How to Use Medium: A Beginner's Guide to Writing, Publishing & Promoting on the Platform
Published: October 19, 2023
Medium is a platform for writers. If you're not a writer, that sounds pretty straightforward. But if you write, you understand just how huge that statement is.
Is it a blogging platform? Social media or an SEO resource? An online community or a way to earn money writing? Yes. All of the above.
You could be a poet publishing on The Coil, a new UX designer learning your craft, or a business owner sharing stories about early challenges and triumphs. No matter who you are and what you want to write about, there's a place for you on this platform.
I've been writing about marketing since 2017, I've used many different platforms for publishing and promoting content. Now, I'm going to tell you how I use Medium, and how you can too.
What is Medium?
Medium is a social publishing platform that is open to all and home to a diverse array of stories, ideas, and perspectives. Anyone can write for the platform, so it's great for beginners.
Popular topics on Medium range from mental health to social media, from world affairs and trending news to productivity hacks. This makes it a solid choice for anyone who wants to start blogging.
As Medium founder (and Blogger creator/Twitter co-founder) Ev Williams wrote when he launched the platform in 2012:
"Medium is not about who you are or whom you know, but about what you have to say."
How does Medium work?
The first thing you'll notice on the Medium website is its site design. As former HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Erik Devaney says, "It's minimalistic, featuring lots of white space and limited formatting options. Want to change the header typeface to Comic Sans? You can't. Medium won't allow for such atrocities of design."
This decision makes great writing the focus. But that's just one of many nuances of Medium.
Medium is for two types of people: writers and readers, through online content publishing. When I started my career in content writing and strategy, I wasn't sure what that meant. I discovered Medium because I was trying to figure out where to build my writing portfolio . I'd heard Medium was a good choice, but the first time I signed up I wasn't sure how to use it.
If you're just getting started on the platform, there's a fair amount to learn before you hit publish. Let's get into it.
Quality leads to discovery.
Many writers go for years without sharing their writing. But once you decide to become a writer, whether you're finishing a first novel or writing content for brands, you need to find a way to share your skills.
Medium is great for writers who invest time and energy in their work. It rewards in-depth, well-researched, and useful articles, not just popularity or brand awareness.
Platform-enabled reader engagement.
Comments and likes are popular in online media. But when you're new to writing, it's helpful to know exactly what people are responding to and why. To meet this need, Medium gives readers a chance to highlight and comment directly within the text of each article. This process is like the way professional editors engage with writers.
Curation and publications.
Medium has curators who review articles for quality. If a curator chooses your article for wider distribution, it gives you a chance to introduce your content to more readers. This might include highlighting your article on the platform, showing your post to readers they think will want to read it, or adding it to subscriber emails.
Most curators are publication editors. Some of the most popular publications on Medium in 2023 include:
- The Startup
- Towards Data Science
- Personal Growth
- UX Collective
- The Writing Cooperative
Medium’s curation and publication models aren’t just great for writers. They also give avid readers and fans a chance to support their favorite writers.
Medium also gives writers the chance to earn money with their stories. As a member of the Partner Program, you can put stories behind a paywall to earn income.
In this program, you can increase earnings with repeat readers, engagement signals, and more.
Writing for Medium
Anyone who has a Medium account can write for Medium — there's no other vetting process involved.
To get started, simply sign up for a free Medium account (or upgrade to a $5/month membership for unlimited access), and you're ready to start writing from there.
But articles must adhere to Medium's content guidelines and rules. For instance, as a writer I can't promote controversial or extreme content on my Medium account. I can't do third-party advertising. And there's a separate set of policies if I want to write about cryptocurrencies .
Affiliate marketing links are allowed, but writers must tell their audience that they're including these links. For the full list of rules for content, take a look at this post on Medium Rules .
As a marketer, Medium presents an opportunity for you to reach a new audience with your content. The platform is open, so some topics lean toward sharing longer-form, more well-thought-out content while others are short and topic-focused.
In this way, Medium is like marketing on many other channels, because success in writing for Medium isn't just about great writing. It takes some research into audiences and publications in a specific area of interest. So, what makes Medium a great channel for writers?
In the next section, I’m going to get into the topic above, and talk about how I chose between Medium and WordPress.
Medium vs. WordPress
This post offers an exceptional breakdown of WordPress vs. Medium for pricing, blogging, and SEO from a business perspective. So, I want to use this space to share my personal experience with the two platforms.
How I've Used WordPress as a Content Writer
I worked with a designer to build my personal website on WordPress and built a separate side project on my own with Elementor . I've also used WordPress professionally as a content manager and freelance writer. Altogether I've been using the platform for 6+ years to create and promote content.
WordPress is an excellent platform for sharing content online inexpensively. It also makes it easy to add plugins, features, and tools to connect my sites to other relevant channels, like social media feeds or payment gateways.
I like WordPress as a content writer because it lets me run independent sites online that I can use to test ideas before widely broadcasting them.
That said, it took years of learning about search engine optimization ( SEO ) to begin generating traffic on my personal sites. With the rapid recent changes in SEO, I've been investing more time in researching social channels for marketing and promotion.
How I've Used Medium as a Content Writer
As you can see above, I chose to go with WordPress for my portfolio. But I started using Medium when I was managing content for a small ecommerce startup.
I was looking for effective ways to promote content for our blog. I wanted a channel that could help expand the influence of the excellent writers on my team. So, we started with Medium.
I asked writers on my three-person team to write an original piece for Medium once a month in addition to their scheduled blog assignments.
While some posts sat on our brand's Medium page without much traction, a few grabbed valuable attention. Specifically, we had the most success with posts that we submitted to popular publications on the site.
For example, I submitted this post about Ecommerce Easter Eggs to the Marketing and Entrepreneurship publication curated by Larry Kim, and Bryce Patterson submitted this piece on the content writing process to the publication " The Writing Cooperative ."
These publications have dedicated audiences, which helped us show our writing to more people and build followers for our branded Medium account.
WordPress vs. Medium — which is right for you?
While these are both excellent platforms to showcase writing, they’re quite different. I use both platforms, but I spend more time on WordPress because of my goals as a creator. But many writers will find that Medium is the best platform for them because of its focus on writer discovery, monetization, and community-building.
At this point, you may be ready to try using Medium. Let’s take the first step.
How to Use Medium
- Create an account.
- Follow people, publications, and topics.
- Recommend, share, and bookmark content.
- Highlight specific words.
- Write responses.
- Format text in your posts.
- Add images and media.
- Share drafts and publish posts.
- Measure your results.
Getting Started With Medium
1. create an account..
Anyone can view free Medium content. But to publish and interact with folks on the platform, you need to have an account and log in.
So, the first step is creating an account. Signing up was super easy for me. I headed to Medium.com and clicked the "Get started" button at the top of the page. From there I had three different sign-up options to choose from: Google, Facebook, or email.
I used my Gmail account to create an account first, which was super fast and simple. They even made adding my name to my profile easy, because it auto-filled based on my email.
I also set up a separate account, this time signing up with email. All I needed to do was click a link in my email to complete setup, and the process was otherwise the same.
During signup, it helped to remember that Medium is part social media. It's not just a platform to write blogs, it's a space to share, comment, and curate content within a community.
So, I felt like some parts of the signup, like choosing topics, felt more like signing up for Twitter (X) or Pinterest than creating an account on a blogging platform.
I like keeping my blogging and social media accounts separate, but Erik Devaney recommends signing up for Medium using Facebook. He says, "That way all of your existing connections from Facebook who are on Medium will automatically be following your account once it's created. This saves you the trouble of having to build up a new audience entirely from scratch."
Regardless of what you go with to start, you can always link your Twitter (X), Mastodon, or Facebook to your Medium account later in the "Security and apps" tab in the Settings menu.
The Settings menu is also where you can update your username, profile page URL, profile design, and more. You can also control what email notifications you receive from Medium in this menu.
To complete my profile, I added a photo and wrote up a short (160-character max) bio for my Medium profile page. I use the same bio across my social media accounts, so I just copied and pasted this from my Instagram account, emojis and all.
2. Follow people, publications, & topics.
In a Medium feed, the content that's surfaced comes not only from the accounts of the people and organizations you follow, but also from publications and tags. What's more, when searching for content on Medium, people, publications, and topics all show up in the results.
First, figure out who you want to follow. Whose writing do you want to read? Who’s making content you can learn from as you begin your new writing adventure?
