All Your Questions About Medium, Answered

Welcome to the game. Read this if you’re just getting started.

I’m just starting off on Medium. Am I too late?

People were saying it was too late when I started, and that was a year and half ago. Ask folks like Sergey Faldin, or Alan Trapulionis, who started even later than me, and they’ll tell you the same thing: what matters is hard work and consistency.

Medium is to written content what Youtube is to video. For a few years now, everybody has been saying it’s impossible to enter the Youtube game anymore. Yet new successful Youtubers keep coming up. Why? Because they work harder and keep going at it.

This doesnt only apply to Medium or Youtube, but to any content publishing platform. All you need is to keep at it. Try to commit to it for 6 months and consider it like a job.

  • Don’t count your hours
  • Don’t worry about the money
  • Don’t even expect anything from this, other than to have fun

That’s what I did when I started off. After 6 months, assess the situation, and whether or not you see yourself keeping that up for 1, 2, 3 more years. Remember that everyday you keep going, thousands quit.

Should I submit my work to publications?

Yes. Publications give you exposure, credibility, and increase the chances your work will get curated by the Medium team. They put your work on people’s screens, the very people that are interested in your content but wouldn’t have found it otherwise, especially if you’re just starting off.

Choose your publications wisely. It will not only save you time from having to wait just to get your submissions rejected because your articles are not a good fit, it will also help reaching your target audience better.

If you’re looking to get your own CTA (Call To Action) at the bottom of your article (link to website, newsletter signup…) a lot of publications won’t allow you to do that, and that’s one of the main downsides, at least if you’re trying to grow your own platform/audience on the side. That being said, you can choose to include your own links in your content when you self-publish. When you’re just starting off though, it’s better to keep that option in your back pocket for further down the line.

What is the difference between being curated and published?

When your article gets accepted by a publication (published), it will be shown to the followers of that publication, and potentially get included in that publication’s newsletter. It will also be shown on the publication homepage for the first few days, then more content will come and your article will appear lower in the feed (unless you go viral).

When your article gets curated, Medium itself will promote and recommend your story across the whole website, to people they think will be interested in what you wrote about (not just the publication followers). This gives you a lot more exposure, dramatically increases your reach.

How do my stats correlate with my earnings?

They don’t. Or rather, nobody knows the recipe to Medium’s algorithm. You may get less views on a given month than the previous one, but more money coming in. I once got 10K views on an article in its first day, and barely made $50 from it. That’s because a lot of the traffic directed to it was coming from external sources, which leads me to my next point.

There are a few rules we know Medium’s algorithm relies on. These facts are taken either from the Medium Help Center, or from obvious correlations noticed by many different authors who wrote about them.

  • Medium rewards internal traffic more, meaning you’ll get more revenue if the people who read and interact with your content are Medium members.
  • Medium rewards content interaction, meaning you’ll get more revenue if people clap and comment on your article (they need to be members to do that).
  • Overall, yes, the more views the more money, but again there’s no clear rule on how it correlates.

My best advice regarding earnings on Medium when you start off is simple:

Stop caring about the money

If you’re in this for the long game, you’ll have plenty of time to worry about monetising your writing further down the line. When I started off, I didn’t even sign up for the Medium Partner Program (I eventually had to because one of my articles got picked up by a publication). For now, all you need to do is focus on putting in the work and being consistent.

Is Medium the future of blogging?

Most likely. The internet has never been as huge as it is today, and it will be even bigger once you’re done reading this article. This means one thing: getting people to find your work on your website by simply searching for specific terms in Google has become nearly impossible.

There was a time when a good old niche website, decent SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and a bit of posting around on specific forums would attract visitors to your website. Make no mistake, these days are over. Nowadays, a lot of content creators first start on a dedicated platform (Youtube, Medium, Instagram…) and only then start advertising their own stuff.

Again, in the case of Medium, publications help. If you write about mindfulness for instance, and manage to get your work featured in Mind Cafe, or Better Humans, you’re going to get an exposure that doesn’t compare to what you would get on your own website. Mind Cafe has over 125,000 followers, hundreds of thousands of views per month. Publications can 10x your progress rate, and you should seize that opportunity if you’re serious about writing.

Can I use Medium to promote my own website?

