How Successful Writers Make Ridiculous Amounts of Money
What six-figure writers have in common
When I first started writing on Medium a few years back, I was a loner. The more I wrote on the platform, the more I began interacting with other writers.
This year I will easily make six-figures from being a writer across a few different income streams.
I don’t tell you that to brag, but rather to inspire you. Many of the writers I’ve met on this platform have achieved a similar outcome or another form of success, like publishing a book that made it onto the Amazon Best Seller List.
A few of the writers I’ve met or spoken with on Medium are Nicolas Cole, Anthony Moore, Chad Grills, Michael Thompson, Dan Moore, Shaunta Grimes, Ali Mese, Benjamin Hardy, PhD, and many more that I can’t even remember.
Each of these writers is successful in their own right and have carved out their own little writing niche that has allowed them to dominate. It’s nice that I know how they’ve achieved that success, but it would be much more helpful (my goal) to share with you how they did it.
They Write Heaps
People hate when I mention this one. It’s true with every single writer I’ve met on Medium who has been successful.
The harsh truth is that they write heaps.
I’m currently writing 40 articles a month, and if nothing else, I’d say that one habit has more to do with any results than any writing advice or tips I could share with you. If you read no further, know this: You have to write heaps to be successful at writing and make six-figures from it.
When you write heaps, you find your voice, discover what value you have to share, get better at grammar, and reach more people.
No one wants to read a writer that shows up once a year with 800 words to share — unless, perhaps, that writer is a timeless great, like J.K.Rowling. For the rest of us normal peeps, we have to write a lot.
They Have Several Income Streams
Successful writers don’t make money from only one place. That’s a misconception. If you write on Medium, people think you make all your money on Medium. That’s wrong.
The income streams are varied and each of the writers above has mentioned a few times publicly how they earn money. Here’s the list again for the people sitting in the back row:
- Affiliate links
- Selling eBooks
- Email lists
- Online courses
- The Medium Partner Program
- Paid columns in publications like Forbes
- Public speaking
- Running workshops
- Physical products like t-shirts and cups with quotes on them
- Publishing traditional books
There are so many ways to make money from writing. Start writing and you’ll see what I mean. Your inbox will soon be flooded with more than enough opportunities that you can cull down to what resonates with you, what you stand for, and what you’re good at.
They Are Empathetic
What do I mean by empathetic?
They don’t talk down to you as though they’re some sort of influencer that was born from their daddy’s dick full of perfect, pure, amazingly white, glistering sperm.
They talk to you like we’re all on the same level because we are.
They Can Turn a Blind Eye
Writing is about putting yourself out there. And the more you do it, the more trolls and haters you’ll attract. These writers have learned that the issue isn’t necessarily their writing; it’s the person who sees fit to take them down because of their own insignificance or issues.
What’s even more interesting is that they forgive the people who say nasty things to them, and they show them compassion. Other times, they just turn a blind eye because of the amount of inbound involved in their career.
They Can Be Inspired by Other Writers
Successful writers are inspired by other writers.
No one is being 100% original. We’re all saying roughly the same thing while putting our own twist on it. And that’s perfectly OK. If you seek to be completely original, you’ll die a death of perfection with no published work to your name.
It’s okay to take a great idea from another writer and make it even better.
They Edit Their Work
Most of them don’t have their own private editor waiting in their penthouse loft, ready to serve them a glass of Pinot Noir.
They’re normal people who edit their own work and occasionally share it with others to get feedback. They make spelling and grammar errors and publish faulty metaphors just like the rest of us.
But they do edit their work. They don’t just publish it after one draft and hope it’s okay. Editing is part of their process.
They Are Imperfect
Each of them has gone through their own unique struggles. It’s the periods of unemployment, broken relationships, failed businesses, wrong turns, family deaths, unique health challenges, and their own BS that gets in their way occasionally that gives them something to write about it.
If they were all perfect Instagram models with a fake tan, a cool car, and a Prada wardrobe who lived on a house on top of the hill with a white picket fence and ocean views, I’m not sure any of us would read their work.
Imperfection helps us see ourselves in a piece of writing. Perfection only makes us hope to be something we can never be — and that gets boring and depressing real quick.
They Work Harder Than You Think
However much you think they work, double it and then double it again.
This isn’t hustle porn, though. They don’t work all through the night and then wake up with a green smoothie at 5 a.m. while high-fiving their partner and taking a cold shower before getting into an ice bath.
But they do work harder than you think. They write before work, after work, and on weekends. Their work ethic is partly responsible for their success and that’s mostly because they love what they do.
