How To Curate Your Medium Profile
Keep yourself productive, sane, and noticeable
This isn’t a listicle about how to hack the system on Medium. No matter what anyone tells you, they don’t know how to do that. Neither do you. But in the absence of a hacking memorandum, these are some tips to keep you productive, sane, and noticeable on Medium.
This is how to curate your Medium profile.
Fix Your Bio
If you can’t even write a decent internet bio, why should we think you can write a great story? It’s like a dating profile with a nice photo that says, “Will fill out later.” Great, thanks for the intro.
You only have 160 characters to work with. You should be able to handle this. You are a writer, right? Listen, I suck at this just as much as you do. We are all pretty much terrible at terse dissertations about ourselves — the abbreviated humblebrag in all its glory.
But you can’t fail this assignment. It’s the only intro we have about who you are and why you are here. Just give us something to go on. Be funny. Be clever. Be honest. Be real.
Check Your Preferences
Or as Medium likes to call it: Customize Your Interests. Do you even know what information you gave the algorithm for it to curate your home page? You did, you just might not remember. You checked some boxes on topics you liked. You may have followed some publications. But after a year, your preferences have changed and you need to adjust them to better serve you.
Click on your face in the upper right and then go to Customize your interests. Can you believe all the crap you are following that you don’t even like? Same here. But I fixed it. Personally, I deleted each and every one of my topic preferences. You do you though. The only way I look at Medium is by using the Stream feature. You’re welcome. When you click that link, it will only show you the people and publications you follow.
But going through your Topics, People and Publications every three months will do you a world of good. It used to be impossible to fight off the override button that Medium presses that springboards all of their publications to the top of your feed, but now you can make a difference in what you see by checking your preferences.
Curate Who You Follow
Stop playing the game. Most of us have followed people in hopes that they would follow us back. But are you reading what they write? Are you following people that don’t even write anything? If you want to pare down the noise, curate who you follow.
The most I was ever following during my first run on Medium was probably around 300–350. But that made my feed look like the aftermath of a piñata explosion gone wrong. So I started to slice and dice. I may have gone crazy, at one point getting down to only following 10, but there was a method to my madness.
I think every once in a while it helps us all to go back to basics. To the beginning. To where we started. Just to see how we would do it if we had the chance to do it over again. Because you can do this with who you follow and you won’t lose anything for it.
Purge Your Reading List
How many stories have you bookmarked today? I get it. I almost needed a program just to cease my bookmarking habits on here. I was up to 250 stories in my reading list at one point. There was no chance I was ever going to read all of them.
The problem was that I wasn’t going back, from time to time, to curate my reading list. And because of this, I needed to purge it. And I did. To zero. Zilch. None. And it felt good.
Somehow those stories that we will “read later” put pressure on us like our inbox. The number grows and we feel like we will never get through all of them. And our Medium friends will hate us for it. But it’s not our obligation to keep up. Or read everything. And the more stories we hold onto, the harder it is to find the ones we are really looking for.
Evaluate Your Publications
How many are you writing for? In which ones are your stories getting the most reads? In which ones are your stories falling flat on their faces? It could be you. But sometimes it’s just not a good fit for what you are writing there.
I don’t know anyone who is impressed with how many publications you write for on Medium. So I don’t know why we all try, at some point, to write for so many. I was once writing for about 15. I am around that number again now, but I am constantly dropping them and adding new ones that are a better fit.
When I started looking at my views, they told me there was no point to what I was posting in certain publications. If you don’t evaluate your publications every once in a while, you are wasting pieces that might be better served elsewhere.
Track Your Stats
I didn’t say sit and obsess over your stats. We all do that, it goes without saying. What you need to track is what stories have done best for you, and where. Your stats page is sortable and you need to use that.
What are your top ten posts of all time in views? What about in reads? What about in read ratio? And fans? These are different statistical analyses for you to consider. And remember that fans are not as relevant now as they once were because people know that the payment comes from reading time, not claps.
High views and low reads, aka low read ratio, means you aren’t catching the readers like you thought you would. It might be worth another look. However, high fans compared to reads tells you that the story is doing better than the number of total views. Maybe that’s one to push a little more on social.
To properly curate your Medium profile you need to understand what is and what isn’t working for you. And your stats are where to find the answers.
Cut the Sh*t
Not all the backslapping you do to yourself on a daily basis. What you need to cut are all the bad stories you are allowing to float out there as part of your Medium table of contents. If you review your stats, you know which stories bombed.
Delete them. I once deleted over 200 stories in a single day. And it felt amazing.
Sometimes the Chucky-faced, basement-dwelling bastard algorithm is just playing with us and sinks a good story. But most of the time it’s us. We publish stinkers all the time. Flip your read ratio upside down and you will find them all. It’s time to cut the sh*t.
Why have bad stories as part of your profile? How long have you been on Medium? If it’s more than six months, you’ve probably learned a lot and also grown a lot as a writer. So why are you keeping those first ten terrible posts? And seriously, they were terrible. Pitch them into the fire and clear the decks for better ones.
Check Your Links
If you start curating your profile and your stories, sometimes there are inadvertent consequences that you need to be aware of. If you are like most of us, you link to other stories you have written inside of your current story. This is a great way to drive readers to similar pieces you have written.
However, once you start deleting your stories you will need to go back and check all of your stories to make sure you don’t have any dead links. Every six months I go through all of my stories to check to make sure all the stories (or other things) that I have linked to are still active.
It may seem unimportant, but if you recycle a piece or delete it, the link won’t work. And when a link inside one of your stories doesn’t work, the only person to hold it against is you. Maybe you don’t care as a reader, but others do and will wonder why the link is gone.
If you want to have a clean and seamless overall Medium profile, you need to check your links.
Link to Your Stories Better
This is way more important than you think. The story (I recommend only one) you link to at the bottom of your piece should be one that is complementary to the one your reader just read. There has to be a flow.
Because all you know is that they just read this one. So you want to make sure you drive them to something else they will like. And you don’t know what they like, other than this. Throwing a curveball here can be a big mistake.
I also think that linking to more than one story at the end is a huge error in judgment. You are just creating more work for the reader. Now, if they are even interested, they have to read through two or three headlines to decide which one is more relevant to their interests.
It’s on you to decide for them and to have the confidence that the story you send them to next is one that naturally flows from the story they just read. There is nothing better as a writer on Medium than when you see someone read one, then another, then another, all because you lined them up with similar content.
When you put three of four links at the end, it’s more like you are hoping for the best that they will read another. When you give them options, you give them more chances to get overloaded. Pick a story that naturally fits the current story and leave it at that.
Why You Should Curate Your Medium Profile
When you don’t, it’s just more noise. More people you are following. More in your feed. More bookmarks. More everything. More superfluous ephemera that you don’t even like anymore.
And the last thing you want to do when you feel distracted is to either read or write. Cleansing the palate every now and again gives you back control of your Medium experience (or as much control as you can have).
It’s not always about growth in everything we do. Selective reduction, especially online, opens up more time and mental space for the things that matter. And the truth is, everything that you are following and bookmarking right now doesn’t matter as much as your own creative process. It’s just a habit. A habit that needs to be broken. For your own good. To keep you productive, sane, and noticeable.