To date, my 1Password 8 article has attracted more than 104,000 views on Medium.
It has also somehow amassed over 932 hours of member reading time and earned more on the Medium partner program by itself than I usually earn for 20 or so individual articles each month.
This blog post consists of around 950 words and took me about 40 minutes to write. I wrote it, forgot about it, and moved on with my life.
Then, it exploded.
More importantly, it resulted in an interview with two figureheads at AgileBits (the team behind 1Password), personal interactions with founder Dave Teare, and an avalanche of comments from their incredibly passionate fanbase.
Here’s why I think it worked.
1. I was stuck for something to write that day
I publish five blogs every week and, trust me, inspiration isn’t always easy to come by. Even with a bulging list of ideas in the bank, I often wake up and realise I don’t want to write any of them.
That’s what happened on the morning of August 13th. I took one look at my list of planned articles and not one jumped out. So, I made a cup of coffee, flicked open my MacBook Air, and caught up on the latest discussion on my Discord server instead.
Everyone was talking about 1Password 8.
So, I wrote about it.
2. I sat on the fence
When I wrote my 1Password 8 article, I wasn’t a 1Password user (I’m in the process of switching to it now for a thorough test). I also had no strong feelings about Electron, the platform on which 1Password 8 is based, and the root cause of most of the backlash.
So, I sat on the fence. I gave some brief insight into the story so far, provided the simplest explanation of Electron I could muster, and sympathised with both parties.
If you’re an aspiring blogger, journalist, or columnist, there is nothing wrong with sitting on the fence. If you have no strong leaning in either direction but want to write about a highly divisive topic – do it.
3. I offered to help
I like helping people who have tech-based conundrums. It’s the reason I created this entire brand.
My 1Password article was no different. After my bout of fence-sitting, I decided to offer a couple of alternatives for anyone who had made the decision to leave 1Password.
The first was Apple’s very own Keychain, which is just about the best, most secure, and ridiculously convenient alternative for anyone who sits deep within the Apple ecosystem.
The second was a bit of a disaster in itself. I suggested that people should try NordPass as an alternative, which, as it turns out, also runs on Electron. And, yes, it’s subscription only, too (another significant grumble about 1Password’s new direction).
Alas, NordPass has been a long-term sponsor and supporter of my channel and that means a lot. I also like their software. So… whatever.
4. I thought (a little bit) about SEO
In a little over a year, I’ve somehow built a tech review brand with a combined monthly audience of around 78,000 people. I’ve done this without spending much time on search engine optimisation (SEO). At all.
I know this is silly, and I know it needs to change, but if my 1Password article’s success proves anything, it’s that bare-bones SEO is often all you need.
However, I admit that I adopted more of a common-sense approach for this particular article (which, I’d argue, is exactly what SEO is all about). I knew people would be searching for 1Password alternatives, and I had a feeling the word ‘disaster’ would be regularly attached to the situation.
That’s why the article was titled ‘The 1Password Disaster (And Two Brilliant 1Password Alternatives)’. For good measure, I lobbed the keywords’ 1Password 8’ and ‘1Password alternatives’ into the meta description and alt image tags, too.
Then, I simply wrote the rest of the article, and, clearly, got the keyword density bang-on – without even thinking about it.
My stats prove that my hunch was correct. The most searched query for people visiting my website’s version of the article was indeed ‘1Password disaster’.
To be continued…
The AgileBits team has been incredibly supportive over the last few weeks; I cannot speak highly enough of them when it comes to the grace and respect with which they’ve approached this coverage. There was no question screening before the interview, and even though I sent the finished version to them as a matter of courtesy, they didn’t request to see it before publishing.
Remember – this is a company to whose product I attached the word ‘disaster’ in my article title. Call it click bait if you like – I genuinely don’t care; I just wanted eyes on that piece, and they clearly respected my creative decision. How refreshing.
Attention is currency in the digital age, and the amount I’ve earned with my 1Password article really has taken me by surprise. But I’m not finished yet.