Image for post
Image for post

How to Leapfrog Novice Medium Writers

Shortcuts to success on Medium do exist

I feel as if it’s my duty to help you. Not because I’m inherently better than any other writer on the platform, but because I’ve been putting in the work to succeed on this specific platform for years.

I can count the writers who’ve stuck with Medium for as long as I have on one hand without taking major breaks. Actually I can name them straight up — Darius Foroux and Thomas Oppong — that’s about it. And guess what? They have monster profiles. Who knew that writing your ass off for years straight would work?

I’ve seen many an aspiring writer come and go on Medium. Even some of the good ones flame out. Most, though? They never scratch the surface. They make rookie mistakes, get mad at Medium instead of themselves, and quit.

Don’t be this person.

While the road to being successful on Medium is indeed long, there are a few things you can do to instantly jump to the top ten percent of writers on the platform.

Let’s get into it.

Learn How to Write Headlines

If you learn how to write good headlines, you’ll be miles ahead of 99.99% of aspiring writers on Medium.

My goodness. They write these weird, cryptic, esoteric, super self-centered headlines that no one can decipher except for them. Don’t just blurt out whatever thought comes to mind when titling your article. Your headline accounts for 80% of the success of your article.

“But I don’t want to write click-bait.” Alright.

Have fun continuing to get little to no views, never getting curated, and whining with other newbie Medium writers in your little Facebook circle-jerks.

If I seem harsh, it’s because I’m trying to help you. I care enough to tell you the truth. And the truth is? Your headlines are horrifically bad.

If you practiced just these two headlines formats, you’d be ahead of the pack:

  • How-To
  • Listicles

Expanded ideas:

  • How to [Blank]
  • How to Be [Desirable Quality]
  • How to [Blank] (Even if [Common Obstacle])
  • [X] Ways to [Do Something]
  • [X] Surprising Reasons [Blank]
  • [X] Steps to [Goal or Achievement]
  • [X] [Blank] Secrets Every [Target Audience] Should Know

I’ve practiced writing headlines for the past five years. I write ten new headlines every day. I store the ones I like in a “headline bank.” I pick the ones that stick out when it’s time to write. This process has helped me write articles people click and then read.

If they don’t click, nothing happens. You get that, right?

Here’s the trick. Write the most clickbait headlines as you possibly can and then write the most thorough and thoughtful prose.

You create this weird almost positive cognitive dissonance where people expect to be let down but are pleasantly surprised.

This also speaks to a problem I see with many aspiring Medium writers — a general aversion to marketing. For some reason, you don’t think you need to get good at marketing. Yet you wear Nikes, drink Coke, and drive a Honda.

Did these companies use extrasensory perception to get your attention?

If you want to make a living as a writer, you must treat your writing for what it truly is — a product.

While you turn your nose up at all the writers you consider listicle writing hacks, we’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Your choice.

Write to Market

Look, I’m all for creative expression. I’m not telling you what to write about. I’m simply telling you what tends to work and what doesn’t. And, I hate to break it to you, but writing poems might not lead to $10k a month writing on Medium. Fiction probably won’t work all that well here either.

If your name isn’t Shannon Ashley or John Gorman you’re probably not going to get ahead writing stories about your life. They’re savants. You’re probably not. That’s ok.

And even though those two write many personal essays, you’ll also see self-improvement articles, relationship articles, culture articles, and articles based on topics that do well here on Medium. Notice that they still write great headlines to package their thoughtful prose.

Short answer — you don’t get to write about whatever you want and expect equal results.

That being said, you don’t want or have to sell your soul to accomplish this. If you’re not into self-improvement, don’t write self-improvement articles. No matter how popular they are, you’ll feel hollow if you make a living writing them if you actually don’t want to.

Here’s what you do, you get as close as possible to one of the popular niches on Medium — a niche that crosses over into your interests like a Venn diagram.

Take someone like Niklas Göke or Zat Rana for example. Their styles are unique, very in-direct forms of self-improvement. I’m sure they don’t consider their work to fall under that category — more like philosophy. But it’s close enough to be popular.

It’s easy to see the popular niches on Medium. Look at the publications Medium has created. They’re telling you what topics they’re focusing on. Study the indie publications on Medium as well. Look at the types of articles that do well, define what niche they’re in, and reverse engineer what works. Simple.

Leave the Facebook Groups Alone For Awhile and Just Write Your Ass Off

Ugh. Lol. I can’t with these Facebook groups I’m sorry. Not that the Facebook Groups are bad in and of themselves, but the level of entitlement and whining from the members of these groups is infectious in a bad way. Avoid.

“I’m in curation jail.” No, you’re not. Your writing isn’t that good yet, you wrote the weird and cryptic headlines I told you not to write, you don’t format your articles properly, and you’re choosing these weird topics. There’s no “poems about my vagina” tag on Medium. Stop.

I saw this woman complain about not getting curated after writing…three articles. I gave her some advice “write 47 more articles.” Will she take it? Highly doubt it. This isn’t just the way of Facebook Groups for writers, it’s the way of the world.

Few people want to do the work. There is no big secret to making it big on Medium of making it big anywhere else.

Quit trying to hack the system. I see all these reading and clapping pyramid schemes. For what?

Just write good content. Stop writing weird cryptic content and learn how to iterate. Go visit the pages of popular Medium writers and see what they’re doing instead of commiserating with a bunch of other newbies who know nothing about being successful on Medium — blind leading the blind.

Ok. I’m done. I just want to help. I want to see you succeed on this platform and I do think it’s still possible regardless of the “competition.”

Is Medium saturated? Yes.

Is there a ton of competition? Nope.

People who will quit in a week, six weeks, or six months aren’t competition forme.

They’re background noise. They don’t exist to me.

I’m focused on creating the best content possible and focusing on my audience.

I could care less about other writers as competition. In fact, I look at other writers as collaborators.

There is more than enough room for those of us who are serious about not just our craft, but our marketing and reverse engineering of what works.

Get off the Facebook Groups and join me.

Here’s what to do next.

I put together a course on making a living writing with Medium. Here’s how you can get access to it.

First, buy my new book, Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement.

Second, enter your email to this landing page and get access to the course.

If buying a $10–25 book and getting access to a course from one of the longest tenured, most prolific, and highly ranked writers on Medium isn’t a good enough deal for you….Honestly? Quit.

Written by

Learn how to become a top Medium writer and make a living writing here —

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store