What I Haven’t Learned After Posting on Medium for 6 Months

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I can hardly believe it, but I’ve been posting on Medium for over half a year now. When I first started writing for Medium, I binge-read every post I could find about how to reach success on the platform.

I read posts from some of the most followed writers on the platform, as well as up-and-comers. I looked through writing tips, marketing advice, and stats reports. I even did my own write-up once I hit the three-month mark.

Spending all that time reading the advice from others was very helpful because it provided me with the motivation that I needed to stick with writing on here month after month. And I did pick up on some practical, actionable advice along the way.

After half a year of posting to Medium though, I’ve finally started to realize that there is much more about writing for the site that I don’t know than that I do.

Here are a few of the things I don’t know, and probably never will:

“Publications” are user-run organizations of Medium posts. Some publications are just a single writer, while others have hundreds, and are run almost like print magazines.

I’ve tried putting a few things in publications, and I’ve definitely seen some boost in viewers, but it’s hard to tell how many.

Normally I don’t put posts into publications, simply because I don’t have the patience to wait for the publication to approve it (a process that can take a few days). Aside from that, I don’t think there’s any real downside to using publications, but I’m still not sure how much they help either.

The early advice I saw was that everything you write should be in a publication, but now it seems like people are moving away from that. Curation appears to be replacing publications as the main way that people get their posts seen. Which brings me to point two…

Curation is the process that Medium uses to select certain posts for increased visibility. If a curator “distributes” a post, it will appear in whatever topics they choose and get recommended more often. Curation/distribution has a massive effect on how many people see any given post.

Like every other writer on Medium, I don’t think I’ll ever really understand how to get posts curated. I know that following all the rules and guidelines boost my chances, but sometimes I have posts that I think are great and get skipped over. Other times, I have a post that I consider weak, but it still gets curated.

I used to spend more time worrying about curation, but these days I’m focusing on just writing as best as I can and accepting that sometimes I’ll get “lucky” and sometimes I won’t.

Medium writers can earn money for their posts depending on how much reader engagement they get. The exact formula isn’t public though, and payments can vary based on all kinds of factors.

Each Wednesday, Medium tells all the writers in the partnership program how much they earned the previous week, and each Wednesday, the number surprises me.

Sometimes I have a week with what seems like tons of readers and “fans” (Medium’s term for anyone who claps for your article) but still get relatively little. Other weeks I have low readership and make way more than I expected.

I’ve come to accept at this point that I’m not very good at predicting earnings, and I’ll just have to wait for each Wednesday to find out how I’m doing.

One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve seen is to make your Medium publishing schedule consistent. Some writers even suggest publishing at the same time every day or the same day every week.

I’ve been bad about following this advice. I tend to write more when I’m less busy at work, and instead of waiting to publish things, I always post them as soon as I’m done.

This means sometimes I’ll make two posts a day for a while, and other times I’ll go a week without posting.

Is this hurting me? Not as far as I can tell, but I have to admit I don’t have a sample to compare it with. It might be better if I spaced out posts more consistently, but I don’t think I have it in my nature to be that consistent.

There are tons of things I still don’t know about how to best write for Medium, and I’m discovering new things I don’t know every week.

If I’ve grown as a writer here, it’s by learning to stop spending so much time worrying about those unanswered questions and focus more on the writing itself. Thanks to everyone for reading!

Written by

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

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