The Best Way to Recycle Your Undervalued Stories

Repurposing the Works Shunned By the Medium Algorithm

Photo by Fredrick Kearney Jr on Unsplash

Have you ever thought you really nailed it when you clicked publish on Medium?

Only to be monumentally disappointed with your statistics. How is no one reading this gem?

Have you blamed it on the algorithm? Or the publication? Or the fact that all of your pending pieces to publications got published at the exact same time?

Or maybe your popularity has soared and there are some good pieces from your first couple months on Medium that no one even knows about.

It happens to all of us.

Here is a good way to appropriately recycle your hidden gems:

Step 1: Check the Stats

Go to your Stats page on Medium. Go under the bar graph and click on Views. Now click on Views again to see your posts that literally no one has read.

Stop and evaluate.

“Sometimes when people ask you to do things you think you are above, you need to evaluate why you think you are above it.”
— Monica Johnson

Some of these posts might just suck. We aren’t infallible. We produce some outright garbage on occasion.

Some of these posts were from our first week. Some were posted in the wrong publication. Some were posted at the wrong time (no one knows when the right time is by the way).

But some missed their calling. Because they are awesome. And 12 views, 4 reads and 1 fan is an umbrage to them.

Let’s focus on those.

Step 2: Read It Again

Go to the neglected prize of a story by clicking View Story right underneath it.

Read it again. Critically. Is it as good as you remembered? How can you make it better?

Give an aesthetic once over again. Critically. How does it look to the reader? Enough breaks? Need another image?

If you still love it, it’s time to get to work on repurposing it.

Photo by Connor Limbocker on Unsplash

Step 3: Copy It and Start Over

Note: I don’t suggest editing it where it lies. Because it won’t be unveiled back to your readers that way. It will just be an edited version in hiding. And then what’s the point of all this? It needs to be published anew to make this work.

So let’s copy it. So we can start over.

  • Go to the top and highlight everything from the main title to the very bottom of the post.
  • Open a new window and go to Medium. Create a new story.
  • Go to the main title line and paste the entire old story here.

Your journey to let the world view your shy darling has really begun.

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”
— Guy Finley

Step 4: Remove from Publication* and Delete the Old Story

This is a touchy area for some. I’m not sure why.

This is also a personal preference of mine based on my background and my understanding of SEO and audience dynamics.

Where Was This Published?

If it was not in a publication, move down to the next step.

*Removing a story from a publication is a debated topic. Some publications, in their submission guidelines, let you know that once submitted, the story can not be removed.

Personally I don’t agree with this, but I respect doing what you signed up to do. If you agreed to those terms then it is on you. But I don’t like anyone telling me what I can do with my writing. That’s just me.

If it has 10 views in a publication, they aren’t going to miss it. And one of the goals of publishing in a publication in the first place is an upgraded viewership. Could be a good time to let the editor know what you are thinking. Maybe they are open to you pulling it and resubmitting it.

If it got a ton of views, I think it should rightfully remain in the publication. That’s just fair to me.

Keeping the Old Story vs. Deleting It

Here is another divergence. I have heard people on here say (write) that it’s ok to republish the same article, verbatim. But I don’t agree with that at all.

At the very least, if you felt that was the right way, you should include an “originally published here on insert date” line.

For me, it’s about overall author presentation. I don’t want the exact same piece floating around on the Internet twice. Not just for SEO, but for how it looks.

When you publish the same article in 10 places it just seems like overkill. It smacks of a disrespect to the 10 places who, at least some, were expecting original works.

“Sometimes you have to delete characters from a scene just to keep from overcrowding the image.”
— Scott Westerfeld

So once I have copied over the article, I delete the old one. Poof. It’s gone. Those 10 views are history. And no one will miss it.

Again, it’s a personal preference of mine to have one work out there. If you differ, that’s your bag. No problem.

P.S. — I also feel that deleting the old post removes the old juju from it. Are you a believer in bad juju?

Courtesy of Urban Dictionary.
Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Step 5: Edit the Entire Work

Don’t just republish the whole thing. Give it a new look. A full once over.

Swap out the images. Add some different quotes. See what might have been your fault in its algorithmic hiding.

Adjust the title. Or at least investigate the title and sub-title to see if it fits what you wrote.

“A lot can change in the editing room.”
— Diane Lane

Make this a brand new piece. A better one.

And if it is brand new and you like to keep the old ones then you have served both well.

Step 6: Decide What To Do With It

“Most of the time, as an artist, I can be self-indulgent, fulfilling my own impulses, embracing imagery that contains poetry on my own terms, without immediate regard to an audience or the particular placement of my finished work.” — Clifford Ross

You have a second chance now. Maybe you are a much wiser Medium writer. Maybe you are writing for several publications. So you have different options than you did when this post was first published.

Use them. Find the right spot for this post. So it gets the eyes you think it deserves.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

You lose the ten views and the one published story? No loss there.

How It Has Worked For Me

Everyone has their own process, but this one has worked well for me. When I started writing on Medium, my articles were just long paragraphs and a lot of text. Not a lot of breaks.

And I had no followers!

Now I am much more cautious of presentation. I include quotes and images that complement the story, not take away from it. And sometimes I use them as a joke.

I used this process to take some of my first posts and repurpose them to my now wider audience.

I just took one this morning that had only 10 views and reworked it for a new publication.

On days when you just can’t get an idea out of your head and onto the screen, try this.

This Process is the Best When You are Stuck

Can’t write? Feeling blocked? Not feeling your best today?

Use an old and undervalued story to create a new one.

No blank slate. Just a lowly viewed one. That needs you.

And you can fix it. And eradicate that feeling of not being a productive writer today. Or the feeling of a story lost.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash