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Surprisingly Simple Ways to Get More Views on Medium

Medium is basically the new-school Blogger. Launched in August 2012, it’s an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams, that today has more than 650,000 users. And according to Alexa, it’s now one of the top 200 sites in the U.S.

Recently, I’ve seen Medium stories ranking higher in Google results than in the past. It made me wonder whether it’s worth time for my company to invest in distributing content there. So I decided to investigate and bring you along for the ride. We’ll cover how to get the most views from Medium, effective Medium writing tips, and some formatting tricks.

Today, Medium has more than 650,000 users. And according to Alexa, it’s now one of the top 200 sites in the U.S. Click To Tweet

Quick table of navigation:

  1. Medium vs. WordPress
  2. How to get more views from Medium
  3. Medium writing tips
  4. Medium formatting tips

Medium vs. WordPress Blog

Choosing to host your blog on Medium vs. WordPress is very much the like Popeyes chicken sandwich vs. Chick-fil-A‘s sandwich debate, except that it has nothing to do with poultry. In short, both are valuable (err at least worth $3.99) for different reasons based on your goal.

WordPress is best for hosting your core company blog, and Medium can be a decent tool for distribution of that content once you’ve exhausted other platforms. Here’s why:

1. You’re the captain with WordPress

WordPress gives you complete control over your blog funnel because you’re able to customize it with more effective lead capture. It also makes it simple to achieve nice ranking in search engines due to the many plugins you can easily add to optimize. And, you can own the readers’ experience from start to finish, and are not subject to algorithmic changes when it comes to your own content’s viewership. So my recommendation would be to set up your main blog with WordPress, even though it will likely cost a little something based on the package you select.

2. You’re a stowaway on Medium

With Medium you’re along for the ride and other readers might never find your Stories. In my experience, Medium offers a beautiful interface that makes it easy to focus on the writing, and it’s faster to get set up. It’s also free. But, I don’t believe your company blog should be on Medium.

The main disadvantage of the platform is that Medium gets the aggregate benefit of whatever you publish: it builds their brand and traffic. When discussing why Baremetrics transitioned from Medium back to their own blog, Josh Pigford shared,

“Medium is really great about surfacing content, but it removes the face of it. It neutralizes all content to basically be author-agnostic. It’s like Walmart or Amazon in that you can buy from thousands of different brands, but you rarely actually know what brand you’re buying…you just know ‘I got it from Amazon.'”

Furthermore, Medium could change anything about its interface and algorithm at any time.

Therefore “If a firm’s main goal is to connect with a distributed audience of prospects and nurture relationships with them toward client acquisition, then…Medium is about as good for that as would be trying to start a conversation about your expertise in the replies to a Beyonce tweet. Lots of people there, sure. Do any of them hear you? Nope.” shared Christopher Butler of Newfangled.

However, since Medium’s audience size is so large at more than 86 million unique monthly visitors, it’s worth trying to reach their audience with content you’ve created on your WordPress site. You’ll see that a lot of the articles Medium promotes in its Publications and email newsletter are emotionally charged or controversial — so this strategy will work best for articles where your story has some spark.

And your Medium Story can try to grab another spot within Google’s search rankings. So you’ll have two posts ranking for the same term potentially, without any fears of duplicate content dings.

This distribution strategy is a great cheap digital marketing idea that’s at least worth testing. You might find other channels to be better for distribution. But give Medium a whirl by investing 10% of your time in it for four weeks, posting once per day, and see what sort of traffic you’re able to get back to your site.

How to get more views on Medium

1. Own more Google real-estate

Medium is a vast publishing platform with many high-authority authors publishing content on a frequent basis, and it’s linked to throughout the internet. This size and authority means that, for any given topic, its SEO is stronger than the majority of independent blogs.

While I’ve noticed that Medium articles more recently tend to show up near the top of page one in Google searches (top three results), there are actually other distribution platforms that rank higher.

For example, if you search “Medium vs. Quora,” you’ll see that Quora owns spot one: the featured snippet, and Medium is in spot two. So while Medium can help you get an extra spot and cast your fishing net wider, it might be more fruitful to distribute on other platforms first.

Once you’re set up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Quora, use Medium to grab another results spot without risking getting penalized for duplicate content. One simple and effective way to do this by republishing parts of your most successful WordPress articles onto Medium, and linking back to your original post for readers to get the full story.

2. Reach Medium’s audience to build your own

If your goal is to be seen as a thought-leader and build your brand, you can try to spread your content further through Medium’s Publications by submitting pieces to them, and using Tags on your pieces.

Explore Medium writing tips

Now that you know you the best path is to keep a blog you control, and then re-publish your articles on Medium, let’s take a look at a few simple tricks and Medium writing tips to get the most from the platform.

1. Write posts that are 400 words long

While there is no designated word count for any story on Medium, stories of 400 words and up have generally been the most popular, as well as articles deemed 7-minute reads.

