A No-Nonsense Guide for the Uncurated on Medium

What do you do when your work is being ignored?

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Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

I’ll admit there are moments when I am blistering mad and frustrated. Lately, I haven’t been getting curated often, and there were days where I wanted to place the blame on Medium instead of my own square head. It is abysmal to wait in agony for the email, telling you that you’ve been curated, only to check your stats and see the “Not distributed in topics” message.

We all have these moments of weakness.

Since I joined Medium in October of 2018, my life has been a roller coaster of activity. I have periods when everything I write gets curated and times when the curators ignore me. I’ve been up. I’ve been down.

I haven’t been slacking one bit. I’ve been burning the midnight oil several times each week and hustling through lunch. I’ve still been bouncing out of bed every morning, ready to write and publish, despite the crickets from the gallery.

I started writing quality stories on new topics. I guess you could say I’ve grown tired of writing about my mental illness (but not mental health), and once in a while, I want to make someone smile instead of cry. I’m sick of seeing my same boring story over and over again.

Curation happened for a few of my last five stories. The momentum is opening doors for me in new topics that I’ve wanted to try — like humor and climate change.

I’m on a roll, and I don’t want the ride to stop.

Once again, I’ve realized the reason I wasn’t getting curated was my fault. My stories weren’t up to snuff, and I needed to improve. The same thing happened last year, and I was quick to lay blame until I came to my senses and realized I needed to be a better writer.

But, shouldn’t we be writing for ourselves and not trying for curation?

Let’s be honest. We can say, “keep writing despite non-curation,” or “you don’t need curation,” but if you want to make money with your writing on Medium, as I do, the fact is that most stories do much better in the long run when they get distributed to the wider audience. They are more likely to be evergreen. There are exceptions, like stories talking about Medium. They still do well, but that’s not every case.

You can’t tell me that you don’t think curation is important if you are trying to make money from writing on medium.

Let me get down from my high horse and share something. This curation situation will change, as will the almighty algorithm. You saw it this month with the new payment strategy. If the situation does change again, all of us need to be ready. We need to be at the top of our game. Just because we were a journalist or we wrote a book doesn’t mean that our stories are any good. I freelanced for years, but when I joined Medium, my work was garbage! It’s a wonder that anyone read anything I wrote!

If Medium is going to do its part and hire more curators and editors, we need to do ours! We need to be putting out the absolute best work we can. It needs to be proofread and formatted perfectly. We have to choose the best images. We need to be promoting everything we write on social media. We have to do our part to bring in views to our work on Medium.

Listen, above all, Medium is a business. They need to make money. Our $5 a month doesn’t go as far as it used to.

We need to improve every day. If you don’t think you need to be better, you should check your ego. Nobody here is Neil Gaiman. We all need a whole lot of improvement.

I’m no exception. I may be the one that needs the most work.

But, I’ve left my ego at the door. I know I need to write in such a way that people can’t wait to read what I publish. I can’t just write to make myself happy.

Look at the people who are killing on Medium. Their work is sleek. They have a strong voice, and their words flow like money. There are no typos, the stories are formatted correctly, and they edit for readability. When you read their work, you think — professional.

We need to up our Medium game if we want curation and want to earn money. We need to be better than we were the day before. We need to drop the privilege and entitlement and publish the best work we can create.

Now I’m speaking more to myself than everybody else.

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Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

5 Quick Tips for Better Writing on Medium

I wanted to pass on a couple of tips that have helped me in the past. I wanted to provide some value before you think I’m just here to be hard on you. I love my fellow writers, and if you know me, you know that I’m always around if you ever need help or support.

I’m not saying I know everything, but I’ve picked up a few knowledge bombs along the way.

1.) Choose your tags carefully

Not all tags are equal. If you are not sure what the tags are, take a look at this list created by Casey Botticello. I always either try to pick a curatable topic from the list on the Medium home page or pick one of these top writer tags. I rarely ever use a tag that no one searches for unless my story is ultra-niche, and I need to specify that I was, in fact, writing about Kumquats (if ever).

2.) Read your work aloud

Before you hit publish, take the time to read your work aloud. Do it twice! Read it to someone else if you can. When you speak the words, you are more likely to find errors and places where the flow is off or your voice is lacking. When I started doing this, my work improved 100%. Some think this is a no-brainer, but I guarantee there are still some of you who don’t take the time to do this. Ever.

3.) Don’t rely on tools

I use Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor. I check my work on both before I publish anything. But one thing I know is that these are tools, and they are fallible. You have to trust your judgment when you don’t agree with something they point out as wrong. I had to understand that I’m the writer, and I have to know better than to let a program tell me what to do. Trust yourself.

4. ) Take chances

Nothing great ever came about because a person played it safe. Playing it safe will keep you on the sidelines while everyone else is making touchdowns. Try new topics. Explore your ideas. Use improper grammar. Swear a little. FUCK!

Have some fun. Your reader can tell if you hate what you are doing.

5.) Publish in Medium Publications

To increase your chances of being curated, you should make it a point to pitch articles and stories to the Medium-run publications (thank you, Reuben Salsa). If you are accepted, you are almost guaranteed curation!

Your earning potential for stories published with Medium publications like Human Parts or Forge is exponentially greater than if you self-publish. It’s a win-win situation!

6.) Have fun!

If you aren’t enjoying the process of writing you should do something else. If you don’t love every minute of the process of creating, this path you are on is going to feel too much like work. Who wants another job? Have fun. Do your best work. Get curated. Show everyone that you’re serious about being the best writer you can be.

Every day is a new day to work toward crushing our goals. Don’t give up if you don’t get curated. Keep going and prove them all wrong!

This story was not curated. If you write and publish on Medium, you know what that means — a quick death. If not, it just means that it won’t be promoted to other readers on Medium.

But it doesn’t always have to be like this, and this is where I add value to your life. It works like this:

We all write free content for Medium. They don’t pay for it. The money we pay to be members is more than enough to pay the writers who are making money. In return for us writing millions of words of free content and paying the writers who engage with the readers (us again), Medium forbids us from adding any more than a simple text link to the bottom of posts to promote ourselves.

If you do everything right, you get curated.

I have no problem with that. I’ve been with Medium for over a year-and-a-half, and I absolutely fricking love that they gave me a platform to earn and share my writing. I tell everyone I know to join Medium and start writing.

But, if I don’t get curated, my stories die. I don’t earn. The only traffic I get comes in is from Google, and if the people they are sending are not Medium subscribers, I don’t get paid.

But Medium benefits greatly. Every time we bring eyeballs onto the platform, Medium gains authority and in turn, members. They also get income from writers paying them for exposure by featuring them in publications and other places on Medium, even if they aren’t members. It’s a great business model.

I thank Medium for giving me the platform, and I respect them, especially when they curate me and my stories live on.

So Medium, I love you, and if you curate me, I will follow the rules and only put a small text link to my newsletter at the bottom.

But, if I am not curated, I am going to use my work to promote myself and my brand.

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Introverted essayist and fulltime YouTuber | Dreamer - I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up.

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