The first couple times I read posts on Medium, I didn’t think too much of it. Eh, it’s just another place for people to publish overly personal things, I said to myself. However, as the months went on, I saw more and more amazing writers and professionals publishing content on the platform, so I finally gave it a good look—and fell in love with it.
While I could go on (and on) about all the benefits, the most obvious one is that it gives you a way to quickly build up credibility as a thought leader. And that’s vital for many people who are caught in a chicken-and-egg career situation in which they’re told they can’t move up in their career, submite their name for a promotion, or speak on a panel until they’re “more established.” Well, here’s a way to get established fast.
Intrigued, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a breakdown of what Medium is, why it’s awesome, and how to use it to make a name for yourself.
So, What Is Medium?
At its simplest, Medium is a free publishing platform on which you can write whatever you want. The site has virtually any type of content you can imagine, from poetry and literary prose to life hacks and personal essays. Seriously, if you’re looking for anything, there’s a 99.9% chance someone has published something about it on there.
Why You Should Use it Over Other Platforms
There’s a lot to love about Medium over other free blogging platforms like Wordpress, Tumblr, or LinkedIn Pulse. For example:
Here’s one of the simplest reasons why it’s better: It’s really, really pretty. The layout is simple and clean, and it’s so incredibly easy to use. Trying new blogging platforms can be intimidating (So many layouts! So many colors! So many choices!), so I was pleasantly surprised at how visually pleasing it looked without me having to make too many decisions. Trust me, even if you’ve never blogged before, I guarantee you can figure this out in five minutes (OK, maybe 10).
It Has Great Networking Opportunities
What really sets Medium apart is how great its community is—especially for your career. Many of the people who post there are interesting professionals in their own right and they’re very open to building connections. For example, I’ve read a lot of work by entrepreneurs and have gotten in touch via the contact info they provide on their individual profiles. Yes, these same people are likely on LinkedIn, but it’s far easier and less stressful to reach out when your reason for connecting is right in front of both your faces.
Even better: The writers tend to be pretty social media savvy and therefore promote articles they like far more often than I’ve seen elsewhere. I’ve made great Twitter friends by simply tweeting out awesome reads and tagging the author.
It Easily Organizes Your Content
Medium allows you to bookmark, recommend, and highlight posts, allowing you to save cool content for later, keep your favorite pieces in one place, and remember specific lines of posts that really struck you. It’s straightforward and helpful.
What Are Best Practices for Medium?
If you’re just getting started, here are three things I’d recommend doing so that you can get the most out of the platform immediately:
Actively Interact With the Community
Posting your own content is great, but like any other website, no one sees it unless you get involved. Follow publications, tags, and people whose work you admire. Leave thoughtful comments on posts you find interesting. Submit your own work to publications; these function as niche blogs within the platform where you can gain exposure to different audiences (since thousands of people follow any given publication). The more you give to this community, the more it’ll give back to you.
Make Your Posts Visually Appealing
Take time to think of interesting titles, headings, subheadings, and photos. It really does make all the difference. For example, in my posts, I like to use crisp full-screen images from free stock photo sites to separate different sections. In addition, I also make sure to break down my paragraphs so nobody’s eyes glaze over while reading—most are around three to six lines long.
Don’t Treat it Like LinkedIn
At this point, you might be wondering what the difference is between posting on Medium versus LinkedIn Pulse when it comes to your career. Both are great, but know that writers tend to be more informal and relaxed on Medium in terms of tone and interactions. While most users use complete sentences, correct punctuation, and good grammar, they’re not necessarily consciously thinking about scoring contacts every time they talk to anyone.
And even though networking takes place, a lot of it’s more passive; writers like to connect with people who read and respond to their writing, not just those who send a message that says, “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
OK, How Do I Become a Thought Leader, Though?
Being a thought leader on Medium comes down to tying everything together. Take time to think about the topic you want to become known for, and find interesting and thought-provoking angles for your pieces. Create well-researched and aesthetically pleasing posts, and remember that stats and figures add extra oomph to what you say. Publish your work, share your writing on social media, and interact with people as they discover your pieces.
And remember: Consistency is key, so don’t expect one post to go viral and allow you to reach “thought leader” status. It takes time to build a sustainable audience.
Even if you’re not interested in publishing your own work at first, I strongly suggest hopping on Medium, commenting on posts, and reading what it has to offer. In fact, I recommend it so much I’m going to get you started: If you’re into productivity and self-improvement, follow Life Learning; if you’re into stories you can read on your commute, check out Coffeelicious; and finally, if you’re into personal finance and money, say hey to The Billfold. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.
Photo of man typing courtesy of Shutterstock.