Two Stats Changed My Writing Strategy On Medium

How Member Reading Time and Story Word Count changed my writing strategy on Medium.
Mar 13, 2023
3 min

55 stories. 70,283 words. 12,918 minutes of total member reading time. Those were my stats when I got approved for the Medium Partnership Program on February 3rd, 2023. However, getting approved to make money writing is just the beginning: Now it was time to make money. So as a “professional writer”, I decided to take things seriously by analyzing my work for improvement.

Unfortunately, Medium doesn’t provide quality tools to review your story metrics quickly. The main stats page only shows the views, reads, read ratio (reads divided by views), and “fans” of each published story. At that time, my tools for Medium List Analysis weren’t developed, and even if they were, I wouldn’t be able to use them: Finding metrics such as the total reading time of a story requires you to use an in-depth stat page. Finding a story’s word count requires you to open the story up in the editor, press CTRL + A, then wait till the word count pops up…

The stats of the main stats page.


The Data

I collected the data on February 6th, 2023. If I’m being honest, I actually collected it to find out how many words I wrote to become a partner. However, I soon realized that finding the total read time of each story would also provide insight into which stories people were reading. So once the data was collected, I sorted it by each metric and created pie charts.

Lifetime Member Reading Time

My best-performing stories regarding Member Reading Time were the most dramatic stories I have ever written.

  1. I Placed a GPL License in my Take Home Interview Project (41.8%; 5,402 minutes)
  2. Rapper Destroys Google Software Engineer in API Development (15.6%; 2,012 minutes)
  3. I Used To Work At Google. Now I Flip Burgers (11.5% 1,488 minutes)
  4. Uber Was Hacked. Here’s What Happened (4.5%; 585 minutes)
  5. One Line to Debug Your CSS Issues (4.5%; 577 minutes)

The most viewed story at the time was “One Line To Debug Your CSS” issues.

Word Count

My stories with the most Word Count contained over 2,000 words each!

  1. [Imported; Deleted] Standard of Quality of Music (5.6%; 3,913 words)
  2. [Imported: Deleted] How Does Cryptocurrency Work? (4.0%; 2,787 words)
  3. [Imported; Deleted] Why Most Artists Rely on Luck (3.8%; 2,688 words)
  4. Mobbed By Moderation: A Cause of Failure (3.6%; 2,506 words)
  5. The Pay Disparity of Programmers (3.5%; 2,460 words)

Of these five stories, “The Pay Disparity of Programmers” received the most Lifetime Member Read Time, accounting for 3.5% (458 minutes) of my Total Member Read Time. 68% of my Total Member Reading Time came from three stories comprising 3.8% (2,681 words) of my Total Word Count. Given that stories with higher word count take more effort, I’d say that there isn’t an explicit correlation between the effort a story requires and read time. That said, there is an implicit correlation between Word Count and Read Time based on data collected by Medium.

What I Learned

How did these stats change my writing strategy on Medium? When I first joined Medium, I had an idea of what a “high-quality” story looked like. However, that idea changed as I wrote more. So when I analyzed this data, I realized that I HAVE NO F*CKING CLUE WHAT’S GONNA RESONATE WITH PEOPLE ON THIS PLATFORM! Most of my popular stories are shitposts. So if I don’t know what’s going to resonate with people, perhaps I will write more stories.

Writing more is possible without sacrificing effort, but the thought poses a good question: Why put all that effort into a story that Medium won’t promote? Look at the frontpage of Medium What do you see? Wagie sh*t! That’s what. The truth is Medium loves promoting stories that come across as professional, so when you include “unprofessional” remarks in your stories, it’s over.

Well… That’s not exactly the case.

Even when Medium promotes your story, people must be interested. Look, I don’t care how much you write about “Porky The Pig’s Discovery of Referential Mathematics Before The Butcher Caught Him By Surprise”. I’M NOT READING THAT BOOLSHET!!! So just go ahead and write that next story for me.

This isn’t to say that you should use Medium as an avenue for money, but rather that the effort you spend on an individual story isn’t likely to be valued. I wouldn’t be surprised if story performance on Medium follows a similar model to any other entertainment economy where 1% of the content makes up a majority of the industry’s revenues. It happens in music. It happens with books. I’m sure it happens here too.

So now it’s time to apply that knowledge.

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