There was a story I read early into my Medium days that changed everything. It was written by one of those highly successful guys that made it big after a few months on the platform (somewhat ironic now).
His stats were glorious.
He promised to give us the secret of how we could do the same.
And his advice made so much sense I felt stupid for not realizing it before.
This guy was on Google Trends daily. He would search up the most popular videos on YouTube and even surveyed Amazon to see what books were the most sold.
He was chasing topics that he already knew people were interested in. Afterward, he would write about these stories with his own personal spin. I thought it was brilliant. But in my own stubbornness and procrastination, I decided to hold off for a while.
Good artists copy, great artists steal
Pablo Picasso said that.
Depending on how you interpret that quote will tell how mature you’ve become as a content creator. If you thought “plagiarism,” then your head isn’t in the right place.
When I look at a quote I think, who are the people who influenced you and how will you demonstrate those influences to your readers?
We are a combination of our influences. Whatever you read, watched, and did as a child until this point has a profound grip on you.
It is you.
You say different variations of things from people you admire. Your creativity is drawn from films and books that have inspired you. Your influences are a jambalaya of external stimuli. We’re a product of nature and nurture.
I like to further that Pablo Picasso quote when I look at it now: Great artists don’t only steal — they steal from the greatest and most influential people on the planet.
Should you force yourself to go after topics that trend?
This is another misconception about going after trending topics. It doesn’t mean you need to force yourself to write about something that doesn’t interest you. Simply put, you can scan the list on Google Trends and choose something that you’d like to write about.
Think of it as a topic bank, not a list that forces you to do something you’d be ashamed of writing about. Think of what’s trending as raw data.
Tim Ferriss published “The 4-hour Workweek,” many of his fans were confused why he’d choose the name of his new book based on crowdsourcing several titles on the internet. What many didn’t understand was that Ferriss didn’t just pick random catchy titles, he picked the few that he liked and then chose the best based on data.
He could live with whatever title was chosen. He didn’t pick a trending title he knew he would hate.
Just like choosing a trending topic, it doesn’t mean that you have to write about Taylor Swift or Bitcoin just because everyone else is.
Scan what’s going on in the world on Google trends, YouTube or Amazon and go from there.
Other resources to see what’s trending
Here are some of the few ways I choose a topic,
- Sometimes I check on my favorite YouTube channels and sort through them by “most popular.” It shows what topics resonated the most with their audiences and gives me a chance to do more research and give my own personal spin.
- When I’m listening to lectures or podcasts and a moment or phrase strikes me as genius I immediately write it down and explore that topic. I do the same if I’m talking with a group of friends and an amazing idea comes out of the blue (I use the notes app on my phone a lot).
- I had a Bitcoin news aggregate site built for me for $50 on Fiverr to send me the most up to date trending news on cryptocurrency (which is one of my favorite topics to write about). Something similar can be done using RSS feeds.
The objective of all these methods is to let your audience know that you’re with it. They want to feel that you’re in the thick of what’s happening in the world. Yes, some topics are timeless — they do not have to be trending to work — but that shouldn’t stop you from writing about what’s on everyone’s mind.
There are plenty of articles I’ve written that are drawn from my own life experience. Conversely, many also start from a popular subject that I want to give my two cents on.
After you find an idea that you know will work because the data says it will make sure you come up with a fantastic title and fill the story with engaging content.
Use this headline analyzer if you’re unsure if your titles are any good.
Trending topics aren’t going to do all the work for you. You will still have to research and flesh a story out. But this method will go a long way to getting more eyeballs on your stories.