The length of your story depends on your target audience.
- Medium audience: Writing 400–1,000 words stories is good. This means around 3–7 minutes of reading time.
- Search engines: Writing 2000+ words is usually required. The idea is to write the longest and most detailed piece around that topic on the entire internet.
This guide teaches you how to write “optimal” length stories on Medium based on your goals.
About the author: I’m a full-time content creator. I’ve published 150+ Medium stories and 300+ blog posts on my tech blog. On Medium, I have 500k+ story views, and on my own blog, I have 250k+ monthly page views.
In my personal experience, short articles that are around 3–7 minutes in length tend to do well on Medium.
Two of my best-performing articles are both 4-minute reads. These articles took me 2–4 hours to create, and I’ve earned $800.00+ with each story.
The 3–7 minutes length means the article is not too short to lack information. But it’s not in the e-book territory either.
This is because Medium is a virality-based platform. The readers are looking at their feeds for insightful reads. In a sense, the reader doesn’t know what they are looking for. Instead, they open the most compelling stories.
A story with less than 7 minutes of reading time is easy to open up and digest. But if the story is like 30 minutes, it’s not something one would open on a coffee break.
So if you only target a Medium audience, make the story short and concise. Don’t add too much “extra information” because the reader didn’t search for the story anyway.
Search Engines (External Traffic)
If you want to target search engine traffic with your Medium articles, then it’s a different ball game.
Why Target Search Engines?
First of all, I think every Medium author should target search engine traffic. When your articles rank high on search engines, the potential audience is the entire world.
Besides, Medium has an affiliate program. Perhaps the best way to refer members to Medium is by converting search engine traffic to paying customers.
Why Is Targeting Search Engine Traffic Different?
In search engines, the searcher is looking for answers to specific questions.
Compare this to Medium, where the readers aren’t looking for particular information.
This is the key difference between a Medium audience and a search engine audience.
When someone knows what they are looking for, they are trying to find as comprehensive an article as possible.
How Long Stories to Write for Search Engines?
To target search engine traffic, you have to write the most detailed article available.
Some statistics show that the average length of the #1 ranking story is around 2,500 words. But that’s meaningless, as it’s just an average.
Treat a story like a product. Make sure it solves the reader’s problem better than any other story on the entire internet!
Sometimes, this means you have to write 10,000+ word (70 minutes) articles. On the other hand, sometimes an article can be even less than 1,000 words (7 minutes) in length.
I’m going to show you an example.
Let’s go to Google and search for “How to make money blogging”.
I’m going to pick the article on adamenfroy.com.
Now, let’s check the number of words in this article. I’m going to use the Word Count extension for Chrome.
The length of this story is 7,000+ words. This means the article is 30+ minutes in reading time. So it’s actually a free e-book, rather than an article.
This is the level of detail you have to produce to have a chance to rank the article high on Google.
In this case, it’s very unlikely you can rank an article less than 7,000 words in length on the same topic.
Let’s take a look at another example. This time, let’s search for “How to deal with mosquitoes in Lapland”.
Let’s open up the first article, and count the number of words.
This story is only a bit over 500 words in length. So it’s a 3–4 minute read. This suggests you might be able to outrank this article with a 1,000-word Medium story.
This is a great way to get an idea of the level of detail of the story you need to write to rank it high.
But instead of picking the #1 result, analyze all the top 10 search results. To increase your chances of ranking high, pick the most detailed and longest article in the top 10, and write a better and longer story yourself!
To take home, there is no general “optimal length” for a Medium story.
As a rule of thumb
- Write short and easy-to-digest articles to target the Medium audience. Stories of 3–7 minutes in reading time do well!
- Write comprehensive guides to target the search engines. Make sure the article is the best piece around that topic. The searcher shouldn’t need to read another piece after reading yours. Usually, this requires writing 1,000–10,000-word articles (7–70 minutes of reading time).
Thanks for reading! I hope you find this information useful and actionable.