Medium is a publishing platform. It was set up by Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, to fill a gap between Twitter and the longer blogging platforms. Unlike Twitter, content is not all free, nor is it all visible to anyone: some content is protected behind paywalls and subscriptions. Medium also has an algorithm that guides readers to particular content that they may find interesting.
Perhaps most importantly for individuals, writers can make money out of publishing on Medium. Medium is allegedly not yet profitable, although it uses an advertising and sponsorship model, and has also raised plenty of venture capital. However, it rewards writers based on the number of ‘claps’ they are given by readers: more claps equals more reward.
Writers have two options for publishing on Medium: direct publishing to their followers, or publishing in a publication hosted on the platform. So what should writers do to get best value out of publishing on Medium? And perhaps as important, what should they avoid doing?
- Comment on other people’s articles—and engage with their replies. Some of the best and most interesting content on Medium is in the comments. Medium members genuinely seem to engage with the content of posts. Indeed, many consider that Medium is all about the community. If you are interested in a post, it is worth taking the time to comment and engage with the author. Similarly, if someone else comments on your post, it is good to reply. That way, you build a relationship and engagement, rather than simply sharing information, as on so many other social media channels.
- Import content from elsewhere. It is considered quite acceptable to import your content from other blog sites and share it via Medium. If you use Medium’s own import tool, it will even add a link to the original content at the bottom. You can edit and reformat it again, then republish once you are happy with how it looks. You can also link your Medium profile to your other social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This makes it easier for people to follow you on other networks.
- Use tags to attract attention. Few readers start with the Medium front page and work from there. Unlike traditional magazines, readers don’t need to choose a publication, then flick through that. Instead, they can move from interesting article to interesting article—and that is what most do. It is therefore worth finding out which tags are right for your topic area, and then using them appropriately.
- Reach out to your existing Facebook and Twitter followers. Medium has an automatic connection function that will allow you to connect to any of your existing Facebook and Twitter contacts who are already on Medium. In other words, you do not need to build a whole new audience from scratch on Medium. Instead, you can use your existing audience, and go from there.
- Check whether Medium is a good fit for your topic and expertise. Like many other platforms—Reddit in particular springs to mind—Medium has a relatively well-defined readership. Stories on subjects like business, entrepreneurship, culture, technology, politics and life lessons seem to work best. That’s not to say that other content won’t work, just that the most popular content is on these issues. It is worth considering whether Medium is the right fit for you before you put much time into it as a platform.
- Simply assume that publishing in a publication will be the best option. Publications seem attractive, because they have more followers. However, one blogger has done the number-crunching and is absolutely clear that publications do not necessarily lead to more exposure. The right publication—that is, one with a very good fit with your target audience—may be good, but you need to pick carefully to get value out of publishing in publications.
- Worry too much about numbers. Medium’s metrics are seductively real-looking. The site focuses on how many people have read through the end of your content, and the number of ‘claps’ it is given (a measure of how useful readers found it). It is easy to get sucked into watching these metrics. However, like any other form of social media validation, it is best not to focus too much on numbers. Instead, try looking at and engaging with comments. In other words, concentrate on building relationships, not on the Medium equivalent of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’.