Medium has changed. The biggest update to the core of this platform just went live in August. Earning metrics were overhauled, stats look different, boost is the new key to success, and 30 seconds is the most crucial time on this platform now.
For Medium newbies, these changes don’t matter much. They don’t know the old times. They can focus on the present. And the 5 first things to do on this platform.
#1 The Medium Partner Program
To set yourself up for a lucrative Medium future, you must be part of the Medium Partner Program.
To get into this program, you need to be a paying Medium member ($5 a month) and formally apply. It’s not complicated, but you do have to fill in your tax info for future payments.
You shouldn’t worry about the look of your profile, your bio or about sections, or any cosmetic stuff.
Do the important things first. Get into the partner program.
#2 Write cool stuff
You can read as many tips and tricks or shortcuts as you want about how to grow on Medium, how to beat the algorithm, and all sorts of things. I have a long list of Medium tips in my story catalog, but the only truly important thing is writing great stuff.
That’s what Medium is trying to push. With its boost feature — a way to get more exposure to your stories by recommendations from boost nominators, Medium staff & selected publication editors — Medium is trying to find and promote the best stories.
For building an audience, however, getting boosted isn’t the most crucial step. Boosting won’t happen often as it’s done by humans and therefore slow and subjective. Too many submissions, too few people.
Building an audience in a niche is better. People usually come back to a niche they like to read about and to the writers who write great stuff about it. That’s how you grow a true following of people who come back to read time and time again.
Plus points if you get those fans to sign up for your email list, either here on Medium as subscribers, or to an external list on Substack, ConvertKit, Beehiiv, EmailOctopus, MailerLite, or any of the other gazillion email list platforms. I’d pick one of those 5 though.
More importantly, readers can follow topics like they can follow writers. If you write a lot in certain topics, you’re articles will pop up more frequently for readers who follow these topics.
Again, niching down helps in this case. In the past, you used to be able to become a top writer in certain topics. That’s gone now, but the mechanics behind it are still active.
How do you use tags?
I’d start by visiting the topics page and take a look around at existing top-level topics.
There are countless topics. Pick the ones that fit your content best. Take some one-word topics and then add a few more detailed ones. Obviously, you can also choose whatever keywords you like. This makes sense when you want to target search engines with specific keywords, for example.
Select 5 tags for each article. Always 5.
#4 Get into publications
This tip hasn’t changed in ages. One of the best things about Medium is its publication landscape. Publications are mainly topic-bound, niche-related subpages of Medium. They’re often run by experienced writers and even have editors to check your stories and help you with a few details if needed.
Some large publications also have boost nominators, meaning they can recommend your story for the boost algorithm. This is the goal.
So, get into big publications. There are thousands of smaller ones as well, but those will (likely) not have the boost option. If they fit your topic, it’s still worth it to get more readers for your email list. The whole audience-building thing I talked about.
My favorite publications are The Startup, Better Marketing, Better Humans, Curious, Entrepreneurs Handbook, and The Writing Cooperative. But there are many more. We don’t have an exclusive list anywhere (as far as I know), but you get a feel for the best ones by a) their follower count b) how often they’re featured in Medium’s Staff Picks, and c) the great writers who publish with them.
The new Medium relies heavily on engagement. Earnings are now based on engagement metrics too.
They used to be only based on member reading time. That’s still significant. But now you get multiple bonuses for engagement points, like:
- Followers who read your stuff mean more than non-followers who read
- Claps, replies, follows, highlights. The more the better.
- The 30-second rule — reading time will only matter above 30 seconds (which is a LOT of time for a reader)
In conclusion, it’s important to get a lot of engagement. But it’s also important to engage with the content you read & love because that will help the author directly!
The bottom line
Medium is new. But that doesn’t really matter. What you want to do is write engaging content that helps you build an audience, define your niche(s), and write consistently. That way, you’ll grow on Medium and earn in the process.
My 5 first things for any newbies Medium to-do list:
- Get into the partner program
- Write cool stuff (niching down helps to build an audience)
- Choose fitting tags/topics
- Get into the best publications
- Engage with other writers & improve your engagement metrics
Anything you’d add?