How to get a million readers

An editorial success-story by Arthur del Marmol

Applying for an internship at MakeSense sounded like a good idea. Well, that was before I was asked to create a guide with nothing else but Post-its for weapons.

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According to my Smartphone, the sun wasn’t supposed to shine on this 8th of February 2016. Luckily, Android was wrong (again) as I was seeing the light shining on Paris. “Good thing!” I thought, I’m going to need every support available for my first mission as the new content editor for MakeSense: creating a guide that will help the MakeSense Community write their stories. That’s right, a recipe for the sense cookers, a bible for the sense believers and an instruction manual for the sense builders. I was already feeling my ego as a communicator skyrocketing… Yep, I studied communication in Belgium, and I joined the MakeSense team believing I could make a difference by communicating on those projects. For now I’d say: so far, so good.

The thing is, when you think about it, by the time you’ll read this post, a thousand more stories will be published on medium and only 5% of them will get the attention they deserve… So we went, Hanieh (and her YogiTea), Simon (a Johnny Hallyday fan #notsafeforwork) and me (the Belgian intern), for a meeting, discussing what we should integrate into this guide, so that MakeSense stories would make it to this top 5%.

So first, when Hanieh said: “Grab some Post-its!”,

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I was thinking to myself: “How is this EVER going to help?” But then ideas quickly crossed my mind and here is what we found out:

  • Every good story has a crazy title (and a memorable ending) — It’s all about getting your reader’s attention, especially when they scroll down their endless Facebook wall full of “cute baby panda eating cookies” videos… (Don’t click! I know you want to, but don’t.)
  • Your voice is unique, we’d like to hear it! — Write your story in first person.
  • Quit writing to everyone! Picture yourself talking to that one single person you really need to convince.
  • Your paper must contain at least 3 elements:
    1. Emotions: What you lived and felt. Try to appeal to the emotions/senses of your reader by making it personal: What struck you ? What situation were you in? What did you want to do and why?
    2. Facts and concepts: Give your story universal appear. What is your story all about? Is it solidarity, engagement, innovation? You can give illustrations/examples, stats to support your ideas. Explain what you feel is the moral behind your story and what you learned from it.
    3. Call to action: You want your story to have IMPACT, so don’t hesitate to give concrete links and challenges for your reader!
  • Put elements to illustrate your story (pictures, GIF, links, quotes, etc.)
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  • Be direct and avoid jargon (even though you met those *Gangsters at the *Hotspot having an amazing *SenseDrink during the *SenseMorning!)
  • Unleash your sense of creativity and humor It’s good for your reader’s health.
  • Summarize your ideas — It’s okay to have big ideas, it’s not okay to write big sentences.
  • Be conversational —Your reader should follow your train of thought.

In other words, be funny, be creative, be smart (we know you are) and don’t hesitate to use images and crazy metaphors! If you really struggle getting your paper done, don’t worry, we’ll help you finish the job.

Oh and one last thing…

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The size of your article doesn’t matter. Short is cool. Green is sexy.

So you guessed it, that was a hell of a brainstorming. But the thing is that I kind of lost myself in all of those Post-its and ideas that I couldn’t put my mind straight. Those people I met working at MakeSense have in common that they get too many ideas at the same time, and their community tends to share this characteristic. Actually, when we were discussing this guide, a new member came to us speaking about sociology, then democracy, then entrepreneurial hierarchy…

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” A. Einstein

But I guess this is what MakeSense is all about, sharing thousands of ideas a minute, meeting hundreds of people adding themselves thousands more ideas, and you, the poor dude trying to clear your head to produce something consistent. So now that it’s done, I want you, dear reader looking for success, to go ahead and find in this expert (debatable) guide, an inspiring story for your own to write. And if you’re looking for an example of those guidelines in action, you have one under your nose…


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All the very best,

Arthur, Sense(almost)Maker

Editor’s note: This guideline tried to stick to it’s own standards as much as possible: links, pie charts, gifs, puns intended, quirkiness, conversational tone with you… My dear reader, I opened my heart to you, now it’s your turn. I can’t wait to read your marvelous articles!

Want to write/share about social change
and powerful stories?
Get in touch with Arthur

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makesense est une communauté internationale de citoyens, d’entrepreneurs et d’organisations qui résolvent ensemble les défis sociaux et environnementaux

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