Are you making money on Medium?
Do you want to?
Then keep reading. But first, I need to make something clear.
If you are looking for one of those, “How I Got Rich on Medium” or “How to Make $10,000 a Week on Medium,” stories, then move along. There’s nothing to see here.
But if you want to make money, steady, reliable money, then keep reading.
Still with me? Good. Now, I can make some money too.
I’m not going to go into the mechanics of how you earn on Medium. There’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere. Besides, those mechanics keep changing. Medium will occasionally change the algorithm to best help the writers and ensure that you can earn the most money. Trust me.
The check’s in the mail.
But however the details are laid out, one thing is constant. If people read your stuff, you make money. If they don’t, you don’t. Forget claps, and comments, and other minutiae. You want people to read your articles. The more, the better.
First, let’s get that whole get rich thing out of the way. Some people make a lot of money on Medium. And they do so for a variety of reasons. Some got in early and established a presence. Some are prolific. Some have had several articles go viral. Most have a combination of these things going for them. I don’t have any of these things, yet I make decent money here. I top $1,000 a month more often than not. But we’ll get back to me in a minute.
So, what about that viral thing? Well, the problem is, you can’t make an article go viral. There’s no formula. You can find an article with 10,000 reads and try to emulate it. And it won’t happen. My most successful article is about dieting. You can read it here. It has earned over $2,500. Pretty good for me. (I wonder how many diet articles are going to pop up tomorrow?)
But it’s not a subject I generally write about. It came about in sort of a haphazard way. I was working on losing weight and wrote a piece about how I did it. It was personal, and it was easy to write. It met with mild success, so I wrote another one. Similar content. It went through the roof and is still maybe my top article on any given day, many months later.
Okay, I thought, I can write more of that. So, I wrote a third article. This time I intentionally tried to recreate the success of the second one. I failed. So, three similar articles and one earns a lot of money. Go figure. I wish I could.
So, that’s the first lesson. You can’t get up to the plate and swing for the fences every time. You will strike out, and eventually, you will burn out. Write about what you love, what you are passionate about. Write about things you can write about every day and not tire of the subject. Keep doing that and produce quality work, and the money will come.
No one article will earn a ton, but the accumulated total will grow over time. When I look at my earnings every month, I don’t look at the top article. I look at the next five or ten. That’s the meat and potatoes. That is the sustainable income I can achieve month after month. Not hitting home runs, but hitting a solid single with every piece.
If you are just getting started, there are a few things you can do. But the first and most important is just to write. Write as much and as often as you can. If you can produce an article a day, that’s great. I wouldn’t try to do more than that. If you have to do less due to other commitments, that’s okay, but try to be consistent. One every other day, once a week, twice a month. Whatever, just keep doing it.
And the way to keep doing it is to write about what you like to write about. Don’t look at successful writers and try to copy them. You may meet with some mild success, but you aren’t going to get where they are in attempting to emulate them. You are going to get where they are by writing consistent, quality content. And the only way to do that is to care about your subject.
Do that for a month. Now, look back at those articles. Look at your earnings, views, reads, claps, comments, the whole thing. What worked? Do more of that. What didn’t? Do less of those. One of the subjects I made a lot of money on before Medium was construction and remodeling. I did one of those early on here. Crickets. I looked around the site and saw little of that content here and no publication that produced it. So, I scratched that off my list.
Another subject I do well with is photography. That met with mild success here, but there wasn’t a good pub that would consistently publish my photo articles. So, I created my own. If you have time to do that without detracting from your writing, I will urge you to give it a try. It got me a lot of followers, and my photography tutorials have done much better. Most get curated.
A third topic I always enjoyed was the personal memoir. I was warned early on that they don’t do well on Medium. But I’ve done some anyway. And they were right; those don’t do well. But here’s the thing. I enjoy writing them. So, at least once a month, I put a new one out there. None have done great, but some have done okay. More importantly, it was something I was passionate about. You do you.
The other thing I want you to do, I put last because I want you to do it last. Look around the site. Read a lot of articles. See what the successful writers are producing. Most people will tell you to do this first, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. If you do that first, you aren’t going to stay true to yourself. You will start chasing someone else’s dream. And ultimately, that will show in your writing. But it’s useful information to assimilate, not copy.
A lot of the followers I have read my work because they know I am genuine. I write from the heart. It shows. That’s what will keep people coming back and reading your work. And that is how you make money on Medium.