How much time have you spent trying to hack grow your blog or SAAS marketing strategy? There are millions of posts on the internet showing you how to write your 2000+ word post, make it SEO friendly, and start receiving visitors. But reality is that every year SEO becomes harder, and you need to invest more into your blog optimization to receive traffic.
For a young company that needs all of its resources to be concentrated on product growth, you just don’t have time to educate yourself SEO or invest money into high-experienced SEO experts — your budget is limited. There should be another strategy — and it exists. In this article I’ll show how Medium helped us to receive more traffic than our own blog generated on its own.
Over the course of 2018 my team and I created and posted more than 300 topics, both for our own blog (started in 2017) and to Medium. The proportion is 190+ topics on our blog to 120+ topics on Medium. After analyzing growth we realized that the strategy of 2019 year will be full concentration on Medium.
Here is what the statistics look like after 1 year of posting to Medium and our wordpress blog: howtotoken.com
Statistics of 120+ posts on Medium:
Compared to to 190+ posts on our own blog:
Here we compare Medium views with Google analytics sessions, based on the description below it’s the closest metric.
Medium Views — are the number of visitors who clicked on a story’s page. while Reads tells you how many viewers have read the entire story (estimated).
GA sessions — A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions.
So it’s 21,147 Views for 120+ posts on Medium, compared to 15,991 sessions for 190+ posts on our blog.
Medium is 1.3 times bigger, taking into consideration that we need to create 1.6 less content to get that result. And we don’t need to pay for hosting and system administration to support Medium posts, compared to wordpress blog.
If you don’t have Medium in your content marketing strategy yet then it’s a good time to start thinking about that.
How Medium works?
Medium was launched by Twitter Co-Founder and Former CEO Evan Williams in 2012 (more about it here). It’s one of the fastest growing blogging platform in the world with more than 197M visitors per month (according to Similarweb).
The idea is simple — to give the user a convenient way to read content no matter which platform they are on. There is no sidebars or pop ups on Medium, so it’s really great to read the content even if you’re on mobile or a tablet.
For publishers it did allow them to concentrate on distribution and attraction of the best writers rather than fixing technical problems. Publishers could attach their own domain and be sure that the traffic belongs to them.
As you already understand you can just register on Medium and start publishing your content to receive followers (the same way you’d do on Facebook or Twitter).
If you are good at distribution then you can create your own publication (similar to groups or pages on Facebook), attach your own domain, and start attracting the best writers to contribute.
So here is simple description of Medium terms (Here is the full glossary):
- WYSIWYG Editor — it’s ta convenient way of publishing content. You just can start writing from day 1 and not worry about the style.
- Publication — You can start a publication where other authors can contribute using Medium’s content management system.
- Feed — Medium has a feed of articles (like all other social networks), so you can just install an app on your phone and read new stories.
- Followers — if you are interested in any author (Medium user) or publication, you just follow it and start receiving their content in your feed. If you own a publication then you can send an email to all followers of your publication (more about it in the distribution section below).
- Claps — similar to “likes” on Twitter, it’s a good way to give your respect to the best content.
- Membership — for $5 per month you can gain access to exclusive, curated content. If you an author then you can make money on it.
- Notes — you comment on most stories on Medium in a private way. The author of the story receives an email when you leave a note (it’s a good way to reach out someone you are interested to partnering with).
- Series — something similar to “Instagram stories”.
So you can be an author and post your stories to your feed or to other publications. Or you can create your own publication and concentrate on editing and distribution for other writers. Medium has its own internal publishing platform, so if you receive status of a “writer” on publication, then you can submit your content to that publication in 1-click, and after the Editor of that publication reviews and publishes it, all of the followers of that publication will see your story. Here is how this appeared when submitting to hackernoon.com:
If you’re just starting on Medium I would recommend finding a relevant publication and start contributing content there, it’s the fastest way to receive traffic to your stories.
How to select publication for your story?
