What Does A Reader On Medium Want?
The world is a vast place full of information. You can potentially make an infinite amount of decisions each day, but having to consciously calculate the value of each decision will make you lose your mind. You will experience analysis paralysis.
In order to avoid frying your brain from trying to compute the value derived from each decision, you have to simplify your life and narrow your focus. You need to identify what you want and only pay attention to things that center around your goal.
This is why people create habits. They nest small habits inside a higher goal that they have.
People take showers and brush their teeth because they want to be hygienic and clean.
People go to the gym or go running outside because they want to be physically and mentally healthy.
People watch movies and play video games because they want to de-stress from their hard work and entertain themselves.
So let’s think about Medium readers and their wants and needs. I’m specifically going to analyze readers on Medium because I believe they have different goals than readers on the Internet.
Analyzing The Mythical Creature Known As A Medium Reader
1. They don’t like salesy stuff
They smell the pitch coming from a mile away. Their spider senses tingle when you insert a “sponsored” product. They crinkle their noses if you put an affiliate link or a patreon link on the bottom.
The ancient ancestors of Medium migrated away from mainstream media because:
- They were sick of having ads flashing and flying around in their peripherals while they were trying to read about current events or breakthroughs in the latest psychological findings.
- They wanted a space where anyone could create an account, blog about whatever they wanted, and have other people read and share what they wrote about
The only way you got noticed on the web as a blogger was either by knowing a bunch about SEO, content marketing, and web design so that your blog didn’t look like a Myspace or Tumblr profile page, or by being a professional writer for a credible editorial platform (highly unlikely).
Medium eliminated the barrier to entry of becoming a writer online. There were no editors acting as gatekeepers — if you had internet connection you were able to write about anything and read interesting stories from people all over the world.
Even the start of the Medium Partner Program was controversial for the progenitors of Medium.
Free Reader Advocate: CONTENT ON MEDIUM SHOULD BE FREE FOREVER!
Medium: Okay, but we want to pay the writers on the platform but we don’t really have a good way to do that besides advertis-
Free Reader Advocate: DON’T USE THE A WORD IN THIS GARDEN OF EDEN, LUCIFER
Medium: Okay okay, I’m sorry I won’t say it again so put the stick down! I just wanted to say that if we don’t want the “A’s” to be on this platform, because let me tell ya, keeping this site costs a lot of money, ranging from mostly server costs and staffing, and we probably won’t be able to last much longer if we don’t have a financial model that promises at least SOME profit to the shareholders…
Free Reader Advocate: I DIDN’T COME HERE TO TALK ABOUT ECONOMICS — I CAME HERE TO READ INTERESTING ARTICLES THAT WRITERS PAINSTAKINGLY WRITE FOR HOURS WITHOUT COMPENSATION
Medium: Yeah, so I’m saying if you can sacrifice just one cold brew or a kombucha a month, you can help pay an author while still being able to read all the content you wa —
Free Reader Advocate: DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO TAKE AWAY THE KOMBUCHA! ANYTHING BUT THE KOMBUCHA
Medium: Please don’t threaten to stab me with that broken Kombucha bottle…
Free Reader Advocate: I’M GOING TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT YOUR PLAN TO TAKE OUR KOMBUCHAS AWAY BY WRITING ON MY FREE MEDIUM PAGE
Medium: Okay, but before you do that think about this — you can get PAID to hate on Medium’s new partner program.
Free Reader Advocate:
Okay, I know I was exaggerating a bit here and I know that the controversy grew because people started noticing “member stories” were getting preferred by the algorithm over the “free stories”.
I know it took away from the original mission of Medium, and many aspects of Medium changed once the paywall went up.
But I do think it was a necessary step that the company needed to take in order to provide a more stable future for the writers and readers of the platform.
They could have easily created an ad based platform that would have ruined the user experience and made it just like any other editorial site on the Internet.
They didn’t have to create a way for people to earn money directly from the platform from the consumers.
And while what Medium is currently is not perfect, it still maintains the integrity of it’s mission — allowing humans to share stories and lessons with each other across the world.
2. They Love Listicles
I’m still guilty of creating listicles sometimes, but hey there’s a reason why everyone does it — it works.
If you were looking for an answer to a problem you were desperate trying to solve, and I told you I had 11 of them, wouldn’t you at least be curious to check it out and see if there’s anything worth of value?
Raise the number and it gets more interesting. But raise it too high and people won’t read it since they’ll experience information overload.
