1. Use Medium’s Friend Link to share your content on social media.
Explanation: Medium’s Friend Link gives anyone access to your story — even if the reader is not a subscribing Medium member or they have already read all their complimentary stories for the month. You can share a Friend Link directly to friends or through any social media platform, boosting article performance.
2. Format your article title to meet Medium’s preferred curation style.
Explanation: Medium has laid out a number of guidelines for article curation. Use tools like The Title Formatting Tool to ensure your article titles and subtitles are in the proper format. Or my curation checklist.
3. When possible, use lists or bullet points to help organize text.
Explanation: A big appeal of Medium, to many readers, is the clean yet elegant layout of the text and images. One of the subtle elements that helps readers focus is the use of bullet points or numbered lists. These features help readers understand the flow and order of the ideas you present.
Medium Bullet Points, Numbered Lists, and Custom Lists
How to add bulleted, numbered, and custom lists to a Medium story
4. Pick 3–5 primary topics and write about those things for several months.
Explanation: Medium writer success does not happen overnight. But it also doesn’t happen to writers who erratically jump from topic to topic. To succeed on Medium, you need to establish a voice that readers become familiar with. Focusing on a few key topics allows you some freedom, but also allows you to build your credentials as a top writer in one or more Medium topics.
5. Read Medium’s monthly newsletter and keep an eye on platform trends.
Explanation: Medium has pivoted several times as a platform. It is important to keep an eye on the monthly newsletter to remain current on the latest platform changes and trends. It’s also useful to regularly check publications that track change on Medium, since Medium does not always spell out these changes, clearly. For example, I wrote the first article about Medium adding Alt-Text capabilities to article images, in my publication, Blogging Guide. This came nearly two months before this major update was formally announced by Medium. Eagle-eyed readers who took note started tagging their images and editing old articles to ensure they got an easy but significant SEO boost, associated with this change.
6. If you are looking for viral, front page success on Medium, focus on submitting high quality stories to Medium-owned publications.
Explanation: Medium has begun a clear shift toward featuring their own publications. While you can still achieve viral success through independent publications, it is becoming harder and harder.
7. Don’t let publication topics limit the scope of your writing.
Explanation: One of the great things about Medium is that you can write about a wide range of topics and find an audience for your content. However, this exploration of new topics may be stifled (intentionally or not) if you create a publication with a specific focus (most Medium publications). Obviously this is not an issue for everyone, but it is something I have noticed after gaining some traction on past publications — I started to think about what article I should work on next in relation to my publication, as opposed to just trying to create the best content, period.
8. If a story does not gain any traction, and you feel it could do better, there is no shame in reposting it.
Explanation: M̶e̶d̶i̶u̶m̶’s̶ ̶r̶a̶n̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶l̶g̶o̶r̶i̶t̶h̶m̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶v̶i̶l̶y̶ ̶p̶r̶i̶o̶r̶i̶t̶i̶z̶e̶s̶ ̶r̶e̶c̶e̶n̶c̶y̶ ̶(t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶t̶r̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶l̶g̶o̶r̶i̶t̶h̶m̶i̶c̶ ̶r̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶d̶e̶c̶a̶y̶). ̶I̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶l̶o̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶, ̶t̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶n̶o̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶m̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶r̶e̶p̶o̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶i̶t̶. ̶S̶o̶m̶e̶t̶i̶m̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶m̶a̶z̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶s̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶l̶o̶o̶k̶e̶d̶. ̶T̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶s̶a̶i̶d̶, ̶I̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶r̶e̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶d̶ ̶d̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶, ̶a̶s̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶m̶a̶y̶ ̶b̶e̶g̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶f̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶i̶r̶r̶i̶t̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶.
Note: Medium has since clarified that you should not be reposting articles, verbatim. However, if you make significant changes and improvements to the article, you may post it again.
9. Write and publish on a daily basis.
Explanation: There is no substitute for hard work and consistency. No hack. No shortcut. If you want your new and old articles to gain views, you need to write and publish on a daily basis.
How Often Do Top Earning Medium Writers Publish Stories?
Patterns in the frequency of article publication by Medium’s highest earning authors
10. Join Medium related Facebook groups.
Explanation: There are a number of great Medium groups on Facebook. This can be great for new writers with limited followings. It can also be a great place to interact directly with fellow writers and editors of Medium publications.
