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My Medium Stats: A Journey

A look back at the long path toward feeling confident in my writing

I’ve noticed lately that many new writers are very focused on stats, curation, and how to grow as fast as they can on Medium. There is nothing wrong with this. But I thought I’d share my own story to perhaps put “success” into perspective.

I started writing on Medium in November of 2016. I needed an outlet for my anxiety and a way to get my comedy out there. I was feeling stifled by small stand up scene drama and was thankful for Medium and it’s many publications. At that time there was no MMP.

It was a simpler time.

After my first month my writing helped me land a couple of contract jobs. I still tried to write on Medium, but I took a step back as I ghost wrote books and did other odd writing jobs.

Once the jobs were done, I returned to the platform and began writing again with gusto, fitting time in during lunch breaks, commutes, and waiting for stage time to craft something people would want to read. For months I didn’t join the fledgling new MPP. I published in whatever humor publication would have me, and was thankful. After a bit of time had passed, I gathered a small group of readers.

In April I decided to join the Medium Partner Program.

Immediately I noticed a drop in my readership and stats. People who’d I’d come to expect to comment on my stories suddenly disappeared, driven away by the 5 dollar monthly fee.

The next month continued much the same…until suddenly a few extremely well written pieces got noticed and shared. This increased my reads noticeably and gave a (small boost) to my fan count.

In June I was excited to see my reads and fan count steadily rise. I was slowly approaching 600 followers and I thought I’d have a dedicated readership in no time.

Then…July.

Looking back I know that I was scrambling to fit in two summer jobs and only publishing every other day. Those posts I made probably weren’t my best and it might have been better to not post at all. When a reader comes to expect sloppy work (not the casual typo or the accidental sentence that didn’t get deleted from the draft but actual hard to read/follow work) they aren’t as likely to click on you again.

The following 30 days proved this to be true.

And then one post at the end of August kept me going through the rest of a a slow September.

September was an amazing month for me, and I was sure I was back on track.

Until, erm..it didn’t. I wanted to torch everything I’d done and give up.

But something in me refused to do so. While I wasn’t rich I had a roof and food. I just had to hunker down and make my writing more professional. Only a handful of my pieces were ones I’d spent a good deal of time on. The rest were quickly jotted down, riffed into existence. They were amusing but not laugh out loud funny.

If I wanted to be a humor writer I would have to work harder. And that’s what I did. Ignoring the stats I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

I saw results immediately. I didn’t dwell on them though. Experience had taught me not to get cocky.

For the first time I broke the 1000 fan barrier. My writing was resonating. People were leaving comments. This feeling of elation came from a mix of external validation and pride in my own ability to work.

The next couple of months continued to show growth.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “She must be rolling in Shannon Ashley cash!”

Absolutely not.

I saw a modest rise in payout, but as someone who writes short humor I am not on the receiving end of such pay-your-bill final MPP counts. But I got what I needed out of Medium. I had found a place to hone my writing and get feedback. When I have clients asking to see my work I can send them links.

As my writing has improved, and my need to tell more stories has grown, I plan to transfer these skills I’ve learned from short form humor into longer essays. I’m definitely slow when it comes to growth. Yet I believe I’m adding a little bit of laughter to someone’s day with my funnier posts, and substantial advice with the others.

This isn’t a race to the top, it’s a community. Admittedly there will be those who perhaps eschew interaction and still do well. But I believe that is not the rule.

Fight feelings of envy. If you believe someone else is stealing your readers you won’t find actual joy here. Ultimately I can’t read every post by the everyone I follow, but I try to make sure I take the time to stop by those who make this place feel special.

Special thanks to Zulie Rane, Mark Starlin, Bridget Webber, Sarah Lofgren, Mike Range, Iva Ursano, wow I honestly regret starting this list because I can’t name all the people who make me smile and keep me entertained during my Medium reading time.

And yes, I assign allotted Medium time because I would spend way to much time here if I didn’t.

Don’t be worried if you don’t get featured right away (or ever! I’ve never been) and just work on your writing. Keep an eye out for opportunities outside of Medium if money is the end-goal. I’m not saying you can’t make it here, it’s just a lot of stress to put on yourself and this platform.

Control what you can, your writing. Don’t worry about how much other writers are making, who is getting curated, and what the algorithms are doing. Find a way to stay connected to your readers and write what you want to write.

Most of all, take the time to find your Medium tribe. They’ll take away your matches when you want to burn everything down.

See! Now I’m getting mushy.


Thanks for reading! Follow me and Jane Austen’s Wastebasket to read daily humor and other fun posts. Also feel free to check out other things I’ve written via my profile page.

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