Do you only write for one outlet, such as Medium?
Or do you like to spread things around?
It’s okay if you want to write for different outlets. Just remember the keyword in that sentence is ‘different.’
You can’t just cut and paste the same content into every outlet. Well, you can, but you will be doing yourself and your readers a disservice.
Before I get into specifics, I think I need to deal with the whole Google duplicate content penalty issue. The issue is, it doesn’t exist. Wait. Before all you tech geeks get up in arms, hear me out.
First, Google will always attempt to distinguish between duplicate content and stolen content. If I copy my content someplace else, that’s okay. If I copy yours and put my name on it, not so much.
Then, why is so much emphasis put on this canonical link business? This isn’t so that Google knows that it is duplicated and puts some sort of seal of approval on it. It’s simply so that the search engine will know which is the original.
Why is that important?
Because Google wants to show as much unique content as possible, it will attempt to show the original duplicate content. If it doesn’t know, it will make the best guess, probably based on publication date.
What does this mean?
It simply means they won’t penalize original content, but the duplicate might be. So, if your article depends partly or in whole to search engine generated traffic, second and third copies of the same article won’t get as much, but the original piece shouldn’t get any less.
So, the bottom line is, publishing your content in multiple places is fine, you just can’t count on Google to bring in traffic to all of them. So, the first version should be where you get the most bang for your Google buck. Put the other copies in places where you can count on other forms of marketing.
This is where most of us started. Using WordPress, Blogger, or another blogging system, we posted out stuff, hoping the world would beat a path to our door.
Don’t get me wrong; many people are very successful with personal blogs. Many people like Elon Musk. But they did a lot of marketing, got very lucky, or most likely, a combination of the two.
The pros of your personal blog are, of course, that you are in complete control. Post anything you like within legal guidelines, as you are the only one monitoring the site.
You also may very well be the only person reading it.
This is where Google can come in. If you are skillful with SEO and write relevant and timely articles, you may just generate some traffic. So, if you want to use a personal blog and have readers come there, this should be the first place you post your article. And be sure to use canonical links to other versions, so Google knows this is the original.
Medium has attracted tens of thousands of writers and hundreds of millions of views since Ev Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, started it in 2012. In my opinion, it sets the gold standard of places to write your content. The interface is clean and easy, and the site generates enough traffic, so your work has a chance, based on the quality and timeliness of your writing.
And those are two of the keys to being successful at Medium. As with any site, your work should be of flawless quality. There is absolutely no excuse for calling yourself a writer, putting your work out there for the world to see, and have it be full of spelling and grammatical errors. First, learn to write.
Also, to be successful on Medium, your article needs to be timely and relevant. This doesn’t mean you can’t write other stuff, which is a big attraction to the site. You can write pretty much anything you want, so it has all the benefits of a personal blog, with less work and more traffic.
But again, if you want success, meaning make money, you have to write what people are reading. That requires spending some time on the site seeing what is popular. There are topics, such as writing on Medium, that people can’t seem to get enough of. Many other topics just don’t get any traction on the site.
The two factors that are somewhat unique about Medium is curation and publications. Curation requires that you meet specific criteria and avoid things they don’t like, such as clickbait titles. As with any site, naming your article is half the battle, but at Medium, you have to strike a balance between being enticing and being clickbait.
Publications are private ‘magazines’ on the site that anyone, including yourself, can start. The advantage of having your articles place in one is that it comes with a built-in audience. But be aware that the larger a readership a pub has, the more likely your article gets buried.
News Break, although Chinese in origin has 99% of its 23 million users, 10,000 content providers, and 50 million installed apps, located in the U.S.
Many of the content providers come from a recent push to get independent writers to post articles instead of being a traditional news aggregator.
Late last year, they made an offer that many of us couldn’t refuse. But first, the stick. To make money at NewsBreak, you have to publish at least a dozen articles a month. Those articles have to average more than 500 views. And here is the biggest sticking point, you have to attract at least 500 followers.