This group was created so that Medium writers could share their articles and discuss making money as a writer on…
11. Start building an email list as soon as possible.
Explanation: This was something I should have started sooner. Building an email list is critical because you don’t have the ability to easily and directly contact your profile followers. Even with publications, letters are not designed well, and only reach a fraction of the intended recipients. Do not spam your readers. I have unsubscribed from a number of newsletters that do this. I personally send out updates to my email list with Medium writing tips.
12. Claim your vanity URL.
Explanation: You can choose to have a random username (datl33tguy69) but you will be missing out on the opportunity to build your personal brand. Additionally, many top writers use their first and last names as their username. Not only does this look more professional, but it shows that you are confident enough in your content to put your own name on it.
Medium Profile Page
Changing your Medium URL, profile picture, bio, display name, pinning a Medium post to the top of your profile, and…
13. Write custom meta descriptions for your articles.
Explanation: A meta description (sometimes called a meta description attribute or tag) is an HTML element that describes and summarizes the contents of your page for the benefit of users and search engines. While meta data isn’t as important for SEO rankings as it used to be, the meta description still plays a significant role in on-page SEO. Medium allows writers to customize the meta description of any article, and you should take advantage of this feature.
14. Include a brief bio at the end of your articles.
Explanation: If I’m taking the time to read your article, I usually want to know your background or a little bit about you, as an author. That is why I choose to read the writing of someone new on Medium as opposed to a mainstream media publication.
15. When in doubt, keep article length on the shorter end.
Explanation: I love long, entertaining articles. Long-form content is an art. But if you are writing on a daily basis, most of these stories will not be long form. Try to keep articles, with a single main point, to under 5 minutes. If you are delving a bit deeper into a few topics, aim for 8 minutes or less.
16. Be aware of how your content renders on both desktop and mobile devices.
Explanation: Medium content renders very differently on mobile devices compared to desktop devices. While it is hard to make an article look amazing (with custom formatting) on both, it can result in lots of user engagement. If you can’t get your article to display well on both, consider reducing the number of custom elements. One of the nice thing about Medium’s simple, clean layout is that it by default adjusts very well to all devices.
17. Try to pick original pictures for the Medium article featured image.
Explanation: I see a lot of people using the same top images from Unplash. This is OK — but regular readers notice this. Try to find less commonly used images. This can be hard when you write a lot, but in my experience it is worth the time. Google’s search engine also rewards you for this if the images are completely original.
How to Choose the Perfect Featured Image for Your Medium Article
Medium story featured image
18. If uploading multiple images, try to make them multiples of three as this works best with mediums grid tool.
Explanation: Medium’s image grid tool automatically groups images, and its optimal display amount (over 1 image) is 3 images (or some multiple of 3).
19. Cite your sources.
Explanation: Medium may allow you to write anything you want, but readers are still curious to see facts, figures, and sources cited. Citing your sources is also critical for getting you Medium article curated.
20. Take the time to respond to all comments on your articles.
Explanation: Some of the benefits of responding to all comments are improved search engine optimization (SEO), the gratitude you cultivate as a content creator, and the unexpected advice/tips you may receive from readers. Maybe I will reconsider my stance on responding to Medium comments when I receive huge amounts of them. However, I’ve had stories do well in terms of claps and views, and I am still rarely inundated by comments. And after examining some of the most popular stories on Medium, there are rarely so many comments that you cannot take the time to issue a simple response.
Why I Try to Respond to Every Comment on Medium
The positive aspects of engaging with your readers
21. Fill out your Medium profile completely.
Explanation: Medium only gives you a very small amount of space to consistently promote yourself. Make sure you profile description is filled out and that you have a clear head-shot as your profile image.
Medium Profile Page
Changing your Medium URL, profile picture, bio, display name, pinning a Medium post to the top of your profile, and…
22. If you are reposting content from your blog, be sure that you understand the use of canonical links.
Explanation:When posting content to multiple platforms at the same time (such as your website and Medium), it is important to make sure a single source of that content is the ultimate authority. Medium’s tools for cross-posting (such as the Import tool) add the source it is importing from as the canonical link automatically. However, if you are copy and pasting your blog articles into Medium, it is imperative that you manually add the correct canonical link. Search engines use canonical links to determine and prioritize the ultimate source of content, removing confusion when there are multiple copies of the same document in different locations. Sites that publish an overabundance of duplicate content without indicating a canonical link may be penalized in search engine rankings.
