Like most people, I’ve had a rough time this year. I was working reduced hours for about half of the year due to the pandemic. Then, in late-August, I got laid off. Even though I had seen it coming, it still stung.
How I Stayed Sober When I Lost My Job
Getting laid off was the perfect excuse to start drinking, but I turned to new habits instead.
I spent most of September sitting around feeling sorry for myself. As October arrived though, I decided to make better use of my free time by channeling my energy into writing.
I spent October trying to write more than ever, both on Medium and in general. In the end, I had the most success here on Medium. I wrote two posts a day, nearly every day, for the entire month.
I expected to see my daily views rise from writing so much, but I was still surprised to see them almost triple. On October 13, I reached over 2,000 views in a day for the first time ever. By the end of October, I had seen days with twice that number, and 2,000 had become my new daily average.
How I’ve (Slowly) Grown My View Count on Medium
My thoughts on hitting a new milestone on Medium.
In total, over the month of October I received over 62,000 views. I’m truly astonished by that number. Today, I took a look through my last month’s posts to see how that number actually broke down.
Dissecting My View Count
I hope that by breaking down what contributed to my view count, I can give other writers an idea of what to expect if they try writing more. Of course, everyone is going to have different results. I wouldn’t be surprised if better writers were able to soar past my numbers, but writers could also do a lot worse through no fault of their own.
My Back Catalog
The first thing that I wanted to know was how many of October’s views came from posts that I had actually written in October. It turned out that about two-thirds (around 40,000) of the views came from these posts. The other 22,000 came from posts that I had written in the past, including some posts from all the way back in 2018.
I’ve been writing on Medium for just over two years, so I have a massive back catalog of posts. Some of my old posts never seem to get any views any more, while others still get dozens of views a day.
The posts with the most longevity are ones that have great search engine optimization. One of my top posts of all time is about public domain poetry books. It gets 98% of it’s views from external referrals (mostly Google searches).
Three Famous Poetry Books That Entered the Public Domain in 2019
Three classic poetry collections are now freely (and legally) available online.
Posts that have been curated/distributed by Medium also tend to have more longevity, but this can be very hit-or-miss.
The vast majority of my posts from last month were “chosen for further distribution” by Medium. The posts that Medium curates/distributes almost always do the best, but there’s still a wide variance in how many views to expect.
Some of my curated posts got thousands of views, while some lingered around one hundred. Medium pushes posts to readers based on a variety of different criteria, some of which they don’t disclose. Some of my curated posts were sent out in emails, but most only showed up when you log onto the website itself.
How did I get curated so often? I always followed the curation guidelines, and I put an honest effort into writing every post as well as I could. Some of my posts from this past month were certainly better than others, but even on the weaker posts, I still tried my hardest.
I still haven’t had any posts go viral and spread rapidly around the web, but I have had posts get a few hundred views from Facebook. Thank you to everyone who shares my posts on social media!
I also had one post do incredibly well through internal views on Medium: “How An Alcoholic Thinks About Drinking.” I’m not sure if it’s thanks to Medium’s algorithm or one of their editors, but this post got pushed to a lot of people’s daily reads. It ended up reaching about 13,000 views.
It’s interesting to see how much an individual post can affect my stats. This post alone made up over one-fifth of my total views for the month.
Aside from this post, I had just 8 others break one thousand views. They weren’t always my best posts, but they tended to have catchy titles. I also think that whether a post does well is partly due to the luck of Medium’s algorithm.
I have a few takeaways from this month:
- Writing more often increased my overall view count significantly. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen other writers report the opposite result.
- Writing more didn’t increase my view count proportionally. My view count tripled, which is great, but I also wrote about six times as much as usual. I think this discrepancy can be explained by my giant back catalog of posts.
- Overall views were driven largely by a few standout posts.
- Curation/distribution isn’t a guarantee for a successful post, but it is a huge help.
- Titles matter more than I realized. Looking back over my posts that have done well, it’s clear that a catchy title is absolutely crucial for a post to get many views.
- Being laid off makes writing a lot easier. It’s no big deal to write a couple of posts a day when I’m not working. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone with a full-time job emulate this strategy though, because it would get exhausting very fast.
Thank you to everyone who has read my posts over this past month. I hope to continue growing here on Medium, and I also hope you’ll stick with me.