Yes, but as we saw earlier, an increasing number of publications don’t allow for CTAs at the end of articles. We can’t blame them, they want their readers to stay on their platform, not leave and go to your stuff. There’s nothing stopping you from having a link in your profile bio though, that can drive some traffic.

An important thing to keep in mind is that it is not recommended to post your article both on Medium and on your website. It’s either or, and your Medium article will rank better (on Google or elsewhere) than your website in 99% of cases. If you want to post a specific article on your website, then go all in and only post it there.

There is an option in Medium to specify a canonical link to your story when it was already posted elsewhere (you’ll find it in the advanced settings of your story). This option is supposed to help Google boost your original source rather than the copy on Medium. But Medium is a lot more popular than your site, and Google likes popularity.

From what I’ve read and from my own experience, the canonical link option has almost no impact on the rankings of my website, and I’ve stopped doing it.

I’ve been writing on Medium for [insert duration] and I still haven’t gotten a viral piece. What am I doing wrong?

Nothing. You’re trying, and everyday you keep going thousands of people quit, so you should keep at it. Again, if you’re only blogging for the views and the virality, it’s going to be hard to keep going in the long term. Not everything you post will drive attention.

Here are a few reasons why you should put content online:

  • You love to write
  • You want to share your content with people
  • Blogging is like journaling for you
  • You want to meet a community of like-minded people
  • You want to educate people on a specific subject

You shouldn’t post content because you want money, fame or attention. Work because you love what you do. If you haven’t had that one piece yet that boosts your progress rate by 1000%, then keep writing. It will come eventually.

How often should I post?

There’s no rule here. Here is what I’ve learned from my experience:

  • Quality wins over quantity
  • Quantity increases the chances of quality

The more content you put out there, the more you can try what works and what doesn’t. That being said, you shouldn’t post just to post. If your content doesn’t bring value to people, it will go to the dumpster post after post.

Medium does reward consistency and quantity in the sense that your work will have more chances of getting featured if you post more. But again, this will happen more because by practicing, you will increase your chances of writing good stuff. It won’t happen because Medium will feature 5 of your 10 recent articles regardless of their quality.

About the optimal posting time

In my experience, it doesn’t matter what time of the day, or day of the week, you post. I have posted content in the morning, the evening, the middle of the week, on Friday nights, during the weekend, on Sunday afternoons… I’ve never noticed any major difference. What matters is to show up and post.

Can I submit old content to Medium?

You can, but as we saw before it will most likely hurt your website where your article was originally posted, especially if it’s already doing well there. Medium is a huge platform with more readers, traffic and exposure than your website. It has somewhere between 85 and 100 million monthly active users. If you post your old content there, Google will see this as a major content upgrade from your side. It will start featuring the Medium version of your article in the search results more than the one on your website.

If you do want to move your content over to Medium and you’re okay with losing traffic to your website (to maximize your earnings for instance) then by all means do that. As a blogger though, bear in mind that having your own platform (your website) with an existing audience and email subscribers thanks to articles that rank on Google is a rare dime to own, especially nowadays.

Do followers matter on Medium, and how do I get more of them?

Your followers matter because they will get notified when you post new content. But publications with 100K+ followers also notify their audience when new articles come along, and they feature your work on their homepage.

Followers made a conscious decision to follow you. They’re interested in what you do, and if you can please them with more quality content, your audience will only grow. But there’s no way to send a personal email to your followers, or to organise an online event with them, unless they somehow visit your own website and sign up for email notifications.

Let’s look at the Youtube example one last time. The Youtube game is extremely hard because not only do you start from scratch, you have to build your audience mostly by yourself. On Medium, you have access to clusters of existing, targeted audiences (publications) that will gladly read and interact with your work via their existing subscriptions.

This is very important to understand. Followers matter, but getting your work in front of the right people matters even more, and Medium makes this process easier than on a lot of other content creating platforms out there.

In regards to getting more followers, there’s no magic recipe here either. Read people’s work, provide insightful feedback, follow people you’re interested in.

There you have it. I hope you found this Medium welcome guide useful. Feel free to ask more questions or provide feedback on my answers in the comment section. I always love to hear from my readers!

Now go make great work, stay committed, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey. See you around.

Thanks a lot for reading! I interviewed 50 productivity/business experts and made a 150+ page guide out of the project. This is road-tested advice from real people who get things done. Get it for free here.

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