2. Get friends’ feedback

Medium encourages you to get feedback on your draft, and proofread for grammar, punctuation, and formatting. You’ll see a Share Draft button in the top right when you’re editing a new post. Those invited can leave feedback via the notes feature.

Anyone who made notes before you published will be listed in the “Thanks to” section of the post (or you can remove them).

Medium’s algorithm surely takes into account the number of people you’ve thanked, as you’re helping them to spread their platform when you ask additional folks for advice. So you might as well phone a friend!

Also, ensure your grammar and punctuation are up to snuff using a simple tool such as Grammarly or Hemingway App.

3. Import stories

In order to save time you can easily Import your blog posts into a Medium story. Here’s how.

When you republish content on Medium using this method, Medium automatically adds a canonical tag. This means Medium tells Google that the content posted on your website is the original version. So search engines are pointed towards your website and you won’t receive a penalty.

After publishing content on your company blog, submit your post to Google Search Console so Google crawls and indexes the post before you import it to Medium. This gives your original post a chance to rank for relevant keywords and provides you with an initial snapshot of its potential performance.

After publishing content on your company blog, submit your post to Google Search Console so Google indexes the post before you import it to Medium. This gives your original post a chance to rank for keywords first. Click To Tweet

4. Use short emotional headlines that deliver exactly what they promise

According to Medium, their ranking algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, including:

  • Whether or not a post seems to actually have been read, and not just clicked on
  • Whether people click the “Recommend” button at the bottom of posts.
  • The ratio of people who view it who read it and who read it and recommend it are important factors, not just the number. (This is an attempt to level of the playing field for those who don’t already have large followings and/or a penchant for writing click-bait headlines.)

Because Medium’s algorithm is designed to reward quality content and weed out pieces with a tantalizing headline but not much depth beyond that, it’s important you don’t use click-bait headlines.

But, shorter headlines on Medium do better. So try to keep yours under 50 characters. Use words that add intrigue such as “shocking” and “surprise”; questions as headlines; and evoke emotion.

Keep headlines on Medium under 50 characters and ensure they accurately describe what the reader is going to get, because your post will be measured by its read to views ratio. Click To Tweet

5. Solve a personal problem

Some of the best (most clapped for) Medium posts reveal lessons learned, are how-to guides, are personal success stories about very niche topics, or spark controversy. They’re all often about long-tail topics you don’t see other aggregate news sites covering.

Showing vulnerability is an important factor as well; don’t shy away from sharing the bad as well as the good. And, include the emotional ups and downs.

Look at the best performing posts by using Search on the Medium homepage to find the topic you’re writing about. See if any of your WordPress posts add a new angle onto a popular post – if so, bring that post on over. (You could also reverse it, and get new topics to write about on your main blog by seeing what’s popular on Medium.)

6. Respond to a post

Find a post that’s getting a lot of traction: perhaps one that’s hit the homepage, or by someone you know and it’s received a lot of claps. Then, write a new post in response to it.

Medium responses are different than comment systems as we’ve know them on the web for a dozen or so years:

Responses are posts. They are the same object in the system. They live at their own URL and can have responses and all the other features of posts on their own. Among other things, because responses are posts, they drive attention to the original post.

Responses are filtered and sorted — not moderated. If you’re a logged-in Medium reader, you see at the bottom of the post responses from people you follow, as well as those they recommend or that the author of the original post recommends. They are also ordered by number of recommendations.

You can also write a main post on one topic and then write your own multiple responses to help boost that post.

7. Ask for engagement

Human beings are basically wired to want to give help. It’s one of the richest sources of self-esteem, and it has the potential to be a real win-win. So ask for the engagement your post needs to be successful. Try to get 100 interactions as quickly as possible after launch. Encourage readers to take any of these actions:

  • Comment: Medium’s comments allow you to leave notes in the margins of the story at the exact location you choose. This can provide peer proof to others that your story is worth reading. End your post with a question to encourage comments.
  • Clap: Every post has a clap button along the left side and at the end, so ask for claps. “If you liked this post, let me know by giving it some Claps because then I can create more like this.”
  • Share: You can ask for shares to Twitter, Facebook, and via email. Create a section of takeaways with a headline that says to share them on social.
  • Bookmark: Ask readers to save the post to read later. Their reading list will appear on their homepage.

8. Add your story to a publication

Medium Publications are curated collections of stories around a particular topic, basically they’re online magazines. They can be created by anyone using the platform, as well as by Medium itself.

Publications have a collection of regular contributors, or the editor(s) of the publications can re-share stories from a wide variety of individuals. Anyone can submit a publication on Medium, but it may or may not be accepted by the editorial team.

Start your own Publication

If you’d like to build your brand by being a thought-leader you could start your own publication. You can find the submission guidelines for publications here.

