In October of 2020, the year the world fell apart, I will have been publishing on Medium for two years. In those two years, I’ve made as much as $600 in one month (due to a piece in Human Parts), but my average has been about $300 a month. At least, that is the barrier I can’t seem to get past.
I know a lot of you are wondering how I can complain about an extra $300? Well, let’s just say I’ve always expected to make more.
When I signed up in October of 2018, I had big goals for myself — and an ego to match. I knew if there were people making thousands from the platform, I could too. I had a very high opinion of my writing coming from an adulthood of freelance writing and blogging.
I thought I was the shit.
My fall from grace started six months later when several of my peers were already making thousands, and in one case, 10K, and I was having a hard time breaking $100. I wasn’t getting curated, and readers weren’t coming in droves to read my work.
I started reading the work of the people who were making money, and I started seeing differences:
- Where their voices were strong, and their words flowed smoothly, my voice was weak, and my flow stunted.
- They wrote about themselves as I did, but they always seemed to add value to the reader. I whined and complained, but failed to share lessons that could help others.
- Their writing made you feel something strongly, while mine was dull and lifeless.
- They weren’t boring, but I was.
There were bright spots for me — pieces where I had broken barriers and wrote like a man on fire. Those pieces were getting views, reads, and claps. People were commenting and having conversations with me about it.
But, I had no consistency.
So I put a stake in the ground and vowed from that moment on that I would become a better writer — one with a voice that wasn’t boring, and a style that everyone would know was mine.
So I started reading the greats, both in literature and on Medium, to figure out how they did it.
I started studying style guides and writing advice, picking up techniques I could use now and in the future.
I started writing and publishing more, sometimes up to 3 Medium stories a day. I was writing for 12 hours a day.
I was finally a consistent man on fire.
And all it took was for me to put a stake in the ground.
The Result of that Experiment
I had many results after a few months. I worked to improve my writing a little bit every day. I would set one goal and made sure I surpassed in before I went to sleep.
I found my voice and developed it into something I can feel when I read my own writing.
I didn’t stop writing personal essays, but I did change the way I did it. I now sought to add value to the reader in every post. My goal was always to answer the question, “What’s in it for my audience?” Value was a word I printed out and taped to the wall above my desk.
I was publishing at least once per day, sometimes more. I had to understand that if I wanted to succeed as a novice writer on Medium, I would have to be prolific. Some established writers can get away with posting infrequently, but I couldn’t, so I wrote as much as I could.
I treated Medium like a high-paying job and put all my effort into my financial success.
So What Happened to You?
If you haven’t read anything by me before, I make it no secret that I battle serious mental illness. My diagnosis is Depressive-type Schizoaffective Disorder with an Anxiety Disorder, and all it means is that I hear voices constantly, fall victim to deep depressions and anxiety attacks, and take a lot of medication.
It’s the reason I haven’t worked a “real” job for over 15 years.
What happens is that I get so focused on what I am doing that I ignore the signs. What happened to my Medium career was what happens to everything else — I was working 12 hour days with little sleep, and burning the candle at both ends, and I crashed and burned.
The voices came up and overwhelmed me, and the depression and anxiety kept me in bed and away from what I loved to do: write.
Among all this, I’ve managed to take care of my family, enough that in July of 2019, our second child, Joey, was born screaming and raging against the machine.
Even though my mental status was getting better, I couldn’t work as much because I assumed a primary role in the care of my child while my wife worked as much as she could. I still wrote almost every day, but I didn’t publish as much, and my earnings settled around $300 per month.
I’ve also been working on a few other streams of income with my newsletter and blogs.
I’ve been at that number and far less since the baby was born, and I haven’t really tried to put another stake in the ground on Medium.
But that is about to change!
Another Experiment and Another Stake
The baby is ten months now, so he is a little more independent, and with the end (for now) of the lockdown, there can be more days where the kids can go to grandma, and my wife and I can focus on work.
Plus, my wife has cut her hours dramatically, so the mornings and most of the afternoon is mine to use for work. It is doubtful if I will have 12-hour days again, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to test my health to that degree.
So now that I have more time, and my health is good, I have a brand-new shiny stake to plunge in the ground again, and I want to do on the hallowed ground of Medium.
Medium has been good to me, and even though I am not making thousands, I have been paid for the effort I am making.
The field is ripe for the picking, and even though the world is falling apart at the seams, I know it’s an excellent time to be prolific again.
What am I going to do differently?
- While I will write every day, I am not going to push myself to publish 3 or 4 posts a day. And thought I will, at the minimum, publish once per day, with adjustments made for publications who don’t post the stories right away, I am not going to make the quality of my work suffer by slopping work out the door.
- Instead of trying to write, edit, proof, publish, and promote every day, I am going to break up the week into days, specifically for writing and editing. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with be for researching and writing first drafts, while Thursday and Friday will be for editing. Saturday, I will schedule self-published drafts for publishing, and submit stories that go to other publications. Then the next week is complete, and I can start working on the following one.
- Every story I publish I will write with the audience in mind and answer the question, “what’s in it for them?” Every story will be a value-bomb.
- I am going to automate social media promotion, so I spend less time falling into the black hole of outrage and meme-sharing.
My goal is to break the $1K mark by the end of the year, at Christmas.
So to make this official, here are my starting numbers:
- May 2020 income from Medium: $339.48
- Medium Followers: 4014
- Last 30 days:
But what about you?
What this Means for You
Are you in a rut and can’t pull yourself out of the mud? Has your writing become stagnant and predictable? Are you not making the money you thought you should, by now?
Join me by putting a stake in Medium ground!
- The first thing to do is realize that your writing is good, but not anywhere it needs to be to make money. Start to improve a little bit each day.
- Publish one story per day on Medium. Don’t publish garbage! These stories have to be your best work, so do your research and find out what people want to read. If you need a little inspiration, read this article I wrote about blogging.
- Even if you already have a fulltime job, make writing on Medium a high-paying job. If you start thinking of it like that, you are more likely to give it the focus it needs.
- Give up the misconceptions you have about Medium and realize that you were never promised you would make money. Know that the opportunity is there, but you have to make it happen by putting in the work. Yes, hard work. Smart work. Stop watching Netflix and drinking port every night like we are in a pandemic and sit down in front of your laptop and write some fantastic shit!
- Believe you can do it. You can make money from your writing.
Write your goals down and where you are at currently. Write a post about your experiment and drop your links in my comments section so I can follow your progress.
Let’s do this together! Come Christmas; we are all buying new iPhones!
Of course, none of this applies to you if you are creating for the sheer joy of writing and not for the money. But, if you want to make money on Medium, plunge your stick and the ground and get started today!
I know the last thing you want is another newsletter clogging up your inbox, but if you liked what you read here today, and you want to get exclusive (content), I promise I’ll never bore you. It’s called Beautifully Broken, and it may change your life!