It’s a question that I battle to answer as I seek to get people to read my articles. Readers seeing and clapping my articles gives me a great sense of satisfaction, and with the partner programme, I can earn money, creating an additional income for me.
The battle though, and it’s a battle for me is getting people to read my articles.
From what I have learnt through reading other people’s articles is that in order to get my article seen I need to tick one or more of the following criteria.
Find a publication that will post my article.
Build my own group of my followers.
Getting my article approved by a curator giving me distribution through medium’s communication routes.
There is one rather large hurdle I must overcome that’s relevant to all the criteria I’ve mentioned above.
My route to readers
For me, when I look at the different ways to get my articles seen by other readers, I must consider that I want to be paid for my efforts. ̶T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶r̶e̶d̶u̶c̶e̶s̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶o̶p̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶t̶a̶k̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶u̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶p̶u̶b̶l̶i̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶.̶
Correction: I have learnt today that I can have my article posted in a publication and I can get paid for it (I am investigating as we speak).Thanks to Brett Christensen for the correction.
That leaves my followers or curation. My follower count is a lowly 85. I don’t think that is going to help me make much income from writing.
Curation is my route then.
Curation on Medium and the power of distribution
When I decided to join the Medium partner programme, I didn’t really appreciate what curation meant and how much of an influence it could have on my articles reach.
I quickly learnt that Medium employs a team of curators that sits in judgement of my writing.
This means that if my article is selected it will be eligible for personalised distribution and promotion across Medium. Curators select articles based on a criterion, which means the curator must decide on whether my writing is relevant, factual, informative and of enough quality to be distributed accordingly.
Not much pressure then.
If the curator should find my writing fulfils the criteria just mentioned, then my article will be added to the relevant topics and distributed as described previously.
I will only know if it has been approved by seeing a box containing the magical word ‘distributed’ in the stats graph as well as seeing a new line under the page title in the Stats page which says, ‘distributed by curators in’ and the topics they used.
If my article isn’t distributed, then the only people who will see it are those that follow me. They will see it in their new articles by people they follow feed.
As I said I only have a hand full of followers, so the difference between being successfully curated and not being curated is huge, vast.
What do I mean by vast?
Single digit numbers of views compared to hundreds when distributed. I have published my numbers below, they don’t make good reading, do they?
What does it take for a curator to distribute my article?
This, for me, is where the anguish kicks in.
I have been a writer on Medium now since January 2018 and I have published thirty-six articles to date, and this will be number thirty-seven. In that time, I’ve had just two articles that have been successfully curated and distributed.
If I’m honest, this is where my ‘not doing at well at school’ problems come to light.
I have read, and re-read the curation guidelines that Medium provides and the message is loud and clear. Quality is the primary qualifier when it comes to gaining distribution. It says:
- Quality: It (almost) goes without saying, but the most important factor is that your stories are insightful, considered, and interesting. They should tell a narrative, convey useful information, or thoughtfully share a point of view. The writing should be polished and free of errors. We recommend spending more time on stories of depth and meaning, rather than simply publishing as often as you can.
Quality isn’t the only criteria that curators look at, they also assess Headlines, Images, Citations, Profile and Proof-reading.
These factors are all ‘positive’ points for me to focus on with my writing. There are of course some ‘negative’ factors which would disqualify you from being distributed, including adverts, promotional calls to action, requests for claps, copyright and content violations.
It is fair to say that I have a few hurdles to overcome…
But before I get too negative and decide that I can’t write and forget the whole thing, I want to pause and reflect on the reason I’m still writing. I have had success!
Yes, two articles have been distributed, and they were both published in the last four months. The first article was published in August 2018 was titled The painful way I learnt to manage successful customer meetings and the second one in January 2018 called How to be a Great Business Development Specialist.
What changed then?
That is a huge question for me, and it’s fair to say if you’re new to medium and trying to get your articles distributed you may want to know the answer too.
Okay, it’s hands up time. I don’t know the answer to this question.
Hindsight, this word drives me mad. Back in January 2018, I should have kept a log of the behaviours and actions I was undertaking in the process of writing my articles. A bit like a scientist conducting an experiment, recording the things you add in, or take away and then making note of the outcome.
