7 LESSONS LEARNED
Just one month ago, I wrote a story about how I broke 5,000 views on Medium. That was 2x the previous month. Now, I’ve doubled once again and broken 10,000 this month. Here’s what I’ve learned in the process.
I first started writing on Medium because, like most writers and marketers, I wanted to reach my target audience. To do so, I went where my readers already were — and there are many on Medium.
In addition, I didn’t want to be dependent on any one channel. While I’ve grown my blog to over 5k visitors per month from organic search, and helped grow other sites to even higher numbers through combinations of SEO, social and guest blogging, The Internet (and the people that use it) is always changing.
Meanwhile, Medium continues to grow it’s user base and doesn’t have as much competition for many topics as compared to channels like Google or YouTube. That brings me to my first lesson learned gaining over 10,016 views on Medium this month.
1. Determine if Medium is right for you.
Content marketing takes time. It takes consistent effort to achieve significant and sustainable results on any channel. Thus, you don’t want to spread yourself thin. It’s critical to determine what channel will work best for you and execute accordingly.
Here are three factors to consider when deciding if Medium, or any other channel, is right for you:
- Where is your audience?
- What is your skill set?
- How strong is the competition?
Your skill set
I’m better at writing than I am on video. I’m better at long-form content than I am at short-form content. Thus, Medium was an obvious choice as compared to Twitter or YouTube.
Are your customers actively searching for solutions to the problem you solve on Google? Are they viewing videos on YouTube? Are they reading and recommending stories on Medium?
Here are two factors to consider when determining if your audience is on Medium:
- Do other writers in your space have over 10k followers?
- Do other stories in line with yours have over 200 recommends?
These are just guidelines — not hard fast rules. You’ll have to do your research and use your judgement!
Personal development, a topic that I write about frequently, is quite popular on Medium. There is a large quantity of people who read and recommend personal development stories — so it’s been a great opportunity to get in front my target audience.
Here are some other topics that tend to perform well on Medium:
- Life lessons
There are more content creators than ever before. It makes it hard to stand out on established channels like Google or Twitter.
Fortunately, Medium is in a place where the risk of it disappearing in the near future is not high, while it hasn’t been oversaturated with creators the way Twitter has.
2. Understand how to get read on Medium.
One of the most significant benefits of writing on Medium is the network effect. Medium has a large and active user base, actively seeking new stories to read. But reaping the benefits requires more than just publishing.
When it comes to getting visitors from search, Google looks at factors like the quality and quantity of the backlinks you have, the quality of your content, and how relevant it is to the searcher. By understanding the Google algorithm, you can maximize the results you achieve.
Similarly, Medium has it’s own set of factors that determine who sees your content. By understanding where and how readers find stories on Medium and strategizing accordingly, you can maximize your results.
Medium wants to create the best possible experience for its readers. If readers don’t like the content they’re reading on Medium, they will leave and never come back. If they leave, Medium would go out of business. Conversely, if Medium provides amazing content to its users, it will grow in quantity and engagement and ultimately be able to build a wildly successful company through a number of potential business models.
That’s how incentives are aligned. So how does that impact you as a writer? Here’s the inside scoop, straight from the source:
“Every user’s home feed is personalized — it’s generated by an algorithm that brings them content they will be interested in.
When a story is published on Medium, there are up to three separate audience buckets it can reach.
- The author’s audience
- The publication’s audience
- The tag’s audience
Whenever someone recommends, responds to, or highlights a piece of content, that story is pushed to that user’s followers.”
By understanding how to get exposure on Medium, you can begin strategizing accordingly. The remaining tips are what have most contributed to my successes.
3. Write great stories.
Writing great stories is central to any effective Medium strategy.
If your stories suck you will not get recommends.
If they’re awesome, they will.
Pretty simple, right?
In addition, high quality stories can deliver more sustained results. Of my 10,016 views over the past month, only about 37% have come from articles published within the past month.
For example, a story I published a year ago still currently earns over 300 views per month — without any additional effort.
But simply writing great stories and hitting the publish button is not enough.
When people see your story in their Medium feed as described in point #2 above — followers of people who recommend your story, your followers, publication’s followers, tag followers — or outside of Medium, you want to make sure that people actually click to read it.
Here are two factors that can maximize your click to view conversion rate:
- An engaging title that displays the value the reader can gain and intrigues them to read on.
- An attention grabbing and engaging image.
Beyond writing great stories with great titles and images, there are a few more things you can do to maximize your results. The remainder of this story covers how to promote your stories — both on and off of Medium.
4. Promote your stories outside of Medium.
When readers find your story outside of Medium, then highlight or recommend it, their followers on Medium see it. In addition, Medium sees that it could be worthy of featuring more prominently to more users — giving you an exponential boost.
I primarily promote my stories on the following outlets:
- My social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook)
- My email list
- Reddit and other content aggregation sites
In addition, getting shared by other social accounts with large followings has helped me gain over 1k visitors within days.
5. Get published on big publications.
Simply put, Medium Publications drive distribution to two audiences rather than just one. Stories that I’ve published on big Publications have performed approximately 2x better than those that I did not publish on big publications.
Fortunately I’ve been published on 5 of the top 20 Medium Publications. Here’s a step by step on how I do it:
Step One: Check out “Top Publications”, a leaderboard for the top Medium Publications:
There you will find a list of Publications for you to choose from.
Step Two: Choose the right Publication for your story.
There are two primary factors to consider when choosing a publication:
- How many followers does the publication have?
- How relevant is your story to the publication’s topic areas?
Step Three: Craft a compelling pitch.
Publications include links to their contact information in the “About” box which can be found clicking “All stories” at the bottom of a publication’s homepage.
Here’s a pitch email I sent that landed me a slot in Better Humans, one of the 20 largest publications on Medium:
Here are the key components to keep in mind when crafting your pitch:
- Briefly introduce yourself.
- Provide a link to the unpublished draft on Medium.
- Briefly explain what the article is about.
- Personalize the email.
- And of course, write a great story.
That story went on to do over 1k views and 89 recommends within the first week of publishing.
Some publications will add you as a writer. Then, all you need to do is submit within Medium.
6. Use ‘tags’
Finally, don’t forget to use tags. Medium users follow tags based on their interests so that the stories in their feed are more relevant to their interests. By selecting the right tags, you can increase the number of relevant readers who will find your story.
When you click the “Publish” dropdown button on your draft, you’ll have the option to add tags.
You can assign up to five to each post. Best practice is to pick broader, more popular tags, rather than narrower ones. When you start typing a tag into the box, it will show you the number of posts that have been published with that tag in parenthesis. The more, the better.
7. Write regularly to increase your chances off success.
I’ve spent days on stories that hardly anyone read. It’s demoralizing. At the same time, I’ve spent hours on stories that have been read thousands of times.
The reality is, even with the best stories and the best promotion strategies, there is some degree of chance to success on Medium. Some stories will “blow up” and others will hardly whisper.
I’ve learned that to increase my chances of success, I need to make more attempts.
But that does not mean sacrificing quality for quantity. As you can see, writing great stories is critical to getting recommends and getting published on big publications — both of with are critical to achieving success on Medium.
I aim to publish 5 stories per month. At that volume, I can balance quality and quantity. Your balance might be different.
Views are great — but they’re only the top of the funnel. Most writers and marketers want more.
Next, I’ll be experimenting with how to turn Medium views into website visitors and email subscribers.