1. You get to decide what Medium success looks like for you, and your goals are allowed to change.
Do you want to earn $500 a month? Or reach 10,000 followers? Maybe you just want to reach so many readers a year. Pick a goal — or a series of goals — to help you focus on what you’re actually trying to do when you write on the platform.
It's important to understand that every writer's journey is different, and that includes Medium writers too. Don't let yourself be pushed into one idea of success.
Create your own way.
2. Always tag each of your stories in the MPP with five tags.
No, I don’t mean your responses to different stories. I'm talking about your real stories, the ones you get paid for. Make sure to give every one of those stories five tags to help your work catch more eyes in "related reads."
Personally, I tend to use big tags with more stories attached to them than niche tags.
3. Run your story through Grammarly before you publish.
I didn’t always do this, and yes, I did make a ton of swypos. Awkward. Grammarly won’t catch every error, and sometimes it will amuse you with unnecessary suggestions. But it’s a helpful line of defense at any rate.
Plenty of top writers on Medium are not perfect. I'm certainly not. But the use of editing software certainly helps catch little things your eyes keep missing.
4. Give your stories more obvious titles.
Flowery and creative headlines may not be your friend if you write a lot of essays about life and the issues that matter to you. My top performing headlines are so obvious they’re almost boring. Like “We Don’t Really Know Our Parents Until We Grow Up.”
5. Titles that sound clickbaity work as long as they aren’t actually clickbait.
Keep in mind that headlines on Medium are supposed to draw a reader in and make them curious enough to click on your story. That's why stories that sound like clickbait work on Medium.
Of course, actual clickbait stories are not going to be curated, and they're only going to let a reader down. You need to understand the line between sounding clickbaity and failing to deliver on your headline.
6. Use bold metaphors and make strong statements.
If you’re writing an essay on Medium with strong emotion or emphasis, using metaphors can work for you. Some writers shy away from these for fear that blanket statements might turn readers away. But the right audience will understand nuance. “The Fragile Male Ego Has Ruined Online Dating” doesn’t mean that all men have fragile egos. My target readers get that. So take some risks with your phrasing.
7. Recognize that Medium swings left.
Quality, narrative-driven stories and essays do well here, but I’d say they swing left for a reason.
He once said of President Trump’s use of Twitter, “It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that … If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.” He had believed that Twitter’s ability to let anyone say anything, to a wide audience, would mean that “the world is automatically going to be a better place.” But, “I was wrong about that,” he said.
Now, you might not be on the liberal spectrum of things, and I don’t think you have to be. But you likely do need to accept that your writing may very well be good for a specific niche — and not Medium members at large.
8. Give your stories a more hopeful ending.
It’s no secret that my work on Medium hasn’t always been so positive. I have written in the midst of great upheaval in my personal and professional life. I’ve opened up a lot about my mental health. But as time has passed, I’ve gotten better at improving my tone. Guess what? Hopeful endings fare better. Readers get more from positive stories than downtrodden ones.
9. Don’t try to be an expert here. Unless you’re actually, you know, an expert.
There’s nothing wrong with writing about the issues that matter to you, even if you aren’t an expert. The problem is when you pretend to be one. It’s okay to be honest about who you are and why you write what you do. Not everybody cares if you’re an expert, but most readers will care if you’re pretending to be something you’re not.
10. Learn how Medium works, and then work WITH it rather than against it.
If you want to be successful on Medium, but you’re constantly complaining about the rules and platform itself, you’ve got to question what you’re really trying to do. It’s much more effective to learn how Medium works and then work with the system instead of complaining that the system doesn’t work your way.