There's a wide variety of writers on the platform, and I'm interested in a little bit of everything, so this step was quick to complete. Whether you're interested in politics or people-watching , computer science or world travel , you're likely to find some writers you want to follow too.
Medium publications are collections of stories based around a common theme. Anyone can create them — yourself included — and the way they work is fairly straightforward.
As the creator of a publication, you're an editor by default. This means you have the ability to:
- Add writers to your publication
- Edit and publish the stories submitted by your writers
- Review the metrics for all the stories that are part of your publication
As the publication's creator, you'll also have the ability to appoint new editors (so they can do all that stuff I just mentioned).
Creating a publication is easy to do. First, I needed to submit payment to become a Medium member. Then, I clicked on my profile image in the top right, and scrolled down to "Manage publications." A pop-up appeared, and I clicked "Create a new publication."
This led to a new page where I needed to enter information on the name, description, social accounts, and topic for my publication. I also needed images ready to add an avatar and logo.
The avatar image appears on featured pages around Medium, while the logo image appears on the homepage of the publication. You can learn about image sizes for these requirements and more in this Medium post .
Once I finished entering this information, I had a chance to create a custom design for the home page of my new publication.
This publication will give me a chance to not only share my own writing, but also connect with other writers on the topics I care about.
Once called "Tags," Topics are the hashtags of the Medium ecosystem. When you publish a story on Medium, you get the option to add up to five topics, which appear at the bottom of your story.
So, when I click a topic it brings me to a page where I can see more stories with the same topic. It also gives me suggestions for other topics I might be interested in.
Instead of surfacing content based solely on the social graph (for example, the people/publications you follow), Medium uses topics to surface content that's based on specific interests.
For example, this article from Beth Dunn , a recent Marketing Fellow at HubSpot, includes five topics:
- User Experience
- Inclusive Design
- Content Strategy
Following topics like these can help personalize my Medium experience and make it easier for my readers to find more of my content.
Now that I've set up an account, started following some accounts, built a publication, and followed some topics, let's start engaging with content.
How to Interact With Medium Content
3. recommend, share, and bookmark content..
Clapping hands are the "Like" of the Medium world. It's a way to show that you support and appreciate the content that someone has shared.
When reading a story on Medium, you can support it at both the top and the bottom of the actual story, where you see the clapping hand symbol.
In either case, I just click on the clapping hand icon to support a story. Once clicked, the hands will change from an outline to solid black. The first time I supported a story, I accidentally clicked the number beside the clapping hands icon. This was a happy accident because it let me see the full list of people who recommended that story.
Note : You can clap up to 50 times per post, and you can clap for as many posts as you want.
When you recommend a story, the writer, by default, will receive an email notification. (But that's something you can control in Settings). The more support a story receives, the more likely it is to be shared around the Medium network. Stories that receive the most likes within a given time period get featured on Medium's home page.
In the same two locations where you can recommend a story, you can also save, listen to, or share that story. To save a story I wanted to spend more time reading, I clicked the bookmark icon and it saved the story to my reading list. I can also create specific reading lists in this part of the platform.
To listen, I just clicked the play icon, but if you want to use this feature, it's good to know that it's for members only. Finally, I shared the story by copying the link or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter (X), or Facebook.
When you bookmark a story, it will appear on your reading list, which you can access from your Medium profile page or from the Medium homepage at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.
4. Highlight specific words.
Now that I know how to support, share, and bookmark Medium stories, it's time to unlock a second level of interaction. I do this by selecting sections of text with my cursor.
Once I highlight some text, a pop-up menu will appear that gives me four options:
Clicking the highlighter icon (highlighter symbol) puts a green highlight around the text I selected. This is visible to my Medium followers. By default, a story's writer will get a notification when anyone highlights a section of their stories.
Clicking the speech bubble icon lets me write a response to the story I'm reading. The section of text I've highlighted appears at the top of my response. (More on responses in a second.)
Clicking the Twitter icon generates a " Text Shot ," which is a tweet that automatically pulls in the text I highlighted as a screenshot.
Some stories will also show a lock icon in a speech bubble. Clicking this icon lets me send the writer a private note. If you don't see this icon, it's because the author has turned off private notes.
You can choose this on or off in your settings, but I chose to leave it on because I read that editors sometimes use private notes to offer feedback to writers before publishing.
5. Write responses.
Unlike traditional blog comments, Medium responses are treated as individual stories . Besides appearing at the bottom of the stories I respond to, I can also publish my responses to my profile page.
This is helpful for me because it lets me engage with people on the platform without having to commit to writing a full-blown story. It also helps me come up with ideas for stories.
Medium's approach to responses gives comments the potential to take off and get circulated just like traditional stories.
A quick note: Responses are engagement signals on the Medium platform. And, responding is a tip that shows up in many articles about how to promote your writing on Medium.
For me, this makes it important to respond genuinely. While responses are a way to increase my visibility on the platform, I work to be thoughtful in the ways I support and engage with the writers I respond to.
How to Write and Publish on Medium
6. format text in your posts..
Ready to start writing my first Medium post, I click "Write" at the top right-hand corner of the Medium home page. I can also get there by clicking on my profile icon at the top-right of the Medium page, and then scrolling to "Stories." I can create a new story by clicking the green "Write a story" button. That action pulls up a screen that's ready for my content that looks like this:
As Erik Devaney says, "Writing in Medium's editor is highly intuitive and — from a stylistic perspective — nearly impossible to screw up."
As usual, it’s the writing that’s tough, but a tool can help with the details. When I write, I often use a template, like one of these free blog templates .
Then, I copy and paste my writing into my chosen publishing platform. Medium makes this step easy. It retains links and other formatting from pasted text.
If I want to make a change to the text, All I have to do is highlight a section to reveal several basic format choices such as bold, italics, or hyperlinking. It also lets me designate text as an H1 or as an H2 using the big T or little t:
And I can choose between two different styles of block quotes —
Or Option B:
If I really want to get fancy, I use Medium's drop caps function.
Know those enlarged, stylized letters you sometimes see at the beginning of sentences? Those are drop caps. According to the Medium team , they're useful for "pacing, starting a new chapter, or just a little typographical delight."
Another option for creating some separation between different sections of a story in Medium is to use a separator. To insert one, I click the little plus icon that appears on an empty line of a story:
Clicking that plus icon will open up a menu with six options. The one on the far right — the icon with the two little lines — is the separator.
Here's what it looks like on the page:
Check out this story for more formatting how-tos, such as adding inline code, mentions, or emojis.
7. Add images and media.
Adding images, videos, and embeds to a Medium story can be as simple as copying and pasting URLs into Medium's editor. The editor, in most cases, can automatically recognize the media's format and render it accordingly.
For example, I want to add a couple videos to my in-progress post. For the first video, I just copied and pasted the YouTube URL, and then clicked "Enter." Then I added a TikTok video by clicking the video icon that shows up after clicking the plus icon. The final result was the same no matter which steps I followed.
You can add a range of media to your Medium story including:
- Uploading an image from your computer
- Adding stock photos with Unsplash
- Inserting a video with a URL
- Inserting an embed code for approved media
There are also different size and orientation options for displaying media.
For example, the options below appeared in a pop-up menu after I inserted my YouTube video. There are three choices for sizing a YouTube video on Medium:
8. Share drafts and publish posts.
When I finished my story and was happy with how everything looked, I headed up to the top navigation to choose between two options: "Publish" and an icon with three dots. The three dots highlight a range of choices for writers. These include sending a draft link, checking the appearance of the post, unlisted publishing, and more.
For example, "Share draft link" generates a link to the draft of my story, which I can share with anyone — even if they don't have a Medium account. And the people I share the draft with can also leave me notes.
Clicking the "Publish" button, meanwhile, opens a menu where I can choose up to five topics for my story. It's a sort of pre-publishing dashboard, with reminders to add a featured image and a link to learn more about what happens after publishing. I like that it also offers a chance to schedule my post if I want to share it later.
It's also where I hit the "Publish" button to share my story with the world.
How to Get Paid on Medium
Now that I've gone through how to use Medium, I'm thinking about how to make the most of it. I’ve done some research and found a few ways writers monetize with this platform.
First off, there's the Partner Program. If you want to earn money with your stories, this is an exciting way to get paid on Medium.