Medium Article Canonical Links
How Medium article canonical links can be used when reposting content from your blog to Medium
23. Use alt text to make your images index better in search engines.
Explanation: Also called “alt tags” and “alt descriptions,” alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user’s screen. This text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website. One of the most important things image alt text can do for you is turn your images into hyperlinked search results — giving your website yet another way to receive organic visitors.
Medium Article Image Alt Text
How to tag your Medium article images with alt text to improve their SEO
24. When in doubt, press publish.
It is very difficult to determine which piece will end up being curated or appeal to a small but vocal audience. When in doubt, press publish. Even if your content is not perfect, this opens it up to feedback. You always can edit the story or delete it and rewrite it at some point in the future. Most importantly, several stories, I have considered not publishing ended up doing quite well.
25. Familiarize yourself with the Medium topics eligible for curation.
Explanation: For an article to be curated on Medium, you do not need to use the exact tag for the topic you want to be curated for. For example, an article on The Impact of Internet Marketing on X Industry, can include the tags: internet, internet marketing, technology, future, business, and it is still eligible for curation in Marketing (one of the possible curation topics).
26. Familiarize yourself with the topics/tags eligible for top writer status.
Explanation: Not to be confused with the list of possible Medium curation topics described above, there are currently only 73 topics eligible for top writer status. If you want to be a top writer you must use these tags in your posts. Using the example above, an article on The Impact of Internet Marketing on X Industry, can include the tags: internet, internet marketing, technology, future, business, and it is still eligible for curation in Marketing (one of the possible curation topics).
However, the views a writer receives through this article will only count toward top writer status in technology, future, and business, because out of the 5 sample tags, these are the only 3 on the list of 73 eligible topics eligible for top writer status.
27. Expand previous posts in scope and length.
Explanation: In my publication Paywall Hacks, I wrote an article which initially did not get a ton of views:
How to Bypass Virtually Every News Paywall
The definitive guide to getting around newspaper paywalls, adwalls, and annoying registration forms
However, over time, I expanded the post and it ended up generating a ton of views!
Medium Article Views: Long-Term Growth in Views Without Curation
The 10 month journey of a Medium story from 0 to 250K views
28. Use tools like Signal to automate the promotion of your content.
Explanation: Signal can auto-tweet your Medium articles (or any article, for that matter), on Twitter, according to the schedule you set. This can be used to promote new content or revive old content that has faded out of view on Medium’s featured articles, tags, topics, or publications.
Signal Review: Tool That Auto-Tweets Your Medium Articles on a Schedule
A look at the best tool to automate Medium article promotion
29. Utilize all five tags in every article.
Explanation: Tags are incredibly important for curators and readers to find your writing. Every time an article is published with less than 5 tags, an angel loses it wings.
30. Utilize tags in your responses
Explanation: Many writers do not realize that Medium article comments are really responses which are posts with a life of their own. Make sure to tag your responses. These are indexed in both Medium’s internal search engine and external search engines.
31. Write about at least one topic your are not familiar with.
Explanation: While it’s great to have experts writing about topics they know like the back of their hand, experts are not always the best teachers. Some of my most successful articles have been, more-or-less, the documentation of me learning something new. This is useful because it both provides the reader with concrete value but also ensures that you take the time to break down a process into its smaller steps, which an expert on the subject may not think to include.
32. Create publications that cater to your content.
Explanation: For writers that want to control the circulation of their own content, creating a Medium publication can be a great option. I’m a big believer in the idea that you should never let others stop you from pursuing your goals. So I started several Medium publications to better showcase my articles. While this doesn’t magically grant you followers, it does allow you to pick and choose which stories you would like to feature in your publication. Even if your article is selected for a major publication, it will most likely be pushed off the publications “featured article” section, fairly quickly.
33. Mention old articles in your newer articles.
Explanation: One of the best ways to promote old articles is to mention them in (relevant) future articles. This can give an older article second life and can be useful for a reader who doesn’t have the time to sift through you back catalogue of articles.
34. Submit your articles to platforms with a large but not exclusively based audience, such as ManyStories.
Explanation: ManyStories is not affiliated with Medium, but it does contain a large amount of Medium readers and writers. This is advantageous because it gives you a built in audience that already have Medium, while allowing you to promote your writing to readers not on the platform.
35. Embed content supported by Medium.
Explanation: Embeds on Medium are handled through Embed.ly, a dedicated embedding service. Embedly keeps a list of currently over 300 supported embed providers, which have been directly integrated with the Embedly service. Content from those services can be embedded on Medium. Embeds can add flavor to a Medium post.
