This week, after trying for about a year, I finally got a story published in a publication owned by Medium. The publications owned by Medium have a larger audience — because the content is carefully selected, massaged, and cleverly marketed.
Medium owned publications take preference in the popular list, homepage and featured stories. Getting into a publication owned by Medium helps you reach more people and than can assist you to inspire, entertain, teach or inform a larger audience of readers.
The big difference
Medium owned publications have professional editors. The typical publications have editors too, but it’s not the same thing.
An editor of a Medium publication will usually have been in the world of content for quite a while and will edit your work a lot. These edits do the following:
- Make the key points of your work stand out
- Make your writing easier to read
- Make the message you’re trying to get across connect
- Make your writing grammatically better
- Make your articles shorter in length
A Medium Editor is on your side and they want to win. Having a team is always better than trying to win on your own and tell stories in the dark.
The other benefit of an editor is that they can decide to bless your writing with a beautifully commissioned piece of art. That art gives a second layer of shine to your writing and makes readers more likely to want to hear what you have to say. Whether you like it or not, images help us decide what articles to read. An image can tell us a story just as well as words can.
For my work, editors make me sound less crap — and like I’m a three-year-old that got given a laptop with a blank document — and for that, I’m thankful.
As soon as one of my articles got featured in a publication owned by Medium, this notification appeared:
Getting on the homepage of Medium means you are seen above every other article on the site. This gives your work more chance of being seen by a reader who may not have read your writing or who could be curious by a headline.
All the other opportunities for readers to find your work are ten times harder than being the first article to appear on the homepage. That’s another brilliant reason to get your work in a Medium owned publication. (Publications owned by Medium can be found on the header of the home page by the way.)
Here’s how to get featured in Medium owned publications:
Pitch them (a lot)
To get your work featured in a Medium owned publication, you have to pitch them a lot. There’s no secret introduction or way to skip the queue. You simply email the publication you think an article you’ve written would suit and then wait to hear back.
Allowing up to four weeks is a good idea because they receive an overwhelming number of submissions. This is the hardest part and many writers I know give up after they have pitched a few times.
You’ve got to pitch them a lot to have any chance of receiving the privilege of what they can do for your work. Nothing beats patience and writing a lot.
Be slightly more compassionate in your writing
One of the helpful pieces of advice I can give you about Medium publications is that they like you to be slightly more compassionate to readers (especially in how-to guides).
Medium publications are all about the reader and they try to treat them like a VIP that has backstage access and the potential to change or improve their life thanks to their platform.
Talking to your reader at the same level and not trying to be some humble-brag guru with all the wisdom of the seven seas while simultaneously being an immaculate conception that didn’t involve seamen, is the way to meet the minimum requirement. I’m sometimes guilty of being not quite compassionate enough, so this was a big learning curve for me.
Give them work that’s too good to refuse
The editors of these Medium owned publications can’t ignore you forever if your work is good and readers agree so by clapping. Consistency is key and ensuring you’re writing the best damn content you possibly can.
Good work is good work and Medium Editors don’t give two hoots about your name, brand, where you come from or your status in society. There is one criteria: is the work too good to refuse?
If there is any other answer other than a mighty “Hell Yes!!!” then they’re likely to pass on your work or simply not reply.
Add links to research
Backing up your point of view, if it’s a non-fiction story, is worth considering. Articles that are non-fiction and backed by nothing seem to be mostly ignored.
Avoid formatting acrobatics
Look at the formatting of a typical Medium article and then look at the formatting of an article that’s published in a Medium owned publication. Here’s what you’ll notice:
- Very little italics
- 1–2 quotes if you’re lucky
- No call-to-actions
- Fewer headings
- Smaller headings
- A clear and concise subtitle
- A highly well-thought-out headline
If you’re not sure what to do when formatting your article, just use a few headings and leave all other text plain. There’s no need to add pictures either in any drafts you submit.
Publish under your name then submit a draft link
One of the challenges of submitting a story to a Medium owned publication is that it can take some time to get a reply and most of the time, you probably won’t get one.
A pro tip that Shaunta Grimes recommends is to avoid the doubt, worry and fear of missing out by publishing the story you intend pitching under your own name (not a publication) and then sending the link to that story off to the Medium owned publication.
If the article makes the cut, the publication will edit your story, ask for your feedback, and replace the original story. The original date you posted the story will stay the same — but the headline, text and even image can all change like magic!
The best part about this approach is that if your story is not picked up, it can still be published on Medium without having to wait.
Submitting a pitch
Before submitting a pitch to a Medium owned publication, you want to ensure you don’t waste their time or yours.
No one can predict the editor’s behavior, although if you consistently show up in their email inbox with rubbish stories that don’t meet the basic pass mark, you may become so good at it that they ignore you altogether. Here are some quick tips for submitting a pitch.
Have some stories under your name
Publish a few stories under your own name on Medium, so you at least look as though you’ve spent a few hours honing your craft and engaging with readers.
Research the publication
Each Medium owned publication has its own theme, style guide and unique personality. It doesn’t take an Einstein (cause I certainly ain’t one!) to find out what works and what doesn’t. Pick one publication to research and read articles from that publication every day for a few weeks.
You’ll quickly see what is getting accepted. It’s worth noting that these publications rarely take the same topic twice or publish the same sort of article multiple times. They are looking for unique pieces so copying is a complete waste of time. (You can’t fake being a writer — these editors live and breathe writing for a living.)
Put the story name in the subject title
As I said earlier, you’ll be emailing your story pitches to the email address that each publication has for submissions. You have to remember that your email story pitch is going to be sitting in the inbox, along with many other people just like you.
There is one way to stand out and that is to make your email subject line read like this:
<Story name> (Story Pitch ) — <Your Name>
The headline of your article is the only thing that will get an editor’s attention and separate your pitch from every other email in their inbox. In this case, the headline is crucial.
By making the headline clear, mentioning that you are pitching a story and including your name at the end, you make an editor’s job really easy. They don’t even have to open the article (and they probably won’t) to decide if they like the concept behind your story.
Okay, now in full disclosure, I didn’t create one of these simplistic email subject lines until the end of the process. I tried to hide behind my name and the phrase “story pitch” which created extra work for an already busy editor.
Put a link to your Medium profile in the signature
Making life easy for the editor can also be achieved by putting a link to your Medium profile in your email signature. This allows an editor to see your prior work and make sure that you didn’t just come out of nowhere, having never written anything on the internet, expecting to be a famous author.
Make the pitch, like your story, compassionate and friendly. The body of the email should read something like this:
Hi <Publication Name> Editors,
My name is <insert name>and I write about <topic one> and <topic two>. I’d like to pitch this story to your publication for consideration and am open to suggestions or changes:
<insert link to Medium story draft or the published story under your own name>
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
<Insert link to your Medium profile page>
Now you have all the information I used to get into a Medium owned publication. Anyone can do it and if you pitch them enough times with a story that meets their criteria, you’ll experience the joy I’m experiencing today of being able to reach more readers with your life’s work.
Having proper editors edit your work makes a difference and the extra reach that comes as an added bonus will help your work too.
Happy pitching and I hope you’re successful.