The Medium Partner Program pays writers directly each month. To get paid on Medium I first need to become a paid Medium member. Then, it’s time to apply for the Partner Program. The requirements for this are simple. I need to:
- Have published at least one Medium story
- Be 18 years or older
- Live in an eligible country
This process also includes signing up for Stripe, to collect payments, and Tipalti, for tax purposes. Once I'm part of the Partner Program, I can put new and already-published stories behind a paywall for premium members. When someone reads my story, I'll earn a percentage of their membership fee.
This is the lowest lift choice, because it's monetizing something I'm already doing — writing stories for the platform. It also uses engagement metrics to decide how much I get paid for each story, connecting what readers love to what I make from the platform as a writer.
While I'll be trying the Partner Program to earn on Medium, I'm also curious about other options. For example, I set up tipping by going to "Settings," then "Publishing" and updating the settings under "Manage tipping on your stories." I can add a payment link and I'll be able to receive tips from readers. There are options to use Patreon, PayPal, and other popular platforms.
Another way to monetize is using my stories on Medium to promote a business or brand. The new audiences I introduce to my stories on the platform can drive new interest to my business. This approach is like what I mentioned above when I talked about my past experience using Medium.
9. Measure your results.
I published my first Medium story and I’m set to earn money on the platform, but the impact I can make with Medium will depend on how my stories perform. To see metrics for my Medium content, I clicked my profile icon in the top right-hand corner of the Medium homepage and scrolled down to "Stats."
When I arrived on the "Stats" page I didn't see much (yet). But soon, I'll see the aggregate number of views and claps my stories and responses have received over the past 30 days.
There's also a graph that provides day-by-day granularity, with details on follower counts and highlights.
As I scrolled down the page, I has the option to click on specific stories to view individual stats. The Medium team is also making changes to the Stats pages . It looks like most of these changes are for tracking payment metrics or helping writers tie payment to performance.
Here's a quick rundown on what metrics Medium currently tracks:
- Claps : The number of claps a story receives.
- Responses : The number of responses a story receives.
- Lifetime earnings : The total amount a story has earned.
- Views : The number of people who visited a story's page.
- Reads : Tracks when someone views a story for 30 seconds or more. Scrolling to the bottom of the story used to be required, but isn't anymore. Views and reads for individual stories live on story detail pages.
- Member read ratio : This stat tracks member reads divided by member views.
Quick note : Member-only and non-member activity is tracked separately in Stats.
The Medium App
I travel frequently, so consuming and interacting with content on the go is best for me. For this, I'm using the Medium app. The app includes the same stories and content I can find on my laptop, with the added bonus of a mobile-first interface.
On the app, I can surface content related to my interests. These curated lists depend on the tags, publications, or authors I follow. I also use the app's Explore feature to find new, interesting content and to engage with fellow readers, joining conversations as they're happening. I was hoping I could start drafts in the app, but no. That said, I can check story stats wherever I am, which is helpful.
Use Medium for Writing and Sharing Your Best Stories
Medium is a powerful platform for writers and content creators to share ideas, engage with readers, and even earn money. By following the steps I shared in this article, you can unlock the full potential of Medium. So, start writing and exploring the possibilities. Your audience is waiting.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Don't forget to share this post!
Related articles, what we learned from our first year on medium.
Do People Still Read? How Offsite Content Attracts Quality Readership
Medium for Publishers: What Media Companies Should Know
8 Medium Publications You Should Be Following
Save time creating blog posts with these free templates.
How To Write On Medium (Beginner’s Guide)
Writing on Medium can be a great alternative to creating your own blog while still getting your writing out there for the world to see. Medium can also be a great way to make money from your content as well. But how do you start writing on Medium?
The 6 steps to write on Medium are:
- Create a Medium account
- Select “Write a Story”
- Write your story
- Select additional features
- Publish your story
Below, I’ll go through each of these steps in more detail. I’ll also discuss whether you can make decent money writing on Medium, some formatting tips for your Medium stories, and even a few Medium alternatives!
Table of Contents
What Is Medium?
Medium is a publishing platform open to new writers and experts alike. It offers a space for writers to express their thoughts and opinions on any topic. Popular topics on Medium range from mental health to social media, and from politics to cryptocurrencies.
Medium is a great solution for people who want to share their writing without having to worry about creating a website. Plus, if you join the Partner Program, you can even earn some money from your writing!
Is Medium Free To Write On?
Medium is completely free for writers. There are no fees involved with creating an account, setting up a profile, writing, publishing, and even getting paid. However, Medium’s funding model charges readers a subscription fee.
Readers get access to 3 free articles each month. To read more articles, readers need to subscribe. Medium’s current monthly subscription fees are $5 per month or $50 per year. This gives members access to unlimited articles.
Even if you’re a writer, it can be useful to subscribe to Medium. For only $5 every month, you can keep an eye on what your competition is doing and learn what is working well for other writers. Plus, if your writing is well-read, you’ll quickly earn your money back! So, if you want to try and earn some money from your writing, Medium may be worth a try .
How Much Do You Get Paid To Write On Medium?
The amount you get paid to write on Medium varies depending on several factors, with the most important factor being how much time paying Medium members spend reading your content . It’s not uncommon for writers to earn anywhere from a few cents to $100+ for a single story.
However, it’s important to remember that it takes time and effort to build a following and earn money on the platform. Some stories may earn hundreds of dollars, but plenty of stories only earn a few cents!
Who Can Write On Medium?
Anyone can write on Medium! There’s no vetting process involved or criteria to meet to become a Medium writer. Many amateurs, expert bloggers, politicians, companies, and journalists use Medium as their preferred writing platform.
The only thing you need to do as a writer is stick to Medium’s content guidelines and rules . Medium forbids any threats, hateful content, harassment, promotion of controversial or extreme content, or other types of potentially harmful content.
How To Start Writing On Medium In 6 Steps
1. create a medium account.
If you don’t already have an account on Medium, you’ll need to create one. You can do this by visiting the Medium website. You can also check out my full guide to making a Medium account .
2. Select “Write a Story”
From the Medium homepage, open the dropdown menu by clicking on your profile picture. Then select “Write a story.”
3. Write Your Story
The editor itself is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Medium wants its writers to focus on creating quality content, so it offers a minimalistic editor that allows you to write, edit, and publish a story quite quickly.
Choose a title for your article and then write your article underneath. To improve the readability of your article, you can add some extra subheadings. You can also format your text with some basic options like bold and italics, and you can add bulleted/numbered lists. I’ll talk more about that soon.
Need some help choosing your article title? Check out my 250+ article title ideas for some inspiration.
4. Add Media
You can also add images, videos, and other media (like embedded Tweets) to your story. To do this, simply copy and paste the URL of the relevant media. The editor usually recognizes the media format and renders it correctly.
Alternatively, you can click on the + icon to the left of your text and upload media from your files. I go into more detail about adding images to your Medium stories below.
Once you’ve finished writing your story, you can change a few more settings before hitting publish.
5. Select Additional Features
Clicking on the three dots next to your profile picture displays another dropdown menu with some useful features:
- “Add to publication” allows you to add your new story to any other publications you write for on Medium
- By clicking on “Share draft link” you can send your draft to someone else – They can then read and add notes to the draft
- Selecting “Change featured image” allows you to choose the image in your article that readers will see in their feeds or search results
6. Publish Your Story
Once you’ve finalized your story, click on ‘Publish.’ Medium then asks you to review some final details and add relevant tags to help readers find your story.
By clicking on “Publish now” your story goes live on Medium! Note that if you opt to add your story to a publication, you may have to wait for them to approve it before it goes live. You can also schedule posts to be uploaded at a later date.
Medium Story Formatting Tips
Formatting is an important aspect of writing on Medium, as it helps to make your story more readable and engaging for your audience. Below are some tips to help you format your story properly on Medium to make it easier for your audience to read.
Use Headings & Subheadings
Breaking your Medium story into sections using headings and subheadings makes it easier for readers to follow along and understand the structure of your story. You can easily use big and small headings by selecting some text and Medium’s formatting menu will appear.
Keep It Short & Sweet
On Medium, it’s best to keep your paragraphs short and to the point. This makes it easier for readers to quickly digest the information you’re presenting. There’s no hard limit, but 1-3 short sentences per paragraph is ideal.
Use Images & Other Media
Adding images and other media to your story can help to break up the text and make it more visually appealing. It can also help to illustrate your points and make your story more engaging.
You can add free images from Unsplash within the Medium editor itself, making it super easy to add some pictures! More details on that below.
Use Lists & Bullet Points
Using lists and bullet points can help to simplify complex information or break up walls of text and make it easier for readers to understand. Again, this is easy with Medium’s built-in editor. You can create numbered lists by typing ‘1.’ and then a space, and you can create bulleted lists by typing ‘*’ and then a space.
Highlight Important Information
Medium also allows you to highlight text to draw attention to important information. This can be useful for emphasizing key points or quotes.
By following these formatting tips, you can help to make your story on Medium more readable and engaging for your audience!
How To Add Images & Other Media To Medium Stories
Images and other media can help to bring your story to life and make it more engaging for your readers. Here’s how you can add images and other media to your Medium stories:
- Upload images : You can upload images to Medium by clicking on the “Add Image” button in the editor, or by adding free stock images to them via the Unsplash option in the formatting bar when you take a new line (accessed by clicking the + symbol to the left of your text). You can choose to upload an image from your device, or you can paste a URL to an image hosted on another website.
- Add captions : Adding captions to your images can help to provide context and make your story more informative. You can add captions by clicking on the image and then clicking on the ‘Caption’ button.
- Embed videos : You can also embed videos in your Medium story by pasting the video’s URL into the editor. Medium supports videos from YouTube, Vimeo, and other popular video platforms.
- Include links : Including links in your story can help to provide additional information and resources for your readers. You can add links by highlighting the text you want to link and then clicking on the ‘Link’ button in the editor. Medium will usually automatically create a nice box with the link’s featured image too!
How To Add Tags & Meta Data To Medium Stories
Tags and meta data are important for optimizing your story on Medium and making it easier for readers to find. Here’s how you can add tags and meta data to your Medium story:
- Add tags : Adding tags to your story can help to categorize your story and make it easier for readers to find. To add tags to your story, go to the “More settings” section when writing your story and add tags under the “Reader Interest” section (they’re called “Topics”).
- Add a title : Your title is the first thing that readers will see when they come across your story, so it’s important to make it descriptive and attention-grabbing. To change the title of your story, tweak it at the top of the story editing page. You can then go to the “More settings” section if you want to change how it will appear in search engine results pages (not on Medium) under the “SEO Title” section.
- Add a meta description : Your meta description provides a brief overview of your story and helps to entice readers to click through and read more if they see your story on search engine results pages (again, not on Medium). To add a meta description to your story, go to the “More settings” section and type your description in the “SEO Description” field.
- Add a custom URL : A custom URL can make it easier for readers to remember the link to your story. To add a custom URL to your story, go to the “More settings” section and type your desired URL in the “Customize Story Link” field under the “Advanced Settings” option at the bottom.
Note : Make sure to click the green ‘Save’ button for each section before you leave this page!
How To Make A Story Free To Read On Medium
If you’re a member of the Medium Partner Program, you can choose to put your story behind the “metered paywall.” It will do this automatically for all your stories, so you’ll need to manually make them free.
You can do this when you click the ‘Publish’ button at the top of the screen or the “Review Scheduled Story” button if it’s one you’ve already scheduled to be published. You can then change the option to put your story behind the Partner Program paywall.
If it’s a story you’ve already published, you need to edit your story and then click the three dots next to the green “Save and publish” button at the top of the screen. Then click “Manage meter setting” and you can change it here.
By making your story free to read, you can reach a wider audience and potentially gain more followers on Medium , but you will lose the opportunity to make money with that particular story (others won’t be affected).
Note : You can also share a “Friend Link” directly with anyone you want to be able to read it for free. You’ll find the “Copy Friend Link” option via the 3-dot menu at the top of your published story.
How To Put A Story Behind The Medium Partner Program
The Medium Partner Program is a way for writers to earn money for their stories on Medium. If you’re a member of the Medium Partner Program, your stories will automatically go behind the metered paywall. If you’ve disabled it for a story using the steps above, simply go back into those settings to change it back.
By putting your story behind the Medium Partner Program, you can earn money for your writing on Medium. Note that to participate in the Medium Partner Program, you must be accepted into the program (by having 100 followers and publishing regularly) and agree to the terms and conditions.
7 Beginner Tips For Writing On Medium
1. know your audience.
Before you start writing, consider what kinds of topics you want to write about and also research any Medium publications you want to submit to. Get an understanding of their target audience and what type of content they typically publish.
This will help you tailor your writing to better fit their readership and increase the likelihood of your piece being accepted. But even if you don’t plan to submit to publications, it helps to consider what your ideal audience would look like.
2. Choose A Compelling Topic
The topic(s) you choose to write about should be interesting and relevant to the audience you plan to write for, or your chosen publication’s target audience. Try to pick a unique angle or perspective on a well-covered topic, or delve into a less well-known issue. Whatever you choose, you need to be able to put your own spin on it to make it unique, as there are a lot of other writers on the platform!
3. Write A Strong Headline
A headline is the first thing a reader sees, and it can make the difference between someone clicking on your article or moving on to the next one. Aim for a headline that’s short, catchy, and accurately represents the content of your article.
Check out my 250+ article title ideas to boost your headline game!
4. Keep It Simple
Avoid using complex words and phrases that might confuse your reader. Instead, write in a conversational tone and use short, simple sentences. This makes your writing more accessible and easier to read.
5. Tell A Story
People are naturally drawn to stories (which is why Medium actually calls them stories!), so try to incorporate them into your writing. This could be a personal anecdote, a case study, or a narrative that ties your article together.
These help to make your story interesting, and give the reader some insight into you as a writer, which can help them when deciding whether to follow you or clap for your stories .
6. Use Visuals
Visuals can help break up text-heavy sections of your article and make it more engaging for the reader. Consider including images, videos, or infographics to supplement your writing (using my tips from the earlier sections).
7. Proofread Your Content
Once you’ve finished writing, take some time to revise and edit your work. This could mean fixing grammar or spelling mistakes, or making more substantial revisions to improve the structure and flow of your piece.
This is key no matter what or where you’re writing, but it’s an often-forgotten about part of writing that can instantly improve your story’s overall quality!
3 Alternatives To Writing On Medium
Hubpages is a common alternative to writing on Medium, largely because you can write about pretty much anything on the platform and get paid for it. You earn on Hubpages through their advertising model, but it takes a long time and a lot of effort to build a consistent income on the platform.
2. Vocal Media
Vocal Media is another Medium alternative, and it’s another one that features a diverse range of writers. Vocal Media offers an ad-free reading experience (much like Medium), and writers can earn based on the number of reads their stories get.
Newsbreak is a bit different, as it’s a platform for local news writers. This means it’s only a good Medium alternative for writers with a journalistic focus, but you can earn decent money on the platform if you’re accepted for monetization.
We’ve written about more Medium alternatives in our article on how Medium makes money .
Medium Is A Great Alternative To Creating Your Own Blog
You can write about anything you want on Medium, as long as it complies with the guidelines (which are there to keep the platform safe ). Writing about topics that interest you or that you know a lot about makes it easier to come up with article ideas and build up a loyal readership. This makes Medium an ideal alternative to starting a blog, as you can do it for free!
Plus, you’re not tied down to a specific niche as you may be with your own website. So, there are plenty of reasons to start writing on Medium!
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In This Guide
Writing on medium in 2024: the ultimate guide to scaling your audience, influence, and earnings.
The platform, founded in 2012, gives independent writers a space to publish online and reach new readership.
Writers, rejoice: There's a “YouTube for articles” — and that website can help you both grow your audience and make more money along the way.
I'm talking about Medium.com , a free, open-source publishing platform established in 2012. When leveraged well, Medium can help you get seen online, attract ideal readers, and even make money in the form of royalties on your writing.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go through how Medium works as a platform, along with everything I did in my first year on Medium to accelerate results.
Limited-Time Offer: ‘The Medium Workshop’
Get The Medium Workshop and two other resources as part of the Camp Wordsmith® Sneak Peek Bundle , a small-bite preview of my company's flagship publishing program. Offer expires one hour from reveal.
Table of Contents
Cold hard numbers from my first year on medium, what makes medium unique, part one: “what is medium and why should i write there”, part two: why write on medium instead of a blog, part three: how to write for medium publications, part four: growing an audience on (and off) of medium, part five: two ways to make money on medium, part six: metrics on medium, frequently asked questions.
I began writing on Medium because I was tired of using other social media platforms to try and promote my expertise. These social media platforms felt crowded, and it was hard to break through. It was also hard to attract people who actually wanted to read things, rather than just scroll.
In my first year on Medium, I attracted a little over 220,000 views to my articles.
30-day traffic numbers for every month in 2020.
