But first, a story.
Boston, August 14th, 1921
A young Hungarian born magician rolled into town and wanted everyone to know he had arrived.
In order to make this happen, he knew he needed to get some press. Since he could not turn to Facebook, because he could not turn to his computer, he did what he always did in each city he visited — he took matters into his own hands.
Being a magician, he decided to play to his strengths and perform a trick.
So he entered a building, climbed a bunch of stairs, put on a straightjacket, and then promptly threw himself out of a window.
But it wasn’t just any building. The man needed press. So he decided to throw himself out of the window of the building that housed the press.
The very next day, thanks to all the journalists that witnesses his act first-hand, he performed more tricks. But this time to a sold-out audience.
We all know that Harry Houdini was smart. However, what made him a household name, before wires connected households, was because he was clever.
Recently a bunch of articles have been written about the current state of Medium. Like a lot of people, I am a bit confused as to the motives of a platform that was founded on the backs of independent writers. And no matter how much I do not want to, I find myself in agreement with many of the things my buddy Jonathan Greene said in this article (not hard to see why he was a successful lawyer).
However, after taking the past week to think about the future of Medium, along with my own as a contributor, a realization hit me — I stopped being clever like Houdini a long time ago.
I went from having no one read my words, to thousands. In days. God knows I have benefited greatly from Medium. However, I could have benefited from it more if I had done a better job of doing the work that comes along with trying to become a writer.
During the last year, I have been lazy.
Prior to the last few months, all I had to do to get views was write an article and hit publish. However, just like for Houdini in 1921, being a magician was not enough. In 2018, no matter what is happening with Medium, simply writing is not enough.
Houdini was the best magician in the world. Yet that did not deter him from also being one of the best self-promoters.
A few days ago I saw Medium’s changes as a slap in the face. However, this morning I see it as a wake-up call.
This past year I have learned to write and I have Medium and all of you to thank for that. However, if I want more people to see what I write, I need to do more than just write, and I am beginning to see the changes on Medium as a great thing.
Now I have no choice but to learn how to get good at the other things that come along with being a writer.
In short, the time has come for me to stop worrying about Medium and start thinking about taking the steps to the things I can control.
Below are a few ways I am going to do just that.
Quick side: If at anytime during the rest of this article you want to say, “Well look at John Gorman, or Kris Gage? They don’t have websites with all the bells and whistles.” Please stop yourself. These are the unicorns of Medium and I don’t know about you, but I can’t fly.
Houdini ultimately died promoting his work, what lies below is not nearly as bad, in fact, they are the very things all of us should have been doing all along.
Suck it up and get a good CTA to get email subscribers.
My single biggest mistake on Medium was not having a CTA to get email subscribers from day one. I thought my numbers would only go up as my following grew, and long story short, this has not happened.
I am not going to bore you with the numbers, but in short, my views are down 75% from this time last year, despite having 5 times the following. Sure this ticks me off, but the number of 3,000 (which is the number of subscribers I would have had if I had had a CTA from day one — assuming the numbers from the last three months are consistent), ticks me off even more because this is something I could have controlled. But I didn’t because I was lazy and I thought CTA’s were stupid.
Think about these questions for a second:
How many people would you actively seek out if Medium closed its doors today?
5? 10? Maybe 20?
Now how many people would actively seek you out if Medium closed its doors today?
Impossible question to answer I know, but regardless the number would be much higher if you could email them letting them know where they could find you.
Everybody who is making a living as a creative preaches email list above all else. This is for a reason.
Take a day off from your hour of writing each week and talk to someone on here you admire.
Not having a CTA was the stupidest thing I have done on Medium. However, making friends with fellow writers I admire is the smartest thing I have ever done on Medium, and I am going to double down on this going forward.
Yesterday I talked to Shannon Ashley and she is about the sweetest person I have ever spoken to. I know that no matter what, from just one phone call, Shannon and I will support each other. Same goes for Jonathan, Nicole Akers, John Mashni, Craig R. Pennell and the dozen or so others I have spoken with.
Much has been written about finding your 1,000 true fans, and from my experience, the best way to achieve this is going at it one by one.
Take a post you stand behind and shop it outside of Medium.
Finding an editor, making the contact, writing a good intro email. All of these things takes time. However, what do you think stands out more? Writing on Medium or having your work featured in Fast Company, INC, Thought Catalog etc.?
Last month Crunchbase shared an article I wrote on The Startup.
Normally, I would have thought that that was cool and call it a day.
However, since seeing my numbers drop on Medium I decided to contact Crunchbase directly and I was immediately added as a contributor.
In the last four weeks, since this has happened, I have had my work shared by the founders of StartupBootcamp and I just accepted a position as an advisor for a Startup Accelerator at a prominent MBA program in my city.
I wrote an hour a day for Medium and got followers. I wrote an email in an hour and I got one of my dream jobs.
Sure you can hope one day Business Insider comes across your article, in between the other million on Medium, and paves your way.
Or you can do a simple search on google for an email address and pave your own.
I don’t know about you, but the changes made to Medium have sure motivated me to get my writing in front of different sets of eyes.
Suck it up and make a website.
If you are a writer in 2018 you should have one of these anyway.
Lots of people are complaining today, and I am just as guilty as the rest. However, if I have learned anything in my 40 years it is that the things that suck, more times than not look an awful lot like work and it is about time I follow my own advice and stop betting on Medium and bet harder on myself.
You saw this coming…….
ONE LAST THING:
If you like this article and would like to read more from me, sign up on my website and in addition to being notified whenever I write something worth sharing — You will also get a few free gifts that helped me average 100 new followers for each article written.