What’s great about Medium is that it allows you to split rights to publishers (publication’s owners) and authors. Based on your skills: writing or distribution, you can select which side you want to be involved with. It allows you to focus on one main activity at a time and get the highest ROI from your content marketing efforts.
If you are a young startup or small business owner, then you need just find the right publication (based on an audience you need) and submit your story. But how to select the right publication? There is special service that can show you publications ranked by number of followers: Top publications, and there are 2,957 publications in their database now:
Here is also a simple hack that you can use to find the number of followers a publication has (it works only if the publication has its own domain). It seems that toppub.xyz, above, use this hack (because there is now followers for publications without a domain in a list).
First you need to go to any story in the publication and scroll to the end where there will be a tag section, like this: https://hackernoon.com/step-by-step-guide-on-making-davids-job-obsolete-c2e9784465ed
Then click to any tag and you’ll see the number of followers of the publication under short review:
Also, you will find the contacts (email in most cases) where you could write to ask about becoming a writer of the publication — this will allow you to submit stories.
Does the number of followers of a Medium publication really matter?
We want as many reads of our story as possible, right? The publication is the critical point here, by submitting the story to the right publication you can receive the huge amount of reads compared to selecting the wrong (and not relevant) publication for your story, or just publishing to your own feed during the early stages when you don’t have many followers at all.
Relevant topic submitted to the right publication with 400K followers, result 47,000 views:
Not relevant topic submitted to publication with 398K followers, result 109 views:
Story published to my own feed during the early stage (when I didn’t have 1.5K followers), result 42 views:
So, as you can see the relevance is important, but also it’s even more important to understand how publication owners manages its distribution. Do they use newsletter and external sources to distribute its content?
Popularity is highly correlated with the number of people who have clapped for a story.
Let’s compare 2 publications:
- Hackernoon.com — 406K followers, writing about tech.
- Medium.com/swlh — 398K followers, positioned itself as the largest publication for makers.
Just review the first 5–7 stories on the main page of publication you’ll discover pretty fast how much attention you’ll be able to receive if you make it on the first page of these publication.
To do that just scroll down the story, click the claps and see how many people clapped for that story alongside you.
For “The startup” publication: in most cases only the editors clap for the story:
While “Hacker Noon” get 20 people on average:
This could help when searching for publication.
How Medium distribution works?
Ok so we have selected the publication and published the story, what happens next and what distribution abilities do you have? What happens after you hit publish of your story on Medium?
There are 6 major ways how you could promote your story to readers:
- Your followers will be the first who will see your story
- If you submitted a topic to publication then followers of this publication will see your story too
- Story tag’s audience will see your story in their feed
- Your story can be distributed by curators in particular “Topics”
- You can be promoted through a publication’s newsletter
- You can be featured in Medium’s Daily Digest
Let’s go more in-depth into each of the above methods.
Your followers, and followers of the publication.
The most simple way, you just hit publish and your readers and readers of the publication see you story. How much reach can you receive with that method?
Let’s crunch the numbers a little bit.
Here is the reach (number of views) in the first week if I publish to my own feed without using publication:
My own profile with 1.5K followers allows me to reach less than 10% of my audience.
Here is what will happen if I’ll publish story to publication with 400K followers, but without any promotion:
1K is about 0.25% of the whole number of followers of publication. +1.7K gray numbers is the number of reads that you’ll receive through RSS readers, Facebook Instant Articles, and AMP. Hacker Noon has built relationships with RSS readers, social media communities, and other publications in order to grow your readership around the web.
As you certainly realize, if you just publish content without thinking about the distribution method then it will not generate a lot of views.
The good thing is that for sure your article can gain organic reach, and it works really good (in our case compared to the website with fresh domain) if you select the right keywords.
