Effective Longform Writing


Boston Magazine published a story in October about how  a Massachusetts man became a millionaire by reviewing drugs on Instagram.

The story, titled How to Sell Drugs and Influence Everyone on Instagram, was written by John H. Tucker, who broke down an online steroid operation run by Baumann, AKA, @Musclehead320.

Baumann used Instagram to post videos and pictures of him reviewing steroid products as he pushed toward his goal of being 320 pounds of lean muscle. The products that he reviewed most favorably were his own, and Baumann quickly became a millionaire.

But his empire came crushing down as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security discovered his ploy.

Today, Baumann is serving 11 years in an Upstate New York prison.

Tucker’s style throughout the article was clean and easy to read. Each graph kept me wanting more, and despite my lack of sleep, I was able to continue reading without dozing off.

I found the layout to be rather text heavy, though Tucker did a great job separating sections using sub headers. The way the sub headers were used was unique to me because in all actuality, they were the first few words of a sentence in bold.

In terms of layout, the subheads gave the piece a much cleaner look, and did not waste space.

Another thing I liked about Tucker’s piece was the use of photos. Some longform articles depend heavily on graphics and photos.

I agree that if photos are used, they can help tell the story, but far too often, writers and publications rely too much on the graphics to tell the story.

It is apparent to me that Tucker is a good writer and there was not a single wasted word in his article. As a result, the photos were just supplemental. There was one of Baumann in prison that stood out, along with another consisting of vials of steroids in fried eggs.

I also like how Tucker ended the story. He talks about how the photo of Musclehead was posted on Instagram and how many of his fans were supportive of him being freed from prison.

But it also spoke about how one of the followers posted a way for Musclehead’s fans to get their juice from a new supplier. It almost acted like a “To Be Continued…,” or one of the credit scenes at the end of a Marvel movie. It ended just right.


Tucker, J.H. (2019, October 15). How to Sell Drugs and Influence Everyone on Instagram. Boston Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2019/10/15/instagram-drug-market/.

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