How I Use Medium to Grow my Email List


Photo by Marek Levak from Pexels

Growing your email list is touted as the number one way to connect with your audience. It’s personal, it’s connected, and it’s a way for you to easily get your content in front of your audience. This matters to most entrepreneurs because your audience is, or will soon become, your primary source of income. For that reason, there’s a lot of dialogue already out there on why it’s important, why you should grow it, and what you can do with it.

In this article, I’m going to focus specifically on why Medium is a good place to be doing this, as well as the Medium-specific benefits you’ll get from building a mailing list.

From a personal perspective, I put at the bottom of every story a little call-to-action. I invite folks to join my mailing list, offering a starter kit to anyone who’d like to begin earning money by writing on Medium.

Why did I choose this hook? Well, anyone reading these stories is on Medium. They may be aware of Medium as a source of writing income, and they just want to get started. It’s also possible they don’t have the slightest clue, and this is my chance to educate them. And if they’ve gotten to the bottom of my article? They probably like what I have to say.

And it works. I get between 100–250 subscribers every month. It’s not huge, but it’s steady and it’s going to keep growing. Let’s get into why you should go to this effort.

Why grow your email list?

If you’re already writing on Medium, you might think there’s no point because folks can follow you and easily find your content that way. But that’s a misconception, for two reasons.

First, Medium doesn’t show articles to your followers by default. There’s one spot on the homepage which is dedicated to what your followers have recently published, but that’s literally it.

Screenshot from the author.

A mailing list is going to let you reach out directly to the people who are interested in your writing, giving you a guaranteed way to make sure your followers are aware that you have new content. Honestly, you can’t force folks to click, but it’s easier to click on a story if you know it’s there. Most of your followers have no idea when or what you publish.

This brings me to my next point. Mailing lists are a very intimate way to connect with your audience. I read an article a while ago which was what finally convinced me to start a mailing list, and the idea that finally persuaded me was this: you owe the people who like your content the chance to stay in touch with you more personally.

I resisted the idea because I hated the thought of forcing my writing on people, but I didn’t realize lots of people wanted to have my stories pushed under their noses, because otherwise, they’d miss them.

Why is Medium a good email-growing strategy?

Medium is one of the best places to grow your mailing list. Why? Two reasons.

The primary reason is trust. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever, on Medium, writers are putting their whole personalities up for grabs. Whether you’re a confessional writer like Shannon Ashley or a technical author like Jun Wu, you’re likely getting a much better sense of their personality through their writing than you might from a highlight reel of their lives on social media.

The buzzword this year in marketing is “authenticity” and it’s for good reason: people are finding it harder to trust authorities, and are turning instead to influencers to guide them and recommend things to them. People know you as a writer, they grow to trust you, and they recognize your “voice” shining through whatever you write.

The second reason is that unlike other blogging platforms, Medium explicitly rewards writing in a broad range of topics rather than sticking to a niche. This means that the list of people — your potential email list subscribers — who are interested in what you have to say is a lot bigger.

The end effect of both of these factors is that you have a very big group of people with diverse interests being quite interested in your take on an equally broad range of topics. It’s much closer to real-world relationships in my opinion, which is what makes Medium such a great place to build an email list.

How to come up with a good email list-building hook?

So you’ve identified that you want to start growing your email list, and you want to do it on Medium. The next step is to figure out the best way to capture them. Most people offer some kind of downloadable gift — something valuable, that will help your subscribers.

One way is to identify a single thing in which you have expertise. This is the strategy I ended up taking — since I’ve been successful on Medium, I wanted to start helping others do the same, so I built a starter kit that I offer to anyone who signs up to my mailing list.

Another slightly harder way is to come up with unique hooks for different topics you write in. For example, if you write poetry, psychology, and travel mostly, you could offer subscribers a guide to writing poetry, a list of the best resources for psychology, and a travel guide to your favorite city in the world, respectively. It’s harder and more time consuming, but you can be sure your hook will be interesting to the people reading your post.

Use curation in diverse topics to reach new audiences.

One thing Medium has which no other platform has is curation. I don’t think people realize what a valuable tool this is — the team of curators here is going through nearly all the stories written on this platform and picking out the best ones to share — not with that writer’s followers, but with anyone interested in that topic.

This again builds trust. People learn to trust the algorithm, trust it to give them good recommendations, trust it to show them the authors they’ll like. And if you’re curated, that’s gonna be you.

Medium has nearly 100 topics in which stories can be curated. What that means is there are nearly 100 different audiences you can reach. Folks who read articles about relationships might be distinct to those who read about gaming. To reach a wider audience, write widely.

This is good news for you — we’re three-dimensional humans with a lot of different interests, and that plays in our favor when it comes to curation. Let loose, follow your curiosity, and find new audiences along the way.

Taking advantage of the high SEO ranking.

One thing not many people know is that Medium has a killer ranking in Google. For those of you who don’t know what that means, what it gives you is a huge boost when people google stuff.

Google trusts Medium as a source, so when people type in questions like “how can I make my pet Instagram-famous” or “How does technology connect us,” if you’ve written a story along those lines, using those keywords, it will rank highly in the Google search.

Now, I’m not much of an SEO wiz, so mostly this has happened to me by chance. You can find out yourself — have a look at any of your top-viewed stories and check out the individual details on that one. Where is the traffic coming from?

Screenshot from author

Here’s an example of one of my stories. You can see in the graph above, most of the traffic is external. The light green is outside of Medium, dark green means Medium-based traffic.

Check out the sources:

Screenshot from author

A huge amount of traffic on this bad boy came directly from Google. Again, this happened by accident so I don’t know exactly what happened, but the point stands. Medium will not only show your stories to people interested in the topics you write in, but it will also show them to people who Google-related things. This is again only going to increase your reach when it comes to building your mailing list.

Medium is the best place to grow your mailing list.

Not only is a mailing list a must-have if you want to grow your writing career on Medium, but Medium is an ideal environment to get more mailing list subscribers. It’ll show your content to interested readers, facilitate a relationship between you and your readers, and give you a leg up to people googling stuff.

If you’ve been postponing starting one, now’s the time to start. I recommend ConvertKit, but MailChimp is a free alternative. You can start reaching your Medium readers directly and use Medium as a tool to grow it further.

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