How to Attain Top Writer Status on Medium
Imagine that you are a writer new to Medium. Question abound. What do I write about? What will people read? What has been written before? What will break through the noise?
In thinking about these questions and because I normally write about writing, I was curious to see what the “Top Writers in Writing” were writing about and how they got that designation.
I don’t know Medium’s algorithm of how to attain top writer status on Medium within any tag, but I do know that it is not based on the number of followers. My best guess is that is based on the number of 30-day recommendations within a tag. If anyone does have the definite answer, please clue us in with your response to this story.
Being something of a data geek, I decided to input the titles of the top three stories of the top 50 writers in Writing into a word cloud generator.
The lovely image above does give us an instant gratifying view of what people like to write and read about on Medium (within the “Writing” tag). However, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
I wanted to focus on the separate word occurrences to see if any interesting themes emerged from my small data set (see image below). I could have focused more on the titles themselves, but I was curious to see if the individual words would tell their own story.
The Writing tag is an odd one. Anyone can pick any tag they want for a story, and in a sense, all stories on Medium are “Writing” and some may pick that tag even if their topic isn’t specifically about writing. This caveat and other disclaimers are to say that my little data experiment is not perfect.
Indeed, the way I choose the themes and which words should fall under what theme was entirely subjective and an intuitive exercise. But it is my exercise so there. You can duplicate my work with any Medium “Top” tag. Knock yourself out.
The image of my spreadsheet handiwork is under the themes. There you will see the color key of the themes and the number of word occurrences and the words. For this exercise, I only worked with words that showed up at least twice.
Once I looked at all the words, I decided on the themes and color-coded them. Then I added the total of word occurrences for each theme. The total in each theme then allowed me to order the themes. Some words like “awesome” did not get included in a theme.
What is a little deceptive about the word cloud and the separate word occurrence is demonstrated by the word “Medium.” This word occurs the second most with 14 occurrences. So while writing about all things Medium is on my top theme list, when you add up words by theme, it comes in sixth.
The Top Themes
This theme surprised me a bit. I assumed that most writers would be focused on writing and writing skills in the “Writing” tag, but it does make sense when you think about it. After all, writers are writing for people to read. In this theme category, I included words that spoke to human emotions and desires like “love,” “want,” “comfort,” and “defeat.”
I think that most of us that have been reading stories on Medium for any length of time have seen that writing about improvement is HUGE. It is, therefore, no surprise that writers want to read and write about improving our writing.
3. Writing about Writing
Again in the “Writing” tag, probably a no brainer here. For this theme, I also included the words, “storytelling,” “blogging,” and “book.” I could have put Book also under the Reading theme.
The theme of time is also one that might not come right to mind for the “Writing” tag. But of course, as all writers know, having, finding, and making enough time to write is the golden key to writing happiness and bliss.
Here is another theme that we would expect to show up in the “Writing” tag. I am not too surprised that it is number five, though. It is more difficult to write a definitive “How to” story about how to be more creative. Medium does seem to favor articles that are practical and step-wise. Here perhaps is an opportunity gap of popularity with a sparsity of good stories. Get writing!
One of the fascinating things I find about Medium is how much we all love to read about becoming more successful on Medium. The more you read about the platform, the more nuances you learn. And we love to read about other’s successes and what hasn’t worked. Let’s admit it, we are all obsessed with our Medium stats, yes? It is no accident that the word “Medium” had the second highest occurrence in top 3 stories for the top 50 writers in Writing.
I’ve heard it said that Medium is the YouTube for readers. And as writers, we should be reading whenever possible. I’ll spare you the Stephen King quote, but here’s some Faulkner for good measure:
Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.― William Faulkner
Takeaway for how to attain top writer status on Medium
People! Improve your writing — make time to be creative on Medium! Keep reading!