ve posted to /r/programming and /r/python subreddits. The people on Reddit are very negative, but that didn’t stop the article from going viral, quite the contrary (the law of anti-fragility).
The post got around 1,500 views and that caught the attention of the medium crawler algorithm that presented the article to the publication editors. The Startup’s editor contacted me and asked me to publish the article with them.
From that point onward the article started going viral, people sharing it on twitter, clapping, and following. 7 days after the release I got 20k views in a day. Soon I got to the top of Technology tag and with that, the status of top writer.
As I mentioned, the reception of the article was negative at first, but I didn’t let that bring me down mentally. Most of the people writing these comments took the article too seriously, and obviously didn’t read it to the end. It was meant to be a fun article as I am not a professional data scientist. But some people read the article like it was supposed to be a science paper. My point is — don’t get demotivated by these people.
But some people got it perfectly and were happy with the article :)