I also brought in a net gain of over 3,600 new email subscribers to my list by offering a freebie at the end of my articles and having the right strategy.
Email subscriber growth in 2020. Gross growth: 4,742 subscribers. Net: 3,600.
At the time, when readers subscribed, I offered them a limited-time discount for one of my mini-courses. I put one in place about halfway 2020, and another one in place near the end of the 2020.
Together, these made $10,714, and once they were all set up I didn’t have to lift a finger to fulfill. We like this!
Monthly revenue numbers for every month in 2020 off of "limited-time offer" email signup offers. Two different offers each had two checkout link options — four screenshots in all.
My favorite result, however, is that when you put your articles behind a paywall on Medium, you are paid based on member reading time from Medium’s $5/month paying subscribers. You can share paywalled articles with your non-Medium audience for free using something called “friend links”, which we’ll get into in part five.
With Medium, you can get paid and grow your email list at the same time. In 2020, my first year on the platform, Medium paid me $7,685.98 to grow my list.
Payouts from the Medium Partner Program in 2020.
Most of that money went back into my business. I did also splurge and use some of it as fun money to buy a Nintendo Switch, which made pandemic living a little more tolerable.
Medium: A great platform for funding your midlife crisis
I actually didn’t make much progress in those first three months, because I was making critical mistakes. I probably left thousands of dollars and subscribers on the table in this first year as a result.
People hate on Medium, but that’s because they don’t know how to use it correctly.
Most people think of Medium as a blog where they can self-publish their writing in lieu of a website. Although Medium can be used for that -- and millions of people who want to write do so every month -- some articles get way more views than others.
- There are different curation techniques you can use to ensure a post gets distributed over and over again on Medium’s platform and in Medium’s daily emails to subscribers, giving you more visibility than a Wordpress website. These are called curated posts.
- There are user-owned publications that have large followings and will let you publish your work with them. Some of them will also let you self-promote. Publications are a great growth driver.
- Comments on content do not influence article distribution. This one is big. It means the quality and value of your writing determines how well you get distributed, not popularity, which is how things are on social media. Medium is a great platform for people who have something thoughtful to say.
Also, since Medium’s design is very clean, you don’t have to compete with super fancy brands, video creators, or thirst trap images. Readers don't expect fancy stuff here. The platform is designed for writing and publishing to shine.
Screenshot of the Medium interface. Words are the star.
Medium is a terrific platform. In this supersized guide, we'll go through everything you need to know to get started.
Medium was founded in 2012 by former Twitter founder Ev Williams as a way for people to start writing and publishing updates that were longer than 140 characters. Williams recently stepped down, and was replaced by current CEO Tony Stubblebine in 2022.
One reason professionals are confused about Medium is that it’s changed a lot over the last few years.
- From 2012-2015, the site operated mainly like a digital magazine.
- In 2017, Medium introduced a membership paywall and uses its paywall earnings to incentivize and pay writers to create quality content.
- The last audience size number given publicly by Medium was 60 million readers, but that was in 2016. It’s estimated today that Medium has over 100 million readers.
In recent years, Medium has also become the vehicle of choice by various celebrities, politicians, and big thinkers to tell their stories or make official statements.
For example, here’s a post from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris sharing about the economy.
And here was a post from influencer Chrissy Teigen sharing about a grief-stricken personal experience.
There are also successful authors who use Medium regularly. Laura Vanderkam, a bestselling author, writes regularly on Medium.
Susan Orlean, also an award-winning author who was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2003 film Adaptation , also writes on Medium.
Medium Has a High Domain Authority
The SEO company Moz created a metric called domain authority to help users measure the likelihood that a search engine like Google or Bing will rank a certain page of a website. This score is not the only factor in ranking search engine results, but it does help to measure the “health” of a website.
If you choose to write on Medium instead of, say, your own blog, you’ll be able to “piggyback” on Medium’s high domain score. For example, here was the domain authority of my website at the time I started writing on Medium, a piddly 30 out of 100.
Here is the same domain authority score for Medium.com: a whopping 95 out of 100. That ranking is even higher than major media publications like Entrepreneur and Fast Company.
In terms of visibility, your post usually has a better shot of being seen by new eyeballs when it’s published on Medium. It can rank in search engines. Some posts get picked up by Google Discover as well.
I would have never been able to achieve that if I had published the same piece on my own blog, because my domain authority is too low. Medium, on the other hand, has enormous domain authority.
Usually, writing for websites with a high domain authority is a challenge. I write for Entrepreneur and Fast Company, and to write for these sites, I have to pitch every article. A lot of pitches get turned down, and if a pitch is accepted, I wait two to six weeks for it to get published.
Important : In terms of domain authority, Medium is at the level of other tier-one media publications and top websites, but much easier to get into.
When you use Medium, you don’t have that problem. And in many Medium articles, you can promote a freebie, personal newsletter, or your own website in your story. This is a big opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Part One Recap
- Medium has had many formats since inception, but has hit its stride in the last few years.
- Medium has the buy-in of industry professionals, especially with a new incoming CEO.
- On Medium, your posts can “piggyback” on the site's domain authority, giving you more visibility in search engines.
In the previous chapter, we talked about how domain authority is one of the best reasons to write on Medium instead of on your blog. But what if you don’t have a blog, or don’t care about having one?
You should still start writing on Medium. Writing on Medium has several advantages with regard to visibility, design, and ease of use. Let’s go through a few of them now.
No. 1: Medium Will “Curate” Your Articles
When you put a story on Medium, it gets read by people at Medium called curators. That’s right: actual humans read every single article posted on Medium!
If curators see that your article follows Medium’s guidelines, and feel that the article is of a certain level of quality, they will choose your article for further distribution and curate your article on various curation tags.
You can see if your article has been curated in the stats section of any article. It will say "chosen for further distribution."
A screenshot from the article stats section.
Tags are topics on Medium that readers can choose to follow. You can also tag your own articles with up to 5 tags, but only a curator's blessing will determine whether your article will be actively distributed to followers of that tag.
I can’t overemphasize enough how valuable this is. As someone who has spent years in marketing consulting, agonizing over how to ensure good content gets seen again and again for years to come, having a way for content you’ve published to be actively pushed to readers over and over again is amazing. Readers see curated articles in two places: Their dashboard and daily digest emails.
The Medium dashboard recommends articles every day. Think of it like a YouTube dashboard; the recommendations are based on a mix of your reading history and the tags, publications, or authors that you follow. The dashboard got a nice redesign in the second half of 2022 — personally, I love it.
A screenshot of the Medium dashboard. Notice the recommended articles; below the article, you can see which tag the article was curated in ("product design", "tech", "writing tips", "philosophy").
Your curated article may also be placed in a daily or weekly digest email that goes out to readers. Your article will literally land in people’s inboxes. In some circumstances, your article title and your name will actually be the headline of the email itself, which is great for visibility.
If your article gets curated, that curation includes being incorporated into daily or weekly digest emails that go out to users. In some cases, your article will be the subject line of the email.
No. 2: Medium Gives You Valuable User Feedback
As content creators and entrepreneurs, we know it’s virtually impossible to get everything right on the very first try in business. That’s why you need feedback loops.
You want to know:
- How many views your articles are getting.
- How long your readers are staying on the page.
- Which topics or article styles worked – and which ones didn’t.
These stats are similar to what you’d see in a Google Analytics dashboard, but it’s contained entirely within Medium. If you’re focused on making money, you can also see how much money an article has made from articles placed behind the paywall.
Screenshot of an article from the article stats page, including payouts from the Medium Partner Program.
We’ll touch on stats more in Chapter 6, but know that it's more than enough to guide you.
The only valuable metrics missing from the stats section, in my opinion, are impressions (how many users saw the article title, including ones that didn't click) and in-article link clicks (how many users clicked links, and which ones they clicked). I'm a grizzled old marketing consultant, so I'm picky, but this stats page is still helpful.
In this example, you can see a day where an article of mine was shared in a media outlet’s newsletter, causing a spike in reads from non-Medium subscribers.
A couple months after this article was published, someone published it in their popular email newsletter (the blue spike on the chart). Since those users weren't Medium subscribers, though, I didn't get any extra payout from the Medium Partner Program.
Overall, I like that the Medium stats dashboard gives you all of the information on a given story you need to make decisions, and none of the stuff that leads to information overwhelm.
No. 3: Medium Readers Actually Like to Read 🤯
This is a more subjective note, but I think it’s important to keep in mind: Medium’s readers actually want to read content.
