Twitter on my phone buzzes every time I get a notification.
I’m not a celebrity, so that’s only been a problem once in my life. And it was when this story was published on Medium.
For one whole day, my phone wouldn’t stop. People were sharing the story…my story.
I turned my phone to Do Not Disturb. And then I checked my email and it was just loaded up with Medium notifications. People commenting or recommending it. I had to turn that off, too.
I was impressed when that story got 500 views. Then it jumped to 4,000 and I was texting people about it. But it kept going. Over 13,000 on one day. Then 7,000 the next. I know that’s not a lot for some bloggers, but for me it’s huge.
The thing is, I had published stuff on Medium before. The most views I had gotten before was maybe 30 or 40.
So what made it different this time?
I tapped into the right community.
Medium is kind of an unknown in the blogging community. People don’t really know what to do with it. Is it a platform? Is it a publisher? Is it both?
Many bloggers just repost their stuff into their own “collections” and hopefully some new readers randomly catch onto it via Medium’s suggested reading features.
But Medium is different than Tumblr or WordPress or any of those other groups: it curates its own collections–curated sections that are focused on one topic. And once something reaches its dedicated audience, it has the chance to expand.
I had started my own collection for my blog posts, but this time I submitted the piece to an established community. It was called Human Parts and it’s focused on true stories about real connections. The piece I sent in met that criteria.
But, here’s something else. The only reason I knew the editor for that section was another writer connection (thanks Stephen) had helped me submit it. Because I was part of one community, I was able to join another.
It was part of a larger project.
I don’t know about you, but before I publish a regular blog post, I’m the only one that reads it. But this story on Medium had a little more effort behind it. It’s part of an ebook of essays I did about my neighborhood in Nashville, and this was my one excerpt that I was going to give the world.
How did I decide on that piece?
As part of the publishing process, I had my wife read it a few times. She told me this was a great story. And then another friend who had bought the book (I have good friends) specifically told me that it was good. I was two for two, so I thought it was worth sending in.
It’s good? I got lucky? I had a process…kinda?
One key part of all this is that Medium decided it was a good story and they heavily advertised it. They sent it to their whole email list and it even made it to their homepage for awhile. I was fortunate.
The story was part of a larger e-book so I included a direct link to my book’s landing page.
They couldn’t buy it directly from there. They had to click to another page.
So I decided to forgo the possible blog traffic and link it directly to where people could buy. I may have done this too late–I didn’t sell too many e-books.
But the silver lining? Several people subscribed to my newsletter.
This was something I had just put in place recently and had thought about abandoning it. A lot of those people didn’t buy the book…but at least signing up for the email list shows they’re interested in what I have to say. Maybe they’ll pick it up soon.
What I didn’t do…
…Was immediately send the editor another story. I’ve got a few ideas, but I want to be careful about my writing and my process. It’d be really easy to type up something similar and send it to the editor, but I don’t want to ruin the relationship. I want to keep developing with the editor. Now that I know what works, I’ll try and write another story that works in that Medium section.
So I waited a few more weeks and wrote this one.
And guess what? It didn’t get the same results.
Nowhere near it. But what I did learn was to have a process to capture more readers, and to keep trying.
I can control only what I can control. As an artist, that means doing the best I can do and having a plan in place to share my art once the opportunity comes.