New writers on Medium.com — this is largely for you!
I was a newbie writer on Medium sometime ago. It took me a while to get the lay of the land. I am still learning the nuances. But there are a few key things that haven’t changed over the last two years that I have been here.
Medium is all about reading, writing, and engaging. Anything you do adds up to these three primary goals.
There is another goal — making money. But even that is a fallout of the three clear goals of reading, writing, and engaging. Do these three things well, and you will have an incredible ride here.
Read — a lot
If you are on Medium for the long haul, start by reading. Before you put pen to paper, so to speak, read. Read articles by multiple writers across multiple topics and on multiple publications.
If you read multiple articles by a single writer, Medium tends to show you more of the same. Try to select different writers. It will give you variety. Here are a few advantages of reading diverse articles. You will:
- Notice and appreciate different styles of writing. Polite, blunt, down-to-earth, flowery, verbose, minimal — each has its place depending on the nature of the topic.
- Observe how the quality of writing enhances your overall experience as a reader. You will begin to appreciate writers of caliber. Note their names and try to understand what aspects of their writing stood out for you.
- Learn the varied ways in which to present thoughts — in terms of formatting or structuring of articles. Some articles achieve better readability using simple formatting options. Other articles may rely on playing with the structure to promote readability.
- Spark thinking in your head. Reading some articles may spawn off some ideas to write your own articles. Note them down quickly lest they slip away.
You get the drift. There is so much to be gained by spending some time each day just reading all that is on offer on Medium.
Read the comments too
Some people read an article and move on to the next. I believe that comments in an article are a gold mine in themselves.
For example, if the topic is debate-worthy, comments will often provide contrary viewpoints that you might not have considered. When you write similar articles, this counter-thinking will come in handy for you to produce a well-rounded perspective.
Comments give you a sense of what types of articles are appreciated, and what aspects are appreciated by the target audience. That’s valuable information for someone on the journey of writing.
Don’t ignore comments.
When you read an article, if you had even a single aha moment, clap for the article. Medium provides a clap scale of 1 to 50. Most writers provide 50 claps for all articles they read because they know how it feels to get the full 50. But that is not a rule. Feel free to clap as many times as you want. But don’t miss out on the claps.
Put yourself in the writer’s shoes. Wouldn’t you like to see lots of claps for your articles? Other writers too put in the effort to write an article. You read it. So clap!
If you didn’t read an article or didn’t like the quality of writing, feel free not to clap. It is ok. That’s where the genuineness comes in. Don’t indulge in clap-for-clap behavior. And definitely don’t leave a comment saying, “I read your article, now read mine” or something like that. Nothing long-term can be gained out of this barter system.
The best way to engage with a writer is by commenting on their article. Leave a sensible and sensitive comment. Something that tells the writer that you read their article fully, and the content actually resonated with you.
Try not to comment for the sake of it. The hollowness will show.
By clapping and commenting in a meaningful way, you will draw attention to writers and others who read your comments. If their curiosity is aroused, they will wonder who you are and come by to read your work.
Focus on creating quality content to ensure your newfound visitors find it worth their while.
Read, engage, and finally, write regularly.
It goes without saying that write regularly has the implicit advice of ‘with good quality.’ But I’ve said it, anyway!
There are several theories about how the Medium algorithm works. Some say you have to write regularly for your work to be displayed to others. Some say to focus on producing quality content, and frequency does not matter.
I don’t know what the truth is and I doubt Medium will ever publish their elaborate algorithms that power a platform that caters to over 60 million unique readers.
Common sense tells me that showing up regularly and with amazing writing has got to be a good formula. I’ve noticed that my reads go up when I post regularly and fall drastically if I don’t show up for even a week.
So there it is. Three simple things. Read, engage, write — in that order.
While I’ve said this works on Medium, I think the formula can be applied equally on any forum to give your writing career a modicum of success.