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On Medium, Do Unto Others is Key

Read as much as you write and I guarantee your stats will improve.

Medium rewarded 1000 writers this week with a $500 bonus. I think that is in line with what Ev talked about concerning community.

Be aware, Medium is not a platform where you can jump in, write some reasonably good articles, and expect to come back a week or two later to find you are a massive success. That is not how it works.

So, while I said I would never write one of those articles about how to succeed on Medium. Whoops, I did. But it’s so different from most of the things I have read previous to this. It is not about what to write about, who to follow, what techniques to use, etc. It is closer to the heart than that.

We hear about writers who make thousands, while a lot of us look at our stats and feel lucky if a story makes $1.00 in a week. That has been me, most of the time. But it’s getting better and I think the subject of this article is why.

Most of the writers on Medium are reasonably good at writing, so what is the difference between writers who make over that magic $100 per month and those who make a few dollars or nothing?

I think, and I could be wrong, (I am a lot of the time so don’t mortgage the farm based on what I think) that to be successful on Medium one must join the community and become an active member. You can’t stand outside the community, throw in a few articles, and think the community will flock to your pieces. Nope. It doesn’t work that way.

I’ve been here almost two years (although it doesn’t look like it since an expired credit card caused an interruption in my membership a year ago and caused the roster to show I’ve been here only a year). But never mind that. What I learned is much more important than how long I’ve been here. Although it has taken me a couple of years to learn and use the principle. Maybe I can save others some time.

The way to be successful on Medium is truly to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want your stories read, read stories by others. If you want people to highlight and clap for your stories and spend a magic amount of time on your stories, do the same for other writers here.

Ev is a genius to have designed this platform. I believe it rewards active community members the most — until you reach that lofty status where all your articles are going to be read and lauded because you’re Medium famous.

We are all supported, including the platform, by memberships, and to be a member here should mean to be engaged here. We should also be encouraging others to be members here. As Medium’s wealth goes, so goes its writers. Supporting Medium and encouraging growth of the platform give us all better chances for success. Again, it’s the golden rule.

And if you think about it, it’s only fair that the people who are engaged are the people the platform rewards. Remember, I’m not saying you can never stop reading as much as you write and still succeed. If you become as famous as some of the top writers here, you will have gained a bunch of dedicated readers who read everything you write whether you read their work or not. But most of us won’t reach that level. But who cares? I can write and share my work here, and I am never alone. There’s always some wordsmith sympathizing with me, cheering for me, encouraging me, etc. That is, ladies and gentlemen, priceless.

When I first came here and found out I could write stories and get paid for them, that’s what I did — wrote and posted stories. I submitted stories like I’ve done for year to newspapers, magazines, etc., and thought I was done. That didn’t work for me. So, I started reading the stories of others and often commenting, or as Medium so succinctly calls it, responding. My response to stories started getting me responses back on my own stories.

It was obvious there was something afoot here. And it is called, as Ev has said — community.

No one is going to care about what your write if you don’t care about what they write. It’s really quite simple. Now, this will not hold true if you are someone like Tim Denning, who has “made it” on Medium and doesn’t need to encourage people to read his work. They read it anyway.

But you and I need to show interest in the work of others in order to have them show interest in our own work. And all it takes is just following normal instinct. I read all the time anyway, and some of the best stuff I read is found here on Medium.

If someone claps for my story or comments on it, I naturally become curious about who they are and what they write. I go to their page and read their work. It’s just a natural thing.

What happens is exactly what the owner of this platform is aiming for — community. It is community when we are interested in others and their welfare, especially if they are interested in what we are thinking, saying and doing. It is community when we want to help others as they help us. It is community when we get to know those in our circle and become familiar with their particular writing style.



  • respond to (a gesture or action) by making a corresponding one.
  • “the favor was reciprocated” · “perhaps I was expected to reciprocate with some remark of my own”
  • synonyms:
  • do the same (in return) · respond in kind · return the favor · give as good as one gets · give tit for tat
  • experience the same (love, liking, or affection) for someone as that person does for oneself.
  • “her passion for him was not reciprocated”
  • synonyms:
  • requite · return · feel/give in return · repay · give back · match · equal

— From the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

That’s one of the most important keys to success on Medium. Reciprocate. It should be a natural response; it’s only the Golden Rule we’ve been taught since kindergarten. “Do unto others as you would have it done to you.” The source for that, for one, is the Bible. There are lots of other ways we are taught that, too.

So, practice the golden rule and see if you don’t see more success on Medium. We are, I realized today while looking up and reading my favorite writers and people I frequently interact with, a community. We listen to each other. We care what others here have to say. We comment on what we read, or we applaud excellence. And we learn.

I cannot measure or tell how much I have learned here from reading Medium writers. No matter what the subject, it’s a good bet someone has written about it on Medium. It’s a huge clearinghouse of good ideas.

There’s more to be had than better stats by building community here. There is the opportunity to make close friends, to learn whose ideas mesh with our own, and whose do not. There is this feeling…it is community.

So, if you are standing outside Medium and regularly submitting pieces but getting no response, I’m willing to bet you are not interacting with the community. You probably are not reading and commenting on the work of others and I bet you are not looking for interesting people to follow, because people almost always follow back and that increases your readership.

Join us. We are a huge, (mostly) nice community filled with all kinds of interesting people. Pick a few and look to see what they have to say. You will benefit both from reading new material and by enjoying a wonderful feeling of community. You will be surrounded by friends you will value.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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