Even though I freely admit I am not an expert, I’ve still written quite a few very successful articles about the process of writing on Medium. I tend to write one every time I change how I approach writing and publishing, and when I feel I have something valuable to pass on to my fellow writers.
The last thing I want to do is add to the noise.
Well, things have been changing here on Medium, and as I grow as a writer I change with it. The biggest shakeup was the announcement that Medium would calculate our MPP earnings by read time instead of claps. When that happened, my earnings stagnated and started heading downward, until I am at the point where I am now, having my lowest earning month in a year.
Everyone Starts in the Same Place on Medium
I have to admit because I know some of you are the same way, that when I started publishing on Medium, I had stars in my eyes. I saw the growth of a few and assumed I could match it. Maybe I could even do better? After all, wasn’t I a fabulous writer?
I found out quickly, as many of you will that freelancing and writing on a blog are not the same as publishing viral content multiple times a day on Medium. The bar is set high. You have to jump through the curation hoops, battle the algorithm, and promote your work tirelessly on social media. You have to grow quickly as a writer once you find your voice, your niche or niches, the topics you enjoy writing about, and the process by which you create.
You have to connect with the readers, which on Medium happens to be other writers who also publish on Medium. ‘Follow for follow’ is a waste of time because the people you want as followers are the ones who actually read your work. Having 30K followers means little if only .01% read, highlight, and comment.
There is a lot you have to do to be financially successful, and there is a fraction of active writers who see real success immediately. Many writers quit, some phone it in, and then there are people like me who are in it for the long term and realize it is going to take time to see dividends.
It’s Better to Be Realistic
When I first started to publish seriously, I set big goals for myself. I came up with a process that planned out my long writing days to the minute so I could be as productive as possible.
Then, after trial and error, burning out, and realizing I was a terrible writer, I started being more realistic.
Now, after 17 months, I’ve settled in after realizing that if I wanted to stay sane while still striving for financial success, I have to start thinking long-term.
You have to understand, when I started, I thought I would be making thousands by the end of a year. I planned everything around being able to replace my Social Security money and being the sole breadwinner so my wife could pay more attention to our daughter and newborn son. But, now I know it’s going to take some time, and all those thousands may never come from Medium.
Sure, Medium is where I focus most of my attention, but I also have a newsletter called Beautifully Broken, and a travel/mental health blog called The Frightened Traveler. I’m working hard to build premium content for both and grow my paid subscriber base. Between the three, a lot of content needs writing, and now I have to plan my days so that my wife can be free to work since I am not rolling in Medium dough.
My Process to Create Tons of Valuable Content
The thing you should know about my schedule is that it is fluid. At any time during the day, I may be changing a diaper, giving a bath, cooking lunch, or washing dishes. I may have to sit and comfort a sick baby, like today, and only write in spurts of 10 or 15 minutes when the baby sleeps.
6:00 am to 9:30 am — After we all roll out of bed, we make rice and start getting my daughter ready for school. After we eat, it’s bathing for both children, then Zoey is off to school. Baby Joey usually sleeps after a bath and some food.
Now it is my time!
9:30 am to Noon — Hopefully, I am in the flow, because whether I am inspired or not, I write. I can usually get one or two essays or articles written during this time — at least some very rough drafts. My wife avoids scheduling classes during this time, and she tries to watch the baby and do stuff around the house.
Noon to 4:00 pm — My wife books English classes during this time, so the baby is my responsibility. If he is awake or sick, I don’t write. If he takes a nap, I can usually knock out another 1000 words or some editing.
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm — Dinner and any running of errands. I also try to get in a walk during this time, because its cooler and I find if I exercise, I can think better the rest of the night.
6:00 pm to 10:00 pm — Again, my wife has classes, so I take care of the baby and try to get some writing done. If I can get some serious work done now, I won’t have to work any later. Otherwise…
…10:00 pm to ??? — If I didn’t get a lot done during the day, I stay up as long as I must to finish. The wife and kids are all sleeping, so a lot of times, I can get a massive amount of work done.
As you see, I didn’t leave much room for showering, naps, watching TV, or doing anything but hustling, but this is my life right now, and I am doing the best I can while still practicing self-care for my mental health and getting as much sleep as I can.
What Else Do You Do?
During my writing time, I may be doing one of many things like reading, researching, editing, proofreading, social media promotion, graphic design, or connecting with readers. All this needs doing in addition to writing.
There is also the matter of submitting to publications. I try to pitch the Medium publications a few times a month and submit to some of the Medium partners like Better Marketing, Mind Café, P.S. I love you, and The Startup. Most of the time, when you submit to these publications, and they accept your piece, your work must be good, and it usually gets curated, where many of my self-published pieces get looked over and not curated
It pays to work with the publications.
But, even if you put in 12 hours a day, how do you find time to write and do all that extra stuff? Maybe you are like me and can keep everything straight in your head and still get everything done. I’m a pantser. Or, you are a planner and need to make to-do lists and set goals.
Either way, you have to figure out what works for you and get it done. Stuff cannot fall by the wayside, because six months from now, you will be telling yourself that you wished you had started sooner.
Don’t take big chunks. Start small and make a little progress every day. A little is better than none at all.
Make progress toward your goal every day and settle in for the long term. Overnight success rarely happens. Most writers take years to get anywhere. Some never do because they aren’t willing to put in the work needed.
If you have an off day or you feel like a mental health day would be in order, take it. All this will be here when you get back. If I didn’t stop and take breaks and mini-vacations, I would never make it because my mental health problems are severe and they require me to practice self-care at the expense of all else.
If I can do all this: the mental illness, the wife, the kids, and the writing and everything that goes with it for the long term, so can you.
Be smart. Be productive. Take things slowly. Start early. Settle in for the long term. Medium and whatever other projects you work on will only be financially successful if you put in the work.
Start tomorrow and plug away every day.
This story was not curated. If you write and publish on Medium, you know what that means — a quick death. But it doesn’t always have to be like this, and this is where I add value to your life. It works like this:
We all write free content for Medium. They don’t pay for it. The money we pay to be members is more than enough to pay the writers who are making money. In return for us writing millions of words of free content and paying the writers who engage with the readers (us again), Medium forbids us from adding any more than a simple text link to the bottom of posts to promote ourselves.
If you do everything right, you get curated.
I have no problem with that. I’ve been with Medium for over a year-and-a-half, and I absolutely fricking love that they gave me a platform to earn and share my writing. I tell everyone I know to join Medium and start writing.
But, if I don’t get curated, my stories die. I don’t earn. The only traffic I get comes in is from Google, and if the people they are sending are not Medium subscribers, I don’t get paid.
But Medium benefits greatly. Every time we bring eyeballs onto the platform, Medium gains authority and in turn, members. They also get income from writers paying them for exposure by featuring them in publications and other places on Medium, even if they aren’t members. It’s a great business model.
I thank Medium for giving me the platform, and I respect them, especially when they curate me and my stories live on.
So Medium, I love you, and if you curate me, I will follow the rules and only put a small text link to my newsletter at the bottom.
But, if I am not curated, I am going to use my work to promote myself and my brand.
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