avatarEve Arnold

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How to Write on Medium in 2024

The key ingredient most often overlooked

Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash

If you want to grow on Medium in 2024, the first question you must answer is this: how am I going to still be here in 2026?

I know, not quite the question you were expecting, right? You see the thing about growing on Medium (or any platform, or in any aspect of life for that matter) is most people don’t understand the game — the game is to have fun, add value and stick around long enough for things to compound.

It’s not about going viral in your first 6 months, how to gain millions of followers in your first few years or how to build a steady income on the side after a few months.

Even if you get all those things, you’ll realize none of it was about the money or the scale of what you are doing. It’s all about the work. It’s about feeling good about the work you are doing.

It’s knowing that the work is the destination.

And so, growing on Medium is about one thing — A growth mindset. It’s about managing your mind. And let me explain the steps I’ve taken to do that.

Foundation: The ‘Mindgame’

But it’s more than that, it’s a mind game. It’s a game of cat and mouse where you are both the cat and the mouse. You have to convince yourself to play, to work hard, to chase. And that you are being chased.

Writing on Medium in the hopes of making it ‘big’ is a recipe for disaster.

One of the reasons I’ve managed to build a small (but mighty) following on Medium is that I expected zero. In the beginning, I didn’t even know you could make money from writing on Medium. Few things deter you more than mismanaged expectations.

I learned long ago that building anything has two elements: logic and emotion. Logical elements are those that require skills (writing a good headline, that kinda thing). Emotional elements are those that are much harder to master (showing up when you feel low for example).

Real mastery comes from when you practice the logic over a long time. To do that, you must first master emotion.

So if you want to write great content and eventually build great products, here’s how I’d go about it.

Step 1: Find the balance between both the two O’s

It seems to me that most (and this is mainly directed at me) fall into the trap of more growth. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wishing for more followers, likes, and subscribers. It’s addictive. The small dopamine hit you get when stuff is going your way is pretty unrivalled.

But it’s not a sustainable way to grow. Because it means you are vulnerable to the inevitability of reality — one day, things will go in the opposite direction. The growth will stall, you’ll get some feedback that turns your bottom lip or you’ll refresh the data to find it’s happened. Progress has stopped.

Now of course this is not the reality. Anything worth doing takes years, a decade even. Just because the numbers have stopped ticking over does not mean you are not making progress but if you’ve spent years obsessing over the stats, letting your heart do a happy dance every single time you check your follower count and it’s gone up, you’ll be in for a stomach-sinking-sensation when things don’t go quite to plan.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the small wins. Of course, you can. I actively encourage it. But there is a subtle difference between observation and obsession. It’s a balancing act that you must keep in check if you want to stand the test of time.

Observe the stats, your progress and your growth. Don’t make it the only measure. Don’t obsess. Your only obsession should be the work — The writing, your creativity, your thinking.

Step 2: The ‘Zoom Out’ test

Unfortunately (or fortunately) advocating for a new mindset cannot be extrapolated from my brain into yours. If that was the case we’d all be changing our operating systems every few hours and end up in a tailspin.

Instead, there must be a compelling argument to consider such a mindset shift. And for me, there is one idea that sprouts in my mind every single time I try and consider an alternative route.

For this, I encourage you to zoom out. Fast forward your life and imagine the life you’ve always dreamed of. You have everything you ever wanted, you open the doors on a sunny Monday and see flowers blooming on your land, you can see hills for miles, and you go on a long dog walk with your best pals as they dance between the daffodils.

You have everything you ever wanted. Now, how are you filling your day?

You know you’re in the right spot if you’re answer is the work. You’d still be doing the work, the writing, the creating regardless of what material things come of it.

Step 3: Write about your life

For me, by far and away the most sustainable things to write about are the things that a) interest me and b) impact my life daily. If on my morning dog walk, I’m pondering productivity, I’ll get back home, open my laptop and tap away about productivity.

Writing in the rhythm of life is the best way to write.

First and foremost you must get something from writing. If you’re just showing up to get paid, things won’t go according to plan. You must derive some sort of emotion from your work. Even if it’s an outlet for negative ones.

Writing is like a relationship. You learn, you listen, you get it wrong. Ultimately you’re creating a bond with this thing. Some days you’ll hate it, some days you’ll be overjoyed by it. But over time, you’ll fall in love with it. The key is to keep nurturing, keep paying attention, and keep finding meaning and purpose in writing about your life.

Now, of course, those things must be of use to someone else. You can’t just simply write ‘I’m feeling low today, it sucks.’ You must explore your own feelings, and your world and then offer a solution or part of a solution to the world.

Remember writing is about solving problems.

Step 4: The best productivity advice

Oliver Burkeman makes the brilliant observation the best productivity advice isn’t merely about being more productive, more it’s about creating a more meaningful life.

I think about that a lot when it comes to writing. It’s a balance. More isn’t always better, sometimes less is. The best outlook to hold when considering writing is to optimize for joy.

Go on a journey of discovery. Ask yourself what are you interested in, what are the things you’ve always wanted to learn more about? Use writing as a function for learning. Allow yourself to explore your curiosity through writing.

If you do that, you’ll find you can’t help but write. Better still, if all you focus on is that, you’ll find you build your audience and earn money as a byproduct.

Step 5: Why short-term is so difficult

The trouble is nobody likes the idea of waiting. Nobody wants to wait they want success now. Especially when the payout seems to outweigh the payoff.

It’s why so many people fold. The world has done a tragedically bad job of describing how success works. People think success is reserved for special people and happens overnight. The reality is success is for normal people who are willing to wait a long time — which ironically makes them special.

A good rule of thumb is to apply what I call a ‘renovation mentality’ to any long-term goal. I’m renovating my house at the minute, ask anybody who has renovated a house and they’ll all come out with the same sentence: It’ll take you twice as long as you think and cost you twice as much.

That’s the approach to take into account when building anything in business. It’ll take twice as long (probably longer) and cost you (mentally) twice as much as you bargained for.

Emotions are everything when it comes to writing on Medium.

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