3 Lessons my Stats Taught Me about Writing on Medium

And why you should befriend your stats.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Before now my stat has been a major discourager. I really don’t like viewing stats for my Medium story, probably because I was using it for the wrong reason.

Before now I view my stat for how much progress my stories are making. That’s the reason it almost always was a discouragement. At a point, I stopped going there until about 2- 3 weeks into the month. But that didn’t change anything either_ I still find it kind of frustrating to watch some stories crawling after the time and effort put into creating them!

Now I view my stats for insight and it has done me a lot of good.

This post directly results from how useful my stat on my Medium stories has been lately.

A few days ago, I wanted to know what makes an article widely read on Medium. So I submitted two articles to two publications. One has about 23 thousand followers and the other has only 20% of that number.

It’s almost 48 hours after both articles were published and the stats will shock you:

Data for the story submitted to 23, 000+ followers publication: 9 views /1 read / 11% / 1 fan

Data for the story submitted to the other publication: 10 views/ 8 reads / 80% / 2 fans

Those data beat my imagination and I discovered the principal driver of traffic isn’t really number; it’s rather how useful and in-demand an article is.

The Lessons

Lesson #1: the best use of stats is for insight

Photo by Yang Jing on Unsplash

When you are just starting, what you should measure is which of your stories are getting the most views; not how much progress you are making.

For starters, what is important is first to understand the platform rather than the progress you are making; you can measure progress later. But for the time being, insight is the most important as it tells you what people care about the most and what they relatively don’t care about as well.

There is a quote by Peter Drucker that says:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which needs not to be done at all.”

In the same way, it is just as useless to put enormous effort into writing content that has no utility to the readers.

Know what works through insight; do what works and you will make progress. Then you can start measuring your progress. But first, you have to know what works.

Rely on your stats for this assistance.

Lesson #2: People are searching for solutions

Photo by Harold Wijnholds on Unsplash

Most people irrespective of the platform are searching for solutions, not goals, not excellent formatting, not good looking feature images. Those are good but they are secondary.

People search essentially for solutions. So write principally to provide a solution to a problem or to answer a question of equivalent importance.

People only read what they care about

Information that offers insight into making the most from what they do, ideas that put money in their pockets, guides on how to have a healthy and sexy body. Those are what they care about and as you write to help them with it, they will read.

Where the solution is, the people will flock.

Never forget that your work is primarily to write for utility and then for aesthetics.

Putting aesthetics before utility is like telling a desert traveler who’s been thirsty for two days about the component elements of water for 30 mins before finally giving him water to quench his thirst. That’s no good idea.

First, quench the thirst and then tell him about the chemistry of water later.

First satisfy his basic needs and then educate him later.

Lesson #3: Articles about “Writing” are great

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Almost everybody on Medium has written a story. Of all the profiles I have checked, I have never seen anyone without a written story or article. Therefore, stories about writing and how to do it well sell here.

Even when I was just starting, the few stories I published about writing then got more views than others.

The reason is easy to figure out:

If you get to a place where the majority of people are peasant farmers, which product will sell the most between iPhones, cars, and fertilizers?

Of course, fertilizers!

Not that iPhone or cars won’t sell, they will; but fertilizers will sell the most because it enhances their yields and profits of the dominant occupation of the population at the end of the day.

It will be the reverse with bankers and industrials workers making more than 85% of the population.

So share a few ideas about writing at least once in a while; they are one of the top widely read articles on Medium.

Finally, your stat is your spy into the interest of your readers. My readers’ interest has always read:

“We are waiting until your story has more readers to show these insights.”

Since I have no idea when my stories will gather the requisite views for Medium to show me these insights, I have found one that is helping until the set time for Medium to show me my readers’ interest. And that is my stats.

Befriend your stats.

It has more information about Medium than you think. It tells you what works and what doesn’t work; what sells and what doesn’t to the end that you do what works to get the reward for your efforts.

Bottom line: The best uses of stats are for insight and to measure progress. And Insight comes first followed by progress.


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