It can sometimes feel like the internet is overwhelmed with videos, sassy GIFs, crazy-fast memes, and other “fast” content. Readers are here to read words, so if you don’t have any branded design or anything like that, you’re in the clear.
Since my main tool for connecting with people is my email list, I want to attract people who like to read stories. Medium has this exact audience built directly into the platform.
If you sign up for the Medium Partner Program (Explained more in chapter 5), and put your articles behind the paywall, your audience consists of readers who are paying to read on the platform, which means the audience quality is even higher.
These readers are paying to read stories just like yours, and you’ll get paid as a result. Signing up for the MPP is optional, but you’ll access a more invested audience by doing so. I put all my articles behind the paywall, personally. You need a minimum of 100 followers on Medium to unlock the Medium Partner Program.
Part Two Recap
- Medium’s curation tags are one of the most powerful ways to get longevity out of your articles.
- Medium gives you feedback loops and data so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.
- Medium subscribers actually like to read and value a platform that is word-centric, rather than flashing lights and livestreams everywhere.
Related reading: How to Get Curated on Medium
When writing on Medium, you can choose to either self-publish your article or submit your article to a publication for consideration.
Publications are an exciting concept within Medium. In a way, they are like miniature media outlets, catering to audiences within Medium’s overall ecosystem.
Related: The Top 20 Active Publications on Medium
Users on Medium can choose to follow different publications, and when they do so, new stories published in that publication will be put in front of them. This is a great way to get a post in front of your ideal readers: people who want to read about the very subject matter you regularly publish on.
There are all types of publications. For example, one publication I like writing for, Entrepreneur’s Handbook, covers business and entrepreneurship.
Here’s a thoughtful publication on mental health called Invisible Illness.
Mind Café, a personal development publication, has over 100,000 followers. The publication actually launched a quarterly physical magazine as well.
Generally, there are two types of publications.
No. 1: Publications Owned by Medium
Important : Most Medium-owned publications are now defunct, as of mid-2022.
For the most part, Medium-owned publications are no longer active. But it’s important to know their history and how they worked with writers to publish stories.
In 2019, Medium poached top editors from the media industry to run a series of new niche publications. Some of these publications included:
- Forge , a publication focused on productivity and personal development,
- Future Human , a publication dedicated to cool new science,
- Human Parts , nuanced stories about the human experience, and
- Modus , a publication dedicated to all things design.
Articles published with Medium-owned publications were sometimes distributed to all of Medium, making them a great opportunity to attract readers and followers to your work. They were competitive, but you were paid an upfront stipend when you wrote a post for them.
Most of these editors were laid off in 2021, and the Medium-owned publications were scrapped. If I’m being honest, I don’t think you’re missing much. Posts and stories in Medium-owned publications never did great in terms of distribution, and you couldn’t self-promote your business in them.
No. 2: User-Owned Publications
In contrast, user-owned publications are created by members of Medium themselves. You could hop on Medium and start a publication right now if you wanted to. Some writers create a publication, then make themselves the only contributor for the pub, using it as a portfolio or makeshift website for their stories.
In user-owned publications, the writer submits a completed story draft to the publication’s editors. The editors consider the story, and then your story is either published or rejected with some revision requests or a hard pass.
Here’s the good news: After you’ve submitted to a user-owned publication once, you’ll be able to fast-track future stories for consideration by submitting them directly in the Medium interface.
When a publication accepts your article draft for the first time, they will add you as a writer to their publication. It will then appear as a submission option in future drafts.
This brings up an important distinction: for user-owned publications on Medium, you have to write a story first, then send your story draft to the publication in order to pitch it.
To be successful on Medium, you need to get comfortable with writing regularly, and that process can take time and skill. (My free online writing portal, Camp Wordsmith , can help with that.) Develop the skill of writing articles quickly and regularly!
User-owned publications are a really exciting opportunity for three reasons.
User-Owned Publications Are Still Pretty New
User-owned publications only began in 2017, and reached their current form in 2019, so there isn’t a ton of competition at the moment. Publications also become increasingly saturated as time goes on, so it’s good to get in now.
New publications are being created all the time, and Medium’s readership is also rising all the time, so there are always fresh opportunities to get new eyeballs on a story.
User-Owned Publications Are Easier to Get Into
It can be easier to find your footing in user-owned publications and get your work accepted than other media outlets. Even with having bylines in fancy outlets like Entrepreneur and Fast Company, it still took me almost a year to get a piece accepted by a Medium-owned publication.
However, I was building my readership and audience throughout the year by publishing nearly every story in a user-owned publication.
User-Owned Publications Will Let You Self-Promote (Usually)
Medium’s guidelines state that overly self-promotional articles will not be curated, but what you can include is a link and a short call-to-action in your articles. As we’ll discuss more in chapter 4, this is a key and often-overlooked detail that makes all the difference.
Here is the call to action I used to attract a total of over 12,500 new email subscribers from Medium in 2020 and 2021.
For entrepreneurs, writers, and experts who are looking to grow their following and their email list, the magic is in the user-owned publications. Your sweet spot is to write a quality story for a user-owned publication, because if they are curated, the story is being distributed both to the publication’s audience and to the curation tag. Your story can only be in one publication at a time.
If you want to get your work seen, user-owned publications are a terrific way to get noticed and kick up those views. But what should you do with that readership to best leverage your opportunities?
You’ll want some strategies in place when it comes to growing your audience, and the chapter that breaks it down is coming up next.
Part Three Summary
- Medium has its own little ecosystem of publications.
- Publications are a new feature (Created in 2017) with not too much competition… yet. They’re a great visibility opportunity.
- Medium had its own publications, run by top editors, that are mostly relics now.
- There are also user-owned publications. These are niche, and many of them let you have a self-promotional link in your story, which is very valuable.
As someone who has been a consultant for years, one of my biggest regrets is that I wasn’t building my online audience along the way.
Your audience can be your sounding board for new ideas, and often, when you announce a new product, program, or service, they are the first to sign up, because they are the people who know you best.
Related Reading: How to Get More Followers on Medium
My recommendation is that you work to bring your audience off of Medium and onto an email list. That being said, having followers on Medium does help. Let’s go through both approaches now.
No. 1: Growing an Audience Off of Medium
Building an email list is incredibly valuable.
The ROI on email marketing is 40:1, which outperforms the ROI of social media, ads, sponsorships, and direct mail, according to reporting from VentureBeat. The reason email does so well is that it lets you get directly in front of your audience, immediately, for free. There are no ads or algorithms filtering your message.
You work hard to grow your audience. I want to ensure an algorithm switcheroo doesn't suddenly strangle your access to these readers. Platforms will come and go in coming years, but an email list remains one of the best ways to directly communicate with your audience.
How do you have Medium readers come off of Medium and onto an email list? You could just ask them and have a call-to-action that says something along the lines of “Sign up for my newsletter.”
Here’s the thing, though: No one wants more emails. They do, however, want their problems solved.
So in digital marketing, it’s common to offer what is called a “lead magnet” or “ethical bribe” in your publishing as a way to invite people onto your email list. A lead magnet is a free piece of content you offer people in exchange for them joining your list.
You already encounter lead magnets all the time on the internet without even realizing it.
The gender-neutral apparel website TomboyX offers you free shipping on your first purchase in exchange for your email address; that’s a lead magnet.
The media outlet Social Media Examiner has a report summarizing survey responses they’ve received from over 50,000 marketers; that’s a lead magnet.
You’ve been seeing a lead magnet even within this guide. Our toolkit includes a PDF checklist, a 5-episode mini-podcast, and a behind-the-scenes video to help cement what you’re learning and get into action.
By offering a freebie that helps your readers, you’ll both help them and have an easier time growing your email list through publishing. As you grow on Medium… think about ways to invite readers over to your email list as well.
No. 2: Growing an Audience on Medium
Readers can follow you on Medium, and having followers can be a great way to get your articles seen.
We’ll talk about this more in Chapter 6, which covers metrics and analytics, but know that views on your articles and read time are more important than follower count.
Important : A large follower count does not always mean more traffic on Medium.
Like most other big platforms, there are some people trying to cut corners. Buying followers or buying “claps”, Medium’s version of likes, is unfortunately becoming increasingly common. While that vanity metric looks good, it won’t contribute a whole lot to your growth.
Having readers follow you can be a distribution tactic along with publications and curation tags. The best advice I can give on follower growth is to write quality articles that make readers want to follow you in the future.
