If you’ve read enough even a few articles giving tips on how to be successful on Medium, you’ve no doubt heard the recommendation of starting your own publication.
But starting your own publication can be a daunting idea.
You might have thoughts like:
- “How do I even do that?”
- “Why should I?”
- “What if I don’t have many followers?”
These are valid questions. In fact, I had them all just a few weeks ago before I finally decided to take the plunge by bringing my old blog Top Level Sports to Medium as a publication.
First off, in case you’re unaware, a publication is simply a page for a collection of stories centered around a common topic or theme. They have writers, who can submit stories for inclusion in the publication, and editors, who can edit and approve submissions, make changes to the design of the publication, and write their own stories.
Starting a publication is relatively simple. Click on your profile picture in the upper-right hand corner, and in the drop-down menu, select “Publications”.
Here, you should see any publications you are a member of, and any publications you follow. At the top of the page, you should see the “New publication” button.
There, creating a publication is as simple as giving it a name, description, logo, and the appropriate tags. From that point you can simply make any desired changes to the layout, and officially launch the publication.
“So, why should I create a publication, again?”
One of the great things about being published in publications is the added level of credibility it can give an article, since readers see that it’s in a publication.
However, when submitting to publications, you run the risk of your work getting rejected, taking a long time to be reviewed, and being published at an inopportune time. Owning your own publication allows you control over these factors.
By choosing what types of things to write about and articles to approve, you get to be your own boss and have the creative freedom we all desire.
In addition, if your publication grows in followers and visibility, writers will actively request to join your publication. This only helps your publication continue to grow, and allows more readers to be exposed to your writing as well.
It’s also worth noting that the default URL of articles in publications features the publication title in place of your own username, which Casey Botticello has theorized could be linked to better SEO.
If you do decide to start a publication, there are a few things you should do immediately.
- Add some of your old articles to the publication that fits with the publication’s theme. For anyone to read your publication, there needs to be content. For anyone to want to write for your publication, there needs to be content. When I created Top Level Sports, my first order of business was go back and add all of my sports articles on Medium to the publication so it already had plenty of content available.
- Create an article describing your publication, what types of articles you are looking for, and how to contact you and request to write for the publication. Make this article visible, as either a featured post in the publication, or as a tab in your navigation menu.
- Share your new publication on your social media feeds and in any writer groups you are a part of. Let the world know!
Those might be the basics for starting a publication, but if you really want your publication to grow, especially at the beginning, it’s important to be actively searching for new writers.
This can take some time, but it’s an essential step. I’ve found that many people will feel grateful and perhaps even honored to receive a note from you asking them to join your publication. They won’t find you on their own, though. You need to be the one reaching out.
There are a few different methods for this. To start, you can message writers you already follow whose work you enjoy and would like to feature in your publication.
Outside of this, you can read stories which have been curated in topics, and message writers of pieces you like. It may be beneficial to target writers which don’t seem to publish in publications, as they might be more willing to write for you versus writers who are already established in other publications.
Finally, you might choose to simply scroll through all the stories published in a tag to see if anything catches your interest. Fair warning, there is a ton of spam, but you can do this by entering the following URL:
Since there is no direct way to message writers on Medium, when you find someone you would like to invite to write for your publication, leave them a private note on one of their stories, perhaps one you’d like to publish.
Do this by highlighting part of their story (the opening line is fine), and clicking on the speech bubble with a lock. This will open up a text box where you can leave a message only viewable by the author.
Here, briefly introduce yourself and your publication, and explain that you’d like permission to add them as a writer. Don’t add them as a writer first — it comes across as rude. Instead, just politely ask them to join, and let them know a place where they can contact you. Writers are allowed to respond to private notes, but in my experience, some people don’t know this, so it doesn’t hurt to give them your email.
It can be difficult to find interested writers, and for those writers to actually submit to the publication. That’s why it’s so important to try to establish relationships with these people. Read their stories, clap, leave responses, etc. Show them you care, because you do.
Outside of this, it’s helpful to favor paying members who have written more articles on Medium, as these people will likely be more dedicated as writers and willing to stick around.
Always be on the lookout for potential new writers for your publication and share your publication’s articles to make sure your well doesn’t run dry. As with most things on Medium, the more work you put in, the more likely you are to grow and become successful.
Connor Groel is a writer who studies sport management at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as editor of the Top Level Sports publication on Medium. During the college basketball season, his bracketology is featured at bracketmatrix.com. You can follow Connor on Medium, Facebook, and Twitter, and view his archives at toplevelsports.net.