36. The best time to start writing is yesterday.
Explanation: I started writing on Medium in 2018. When I saw all the well written and established content from 2013, I remember thinking that it seemed impossible that I would develop any sort of following or gain the exposure necessary to have an impact on someone’s life. Fast forward a year later, after a slow ramping up, I now write regularly and couldn’t be happier. You will always find excuses not to start writing consistently. I blamed the Medium platform. I told myself that I just “got into things to late.” But we can’t all perfectly anticipate the creation of a new platform. That’s why I would encourage anyone on the fence to take a leap of faith and commit to consistently writing on Medium.
37. Set realistic goals in terms of views, reads, claps, or curation.
Explanation: Realize that views, reads, and claps will very heavily by article, even for successful and established writers. Also realize that while curation is a great goal, there is more than one approach to success on Medium, and not all rely upon curation.
38. Utilize unlisted stories for content you do not wish to be indexed in any search engine.
Explanation: As I first noted in my article about “secret” Medium posts, you can publish an unlisted Medium article. Unlisted stories will not appear in the home feed, profile page, tag page, or search on Medium, nor will they appear in notifications or email digests.
39. Spend time on your article title.
Explanation: This is something I’ll admit I should work more on. However, based on articles posted by other authors and private messages with other top writers, I can safely say that many high earning authors spend a lot of time thinking about their article titles. In some cases, it may be as much or more time than they spent writing the article!
40. Increase your writing reach by posting your Medium content on multiple platforms.
Explanation: I had a post go viral on Medium that was primarily driven through traffic from a simple repost on LinkedIn. It took me less than a minute and the article ended up receiving over 30,000 views from LinkedIn alone!
41. Evaluate the existing content for a topic before committing to writing about it for months.
Explanation: Before picking a topic to write about consistently, it can be worthwhile to look at the existing content on Medium already in that space. If a topic is fairly saturated, your strategy should differ from a relatively untouched topic where you can quickly become a source of authority. You also should be aware of how many comments or claps articles in a topic are getting, to gauge reader interest and set your own expectations for success.
42. Utilize unique symbols, shapes, and characters in your Medium stories.
Explanation: While custom images and GIFs can prevent your article from rendering properly, special characters are a way to add flair to your article, that typically, display correctly. In addition to helping your article stand out, they can help your redirect reader attention.
43. Download and back up your articles periodically.
Explanation:Medium’s primary role for most writers is hosting their content. There is of course the hope that they help catapult you to stardom, but the basic service they provide for writers is hosting their content for free. And this is a great deal for many authors, unless the platform they have trusted fails, their account is erroneously suspended/banned, the platform itself is hacked, or there are any number of possible breaches affecting your data. While there is no point in worrying about these rare occurrences, it does make sense to keep an archive or back up folder of your Medium articles, especially if this is the only place they are hosted or saved.
44. Use images and GIFs sparingly.
Explanation: Images and GIFs can enhance the appearance of a Medium article. However, they also affect the page load time and often do not render correctly. This can be confusing/annoying for readers and can increase your bounce rate.
45. Do not expect the results of a full time writer if you are only writing articles part-time.
Explanation: Most writers who are extremely successful on Medium dedicate hours to writing daily. Many do this full time. You cannot expect to publish the occasional article and consistently make huge amounts of money. The only authors who can do that are people that already have large followings on other platforms or some level of internet recognition, and use Medium essentially as a syndication tool.
46. Track your stats and find out what day/time your followers respond best to your content.
Explanation: While Medium insists the time of day you post doesn’t matter, this obviously isn’t true. Medium only has 50 or so curators, monitoring the entire global submissions to Medium. Not to mention, each reader pool, if developed authentically, will have certain periods of higher engagement. Keep track of when you post articles under a similar topic. Patterns will likely emerge.
47. Use tools like Smedian to submit your articles to various Medium publications.
Explanation: Smedian is the largest community of Medium editors and writers. Writers can request to contribute to top and fast growing publications, chat, and grow their audience through writing tools. While it odes not contain every publication, it is by far the easiest way to submit content to multiple publications.
48. Personalize your posts with custom elements.
Explanation: Using consistent formatting, image style, colors, or even graphics can create a sense of familiarity with readers and encourage them to read your content more thoroughly.
49. Focus on building you audience, testing content, and establishing your niche for at least the 3 months of writing.
Explanation: Writing takes time. Regardless of what Medoum gurus say, it’s hard to gauge the potential for your topic/niche until you have consistently written for a couple of months.
