Seeing 2020

How Did a Few Medium Writers Make it big

I ain’t no expert but I followed their journey from the start and here is what I found out

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Ok, before I dwell into what I found, a little about why I did this research. Since publishing my previous article titled Are you fixated over the Medium Stats than writing?’ I got one of my pieces curated —The 8–8–8 Rule’ .

And that has sent some of my stats skyrocketing — More than 25k views, 500+fans and 3k claps. Not to gloat but just happy to taste a little success.

Because that means the system works and it’s only a matter of time.

The downside, though, is I am now obsessed to understand how to create viral content. So, I did my research to find out what articles get popular, which ones are curated, what strategies do these biggies of Medium employ to gather such a huge follower base? How did they start their journey?

I will tell what I have found out but there is a common denominator that I have found in this quest for going viral, which is the crux of this article.

Ok, in all honesty going viral is a little far fetched. What I want, nonetheless, is to get curated, that doesn’t sound too demanding now, does it? So I looked up the profile of a few Medium bloggers — Shannon Ashley, Ayodeji Awosika, Tim Denning, Brian Rowe and several others to study their work, their stories and their strategies.

If you follow any of them, you’d know I am not going to write anything new or something they haven’t spelt before. These writers are an open book who offer their strategies as a piece of cake to all their readers. But the one thing I was looking for was that common denominator. What is that factor which is common to all of them?

10 deceptively simple strategies that you can employ right away

1) They write, write and write

Now this one sounds simple but trust me, it isn’t. I have written several times about how writing consistently has been a challenge for me starting with this article on Art of Procrastination to the recent article on ‘You can’t do it all’.

And if there is one thing that has worked for them is it is the sheer volume of articles they write.

What happens when you practice Tennis since age 6, you get trained over the years to become a world-class tennis champion. It holds good for any artist.

There is no shorter route to success than practising the art each day every day until you master it.

We all love the outcome.

We love that green notification on our app, and we get fixated to check how our earnings are trending.

We love to have our content go viral, but we need to enjoy the process equally.

The process is tough and gruelling, and it truly tests your patience. If there were a formula for success, everyone would be at the top.

People would love you for the value you create, the content you share but not the other way round.

Statistics would follow if you follow your heart to pursue the art — write each day, write a little better the next day and a little better the day after.

In order to write, you will have to read as well. Read from other fellow writers, give back to the community, comment on other’s articles, create a sustainable practice for yourself,

Earn those claps and recognition.

Pursue the skills they have, money would follow

2) They market themselves as a brand

If you look at their profile, you will find one remarkably easy-to-spot similarity; they sell themselves. They have created their niches, and they proudly market that self-image. They are fearless in showing their true selves.

3) Their writing reflects a lot of their personality

They write about their life stories, and if you read their articles, it isn’t the takeaway that matters, it’s their story, the emotion that resonates with their readers.

For example, Shannon Ashley and Shaunta Grimes— two writers who have written extensively about their journey as writers, their income from writing, their writing struggles in their previous lives.

They have written openly about social issues such as mental health issues, depression, single parenting, etc.

They write on a broad range of topics, and that gives them a wide range of audience who can connect with them at a personal level.

They aren’t the editors of high-end magazines but they made it right to the top with very humble beginnings, and that’s what connects their readers (including myself, as I am a big fan of their writing) to them.

4) They write, edit, re-write, improvise, research a lot on their content

Ok, this again might not be true for all the writers and all of their writings. Some are heartfelt essays written in under an hour and some others require a lot of research and data collection.

It may not be apparent when you first look at their content. When you read their articles and read them carefully, you understand how effortlessly they write; it shows the effort that goes into that kind of writing.

That maturity of writing good content and sustaining it, can’t be replicated by writing a few articles or by having one piece go viral.

You have to be persistent over the years.

That’s when you get the flow of content, you get the right words to convey your message and develop the skill for honest story-telling.

5) They have a writing system outside of ‘Medium’

They all have their website, subscription form and email list. It allows them to share their upcoming work — a novel, a book, a collection of their essays, podcasts, etc. the avenues of utilising your website are endless.

Start small — start with creating a website. It is super easy.

I have created mine using Bluehost as the hosting site and Wordpress as the add-in to publish my articles.

It took two days to fully configure it, install the right theme and customise it. When I had completed it, I was happy as a puppy.

I have used it predominantly to publish my articles on a parallel platform. And having full ownership of that platform would help me in building a scalable model.

I plan to use it more for creating the subscriber base and utilising it for affiliate marketing.

6) They have more than one forum/channel to publish themselves

They don’t restrict their art to Medium alone. They write in a lot of different places. Some of them have grown as Quora writers.

Check out Todd Brison — he has more than 2Mn views on Quora, writes for Time, Inc. and CNBC. Or check out @Brianna Wiest who posts small excerpts from her writing on Instagram.

They write on other platforms to grow their subscriber base and also to diversify their earnings.

Just in case you get fired from Medium — is that a possibility?

I don’t know but we should ask some popular ex-Medium authors like Michael Spencer — a very famous author on Medium who was one of the early starters on this platform. He suddenly disappeared and now writes for Linkedin. Wonder why?

So, it’s always wise to diversify the platforms you publish on. When you are starting your writing journey focus on one, but as you grow, leverage different platforms to mitigate the risk of one of them shutting down on you.

Most of them have written a book or are in the process of writing one.

7) They are all fulltime writers dedicated to their writing

They either have given up on their full-time careers in their previous lives to pursue writing full time or at least can spend a dedicated amount of time towards writing.

They have made their choice.

8) They all have a backstory

Story of how they haven’t done well in their previous lives or their struggles as a budding artist. They have shown that struggles are real, but so is a success.

And, if you are to tread that path, success is yours.

Their backstory helps them build their profile and portfolio of work.

What’s your story?

9) They all write for a publication

It need not necessarily the prominent in-house publications but other smaller but well-known publications like The Startup or P.S. I Love You or Better marketing

10) Tried and tested works

Ok, I know it’s such a cliche but trust me it’s something which we have forgotten in this world where we want to try something new, explore a different idea or exploit a new resource.

Sometimes the age-old principles, strategies work just seamlessly.

Tried and tested titles are like an ageless wine. They refuse to die.

People find value in them, and so they work more often than not.

For example, the article that I wrote The 8–8–8 rule I really thought was such a simple article on work-life balance but it is my best piece so far because of the simplicity of it and the fact that so many people can relate to it.

These were the top 10 tactics that I found out about these writers and what I have learnt so far from following and reading their life stories on Medium.

Let me know in the comments below what you have liked the most or if there is anything else that you have found out and is missing in my list.

Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

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