In the midst of finalizing a story about “stat boosts,” Medium decides to revamp their entire insight display causing my article to become suddenly incomplete. While I’m half frustrated, the other half is pleasantly surprised.
This update is fantastic for writers.
Medium is now shining some light on their behind-the-scene curation. With the new stats display, Medium openly identifies which stories they’ve assisted in distributing.
This is immensely helpful in understanding where stat-spikes arise from and mitigates some of that wonder as a writer. Moreover, up until this point, Medium stats have largely identified where our views derive from. Now, analytics help us identify the all encompassing “who.” Have a look:
Another great insight behind our stories on Medium. Transparency is a beautiful thing. Good work, team.
Let’s talk about those stat boosts.
For a guy like me who averages less than 100 views per story, the picture above is a straight blessing.
That’s nearly 2,000 views in ONE day. 😱
My nerd-infused story about grammatical correctness was generating massive views, seemingly out of nowhere. (More on how this happened later.)
That giant skyscraper of a stat is a feeling every writer needs to experience —not for the sheer rush of dopamine. But for the long-term motivation. A taste of exposure like that and you’ll never want to stop publishing on here.
It’s no secret we want more reach with our writing. For me, I’ve had roughly half of dozen stories on Medium receive over 1,000 views. In hopes of helping others, I’ve studied them all; I’ve looked for consistencies. And?
There are no consistencies. 🤨
Which is frustrating on the outset — “we wanna know how to rack up ginormous views without a large following!” But honestly, it’s probably best practice no “marketing hacks” exist on Medium. Otherwise, this place might go to shit. Nevertheless, there are a couple insights that can nudge you in the right direction.
When you view your stats via desktop, under each story you’ll find a little link called “Details.” (It was labeled ‘referrers,’ but with the change, it’s now ‘details.’)
Click on that. You’ll find something like this:
This information is YUUUGE. With the update, you get a clear-cut idea of where your traffic is coming from. By checking the details, I’ve found two incredible sources of traffic for me:
Medium tags and Google.
Medium’s category system provides users with info on which tags perform well and drive traffic. I discovered some pretty uncanny categories that work particularly great for me—bet your ass I’ll keep using those. (I don’t care what Tony-the-guru recommends.)
This stuff is cut and dry. Just pinpoint which categories generate views, then double-down on those.
Now, the “Google” referral is a bit more convoluted; however, the pay-off can be astronomical.
From my understanding, a Google referral derives from a Google search—this results from effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But, it really just means one thing: the title is close to something you’d type into a search bar.
So, if your title is something vague like “A Day That Changed Me,” the likelihood of someone finding that through Google is quite low. On the other hand, if your title is specific and reads like something you would actually search, there’s a great chance Google will help you out.
Don’t believe me? Check this:
That’s my story on Medium—look at the title. Since it’s “searchable,” it ranks well. But this is only half the battle.
The bigger question: What do people do after they click? Do they disregard the writing and immediately click back to the search page? Or, do they stay on the article and read through it?
Google tracks this information and rates search results accordingly. Since my title is searchable AND the content serves it’s purpose, my story earns a kick-ass Google rating.
Now anytime someone searches the keyword phrase “social media hiatus,” I’m #1 on Google. Boom!
That story has over 900 Google referrals and generates traffic everyday. 😄
“But I want a giant boost in my stats overnight!”
So, you want a skyscraper stat like I showed you earlier, eh? Well too bad! You can’t have it and I’ll tell you why.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
Most of us know by now Medium and its editors have the power to manually boost stories they find worthy. But don’t forgot they aren’t the only parties capable of doing so.
You want to know where my stat boost came from? Fine, I’ll tell you. It came from a website called Flipboard.
When I found out this site was referring thousands of readers to my story, I thought I discovered the ultimate secret sauce. Immediately, I went over to Flipboard’s site, signed up for an account, and was ready to plug all my other stories.
Bring on the views baby!!!
Spoiler alert: This does not work what. so. ever. You can’t “plug” your stories —in fact, you can’t even add content to Flipboard. It’s solely for readers as all publishing is closed off to the public.
It was pure luck my story got picked up by them.
The point here is your work can blow up on other parts of the Web. Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, you name it. But there’s a crucial prerequisite. If you don’t do this, your writing has zero chance of blasting through the roof…
Create the right content for the right people.
It’s impossible for me to type that out and not think of Gary Vee—he’s etched into my brain for three words: “content, bullshit, and arbitrage.”
Look, it’s human nature to think in terms of “I.” We’re free to do as we please and this bleeds over into writing.
When you write for fun, it’s all about what’s interesting to you.
This is how most people start. And if you’re a fast learner, you’ll quickly realize no one cares about what you like. They care about what they like. So understand who you’re writing for. Is it about you or the audience?
I know, someone’s saying “Pish-posh, I only write for me and myself only! I’m not concerned with others’ approval! (MEEEEEEEEE)”
Then why publish online?
If you’re gonna write and publish on the internet, you should check and make sure other people give a shit.
So here’s the rule: align yourself with an audience, then focus on creating good content for both.
That’ll help you make something that has the potential to do well.
The beauty in all this is you never know what’s going to pop-off. There’s no cheat code; you can’t trick the system.
Sometimes it’s luck.
I know, it’s not as flattering.
But now with Medium’s new and improved stat insights, you’re smarter than ever with your writing — and you can use this platform to elevate your ideas.