Here’s What I Learned From Failing Miserably on Medium

There’s tremendous value in failing forward.

Mar 8 · 6 min read
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

I began writing on Medium with such high hopes and aspirations. I aimed to write more and I aimed to make some money doing it. Thankfully, I was able to do both, however, things haven’t all been rosy with my writing on Medium.

I’m thankful that Medium gave me the push to reach my daily goal of writing an upward of 1500 words per day and it was writing on Medium that gave me the courage to launch my blog at But over the course of several weeks, my blog and my overall writing have suffered because of my time on Medium.

The short of it is because I fell into a funk. I’ve been gloomy, yet productive which at first glance doesn’t seem to fit, right? Let me explain my funk. I started feeling funky after receiving my last Medium earnings report.

I started writing and syndicating my blog posts on Medium in December 2018 and since then, I’ve made $48.61 for 42 stories, totaling roughly 34,846 written words. If I were paid an industry (low ball) rate of $.15 — $.25 per word, that’s roughly $5,226.90 — $8,711.50 which is a far cry from the almost $50 bucks Medium threw my way. Somehow, this just doesn’t seem right to me.

Medium doesn’t disclose exactly how its algorithm calculates payouts and worst yet, Medium doesn’t guarantee that writers will make a minimum amount per story or word count. For you professional writers out there, would you accept an assignment like that from a client or publication?

In any case, I’m grateful for the Medium platform. In the short time since I’ve started writing again, my little writing world has grown. I’ve forged great friendships with extremely talented writers and I’ve gathered a slew of awesome writing resources. I’m in a much better place with my writing style and voice because of my time on Medium. However, my writing style, voice, and output have also suffered because of Medium.

The more time I spend reading other work on Medium, the more I feel corralled and that I need to emulate writers whose work is popular on Medium. Attempting to emulate successful writers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, in my case, attempting to fit a mold to do so doesn’t serve me well.

There are times when I have an idea to write a post but it doesn’t come to fruition because I agonize over whether or not the Medium editors will like it — it’s like I’m asking for their permission and validation to share my truth in a way that feels most authentic to me. I’d much rather get the thoughts out of my head and to a dedicated audience.

Ultimately, I’ve decided that I don’t want to sound like other writers and I don’t want to waste time chasing how to get curated and how to be successful on Medium. My time and energy are better spent focusing on the quality of my work, who I’m writing for and why.

I cannot allow my time on Medium to lure me away from why I’ve started writing again — I write to help me make sense of my midlife mind, I write to help other midlife ladies find some humor and peace along their midlife journey, and I’m writing to inspire other like-minded folks to pursue living with passion and authenticity.

There are times when my thoughts come out as a blog post or perhaps as just a snippet, I need the freedom to publish content on my terms, on my channels. Granted, Medium doesn’t control how, where or why I write, per se.

I allowed myself to get caught up in the minutia of Medium success and that’s on me but my lack of success on Medium helped me to realize how much I prefer writing within the structure of my blog, social media channels, and weekly newsletter.

I’ve decided that I will publish my first of the day thoughts on social and then follow up with a blog post. I had taken up the practice of doing morning pages but those thoughts often get locked away. I love the instant gratification of publishing my first thoughts rather than save them up to write something later. There are too many occasions when I don’t circle back to pick up the thought and I don’t like how that feels. And somehow, perhaps it’s just symbolic but by giving myself permission to publish my first thoughts on social, I feel released from the shackles of Medium standards, again, my self-imposed Medium standards.

Publishing my first thoughts through social for the past few days feels genuine to me and my creative juices are now primed to publish more blog posts.

Interestingly, while I haven’t done much writing on my blog over the last week or so, I managed to finally relaunch my virtual admin business, create my Patreon page, and create three newsletters.

I know what you’re thinking… three newsletters, why? Mainly, my lack of substantial success on Medium allowed me to see the need to create different avenues for writing compensation and reader interaction.

Secondly, outside of publishing my morning thoughts through Instagram, I’ve fallen out of love with social media, especially Facebook. Shocking, I know. The constant changes in algorithms, lack of genuine interaction, and questionable business practices have completely turned me off. I will still use Facebook for the occasional personal and business post but I can’t in good conscience use it as I once did.

Email is much more personal. When a subscriber opts in, they are giving me permission to send them content and in doing so, I hope to create genuine one on one conversations. Social media can make having personal conversations difficult for a multitude of reasons, namely because they are out there for all to see if you see them.

I created the Become Your You (BYY) Weekly using Revue to offer my readers a round-up of posts from the blog plus links to helpful resources and snippets that 1. Don’t warrant an entire blog post; and 2. I want to get out right away (remember, I love instant gratification); and 3. To encourage subscribers to further conversations with me when they reply after receiving the weekly.

In addition to the BYY Weekly, I created my Patreon page which I hope will offer some fun goodies to folks who want to support, the BYY Weekly and a slew of other exciting projects I have in the works.

As a new year resolution, I decided that I need to be better with relationships, so I created Life Letters using Tiny Letters as a way to reconnect with friends and family.

Over the last few years, I’ve not been great with staying in touch. I have a tendency to hyperfocus on work and as an introvert, I also have a tendency to lock myself away from people. I hate talking on the phone and I’m prone to social anxiety so staying in touch through email is a lifeline for me.

In relaunching SHINE Media Co I created the SHINE Lite Brief, a paid newsletter through Substack to release content marketing news and tips and to provide access to free tools and downloads. My first free download is the 10-page eGuide, Understanding Content Marketing Strategy.

This is all to say that had I been an instant success on Medium, it’s unlikely that I would have given myself the creative space to explore creating newsletters and eBooks. Each endeavor is a stepping stone so rather than conclude that my Medium experience is a complete and utter failure, I’m going to chalk it up as a win.

At this stage, Medium will serve as another marketing vehicle for me. In time, I may release Medium-dedicated content but for now, I will continue to syndicate my blog posts and BYY Weekly through Medium. We’ll see how it works out over the next few months.

Jae Hermann

Written by

Motivator, consultant, storyteller rewriting the midlife narrative. #RealTalk #LiveOnPurpose

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