Updated: December 13, 2023
One of the biggest questions we receive from writers is how distribution works on Medium. Where will my story appear after I hit publish? How do other people find it? We’d like to walk you through the process of what happens when you publish your story and the paths it can take to reach your readers, as well as the broader readership on Medium and beyond.
It’s key to understanding how Medium works to keep in mind that there are essentially two paths to distribution on the platform:
- One system encompasses the open platform (ready to be shared to the world via social or email) and your personal network (your followers, email subscribers, and people who go directly to your personal profile page).
- The other system is Medium’s distribution and Boost networks (the homepage feed, Digest and other emails, and recommended stories).
There is also a path to getting distributed via publications (more on that here), which can include one or both of the above paths. But for now, let’s look at these two main systems.
The open platform and distribution to your personal network
Here’s what to expect when you publish on Medium: As soon as you press the “Publish now” button, your story is immediately accessible and available at a URL under your control to share on social media or send to friends via email or messaging services. You also have a personal profile page with a unique URL that contains all your stories. You can share this profile page and encourage those interested in your work to follow you to see more of your stories.
This is the open platform that Medium provides, at no charge, to all users who sign up for an account. In addition, your story may start getting indexed for search, making it more likely to appear in search engine queries, though we do place some limits on what we allow to appear in search, more on that here.
The open platform lets anyone share their ideas on an accessible, ad-free, well-designed story page. It’s at the core of Medium.
Your personal network
In addition to all that, your story will go out to your personal network within Medium, made up of people who’ve chosen to follow you or receive email notifications from you. This means your story will appear in the following places:
- On the "Following" tab: Your story will appear in your followers’ homepages on desktop and mobile apps, where they can see all of the stories from Medium authors and publications they follow listed in reverse chronological order.
- In Medium Digest emails: Medium users receive a daily or weekly email digest, which contains a mix of recommended stories based on interests, follows, and reading history. Because the Digest is a limited set of stories that are personalized to each reader, your story may appear in your followers' digests because they follow you.
- Email notifications (optional): Medium also allows you to send your published stories directly to users who have subscribed to your profile, or any email addresses you have imported to your mailing list, for more direct communication. When you publish a story, you can choose to also send it out to these email subscribers. Learn more.
Medium’s distribution and boost networks
In addition to the above, Medium also distributes stories to readers across our website, apps, and emails based on their interests and reading habits.
By default, all stories published on Medium are eligible for general distribution via our recommendations algorithm (we do filter for spam, NSFW, etc). So in addition to being distributed to your audience, your story may also show up in the following places:
- The "For You" section of the Medium homepage for all readers on the web and in our mobile apps.
- In Medium Digest emails: Your story may also appear in the digests of people who don’t follow you, but are interested in the topic you’ve written about.
- On Medium topic pages
- In the Explore section of Medium’s app, as a trending or recommended story
- In the “More from Medium” (web) or “Recommended for you” (app) sections on other Medium stories
- On the version of the Medium homepage for logged-out users
You don’t need to take any action to have your story get this extra distribution – our algorithm does the work of showing relevant stories to interested readers.
However: One of our main goals is to ensure that we are sharing the very best stories for our readers and members. To that end, we will also remove low-quality stories from distribution to Medium’s network, though they will still be distributed to the writer’s personal network. For more on distribution disqualifications, see the Network Only section of our quality standards.
While much of the distribution in Medium’s network happens automatically through the recommendations algorithm, we also have a team of human curators who look for high-quality stories to share with readers. Those stories that stand out for their insight, thoughtfulness, nuance, and care are selected to get a boost in distribution. To capture stories from all corners of Medium, and recommendations from those with subject matter expertise, we also work with publication editors and those in the Medium community to help us identify and curate the best of the platform.
A Boosted story is served up to tens of thousands of readers across Medium’s platform to see if it’s a hit with our community. 95% of Boosted stories receive at least 500 hundred additional views within two weeks -- but depending on how readers engage with a Boosted story, it can reach thousands or tens of thousands of readers.
We notice two factors at play for most of the remaining 5% of Boosted stories which receive less than 500 views after 14 days, despite being presented to thousands of readers:
- They have titles, subtitles, and/or cover images that either don’t capture reader interest OR lean too far toward text and/or image that the reader finds hyperbolic or clickbaity. Either way, readers don’t click through to view the article.
- Readers don’t find the subject matter interesting or understand the way the title links to the subject matter they can expect to find.
To learn more about how we review stories for a distribution boost, see our quality standards for Boost.
Here’s a general view of what it all looks like:
Medium publications and distribution
Publications on Medium are collections of stories by a single or multiple authors. Readers on Medium follow publications, so adding your story to a publication can increase the reach of your writing.
When you publish in a publication, in addition to going to your individual network and Medium’s network, your story is distributed to:
- Publication followers: Medium readers can also follow publications, so when your story is published or included in a publication, it goes out to its followers via Daily Digests and the "Following" tab of the publication's followers’ homepages on desktop and mobile apps.
- Publication Newsletters: Medium readers can subscribe to a publication’s Newsletter, and editors can send emails to their subscribers as often as they like. Learn more about Newsletters.
If you are a writer in a Medium publication, you can submit your story to them for distribution to that publication’s followers. Learn more about submitting your story to a Medium publication.
Want to learn more?
- Review Medium's quality guidelines to learn how we review stories for boosting, and what disqualifies a story from network distribution.
- Browse the Creators Hub publication for additional resources about how to be successful in writing on Medium.
Stories published on Medium generally rank high in search results on search engines. Learn more about SEO and Medium.