I Got 1,000+ Followers in my First 3 Months on Medium. Here are 30 Lessons I’ve Learned.

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One of the first articles I ever read on Medium was Tom Kuegler’s 50 Lessons I Learned After 50 Months of Blogging.

It was both fascinating and super encouraging to me as a new writer on Medium who was putting his stuff out there and just beginning to build an audience (which is terrifying 😱).

While I’m no where near Tom’s level of success and skill as a writer, I have had a good amount of (very) early success on Medium and thought I’d share my thoughts and be similarly helpful and encouraging to anyone else out there just getting started.

  1. Writing success on Medium seems to adhere to The Pareto Principle: Nearly all my followers and views have come from a couple of my articles that went viral.
  2. Luck plays a big role, especially early on. The Startup approach me about publishing an article and it went viral (thanks guys 🤘)
  3. But it wasn’t only luck. If you write quality stuff on a good platform, you will get noticed eventually.
  4. Early success is motivating. The positive reinforcement and encouragement that comes from getting some recognition that what I’m doing is valuable and worthwhile is hard to overestimate. I imagine it’s easy to give up without it.
  5. Be consistent. I always write at least once a week, although recently I’ve experimented with shorter articles more frequently. In addition to helping my exposure, it also provides a steady stream of positive reinforcement, which in turn makes it easier to write more. Virtuous Circles 💪.
  6. Top writer status doesn’t last. But it seems to come back quickly.
  7. A lot of people won’t read a long-ish 2000+ word article. But the ones that do seem to really like them.
  8. Followers are important, but claps more so IMO.
  9. Views tell you how good your headline is.
  10. Reads tell you how long your article is.
  11. Claps tell you how good your article is.
  12. It would be nice if Medium displayed your Fans/Reads ratio. I’m much more interested in this than my Reads/Views ratio.
  13. People seems genuinely kind and thoughtful in their responses. But at the same time are willing to call you out when you’re incorrect or unclear. This is awesome, encouraging, and really makes Medium unique.
  14. Responding to every one of your articles’ responses isn’t that hard and has big benefits. I’ve had a lot of follow backs after a good response to a response.
  15. This is 2018. Use some emoji in your writing now and then 😎.
  16. My ego is the enemy. Most of my articles that have not done well have tended to be ones where I was writing for myself alone and not considering my audience. This is especially true with headlines — I tend to prefer short rather cryptic headlines but obviously more explicit and descriptive ones perform better.
  17. Find a few writers you really like and read everything they write. Tom Kuegler stuff, as I mentioned in the beginning, has been really helpful and motivating to me.
  18. Schedule a time to check you stats and try not to check them outside of those times. The Medium stats page is a black hole for time and energy. Don’t get sucked in.
  19. The front page of Medium is an okay place to find new content, but searching by specific tags is better, especially within your own niche.
  20. Just because an article doesn’t make a bang right away doesn’t mean it won’t be successful. My second article to go viral didn’t do so until about a week after I wrote it.
  21. Be a generous clapper 👏 👏 👏.
  22. Write thoughtful 🤔 responses to articles you enjoy. Ask a question 🙋‍♀️.
  23. I submitted 8 articles to The Mission and each one got rejected. Most were eventually published in The Startup where they’ve accumulated a combined 82,000 view in just a few months. I’m sticking with The Startup.
  24. Article formatting is important. Be creative but not eccentric. Clarity and engagement are the goals. Look for models in other writers who use Medium’s formatting well.
  25. Make friends on Medium 👨‍💻👩‍🎤.
  26. Medium still feels like a young, enthusiastic, and even innocent platform. Enjoy that energy and try to contribute to it.
  27. Commit to spending some time on Medium really reading articles closely and commenting thoughtfully. I try to spend 20–30 minutes per day doing this in addition to my writing/posting time.
  28. Take some time to study successful writers and their most successful articles. I don’t think there’s a science to writing popular articles on Medium, but there’s definitely an art to it. I think Nicolas Cole, for example, is a great writer to study.
  29. Use quality stock photography and always credit your photographers 📸.
  30. To really make it as a writer on Medium it seems like you have to have written at least one popular article about writing on Medium so here’s hoping you all clap the hell out of this one 👏🤞😉

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article consider checking out my site NickWignall.com where I write even more about how to apply psychology to work smarter at personal development goals.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 313,216+ people.

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