Only 11% of My Medium Stories Have Over 1,000 Views

The Pareto principle is alive and well

Photo by the author

As it’s been a year since I published my first post on Medium (30 October 2021), I’ve decided to delve into the stats to see if there are any patterns that I can learn from.

Here are 3 things that the data showed me.

#1 — The top-line stats — averages per story

I currently have 420 published stories on Medium.

To date, I’ve had the following views, reads, fans, and claps.

  • 90,800 reads (42.39% read ratio)
  • 15,800 fans
  • 357,000 claps

That means that the average number of views per story is 510.

The average number of reads per story is 216.

The average number of fans per story is 38.

The average number of claps per story is 850

Overall, I’m pretty happy with these figures. However, if I removed the top 10 stories, all the stats would look much worse. The best stories mask how badly most stories are doing.

#2 – Only 11% of stories got 1,000 views or more

Only 46 of the 420 published stories have 1,000 views or higher. That’s around 11%.

Those 46 stories have received 136,560 views — that’s 64% of the views.

That’s in line with the Pareto principle. In case you don’t know what that is, here’s how Wikipedia explains it.

The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the “vital few”). Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Even though most people think of it as the 80/20 rule, it often works out as 90/10, 95/5, or similar. In this case, it’s 64/11.

64% of the views are a result of only 11% of the stories.

The other 89% of the stories only got 36% of the total views.

Above, I said that:

That means that the average number of views per story is 510.

If I exclude the 46 stories that got 1,000 views or more, the average number of views for the other 374 stories is only 208.

The average number of views for the top 46 stories is 2,969.

So, 11% of stories have an average of 2,969 views, while the rest have an average of 208 views. That’s a massive discrepancy.

#3 – 32% of my stories got under 100 views

This is one of the most shocking stats for me.

135 out of 420 stories got under 100 views. And this is after I’ve deleted between 10 and 20 of my worst-performing stories. I will likely delete quite a few more.

I’m starting to get a bit of a feel for what makes a good or bad story. If I compare my top 40 stories to my bottom 40 stories, I can see quite clearly that the top ones are way better than the bottom ones.

The top stories have better headlines, are more structured, and generally help the reader in some way.

The stories that don’t have hardly any views usually don’t have great headlines and are more about me than the reader.

Overall, it’s not always clear cut though.

What all this means is that out of each set of 10 stories I write, one will get over 1,000 views, three will get under 100 views, and the other six will get between 100 and 1,000 views.

But these are the averages for the last year. My stats have got much worse over the last six months.

I’ve written 22 stories in October. The top story has 511 views, so there aren’t any at all with more than 1,000 views. 7 out of 22 have under 100 views. That’s 32%. This could change though, as many are close to 100 views and will likely get there in a few weeks.

I wrote 19 stories in September. The best one had 411 views. That means that none of the last 41 stories have had over 1,000 views. None are even close. I have to go back to August to find the last story that had over 1,000 views. There were two such stories, but most views were external.

The last time I had a story with over 1,000 internal views was way back in June.

In April, I had seven stories with over 1,000 views.

My point is that the average above may look good, but they don’t reflect what I’m currently seeing.


I probably need to stop publishing stories that are most likely to end up with under 100 views. That’s easier said than done though. Sometimes, a story I think will do well sink without a trace. Meanwhile, a story that I think will only get a few views ends up being one of my most-viewed stories.

These things are easier to see in hindsight. I don’t know what the answer is.

I also need to write more stories that are similar to the ones that have done well in the past. Not easy either, but if I put in the work, I should at least be able to improve these ratios.

The unknowns in all of this are the changes that have been taking place recently. Many writers are reporting lower views and earnings, so what does that mean? Maybe the good days are over. Maybe I need to work harder and smarter.

After all, writers like Tim Denning still make good money here, so at least I know it’s possible. That means that I need to improve my writing massively to get closer to his earnings.

There’s a lot going on, and figuring it all out is not a simple matter. But all I can do is focus on what’s in my control. That means continuing to learn and improving my writing over time.

If you’ve analyzed your own stats, are you seeing similar patterns? Do you have any insights about what’s happening here? Do you have any advice for other writers?

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