The Truth About Publishing on Medium
As an aspiring writer who’s trying to make it on Medium, you will see this advice often — publish your stories in as many popular publications as you can. But does this really work?
I’ve tried this out myself during the 6 months of my presence here on Medium, and the results are surprising. While it’s certainly true that being published in a popular publication can get you additional exposure (no guarantee, though), you can achieve even better results on your own or with your own publication, regardless of how many or few followers it might have.
I’m currently publishing in nine publications, and I’m running two of my own in addition to those. The most popular publications I currently write for are
And these are my publications:
You’d probably assume that the more followers a publication has, the more successful will your post be when published there. WRONG!
As it turned out, the number of the publication followers has surprisingly little to do with the success of the published stories.
If you check my stats above, you’ll see that I actually had more views (a couple of thousands) when I published some of my stories in my small, boutique publication The Rabbit Is In (107 followers) than when I published in most of the other publications — with one exception.
The Billfold has far fewer followers than The Coffeelicious and The Startup Grind, but I had the greatest success with it. It is an absolutely amazing publication that can deliver fantastic results. They are focused solely on the topic of money, though, so you can only write about finances.
I didn’t have any problems with getting published in The Billfold, although they are quite demanding. What I like most about them, in addition to the previously mentioned amazing exposure, is how professional their editor Nicole Dieker is. She will respond, and she will respond promptly. So even if your story is rejected, you will be notified, and that’s precious (and rare).
Also, they do promote their stories really well and that’s something not every publication does for their writers. Thanks to that, my most successful story of all time with 3,780 views so far is Going to College at 40 saved My Life, and with that The Billfold turned out to be an absolute winner for me.
I expected a lot from being published in The Coffeelicious and found it hard to get in. They completely ignored quite a few of my submissions, so I have almost given up and then tried one last time with Why I Love My Cat. They decided to publish it and notified me about the decision in a few days.
I was excited to finally become a writer at The Coffeelicious, but disappointed with the results. The story has only 393 views so far. This is not nearly as good as I expected considering that I’ve achieved about the same result (377 views) with What Not to Say to a Person Who’s Grieving that was published in my new publication Transform the Pain (only 9 followers so far).
Another issue with The Coffeelicious is that they do not seem to invest nearly as much effort into promoting your story as, for instance, The Billfold and they can be unresponsive. I submitted another post (And Then My Dog Looked at Me and Said) over 10 days ago, and they have neither accepted nor rejected it. They also didn’t respond to a couple of my follow-up emails.
A good thing about The Coffeelicious, on the other hand, is that you are free to write about most anything there.
I very much like The Writing Cooperative for several reasons. I see it as a supportive community of writers, and that is something I enjoy and need as a writer. My story How to succeed on Medium received a good number of views (918) and the most recommendations (101) of all my posts so far.
The Writing Cooperative will also let you publish without much editing on their part. With some publications, such as The Billfold and The Startup Grind, you will have to go through the editing process before they publish the story and adhere to their guidelines. I have no problem with that, but if you are more of a free spirit that might be an issue.
As you know, you are limited in what you can write about for The Writing Cooperative, since it is a publication devoted to writers and writing.
I was happy with the results of Do NOT Start Your Writing Career by Building a Website that was published in The Startup Grind. It received 915 views so far, which currently makes it the 7th most viewed post of mine.
The editor was responsive and a pleasure to work with. They also did a good job promoting the story. The publication, however, is aimed at startups and that’s not something I have much to write about at this point in life. Otherwise, I’d be more than happy to publish there again.
What I’m sharing here with you are the actual results of my 6 months long experiment with writing and publishing on Medium in different ways, on different topics, and in different publications.
The numbers and facts are all that matters and, as you can see from my stats, popular publications with many followers are no guarantee for success. In fact, you can achieve great results by not even publishing in any publication. I’ve come across more than one post that was hugely popular on its own.
I’m not saying, however, that publishing in Medium publications is a bad thing — not in the least. It can give you exposure to a new audience and that is valuable. But do not expect miracles. Good results can be achieved in many ways and popular Medium publications may not deliver what you expect.
Mateja started to write short stories at the age of ten and later found herself in the role of a freelance journalist, radio personality, and psychologist. Her life resembles a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs and some pretty wild turns. Among other things, her car was destroyed by tanks and she survived several brushes with death. She graduated summa cum laude in psychology from Arizona State University and is now working as a brain whisperer at Transform the Pain. Connect with Mateja on LinkedIn and Patreon.
Originally published at writingcooperative.com on December 16, 2016.