How to Get More Readers on Medium

Are you tired of having your posts disappear into the void?

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

The number one question that most new Medium writers have is how to find more readers. Nobody wants to spend all day working on a story, only to post it and have literally no readers. Unfortunately, that’s what happens all too often.

I’ve been writing on Medium for over a year and a half. I love this platform, but I still remember how hard it was to build any initial traction.

I spent days planning and writing my first post on Medium, only to have it completely flop. I got less than a dozen views during my first week, about half of which were from me.

Fortunately, when I write a new post these days, I can get hundreds (or even thousands) of views in that same time frame. Here’s everything I’ve learned to increase readership:

Curation Matters Most

The single most important way for new Medium writers to build a following is to consistently have their articles selected by Medium’s “curators.” Curators are Medium employees paid to read through new articles, searching for high-quality posts.

When a curator finds a story that they think is a good fit, they’ll distribute it into different “topics” on Medium. Getting distributed into a topic means that the story will start showing up in all kinds of new places across the Medium website and app.

This curation process can make or break stories by new Medium writers. If your story doesn’t get distributed, the only Medium users who typically ever see it are your followers. If you’re a brand new writer here, you probably only have a handful of followers, which means the story won’t receive many views at all.

Of course, the million dollar question becomes how to get consistently selected by the curators.

The first step is to make sure that you’re writing high-quality content. Write posts that you think other people will actually want to read. At a minimum, they should provide some kind of value to your readers, have a clear structure, and be (mostly) typo free.

In addition, Medium actually publishes guidelines that explain what they look for in curated posts. You can find the guidelines here: https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/360006362473-Medium-s-Curation-Guidelines-Everything-Writers-Need-to-Know

There’s also a curation FAQ here: https://help.medium.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009297694

The guidelines change often, so make sure to check them every couple of months to stay on top of any changes.

Using Publications

In addition to curation, another way to find more readers is through publications. Medium contains a wide variety of “publications.” Anyone can make their own publications, so while some are professionally edited and managed, most are not.

As a new Medium writer, I was initially very nervous about submitting to publications. I was expecting similar rejection rates to traditional print media.

In reality, it’s far easier to get into a Medium publication than into a paper magazine. Many publications will publish literally anything that’s submitted. Even some of the biggest publications on Medium have a fairly low bar.

Each publication has its own submission process, so if you’re interested in submitting to a publication, visit its page to learn more.

Once your post is accepted into a publication, it will be shared with that publication’s followers. This is an easy way to drastically increase your readers.

Tags

For every story that you write on Medium, you’ll have the option to choose up to five tags to go with it. You should always choose something for all five tags.

Tags don’t seem to make a massive difference in views, but they do help a small bit. There’s no reason to leave them blank and give up an easy source of potential readers.

I try to choose at least a few tags each time that match “top writer” categories on Medium. For the remaining tags, I stick with popular phrases. If you choose something obscure, nobody will ever actually search for it.

How Not to Gain Readers

I also want to briefly mention two common ways that people try to get readers that don’t actually work:

  • Blindly following thousands of Medium accounts. Many writers do this in the hope that the people they follow will follow them back. You will gain followers this way, but not followers who are actually going to read what you write.
  • Spamming your story in comments. Medium allows readers to leave responses to any posts on Medium. Unfortunately, many new writers use this as an opportunity to share links to their stories across Medium. This comes across as spammy and is unlikely to net you many readers.

Final Thoughts: Stay Persistent

In the end, gaining more readers on Medium also comes down to persistence. If you only post for a couple weeks and then leave the site, you’re unlikely to every have many readers. Instead, post regularly and remain patient.

There are certainly a few popular writers on Medium who blew up overnight thanks to a viral story or two. Unfortunately, they are the exception, not the rule.

Don’t expect overnight success. Most writers on Medium take months or years to gradually build a following. Focus on improving the quality of your writing and learning which topics resonate best with your readers. Good luck!

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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