Engagement, Spread, and Tweaking

What I learned from getting 7 pieces curated in 5 days without writing anything new will get you higher engagement on your content.

This is the second week in my tracking of progress to making $100/day on this site in passive income. If you haven’t read that piece or want to pull it up to compare my stats, here’s that for you.

A quick summation of that:

I’m a professional writer and editor for Tor Nightfire, Nightlight Pod, Strange Horizons, and more. I know a quality story and can turn one out pretty quickly (1,500-words/hour). Though I bring in income from other platforms and writing/editing pursuits, I want to make Medium one of my passive income streams by consistently bringing in at least $100 a day on this site.

These articles are here to help me analyze my growth, but to also help you grow and analyze yourself.

I’m not starting from scratch with my writing and craft, but I am starting from scratch on here. As you will be able to tell from my stats chart below, I only started posting on here in the past 30 days or so.

To be honest, though, I don’t think it’s even been 30 days yet. I’m still swimming in my first few weeks on this site.

This Week’s Stats

I’ve yet to break 100 views in a day, but I’m on a solid trajectory.

Currently, I’m sitting at 470 followers, so I’ve gained 133 followers since last Friday.

Zero new articles written. This is the only article I’ve written this week on here. Starting an Editing Business and a couple other articles dropped over the weekend and on Monday, but those were all written last week.

I’m starting to have a consistent number of daily views over 80, which for me is high. Previously, I only broke over 80 once or twice.

While not writing anything new and doing what I outline below, I was able to keep my daily earnings at $1 a day.

All but 2 of my articles are bringing in money. Out of 48 pieces, 6 of them are bringing in more than a $1 in earnings and 4 of those are bringing in more than $2.

Best Story This Week

Since last week, it’s gotten 85 views.

Worst Story This Week

This has received zero views in the past week and is my next project to turn around and get curated or at least more traction on it.

What I Focused on Instead of Writing on Here

I wrote pieces for my other publications and in general worked on various pressing projects like my course designing, novel and story edits, etc.

I didn’t abandon this site, though. I just switched gears and focuses so that I could get a gage on what different factors and actions work on here—like any great writer or businessperson. There’s tons of people who swear by the publishing tons all the time like 2 articles a minute.

That’s a joke, but you know what I mean. I did that for the first 3 weeks, plus engaged with writers. And you know what?

That didn’t get me tons of reads or eyes on my work. Yes, I was getting great traction, but I can do better than great. I believe that I can do exceptionally well.

For the past week and the next moving forwarded, I focused on editing and updating old pieces in an attempt to get them curated (8 of them did this week alone!). I also spent time reading through the site and members on here to get an idea of who was getting the most engagement and why.

There are writers on this platform that are getting a lot of eyes on their pieces even though they are only posting once a week if that. And these writers don’t have huge followings either. Many of the writers that I found had about 300 followers at most, but tons of old and recent comments on their pieces and thousands of claps. Which, I know, claps don’t really mean much when it comes to earnings.

You could have a piece with 40,000 claps but if no members stay on that piece for a considerable amount of time, then those claps are just hollow applause in an empty room.

No, these writers with small followings and huge engagements were all getting this from members on the site who were actually reading the piece and responding to it. But the pieces weren’t always that great, to be honest.

So I did a lot of digging to see if maybe they posted their articles on other sites or groups, but most of them only linked back to their Medium sites, if that, when I searched their names on Google. The major hubs of sharing Medium content (Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and LinkedIn) also didn’t show that they were posting on their either.

It wasn’t until I switched over to my Medium phone app that I finally saw what they were doing to get all those eyes on their work. On my phone app, I can see people’s engagements with other writers and pieces on the platform.

That is where these writers were spending their time. And they weren’t posting links to their own pieces, but actively responding to the text and forging a relationship with the writer.

If you’ve read my previous article Road to $100 a day, I talked about my intention behind this. The money is just a small part. The bigger part is engagement and network.

I’m a professional writer and editor. My stuff appears in tons of places. I’ve got fiction work, nonfiction work, ghost writing, game writing, and so many more ventures going on. Which is great, but what does it really matter if I’m not reaching the people that I write this content for.

People like you. People who love to read exciting stories. People who want to be better writers and understand their craft through examining how someone else does it.

I write for you.

So, with that in mind, I spent this past week getting to know the people I follow a bit better and engaging with other writers on this platform. This helped me turn pieces that were non-earners into earners.

I’ll continue doing this for the rest of the month: reading and engaging. My goal is to have a following and follower list filled with the people that I want to read, but also want to read me.

In January, I’ll move into the next phase of targeted high quality content at specific reader bases.

But there’s a good chance you’re here because you heard that I was able to get several of my older pieces curated by updating and tweaking them. I’ll get into that below.

Getting Curated

If you’ve seen my comment on Sean Kernan’s Facebook share in the Medium Writers and Bloggers group, then you know that I was able to get all of these pieces curated within the past week. Most of them are more than 5 days old and some of them were curated within less than a couple of minutes of me hitting publish.

Like Kernan, I’m sure you’re sitting in pessimistic disbelief.

