How Does Curation Help You Earn Money on Medium?

Can you explain about curation, why it matters, how to get posts curated and how it affects income?– Randy

If you’re just now coming to the Medium writing party (which is a great place to be!) you probably have a lot of questions about curation. And you’re not alone. Curation is one of the topics I get asked about most frequently.

About a year ago, Medium started curating posts. What that means is that writers could opt to let their stories be read by the team of curators, who, if they liked it, were armed with the power to spread it to people who like the topics they tag it in. For example, if I write a story about habit-forming, curators might choose to distribute it in productivity and self. People who follow those topics will be recommended my story on the app, on the web homepage, and in digest emails.

This is the power of curation: reaching beyond your followers. People who have never come across my content before will be recommended my stories by Medium! They’ll read it, clap for it, maybe even follow me as a result and read my content.

Why does curation matter?

It’s hard to overstate the importance of curation. When a story is curated, it’s going to do a couple of things.

  1. Your story will reach new audiences. Curated stories will be shown to eyes that might not have seen your work before. This is amazing for building a fanbase and getting wider support for your work.
  2. Your story will earn more money. If you participate in the Medium Partner Program, any story that gets engagement will earn money. As your story gets more eyes, more reads, and more fans, the earnings will rack up. And not only that, but you’ll find it continues to rise for longer than you expect. Because…
  3. Your story will have a longer lifespan. Medium pays writers on a royalty-based system. When people engage with your content, you get paid. And when your stories are curated, Medium will continue to recommend them to people long after you’ve written them.

How can you get posts curated?

Medium are cagey about how exactly to guarantee curation, preferring to issue some pointers and tips rather than a rubric. My guess is this is because they prefer people not to game the system as so many others are gamed.

The main guideline seems to be to write well. Avoid typos, formatting errors, or odd stylistic choices. Write on something you have lived experience with. Write with an engaging voice. Stay away from clickbait headlines. Use a nice image and make sure you credit it appropriately. Be tasteful with calls-to-action at the bottom of your post.

My own personal system? I write stories that I’m an expert in – namely, stories about my life or experiences – and then I extrapolate out to how other people might find this kind of content useful. I read my stories aloud before publishing, to make sure I catch typos and to ensure the story flows as it should, and isn’t disjointed or clunky. I make full use of the editing tools Medium provides, such as titles, line breaks, and the Unsplash image integration. I pray, because I can’t guarantee a thing. And if a story isn’t curated? I bookmark it and republish it three months later. Every story is worth a second try, in my opinion.

Curation is hard to pin down.

Curation is highly subjective. It’s an art! Curators are just people, like us, and they have thousands of posts to read. What this means is there’s no real transparency on what makes a curated post versus what doesn’t. On more than one occasion, I’ve written a story which was not curated, republished it later for it to be curated in three different topics, or curated in different topics than the first time around. This to me points out the fact that there’s no objectivity in curation. What one likes, another won’t.

As a general rule, I find longer stories are more often curated. Stories with a read time of 4 minutes or more are significantly more often curated than those which are 3 minutes or less. Stories in certain Medium-backed publications like Better Marketing are always curated, but otherwise being in or out of publications don’t seem to make a difference. I’ve published between 8 am and 11 pm BST, Monday to Sunday, and never noticing a difference in whether time affects curation.

I also suspect Medium curators look at the title, the first paragraph and the last paragraph and just skim the rest of the story, so triple-check those areas for typos and make sure those areas accurately reflect what your story is about.

Plus, Medium likes to change the rules with no real rhyme or reason. For the first six months of curation, I was never curated above a rate of 66.7%. It was as steady as a rule – only 2/3 of my stories were distributed. Then in May, something changed. My stories were all the same, but suddenly I started experiencing curation rates of 95% or higher. It was highly unusual if I wrote something that wasn’t curated. Medium didn’t say why or how this happened, but I wasn’t alone.

They may change it again. They may do away with curation entirely. They may bring something newer, bigger and better. But until then, this post will help you navigate the turbulent waters of curation on Medium, which can be very lucrative for your writing if you get them right.

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