So, without any factual answers to the question, I can only surmise that the following steps have helped me achieve success (I use that word loosely).
I have over the last year or so read an awful lot. I do read books, and with my trusty Kindle, I managed to work my way through eight books last year. I don’t think that’s a lot in comparison to others, but I’m consistently ploughing through some great books.
What I do read lots of are articles, blog posts and the like, all collected and saved for consumption using the pocket app. In the last year I have become more focused on the way words are used in these articles, and this, I think, (I have no evidence to support it) has helped my writing improve.
In the last year, I have written more articles than I did in the previous twenty years! Scary, but true.
Deliberate practice might be stretching what I’m doing, but it’s practice none the less and I think we would all agree that the more you do something, the better you are likely to become doing it. That’s the theory anyway.
Continuing with the theme of deliberate practice, I have given some thought as to how I write and the way I go about it. When I first started writing, I would think of a subject and just go and write. It would be foolish to think anything good could come from writing like that.
So, I have introduced the following three principles that I use when it comes to writing anything, whether that be for Medium or my Blog.
Create an outline structure/plan
I read about this in Draft no 4 by John Mcphee, and it has made a huge difference as to how I write, as well as helping me uplift the quality. Neil Patel also wrote a very detailed article on how to write faster without sacrificing quality. I don’t think I write any quicker, but there are some great tips that certainly helped me.
So, now I start with a plan. I think about the subject matter. It should be about something I know or have knowledge of at a high enough level that I can provide an informed view of it. From here, I identify keywords and all that stuff for SEO and then I start to map out the flow of the article I’m writing.
I define the sub-headings I will use and write those out, trying to build either an associated or time drive order. I now have a flow and a structure to follow. I will normally aim for approx. 250 words per sub-heading to help give the article some depth.
Writing takes time. Lots of time.
It’s not only time I need, but I also need to be distraction free. Being able to embed myself completely in the task I’m undertaking makes all the difference.
I also tend to work better in the morning, mainly after the kids have left for the day.
I have read several articles that say that the more time you commit to writing the more likely your writing will improve, so that’s what I try and do.
Edit, Edit and Edit
As I have previously mentioned, I’m not a great writer. I don’t utilise the English language very well and that combined with a tendency to think of what to write quicker than I can type means that I fall foul of the proof-reading rule.
For me, that means that editing is a supercritical thing for me to do prior to publishing, a bit like knotting your shoelaces before going running, without it, you will most likely fall over.
Editing isn’t just about correcting mistakes, it’s also about validating the quality of what you have written, making sure that the flow and structure make sense. How can you achieve this?
- I read it aloud, to myself mainly. If I can find an audience (it’s hard in my home) then I will read to them. This helps me ensure that what I have written makes sense and if the listener’s eyes glaze over when I know I have overcomplicated the text.
- I ask someone else to proofread the article as well. I think this is important as another set of eyes can spot things easily missed. If I can’t find someone else to read it, I save what I have done and leave it for a couple of hours and then come back and read it again. Time exposes everything when left alone.
I also use Grammarly. This helps clean my poor punctuation and other errors that I make. With time my writing is getting better. I know this because Grammarly picks up fewer errors than it used to.
There is one final editor I use. The curators themselves.
I publish an article and leave it two days (although I think the curators see your article within a few hours) to see whether it gets distributed. If it doesn’t, in my view it’s a waste of a post. So, I delete it. I should mention that I write all my articles using Microsoft word and then copy and paste them into Medium. This allows me to keep a ‘hard copy’.
Once I have deleted the article, I make a note to recognise the need to butcher the ‘hard copy’ by editing and changing the text. What I have previously written wasn’t good enough, and therefore I need to make changes.
This article is now on its fifth iteration, sometimes that’s what it takes…
The pain, and the gain I get from curator approval
How do I get my articles distributed on Medium?
All I think I can do, all anyone can do is to follow the principles I have laid out in this article and apply them. Hopefully, with all that in place the key to curator approval maybe just an article away.
What do you think I need to do to get curated?