What I’ve learned from my first two years on the platform.
As of today, it’s been exactly two years since my first post on Medium: “How a Single Lie Postponed My Sobriety for an Entire Decade.” How the time has flown!
Writing here has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. It’s helped me grow as a writer and person, and Medium has been a great way to connect with readers.
Thank you to everyone who has read my posts, whether you’ve been reading since the beginning or just found me recently. I sincerely appreciate you all!
In the remainder of this post, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned over the last two years that I think could help new writers.
Growing an Audience
During my first week on Medium, I got a grand total of 5 views. During this past week, my posts received nearly 20,000 views.
How did I increase my audience 4,000x? Very gradually.
My growth on Medium has been slow and steady. The biggest thing that I’ve done to keep gaining readers is simply to keep writing. Every once in a while, I’ll have a post that does well and brings a couple of dozen new followers, but more often I just get another handful each day.
The biggest determining factor in whether a post does well on Medium is whether it gets distributed, featured, and/or emailed out by the site’s editors. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that a writer can do to control that. However, I strongly recommend following Medium’s distribution guidelines to maximize your chances.
My main focus has always been on just trying to write well and making sure each of my posts is something that other people would want to read. I mostly write personal essays, but I always ask myself whether there is a takeaway that could help my readers.
Finding a Niche
I’ve debated with myself a few times whether I should restrict my posts on Medium to one “niche.” My sobriety posts are definitely the most popular thing I write, but I’ve also written about everything from running to market research.
Ultimately, I decided to keep writing whatever I feel like, but to put all of my sobriety posts into a “publication” together: Exploring Sobriety. This way, if people really don’t want to see anything that I write aside from the sobriety posts, they can just follow the publication.
In general, I’d recommend that anyone new to Medium try posting a wide variety of things. It can take some trial and error to discover which topics do better on Medium and which do worst. Trying to emulate the top posts on the site generally isn’t a good idea, because they’re often in over-saturated topics.
The topics that have been most popular for my posts are sobriety, running, losing weight, and quitting caffeine. (My posts about quitting smoking do poorly though, despite being so similar to two of these topics.)
Whether these topics do well on Medium in general is difficult for me to say. It might be that I’m just better at writing about these topics than other ones.
The topics that have consistently done worst for me are writing (posts like this one), birding, and reading. I still write about these topics occasionally, but just because I enjoy it, not because I expect to get many readers.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a few pieces of actionable advice for new writers:
- Create your own publication for the topic that you write about most often.
- Post consistently.
- Stay up-to-date on Medium’s distribution guidelines, and always follow them.
- Write about the topics you’re genuinely passionate about. Your passion will show.