Here is how you can do the same.
Disclaimer: This is not a get-rich-quickly guide. But so isn’t Medium. Medium is a place where you can grow as a writer and get rewarded for it. Still sounds like a very good deal to me.
I posted my first article on Medium in October 2018, but only started writing consistently in April 2020. I explain why in this article.
In April, I made $27.33. In May, my earnings were at $48.46. And in June I reached $76.61. This means, roughly speaking, an increase of 50% for two consecutive months.
I am still not in the tier of the $100+ earners but, if I replicate this consistency one more month, I will get there. This being said, take any advice with a grain of salt. I am not a top earner, I haven’t published on Medium strategically for long, and I am still trying to figure things out. But I do have 10 years of experience in writing, and I feel I have learned A LOT about Medium in the past three months.
This is my advice to you.
We have all been there, we underestimate the importance of reading. I know I have. You probably have too.
By reading, I don’t mean scrolling through articles, highlighting some random parts, and giving 50 claps just so the author of that story checks your work in return. I mean properly reading. In an analytical way.
Once I had a professor who taught me video journalism. He used to say:
“The general audience watches a video report and either likes it or not — they don’t know why. But a good journalist can tell exactly why he likes or dislikes a certain piece.”
When you know how something works — writing, in this case — you see the final result from a different perspective. Practice that when you read. Don’t read like a reader, read like a writer.
2. Replicate Successful Content
My most successful story on Medium was published in September 2019 and it has earned me $143 to date.
I wrote it in a couple of hours, without any research, and I had a great time putting my experience into words. I genuinely loved the process of writing.
This article, in particular, clicked with the readers because it told a story that many can relate to: living in a country where you don’t speak the language. People love to share their personal experiences, and that is exactly what happened in the comments box.
This was my biggest success, hands down. So why not try to replicate it? That is exactly what I did with this story.
Has it reached the success of the original one? No. But it was my top earner this month, at $33.62.
So, my advice is: if you find something that works, try it again. And maybe once more. If you look at successful writers on the platform, that is exactly what they do: they repeat the subjects and the structures that work. It takes time to figure out what works but, when you do, stick to it.
3. Aim At Curation
I know we all try to get curated. But do we really?
Sometimes, I write stories that I know, for sure, will not get curated. I still write them because I enjoy it, but if your goal is purely to make money, don’t waste time with articles that you know will bring you some cents.
It’s better to write less but with better quality. Curation requires hard work. Some luck, as well, I suppose. But mostly it requires quality content. And, whether we like it or not, most of us do not produce high-quality content on a daily basis. Don’t take offense, I don’t either. I got curated twice in June, and those articles were two of my top three earners. The other one was about Medium itself — you see what I mean with #2?
Curation helps to get more eyes on your work, and does it for a longer period. So how can you achieve that? These are some tips:
- Make your article visually appealing
- Give your article a structure: intro, development, conclusion
- Pick a clear theme for each article
- Include quotes and studies that support what you are saying
- Enrich your story with personal experience
4. Play With Publications
This is a tricky point.
Most advice you read on Medium tells you to get your work into publications. Many times it is better than self-publishing, especially if your followers are still scarce. But this is not always the case.
Usually, before applying to work with a new publication, I have a look at the articles on its front page and see the number of claps for each of them. I know it doesn’t matter at all for the earnings, but it is the best metric you have for assessing the performance of an article if it wasn’t published by you. If most articles have a low number of claps, probably it’s not worth it publishing there. Find publications where users interact with the articles, that send out newsletters with links, and that fit your story.
And when you don’t find any that will accept your work, try self-publishing. I did that with this story. I knew it had quality, and there was a good chance to get picked up by a publication. That is exactly what happened. I had submitted it to The Startup and never heard back. After 3 hours of self-publishing it, The Startup reached out, asking to publish it on their page.
But it still didn’t make a difference. I have 580 views and $5.79 on that article so far. Published on the largest independent publication on Medium.
Don’t aim only for the “big ones” only. There are many medium-sized publications that are well worth working it. Start with them. Build a relationship and an audience there. It makes a difference.
I don’t know you. I don’t know if you need the Medium income to pay your rent or feed your children. If you do, by all means, be as strategic as you can possibly be.
But if you are more at ease, I recommend experimenting. Try different approaches, different subjects, different structures. You will learn something new with each story.
But most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the process. Writing is meant to be a pleasure. Never forget that.