What I Learned During My First Month on Medium
Writing for Medium’s Partner Program has been a really fun challenge so far. I treated the first month as an experiment, where I attempted to write as much as I could and see how each of my stories performed.
There was no real niche for my writing, and I just wrote whatever I felt like writing about. I figured I would test out different topics, tags, and lengths to see what resonated the most with readers.
The spike in the above chart was when my post on Margaret Mitchell of Gone With the Wind fame got curated in two different topics. However, it has one of the lowest read ratios of the month, meaning a lot of people started reading it but not a lot of people finished. Interesting.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned from my first month writing for Medium’s Partner Program.
Curation is a black box.
I put all of my stories behind the Medium paywall. Out of 20 stories, 7 of mine were curated, so a 35% curation rate. They aren’t usually curated in the tags I choose, but something closely related. I was surprised that some of them were curated, and didn’t see a pattern in effort spent, length, or topic. It seems like the luck of the draw in many ways.
My first-ever post was curated in a topic I didn’t even think it was really about, and I had no idea how to properly format anything or use photo placement correctly. I think it was curated because it was the most thoughtful and honest post I’ve written to date.
I write for 3 publications, but sometimes I post without submitting to them. They have various response times, so I never know when they’ll end up posting.
It’s interesting how some publications are extremely picky, while others are pretty simple to submit stories to. I think they do help in getting more eyes on your stories.
Length doesn’t always mean quality.
Some of my most-read stories took me a very short time to write. My longest story is a 9-minute read, and my shortest is a 1-minute read. I usually average about 3 minutes per story, which takes me around an hour to write.
You won’t get rich quick.
Total earnings for Month 1: $43.52. I have a goal of doubling that next month. Although Medium does have a FAQ about how these earnings are calculated, I haven’t really paid much attention to it. For now, I’ll just keep writing and see what happens.
Don’t play the follow game.
Following someone, waiting for them to follow you, and then unfollowing them is so Twitter and Instagram. It doesn’t really work like that on Medium. People follow the people whose stories they like to read.
Clap and comment like you mean it.
Every day, I clap (“applaud” means a lot of claps) at least 10 different stories by 10 different authors. I find these on my homepage and usually like to do it on recent posts.
Sometimes I’ll read the posts, and sometimes I’ll skim them. I also comment when I get a chance if the article really resonates with me. But I can’t just comment for the sake of commenting...it comes off as fake, because, well, it is!
Highlighting is up for debate. It may be a quality interaction, but it also detracts visually from the story. My favorite was when someone highlighted a grammatical error in one of my stories…real nice. :(
By interacting genuinely with stories, you will gain followers at a decent rate. The interaction may get you the follow, but your quality writing is what keeps them around.
It’s a lot of fun.
My next goal is to get into 3 more publications, and write more for the ones with a higher bar of quality. I want to test to see if publishing in these will get me more interactions with the stories.
Another goal is to increase my story length without spending too much additional time writing. It would also be nice to write every day, but at the very least I will come up with topics every day.
What has your experience been like on Medium so far?