Step one: Change your mindset
Medium excels at helping you directly engage with an audience that cares about what you are writing and giving you the ways and means to start a conversation with those people.
The key to growing your readership is focusing on the people who will gravitate towards your message, interacting with them, and giving them space to start and spread even more conversations from you, about you, and inspired by you.
Step two: Follow people and publications that matter to you
You know the the countless brands on other social platforms who are followed by thousands of people but who follow no one themselves?? Don’t do that on Medium. The best way to find people who will benefit from your writing is to find the voices that matter to you first.
Dive into tags, publications, and people who are writing about the topics you want to write about. Follow them. Highlight. Share. Build your network.
Step three: Start talking with, not just at
You’re on Medium because you have something to say about something in which you are interested. Writing is only half the battle in growing a readership: Taking part in relevant conversations is essential to success.
When you read an interesting story on Medium, respond to it. Show readers what’s important to you by making yourself an active part of relevant communities. Make these responses matter with your words, and make them beautiful, readable, and shareable by adding a title and image, helping them stand out as influential, well-thought-through pieces worthy of reading.
Add the response to your publication, if you run one, to expose new voices to the conversations you care about and bring new eyes, minds, and voices to the ones you are starting.
Step four: Experiment with engagement
The best way to get a person to engage with you is to get out there and ask them.
Medium really shines when posts turn into conversations: Embrace this, and finish your posts with something that will inspire your readers to respond. Finish your thoughts with a question for your readers. Challenge your audience to tell you how they reacted to what you wrote. Ask readers to highlight sections they loved or hated within your piece and to tell you about what made them highlight. Read these comments, and respond yourself.
Use the @ symbol to flag certain Medium users. Is there someone on the platform who has said smart things about the topics you are interested in? Do you want to specifically invite others to join your conversation? Mention them by name and get their attention.
Step five: Celebrate and elevate individual voices
Humans like humans. Especially if you are a publication, this step is crucial for your success.
Building your publication’s brand is important, but letting the people writing within that publication shine is how you’re really going to be able to grow a readership — and this tactic won’t only help your base grow faster, people will stay around longer because of the humans writing for the publication.
Publish stories written by individuals rather than branded or group accounts. We have data that shows an individual performs better in the Medium stream, garnering more recommendations, responses, and shares when compared to branded and group accounts.
This advice isn’t just for publications: Individual accounts can benefit from this step just as much. Whether it’s your name, a pseudonym, or an anonymous account, write personal, honest, genuine stories. The most impactful writing on this platform is rooted in real people’s lives, thoughts, and emotions. That’s what matters. That’s what moves us.
Step six: Get tactical about growth
Understanding and engaging with your audience (and future audience) is a huge part of growing readership — but let’s face it, there are some key tactics that help boost growth, too.
- Sync your Medium publication or account to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. We’ll make sure fans of yours that are on Medium follow you.
- Share your Medium posts on other social media accounts. As with all outreach on social media, target the places that make the most sense for what you are saying and tailor the message for that specific audience.
- Hone the craft of your post to make it easier to read and share. Writing something worth reading is most of the battle, but it’s also important to understand the technology that powers the Medium stream. When you use tags, your posts surface in the streams of people who follow those tags. Likewise, when people respond, recommend, or highlight your posts, it surfaces what you’ve written in the streams of their followers. Use these tools strategically to get in front of the people who are most likely to want to read your content and then interact with it, sharing it with even more people who want to read your stuff.
- Make what you write easy to read. Craft hooks in your writing that make it easier to parse. Direct the eye to key quotes. Work in specific points that will make your readers want to highlight, to respond, and to share. Check out How to Win at Medium for some tips on formatting.
Some inspirational examples
Every person and publication will find their own style and best practices for engaging and growing an audience, but here are some examples of folks who are doing a great job and can serve as a starting point to building your own strategy.
The Billfold has a great handle on how to engage with their readers. They regularly feature topics like Friday Estimate and How Much Was Your Breakfast? to start conversations for and with their readers. They also focus on recommending and responding to people who write longer-form, further-reaching pieces.
A Story of a Fuck Off Fund
You will be the kind of woman who can tell anyone to fuck off if a fuck off is deserved, so naturally you start a Fuck…
Femsplain does a great job featuring posts that are engaging and interactive. Femsplain editors recommend the best responses that can generate more conversations amongst their readers.
Most men will live their entire lives without any insight into how hard women work to actively unlearn our own social…
Rhea Drysdale did an amazing job recommending and responding thoughtfully to readers of her post, helping her reach more people with her story than she could with recommendations and the readership of the publication Athena Talks, where her post lives, could without that engagement.
This is is by no means an exhaustive guide.
Tell us what works for you in the responses.
Share your stories of what’s worked (and what hasn’t) — and don’t forget to share your publication, too.