12 Quick Tips For Success on Medium

Do with these what you will, as your miles may vary.

By Shannon Ashley

Sometimes you just want some quick and dirty tips without all so much of the extra commentary. Hey, I get it. Hopefully these tips will help you take your work on Medium even further.

1. Decide first and foremost what Medium success looks like for you.

Want to earn $500 a month? Or reach 20,000 followers? Pick a goal--or a series of goals--to help you focus on what you’re actually trying to do.

2. Tag each of your stories with five tags.

No, I don’t mean your responses to different stories. Just be sure to give every standalone story that you write five tags to help your work catch more eyes.

3. Run your story through grammarly before hitting publish.

I didn’t always do this, and yes, I did make a ton of swypos. Awkward. Grammarly won’t catch every error, and sometimes it will amuse you with unnecessary suggestions. But it’s a helpful line of defense at any rate.

4. Give your stories more obvious titles.

Flowery and creative headlines may not be your friend if you write a lot of essays about life and the issues that matter to you. My top performing headlines are so obvious they’re almost boring. Like “We Don’t Really Know Our Parents Until We Grow Up.”

5. Don’t fear the use of strong statements or metaphors.

If you’re writing an essay on Medium with strong emotion or emphasis, using metaphors can work for you. Some writers shy away from these for fear that blanket statements might turn readers away. But the right audience will understand nuance. “The Fragile Male Ego Has Ruined Online Dating" doesn’t mean that all men have fragile egos. My target readers get that. So take some risks with your phrasing.

6. Accept that Medium swings left.

Sorry not sorry? Quality, narrative-driven stories and essays do well here, but I’d say they swing left for a reason.

Business Insider said this about Ev Williams:

He once said of President Trump’s use of Twitter, "It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that ... If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry." He had believed that Twitter’s ability to let anyone say anything, to a wide audience, would mean that "the world is automatically going to be a better place." But, "I was wrong about that," he said.

Now you might not be on the liberal spectrum of things, and I don’t think you have to be. But you likely do need to accept that your writing may very well be good for a specific niche--and not Medium members at large.

7. Give your stories a hopeful ending.

It’s no secret that my work on Medium hasn’t always been so positive. I have written in the midst of great upheaval in my personal and professional life. I’ve opened up a lot about my mental health. But as time has passed, I’ve gotten better at improving my tone. Guess what? Hopeful endings fare better. Readers get more from positive stories than downtrodden ones.

8. Don’t try to be an expert here. Unless you’re actually, you know, an expert.

There’s nothing wrong with writing about the issues that matter to you, even if you aren’t an expert. The problem is when you pretend to be one. It’s okay to be honest about who you are and why you write what you do. Not everybody cares if you’re an expert, but most readers will care if you’re pretending to be something you’re not.

9. Quit worrying about your views.

Seriously. Write great content that means something to you. Write great content that other people legitimately want to read because you’re using solid images, clear headlines, and a unique voice. 100,000 views means nothing if those viewers aren’t reading and engaging with your work.

10. Engage in the community here.

Some top writers on Medium are able to engage a little, and some are able to engage a lot. It might ebb and flow for you, and I think most readers get that. The point is that it helps to take some part in the community that makes Medium so damn special. Foster a little give and take whenever possible.

11. Learn how Medium works, and then work WITH it.

If you want to be successful on Medium, but you’re constantly complaining about the rules and platform itself, you’ve got to question what you’re really trying to do. It’s much more effective to learn how Medium works and then work with the system instead of complaining that the system doesn’t work your way.

12. Don’t underestimate the power of curation.

Lindy once wrote a great piece about everything she’s learned regarding curation through various topics on Medium. Go read her story. Frequent curation can change your life here. It changed mine:

Before frequent curation

3 Months after frequent curation

It pays to familiarize yourself with the curation guidelines and terms. I am not spending much time marketing my work at all. Curation helps my stories reach more readers who are already interested in my topics.

In my experience over the past (nearly) nine-ish months, a person can set an intention for success on Medium and go after it in a strategic way. You’ve just got to be willing to put in the work and the research. My friend Glenna Gill has compared it to AA--if you work the system, it works!