But I’m not lying, this isn’t a fluke, and I think you too can do it. I’ll get into how I was able to go about each one, but before that, the hard evidence. Because I know without it, many of you won’t believe me.

Get ready for a bunch of screen shots of data:

I originally self-published this, but within a few minutes, it got curated and solicited by The Start Up. And yes, I submitted it to them first, but they didn’t take it until after it was getting a bunch of hits.

You can read that here:

I think that all poems published in P.S. I Love You get curated because mine did instantly, and I noticed that a bunch of others published by them did, too.

If you’re a fan of poetry, here’s some for your eyes, ears, and heart:

This one got very little traction when it was first published by Wordsmith Library, but then I did some behind the scenes tricks and within an hour, it got curated.

This is a fiction story featuring vampires, murder, and death—you know, like any good vamp tale:

Originally published in The Innovation, it took almost a full week before getting curated, and that didn’t happen until I took the steps outlined below.

Writers looking to get started in making their work, work for them:

Not much of a splash was made with this one at first, but I did more behind the scenes work and got it curated in a couple of hours.

More poetry:

This one took a while to get curated, almost two weeks. It was originally self-published, but I got a request from The Start Up to republish it a couple days after curation. This is the only article I didn’t tweak to get curated.

Finally have a schedule that works for you and your writing:

Another one that was originally self-published that I went back to and reworked. Then, boom. It got a request from Curious and got curated.

Create something lasting with your work and art:

This one was originally published with The Book Mechanic but wasn’t curated until almost two weeks later, and only after tweaking it behind the scenes.

I go into what it takes to tell a story that sells:

What I Did

If you read the captions to the screen shots, you’ll notice that I did the same thing to get a majority of these pieces curated. These are the steps:

Step One
I looked at how my content appears on multiple devices (phone, tablet, and computers). If an image was off or loaded too slowly, I changed it or resized it. I also looked for any moments where the content wained or could be better and updated it. Basic SEO and editing work.

While reading through, I looked for any common connectors that I could use to update my tags. Four Scrapped Girls was originally under totally different tags. Using Casey Botticello’s article on Medium tags eligible for curation, I choose ones from there that best related to the work but reached a wider audience.

Step Two
After picking out some topics from Botticello’s list that related to my pieces, I updated the draft and switched over to the Story Settings tab on the published piece.

Story settings is the fourth down on the list that pops up when you click on the line of 3 dots.

That is an insanely under talked about feature on Medium. Story settings allows you to go in and change around what tags you used and play with SEO settings.

You can even do this after publishing like I did with my above curated pieces. I took the new topics that I came up with for each piece and updated my tags. I also updated my SEO title and description to be more keyword friendly based off of doing a quick Google search to determine what keywords were popular in the niche that I was writing in.

Step Three
After updating and proofing everything to make sure it looked the way I wanted it too while remaining in Medium’s preferred format, I went over to my two favorite Medium groups, Medium Writers and Bloggers and Medium Mastery.

Before I posted anything about my updated piece, I engaged with other writers. I responded to questions, read articles—without posting my own—and left comments for the writer to let them know my thoughts.

Only after giving my time and energy to others did I post my updated piece.

I was always up front about it being an older piece that I was aiming to get traction on and invited others to leave their articles and comments. I also went back through recent posts for any calls for articles, I shared mine in the comments and would sometimes engage with other writers’ content posted within the thread.

And that’s it. Those are the full steps, no tricks or hold backs, of what I did. Within a couple of hours of me doing just those three steps, each article I worked on got curated.

I plan on moving through my entire backlist and doing this until I have a majority of pieces curated. And before any of your negativity comes to rear its head, I know that curation doesn’t mean that I’ll go viral or make thousands in one day.

Curation means that I’ll stay relevant and linked to topics that I am skilled and experienced in.

What I Learned

Curation is cool, but it’s not everything. Engagement is key. This is a community and the top earners within this community actually engage with the other writers within it.

Sometimes the subjects that you think you’re writing about aren’t the best ones for you to tag. Think in a broader sense about your work, but in a targeted sense about your audience.

Who wants to read your piece and will gain something from it?

Self-publishing or going with a publication matters only when it comes to spread, but not curation. It’s best to get a piece appearing first in a publication then having it requested later.

Format, tags, and titles matter, but a lot of writers aren’t using them correctly.

Actually read other people’s work. Don’t just open a link and clap a couple of times. We all know that Medium has changed it’s earning calculations to focus more on member read time, so if you want people to read your work, actually read theirs.


Aigner Loren Wilson is a queer Black SFWA, HWA, and Codex writer. Her work has appeared in Arsenika, Terraform, Rue Morgue, and more. She was listed on the honors list for the Otherwise Fellowship award for 2019. She also writes or edits for Strange Horizons, Nightlight Horror Podcast, Oly Arts, Discover Pods, and more. She offers a writing craft newsletter to people who want to become better writers and publish quality pieces.

Over 200 published pieces. Thought provoking prose and poetry. Better Humans | Tordotcom | The Startup | Better Marketing. Follow to level up your writing.

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