How To Grow Your Audience
Advice for new Medium writers
I am seeing a lot of new writers here on Medium and that fills me with excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I have a long list of established writers here on Medium whose work I adore and try to read as often as possible; however, I am always searching for new writers to add to my list.
Just today, I was asked how I’ve become so established here on Medium (thanks Mickey!) and I decided that instead of just replying to one new writer, I would do an article aimed at all new writers. While Medium is a great place to just use as a blog, it is also designed to help writers make money via the Medium Partner Program, but you need to gain an audience first.
My best piece of advice is to ask yourself a very important question — Are you using Medium as a place to drop your ideas, maybe write some poetry or fiction, or are you here to make money?
Sadly, Medium is no longer a big money-maker for poets or flash fiction writers because you only make decent money by how long someone spends reading your work. If you write poems or flash fiction that are only 1–3 minutes of reading time, you are not going to make much money unless you publish constantly off and on all day every day and have a large audience. If you intend to write personal essays, articles, long fiction pieces, or long opinion pieces that are 5+ minutes long, you may make some money if your writing is compelling enough to keep the reader engaged for the duration of that reading time.
Personally, I am not a member of the Medium Partner Program because I mostly write poetry and flash fiction. I’ve been a Medium member since April 2020 and it has taken me this long to attract a 1.1k following. And just because my audience is that size, it does not mean I am being read by all 1.1k. Hence, I do not write to make money. I write to share what’s in my head with others. For me, it would cheapen what I do if I were doing it to make money. I wouldn’t be able to naturally write the way I do and would have to instead write what I consider to be ‘fluff’ pieces for money.
However, what I will not do is dissuade anyone from joining the Medium Partner Program if they want to write for money. It has to be each writer’s choice and you still need to grow an audience before you can join the program — 100 followers to join. So how do you gain followers who are also readers? Here comes the rest of my advice.
- Go to the Medium Help Center and familiarize yourself with how to use Medium as a platform. You will find help on how to set up your profile and your main page. You will find all the help you could ever want on how to write and edit your work — from Titles, Subtitles and Kickers, how to divide your piece up to keep readers engaged, how to add photos and properly credit them, how to add links to your work and how to use tags effectively. You will even find out how to single space poetry! You will also find advice on reading others’ work, how to highlight things in their work that interest you, how to leave comments and how to use claps to let the author know how you feel about their work(you get up to 50 claps, so use them often!). I cannot overstress enough how important the Help Center is.
- Before you hit Publish, check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Readers will make concessions for the occasional mistake and especially if your native language is not English; however, too many mistakes will turn readers off of your work.
- If you want readers, you need to also be a reader. If you do not know where to find material to read, click on your Icon at the top right of your page, then click on Control Your Recommendations. Here you can choose topics of interest and any time you go to the main page (Medium.com), you will find recommendations of your interested topics. As you begin to follow other writers and publications, their work will also show up there.
- If you want readers/followers, be a reader/follower FIRST. Don’t wait for someone to discover you and your work; instead, explore Medium and read/follow people whose work you enjoy. More often than not, if you follow someone, they will follow you back. If you read them often, they will read your work too.
- Once you’ve polished your work, join publications to host your work. Medium is full of publications for just about any type of writing that you would be interested in. If you find a writer that interests you, check to see where they are publishing their work. You can find that by clicking on their piece and seeing what publication has hosted them. Generally, these publications will have a Submission tab at the top of their publication page. Read the submissions carefully and follow them for a successful submission. Writers for publications tend to read those publications that host their work first. This will also help you to grow your audience.
One Last Thing…
I want to take a moment to address the use of claps. Most new writers here on Medium come from social media where you can only clap or click a thumbs-up once; hence, when they come here to Medium, they assume they only have that one-clap option. This will not bother newer Medium members. However, it is a bit of a sticky situation with well-established Medium members. Why? Because once upon a time here on Medium, writers were paid by how many claps they received on a piece of writing — this is why you get up to 50 claps. For Medium writers who’ve been here a while, one clap is similar to leaving a penny for wait staff at a restaurant. All wait staff know that a penny is an insult. It means that the customer was unsatisfied with their work. Writers here on Medium tend to feel the same way — we writers can be such delicate creatures and love to know our work is well-received. I’m not saying you have to give more claps if you think ONE is sufficient, but you may want to set up your own clapping system like I have here:
I hope this bit of advice helps new writers of Medium to navigate their way around and grow their audience. Be on the lookout for other articles by well-established writers who give such advice. You may find some advice that expounds on what I’ve written here or gives more advice for making money on Medium.
Lori Carlson writes Poetry, Fiction, Articles, Creative Non-Fiction and Personal Essays. Most of her topics are centered around Relationships, Spirituality, Life Lessons, Mental Health, Nature, Loss, Death, and the LGBTQ+ community. Check out her personal Medium blog here.