What I Learnt From My Story Going “Something Like Viral” on Medium
It’s about hate-reads, one clap fans and more questions than answers.
I’ve been writing on Medium for almost twelve months. In that time I have made some wonderful friends, read many stories (varying in quality from mediocre to downright brilliant) and gradually, and with much trepidation, found my own writing voice.
Until this month, my best story examined the insecurity of men who hate women, through the filter of my own experience in my first marriage. At just under eighty dollars it was my best earner. It was closely followed by a controversial piece I wrote about abortion through the lens of a Christian feminist.
Both of these had read rates just under fifty percent and ‘fan rates’ of about twenty percent.
Unlike both of these pieces, which I deliberated over for days and extensively researched, my “viral” was tapped out in less than hour. It was nothing more than an honest explanation of how sick I am of being fat, and what I’m doing about it. It was published in The Get Fit Gang and curated a few days after it was published.
Its stats were quite unremarkable for the first nine days and then this:
Over a period of twelve days the story earnt more than $350, and whilst I would have loved the ‘green mountain’ to be wider, it is still paying despite dropping down to around 300 views a day.
Here is what I have learnt from the fun experience of writing a popular piece on Medium.
Most readers clap once
Like many I am involved in Facebook writer’s groups. We support each other by reading each others work and clapping loudly. My experience has lead me to believe that Medium members are roughly divided into two groups. Writers and readers.
And readers clap once.
Unlike the misogyny and abortion pieces, in this piece the vast majority of my fans were single clappers, which leads me to believe that this piece reached people that are on Medium predominately to read.
A bit of random profile checking confirmed this. The majority of the fans on this piece had few or no stories on their own profile.
That’s a good thing, we need readers.
Despite the stats (one day I had seven thousand views and over five thousand reads) the piece has only attracted 383 fans (so far). This leads me to my second conclusion.
This piece attracted a large number of ‘hate reads’.
Writing about obesity is very unpopular in certain circles on Medium. To come right out and say that I don’t like being fat, flies straight in the face of the fat-acceptance movement. Don’t get me wrong, fat shamming should be condemned, but there is a world of difference between avoiding fat shamming and celebrating life-threatening obesity.
I know my piece upset people, but I stand by it.
The story that keeps on giving
This is probably the most interesting part of my experience. I’m still getting about two to three hours of read time a day on this piece, despite the green line being fairly flat in comparison to how it was last weekend.
Yet it’s still earning around fifteen dollars a day. Newer pieces with similar read time, earn barely a dollar or two.
I don’t understand why, if you know, please tell me!
Obsession with stats
I thought I had a problem with checking my stats when the earlier pieces were my best performers. Try sleeping in Australia, when it’s day time in the US and your views are going up by five to ten every minute or so.
I had no idea when I wrote it that this rather simple piece would take off. Unlike the misogyny piece which was triple curated and the abortion piece which had five curation tags, this one had only two, Lifestyle and Self.
I still have no idea why this one took off.
But it was fun while it lasted.