The 10 Initial Stages of a Typical Medium User Journey

How we typically progress from randomly encountering the platform to chasing the title of “Prolific Writer” who earns a five-figure monthly income.

Light-skinned woman wearing white blouse with brown bob carrying a pile of 10+ books in a library or book shop.
Light-skinned woman wearing white blouse with brown bob carrying a pile of 10+ books in a library or book shop.
That feeling when you first get your Medium Membership — Foto door cottonbro via Pexels

Level 1: Using Medium as a Reader

You have a burning question that you need to get answered, so you consult your mom. Her name is Google. You enthusiastically insert your question in the search field and hit enter. The URL points to Looks legit, even though you’ve never heard of the platform before. Scanning the headline and preview text, you might be able to solve your problem using the information in this article. In good faith, you click and start reading. You book success! You find the information you seek and leave the website feeling satisfied.

You ask Mother Google more questions. After some quick searches, you notice you are once more skimming text inside an article on this Medium website. “This place seems to be packed with knowledge”, you think. You take a mental note and leave the tab feeling content with your findings yet again.

Your latest Google search points to Medium again but are blocked by the paywall. Not ready to start paying for the membership just yet, you twist and turn to avoid the fee. You read articles in the app, use different browsers, you use incognito mode in different browsers, maybe even a VPN? At this stage, you don’t care that you’re robbing content creators of their pennies for reads. You’re busy putting all your mighty force into keeping those pennies in your own pocket.

You have spent quite some effort bypassing the Medium paywall. In the process, you became curious about newly published words from several writers. But, you are still out of your 3 free reads. You’ve already milked each possibility to avoid paying the membership fee. You are tired of getting absorbed in an article, only to be bluntly cut off in your flow by words fading away as you move down the page. You want to resist, but you also want to read. Finally, you give in, tell Medium to take your money, and pay the membership fee.

Paying for the membership, there are no limits to the number of articles you can read now! You go completely crazy and behave as if you’re at the book store with an infinite budget. Your childhood dream of reading all the things is finally coming true! What you cannot read, you add to your bookmarks for later.

You are pleasantly surprised by the maturity of Medium users and how respectful they stay in the comment sections. You start engaging on the next level and leave your first thoughtful comment underneath someone’s writing.

Level 2: Using Medium as a Writer

We are about to unlock the next level.

You play with the thought of publishing your first article, just for fun and to see how it goes. It does not leave a dent of any kind, and you move on with your life. You continue yolo-ing and start publishing the occasional piece when you “feel inspired” or when you want to share your thoughts or something you deem useful.

You get enticed by the prospect of making some money on the platform and connect your Stripe to your Medium account. You start taking your writing more seriously. Every day, you make time in your schedule to write and ideally also publish something. You go through the roof when your articles make a whopping total of $00.06 for the first time. You throw yourself a party.

You’ve seen your earnings go from nothing to something. You secretly wish to make bigger money, but won’t admit this to yourself yet. You up your game to turn this wish into an attainable reality. Even though you cannot influence the outcome, you are in control of the process.

You establish a writing routine to get regular practice. When reading someone else’s work, you take note of how their article is structured, the formatting, and how their flow of thoughts is transferred to the digital piece of paper. You get into a writing group or two. You read each question and post like a hawk looking for its prey. You try to get your work published in Medium’s bigger publications. When you do, you notice upward bumps in your reader count and stats. You’re hungry, and you’re ready to eat.

You taking writing more seriously is starting to pay off. You’ve been reading other writer’s pieces, highlighting the crap out of their work, and leaving meaningful comments. You’ve been consistently writing and publishing. Your investment in improving your Medium game. Collaborating with publications led to reaching a 3-digit long significant milestone that can be seen as your work finally getting the appreciation from the public it deserves. Or you got lucky with a viral hit.

You treat your writing like you’re training for the Olympics. You never skip a day and always manage to polish a piece, ready for publishing. You’re getting a good feel for what Medium readers appreciate and optimize your writing accordingly. You know your stats like the back of your hand. You regularly get curated, you know which publications provide good homes for your work, and you’ve found your writing style that makes eager readers come back for more. The money coming in now exceeds what you make in your regular job. You even consider quitting it to turn this Medium thing into something even bigger.

Congratulations, you have come closer to reaching the stage of Prolific Writer.

You’re continuously practicing structuring your thoughts, telling stories, or bringing across information in an easy-to-follow format. Readers appreciate you for it. You have gathered “your tribe” as they like to call it, of people who look forward to what you have to say. You keep getting better at expressing yourself. Your writing speed has quadrupled. You’re getting closer and closer to producing 10,000 words per day only the top writers in the industry manage to get on paper. The game is on (looking at you, Nicolas Cole).

Regardless of how much or little cash it brings in, writing is now so deeply ingrained in your life that you need to do it. As with any habit, you feel uneasy and displeased when you put off writing or let excuses and laziness get the better of you. You’ve stopped judging yourself for the not-so-good pieces you put out. They need to be shared with the world. Because they decide, the world decides whether it’s good or not. And you can never get to the great pieces if you don’t write through the not-so-good ones. It’s part of the process. When a piece does not get the reception you expect, you are grateful either way, because it’s feedback you can use to base tomorrow’s decisions on.

You are committed. You don’t take the critics to heart. You look forward to each day because you get to enjoy and play the writing game, and take how it comes, with all its ups and downs.

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Writing my way to progress. Topics: personal growth, life lessons, tooling & (failed) ventures.

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