How To Exploit Pinned Posts And Targeted Reading To Boost Revenue

Writers without niches: This trick works especially well for you

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Writers, remember your first posts on Medium? Some may have been good, some not so much, but one thing’s for sure… if you’re like most writers, they didn’t earn a whole lot of money.

And, if you’re like most writers, they probably still don’t. As new readers discover you and view your profile, they may scroll down through the most recent 5 or 7 stories… and your older ones remain at the bottom, untouched.

However, one of Medium’s recent updates makes it possible for you to revive those older posts and squeeze a little extra juice out of them. Last week I decided to run a set of experiments to see how far I could go with this new feature.

Pinned posts

A pinned post is one you select to appear at the top of your profile, even ahead of your most recent posts. It’s very much like a pinned tweet on Twitter, or a pinned post on your WordPress blog.

To pin a post, pull it up and look for the three dots near the top of the profile.

Screen capture by author

Click on the dots and select “Pin this story to your profile.”

To unpin at a later date, click the same three dots and select “Unpin this story from your profile.”

The basis for the experiment, and why I suspected this would be effective for a writer without a niche

“The key to success on Medium is to niche down,” they said. “Find one topic and drill deep writing about it,” they said.

At the beginning of my third month and with about 25 published posts, I have not yet figured out how to do that. I’m simply curious about too many things. I like reading and learning about a variety of topics. That led me to a thought:

  • Not only do I love writing on Medium;
  • I love reading on Medium;
  • Furthermore, I love giving feedback, connecting with other writers, on Medium.

A natural consequence of giving feedback — claps, comments, and the like — is that some of those writers are going to visit my profile and check my work out. And you know the old saying, you only get one chance to make a great first impression!

If I decide to read about cooking, doesn’t it make sense for me to have a cooking post pinned to my own profile?

If I decide to read about data science, doesn’t it make sense for me to have a data science post pinned to my own profile?

Well, actually, I don’t have posts on either of those topics. You see where I’m going with this, though. I decided to take selected posts from my first month as a writer, pin them for 48 hours, and see if they would generate additional revenue through my targeted reading audience.

Experiment 1: A post about professional networking

My very first post! Or, I should say, my very first published post on Medium, after seven or eight failed attempts where I gave up and said, “This just isn’t very good.”

I finally felt like I struck gold with this one. It had an actionable takeaway for the reader, and it helped the reader navigate a setting in which many people, particularly introverts, suffer a bad case of the nerves. Unfortunately, being my first, it got buried beneath other posts in my profile and made less than a dollar in its first 8 weeks and 3 days.

I pinned the post to the top of my profile, then went about reading posts in the following publications and tags:

Since posts in these publications and tags were not terribly far removed from my own areas of interest, I found a lot I connected with. When I did, I left claps, I highlighted key points, and I left comments so writers would know I appreciated their work. When I thought I would like to read more of a writer’s work, I gave them a follow.

In the 48 hours I had the networking post pinned to the top, it earned 46% of what it previously earned in more than 8 weeks, 3 days. As of the time of writing, 5 days since I pinned the post, its earnings are up 66%.

Experiment 2: A post about a change of mindset

This post showed the reader how to flip negativity on its head. It showed how to embrace that negativity and the circumstances from which it arose, resulting in a positive outlook on life.

Written toward the end of my first month as a published writer, the post had earned a dollar and some change in the 4 weeks and 6 days before I pinned it.

After pinning, I read publications which had to do with embracing a new mindset, including

Again, it wasn’t hard to find common ground with many writers, because they were writing on topics not that different from my own. Where I did, I once again clapped, highlighted, and comment. I also followed when I wanted to be exposed to more of a writer’s work.

After 48 hours pinned to the top of my profile, my Inspire Others… post had earned 15% of the amount it earned in the previous 4 weeks and 6 days.

Why didn’t this pinned post do as well as the first one? I came up with two possible explanations. One, I didn’t have as much time to spend reading publications the day I pinned this post as opposed to the last one; I spent maybe an hour and a half total reading time as opposed to three hours after pinning the first post.

The second reason is that this is somewhat of a cliched topic, and that may have affected reader interest. “Take a topic and turn it on its head” may sound like an exercise for a “Learn how to write on Medium” course, and indeed that’s what it was. That said, I don’t regret writing the story. Part of becoming a writer here is learning what works, and besides, it did generate several positive comments and a fair number of claps.

Experiment 3: A post about connecting with your intuition

This is a post I wrote a few days before Inspire Others By Being As Negative As You Want. This one came much more from personal experience than from a writing course workbook. In the 5 weeks and 3 days it was alive before I pinned it, it earned a couple of dollars.

After pinning it, I read the following publications, all of which touch on beliefs, dreams, spirituality, intuition, and related topics:

In 48 hours as a pinned post, it earned 27% as much as it did the previous 5 weeks and 3 days. Now, a little more than 72 hours after I unpinned the post, it has earned 51% of its total before pinning.

Interesting that it continued to earn so well the day after being unpinned. I must admit I’m puzzled. Perhaps Medium’s algorithm viewed it as a recent popular post, and continued to serve it to my followers’ feeds?

Canceled experiment 4: A post about health

The second post I ever wrote was a quick mind trick to drink more water every day. It too quickly got buried in an avalanche of newer posts and earned only 36 cents in its lifetime.

I pinned it and began reading the following publication:

… and then, after about 5 or 10 minutes, I stopped and unpinned the post.

The reason why? I’m just not inclined to spend a couple of hours a day reading health and fitness topics. If I got on that publication or similar ones for a couple of hours and clapped, commented, highlighted, and followed, it wouldn’t be out of a genuine interest in the topic. It wouldn’t be out of a sense of connecting with writers in those fields. I’d be doing it out of self-promotion. It didn’t feel authentic to me.


If you write posts across a variety of topics, try pinning a post and then reading publications, topics, and tags that are related. It won’t always work well, but there’s a good chance you can squeeze a little extra revenue out of posts that haven’t produced in a while.

I am grateful that this experiment caused me to delve deep into pubs I had barely read before, particularly Mind Cafe and Live Your Life On Purpose. Those will be on my weekly to-read list from now on, whether I have a pinned post or not.

Furthermore, I am grateful that I got to connect with, and read the work of, so many wonderful writers on this platform. It feels so good to reach out to someone and tell them, “I got value out of what you wrote.”

Rule number 1 of writing seems to be, “give different things a try and see what works.” If you try this experiment, leave a comment and let me know how it turned out for you. Thanks for reading, and if you want to read more from me, join my tribe!

Written by

Beliefs | Intuition | Dreams | Journaling | Connector | Inspirer | Former College Teacher | Twitter: @paulryburn

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