Honestly, Curation Doesn’t Matter
“What happened to all the curators?” I hear you ask.
I don’t know.
As far as I can tell, they all jumped ship months ago.
It’s truthfully been a really long time since I most recently received a coveted notification that one of my articles was curated. In fact, even though I lived off Medium earnings all throughout the pandemic, I didn’t see one curation the entire time.
During the first few months of the year, I was a curation darling. It even got to the point that being curated didn’t even excite me anymore.
Then, as if to punish me for my arrogance, the day came that curation suddenly stopped. With the exception of one article, I never saw it again.
I’ve noticed while reading other posts across the site, that the Lords of Medium have vaguely explained changes they’ve been making to the way articles are curated. Something about becoming more social, I’m not really sure. But writers who’re relying on Medium to be seen are writers that are going to be disappointed in the long run.
Fundamentally, this is the platform on which we create. It should not also be the platform with which we trust our distribution.
Of course, I know there are writers out there who’re still Medium darlings. The light is shining on you, and you’re enjoying your time in the sun. For those people, I’m genuinely happy. But for everyone else, it’s time to find another way to become more exposed to your readers.
Writing for Big Daddy Google
Luckily for all of us, there’s a big fat search engine that treats us all the same. Big Daddy Google is the one curator you can bet is going to treat you well, so it’s in your best interest to give it what it wants.
Google spits out what you feed it, so load up that fork.
Medium seems to do a marvellous job in ensuring our articles are easily picked up and shown by Google. With the redesign, Medium has even expanded our options for customising our search engine optimisation, which is really good of them.
Medium has given us the tools we need to achieve the task, so it’s our job to get it done.
This is probably the part that you’re guessing I’m going to recommend throwing links to your stories all over social media, or spending hours tweaking the SEO settings. If that’s where you’re head’s at, then thankfully you’re wrong.
Instead, I’ll make the following recommendation.
If traffic is what you’re craving, then start writing in such a way that Big Daddy Google actually has a way to get you on the front page.
My highest earning article this month so far, (only 4 days in, but still), is an uncurated article about the re-casting of Jake from State Farm.
I wrote and published it right as the US was entering lockdown. I also timed it for when State Farm was on the cusp of their most recent juggernaut marketing push.
How did I know that State Farm was about to go crazy with their marketing dollars? Am I connected? Am I a marketing guru? Not at all. I just watch YouTube and noticed that bloody State Farm was being featured before literally every video I watched.
It annoyed me that State Farm was constantly in my face, and it confused me why they re-cast the “Jake” character. So I spent a couple of hours researching and taking notes, then wrote an article about what I found.
Why ‘Jake from State Farm’ Had to be Re-Cast
Have you noticed the changes being made to commercials lately?
This has happened before with other topics I found interesting and wrote about.
I once wrote an uncurated article about the scammy app ‘Sweatcoin’ because I wanted to know how scammy it was. It turns out that many other people are also curious about what I’m curious about, so it did very well with the numbers.
Unpaid Views Though?
The biggest criticism given by Medium writers towards the Google strategy is that the vast majority of the eyes I’m pulling are not monitised, and that’s true.
With all of my giant number Google-darling posts, the viewership of the post that actually paid me a commission is usually around the 1% mark.
But my response is always to say that 1% of a tree is a hell of a lot better than 50% of a seed.
I’ve written lots of curated Medium-darling think-piece articles that did well in the short term, then died.
Articles titled ‘He Saw Me, Then He Had Me’ sound interesting in the context of Medium, and may get read by some members. But those words are all so vague they’re never going to show up on a Google search.
I generally like to consider how searchable my titles and topics are. Because if I’m curious about something, how curious is everyone else?
So… What Now?
Ultimately on Medium, the key to success is to write what you love. You’re really here to have fun, so don’t get tied up in knots about money.
But if you are looking for something new to try, I recommend being more observant. Every time you feel annoyed or angry, quickly write down the reason. Maybe what annoyed you also annoys lots of other people. Maybe they’re Googling a solution to the problem right now. You never know.
Well, you’ll know when you wake up one day and your mother is telling you that you’re on the front page of Google because she searched the health benefits of Yakult.
That’s the day you’ll know that people are generally wondering the same thing.
Write what you love, but also write what you see. Keep your eyes open.