Now, the carrot. For the first three months, if you got in on their early bird offer, they would wave the second two criteria. If you just published the twelve articles a month, you were guaranteed $1,000. A month. For three months. Wait! Before you run off, that offer is now gone.
So, first for the early bird writers. I wrote another article with more specifics, but besides making an easy $3k, you need to take advantage of the honeymoon period to learn what works. And more importantly, to try and rope in those 500 followers. It would be nice to think that your brilliant writing will bring in some fans, but do what you gotta do. Be a carnival barker. Offer a free toaster oven. Just get them in the door. They are the key to future success.
The other part, just as with Medium, is learning what works. News Break has several things going for it that make it both easier and trickier to go viral. First, they separate articles into timely news and timeless articles. Which does better? The jury is still out. Timely may get you a better initial burst of traffic, but timeless may be more evergreen. Also, it’s not unusual for your breaking news story to get buried under dozens of similar articles.
The other variable on News Break is whether it is relevant to a particular city or applies to all 50 states. (News Break is squarely targeting a U.S. audience.) For the most part, local stories tend to do better, but again, you have to make sure it is unique.
Finally, News Break seems to love clickbaity titles, so here is your chance to be creative. If I am porting a story from Medium to News Break, I may or may not change the content and images. But I will almost always change the title. Have some fun with them.
This is a new one to me, but apparently, not the rest of the world. It’s been around since 2012 and has attracted a loyal group of both writers and readers. It gets around a million monthly views, so it ranks lower than both Medium and News Break. It also has a different model for making money.
It is similar to Medium in that you get paid for reads, but there is good news/bad news. The amount you get paid is less, much less. For the free plan, you get $3.80 per 1,000 reads. Yes, you read that right. If you want to pony up $9.99 a month to be a Vocal+ creator, you get $6 per 1,000. Pretty bad.
The good news is, unlike Medium, they don’t care who reads it. With Medium, you could get a million reads, but you don’t earn much if most of them are external. Vocal counts them all.
Where there is more earning potential at Vocal, however, comes from two unique features. Challenges and Tips. Every week or so, they announce a challenge, a themed writing contest. Winners will win anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000, with the majority being at the low end of that scale.
The other unique thing is tips. People can give them to you. At the bottom of each article is a prompt to provide the writer with a tip. The default tip amount is $1, but readers are free to give what they feel. You can also get tips from Vocal itself for certain things. For instance, on my second day on the site, this article, was chosen as a Top Story. Not only did that keep it on the front page for a couple of days, attracting more reads, they gave me a $5 tip.
Pro Tip (pun intended) Ask for tips. At the bottom of all of my articles, I ask, plead, beg for a tip. So I can buy shoes for my children. Trust me.
What works on Vocal in some ways is a lot like Medium. But different. For one thing, they have Communities, similar to Medium Topics. So it is much easier to score high in a particular Community than the site as a whole.
Each Community is presented similar to a Medium Publication, so it has its own followers and readers.
Another difference, which could be good or bad depending on your perspective, is they don’t just take anything. Not only is there a minimum word count of 600, but each article is also reviewed to make sure it is up to standards and not plagiarized. You can reprint articles from other sites, but expect an email asking you to verify it is your own content.
In terms of titles, I would put them somewhere between Medium and News Break. You don’t want pure clickbait, but you have to attract some readers, and hopefully, some tips. I also think the timeliness and newsworthiness fall somewhere between the two.
Vocal is more similar to Medium than Newsbreak because they accept fiction, although I haven’t gone down that path yet.
I’m sure there are other sites like these, and I’m familiar with a few of them. For now, I am putting all my focus into these three. I have been with Medium for a year now and crack the $1,000 threshold more often than not. News Break is a no-brainer while they are giving me $1,000 a month. After that, I will probably give them at least another three months to see what I can shake loose. The jury is still out on Vocal, but it’s early days. 99% of what I post there will be repurposed, so I’m not spending much time or effort until I can figure out the ROI.
Feel free to post your content on different sites, but first, learn the difference, so you can maximize your return.