The Things I've Learned Writing on Medium
I've been writing on Medium for a couple of years now. I have...723 articles on there, oh god. I've recently started putting a few things behind their paywall, with almost no success to speak of.
Here are some random things I've found interesting. Most of these factoids are based off of my own interpretation of my own readership data. Keep in mind I'm not a statistician.
FEAST OR FAMINE
My most successful articles (meaning those that the most people get to the end of) are either so short that I barely consider them articles, or so long that I think they're ridiculous.
Medium has word counts buried in its editor. Its preferred metric for length is Read Time. My best performers read in either under 3 minutes, or over 8.
I think it's indicative of two different audiences. Most of the longer articles are in-depth headphone reviews and that requires a very specific sort of reader to get all the way to the bottom. The short ones vary wildly in topics.
MOST PEOPLE WANT HEADPHONE REVIEWS
Most of my traffic comes from people googling headphones looking for reviews. I'm one of the only people writing text about headphones these days, as most tech reviews are now videos. Sometimes, I'm the only long text review available for a pair outside of Amazon's reviews section.
Popular brands tend to do better...but there are one or two exceptions. Often, the pairs I find the most interesting get hardly any traffic.
WHICH ONE IS BETTER?
Articles where I try to figure out which headphones are better are my most popular content overall. It's really hard to decide which headphones to buy, and so people are constantly searching for comparisons and asking for my input.
I never intended for these to get so big. Most of the headphone articles are just things I write for my own amusement, because I have these thoughts anyway and so I thought it would be good to get them out of my head.
STUPID IS USUALLY GOOD?
Often, I'll bang out a quick dumb article just to post something that day...and it'll get way higher numbers than the last ten articles I put hours into.
That's just the nature of luck I guess. Or maybe there's some other truth there I haven't found yet.
FICTION MORE LIKE...BAD...TION
My original fiction has performed like hot garbage on Medium...even when I think it's halfway decent. It seems like the only fiction that does okay on Medium is either in the romance genre, or from an already-established author.
I'd love it if Medium was a great place for writers to share original stories, but so far it seems like that's just not true. At least in my experience. The platform is so much better than other fiction/fanfiction hosting sites out there, so it's a shame that it doesn't have more readers looking for that kind of content.
MY FOLLOWERS DON'T SEEM TO BE READERS
I have 1400 Medium followers. I'm often lucky if any of them read or interact with a story.
There are a few die-hards, but other than those much-appreciated fans...I'd say about 1 percent of my followers tend to read my stories, on average.
It's crazy. Right?
Medium has succeeded in creating a magazine-like platform with an incredibly fickle readership. Some folks follow only certain writers, and others just randomly come across articles and don't even realize they're part of a blogging platform.
I guess that was part of the original goal for Medium as a web site...but it's quite frustrating to write good content and have no idea how it will perform. I guess that uncertainty is just part of life, and I know that this can happen in any creative industry to anyone, even those at the top.
The sad reality is that the only true Medium formula is to throw a million darts at the wall and hope two of them stick.