They Seek to Be Helpful
The goal each of these writers has is to be helpful. That helpfulness looks like entertainment, inspiration, advice, how-to guides, and telling stories.
The people they’ve helped is what has allowed them to make stupid amounts of money. After a while, this unique skill of being helpful far outweighs any money that might hit their bank account for gaining the admiration of a wide audience.
Not one of them has ever expressed money as being their primary goal.
They Hit Publish
Even when the draft might be shitty or the subject of the writing is obscure. They still hit publish.
On the days they can’t be stuffed, they hit publish.
On the days they experience sickness, they hit publish.
On the days the quality of their writing is not the best, they hit publish.
Published articles outnumber the number of drafts.
Because drafts that are attached to feelings of not being good enough never make it into the light and that kills their usefulness.
They Don’t Feel the Need to Compete
None of these successful writers has ever tried to beat me. In fact, when my work does well, they’re the first people to email me and build me up. Also, when I’m at rock bottom and just lost my job, again, they’re there to help.
Each of them couldn’t give a damn about being first. Why? None of them are going to be on top of the popular writing list forever.
Some months it might be me; then it’s Michael Thompson with his awesome, unconventional self-help articles; then it’s Tom Kuegler with his stories from his travels filled with life lessons.
We all get our time in the spotlight, and then it’s time to let someone else have theirs and hit the clap button as hard as we can.
They Insert Personality
Personality makes your writing unique.
It takes your writing from being bland and boring like cardboard fries from the drive-through and lifts the words you write all the way up beyond the realm of possibility.
People can understand the meaning behind your words when they can attach themselves to the words by seeing your personality.
Words written by a human are far more appealing than dry SEO copy designed to content market you down the rabbit hole of attention-seeking.
They Have Run Out of Excuses
There are 99 reasons they could not write this week or take the year off. They still keep showing up and writing, though.
They don’t let the BS algorithm or Medium’s company financials or rumours or a jackrabbit hiding in their closet or curation or changes to the Medium Partner Program or their mommy or their tiredness or their newborn baby or their screaming neighbour or a random poorly written headline or other writers doing better than them or the next new flashy social media platform or any other excuse you can think of get in the way.
They sit. They write. They pour their heart out. They succeed.
They Have Many Different Styles
None of these successful writers has one style.
One day they write something sad. The next day they write a how-to guide. And on other days, they share a page out of their travel diary that makes you rethink the lives of those in third-world countries.
Some use different headlines to attract readers. Some have quotes all through their articles. Some read lots of books. Some use big headings. Some use small headings combined with page breaks. Some use bold sentences and some don’t. Some use italics and others use nothing but Plain Jane formatted text.
All of them have different styles, and they pick a different style as they see fit in their goal to be helpful.
They Are Fun to Talk With
The writers I have met from Medium have been a blast to chat with. They come from all walks of life and they don’t take themselves too seriously.
One of the best parts of being a writer is getting to meet other writers and learn how they communicate and deal with the inevitable procrastination and creative blocks we all feel at times.
Writing is supposed to be fun, and these successful writers remind me of that every time I get on a call with one of them to kick the can and talk shit.
They Have Lived the Experiences They Write About
They’re not hypocritical scumbags that dish out lukewarm advice that they’ve never had the pleasure of living.
They write about real experiences and don’t hide the truth to make their image look ‘Instagram Perfect’ with a filter to create killer skin highlights.
It’s just them, their keyboard, and their bundle of life experiences with every piece that they set free into the world. I like that.
They Share the Good and Incredibly Difficult Parts of Their Life
Last but not least, they find a way to share the good parts of their life and the incredibly difficult parts.
They muster up the courage and vulnerability to talk about things that open up the wounds of their past for the benefit of the reader. It’s not easy for them to do so, and yet they do it as though it’s their mission in life.
I’m not even close to being able to master this skill that many of these successful writers have bucket loads of. Being this real, authentic, and vulnerable still feels to me like I’m walking down the street naked and not realizing it.
Each of these successful writers has taught me that when you can use your failures and setbacks in life to redefine someone else’s, a stranger for that matter, in the process you become someone different yourself. That’s where the fulfillment comes from as a writer.
If you’ve thought about writing online, the time is now. If each of these writers can do it, so can you. They started in exactly the same place that you might be starting from.
Nothing beats sharing stories that inspire us to be more, to think another way, to change our lives in some small way, to try a new activity, to think about humanity differently, and to question the meaning of life. Write your own art.