This weekend I published my first story ever on Medium and it became the top story the next day. I’m not going to lie, yesterday was a good day for my ego. I mean, just look at me! But this was an experiment – should you or should you not publish on Medium? – and I’d like to share what I learned in two days.
Medium is a blogging platform founded by Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. The recommendation engine and staff curate the content so the best and most recommended stories float to the top, and “collections” categorize stories into topical themes.
I’ve read beautiful stories there (and less than beautiful stories, which is sometimes hard to determine because the layout is so gorgeous it’s a great disguise for bad stories).
There are two camps to content publishing: On your own site, and on other sites. Google Analytics Advocate Adam Singer, on a podcast interview with Jay Baer says that it’s a bad idea to publish your work on other sites – why do that, when you should build your own following on your owned digital assets?
Well, I wanted to find out for myself because I like the idea of sprinkling content across the web like fairy stardust to extend your reach with the goal of drawing them back to the home base; the website.
Here is what happened. When I hit publish, I had about 500 followers on Medium. I’m not sure how I got them or where they came from. Before this past weekend, I hadn’t spent much time on the platform other than to read the occasional story. Also, I didn’t share the story anywhere. I hit publish, shut down my computer, and woke up the next morning with an exploded inbox of recommendations, emails, and tweets.
My essay received more traffic in a day than my entire website gets in three months. What’s more, the analytics tell you more than just who saw it, they tell you who read it.
But the question remains, did I get anything out of it?
I’d guess this is an anomaly and isn’t going to happen next time, or the first time you publish a story. It could, but it’s not likely. I had a feeling the topic would hit home. It’s about breaking up with friends and was pretty popular when I published it here, almost two years ago. I also might have been lucky and hit a “slow news day,” after all it’s based on your competition.
Two days later, I have 150 new followers on Medium, I received one new blog subscriber here, many new Twitter followers, and probably a Klout Bump although I haven’t checked. I also received one email request to re-publish on another aggregated news site.
In other words, I didn’t get much out of it.
Unless I intend to continue to cultivate my following on Medium, those new followers are over there and are not “mine” so to speak, like my subscriber list is here.
Driving Action on Medium
The call to action on Medium is pretty soft. Putting a strong call to action at the bottom of your story is frowned upon, but Heather Whaling of Geben Communications shared with me one example of a good call to action that worked well for her clients, a non-profit who received significant attention and funding from the piece. It worked because again, it was a well-told story that draws readers in and provides a way for them to help.
My call to action is to ask for a “recommend” at the bottom of the post, and if anyone has any interest in where I write, they’d have to click through to my profile and see my link in my bio, which I include on my own initiative. The default profile doesn’t even ask for your website or blog, so I might be breaking the terms of service, I don’t even know.
Do you always have to get something out of it?
We always have to find a way to sully the thing, don’t we? Always with the calls to action.
Well, yes, in all honesty, some of us do and some of us don’t. And that might be the deciding factor if Medium is right for you or not.
For some of you, it’s a great place to experiment with your writing, share your stories, and extend your network. That’s what Sloan Davidson does here with her essays. (Another example given by Heather.) Build a loyal enough following and it will spill over. Let me repeat, I had three times as many reads in one day as I would get in three months. Also, the feedback mechanism gives you great interaction with your readers.
I still believe in getting your content out across the web; not just your owned assets, and having a platform to do so with an already established audience is appealing. From a brand standpoint, many of us might be better off as both Phil Gerbyshak and Betsey Decillis suggest in a Facebook thread yesterday, to publish to LinkedIn Pulse to make the most of your very targeted network. That will be my next experiment and I’ll report back.
Obviously, this is totally anecdotal and based on a 48-hour experiment, not on real data. I’d love to hear your own experience with either of the platforms.
The reason we want everyone to end up on our website is we have some more control to deliver the message and capture the leads. This ebook should give you some insight on whether your website is accomplishing that for you or not.
Marianne Griebler says
This is so interesting. As the number of publishing platforms continues to grow, we have to decide where it makes the most sense to invest our time and energy. And there are only so many hours in the day ….
I have been experimenting with LinkedIn Pulse. Out of 9 posts since mid-September, I’ve gotten one client, the promise of a second (once funding comes through) and I’ve had a fair number of connections reach out to me. Two of my posts did very well and were featured on the Top Posts page. My little business is brand-new, so I’m pretty happy with those results, but that’s just me.
What works best on Pulse is general-interest content, with a hint of controversy, and so in some ways it’s beginning to feel very limited, given the kind of writing I want to do. I posted a little story about Girl Scout cookies going digital because I was fascinated by what I learned about their goals for grooming Scouts for future careers in the tech industry. Crickets.
So I’ll check out Medium with the idea in mind that this is a place for a very different kind of post to live than what you’d find on LinkedIn. (I can see why your Breaking Up with Friends post did so well, BTW. Nicely done and just right for that audience.) Thanks for sharing your experience!
Lisa Gerber says
Hi Marianne, thanks for all this information. I think LI Pulse makes sense for your business as well as for Big Leap. Regarding where we place clients…. the same old answer – it depends. 🙂
Seriously, though, thanks for taking the time to share this. and I’d be happy with those results too!!
Art of Breaking Out says
Thanks for the info, and the honesty 😉 I’ve wondered about publishing on Medium, and do think a site like the Art of Breaking Out might benefit, but I have a feeling I would have to create a series of posts to gain any traction. I’m wondering if a better strategy is to guest post on a well known blog? Love this post, and will read your medium post… this has inspired me to do some experimenting of my own. Thanks.
Lisa Gerber says
I think you’d benefit for sure, Craig. It’s important to creatively, and appropriately include the call to action so you get people to subscribe to the podcast. But you can do that by writing a post around the topic of your podcast…. and link to it in your profile. I was pretty amazed at the amount of traffic this post is continuing to get, so I’d give it a try. Also, I’m not receiving requests to include my article in collections, so it gets circulated to those who are following the collections, and it starts again.
As of today, 48 hours later, it’s had 7500 reads, and 369 recommendations. (12,000 views).
Rob Biesenbach says
I just counted yesterday and I’ve written 14 guests posts on various blogs this year. Some attract a decent number of comments and tweets, others nothing at all, but what surprised me the most is very few drive traffic back to my site.
Sometimes people will follow a link within the post to a page on my site, but it’s interesting how few people seem intrigued enough when reading my little bio at the bottom to follow that back to my site. Now it’s quite possible that my guest posts suck or the places I go to guest post suck or my own website sucks, but that’s been my experience.
Jack Vincent says
I personally like the idea of guest posting and sprinkling. Perhaps for the heavy-weight, long-term influencers, it’s not necessary, but for wanna’-get-noticed mere mortals like me, I’ll do my best of follow your example here, Lisa. Thanks!