When readers come into your orbit on Medium, you don’t just develop an audience; you can also create a new stream of income. How, you ask? Read on to the next chapter to find out the two approaches you can take.
Part Four Recap
- When you write and grow your following on Medium, your followers will see your future articles in their feeds or daily digests - this is great for visibility.
- Also think about how you can leverage this visibility to grow an audience off of Medium that you can communicate with directly.
- The one asset I recommend you be building all the time is your email list.
If you are looking to make money on Medium, there are two ways to do it.
- The first is to enroll in the Medium Partner Program and start getting paid by Medium themselves.
- The second is to sell your products, programs, or services to readers who have joined your email list.
I do both, personally! And you can do both as well, if you like. Let’s go through each of these strategies in a little more detail.
Strategy No. 1: The Medium Partner Program
Medium is a great marketing and visibility tool. But there’s something else about Medium that is pretty neat, and that is the Medium Partner Program . Medium will pay you for your content!
The Medium Partner Program allows you to get paid based on read time for your articles. There are some content creators who make so much money on Medium that it becomes a side hustle income or even their entire income.
Example article stats, including payout earnings from the Medium Partner Program.
When you use the Medium Partner Program, articles that you place behind a paywall can monetize. You don’t have to put all your articles behind Medium’s paywall if you don’t want to.
You can also create friend links for any of your articles. A friend link is a backdoor link that lets non-Medium subscribers read your paywalled articles for free. Medium users who don’t have a subscription get three free articles a month, but an article read on a friend link doesn’t count as one of those three.
I don’t recommend you try to make Medium your entire income, as the partner program payouts can swing wildly from month to month based on distribution.
When you keep at it, however, your Medium earnings can begin to snowball, and that’s where it gets exciting. Here are my earnings from my first year on Medium.
Think about it: What could you do with an extra $100, $500, or $1,000+ a month? Now imagine that you’re being paid that number for your content while also growing your email list at the same time. That’s the magic of Medium.
Here’s the thing: to get results like these and beyond, you have to commit to learning the platform and publishing on a regular basis. Make a commitment and you’ll be handsomely rewarded!
Strategy No. 2: Sell to Your Email Subscribers
Another way to make money through Medium is to sell to email subscribers you have gained from your writing efforts on the platform.
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, an email list is one of the best audiences you can develop, because it allows you to communicate directly with your audience and not through some algorithm that limits your distribution. When you send an email newsletter, everyone on your list receives it immediately.
This means when it’s time to promote a product, program, or service of yours, you can do it via email. You can even automate emails that lead people toward your sales promotions, webinars, or challenges. In online business, converting 0.5%-1% of your email list into customers during a launch is considered successful.
At first, that sounds pretty low. But if you do the math, it can start to really add up.
- From a list of 1,000 subscribers, a $47 offer that converts at 1% would generate $470.
- From a list of 2,500 subscribers, a $197 offer that converts at 0.75% would generate $3,694.
- From a list of 5,000 subscribers, a $497 offer that converts at 0.5% would generate $12,425.
What if you’re a coach, a consultant, or a service provider? Sending a gentle “hop on a call with me” email can generate some leads.
Back in my consulting days, I once sent an email to 900 subscribers inviting them to book a consultation call with me. Four of them did, and I closed one of my four leads on a $4,000 package and another one of them on a small-bite $1,000 package. From my list of 900 people, that launch made $5,000.
Your email list can generate revenue, but you need to be bringing new subscribers in regularly for it to be a viable resource. Medium can do this for you.
Part Five Recap
- The Medium Partner Program is easy to sign up for, and lets your articles make money by putting them behind a paywall. You need 100 followers to become eligible.
- You can still share paywalled articles with your audience for free using “friend links”.
- Bringing Medium readers off of Medium and onto an email list will set you up to sell via email down the line if you choose.
- You can actually sell to Medium readers before they ever even see an email from you by using a “limited-time offer”.
We’ve gone through quite a lot already together! So far we’ve covered what Medium is, what publications are, how to grow your audience, and how to make money with Medium if you so choose.
Now, what numbers should you pay attention to in Medium, and what other numbers can you ignore completely? In this final chapter, Metrics on Medium, we’ll do a quick overview of your dashboard.
Metrics on Medium: A Breakdown
When you go to click on your Medium stats, it can start to feel overwhelming. What do all these numbers mean? Are these numbers good or bad?
Here's a rundown of the different metrics and what they mean.
On Medium, views are measured by when someone has landed on an article of yours.
Already, a view is an achievement. It means that, in the sea of articles being published on Medium, someone picked your article, based on its headline and preview image. To get views on Medium, you must have clear or interesting headlines.
On the stats dashboard, you can see a summary of overall views for the past 30 days, and can also see previous months’ performance. You can’t pull reports, though. If you want to track performance for a given month, you’ll have to toggle to the nearest 30-day window, then add or subtract any straggler days manually. (I know, I know.)
In stats, next to each article, you can see a summary of how your article has done. When you click on an article, you’ll get day-by-day stats of both internal and external views for that article.
Views are like website traffic. Without views, we’re dead in the water, so they’re pretty important!
Reads and Read Ratio
Next, you have “Reads”, which Medium defines as the number of users who read the entire story.
Some readers will skim your articles and make it to the bottom, which would count as a read. The "read ratio" is the percentage of viewers that made it to the end of the article. I don't overthink this much; length of article is the main factor.
In individual articles, you'll also be able to see average read time. Read time is one of the main monetization factors in the Medium Partner Program. The longer you hold members' attention with your writing, the more you'll get paid.
While holding your reader’s attention for an article is certainly important, my experience is that the read ratio drops off the longer an article gets, so I wouldn't “read” too much into this metric (Zing!).
Important : If you’re putting a call-to-action to join your email list at the bottom of your articles, your "reads" will be the number of people who actually saw it.
Fans are the number of unique users that have clapped for an article of yours. We’ll get to claps (Which are like “Likes” for Medium) in just a moment, but for now, know that a user can clap up to 50 times for an article on Medium.
This can make social proof look a little confusing. For example, an article with 500 claps could have 10 fans who each clapped 50 times. Or it could have 100 fans, who each clapped 5 times. Or it could have 500 fans, who all clapped once.
Fans will refer to the number of unique users who clapped for your article.
Additional Metrics on Medium
I ignore claps and recommend you do the same.
The problem with claps is that clap circles have cropped up all over the internet. Users attempt to juice their articles with tons of claps, and as a result you’ll sometimes see articles with thousands or tens of thousands of claps on them, which can feel demoralizing.
Here’s what to keep in mind: Clap counts don’t improve distribution. What improves your distribution is getting a lot of views and having good read time. This tells Medium that people are clicking to read your article and liking what they see.
This is not a metric in Medium's stats, but I calculate it personally.
If you are running an email list, a metric that might keep you motivated is calculating your views-to-subscribers ratio. How many article viewers ended up becoming email subscribers?
To calculate this, I look at my Medium views for a given month, then look at how many new subscribers I gained from Medium in that given month. For me, my new subscriber count is 1-2% of my total views for the month.
For example, if I'm getting 5,000 views per month, and I'm bringing in 75 new email subscribers from that monthly volume, I could set goals for views, based on my audience growth goals.
You’re welcome to track your followers on Medium, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. A high follower count might mean a little more distribution, but it takes some time to build.
Follower counts are a vanity metric. In our approach, the audience that is even more valuable is an email list.
Is It Worth Writing on Medium?
Writing on Medium is a great way to practice your craft, grow your audience, and even earn royalties for your writing and dabble in the creator economy.
Do Medium Writers Get Paid?
Medium writers get paid by the Medium Partner Program. To be eligible for the program, you need to have a Medium account with at least 100 followers.
Can Anyone Start Writing on Medium?
Anyone can create a Medium account and start publishing on the platform, as long as the content follows Medium’s distribution guidelines.
How Many Followers Do You Need to Get Paid on Medium?
You need at least 100 followers to enroll in the Medium Partner Program and start earning royalties.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Writing on Medium?
The pros are that Medium has a built-in audience of users who like to read. The cons are that distribution is unpredictable, although there are some best practices to improve visibility.
What Is the Most Money Made on Medium?
In the summer of 2020, Medium reported that the top-paid writer on the platform made over $49,000. This was at the peak of the pandemic, however, when user activity on Medium was sky-high.
So there you have it! Thanks for sticking with me to the end, and hopefully after reading you feel excited and inspired about trying out Medium as a way to reach more people, spread your message, grow your audience, and even make some moolah on the side.