Medium had gone through a phase (perhaps still in this phase) where meta listicles were created. Listicles started transcending the landscape of listicles.
It would start innocently enough:
“5 Habits That Bill Gates Implemented During His 20’s That Ultimately Became Microsoft”
If your eyes saw that title, and you were in your 20’s, you would think “Hey — maybe there’s a habit in here that would be useful for me to know! (but never really implement in my own life)”
After you finish reading the article, only to find that the 5 habits were the same generic habits you found in every other listicle that you had read in the last two hours (read, shave, eat quinoa, be smart, be Bill Gate’s son), you would be recommended another listicle with the title:
“5 Things That I Did In My 20’s Right After I Read The Article: 5 Habits That Bill Gates Implemented During His 20’s That Ultimately Became Microsoft That Helped Me Earn $200,000 In A Day”
After you spend 10 minutes reading through the article and realizing you hadn’t learned anything new, you tell yourself that you were never going to fall for this trick again.
You decide it’s time to take action. You were finally going to stop reading all these listicles and get to writing. You were sick of waiting for inspiration to strike. Carpe diem — you were going to seize the day.
Before your mouse moved toward the X button, you notice a new story at the top of the homepage. Unable to help your curiosity, you decide to glance at the title, as a final goodbye to your days as a person stuck in the vicious cycle of consuming self-help/motivational listicles.
“10 Valuable Lessons That I Learned After Wasting My Time Reading The Article — 5 Things That I Did In My 20’s Right After I Read The Article: 5 Habits That Bill Gates Implemented During His 20’s That Ultimately Became Microsoft That Helped Me Earn $200,000 In A Day — Which Led Me To Create A Multi-Million Dollar Business”
By the time you’re finished reading that article, you’re completely drained. The fleeting motivation that you had before you started reading was now non existent.
By opening that article you had opened Pandora’s Box, and this time Hope would escape for good.
3. They Wanna Learn How To Make Money Fast… A Little Too Fast
In your title, you have to tell them you earned a reasonable dollar amount in a short but relatively plausible time frame.
Let’s say $100,000 in 3 months. If you want to brand yourself as a realist who values hard work and grit and perseverance, crank that bad boy up to a 6.
You can’t go into the millions, because people either won’t believe you or don’t have that much confidence in themselves to be able to earn that much. You gotta give em a low branch to grab on! (A Sad Reality)
You have to send a message of “I did it, and I’m just a rando on the Internet. You can do it too!”
Everyone dreams of being able to spin gold like Rumpelstiltskin.
Understanding this fact allows one to exploit the dreams of others.
“Sign up for my course and I will show you how to write magic words like me. I hold the secrets to the treasures that you seek, but I will need your e-mail to give this to you”.
All jokes aside, this is probably one of the best ways you can make a living online as a writer.
If you want to make money with your writing, you have to provide a service or product to people based on what they desire.
If they want what you currently have, you can find a way to monetize it rather than keep the “starving artist” mindset.
Maybe you don’t want your art to become diluted with the unholy goal of “materialism”… but it’ll probably be better for you if you’re able to pay for rent and food.
Writing About What You Want To Write About Isn’t Good Enough
If you want people to notice your writing, this is the reality you must face.
It feels good if someone tells you that your opinion matters. It feels good if someone tells you that everything you write is worth reading and valuable. It feels good if someone tells you that you are perfect as a writer as you are — you simply need to write.
I’m guilty of doing this. I want to help people gain the confidence to get started with writing, so I tell them encouraging words.
I tell them that they just need to publish, and people will start reading eventually. I tell them what they want to hear, but I haven’t been telling them what they need to hear.
I’ve come to realize that I may have been hurting more people with my naive advice than helping them.
The naivety of my perspective struck me today as I took my daily stroll, trying to think about what I should write about today.
“People don’t care about what you care about. They care only if the opinion you share is valuable to them.”
Friends and family do not fit neatly into this reality(although they do operate under this rule at times), but the rest of the world surely does.
They don’t know who you are. Why should they give you their precious time and attention? Why should they sit down and read your opinions when you’re simply a stranger on the Internet?
You need to convince readers that you have something of value to offer them.
If your goal is to get noticed and have people listen to your ideas, you need to stop thinking about what you want to read and write about and explore the minds of your readers.
You need to first learn about them and ultimately, what they care about, before they decide they want to learn about you and your ideas.