Medium is a long-game.
Let me repeat that — for anyone who is clinging to the sudden-fame numbers dream — Medium is a long-game.
I began with the same hopes you did. I’d write every day (2–3 times right?), gather a following with a “K” number (still not there) and check my MPP on Wednesdays with shock and awe at my progress.
Right? Isn’t that the way it is supposed to go? Ten dollars one week…then 200 the next and up and up and up?
Wrong. That is not the norm so do not hold yourself to that standard or you will be disappointed on a regular basis.
This is about building your tribe, gathering the tools you need to be a successful writer, honing your skill, and developing the thick skin you need to endure the rejection that goes along with this writer’s life we all want.
Most of those Wednesdays I have checked my MPP with shock and not awe but confusion. But don’t let the pesky numbers deter you. You have to begin thinking of your journey as an endurance race and not a sprint.
This is an endurance and resilience race.
Sure, some folks have blasted onto the Medium scene and risen quickly to the top 7%, but most of us swim awhile. We tread water patiently, occasionally getting a wave to the face. The water is deep and there are many people fighting for a spot at the top. In the words of our favorite royal blue tang, Dory, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
Some days you won’t even know what direction — or whether we are running, swimming, or climbing!
But it is the action of pushing onward — might I suggest the direction is whatever way your creativity leads you — that is the key to success on Medium. The numbers climb as you do the work, get more experience, and interact with other writers.
A few things you can do will help your Medium journey to be a little less painful in the beginning:
Don’t just wait to be curated.
If you haven’t been curated in the first few weeks — ask an experienced person who gets curated often to take a look at one of your best articles for you. Ask for their blunt and honest input. This was valuable to me after two entire months of non-curation. My first two months of Medium! Shannon Ashley took a few minutes of her time and changed my game completely. Thank you Shannon!
Curators are busy! If your work doesn’t impress them early on — they stop looking so hard at your work and move on — you may even get this kiss of death:
Our curators were not able to review this story for distribution in topics due to high volume. This story will still be shared with followers.
If you are receiving this on every article — you have been blackballed. Your work just needs to be seen by curators and you need them to take notice of you! They have either looked, read, and weren’t impressed — or you are simply a part of a huge pool and they are only 35 very busy people.
Do not panic. There are 2 ways out of this!!
NUMBER ONE!!! Improve your writing — take some of those articles and give them a “curation-goal” rewrite and re-release. Read up on curation from every source possible including the Curation Guidelines.
NUMBER TWO!!! Email them and tell them you have been working to improve your articles and would like them to take another look. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Offer a link to an article for them to review. Thank them for their time. After all, you are querying your work! This is a process you need to do well as a writer anyway — embrace this challenge as the learning experience that it is.
Once curation begins your presence on Medium will grow. Another way around this — if you just can’t seem to get curated — is to get tons of followers and self-promote across social media outlets like crazy. Interact with other Medium writers and develop relationships. Build your tribe.
In the words of our favorite royal blue tang, Dory, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
The best way to be successful on Medium is to do both: Aim for curation and build your tribe.
As you put in the work your numbers/stats will improve but this is a slow process. Take your time and learn what you can along the way. If your pride doesn’t prevent it — making changes to what you are doing with those end goals in mind will pay off.
A huge thank you is necessary here for some of those who helped me get started:
Jun Wu — for her encouragement and for being the first person to invite me to interact with other Medium writers. She extended the invitation to community. Shannon Ashley, Shaunta Grimes, Zach J. Payne — who have by their actions and courtesy — taught me the writing ropes here. My writing is improving because of them. (Find your teachers!) And the early folks that became fans — this is the most encouraging thing to do for each other! Leslie Wibberley , Jenny Justice (queen!!!), kurt gasbarra (the highlighting king!), Adam, Diabetic Cyborg (the sharing king!), Anna Rozwadowska, B. Michael Logan, and Giovanni Sonier. There are literally dozens more but these early tribe members made the difference early on — when sink or swim feels like a very lonely venture.
Christina Ward is a poet, fiction writer, and nature writer — NONE of which is the type of thing that will naturally rocket to the top of Medium. But her third top earning article is a fable. A fable about a squirrel! You can do this. Don’t give up.