Being notified that I was among the top 10% of all the writers on Medium this year was one of the best Christmas gifts ever. I’ve only been active here for the last 6 months and that made it even sweeter.
Blessed with this gift that I received from all of you thanks to your attention and support, I felt that I have to give something back.
I decided to share the secret of my success (as small as it may be in relative terms, but nevertheless important and meaningful to me, who have only just embarked on the global writing and blogging path). So here it goes.
A good topic is the very foundation of success. Without a topic that will make people want to read your stories, not even the most popular publications can help you get thousands of view.
Check my previous post The Truth About Publishing on Medium for further explanation on how having your writing published in a popular publication might not be enough by itself.
Two types of stories get most views
1. Personal accounts about unique, true, and life-changing events
All of my top three stories fell into this category. Writing these stories, however, was not the easiest task for me. I had to relive the moments I would rather not think about ever again, but by doing so, I was also able to come closer to catharsis and transformation of bad experiences into something new and meaningful. I guess this is what readers sensed and that’s what made these posts a hit.
2. ‘How to’ posts
Posts on how to do or achieve something are in general highly popular and were my biggest success regarding recommendations. They are also close to the top of my most viewed posts. So if you learned something interesting that could be of use to others, share it and the readers will reward you. Recommendations are important not just because they make you feel good and give your confidence, but also because they will generate more views.
Promotion and presentation
Do not be naive and think that all you need is post your story and everything else will take care of itself. It won’t. Publishing in any of the big publications will make it easier for you, but it will not bring the desired results with no additional effort on your part.
Make your stories look nice, put them into a form that is easy to read, and then promote them. Start building your online presence. You need social media accounts and you need to use them. I actively use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and occasionally Reddit in addition to regularly posting on Medium.
There are others and you can use whichever you like. I tried to start with Instagram as well, but there are only so many one can handle reasonably well. Yes, it takes time, yes it takes effort, yes, organic growth is very slow and you have to work on it daily, but do not expect results if you neglect that.
Read and recommend other people’s posts
Medium is a community, a really nice community of many great and fresh voices, funny and amusing people. Just like it is important for to you to get recommendations, so it is for them. I have come across many interesting stories and writers I now follow because they recommended my post.
I make it a point to recommend what I like because people deserve that. They deserve and need encouragement just like you do and Medium will reward that too. One of the reasons why I came to the top 10% was that I not only wrote but also read, recommended, and supported many other stories.
Medium will reward you
My efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Medium Staff showed appreciation and gave me an unexpected boost. I recently became a recommended writer in the Life Lessons category. That, again, made it all worthwhile.
Write because you enjoy it and not just to be popular
It takes courage, persistence, determination, and, above all, love. I love writing, I always wanted to write and I’ve been putting it off for far too long. I was afraid of showing who I am, of opening up so fully, of speaking my truth no matter what. It was one of my nastiest fears. But now I’m happy and proud of what I’ve achieved in the last 6 months and it gives me hope for the future.
Write because you need to.
I have many posts that didn’t reach a high number of views and some of them have barely got any views at all, but I don’t care. I needed to write that, I wanted to write that and I didn’t write it just for the views. I wrote my least popular post because I wanted to share the best advice I have ever received and I wanted to share it because it did help me when I went through the grieving process.
My mother repeated it to me over and over again and it helped me survive the darkest moments of my life. It, with just 11 views, also became my least popular post — Take It One Day at a Time. There are topics people will not care about and will not wish to read. Write about them anyway. Write from your heart, write about what you feel have to be said, not just to please others.
And, yes, take it one day at a time.
Mateja started to write short stories at the age of ten and later became a freelance writer, radio personality, and explorer of the inner worlds. Her life resembles a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs and some pretty wild turns. Among other things, her car was destroyed by tanks, and she survived several brushes with death. She graduated in psychology from Arizona State University and is deep into the weird. Connect with Mateja on LinkedIn.