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New Writers, Here’s How To Get Curated By Medium

  • 9 min read

You can become a Curation Champion too with my handy Curation Checklist for 2021

Each day, new writers join Medium. Each day tens of thousands of stories are published.

New writers wonder:

How can I stand out from the crowd?

The answer:

by being distributed

Distribution is one of the biggest buzz words in the community of Medium writers.

But what does it mean?

Definition: Distribution is when Medium’s curators choose your story to share more widely with readers.

  • When a story is curated, it shows up on the page for the tag (=label) that it has been curated in.
  • It will be distributed to Medium members who follow those tags and be promoted via Medium’s channels (on the homepage, in the app, in their Daily Digest newsletter, and in other emails)

Unfortunately, I see many new writers who write beautiful and unique stories that don’t have any chance of getting distributed by Medium.

Why?

⚠️Because their posts don’t follow Medium’s requirements for further distribution. They are breaking rules without knowing it.


Three-quarters of my stories have been chosen for further distribution

Three-quarters of my long form stories have been chosen for further distribution since I started writing on Medium 11 months ago.

For instance, in the popular tags #Parenting, #Travel or #Feminism.

Here’s the proof:

If your article has been accepted by Medium’s curators, you get to see the coveted ‘Chosen for further distribution’ on your Stat’s page.

Otherwise it’s been rejected.

‘Chosen for further distribution’ — 3 examples with screenshots of my Stats Page and links to my articles for inspiration:

screenshot by Kristina God


Moreover, I belong to the Top Writers on this platform and have 17 Top Writer badges in multiple categories.

In April 2021 I started taking writing on Medium seriously.

👉I published 16 long form articles. All of them were chosen for further distribution by Medium’s editors.

I received my first (of five) $500 bonus — and I’m pretty sure I got it thanks to my 16 articles that were chosen for further distribution.


You can become a Curation Champion too

#1 — Eligible tags

If you want to become a Curation Champion, the first thing you need to know is which tags are eligible for further distribution (and can make you a Top Writer).

Unfortunately, Medium doesn’t provide a list. You have to do some research and check the different tag pages on Medium.

I did it for you.

Check out this list of 74 tags I compiled for you:


#2 — Quality

Although many writers say Medium is a magical, mystical wonderland where no one really has a clue what’s going on and distribution is a mystery, I say it’s not!

You just have to know what Medium is looking for.

Based on my research on Medium’s Help Center, reading hundreds of articles and asking Medium’s Customer Service, I compiled a checklist I want to share with you today.

But before I share it with you, I want to give you some background information:

  • Human curators: It’s suspected that Medium’s curation team consists of 30–50 curators (yes, it’s a job profile) who review thousands of stories every day.
  • Algorithm:

As Terry Mansfield, Burk, Kristina Segarra and many more suspected:

I’m starting to believe that Medium has automated the process of screening a story to make sure all formatting, etc boxes are checked, similar to the automated tools used by recruiters to separate the wheat from the chaff applicants.Terry Mansfield

  • In fact, at the end of September 2021, Medium updated its information about its Distribution Model — without announcing it.

Medium uses both human curators and algorithmic distribution methods to share great stories with readers. Medium

There are over 700K writers in the Medium Partner Program.

I think adding artificial intelligence to the curation team is probably a matter of Medium’s growth as a platform and due to time constraints on Medium’s part.


Medium Curation Checklist For 2021

We’ve learned that curation is a process of screening your story — by a human being (as well as artificial intelligence).

Here’s what you need to know:

Medium cares most about the quality of your story.

My checklist walks you through 9 steps to self-edit your writing in regard to Medium’s primary requirement — Quality.

Your advantage: You can be your own curator and evaluate your piece of content.

Of course much of the following is subjective when it comes to evaluation, but it still gives a good overview and feeling for what Medium is looking for.

Medium has its own rules. It took me months just to see how the platform works and most of the things I learned were trial-and-error.

This list helps me to get curated in three-quarters of the cases and will help you too — plus it saves you a lot of time.

#1 — High editorial standard:

My story is…

  • ✔️well-written
  • ✔️easy to follow
  • ✔️narratively strong
  • ✔️compelling

👍Yes, my article meets a high editorial standard!


