Have you ever started something only to find out later it was much harder than you thought it would be?
This is the experience most people have writing on Medium.
When you started writing on Medium you were anxious to see where it would take you. Maybe you can write a viral article, you think. So you hit publish on your first few stories and checked your stats every few hours. But you never got more than one or two views. You’re disappointed, but not ready to quit.
You start gaining followers, claps, and maybe even a few dollars at the end of the month. But after several months of writing and publishing on the platform, progress is moving at the pace of a snail.
You’re feeling frustrated, given the amount of time and effort you spend writing. Every time you write a story that doesn’t take off and lands with a thud, you contemplate giving up.
Writing on Medium and gaining traction is hard, and it’s supposed to be. But that’s good news for you because most writers won’t stick around long-term.
If you want to survive and have a chance at thriving in these parts, you have to learn how to play the game.
Writing on Medium is like learning Greek
When I was in seminary (which is a school for pastors) the hardest class I had to take was Greek 101.
Every seminary student is required to take Greek because it’s the original language of the New Testament in the Bible. But Greek is complex and frustrating. You don’t master it after a week, or even a semester.
The Greek class was all-consuming. If you wanted to pass, you had to spend your free time studying vocabulary flashcards and conjugating lists of verbs. You can only learn Greek by practicing every day.
After many hours of practice, you learned the rules of the language. Most people–including myself–didn’t stick around any longer than we had to when we learned how hard Greek was to master.
Why am I telling you about my Greek class? Because writing on Medium is a lot like that class.
If you want to find success here, you have to learn the rules of the game. You start with the basics and work your way up. But you don’t learn how to play the game by studying it or watching someone else play, you have to play the game yourself.
I’m learning if you want to make it to the top here, you have to dedicate an irrational amount of time and energy to writing.
If you can gut it out and get into a routine, writing on this platform has its benefits.
Medium forces you to be your best.
Like the Greek class I took, if you want to make it on Medium you have to put in a disproportionate amount of work.
You need to learn the basics of how the site works,
What kind of writing suits you best, and what readers look for.
If you aren’t writing every day, you’re not in the game yet.
It’s important to learn how to take your losses and rejections and keep on writing. I published an article the other day and it got 0 claps — that hasn’t happened to me since I first started writing here. I had to let it go and start writing another article.
I’ve tried writing and publishing a few heavily-researched articles, and I’ve also tried publishing an article every day. The result is this:
The more frequently I publish the more reads and engagement I get.
I’m a big believer in writing quality stories that add value to my readers. But I also recognize that quality is subjective and I can’t predict what will help someone else. I’m often surprised when something I think is obvious helps someone else.
My suggestion is to write every day until you can write a lot of quality articles with speed. Learn how to research, write headlines, and craft emotional introductions. But that’s not all.
Medium teaches you the art of detachment.
The stories you think will take off will probably flop.
I don’t say that to be discouraging. I want it to encourage you to write more. Sure there will be times when you know you have a winner and you’re right. But in the beginning, those times are few and far between.
As you write more, you’ll get a feel for what your readers want. But even the pros will tell you that you can’t predict a viral article.
If you want to grow as a writer and find success here, it’s important to learn how to detach from the outcome. What do I mean by that?
If you need a piece to perform well, you’re setting yourself up for pain. When I click publish, it’s out of my hands. I want everything I write to do well and add value, but I can’t control what does and doesn’t. I can only detach from the outcome and keep writing.
You don’t need to hit a home run every time. You just need a high batting average.
Succeeding on Medium is a lot like that first Greek class I took when I was in seminary — all-consuming. So if you want to build an audience and earn money here, I’ve learned that you have to give it time and lots of effort.
It’s hard to succeed here, but it’s hard to succeed anywhere. But that’s a good thing because most other writers will fizzle out and move onto something else. If you want any amount of success here:
- learn how the game works
- write often and add value to your readers
- let go of your need for your stories to perform a certain way
I’m finding that as I approach this platform with a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, and detachment from the outcome, I’m growing an audience and finding more success. You can do the same.