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:Marketing / Marketing best practices

How to sell and market your online course on Medium

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Medium often gets overlooked by online entrepreneurs looking to market their businesses. The most common advice is always to start a blog for your business—which is a good option, of course,— but Medium is a great alternative, as it’s an established platform that already has an audience, it’s free to join, and it can help young entrepreneurs effectively establish themselves as thought leaders in their niche.

Medium isn’t reserved strictly for established authors like Ryan Holiday or journalists like Roxanne Gay. This platform has a unique audience always looking for valuable advice on various topics, and many online course creators can find their audience by tapping into these various niches.

Before we talk about utilizing Medium to grow your personal brand and increase sales, let’s take a look at the basics.

What is Medium?

Medium is an online publishing platform established in 2012 by Twitter’s co-founder, Evan Williams. It’s a hybrid between a traditional magazine and a blog, which makes Medium a truly unique platform.

According to Medium, they have over 170 million active monthly readers who are actively looking for content to consume on the platform. According to SimilarWeb, in January 2021 alone, Medium received over 223 million visits to their website:

medium traffic medium traffic

It’s a long-form content platform, and they don’t run ads on their website, so Medium monetizes their content with a monthly subscription of only $5 per/month, which allows you to read unlimited stories. But anyone can read three stories a month for free.

Medium doesn’t keep all the money, though. Every writer who publishes on their platform and registers for their Medium Partner Program gets paid for their writing.

So, by publishing on Medium, you as an online entrepreneur can grow your personal brand, expand your email list and generate more sales to your online course, and add one more source of income to your business.

Who uses Medium?

According to marketing expert Neil Patel, most Medium readers are working adults with college and graduate school level education:

“What is your target audience? Working adults? College and graduate school graduates? If that is your ideal audience, Medium could be the best place to connect you with your tribe.”

As you can see, the audience on Medium is broad; however, according to SimilarWeb, the majority (over 27%) of Medium’s users are from the US:

medium stats medium stats

Medium vs. blog—which one should you choose?

Common expert advice online is for every business owner to have a blog because it belongs to you alone, and you won’t have to worry about pleasing the algorithms of different platforms like Instagram or Medium.

And while that’s true, blogging can be more time-consuming for online course creators. You have to write blog posts, create graphics, optimize for SEO, and on top of that, work on marketing your business, and attracting readers to your blog.

The benefit of Medium is that a lot of pressure for marketing and increasing traffic to your content is off your shoulders. There is an already established audience on Medium, and you only have to focus on creating high-quality content that speaks to that audience. We’re going to talk more about how to reach this audience below.

With Medium, you can kill two birds with one stone–by creating content around your brand and marketing it all at the same time, instead of creating content on one platform (your blog) and marketing it on other platforms (social media).

How can Medium benefit your online course business?

Now that you know the basics of Medium, let’s take a look at why you should set up an account to grow your online business and understand how to market on Medium properly. There are two key factors of why Medium is beneficial for your business.

Establish yourself as an expert

Medium is a great platform to help you establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your niche. For all online entrepreneurs, this is a crucial part of your marketing efforts. Building your profile and getting your name out there may include networking, reaching out to different bloggers to ask to guest post on their blogs, and getting links back to your website.

All those practices are effective, but with Medium, your marketing efforts can bring in a higher payoff quicker. On Medium, you can write a post and submit it directly to a publication in your niche or area of expertise in no time.

Publications are one of Medium’s features, where people and businesses can create and grow an online magazine within Medium itself. Anyone can submit their writing to those publications, but not everyone gets accepted because just like the Cosmopolitan has editors, the Medium publications have them as well and they curate content that goes into their publications.

There are a lot of Medium publications that have 100k+ readers like Better MarketingThe Start Up, and P.S. I Love You. All those publications are known even beyond the platform, so getting published in them will help establish you as an expert in your field, which will in turn, only help attract a potential audience for your course or business.

Bottom line: You can save a lot of time by writing on Medium and getting published in publications instead of spending hours looking up bloggers, crafting pitches, and then writing and editing blog posts to get guest featured.

Reach more people

Another benefit of publishing on Medium is the potential of reaching a new, broader audience. Over 170 million readers on Medium are on the platform actively looking for content to consume. This can mean many potential clients are waiting for you on this platform. Medium also has a content distribution system that filters all the stories that get published on Medium and picks good quality articles to promote to a broader audience:

Medium example Medium example

With every article you publish on Medium, you have the opportunity to reach thousands of people you wouldn’t get access to otherwise. That’s thousands of potential customers who may be interested in your online course business.

Quick Medium account setup guide

Let’s take a look at how to set up your Medium account for success quickly. It is free to join for anyone, and you can start writing right away.

Signing up for Medium

Creating a Medium account is very easy. You can sign up with either your Google, Facebook accounts, or with an email:

Medium sign up page Medium sign up page

Once you type in your email, Medium will send you an email with a link to finish setting up your account:

Medium email Medium email

Setting up your account the right way

The next step is to set up your Medium account. If you click the icon at the top corner of the screen on the main page, a dropdown menu will open. Go to Settings:

Medium settings Medium settings

Here you can control all the settings on your account as well as how your profile appears when someone visits your page. You can add your profile picture, as well as customize your username and URL. We recommend keeping it on-brand with your business and is easily searchable:

Medium set up Medium set up

Medium brought in new changes recently, allowing writers to customize the design on their profiles. This is great news because it allows you to establish your brand even more on the platform. You can change fonts, colors and add images to your page, and get as creative as you want.