In fact, Medium is actively looking for partners to create new publications on Medium, which they will help fund and distribute. If you are a current (or aspiring) editor-in-chief, an expert in your field, or an existing publisher with extra capacity, they’d love to hear from you.

As an individual looking for an income stream this could be interesting for you, but otherwise for marketing I’d recommend just submitting to existing Publications.

Join top Medium Publications

Otherwise, try to join the existing ones that are relevant to your topic niche, which you can find here. Or check out the top publications here to see if any might be worth submitting to.

To submit to a publication, you can use a tool such as Smediam to see 984 publications and click to join. Or do it the hard way: go to the publication you are interested in and click the search icon next to your profile pic. Type in ‘submit’ and hit enter to find their guidelines on the page. Or look for the little email icon typically in the about section to find their contact information. Or you could find the editor on Twitter and shoot them a tweet about joining.

Once they’ve accepted you, on future Stories you can select “Add to Publication” from the three dots at the top of your piece. Not only will this get your post in front of any Publication readers, it will also signal to Medium your post might be worth showing in other places, as you’re part of a selective crowd.

9. Use relevant tags

Medium writing tips how to use tags

Tags are a way for Medium to organize and suggest content to readers by topic. Users on Medium can follow individual tags, which filter what kinds of posts they’ll see on their individual homepage. Each Story is limited to five tags, so choose wisely!

Try to pick three lower volume tags (<3k) and two higher volume tags (>10k). If your post is received well from the lower tags, it’ll help boost it for the higher ones.

When you search for tags to add to your post, you’ll see a follower count next to each one. Be sure to test variations of each tag to see if there are abbreviations or synonyms that are more widely used. You can also find top tags to use here.

One trick is to change your tags after the post launches, say once per day, so you can continue to hit new audiences to get additional lift.

Tags are also useful for building your own audience. Use Search on the Medium homepage to look for a topic you’re interested in. Then, sort by People and Publications writing in areas you care about. Follow them and engage with their posts, to befriend them in the hopes that they care about your writing as well. You can even use these email outreach tips to make connections.

How to format a Medium post for more views

Up next, let’s take a look at some quick Medium formatting tips.

1. Use a high-quality photo as your cover photo

Choose a high-quality photo that’s a minimum of 900×900 pixels for the top of your Story. Horizontal images work better than vertical.

2. Include call-to-actions

Link back to the original blog post on your website from a word within the first paragraph. Include a whole sentence link in the middle of the post. And write a “read more” call-to-action and link back to the original post, at the end of the Story.

You can also include a newsletter call-to-action embedded in your post using Upscribe to capture email addresses for retargeting.

3. Format with headlines and call-out quotes

Where appropriate, make use of Medium’s formatting features including two levels of headlines, Notes for footnotes, hyperlinks, and section separators (formed by pressing return twice).

Use H2 headlines to convey your sections as major points throughout. Use call out quotes to highlight engaging inputs from other people. When you make it easy for people to identify these nuggets of joy they’ll be more likely to click to share them on social media.

4. Include embeds to keep readers on the page longer

Medium allows you to easily embed from:

  • Youtube
  • Vimeo
  • Twitter
  • Vine
  • Kickstarter
  • SoundCloud
  • Instagram
  • Rd.io
  • Github gists

Place embeds right by “the fold” and throughout the piece to encourage scrolling behavior. And, always use keywords in your images’ and embeds’ caption.

5. Include shareable imagery

Use a tool such as Canva or Missinglettr to spread your post on social. Missinglettr takes Medium posts and makes graphics and pulls cool quotes for you to easily share on social media such as Twitter and Pinterest automatically. You can also include these photos in your post for others to share.

A few other Medium tips

Can you make money writing on Medium?

Yes, you can make money writing on Medium through the Medium Partner Program. Put a check box next to “make your story eligible to earn money” and click publish to be eligible to earn money as part of “Medium’s metered paywall.” The most earned by a writer so far is $8,000-$12,000 per month. Though the majority of writers in the program earn $0.

Can I write on Medium for free?

Yes, you can write on Medium for free.

How do you get popular on Medium?

To get popular on Medium use a great horizontal headline image, a title under 50 characters, consistently publish personal how-to posts, follow people that Clap for your posts, join publications, and update your Stories’ tags every day.

Put these Medium writing tips to good use!

Now that you know Medium can be an option for getting more views on your existing content give it a try. For me, personally, it ended up not being worth it, as I drove most of the traffic to my posts on my own. For example, in my highest viewed post I was able to drive 98% of the traffic to my post through my own network, and Medium only drove an extra 2%. I’d rather drive that traffic to my WordPress blog.

Medium driving traffic to your site

Up next, check out some of the best growth hacking marketing tricks.

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To get popular on Medium use a title under 50 characters, consistently publish personal how-to posts, follow people that Clap for your posts, join publications, & use 3 long-tail & 2 high-volume Stories’ tags. Click To Tweet

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.