My First Story on Medium Went Viral

SG Buckley
The Startup
Published in
3 min readDec 19, 2020

Stephanie Gruner Buckley

Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor. Pre-Covid, business was good. Then the virus struck and my work disappeared, or was offered at dramatically reduced rates.

Each day, I scrolled through my LinkedIn contacts and sent pitches to drum up work. Nada.

One day on LinkedIn, I scrolled by Steve LeVine, a former colleague, and Editor at Large at Medium. I’d been meaning to look into Medium. I love writing, but hate pitching, and wanted a respectable place to self-publish.

I reached out to Steve. He asked if I had a particular focus area, and encouraged me to pitch various Medium publications. I decided to write about parenting (my primary occupation) and chose a subject foremost on my mind: my daughter’s iPhone obsession and how much she’d changed as a result of using — and us letting her overuse — the device. I called the story: My Daughter was a creative genius, and then we bought her an iPhone.

Modern Parent posted it on November 4, the day after the US election. I was thrilled a Medium publication took the story but concerned about the timing. Who would notice my story given most people were following politics? 178 people it turned out. The next day, another 257 saw it. I was so happy.

Then on November 6, views shot up to 2,000. By November 7, daily views exceeded 14,000. People from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US started tweeting it. Since then, total viewership has surpassed 200,000. Much to my surprise, the story had gone viral.

I’ve since published 23 more stories but only three have had more than 1,000 views— meaning most have earned less than a couple of bucks each. And so, back to reality.

My conclusion: writing for Medium is like playing golf. You hit one great shot, but then keep playing round after round hoping to hit another.

On the upside, I have connected with readers and fellow writers all over the world, and that’s a great joy. I’ve discovered so many good writers and stories on Medium. There aren’t enough hours in the day to read them all.

SG Buckley
The Startup

Writer, editor, parent. Former staffer at Quartz, WSJ and Inc. magazine.