My Little Secret to Making Money on Medium
Well, with February coming to an end, I have been writing on Medium for 3 months. In fact, I joined in November last year, but that month was more to actually understand what Medium is, discover many amazing writers who I still love reading, who, in fact, inspired me to write, and well understand what I want to achieve in my journey on Medium.
My serious writing started in December. Comparing to November 2019, I earned almost 35 times more in December and it was my best performing month so far.
In total, December to February, I am about to earn almost $500, which is amazing pocket money! (I know, there are many more writers who earn much more money, but for the time that I invest in this platform, I am very satisfied.)
On average that’s a bit more than $165 per month. Living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this can almost cover my groceries for a month.
However, I haven’t been investing much time in writing here. Looking at the number of articles I’ve written, on average, I publish two articles per week only.
Therefore, if you are like me, who has a super hectic full-time job and who treats Medium as a way to unwind, please, have a look at my “magic” formula (spoiler alert: there is no magic) and see if it works for you.
In fact, you may want to save this article and come back in the future.
Don't count your dollars
To me, writing is a way to unwind and share my knowledge with an audience. I mainly write about marketing. I work as a full-time marketer and I enjoy sharing my insights and suggestions with the others.
I don’t count the dollars that drop into my account thanks to Medium Partner Program, and I don’t overstress if I don’t earn whatever I’d envision.
I would advise not to set any targets (at least if you are starting up), neither for earnings nor for how many articles per week you should produce nor how many readers you should get per week.
All this will distract you from your main goal — sharing the passion of writing with your audience.
I was distracting me because I was concentrating on reaching my own targets and I wasn’t really considering anything else.
If you set your target to produce 5 articles per week, but you’re committed to other things in life as well, your writing quality will be bad and people won’t discover you. Your articles won’t be picked up by publications or curation, which will reduce your exposure dramatically.
Within these three months, I published 28 articles of which 8 were not curated or published in publications. Most of these 8 were actually the ones that I tried to push because I wanted to reach my-own-set targets.
This means that my curation or publishing in publications rate was a bit over 70%. To me, this is an excellent result and I am very happy with it!
Just to compare.
In February, I so far published 5 articles and all of them were curated or published in publications. 100% rate (compared to 70% average rate of my last three months). The secret is because I wasn’t chasing my targets. I let it go naturally and produce content whenever I had time.
Don’t look at the number of publications to be published in
I am very faithful to my publications. I constantly write for two: The Startup and Better Marketing. I once in a while post to The Ascent. That’s it.
My advice is to look for serious publications that would value your content and would give you nice exposure. Once you have that, don’t try to write for tens of publications as you’ll simply lose your concentration.
I am open, however, to look for smaller publications that would be more niche-centred and bring additional value to readers, however, I will always limit the number of publications that I write to.
Step up your headline game
This one is the most difficult point for me. I’m still learning to have catchy headlines that would interest people to click in and read my article.
It is unfair that the headline is such an important part in the reader’s decision-making process. Most of the articles I encounter on Medium are brilliant. Therefore, I stopped judging by the headline and happily read anything that comes up.
Having brilliant headlines is crucial. It’s basically the first impression of your text. If your headline sucks — people won’t click in and even though your article is amazing (because it is!!!), few will actually have a chance to enjoy it.
It is very unfair, I know, but it’s how it works and I have to accept the rules of the game.
Tools like CoSchedule Headline Analyser are somewhat helpful, but I started putting myself in my reader's shoes and writing the type of headlines I’d click on. Sometimes it works wonders. You should also give it a shot.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover the headline formula that works magic to you. There is no right or wrong here. (Well, don’t do clickbait headlines, this is generally always wrong!)
Be inspired by the others
A lot of my writing inspiration comes from the others. It can be something I read on Medium, on the news, talk to a friend or just randomly think of remembering the conversation I had over lunch. I love being inspired by others.
I rarely try to invent the wheel and crack my head to find the best topic to write about. I treat writing as a dialogue. For every piece I write, I think what people who read it would answer. This leads me to progress with my article.
Since I write about a topic that is also my daily work, I often use my daily activities as inspiration. For questions or issues that come about during the day, I’d share my public reflections on Medium.
Most importantly, I observe the surrounding world and get inspiration from ads, street billboards, Instagram posts or books. Writing is a form of communication, expression of opinion, and it’s easy to have an opinion about almost everything that surrounds us.
Be natural and conversational in your texts
In the beginning, I’ve written articles as if it was writing a university assignment. (I loved university essays as I love doing research.)
BUT surprise — on Medium, such writing style doesn’t really work.
The texts should be conversational and natural. I dropped all the fancy adjectives and started writing in simple and plain English. Reading complex texts is tiring and most of us read for relaxation.
I use the Hemingway App to assess the complexity of my writing. Anything that’s above Grade 6 needs to be simplified.
I think this is very important to all non-native speakers. I remember when I was learning English, the usage of complex structures, advanced adjectives and multiple conjunctions was something that constituted a great work. But here, the simpler the better.
I notice myself often skipping articles if I find the language too complex to read (even though, my English is now better than my mother tongue). It’s because I want to relax while reading, not overcomplicate my brain.
Even though my earnings are very modest, I know that many writers can be intimidated by big sharks who pocket thousands of dollars each month. I know I was.
At first, I was trying to base my time on Medium on earnings and I was getting frustrated when I didn’t receive the desired number of reads and they didn’t translate into expected income.
Don’t concentrate on views, reads and dollars, better concentrate on the process of writing, the peace-of-mind and relaxation it’s bringing to you and the audience who you inspire, educate and motivate.
However, if you’re still very much money-driven, I keep following the saying “your earnings depend on time and effort you put in”. It means you cannot expect to earn thousands of dollars per month if all you put in is a couple of hours per week.
Happy writing! I’d be happy to read your suggestions and little secrets on how to reach success on Medium. Share these in the comments section.