Are you a writer on Medium? Or a similar site?
I know you are a reader, and I appreciate it, but are you also a writer?
If so, do you consider yourself a successful writer?
I’m not wildly successful like some, but I made the $100 club by my 3rd month, and for the most part, revenue has been growing ever since. So, yeah, I consider myself successful. By my standards of success.
After reading many posts here, I have concluded that most successful writers do one of two things. They either spend a lot of time writing well-researched and carefully crafted quality pieces. Those articles garner a lot of reads and earn good money. Occasionally one goes viral and probably makes as much as the others put together. These writers tend to put out one or two excellent pieces a week.
That’s one way of doing it.
The other group feels that quantity is the key. They churn out several articles a day, every day. Most don’t do terribly well, but the combined total earns them decent money, especially given the short amount of time they devote to each article. And like the quality group, they will get lucky every once in a while and hit one out of the park.
But, here’s a question.
Why can’t you do both? Does it have to be an either-or proposition?
Granted, you can’t write articles of the high caliber as the quality group and churn them out as fast as the quantity writers. Unless you want to spend twenty hours a day writing.
But the quality writers could put out more work, and the quantity guys could write better articles.
This is how I try to approach my writing. I write, on average, one article a day. I try to give it my best, but I’m only willing to spend so much time on it. If I spent ten times the effort on each piece, would I earn ten times the money? Probably not.
On the other hand, if I wrote less and quicker and churned out five articles a day, would I earn five times the money? I don’t think so.
So, I compromise. I don’t want to write crap. At least not anymore. When I first started, I wrote a lot of ad copy. I could churn out 100 words a minute. The writing was crap, and the pay was peanuts. Crap for peanuts; there’s a fair trade.
Now I write because I want to write. The money’s great, but I don’t do it just for the money. I would still be writing if it didn’t pay. Maybe not as much or as often, but I would always write.
So, I put effort into these words. I think about it. I proof and rewrite. I want to make it as good as I can.
In an hour or two.
I’m not going to spend all day on it. The return is just not worth the investment. In some places, it may be. There is another site I write for; I won’t mention the name. Yet. But so far, I haven’t unlocked the magic formula. I can’t tell what they are looking for. I don’t know what is going to earn the big bucks. So, I’m leaning toward the volume end of the scale.
Hopefully, that will change soon.
Because I’d rather write quality. Not @Tim Denning and @Shaunta Grimes quality, but not crap either. Enough quality to satisfy my 2.8K followers and hopefully grow some more. Enough quality to keep getting most things curated and many published. Enough quality to keep my average earning above that $1K mark.
But every piece isn’t going to earn me the respect, followers, and yes, money that I’d like. Some months, my highest earning article will get me less than $100 Other months, I have made almost $1,000 from one piece.
So, to me, it’s a balancing act. And it works. I’m pretty sure it will work for you.
If you are a baseball player, then one of your heroes is likely to be Hank Aaron. But can you hit a home run every 2nd or 3rd time at bat? Me neither. But I can hit singles pretty regularly. And a single every time at the plate is still batting 1,000.
So, there is something I want you to try. I’m not talking to you, Shaunta. I’m talking to the little guys. The people struggling to hit $100 a month. Get yourself ready and start this on March 1. Try it for a month and see what happens. I’m not asking for a lifetime commitment, just thirty days.
What do I want you to do?
Well, it depends. It depends on what you are doing now. The thing you are doing now that isn’t working. Because I guarantee you, there is still money to be made here. And if you aren’t making $100 a month, then whatever you are doing isn’t working.
What do you do if you are doing the same thing every day and it doesn’t work? Keep doing it? Hope that some day the universal tumblers all line up and you strike glory?
Let me ask you something. Are you the type that hits the print button, and when nothing happens, you hit it again? You keep pressing the print button twenty or thirty times until you finally stop and figure out the problem. Like the printer is out of paper. So, you put the paper in, and suddenly thirty copies of your 1,000-page book start spitting out. Then, you yell at the printer.
Don’t do that.
If something isn’t working, don’t do it twenty times, hoping the twenty-first is the ticket. Do something else.
So, let’s say you are in the first group. You want every piece to be perfect. You edit like Ernest Hemingway. You spend ten hours on every piece striving for perfection, just knowing that this next article will be the one that gets you into the big leagues. Well, I’ve got news for you; you don’t write like Ernest Hemingway. You probably don’t even write like Ernest Borgnine.
The big leagues are hard to get into, and they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. It’s a small club, and you don’t have the key to membership. So, you spend 10 hours on a piece that earns you $5. That math doesn’t work for me, and it’s apparently not working for you.
So, do this. Don’t try so hard. Good enough is good enough. Spend three hours instead of ten. Maybe it’s not quite as good, but it’s good enough. Perhaps instead of earning $4 on one article, you make $3 each off three. Over twice the money for the same amount of time and probably less effort.
Or try this. Take that massive article you spent ten hours perfecting and take a good look at it. How could you turn that into three or four pieces? Without a significant rewrite. They say that long-form content performs better. Well, they say a lot of stuff. Is it true? I don’t know. But I can tell you this. If you turn one three-thousand-word article into three one-thousand-word pieces, it’s okay if they don’t perform as well. If they only do half as well, you’re still up 50%.
Okay, but what about you churn and burn guys? You can knock out 1,000 words in twenty minutes, so you put ten articles a day up. For the most part, none of them do very well. Sometimes you get lucky and hit the right combination, but mostly it’s high volume, low return.
How is that working out? I’ve been there, and the burnout rate is pretty high. You’re running like crazy all day, banging out a hundred words a minute. One hundred poorly spelled and unedited words a minute. You don’t get many readers.
Why? Because it’s garbage. I probably won’t even click on it because your title sucks. But even if I do, I won’t likely finish the first poorly composed paragraph. It didn’t take you long, and you don’t earn much. It’s like Billy Preston said, “Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing.”
Slow down. Be careful. Read and reread. Preferably on different days. You can still publish every day, just post what you wrote yesterday. Or the day before. Use a grammar checker. The free version of Grammarly is excellent. It only takes a few minutes to turn illegible crap into something that at least reads correctly.
Check the logic and the flow of your article. Does it draw the reader in and carry them along, or does it bounce from place to place and hope people catch up? If you aren’t sure, have a trusted friend or relative read your work. And be receptive to their feedback. If you think your work is genius, you won’t get any better. After all, it’s already perfect, right.
Then why aren’t you making any money?
Slow down. Write half as much twice as good. Worst case, it’s a wash, but I don’t think it will be. I think you will gain more readers and followers by giving them something they want to read. Something that engages them. You aren’t writing for the sake of writing. If you write something and nobody reads it, then it’s the proverbial tree falling in the forest. It didn’t happen.
There are many proponents of quality and just as many that tout quantity.
They are both right, and they are both wrong.
Try combining these two methods and see if your readership and your income don’t improve.