#2 — Added-value

It…

  • ✔️shares new insights / perspectives
  • ✔️offers an original take on a familiar issue
  • ✔️stirs emotions and/or thinking
  • ✔️provides meaningful advice
  • ✔️enriches a reader’s understanding of the topic
  • ✔️feels like time well spent

👍Yes, my article offers an added-value!


#3 — Target group = Reader

My story…

  • ✔️is written with the reader in mind
  • ✔️makes a connection with the reader / to a larger issue

👍Yes, my article is written with the reader in mind.


#4 — It’s complete

It’s…

  • ✔️a finished, polished piece of work
  • ✔️considered
  • ✔️concise

👍Yes, it’s complete and the reader will walk away satisfied.


5# — It’s rigorous

  • ✔️Claims are supported
  • ✔️Sources are properly cited alongside stated facts
  • ✔️The story holds up to scrutiny

👍Yes, it’s rigorous!


#6 — Honesty

The story is…

  • ✔️written in good faith
  • ✔️truthful

👍Yes, it’s honest!


#7 — Good reading experience

It…

  • ✔️is properly formatted for the web/mobile
  • ✔️has a clear and relevant headline that lets the reader know what the story is about — no clickbait
  • ✔️has an easily readable story body — paragraphs/spacing/styling/section breaks/quotes

👍Yes, it offers a good reading experience!


#8 — Free of typos and errors

Grammarly, deepl.com or a friend can help.

👍Yes, it’s free of errors!


#9 — Appropriate imagery

– ✔️the imagery is relevant and appropriate to the story?

👍Yes, the imagery is relevant!


If you make sure all boxes above are checked, you increase the chances that your article will be chosen for further distribution.

But your work isn’t ready for publication YET.


You should avoid this

Keep in mind that there are factors that frequently disqualify new writers from distribution.

You can simply avoid them.

Violation of Medium’s Rules

❌Don’t create content that violates Medium’s Rules.

Clickbait

Is the title…

  • trying to exploit a reader’s personal worries, insecurities, or emotional state?
  • or story image more provocative than the content of the story merits?
  • over-reaching or over-promising with hyperbolic claims or absolutes that are not verifiable?
  • withholding important context; misleading the reader; or using cliches, gimmicks, or cheap language?

💡Tip: A so-called curiosity gap in the headline is okay.

There’s tension. You want to learn more. You want to click on this headline in order to get what the article promises or makes you curious about.

Here’s my advice on how to write catchy headlines and take advantage of the curiosity gap without being clickbaity:


Forbidden story types

These types of stories disqualify you:

  • ❌Sponsored content, content marketing, or stories whose sole purpose is to gather signups/traffic
  • ❌Press releases
  • ❌Non-English stories (we can only review English stories at this time)
  • ❌Erotica
  • ❌Inflammatory business reviews
  • No stories written about Medium (I do not expect this post to be distributed.

💡 Exception to the rule: I’ve discovered that Medium has changed it’s Code of Curation lately; sometimes they do chose articles about Medium)

💡 Exception to the rule: Lately I found out, sometimes they get distributed too.)

Forbidden story elements

  • ❌Links in headlines
  • ❌Clipped stories (Medium is unlikely to curate any post that looks like it’s part of a series that it not on Medium.)
  • ❌Ad-hominem attacks or rebuttals
  • ❌Copyrighted images — use images you have the rights for and cite their sources

💡 Exception to the rule: The winner of the Medium Writer’s Challenge didn't cite the source of her featured image appropriately and still won the competition)


Excessive calls-to-actions (CTAs)

In the story body, all calls-to-action combined are not to exceed 20% of the total story length. Medium

  • CTAs= crowdfunding links, social links, inline writer bios, links to other stories, allowed first-person promotion, publication promos

💡Tip: You are free to promote yourself — but not excessively and I would recommend doing it at the bottom of the story.


Final Takeaways

Winter photo created by cookie_studio

New writers, take a hard look at the quality of your writing.

Now you know what Medium is looking for in a story. You know what disqualifies a story.

Make sure that your story can be chosen for further distribution by using at least one tag that’s eligible.

You don’t have control over whether or not Medium distributes your stories.

Focus on what you can control: Meet their requirements and guidelines by using this simple checklist to optimize your stories for Medium distribution and…

become a Curation Champion.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

© Kristina God



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