The One Factor That Keeps My Stats Afloat on Medium

Photo by Callie Morgan on Unsplash

I started writing on Medium in May 2017. Since then, I wrote more than 70 stories, which gave me the possibility of good feedback on the platform and blogging.

I’m not a successful author. My stories are usually appreciated (one got 28 fans on 28 reads, and I suppose that means something) but only three of them got above 50 fans.

Having only 470 followers, there is only one factor that keeps my stats afloat. When I miss it, my stats are reset.

The quality

In my first posts, I made many mistakes. I’m not a native English speaker and I wasn’t used to blogging.

Then I began to adapt my writing to the purpose and in a few posts I started to have some stories that could interest someone.

Considered that I had to learn, my focus was entirely on quality, even if maybe the results were not so good. And I kept that attitude. I don’t compromise on quality. Or, at least, that’s what I try.

But quality alone comes with a problem, especially when you build your Web identity from scratch. Nobody sees you. Nobody read my 40th story in the 24 hours following the publication. Or my efforts on quality have not worked (but some of my stories got decent feedback), or quality alone is not enough.

The hacking

Your quality alone doesn’t walk. It needs legs to travel the world. It needs visibility.

Along with commenting/reading and connecting with other authors — habits that I already had — I started to properly tag my stories and even my comments, to cross-link my stories, to submit to publications, to moderately promote, and to have periods of boosted productivity, up to 15 stories per month. That is, to play the Medium game.

I had mixed results. Everything you do with the purpose of visibility matters. Inbound links and Medium picking are gold, of course, but, when you are nobody, you can put them in the “luck” category.

But, given the mixed results, it was not clear for me which factor was the key for my stats, and, particularly, for supporting my stories in the eyes of the Medium engine.

Frequency is one of the most popular advice. But my story with the best feedback, also picked by Medium, came after 12 days since my last previous story. And other stories with good feedback — not picked by Medium — had a similar background. Even frequency matter only up to a point.

The weakness or absence of any single factor has an influence but doesn’t flatten my stats. None of the visibility factors is strictly necessary, in my case.

Except for one.

The key factor

If I stay 5 days without reading and interacting on Medium, my stats inexorably drops to almost zero, no one digs my previous stories, and no new follower arrives. My history here on Medium — 5 Top Writers included — doesn’t count at all.

Have a look at the period in the red square, here below. It was when I stayed away from Medium for 6 days.

This pattern repeated many times, with no exception. No clapping/commenting for days, no stats. Even 24 hours are sometimes enough to disappear. I restart reading and the bell magically turns into a green circle again.

Being present on Medium — call it interacting or consuming — is what keeps my stats afloat.

It can seem obvious, as commenting means being visible, but not too much for me.

How come my history doesn’t count at all, and I have to continuously feed Medium with claps and comments?
How come none of my stories are seen by Google (just look at the referrers of your stories…) and nobody sees my stories the second I step away from Medium?

I have an external blog. It’s not successful and it’s not updated. But I have dozens of monthly views on old stories, coming from organic search. On Medium, after few days, my story is gone. If I don’t clap/comment continuously, the whole of my stories is gone. And the number of my followers stops growing. Sometimes I have the impression that just reading/clapping suddenly unlocks views and notifications.

Of course, that’s me. If you have a big audience (at least some thousands) you may have a critical mass that sustains your stats even without clapping/commenting daily. If you publish daily maybe it works too (but don’t count on that…). And maybe some of your stories are seen by Google, or you have good referrals. But if you are a half thousand followers guy, like me, you have to clap/comment daily, if you want the green stats and the notifications.

Have a look at my stats around the end of the year.

I published 7 stories in the second half of December and 6 in the first half of January. But while I posted only 35 comments in the December fortnight, I posted 88 comments just in the first half of January. And that was what kept my stats afloat, and the number of my followers growing (unfortunately I didn’t track that, but the rate approximately followed stats).

It was Christmas, it’s not scientific, okay. But I’ve experienced that pattern more times, and I’m sure you have too.

Also, 13 stories in a 30 days window and only 3662 views. And most of these views came from my comments. The views on my stories added up to a shameful 563. Less than 20 per day. More or less as the previous months.

1 part of my stats is generated by stories, 5.5 parts by comments. After 8.5 active months on Medium.

Why it concerns me?

Your history on Medium is just that: history.

The only things you’ll bring with you are your follower’s number, the references to your stories, your mailing list (if you have one), and few human connections (for a while). Unless you’re already popular or continuously active on the platform, your previous stories are usually doomed; invisible on Medium and extraordinarily invisible to Google. And your follower’s number won’t grow.

Despite the many quality metrics Medium has at disposal, the Medium engine is mostly tuned for channeling only fresh content to users.

And, of course, is tuned for prioritizing fresh engagement. They want you to stay on Medium. Daily. Not surprising, after all, right?

Just a confirmation that if you don’t take care of your stories yourself, nobody will do that for you.