“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
― Jodi Picoult
If you are new to Medium, you probably need to spend some time getting the lay of the land. That is, to understand what others are doing on this platform — what works and what doesn’t. It’s a good idea to follow some of the big shots because they are already successful on this platform. Model yourself after them.
Hear emulate, not steal.
To a certain extent, writers have similar ideas. The good ones emulate ideas that work by making them their own. They don’t steal, they make a thought their own through tweaking, testing it, and adding their own personality.
You have to do you if you’re to be believable. Let him or her do them. They are already taken, but no one can do you but you. Don’t fake them. Make you.
Please don’t hear go steal from the best.
Please do hear borrow their ideas that work and put them to work for you.
While you’re studying the best and brightest you need to be working too.
What should I be working on?
Glad you asked.
Unless you’re a total pantser it means that you need to spend some time getting familiar with this platform.
Quick side note, this is no judgement of pantsers. I am one of you. Fist bumps to the pantsers. I get an idea and a brief plan in my head then go after it.
That’s how we do it; yes?
We fine-tune as we act.
Medium is a forgiving platform. You can test ideas. If there’s something you want to write about, do it. If you have the heart to write about more than one topic while you’re finding your voice and your audience on this platform, write to explore who you are, how your ideas perform, and who responds to them.
Gage what you do next based on how your stories perform and your motivation. If something doesn’t work or work well, it might just need to be tweaked. Note what you learn here. It’s valuable.
If you’re not a pantser, you’re probably a planner. Some of you will study this platform for months before you write your first story. Either way is okay.
Read, read, read. Some of you will read morning, noon, and night, until your eyes are bloodshot and weary to find the stories and topics that resonate with you and are engaging. You’ll write an abundance of stories to learn first-hand what works for you and what does not. You’ll have written a book worth of content and have some intel to know what works. You’ll painstakingly pour yourself over stats.
Others will learn by having read and seeing what works for other writers.
Either way is okay and both are valuable.
Engagement is an important part of the platform. The way you engage across the platform can help a writer earn money if the writer locks pieces through the Medium Partner Program, but it’s also important for writers who aren’t members. It’s a way of gauging whether or not writers like your work.
You’ll find engagement throughout the medium help pages used a variety of ways, but what it really gauges is the way you interact with a piece. Interaction is important and it seems some interaction is more highly than others. The engagement measurement is ever-changing and the algorithms change too, but engagement, according to Medium guidelines is three-fold. It involves applause, highlights, and comments. All engagement is helpful to the performance of a story.
If you think you’re issuing claps for the posts you like your impression is different than what the founder intended. It felt kind of goofy at first, especially because the platform began with a heart. You would give love to the story you enjoyed reading.
Consider a performance, a speech, a concert. You give applause — not claps — based on how you much you enjoy a performance. This engagement is what the founder had in mind when the change from the heart to applause which happened around August 2017. If you really enjoy a performance you might applaud until your hands hurt. It’s the same on Medium. You issue applause to the degree you feel moved by a story.
At the time writers didn’t know that Medium was gearing up for some platform changes. The ability for writers to lock stories was already under consideration. We didn’t know it at the time, but applause was the first binary measurement of engagement, revenue distribution of locked pieces, for your writing.
Writers tend to be a quick study of change. They learned quickly that applause happens on a scale of 1–50. You applaud based on how much you like the story. There are a lot of theories behind how to clap. We’ll explore some of those later.
When you’re ready, it’s time to write stories. Long stories, short, stories, fiction stories, life lessons, technology, there are many different genres on Medium. If you can’t find a publication that accepts anything you want to write about then you may want to start one for yourself.
If you are a blogger a story is synonymous with a post. A story is the method by which you publish your work on Medium. It’s the piece of writing you share across the platform. When you publish a piece of writing you are publishing your story to share with the world.
Some say you’ve got to find your tribe. I hate that word. Maybe it was effective back in the day, but I think it’s overused and antiquated. You do need to connect with a group of writers who you can support and encourage you. When you are weary they will hold you up.
If you have a good group of online writers someone will be able to respond quickly, especially if you have global members. When someone is sleeping someone else is awake. They will help you gauge your aptitude and capabilities. When you break or have a breakthrough you can get help or celebrate with someone who will respond quickly.
If you’re involved with writers who meet in person once a week or once a month you can draw strength through personal relationships and face-to-face encouragement.
However you choose to do it, you need to connect with other writers who are doing the same thing — writing. You need to yolk together with people who are doing the same thing, because some people will never understand “that blogging thing” and how it makes money. I’m hearing Rodney Dangerfield and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” playing in my head. Because creative work is often misunderstood by those closest to you.
Let’s face it, sometimes family just doesn’t understand, but a writer will empathize with what you are going through and be able to offer encouragement. Find a group of writers who is active and understands a writer’s life.
Are you ready?