Do I Have to Be a Rockstar On Medium to Succeed?

Is it possible to have a successful writing career even if you never become a Rockstar?

Source: pxhere (CC0)

While reading this morning I came across an article by Vidhya Ravi called “Do you know who your real Rockstars are?” I’d heard the term used and had always associated it with those people who are at the top of a particular field, something like the top .0001 percent.

In the article, Ravi says:

“I realized that Rockstar was just just what the startup world was calling people that are good at their job (a.k.a. ninja or wizard), and if I did something valuable that was beyond the scope of my role, I too would be a Rockstar for a moment in time.”

She goes on to pose the question:

But did I have to be a Rockstar to succeed professionally?”

I began to think about this.

What is a Medium Rockstar?

I tend to think of Rockstars as the movers and shakers of Medium. I guess a more updated term would be “influencer”. An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect change or create new innovations on a social media platform because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience. They have a strong following in a certain niche, which they actively engage with.

These are the folks who start publications in their first month, run multiple publications by their third month, make four figures by their sixth month, have a gazillion loyal followers and fans with tons of views and reads by the end of their first year, and are talked about and interviewed on Medium. You see their posts at least once a day and for some of them, two or three times a day.

Can Anyone Become a Rockstar?

I think when we start writing on Medium, many of us have the dream of making it big. We read post after post about those who have become Rockstars and we aspire to achieve this as well. We try to follow their example and read every article we believe will tell us how to do this. We may start off slower, especially those of us not familiar with different aspects or areas of becoming a successful writer online or technical know how. But we still aspire to reaching the heights of the top Medium writers, and believe that we can. If we just put in the effort, we too, can become Rockstars.

When I started on Medium, like a lot of others, I had this goal in mind. While I wouldn’t say I thought in terms of becoming a Rockstar specifically, in the back of my mind, I still aimed for the top of the Medium pyramid. At this time, I believed it was all just a matter of skillful writing and writing topical articles that were interesting.

Of course, with time I came to realize I came to realize that what readers want is the answer to questions they had, advice for achieving certain goals including becoming a writer, and feeling like the writer understood them or had something in common with them. The want articles they feel have value. I learned the importance of engagement, self promotion, networking and collaboration.

Could I Actually Become a Rockstar?

At this point, things seemed to be going well. My followers were growing, as were the number of people actually reading and engaging with my work. I decided it was time to up my game. I knew from the variety of posts online as well as from reading the articles that were written by the Rockstars that there was a lot involved in achieving such success. I started making a list of all the things these writer’s do in their writing business and decided that if I wanted to be a Rockstar I needed to follow suit.

But the more I explored different possibilities the more frustrated I got. A separate blog, a website? Okay, so I’ve heard that blogger now can be used to create a website and I’ve used it before. Follow the step by step instructions in articles and on YouTube and. . . Yeah, that wasn’t happening.

Video was out from the start, if for no other reason than I simply don’t think I’ll look good enough for people to be willing to watch whatever it is I’m talking about. I’ve never been one for recording myself in any way, and when I was a dancer and had to review videos of my performance it would make me cringe.

Audio? Yes! There was a Google extension that let me create an audio version of my articles. I embedded these links into a number of posts, but didn’t really see much difference in the traffic and engagement for those compared to posts I didn’t include an audio link for. Unfortunately, for some reason, the Google extension lead to problems accessing and engaging with various Medium articles and publications. I deleted the extension.


How Do Rockstars Become Rockstars?

I started considering the tasks and endeavors different Medium Rockstars accomplish. When I put it all together it was impressive. It was clear that achieving Rockstar status isn’t easy. These writers do far more than just writing well and writing regularly. Gaining a large following on it’s own isn’t enough either.

I came to understand that becoming a Medium Rockstar takes knowledge of basic SEO, analytical skills to analyze trends and how content is performing on and off the site, a daily online presence and great networking skills. Rockstars actively participate in their niche.

Many Medium Rockstars also have separate blogs or websites and a number have published books. They have newsletters and email lists, sign up forms where they offer a free gift such as an eBook. They publish in different formats such as audio and video, conduct webinars and publish podcasts and may have other online classes.

Rock Stars have a marketing and advertising plan and self promote in different ways. They belong to several Medium communities, are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any number of other social media groups. They collaborate with other writers, have been asked to be an editor on publications and have started their own publications. A number have a Patreon or other crowdfunding account.

Overwhelmed much?

So I’m Not a Rockstar — Can I Still be Successful?

What I came to conclude from all the things I can’t do or at least not without one on one training, an unlikely possibility, was that I’m evidently not cut out to be a Medium Rockstar. Though I tried to convince myself I don’t care, of course I did. Everyone wants to be at the top or if not, at least wants to be able to dream of being there. I felt that it was clear that I couldn’t be.

But then I began to wonder about this. Maybe the problem wasn’t that I can’t become a Rockstar. Maybe the problem was actually that I wasn’t defining Rockstar based on who I was, what I was good at, and what I could learn to accomplish in a reasonable manner without becoming so stressed that I didn’t want to write anymore.

At this point, I’ve pulled back from other endeavors to focus on my writing, as this is where I think everything has to start. Whether I ever create a successful blog or website, newsletter, email list or the like, remains to be seen. These are things I can revisit in the future. Engaging with my writing and creating better and more useful articles that readers feel have value and that they want to engage with is my current goal.

If I can manage to achieve this along with establishing a regular audience of readers that continues to grow, along with my skills and my body of work by the end of a year of writing on Medium, I will have achieved what I have defined as Rockstar status. I know there are still other things that I can do which I will consider adding later. This may not fit most people’s definition of the term Rockstar but if it leads to a sense of success and accomplishment in my eyes, then I think that is what really matters.

Take Away

You don’t have to be a Rockstar to have a successful happy writing career. Holding yourself to expectations that you have to perform at the same level as the top few writers on Medium, when you aren’t comfortable with the tasks involved, will only make you miserable. If it creates stress to try to achieve everything that others have achieved then it won’t benefit you and it will likely cause your writing success to stall or even fizzle out.

The biggest roadblock to success for writers is not the lack of a newsletter, podcast or top 10 website, it’s the loss of the belief that they can become what they view to be “a writer.” It’s becoming jaded and losing hope and confidence in themselves.

The greatest rockstars, I think, are those who achieve the goals they’ve set that align with their skills, desires and knowledge and continue to grow, expanding their writing horizons in ways that make them feel fulfilled, accomplished and happy. This is the ultimate success whether or not it fits other people’s definition of rockstar. Follow your own writing path and you will find your journey to be a happy one.

Thanks to Vidhya Ravi, for inspiring this post.

You can find links to all of my articles published on Medium here. Thanks for reading!