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Where’s my Medium audience gone?

The strange case of a disappearing readership

Tom Mitchell
Jul 9, 2018 · 4 min read

Like any writer, I want my words read. Increasingly, though, I’m feeling as if my Medium pieces aren’t even being noticed. Woe is me, I know, but having braved Excel, I think this might be more than just a bruised ego.

I have an idea. I knock it out. Boom. Sometimes, if research is needed, it can take all day. A week passes and four people have read it. And one of those is my mum. (Hi, Mum!)

Maybe I’m not writing pieces that people want to read. I used to attempt more stuff with a tech slant. I used to pretend not to be British. Maybe I’m mistaken in not being more cynical in a targeting readers. But that’s the thing I love about Medium — quality pieces will often get seen, regardless of who wrote them.

Looking at this year’s statistics, however, I’m not entirely sure that readers customarily notice that I’ve published something new, regardless of how crap/British it might be. I’m throwing messages-in-bottles into a sea of messages-in-bottles.

Something changed

Knowing nothing about technology, I’m inclined to blame an algorithm for my shrinking readership. Or is this lessening a consequence of Medium pivoting to a curated platform in which professional writers/publications are given precedence?

I don’t know. Do you?

Have you experienced the same? Are you finding the hits fewer and far between?

(These aren’t rhetorical questions.)

Numbers

I decided to study my ‘views’ stats. I thought this was the best way of judging to what extent possible readers were fading away. I can understand that many might not finish an article, for whatever reason, and fewer might decide to clap it. Fair enough.

But I wanted to know if there was a trend for eyes on the pieces in the first place. As an English grad, I realise this might not be the best approach, but I managed to produce a graph with Excel, so give me that.

Here’s that graph charting average views per month in 2018 so far — the numbers on the x axis representing the calendar months and the Y axis being the average views.

As you can see, something happened in April (4) to disrupt what is, otherwise, a fairly obvious downward trend. (Note — I have included two stories published this month, July, that may get more views.)

What happened in April is that I scored a 10,000+ piece — not huge numbers in the ‘Here’s 8 Things to Do in the Morning to Get Rich’ class, but good for me and something that happened every so often in 2016 and 2017.

I also wrote more pieces in April than any other month this year. For reference, the numbers are as follows:

Jan — 9

Feb — 8

March — 8

April — 14

May — 12

June — 11

July — 2 (so far!)

Perhaps, therefore, the key is to churn out as much content as possible, in the hope that one hits. That said, May and June weren’t too far behind April and nothing did particularly well in those months.

I also plotted a graph for total views per month and it follows a similar path, albeit with a more dramatic April bump.

So what?

If not for the Medium Partner Programme, I’d be seriously considering whether I’d be better off pitching ideas to websites that don’t pay but have larger audiences.

Having written for Vice, Huffington Post, ScaryMommy, Thought Catalog, etc, I quit emailing ideas out because of the amount of fun I was having with Medium. But if my audience continues to nosedive, there’ll come a point where there’ll be no reason to hang around.

This would make me sad. Medium have been great to me. Really supportive and encouraging. I’ve really enjoyed writing on their platform.

But the numbers don’t lie and something’s happening.

Enough about me

I don’t ask for your pity, I ask for your experience.

Do you recognise any of this? Do you have advice? Or, as I mentioned at the start of this, is this a simple case of me having to do better?

Let me know.

(And I half-hope that nobody reads this piece — the irony, at least, will make the fiddling around with Excel worthwhile.)

Tom Mitchell

Written by

Full-time father, part-time writer | Debut YA out March 2019 with HarperCollins Children's

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