Hey Reader 👋
As a content creator/writer, you'll likely face a period where you're wondering if it's worth it.
You might feel like you're working hard but not seeing the results you desire.
You might be creating lots of content but barely reaching an audience.
Your dream is to make an income doing what you love and creating real value for real people, but it just doesn't seem to work. ❌
If that sounds familiar, I want you to know that you're not alone, and this email is going to help you stop wasting effort, so you can start to get paid for the work you do.
But I have a quick note to share before we dive in:
💸 Would you work 40+ hours for $5? - My friend did.
You know what one of the absolute best parts of running a content business is?
❌ It's not the money.
❌ It's certainly not "fame."
❌ And it's not the endless hours of work you do *without* knowing if it'll be worth it.
It's the connections you build with incredible, like-minded people.
One of them is my friend Zulie - she's one of the most kind and smart people I ever met. And she's a brilliant writer with over 129 thousand followers on Medium!
While we collaborate on various projects, we don't always share the same opinions or have the same approaches.
While I love the business, marketing, and sales aspects of being a creator, Zulie tried to avoid those for a long time.
In a perfect world, she'd create great content and people would happily pay her for doing so (without her actively selling).
Sounds good, right?
Well, there's just one downside to this approach: It usually doesn't work.
In 2021, Zulie hosted a free Writing Challenge for her community.
She sent daily emails, went live five times per week, and supported more than 200 writers.
The participants could join the entire challenge for free.
At the end, Zulie encouraged them to pay what they want through a tip.
In a perfect world, participants would tip generously because they said they loved the challenge.
Wanna know what really happened?
One person tipped $5.
The bottom line? If you hate marketing yourself, you might end up feeling frustrated about the work you do.
As Zulie puts it, “Feel-good” marketing might win you friends, but not much money. 🤷🏻♀️
Here's my favorite takeaway:
I seriously didn't expect this to be true.
Let me be honest: Medium's standards for boosting a story are high.
As nominators, we're looking for the best of the best, and we're using the quality guidelines to assess whether a story is worth nominating.
We're desperately looking for stories to nominate for a boost, especially in Better Marketing, and we're going as far as contacting individual writers to suggest changes to their stories to help them meet the quality standards, but it's tough.
But enough complaining, let's get actionable. If you're a Medium writer desperately waiting for your stories to get boosted, here's what to do:
- 👀 Read Zulie's post to get first-hand insights from our experience of reviewing hundreds of articles.
- 📝 (Re)read Medium's official quality guidelines and the Boost criteria.
- Last but not least, mark your calendar for next Thursday (September 21st), 5 pm CET: I'll go live with my two co-editors to talk about the most common mistakes we see in the pieces we review, and will give you first-hand insights on how to increase your chances for getting Boosted.
✨ Sinem's Sparkle
The first question I want to answer in our new Q&A corner is this:
I receive this question at least five times in each live cohort I host for Medium Writing Academy, and I get it: So many people share advice like "engage with others."
But here's the truth: You don't have to engage with other writers to grow your audience.
So many people think that engaging with other accounts is the key to growing your audience while it's not.
Getting a few views, likes, and comments from other creators won't magically grow your numbers if:
- you're not publishing consistently
- your content isn't being discovered through algorithms
- and you're not clear on the audience you want to reach/the niche you want to serve
BUT there's a different side to engaging with other creators that is widely underrated:
- Reading the work of successful writers helps you better understand what’s doing well and what you could do differently in your own work.
- Connecting with like-minded writers helps you stay motivated and encouraged. You want to connect with creators who’re at a similar stage, so you can genuinely support each other through feedback and collaborations (not just through "fake" engagement).
None of this is essential for success, but it can help.
😮💨 Whew - we made it to the end of this email!
It took me almost two hours to write and edit, so I hope you enjoyed what you read! 💡
Big love from my screen to yours,