Here is an example of a topic that was published to a publication without any additional distribution. But it was ranked in top-3 on Google and got a good organic reach, and we still get traffic from that article. Here is the total views for this article for less than in 1 year period:
So if you don’t have a lot of followers yet or can’t be featured on a good publication, the best way can still be good old SEO strategies where you optimize your article for SEO and publish it to your profile. The high domain rating of Medium will help you to be in search results faster than on your own fresh domain could.
If you select the right tags before submitting the article you’ll get additional reach from tag readers, you can see the number of followers of each tag when you publish an article. You can select up to 5 tags for your story:
How to ensure your article will be featured by curators?
This is the most effective way to get the highest number of reads on your story. It worked for my stories each time I was featured.
What does that mean?
When you register on Medium it asked you about your interests, or which “Topics” you are interested in, and you select from the long list of “Topics”. Here is what it looks like:
This is one of the major part of medium recommended system. Medium will recommend topics from your interests.
If you want your story to be featured on one of these topics you need to wait until curators review it manually and select your topic. To get featured you have an official guide on what you need to do, here are the steps (full text can be found here):
There are some restrictions that can ban your story from being featured on “Topic”:
- Ads. This includes images or text that indicate brand sponsorship, undisclosed affiliate links, and sponsored stories.
- Requests for claps. Do not ask readers to clap at the end of your story — either in text or an image that shows them how to clap.
- Promotional calls-to-action: They will not distribute most stories that include promotional material or calls-to-action in the body. This includes requests for donations, or other links or embeds that exist for the purpose of capturing user information or soliciting money.
Here is what the statistics look like if you get featured on Topics:
So the average article, after distribution on “Topic”, receives 2.6 times more views. But the best thing about that is that allows you to receive more new followers (45 above) compared to not being featured. It happens because when you continuously publish your article to the same list of publications your reach to new readers are limited. And when you are being featured on “Topic” you receive a huge reach for new Medium users who are interested in this topic.
To realize if your topic was featured on “Topic” or not, you need to press “details” on your topic and view the internals:
How to ensure your article will be featured in the newsletter?
The great thing about Medium is that it allows publication owners to gain access to the email addresses of their publication followers. Imagine if you can send a newsletter to all your facebook friends — you can’t ;)
So it’s a great opportunity for publishers. And if the publisher works well with that then the writers of a publication can receive a huge amount of views.
That’s why when you select the publication to submit your article to you should pay attention; is the owner of the publication sending newsletters? For example, here is how a newsletter from the https://medium.com/the-mission publication looks like:
I’ve received more than 10 emails from them in December. And this publication has more than 275,000 followers. Imagine if your story could be featured in their newsletter — that is a huge opportunity to reach a lot of new readers.
So the best way to get featured on publications’ newsletters is to contact the publication owner and ask them about how they select their stories (email firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for the Hacker Noon newsletter). Or, just follow the publication and monitor their newsletter trying to understand how they select the stories.
Medium daily digest.
The second way to get featured on a newsletter is Medium’s daily digest. This is a newsletter from Medium that is automatically generated based on your interest and Medium activity: your interests, claps, and comments.
There is no clear algorithm on how to get featured on the daily digest, but in my own experience activity on topic like claps and comments have highly affected the chance to be featured. Here is what Medium staff tells about that (full story here):
This platform is powerful. The strategy for the 2019 year, for me, will certainly be to work more here. Here are the steps that I’ll make:
- Attract high amounts of attention to build relations with owners of the most popular publications in my niche.
- Change my approach to quality vs quantity and try to publish less, but each piece will be of greater quality content
- The distribution of the topic is the key to success (need to work on external sources)
We plan to start our own publication on Medium and will work on increasing the number of followers for that — it’s a long-term investment. But for faster results, still submitting topics to already developed publication will be the core practice.
About the author:
Kirill Shilov — Founder of Geekforge.io and Howtotoken.com. Interviewing the top 10,000 worldwide experts who reveal the biggest issues on the way to technological singularity. Join my #10kqachallenge: GeekForge Formula.