I've been writing on Medium since 2017.
Before I give you the proverbial "Back in my day", let me note how indebted I am to this platform. It has allowed me to:
- Build an online business in which I'm able to generate up to $10k some months
- Build and nurture an email list which helps increase my earnings an extra 50%
- Meet amazing and inspiring writers you may have heard of like Michael Thompson, Amardeep Parmar, Tim Denning; and some you may not have heard of like Maria Milojković, MA, Matt Karamazov, and Jay Squires (just to name a few).
- Work towards becoming better at something every damn day.
Of course with the recent changes in the overall direction Medium wants to head in — many Medium writers have seen drastic changes in their viewership.
I've always been a paranoid squid — I tend to write content about how individuals can use Medium as a tool, but ultimately drive the traffic away from the platform and over to his or her site (where they have a chance to increase their earnings via digital products).
I tend to get on the platform every day. I believe that no single article is going to make your writing career. If you want to build something — you're going to need to act like a professional.
Like my Best-selling author friend once said,
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying."
— Steven Pressfield
Okay fine, you caught me — Steven Pressfield and I aren't technically "friends". I did email him once back in 2017 and he responded…
I can call it a "rounding error" if you can…
Let me get back on track, however…
I spend so much time on the platform and it pains me to see the tide of what is currently being written about.
One of the most blaring is,
"My Medium Views Dropped!"
I get it — you can make money on Medium talking about making money on Medium.
I'm glad Medium is pivoting away from this, however.
It's turned into a modern-day pyramid scheme.
Again, that's why I've always advocated for taking the gift that Medium traffic is and the payment earnings and leveraging that into building something proprietary on your own website and blog.
But I have to get this off my chest…
I have to write about some of the eye-rolling, head-shaking themes of articles I've been seeing lately.
But I don't want to end with just that — I want to offer the alternative of where I believe you, as the creator, can head.
Because I know what you want — I've been clawing at building it for almost 4 years now. Even in the midst of this platform change, there is still hope for building the enterprising blog of your dreams.
Here goes nothing…
"The 10 Most Ridiculous Ways to Achieve [Blank]"
We really need to stop doing this…
Really, my beef here is with the word "ridiculous".
Is anyone in their right mind still buying it?
I know I'm not.
I thought Medium said they were shying away from "clickbait" headlines?
Maybe the Medium editorial staff is like that wannabe disciplinarian mother who never follows through with her threat. You know,
Mother: "If I have to count to three before I can get you to stop, you're grounded!
And she never gets to three.
Ehh — maybe that was just my childhood.
I know Medium isn't curating the articles anymore but I also thought the publications were supposed to crack down on this as well.
I'm not saying all publications are doing this — some have the utmost integrity ever. I've even had the pleasure of chatting with one such editor personally over the phone (you know who you are).
But geeze — it appears some are scared shitless and have doubled-down on letting content out with the wildest "clickbait" headlines.
Maybe I'm alone here…
What we can do instead:
Adjectives are AMAZING!
I just used one in the above sentence…
I know — I'm constantly blowing your mind with my meta brilliance.
But you don't have to use words like:
Unless of course what you're claiming in the article is in fact those things (but I'm going to guess it isn't).
Which brings me to the next hopeless cry of Medium writers…
We need to stop regurgitating what top writers produce
Just because it worked for someone doesn't mean it will work for you.
I'm going to come down hard on you right now (because I actually want to be a future parent who follows through on their threats)…
Stop copying what the top writers are creating.
We can spot it a mile away.
I know what's happening:
- You scan through the stories on your feed →
- You find articles that resonate with you →
- You immediately check to see how many claps it has (as a measurement of its potential reception →
- And then try and regurgitate the article through your own voice.
It's not that hard to spot…
Do you know why that article worked for its creator?
Because it was uniquely them!
And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
They generally create content that is so hard to replicate because it's a direct reflection of their beautiful and twisted mind.
It's a muscle that I'm working on flexing (rather than my traditional informative work).
Like I stated earlier — I run and nurture an email list of thousands of people.
I get questions daily on entrepreneurialism, writing, marketing, and strategy.
I'll post an article and then I'll get an email from a follower asking if I can give feedback on their article
And it's almost a spit-for-spit copy of what I just posted!
- On the one hand — of course, I'm flattered…
- But on the other hand, I shake my head and giggle.
Just because a writer writes something and it works for them, it doesn't mean it's a universal pattern.
I've written about this before but your audience is smart! Smart as hell, actually.
They can tell if you've actually experienced and is an expert with the content you're writing about. I don't know how exactly we can do this — but it's that sixth sense of being able to spot a liar.
Do you know what I mean?
What we can do instead:
I'm a terrible critic of myself (just ask my girlfriend).
Luckily I have her to help reflect on all that I've accomplished and the hard work that I do.
I understand those thoughts in your head:
- That you're not special and that you don't have gifts to provide the world like the successful writers on the platform do.
- That a lot of those writers' success was attributed to luck (right place at the right time).
- That you have to copy what works to succeed.
But I'm going to die on my soapbox arguing that those thoughts are wrong.
- You do have gifts
- You do have a unique experience worth sharing
- You do have skills to teach us
You just have to believe in yourself. Sorry, that I don't have the time to take about how you nurture that belief in this article (remember — this one is more about me complaining than encouraging).
- I have 10K followers on this platform
- I have over 4 million views across Medium, Quora, and Linkedin
- I see about 10k pageviews of my personal blog monthly
- I have sold hundreds of copies of my book and courses
- I have helped impact the lives of millions of readers
- Most importantly: I have built a life that feels fulfilling, brings me new and engaging challenges, and helps me grow on a daily basis
I don't write all of that to stroke my own ego (that's just a by-product).
I write that because I was able to do all of that by showing up, every fucking day, and sharing my gifts, skills, knowledge, and stories with interested people.
Not by stealing from others.
It's not about views — it never has been about that
"This game has always been, and will always be, about buckets."
— Bill Russell
Do your content views have a lot to do about if you're going to be able to put food on the table this month?
Maybe you're not even at that point yet, however.
Maybe — you need views so you can keep progressing towards building a side-hustle that allows you to leave your 9–5 job.
However, are views the most important thing to focus on?
I'm going to say "no".
Actually, "hell no"!
Because even before the algorithmic change, you weren't able to control the views!
Perhaps it was just easier to get more of them.
"But Jon — you're not making any sense! If it's not about the views — what is it about?"
Well, dear reader — who I might add is brilliant and sexy (yes, you)…
It's always been about the practice.
Think about it:
- You can't control if someone actually "clicks" your article.
- You can't control if someone reads your article (which is actually more important than views — but regardless).
- You can't control if someone enjoys your article.
- You can't control if someone shares your article.
- You can't control if Medium curates your article.
- You can't control if Medium changes their algorithm again
Shit — you can't control most things…
But you can control the practice:
- You can control sitting down every day and writing
- You can control practicing the craft
- You can control reaching out to fellow writers
- You can control working on building an email list
- You can control building your own digital products
Listen — I'm not immune, I've seen my stats drop significantly as everyone else has. I'm not going to sit here and complain about it.
Because they understand that,
"Writing has been, and always will be, about the practice."
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