Why I’m Scared of Losing My Top Writer Status on Medium
I don’t know how I earned it, but I know it won’t last — and that’s the important part
Lightning struck last month. I had my first article curated by Medium.
It came as a complete surprise. After two years of writing on Medium, I had been published in six publications but I still hadn’t been curated. But on Dec. 10, 2019, I was finally curated. My heart skipped at least three beats when I read that email. I was thrilled. I made a whole $4 on that one article that first day. Since to this point I had only ever earned $8 in an entire month, $4 in one day was pretty awesome. As the days passed, the dollars trickled in. Then, Christmas day came… I had 1.7k views on the one story, in one day! I made $62 and I was completely blown away.
As is evident by the photo, one story has far outperformed the others. In fact, it has far outperformed anything I’ve ever written on Medium. It has also earned $600 so far. It was my first curated story and I’m proud of that. Then I somehow managed to make it happen twice more in December… and it has happened once again this month. Then the unthinkable happened this month. I became a Top Writer in one category… and then another. So how did I do this?
How to Get Curated
I wish I could tell you I know the secret or that there is a magical writing formula to achieve curation consistently… but there isn’t. Believe me, if there was I would write the book on it. What I do know is this: I wrote an article from personal experience. I then noted that it did well and it reached readers, so I began capitalizing on that. I continued to write about the topic, almost relationships, with personal anecdotes in each one. There does seem to be a correlation between being published and being curated — but I can’t confirm that. But the biggest secret? I wasn’t trying to get curated.
There was a period of time about a year ago when I was trying desperately to get curated. I was obsessed. I was seeing Top Writers Shannon Ashley, traceybyfire, Jessica Wildfire, and others in the relationship and sex categories rocking their stories out. Each one seemed to blow up. Shannon Ashley became a full-time Medium writer and told us about it. I was impressed and slightly jealous. I couldn’t seem to get any kind of response or readership, even when I was published by publications. So I took a step back from Medium writing. I ended up landing two serious writing contracts that paid very well, reviving my confidence and reminding me why I write.
Know Why You Write
This sounds so simple, but any writer can tell you, they’ve lost perspective at least once in their careers. There is something about making money from writing that leads you down the path of writing to make money. I certainly fell into this. The first month I made more than a dollar I wanted to make as much as I could. I also had dreams of being a full-time writer. In fact, I still do! Luckily, my day job is as an editor, while I freelance on the side, so I have been able to scratch my writing itches. But I still wanted to succeed on Medium.
I came back to Medium in December simply to write about what had been on my mind. I write to work through my thoughts, and that’s exactly what I did. I gave no thought to curation or even publication. So, when the article was published, I was thrilled. When it was curated, I was elated… and then I felt the desire to do it again. And yes, it has happened three times since. But then Medium labeled me a Top Writer in Love and I had a panic attack. A couple of weeks later, they made me a Top Writer in Relationships as well.
Top Writer Status Is Scary
There are 50 Top Writers in the Love category. I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of them, but I have no clue why I am or how I earned the title. Since I was never curated, something like being a Top Writer wasn’t even on my radar. Now that I miraculously earned it, I’m paranoid I’ll lose it. Or worse! Lose it and never get it back. I see my stories’ stats, and while I have a consistent flow of readers (I average about $25 a day in earnings), I’m not by any means a main writer. I post about once or twice a week and I’m not consistent. This flies in the face of the advice that says you have to write consistently and constantly push out content. And sure, maybe that works for some, but maybe you will just stumble upon the label like I did.
However, it’s the not-knowing how I reached Top Writer status that scares me. I don’t know how to keep it. If I earned it being inconsistent, do I need to be consistent to keep it? How do I dedicate that much time to it outside of my other obligations? Should I even care about the status?! I’m not sure. But I do care and I do want to keep it.
What I do know about the status is that my followers have grown as a result — I’ve basically doubled in the last couple weeks. I still don’t have many, but I have more that I had previously. Also, readers are reading several of my stories. I also have great interaction with my stories. My best performing story is almost entirely highlighted (to me, that’s the highest honor), and it has several responses.
These aspects seem to be what helped propel me to Top Writer status. I’m not just being read, but I’m also reaching people on a deep enough level that they feel the need to tell me and highlight what spoke to them.
So How Do You Do It Too?
Simple. Don’t try.
Write about what you want to write about. Be personal and personable. Share a piece of yourself. Respond to comments on your pieces and be sure to edit closely. But overall, write for yourself. If it resonates with people they’ll tell you and the rest will fall in place.
Desperation shows in our writing. When we’re writing to make money, the result isn’t as pure a piece as it is when we’re writing to write. After all, Medium is not a newspaper or a print magazine. The articles people contribute are their own. We aren’t trying to hit a sales goal, marketing contract expectations, or break into a new market. We’re writing whatever we want whenever we want to write it, and we’re making some money for the effort.
That’s what makes Medium such an awesome opportunity for writers. So take that opportunity and run with it! Stay true to yourself and the rest will fall into place.