Bio section

Your Bio or About section is the most important part of your Medium profile. Here you have the opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand and include relevant links you want people to visit when they stumble upon your account:

Medium bio Medium bio

It’s good to include who you are, what topics you write about, or what your business is about, and this is also a place where you would include any important achievements you want people to know about you.

Pro-tip: In your Bio, you want to include a CTA either to your email list or to your actual website because if you’ll be publishing with publications, they don’t often allow CTAs in the actual article (we’ll discuss it a bit later in the post).

About you page

Another part of an attractive Medium profile is your introduction to you as an entrepreneur and your business. Having a featured post on your profile that introduces you better to your audience and any potential customers who find your profile is important for building trust.

Medium About Me Medium About Me

People want to know who you are and why they should trust what you’re saying and selling in your Medium posts. You can either write the About Me post and publish it on your own profile, or an even better option would be to write your introduction and publish it through a publication like About Me Stories.

This is a Medium publication created specifically to introduce writers to the readers, and it’s a great way to get introduced to new audiences right off the bat.

Medium partners program

This is Medium’s program that allows writers who publish on their platform to make money from their articles. Anyone is eligible to sign up—you only need a Medium and Stripe account.

Once you register for the Medium Partner Program, you’ll be able to mark which story is behind the paywall and is eligible to earn money:

Medium partner program Medium partner program

Articles that are behind the paywall and can earn you money will be marked with a star, so you can easily track them:

Medium your posts Medium your posts

While your main goal with Medium is to grow your personal brand, reach your audience, and market your online course business, it’s still useful to take advantage of the program and add one more stream of income for your business. It’s important to note that only paying Medium members will have access to your content behind a paywall.

Medium sales funnel

Once your Medium account is set up and optimized, it’s time to start working on your sales funnel strategy. Here is a step-by-step roadmap of making more sales with Medium.

Step 1: Pick three topics around your niche

Just as with creating an online course, having a niche on Medium is crucial for growth. Just remember, on Medium try not to get too niche as it may be hard to create content, and you may run out of ideas.

Most writers and online entrepreneurs on Medium choose three topics that complement each other to write about. For example, if you’re a lifestyle coach who sells online courses on how to create a better life, you could write about personal development, relationships, and mental health.

These three topics give you enough space and wiggle room, and they all resonate with your ideal audience, who would be interested in online courses you have to offer.

Step 2: Make a list of publications that fit your niche the best

Your number one strategy for growing your business on Medium should be getting published in all relevant publications in your niche. This practice ensures that your ideas and articles are reaching a broader audience, and in turn, will grow your business faster.

While you should be focusing on big publications with over 100k+ readers, you shouldn’t ignore smaller publications with more niche audiences. Sometimes, getting your article in front of a smaller but more focused group can bring better results than talking with a broader audience.

The best practice is to have a healthy mix of big and small Medium publications that your ideal audience would be interested in reading. Each publication you visit has a page with its submission guidelines, and you should pay attention each time before submitting to a new publication.

Better Humans medium Better Humans medium

For example, if you’re a lifestyle or business coach, the Better Humans publication with 300k+ readers would be a great publication to get featured in. Their publication was created for coaches to share their expertise on different subjects that relate to being a better human.

When you find a publication that might be a good fit, read its about page and their submission guidelines, and it will allow you to determine whether your ideas would attract the right readers to your business.

Step 3: Write an engaging post and submit it to publications

You can re-post blog posts from your blog on Medium. However, before submitting repurposed posts to publications, check whether they accept them. Some pubs do, some don’t.

Thankfully, writing a new post on Medium is easy. Click on the little icon at the top corner of your screen, and click Write a story on the dropdown menu:

write a story on medium write a story on medium

Medium has various formatting tools, so you’ll have a lot to work with, and you can use all those tools to make your articles stand out in the crowd.

Also, Medium has its own guidelines for writing the best content, so check them out and read them carefully before publishing.

Writing on Medium is only effective for your business if you get your writing in front of a new audience, and for that, your writing needs to be of good quality and provide value to the audience.

Also, while you want to include as many links to your other content and CTAs in your blog posts, you shouldn’t do it when writing posts on Medium. Articles that are heavy with self-promotion and CTAs deter the audience and most likely will be rejected by publications.

But don’t worry, there is another place to include CTA’s apart from the actual post.

Step 4: Direct people to your email list

While most publications won’t allow CTA’s in the actual body of content, you should include a link to your email list in your bio that will direct readers to your email list.

Anytime someone is reading your article, they’ll have your bio on the side of the screen with all of your links clickable:

Medium article Medium article

Include your CTA and a link directing readers to sign up to your email list, where you’ll be further nurturing the relationship with your audience before pitching a sale.

Step 5: Turn fans into paying customers

The last step is turning your new email list subscribers from Medium into paying customers. You’ve already done a lot of work by providing value with the content you’ve published on Medium.

Now, it’s time to build a stronger and more intimate relationship with your list that will convert into online course sales for your business.

Author: Karolina Wilde, Karolina Wilde is a freelance writer. Her work has been published on Better Marketing, The Ascent, and Sexography reaching over 25,000+ readers. In her free time, you can find her podcasting, reading, or creating TikTok videos.

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