My $5K Month on Medium

You asked for my secrets, so let's chat.

Never before in my life, would I have imagined myself to be an inspirational person. Melancholy and moody, sure. Creative, okay. But inspiring? No way.

Yet, by my eighth month on Medium, several fellow writers began calling me inspiring. It’s been a weird thing to accept the label, but to be honest, I’m inspiring myself as I take this writer’s journey.

I won’t bore you with all of the details about my depression or why I felt like such a loser for so long, since I know you’re likely just here to find out how I earned $5K in one month on Medium. But I can say that my efforts on Medium reflect the first time I ever seriously tried to accomplish something great--and refused to give up.

Let’s move right into the strategies that have worked for me to consistently grow my income since starting with the Medium Partner Program on April 25.

If you’re familiar with the Medium Partner Program, you know that each month runs either four or five weeks. The December pay reflects five weeks, and the last time we had a five-week pay period was October. That month, I earned $2660.61--which means I came pretty close to doubling those earnings.

How did my earnings steadily increase? It boils down to a few philosophies I have about monetary success on Medium:

Treat Medium like a job. A real job.

If you want to make a real income on Medium, you can’t show up sporadically. You’ve got to at least treat it like a part-time job. A lot of people don’t like to hear that because they want to make money writing here without actually doing the work. If that’s you, good luck. But I don’t have any experience with that.

When I first started out on Medium, most stories didn't make much money. I accepted that as the nature of the beast. The editors featured this story that I wrote just a few days after signing up--so in that respect, I got lucky to have one big moneymaker for a couple weeks.

Over the summer, it was a big deal when a story hit $20. Like a really big deal. I wrote as much as I possibly could--some months I published more than 60 stories a month. I kept telling myself that if I kept at it, my stories might gain more traction and eventually make more money. I was right about that. It took time, but now most of my stories earn above $50. But I still get some stragglers that earn less than $20.

You've got to treat medium like a job--when it comes to the time you put into it. And then you've also got to accept that you're probably not going to make hundreds of dollars right out of the gate. But there's certainly room for growth.

Don’t let one success or failure give you an excuse to quit.

I think most people fall into one of two camps. We either give up when we feel like failures, or we shoot ourselves in the foot with one little bit of success. There are a million different reasons to lose momentum, but most of the time we do it to ourselves.

We quit because it feels too hard. We even quit when it feels too easy. We only need a reason--just give us one and we'll quit. You have to fight that urge!

Avoid complacency. Focus on your growth instead.

Keep it positive--even on the bad days.

Medium is a wonderful place to write openly about serious issues like mental health, abuse, and trauma. But for most writers and readers here, negativity only works in measured doses. If you're writing about depression, try to end your story with some bit of hope. At the very least, make your message educational.

By keeping things positive, you don't just benefit your readers--this policy is good for you too. Do you feel like giving up? Write about that, but tell us why you won't. Tell us about your obstacles, but pepper them with your dreams.

Let us dream with you.

But write honestly from the heart.

Good readers can typically suss out when a writer is disingenuous. Honest writing thrives--you just need to trust this principle. It might take some time to find your audience. Don't sweat it.

Writing from your heart will be your asset. Plus, you won't need to worry so much about keeping up appearances or remembering the facts of your own stories.

Medium, in particular, is a great place for vulnerable writing. There are some trolls, but less than most other places. And if you look at the stories editors frequently feature, stories with heart are winners.

Stories that make you think with your head and your heart? Those are some of the very best anywhere.

Quit tracking every story and track fans instead.

Look, everybody is a little bit obsessed with their stats here. I get it. It's only natural. But for the love of good writing, please quit worrying about your claps.

When you're trying to gain better traction, hitting 1,000 claps on any given story seems so important. I know. I've been right there with you. But in case you missed it, there's a secret to the stats that I discovered this fall.

If you want to make more money through the Medium Partner Program, quit worrying about claps! Instead, make it your goal to have more fans. That is the very best stat to help give you a better idea of your pay.

For a while, I had a goal to average 150 fans a day. Now I aim for 200 a day and am trying to see what I can do to reach 250 fans a day. The way things stand right now, if I can average 200 fans, I can hit more than $1,000 a week.

Tracking your daily fans is also a great way to determine when you can take a break and when you should get back to publishing another story. Let's say that I want to average 150 fans a day. If a day or two goes by where I can't even hit 100, it's time to get back to work.

If you look at my history of stories, you'll see that they don't all reach 1K claps, and the ones that do certainly don't get there right away. Please, please, please take it from a person who's making the Partner Program work for her. Get used to tracking your fans!

Own your journey.

Along my writer's journey, people have given me a lot of advice. Helpful advice includes other Medium writers sharing what works for them. Less helpful advice includes people telling you not to even try.

You have to own your journey here on Medium. Want to be a rock star here? Do the work. Do the research. Forget the haters. Trust me, for more than eight months I've been getting occasional comments which suggest I put my efforts elsewhere. I didn't. And now it's paying off.

Likewise, you can't compare yourself to anybody else. When I write about monetary success here, I hope it will help inspire you to do your best and own your journey. Don't get caught up in your trajectory following mine. We are on different paths.

When I started out on Medium, I spent a lot of time studying Tom Kuegler, Jonathan Greene, Michael Thompson, and so many others. The big dogs like Kris Gage (who isn't in the partner program but recently gave me the coolest shout out!) and Jessica Wildfire (who so graciously interacts with many readers and writers herself). I watched anyone who was a few steps ahead of me.

Then I made my own way... and I haven't quit.

I don't say any of this as some writing or Medium guru. And I don't know how to make this less cringe-worthy, except to tell you to trust me as a single mom writing because my life depends upon it.

Even at this moment, I'm juggling my 4-year-old right now. We're watching A Series of Unfortunate Events while she colors with crayons and narrates her triumphs.

Be your own biggest fan.

I am very lucky to have found some great supporters here on Medium. In fact, this story goes out to my friends Cheney Meaghan, Luke Rowley, Shae Jackson, Kamga Tchassa and Dharmesh Basapati. Go read them!

That said, it doesn't matter how many great supporters you've got--you still have to be your own biggest fan.

If you don't like what you write, why should anybody else? When you're feeling low, YOU have to get back up and start writing again. You've got to believe in yourself before anybody else can, and you alone have got to do the work.

If you're trying to increase your income through Medium, keep in mind that everything is subject to change, but if you put in the effort and create a solid strategy, you might just surprise yourself. You'll never know what you can do until you try.

My current success on Medium doesn't make me a unicorn. The coolest thing about me is that I decided to take action and begin changing my life. As a result, I've learned that we have a helluva lot more power over our lives than we often think.