Tips and Takeaways After Reaching 100 Followers on Medium
I recently hit the 100 follower mark on Medium. It’s not a huge number, but I see it as the first major milestone on what will hopefully be a much larger journey.
As a way to cap off this first chapter in my Medium career, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I’ve experienced and learned so far.
First off, I want to just say how cool of a platform this is. Back in May, I made the switch from my personal blog to writing on Medium because I was looking for a place which had a real community of writers and readers. I have really enjoyed just being a part of everything going on here. Getting paid a bit doesn’t hurt, either, and provides some extra motivation to keep going.
Alright, now for the tips. The work is not over when you hit publish. It’s so important, especially when you’re starting out, to share your posts, even if it’s just on your social media accounts. In particular, there are some great Facebook groups such as Medium Mastery and Medium Partner Program Friends with large communities of writers that support each other and offer great advice.
Sharing your work is essential because when a post doesn’t get curated, it can be very easy for it to disappear into the abyss, where no one will end up seeing it.
Here’s an example of one of my first articles on Medium, before I started sharing my work in those Facebook groups. I think this piece is just as good as the most of the ones I’m writing now, but after it failed to get curated, it died.
Speaking of curation, I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth on how important it is, so I’ll offer my take. In short, curation is important, but it’s far from the only barometer of whether something will be successful.
The benefit of curation is that it is the only sure-fire way for people to see your article on Medium. Just because someone follows you does NOT mean they will be shown your stories. However, it guarantees that the post will be visible on the page for the topic(s) it is curated in. Additionally, curation serves as an endorsement of the piece from someone who works for Medium and whose job is to read submissions.
However, if you’re trying to make money, just getting curated isn’t enough. You need people to engage with your work, and specifically, clap. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned so far is that some topics attract more engagement than others.
I’m primarily a sportswriter, but I have also dabbled in personal essays and articles about writing. These articles have never been curated, whereas my sports pieces have a roughly 50% curation rate. However, the non-sports pieces make more money on average.
I draw two main conclusions from this:
- My final thoughts on curation: curation will lead to articles performing better within a topic (my sports articles that are curated do better than the ones that aren’t.
- Stories that feature more personal topics and emotion, and stories that provide advice or help the reader in some way, are more likely to succeed overall.
As for becoming successful on this platform overall — whether that’s in terms of income, views, or followers, my number one piece of advice is this: write.
This might seem obvious, but the people who are willing to put in the greatest amount of effort and publish the most articles will do better over time.
Particularly with how unpredictable curation is and how difficult it is to go viral, you want to give yourself as many chances as possible to get lucky. My most popular article (by a long shot), got picked up by Bleacher Report. I still don’t know how it happened, but I know one thing: it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t write it.
The article’s success didn’t translate into much earnings because 90% of the traffic was external, but it was still a pleasant and very unexpected surprise.
Of course, you can’t just write anything — your work still has to be good, but I’ve found that most of the people who publish frequently are good writers. Plus, the only way to become a better writer is to write, so if you put in the work, you’ll improve faster. It also helps to write on a variety of different subjects to increase your potential reader base. That’s something I need to work on.
Lastly, here are some more minor tips:
- Try not to focus on stats. I know, it’s impossible, but especially from piece to piece, stats are highly inconsistent and don’t necessary reflect the quality of the work. Some really good articles just don’t get traction. Worrying about it will only distract you from your goals.
- Don’t be selfish — read the work of others! How can you expect people to read your work if you never read yourself?
- For curation, focus on creating strong headlines and choosing the best title photo.
- If you aren’t a paying member, I strongly encourage becoming one. It makes you look more credible (some people will ignore writers that aren’t members) and if you write even semi-regularly, the membership should pay for itself. Along the same lines, use a picture of yourself for your profile image. No one wants to read from an anonymous source.
Hopefully there’s something useful you can take away from these reflections. Best of luck writing!
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.