The internet landscape can be scary and challenging at times. If you love the written word, writing on Medium might be the perfect fit for you. ◆
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How To Start Writing On Medium
Dickie bush & nicolas cole, ultimate guide table of contents.
Beginning writers often ask, "Where should I start writing online?"
Here's our advice.
Don't start writing on Medium.
We know that sounds counterintuitive, since the title of this article is How To Start Writing on Medium, but hear us out.
Medium is an online publishing platform where writers can publish stories to an audience of millions. Unfortunately, Medium's heyday is long gone—and even though it still has a lot of users and content creators, that doesn't mean it's the best place to start your writing. The internet is riddled with posts like the X reasons you should or shouldn't write on Medium. It's a much-debated topic.
But, like all online writing, it's worth experimenting. Here's why:
- Anyone can write and publish on Medium. There is no gatekeeper.
- The editor is easy to use, and you can get your writing published fast.
- The audience is smart, and they pay you to write!
So, what's the best way to start experimenting?
Expand your writing to Medium.
The best way to start experimenting on Medium is to expand what you've already been doing.
Turn your Twitter threads or atomic essays into a Medium post. Go through your content library and look for topics that stand out. Write about those ideas again on Medium, drawing on the main points you made on other platforms.
We’ve got four steps to get you going. Let's get into it.
Step 1: Get familiar with how Medium works.
Medium is a platform for readers and writers.
Anyone who wants to write on Medium can do it — no vetting process is involved. As a reader, you can only read three stories per month without paying $5 for a monthly membership.
You don't have to have a membership to write, but it's worth paying to observe and learn from other writers.
There are three ways you can create reach for yourself.
- Followers - Your followers are the first to get notified of new writing you publish via push notification and promotion on their Medium homepage.
- Tags - Each article you publish can be "tagged" with a topic. This is how you tell Medium what topic or audience interest your article is relevant for. You can use up to 5 tags per article. Some tags are more popular than others—the more popular, the greater the competition, but also the greater potential reach.
- Publications - A publication is a shared space for stories about a common theme or topic. Medium readers subscribe to these publications. Think online magazine, but democratized for online writers. You can submit your work to be curated into a publication. Or, if you are interested in curating stories from other writers, you can create your own publication.
But, you are at the whim of the "curators" who decide whether or not your piece should get attention.
Medium makes the rules, and the rules change.
In the last several years, this has changed. While the Medium algorithm and good writing still matter, your success on the platform is dictated by the curation engine. And that's a black box. It's really hard for you as a writer to learn what makes a particular piece of writing go viral because the platform has shifted to operating more like a traditional publisher. This means Medium decides what works, and this is why the platform has lost its steam, in our opinion.
But remember the rules? They will likely change again, so it's worth being present here.
Join the Partner Program and get paid (once you hit 100 followers).
By becoming a partner, you can put your writing behind the Medium paywall & submit your work to a Medium publication. You're able to earn $ for publishing once you get 100 followers.
Alright, with that out of the way, let's get your first article published.
Step 2: Publish your first article.
The first thing you need to do is create an account. We won't go into all the details because it's well documented on the Medium website.
First principles for your online presence apply here too.
- Write a clear, short, compelling, and credible bio .
- Connect your social accounts.
- Click "Write a Story", and you're off.
If you are into design and user experience, you won't be disappointed with Medium's writer tools. They have figured out how to make you feel good about how your writing looks. They have stripped away all the formatting headaches for you. The font is simple. The pictures are easy to add. And the time it takes to hit publish is about as easy as it gets.
It's a huge leap forward from the days of writing on a personal blog.
Prep the page with an outline!
If you are following our advice here, you are coming to Medium with an outline.
This makes your process 1,000 times easier. Drop your outline in the editor. Use the same headline you used for your Twitter Thread or your Atomic Essay. This will make it easier for you to keep track of what you have posted where. AND more importantly, when your readers go looking for more, they can find the additional pieces you have written on that topic in varying levels of detail.
Follow the 1-3-1 writing pattern for flawless formatting to make your article skimmable and easy to read.
You can access Medium's text editor functions by highlighting a snippet of text.
You can choose from title case, typographic emphasis, and links. Make the subheads in your outline title case throughout a piece to help the reader know "where" they are in your line of thinking.
Add an image that creates curiosity.
Finally, add a compelling image at the top of your article.
Think of the image as a curiosity-inducing addition to your article. Treating the image like a visual sub-head will make your article that much more appealing to your reader. Medium allows you to add your own images or stock images. You can even embed videos. In the editor, you will notice a "+" icon next to your cursor.
Click the "+ to access the image options.
Bonus tip: Paste a link to each tweet in your thread and a bit of color.
Not up for "re-writing? No problem.
Paste the links to each tweet in your Twitter thread into the Medium editor. Drop in a title, add some additional context before or after each tweet, then hit publish. Readers are used to long-form text on the platform. When you experiment with different presentations it's often a way to garner attention.
Atomic Essays started this way on Twitter.
Step 3: Get your first 100 followers.
People are on Medium because they want to read good writing.
They might be looking for inspiration, or they might be looking for new and interesting ways to build their own business. They might even be bored and want to pass the time creatively. Whatever the reason is, one thing's for sure: people are on Medium because they want to read good writing. You've created a beautiful post.
But how do you get your writing in front of the right people to grow your audience?
The following three strategies will help to get to 100 followers fast on Medium.
Be topically consistent.
Use the same tags for everything you write.
Medium is a long game that favors a quantity of quality writing.
If you have been writing threads and essays for at least a month, and have a perspective on your areas of interest, use that understanding to double down on Medium. Make sure the tags are relevant to your article. Target tags that represent your broad audience and your niche.
For example, "Productivity" could be a broader topic of the niche topic "Writing Tips."
Don't re-publish everything at once.
Target publishing 2 to 3 pieces per week.
Consistency is key. Publishing 2 to 3 pieces per week will get your name out there, but publishing 1x per week or 1x per month won't get you very far. You will be rewarded for a steady cadence over time. It's easy to get discouraged when you don't see an immediate payoff, but it takes time for your work to build momentum.
Be patient and give yourself the time to establish yourself as a trusted source of information.
Follow our digital writing principles.
Submit your writing to publications.
Don't let your writing go to waste.
Submit your content to publications (otherwise, your reach will be minimal).
Unfortunately, there is no generic way to submit your work to a publication. The application process is unique for each one. And there are literally thousands of publications to choose from. Build the discipline of publishing first, and then look for publications that align with your topics. If you find one that's a good fit, great! If not, keep looking. Every writer has their process. But no matter what your approach is, it needs to be consistent so that you can build momentum with each article.
When you are ready to go down the publication rabbit hole. Start exploring here .
Step 4: Identify the metrics that matter so you can gather objective insights.
Your number one goal as a digital writer is to build a publishing flywheel.
Every time you hit publish you are generating a data point . The more you publish the more you learn. Medium, like other platforms, has a set of metrics you can and should pay attention to. The cool thing about Medium is that you can see not only the number of views that you get on a particular piece of writing, but you can also see the read time. Read time is your engagement metrics and is the biggest contributing factor to your ability to monetize on Medium.
In addition to reading time, pay attention to "Selected for Further Distribution."
If an article has been selected for distribution by Medium, then it means that it will be shown to a larger audience than just your followers. As we mentioned, there is a mystery behind the selection process, but when you see Selected for Distribution on your analytics page you know that your article will get more views than just your followers.
That's a wrap. Four steps to help you get started writing on Medium.
Remember, writing anywhere with existing readers is an opportunity to learn. The appeal to make money is real. Yes, you can make money, but it's not a panacea.
- The money you earn is a signal, and if you stick with it, maybe it will pay your rent.
- The hard part? It's hard to know why something works.
- The readers on Medium are different than they are on other platforms.
- So, become a member, follow topics and people to learn what works.
- Use the platform to learn more about your reader and validate their interests.
At the end of the day the medium is irrelevant, write where you are comfortable.
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You might also like...
The 4-step editing checklist (to finally put an end to over-editing), how to write headlines readers can’t help but click, 5 “deep work” playlists to help you get more done in an hour than most people get done in a month, how to start freelance writing with no experience and get paid, the 5 pillars of digital writing, from pushy to personable: 5 heart-winning sales copy tips.
- 🐦 Follow Dickie Bush on Twitter 🐦 Follow Nicolas Cole Twitter
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- 🎧 Digital Writing Podcast