3 Little Tweaks to Join the Top 10 Percent of Medium Writers
How to avoid being the average (and broke) Medium writer
Only 8–10% of writers make more than $100 per month. As far as the ones who make a full-time living from Medium? I personally know almost one hundred percent of them.
There aren’t many of us.
But people act like this asymmetrical distribution of success is unique to Medium.
Most people don’t make a full-time living blogging, period. Never have. Most people don’t start successful businesses, period. Never have. Success of any kind is rare.
So before I get into the tweaks that can make you successful on Medium, first get this idea out of your head that this platform is some sort of charity.
Medium owes you absolutely nothing just like the world, in general, owes you nothing.
It pains me to see the level of complaining from newbies, it really does. I don’t understand some of you.
Check my receipts — I started writing on Medium in November 2015 and wrote on the partner program for 19 months at a 30+ article per month clip to make it to my first $10,000 month.
Stop being lazy.
Yeah, it is too late to be successful on Medium, if you’re a wimp.
But you’re not a wimp, right?
You’re one of the smart ones. You’re going to listen to what I say, right? Ok. Good.
People are torn on the debate about whether or not publications are still useful. A few years back, writing an article on a decent Medium publication would guarantee you at least 1,000 views. Now? They can definitely be hit or miss.
If you’re an established Medium writer — don’t have a specific metric in mind but definitely four-figure follower count — you can get away with publishing straight to your profile. You can even get away with this by publishing straight to your profile if you’re new to Medium but already have writing experience.
If you’re both new to Medium and inexperienced, I’d write for a publication, but I’d make sure to pick the right publication.
There are three types of publications:
- Too big (diluted)— Some publications become bloated over time. We call these ‘content mills’ in the industry. They’ll take anyone’s content because they want to inflate their numbers, but the total amount of writers per publication dilutes the reach of each individual writer.
- Too small — You also don’t want to publish in some obscure publication, e.g., Poems About my Vagina, either.
- Highly concentrated publications — You want to look for publications that have a decent size in terms of followers but tend to be more selective about who they choose to let write for them.
What if you can’t get into one of these highly concentrated publications right away because you’re not good enough?
Practice using the ones who will let you in right away first. As you improve, level up to better publications.
How can you tell which publications meet which criteria?
Do a little research. Be a self-starter. Here’s a breadcrumb for you.
Figure out where the top writers are publishing their stuff. Another hint — look at my profile.
Compare the publishing frequency between publications. You’ll notice some churn out a lot of articles and some stagger theirs out in a more careful way. Find the highly concentrated publications that match your writing style and pitch them once you work is up to snuff.
Aesthetics matter. Many newbie writers have visually unappealing blog posts. This causes curators to overlook their posts and readers to click away from them or flat out ignore them altogether.
The typical blog post from a frustrated aspiring writer looks something like this:
- It begins with some weird cryptic title that no one understands but the writer “Lessons on foot play in West Virginia”
- Next, you see giant walls of text with nowhere to give the reader’s eyes or mind a break.
- Often, the post uses no aesthetic improvements like in-body images, bullet points, headings, drop caps, italics, bold, nothing.
Do you have to follow the traditional blogging rules one hundred percent of the time? No. Do you have to follow every rule, e.g., keep paragraphs under three to four sentences? No, some people don’t like that style actually. You have room to pick and choose which stylistic elements to employ but choose some.
Casey Botticello can teach you everything you need to know about Medium aesthetics. Visit his profile and start learning. The Medium staff, you know the people who are in charge of curating your articles and giving them juice, tell you what they’re looking for:
They even create detailed guides telling you what they want you to do to impress them:
For Stories That Give Advice: Be Concise, Actionable, and Targeted
Tips from Medium’s Platform Editors
5 of the Most Common, Easy-to-Fix Problems We See in Curation
Simple tips from Medium Curation
What do most aspiring writers on Medium do? They ignore all of this advice.
Sadly, most of you reading this article won’t take 10 minutes out of your day to read the three articles I just linked to and you wonder why you’re not successful.
People like myself who’ve spent years figuring out how to be successful writers tell you exactly what to do, you don’t listen, and you go to Facebook Groups to have a mental circle-jerk with other newbie writers — the blind leading the blind.
Why do people engage in such irrational behavior? Fear.
You’re afraid to work hard at Medium and fail. That’s it.
If you just put in the work, add to it publications, and use some aesthetic appeal, plus the next tweak I’m going to show you, you’d be successful.
Whether or not you do that is on you.
The most important tip I have for you will make or break whether or not you’ll be successful on Medium. Hell, this determines whether or not you’ll be successful in life.
You must learn how to not just practice but engage in iterative practice. This means you try to add new techniques to your toolbelt and different elements to your writing as you move forward.
In my writing course, I provide several different isolated techniques to make your writing more persuasive. I learned these techniques by finding out about them and then poorly trying to implement them. At first, you’ll try to jam them in and they won’t look good, but they’ll look better over time.
As many other successful Medium writers have told you already, this platform requires volume to be successful — 3 articles per week minimum in my opinion.
There are some writers who write a lot, but still don’t see any rewards. Why?
They’re not iterating. They’re writing a bunch of articles, but they’re still posting them in tiny publications. Or they’re still using cryptic and weird titles. Or they’re still publishing visually unappealing posts.
Practicing the wrong way doesn’t just keep you stagnant, it makes you worse.
You cement bad habits and create a negative feedback loop where you keep failing so you expect to fail in the future.
If I were you, I’d carefully study every top writer on this platform and analyze what they’re doing.
Why do their headlines make you want to click?
What to their posts look like?
What publications are they choosing?
How might they be promoting their work?
Out of everyone who reads this post, 10 percent of you will actually try, and that’s why you’ll become one of the top 10 percent of writers on Medium.
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