Are You Also Overwhelmed by ‘How to Grow on Medium’ Content and Online Course Offers?

How everybody’s experience in online writing is unique, and why one shouldn’t waste their time nor money by pursuing others’ ‘strategies.’

6 min readJul 3, 2023

Whenever I log into Medium, I see a new post promoting strategies related to becoming an online writer or growing your audience. For those who have zero experience with writing and are fascinated by the idea of the side hustle economy, this kind of content based on personal stories might feel enlightening in terms of developing a strategy. However, the truth is, there is no strategy more important than your own writing experience. Correct, your writing experience is the only thing that truly matters.

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I have been blogging on different platforms since 2007, including Medium. But due to my doctoral research and professional occupation, I had to pause my writing. In June 2023, I decided to restart blogging on Medium and subscribed to an annual membership. During my hiatus, a lot had changed on the platform. One significant feature that was added allowed writers to earn money from their audience’s membership. After seeing a series of blog posts related to ‘making money on Medium,’ I felt like I was missing out on something. Hello, FOMO!

The Great Webinar Showdown

As a result, last week, I attended a free online webinar run by two popular authors that I started following after reconnecting with Medium. (No names will be given because this post is not about individuals but the concept of webinars.)

I was curious to hear their story, especially what made them so popular on Medium. But honestly, all the advice they shared during the hour-long webinar could be summarized in three sentences, as follows (comments in italics are mine):

1. Don’t write about writing but write about what you care about the most. (Because who wants to read about writing when we can dive into fascinating stories?)

2. Pay extra attention to writing catchy titles. (It’s the first impressions and it’s like dressing up your text in its dating best.)

3. Pitch your ideas to publications whose content aligns with your interests and has high engagement with Medium readers. (Engagement is the name of the game! More comments mean more virtual high-fives.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. These three tips are worth their weight in gold for writing newbies and Medium enthusiasts. I’m just not sure if they really need 60 minutes to discuss them when they could easily be summarized as above.

The YouTube-Writing Paradox

Okay, video content works better than written content, but we’re here, talking about writing on Medium, while we indulge in YouTube videos about writing. It’s like a delightful oxymoron. However, as we, the listeners, were informed about their online courses that teach writing on Medium for six weeks, this webinar turned out to be more of an advertisement session than a workshop. No live examples, no Q&A, nada! If you want more interaction with two authors, you must shell out around $600. Talk about a “pay-to-play” policy. Free riders not welcome!

I don’t want to misconstrue anything — I have nothing against writing courses as a scholar who has also conducted creative writing workshops, especially for participatory museum/exhibition projects hosted in the Historical Museum Frankfurt or NGOs engaged with migrant and refugee women and girls.

What I want to question here is the notion of ‘developing a Medium strategy.’ What kind of strategy can make anyone a writer, rather than the art of writing itself?

The Simple Equation: Write + Write More = Improvement

Let’s face it: writing is directly related to being creative, and nobody can teach creativity, but they can assist in improving writing by proofreading the text. Moreover, as a scholar who offers professional proofreading and editing services, I strongly believe that attending a writing course can certainly teach you a lot. However, it’s a personal journey that everybody needs to undertake to find their own voice. No workshop conductor can hand you your own unique voice on a silver platter.

Unless you consistently work on writing, you will only have the idea of being a writer, but never the potential to become one. It’s a simple logic: if you want to be read, you need to write. Moreover, you can only strengthen your writing by writing more. Just like with anything else, writing is based on practice. If you lack ideas for writing, consider a) reading more, b) watching more, and c) exploring the city more.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

The Mathematical Magic of Writing

It’s a fact: everyone with a story can write it down. Writing follows a simple mathematical equation: Introduction + Development + Conclusion = Storytime! If you find yourself making excuses for not writing, like lacking inspiration or needing to master the platform first, maybe you’re just not cut out to be a writer. And that’s okay! Writing a thoughtful piece for others to read is a whole different ball game from jotting down a diary entry or a caption for an Instagram post. It takes time, energy, passion, and patience. No writing academy can give you all that in exchange for $600. That’s something called “self-discipline,” my friends, and you have to find your own rhythm.

The Big Medium Mystery

Here’s the truth bomb: writing regularly on Medium won’t guarantee an audience. But fear not! Medium is just one platform among many where you can unleash your literary prowess. Writing consistently on Medium will undoubtedly sharpen your skills and style. That’s why I’ve decided to focus more on finding my authentic voice and less on chasing stats. After all, honing my craft and enhancing my academic writing skills as a scholar is what truly matters.

Good Content Finds Its Way

In the grand scheme of things, I’ve only posted a couple of stories on Medium and received a modest number of views. Do I feel discouraged? Not a chance! I remain blissfully indifferent to the stats. Of course, higher stats would be a motivational boost to write more often, but I trust in my stories and their ability to reach their intended readers. The rest is just Medium algorithms, an overwhelming mess that I refuse to stress over. Those online courses costing over $500? They prey on people like me, overwhelmed by the algorithmic chaos. But here’s the thing: I’m more interested in perfecting my craft, getting faster at formulating my thoughts, and becoming an even better writer. Because, you know what they say, a good story will find its buyers — oops, I mean readers!

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The Infamous Shortcut Seekers

But compared to my approach of being indifferent to stats and focusing on the act of writing, these Medium subscribers want a shortcut. These are the people who believe they can be content creators in the hustle economy by paying an “entrance fee.” However, online course offers are not limited to Medium. In fact, it’s a new way for those with high follower numbers in the hustle economy to monetize the eager but lost followers. As long as they make you believe they have a strategy for building an audience, they can convince you to pay that money by saying you’d save time, energy, and maximize your gain and revenue. However, teaching a strategy is a lie.

For instance, I recently saw a sponsored post on Instagram advertising a course on making reel videos. Their slogan was, “If your reels don’t get high views and likes, you probably don’t know how to make a reel suitable for the Instagram algorithm.” #LOL Nobody knows it. Not even the Instagram executives. As stated in the book “Influencer Industry” by Emily Hund, in one video, Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained how algorithms work as follows:

“One of the most important things is to experiment, to try new things and figure out what’s resonating with your audience now because it might be different from what it was half a year or a year ago.”

Thanks, Captain Obvious!

So, let’s break free from the shackles of online writing advice overload and embark on our own hilarious, awe-inspiring, and genuinely fulfilling writing adventures.

If you’ve got stories, thoughts, or insights to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Let’s keep the conversation going and remember to find joy in the act of writing, not in chasing algorithms or empty promises of shortcuts.

Happy writing, and may your pens be forever sharp!




elif cigdem artan, phd | a passionate sociologist curious about the rich tapestry of everyday life - in digital culture and anti-racist gender equity 🎠