50. Check to see if an author or publication is still active on Medium.
Explanation: Do not waste time or energy trying to get accepted to a publication that has a large following but ceased publishing new content months or years ago.
51. Use odd numbers when making numbered lists.
Explanation: Readers seem to gravitate toward lists with odd numbers. That is partially why you see so many articles which include numbers like 5, 7, or 9.
52. Never feel compelled to buy products to succeed on Medium.
Explanation: There are some good Medium resources you can buy, but you should never feel compelled to buy products to achieve success on Medium — there is already a wealth of free content available. And the number one tip always comes back to write and publish daily. There is no substitute for learning the general system and putting in the hard work!
53. Articles that are most successful are usually the ones you can tell the author enjoyed writing.
Explanation: People tend to value writing that they can see an author genuinely cares about. Whether its solving a problem, sharing a exciting experience, or celebrating a milestone, if you enjoy writing an article, this is typically conveyed to readers.
54. Do not spend all your time promoting your articles. Facebook groups.
This is a tempting trap to fall into, but while article promotion is key to success, you need to do so efficiently. That’s why I recommend free tools like Signal that help writers automate this process. If you spend hours on various Medium Facebook groups, you will get claps (through a sort of clap exchange with other authors), but those claps rarely lead to new readers outside the group and the claps themselves are typically low dollar claps since those writers are clapping for hundreds if not thousands of articles per month.
55. Update old posts periodically.
Explanation: This is something I am in the process of doing and it is easy to avoid, but I recommend all writers go back and update details and links that may have changed in their previous posts. I have created a number of publications and as my content library got bigger, I reconfigured it all to fit into new publications. This is a tedious process, and Medium doesn’t help by not having global text boxes, but it is definitely worth it. The last thing you want your content to look like is part of the larger Medium graveyard of abandoned series, publications, or user accounts.
56. Take the time to learn at least a little about Medium’s HTML Elements/basic SEO.
Google’s algorithm evaluates a number of “on-page” factors to determine what a page is about. These on-page ranking factors include the following:
- Meta description
- The content of the article
- Image tags
Medium provides writers with the ability to include a target keyword in each of these fields. If you want to generate huge amounts of external views, it is essential to optimize each of these fields.
57. Test your ideas on other social media platforms and use this “market research” to guide your choice of writing topics.
Explanation: Before writing a long piece on a certain topic, you can always test the appeal of a topic by posting the question on other social media platforms. I have done this with a number of LinkedIn posts, and even though the two platforms differ in audience, LinkedIn is a large enough platform that it can serve as a litmus test for Medium content.
58. If you are trying to build long term success, focus on Medium fans over views.
Explanation: Perhaps one of the most important, yet often overlooked stats is Medium’s “fans” metric.
Fans represent the number of unique readers who clapped for a story. Many writers solely focus on the total number of views, reads, or claps. However, in my experience, fans are probably the best proxy for successful content on Medium.
Views can be skewed by click bait titles or sensational topics, Reads can be misleading for articles that are extremely long (or very short), and even Medium’s Read Ratio can prove unreliable as it fails to account for true reader engagement. Comments are a good measure of engagement, but they fail to account for articles with large amounts of external traffic, as many of those users are not Medium members and cannot comment, regardless of their appreciation for any given story.
59. End your articles with a question or some discussion point to inspire responses.
Explanation: This is something I have not personally mastered, but I have seen others use this technique to great effect. Medium responses or comments, while not the best indicator of earnings, are a great indicator of how an article will rank in Medium's internal algorithm. By ending your articles with a question or encouraging discussion, you are building connections with readers and giving others an opportunity to showcase their thoughts and opinions.
Let me know in the comments section below — which of these tips do you find useful? Which writing tips you struggle with the most? What are some essential writing tips that I left out?
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Casey Botticello is a partner at Black Edge Consulting. Black Edge Consulting is a strategic communications firm, specializing in online reputation management, digital marketing, and crisis management. Prior to founding Black Edge Consulting, he worked for BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and strategic communications firm.
Casey is the founder of the Cryptocurrency Alliance, an independent expenditure-only committee (Super PAC) dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain advocacy. He is also the editor of several Medium publications, including Medium Blogging Guide, Investigation, Strategic Communications, K Street, and Escaping the 9 to 5. He is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.A. in Urban Studies.