9 Tips to help improve your earnings on Medium

A collection of recommendations from those who are already doing it

K. Robertson
Oct 26, 2020 · 6 min read
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

One of the first things I see when I open up Medium is success stories. There are many examples of people doing well and earning hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars for their articles. I long to be in the company of those people. I am inspired and encouraged by their success. I am also acutely aware that, though many, success stories aren’t par for the course.

A google search for “make money on Medium.com” will yield many results. In fact, the screenshot below shows that the query returned about 1.8 billion results. I can’t vouch for the accuracy or helpfulness of any of the results, but what it tells me is that there is a trove of information out there.

Author’s screenshot

I have been on Medium since July 2020, however I only started writing consistently in September. I joined thinking that the Medium Partner Program (MPP) could be an income stream as I work to fulfill my dream of being a stay at home mom. The success stories make me think it is in fact possible, but my earnings so far tell me Otherwise. You see, I earned $0.01 in August and then $1.70 in September. So far for October, I have racked up a whopping $0.82. These aren’t quite the payouts I am looking for so I have gone in search of help.

I am determined to give this some real effort over the next few weeks to see what results I can gain. To that end, I have rounded up some of the tips I have seen. Some I have seen multiple times, while others, though not mentioned frequently resonate with me. So, in no particular order, here we go:

— Apparently this increases the chances of your article going viral or gaining popularity. Ash Jurberg recently posted an article on the reasons you should include numbers in your headlines. Matt Lane mentioned it in a recent article of his as well. A report from Neilson Norman Group indicates that most readers won’t read all your words. Instead they scan for highlighted text, links and headlines. Among their findings was that “and attract fixations, even when they’re embedded within a mass of words that users otherwise ignore”. They further note that numbers “are a more compact (and thus attractive) representation of hard information than flowery verbiage”. So go ahead and include numbers where you can, especially in headlines.

— Outside of including numbers in your headline, other writers posit that you almost have to get clickbait-y (Bola Kwame’s word not mine) with your headline. That is, you have to make your headline stand out and be what people want to read. You have to dress it up and make it attractive. Inc.com posted excerpts from a study from Polar which had some interesting findings:

  • Headlines with 90 to 99 characters had the best click-through rate. Note, however that there are some nuances for the various platforms. For example, the ideal character limit for Facebook is about 40 characters while on LinkedIn it goes up to 100.
  • Headlines improve with numbers and special characters
  • There are several 3 word phrases such as “will make you”, “this is why”, and “can we guess” that have proven to be engaging

With that in mind, review your content and get to crafting something that will hook your reader!

— Matt Lane reminds us in this article that posts often pick up steam months after they have been posted. So be patient and give it time. This reminds me of a quote attributed to Steve Jobs that goes “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time”. JJ Pryor noted in this post that many of the top writers who earned in excess of $5000 per month only did so after putting in the work for 1–2 years. So I suppose in my case, while just under $2 is nothing to write home about, I still have a long journey ahead and if I’m patient, I can be an overnight success too.

— It seems no one wants to read about the small scale or in-betweens. People want to read about the extremes. Matt Lane suggests “you can increase your odds of success by digging deeper. Play journalist and find the outliers in your niche, then bring their stories to life on Medium.” An article in the Harvard Business Review, talks about how disruptions grab our attention. The more disruptive something is, the more interesting it becomes so look out for the stories or results that stand out from the norm and highlight them.

— Benny Lim says we should focus on what’s important and for writers, that’s writing. He shares that rather than getting caught up in statistic and earnings, we should focus on getting quality material out there and the results will follow. Focus on your research. Focus on your story. Focus on your process.

reminds us that “what you repeatedly believe you become” and encourages us to have a firm belief in ourselves. This seems like a no-brainer but you know what? It must be said. If you are going to put yourself out there to build a business or get a job or find a date even, you need to be confident and believe in yourself and your abilities. If you dont believe in yourself not only will it come out in your work, but no one will believe in you either.

— In this article Mayank Pamnani reminds us to ensure we are providing value to our readers. We should be helping them in some way. We should strive to solve a problem. There are many articles on the tools you can use to help collect information from your readers (newsletters, email lists, etc). I’ve seen this bit of advice from so many writers. Dr. Mehmet Yildiz notes in this article that it is our fans that produce the reading outcome we are looking for, not necessarily followers. Our fans look forward to our work. Our fans read and respond to our work as they benefit from our efforts.

— Michael Leonard encourages us to use them to our advantage in this piece. He takes the time to remind us of the importance of discipline and structure to achieving our objectives. Having a routine helps with being consistent (see below) as well as creating content strategies.

Shaunta Grimes ran her own little experiment to increase her earnings over time and one of her main takeaways was to be consistent. Not only will success take time, but you have to work at it. Another nod to consistency can be found in this article by Dr. Mehmet Yildiz. He reminds us that we have to consistently deliver to the requirements of our readers. You have to show up everyday and be consistent. For some folks this means posting everyday, while for others it means posting on a schedule of their own making. At the end of the day though, you have to keep at it and be consistent. Push past the discouraged feelings and weariness and dont be deterred.

After reading many, many articles about the possibilities of earning from Medium, I feel inspired. I feel encouraged. I also feel a little exhausted because its all so much. But as I noted earlier success takes time, effort and confidence. I am committed to this journey because its a key component to building the life I want. Lets just hope that is enough to keep me going. Wish me luck (and share any other tips that work for you).

Follow me here or subscribe for more like this!

An Idea (by Ingenious Piece)

Everything Begins With An Idea

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store