Should you write very little, but very well, or focus on just putting stuff out there?
You can’t make it far on Medium without running into scores of people talking about their writing routine. I’m no exception — you might find mine in that big pile of posts, too. How often should you write? Do you need to publish twice per day to be successful? Is it better to spend a long time writing high-quality pieces that are guaranteed to perform really well?
It’s one of the questions which seems to consume the writers on here: do you need to write five posts a day to get anywhere with Medium? Does writing so much so often detract from the quality of your writing? What is the best writing frequency to be successful on Medium?
And unfortunately, there’s no one right answer. It depends on you, your writing style, your commitments. Let’s get into the factors that affect whether you should write a lot, or focus on key pieces.
Medium has a royalty-based payment model.
If you’re like me and your definition of success on Medium has a lot to do with the money you earn, you want to know how to write in a way that will earn you the most money.
Medium pays authors based on “engagement.” The more engagement you get, the more that story earns money, with no cap. The best definition of engagement I’ve been able to determine is when someone claps for your story. And personally, I’ve determined that the more often I publish, the more people clap for me.
Plus, if you have a lot of followers, this is the one way to regularly show up on their radar: if you publish frequently, it means you’ll often end up on their “New from your network” tab.
Here’s how you can tell which stories earn you more engagement. Spend a week publishing at your normal rate, whether that’s once a day or three times per week. Then the next week, spend the *exact same amount of time* working on your stories, but publish half the number, or double the number.
Do you find you have more fans for that second weekly period or less? This will help you figure out if your strategy should be quality or quantity.
There’s a big element of luck on Medium.
I wish I could say it’s a simple as good stories doing well. Unfortunately, it’s not true. Some of my most successful pieces on the platform have been, in my opinion, of worse quality than the ones that only perform OK.
So I’ve found that if I publish a lot of middling quality, I increase my odds of one post performing really, spectacularly well while the others do OK. Back when I spent more time crafting really polished, deeper pieces, I found out that some of them did well, and some of them didn’t. But it didn’t guarantee the good performance of the story.
So much of a story’s success depends on an unknowable algorithm, the title, and other factors you might not be able to do anything about.
Look at the stories that have performed well for you. Can you be objective about their quality? If you find that only the very best of your stories are earning money, then you need to focus on producing more of those. If you find it’s pretty random (like me) which ones do well and which ones don’t, you’re better off focusing on producing frequent content.
Medium’s curation affects the longevity of your stories.
It feels like such a judgment when Medium decides whether to curate your stories or not. Are they good enough to be widely distributed or not?
There’s a lot you can do if you’re not getting curated. Just search “curation” here on Medium and you’ll see the words of very successful writers on Medium breaking down how they do it. There are some folks that believe curation doesn’t matter, but it’s my opinion and experience that unless a story is packed with enough keywords to do well on Google, or you have a huge social media following, uncurated stories won’t go anywhere. Especially if you’re a new writer on Medium without many followers, it’s really important to remember curation is how you will get new eyeballs on your work.
Furthermore, and far more important, is that Medium will *keep* recommending curated stories to readers, even months after they’ve been written. That plays into the royalty factor we saw earlier. I saw one of the stories I wrote in January be one of my top earners for the July earning period.
If you’re *not* getting curated, then it’s time to step back and reassess. Take some time to determine how you might start getting curated, focusing more on quality over quantity, until you figure out how your stories can be regularly curated.
You’re much more likely not only to earn more money in the short term but to continue to earn money from older stories over time.
Ultimately, only you can decide to publish a little or a lot.
Only you know what stage you’re at, how much time you have for writing, and how your stories are currently performing, and your audience size. Because there’s no one right way to be successful on Medium, it’s super important to determine which is the right strategy for you.
Personally, I’ve found that a high frequency is the best strategy for me. But I’ve seen people be successful all across the frequency spectrum — some folks like Shannon Ashley sometimes publish 2–3 times per day, others like John Gorman will only publish once per week or so. And they both crush it on here, in their own ways.
Try different strategies and measure the results. There’s no right answer on the question of publishing a lot or a little for everyone, but there is one for you.