Are you on Medium because you love to write or to make money?
Well, guess what? They are not mutually exclusive. And I would take that first part one step further. I would venture to think that you not only love to write, but you also love to be read. And make money.
Because if you just want to write for the pure joy of writing, you can do that in a private diary. No one ever needs to see it.
Me? I want people to read what I write. And I want to make money from my writing. Before Medium, the formula was quite different. I still wrote because I enjoyed writing, but I had to sell my articles to make money. And if someone purchased one of my pieces, I didn’t much care if anyone read it or not. I know for a fact that many of my articles, especially those optimized for SEO were bought to attract browsers to click-bait and PPC sites.
But Medium has changed that. The quality of my writing has improved exponentially. And that is because I now care what I write, and I care that people read it. And based on some super-secret formula, that is how I make money.
I know that before I got to Medium, people made money based on how many claps they got. I don’t know if there was a different metric before that. Shortly before I started writing here, they changed the algorithm to reading time. And I was okay with that. Wanting to increase reading time is probably the most significant factor that led to becoming a better writer. After all, hasn’t writing since the beginning of time been about attracting readers, drawing them in, and then keeping them engaged until the end? That’s not easy to do.
Now they have changed the formula to something else. And even though there are many articles on Medium about that formula, I don’t think anyone understands what it means. Relationships? Followers? So I’m supposed to have relationships with my followers? Sounds like a cult.
Note to Self: If Medium ever holds a convention, don’t drink any Kool-Aid.
But whether claps, reading time, or followers, it still comes down to people seeing your articles. And the most basic metric for that is views. If no one views your article, they won’t clap for it, at least in theory. That loophole may be why claps were demoted. But I am positive people can’t read your work without viewing it. And finally, although I can’t fathom the current formula, I still have to believe that Medium wants your followers, your ‘relationships’ to at least see your work and preferably read it.
To me, that is why Views is the first column in your stats. And why that particular number is the most reported on.
So, when I am trying to gauge my work’s success and deciding what to write on next, I take a look at views. I sort my stats by views and scroll all the way through. I use a Chrome extension called Medium Next Generation Stats to display my stats. For reasons no one can fathom, Medium includes people reading your replies as views to your stories. This extension only looks at actual views, which makes it much more valuable.
In statistics, they use things like standard deviation to discount what they call outliers. Things that can skew results because of some fluke. I have two of those. My top two articles, linked at the end, have 28K and 32K views each. I have tried to replicate even a fraction of that success without coming close. I think these were a matter of luck and timing. Don’t get me wrong. They are both excellent articles and have also generated my largest number of responses, almost universally positive. But I think they hit the right place at the right time, got curated into the right topics and things snowballed. One or the other, if not both, are still at the top of my earners every month.
One-third of my most viewed thirty are about technology that I use and know very well. The topics are also very popular, with huge followings on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. So, getting views is easy. Getting internal views is more challenging, but almost all of them were curated, taking care of itself over time. Most of these started with external views in the 90th percentile, but after a few weeks were 50/50 or better.
Most of the rest is about my other passion, photography. I can write on that frequently, and early on, created my own publication to feature them in. Over 400 of my total 2K followers read that pub, and again, they almost all get curated.
So, to grab a large following and a considerable number of views, find a niche subject that has a high level of interest, easy to find pools of readers, and that you can write about with authority.
That will work. But to me, it can also get a bit boring.
So, I keep looking at the rest of my top earners. What are they about, who did they attract, and why?
Number one in that group is this one
They say follow the money, and I guess over 4K people did. It is a subject most of us are interested in, and I can write about it with some authority. I have written many other articles about personal finance and will again, but the subject doesn’t sing to me. I’m glad it resonated with so many others.
Most of the rest of my top earners fall into this category.
How to Do a Weekly Review to Increase Your Productivity
Evaluate what is working well and what isn’t.
Productivity. Who doesn’t want to be more productive? I’ve been retired for six years now, and I still look for ways to make my days and my life more productive. And based on how often books on productivity make it into the best sellers list, many other people also do.
The final one was one of my very earliest successes and didn’t really fall into any clearly defined category.
Ahh, now we’re talking. I love writing about this kind of stuff. What problems have I faced personally, and how did I solve them? Or if I didn’t solve them, how am I learning to live with them. I think that is the type of article that can draw readers from a vast pool, I enjoy writing them, and I do so as often as possible. They can be very hit or miss, and it’s easy to miss the mark with the title, so they fall flat. But I still try to keep the list of ideas in this category full.
These are the ideas you get when you wake in the middle of the night or come to you in the shower. I am always looking for life-lesson type articles, and that is why I have been a top writer in self-improvement for months, along with Photography, Creativity, and Productivity.
I’m glad you stuck with me through this article and hope you have learned something from it. If you are still wondering why 30 of my articles have over 1K views each, I will distill it for you down to one sentence.
I write about things people care about and do it well enough to keep them coming back for more.