I Increased My Medium Earnings By 1000%
Here’s how I did it.
Yes, you read that right.
Now, 10X’ing a large number is a lot harder than a small number. I get that. But it’s still a huge increase, and I want to share it with you.
Hopefully, you can find some new strategies or insights you can apply to your own work, especially as Medium moves toward an updated earnings model.
Breaking News: The New Medium Pays Writers By Reading Time, Not Claps
How will Medium’s new policy affect you?
A September start
I (re)started my Medium career in late September 2019. I have actually had this account for much longer. I posted a few things years ago (I don’t think the Partner Program even existed at that point) and then life and work pulled me away from the page.
What got me back into Medium was reading August Birch’s articles. I was actually searching around for information on writing while mobile (on phones/tablet devices) and stumbled across his article about the subject.
In true binge-reading fashion, I followed links to his other articles. I discovered publications. I found other authors and followed them. I rediscovered why I love Medium in the first place:
It’s an ever-changing microcosm of our lives, a sharing of ideas both thoughtful and silly. Of posts both heartbreakingly personal and extremely technical. It’s like a library for not only the mind but the spirit.
I was hooked and immediately signed up for the $5/month subscription so I could read to my heart’s content. (If you haven’t done so yet, consider this my recommendation — it’s worth every penny and then some.)
I wrote two posts in September. I didn’t expect to make much on them. After all, I was just getting started.
I’d read all the stats about how less than 10% of writers in the Partner Program made less than $100 a month. That didn’t sway me. I was here to give it my all, and in my first month (well, my first week — the end of September) I made $7.58.
In that article, I set a goal: to 10x my earnings in October.
Ten times $7.58 was $75.80. I could do that, right?
Well, the results are in, and they’re right on track with what I’d planned:
An October recap
In order to 10X my earnings, I knew I was going to have to step up my game. I was still a Medium noob, and hardly anyone knew who I was. I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to join the ranks of those authors I looked up to.
Thankfully, I’m not afraid of hard work. Here’s what I did to reach my goals.
As of October 28th, I’ve written 30 stories this month. They vary in length and publication, but I made it a point to publish every day if possible.
I have missed a few days recently as I was in the midst of a cross country move, and I definitely saw a precipitous drop in my stats when I did so. In the future, I will try to have some posts ready to go ahead of time so I can schedule them for off days.
I started a publication this month called Game Of Words for me to publish my writing-, productivity-, and business-related articles. Having your own publication means no wait time for publishing, you can customize the look and layout, and you can gather “followers” (different from those who follow your profile).
Publication followers can sign up to receive updates about your new stories by email. In lieu of a proper email list, many writers use this when starting out to keep in touch with their readers.
I’ve sent only two letters to my publication’s followers so far, but I plan to up this in the months to come.
Game Of Words
“In the Game Of Words, you write or you die.” Stories from the trenches of the indie publishing world.
Speaking of publications, every editorial process is different, and that’s something that I had to learn as a Medium newbie.
Some publications such as The Partnered Pen allow anyone to be an editor and publish their stories immediately. Other publications require a submission and review process which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days or a week or more.
Even if your story is accepted, the publication owner may schedule it for a later date (to better spread out the submissions so each gets a fair share of the spotlight).
Because of these factors outside of my control, there were some gaps in my publishing schedule.
How I plan to fix it: Now that I know I can’t count on a story being in a publication on a certain day, I’ll make sure I have something extra ready to go in its stead. Keeping forward momentum is one of my foremost goals at this point.
Ask anyone what they think about curation on Medium, and you’ll get a different answer every time.
It’s lauded as the Holy Grail by some, as useless by others.
I don’t have much to say on this subject because I can’t seem to get curated for the life of me. I’ve only had one story curated, and that was after nagging support about it via email (not something I’d like to replicate 😅)
Do I think I would be doing better if my pieces were curated? Probably. But I’m working with what I have. If you’re a new writer to the platform (or even a veteran) and you’re having trouble getting your stories curated, know that it’s not the be-all-end-all.
Am I still mindful of the curation guidelines and writing posts that I think will have a chance to be curated? Yes. But I’m (trying not to) lose sleep over it.
You shouldn’t either.
You’re not going to get anywhere on Medium by posting your articles and waiting for the masses to magically descend. I fell in love with reading on Medium long before I started writing here, and that’s something that I’ve continued to prioritize as I break into the writing community.
I’ve met some wonderful people through reading and interacting with other stories here on Medium. Luke Wiese, David Fox, T.S. Johnson, Dave Schools, Karan, and Edward Anderson — among so many others — have inspired, entertained, and educated me.
I make it a point to read, highlight, applaud, and often respond to other writers in the community. And I don’t mean this in a tit-for-tat kind of way. I love seeing a variety of perspectives. I love reading about others’ lives and dreams and ideas.
In an increasingly interconnected digital world, it’s easier than ever to feel isolated or alone. What a weird oxymoron, right?
But when I read these writers and those like them, I feel at peace. I feel like I’ve finally found a place I belong.
And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
If there’s one thing that the new Medium changes make more important than ever, it’s having a list of email subscribers you can contact off-site.
We all know things in tech can change overnight. If Medium suddenly disappeared tomorrow, you’d want a way to contact your readers, right? You’d want to bring them along for your next adventure.
That’s where having an email list comes in.
I’m a bit of a late adopter on this one and still getting it started. I’m using Mailerlite because I already had an account with them for my fiction business, but there are plenty of options available. There are far smarter authors than me writing about how to set this up. I suggest reading any of Shaunta Grimes, Brian Rowe, or August Birch's articles for email tips and tricks.
Take a day to learn about what you need and set it up now so that you will have a system up and running when you need it.
If you’re interested in seeing how I’ve set mine up, you can join and get a free writing tracker here:
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A new November
With a new month on the horizon as well as changes to Medium’s earnings structure, that means a new strategy for November.
While I’m not shooting for 10x this month ($780.50 is still a bit out of my reach…for now), I will be looking to double my earnings.
Consistency, as in October, will be paramount. The more stories I have available, the more people will have available to read. Every now and then, I look at my notifications and see that a new follower has gone through and highlighted/applauded nearly my entire catalog of work.
That’s the kind of reader I want to attract.
I also plan to ramp up my marketing outside of Medium and Medium-specific Facebook groups. In the past, there was not much financial incentive to promote your work to non-members. Now there is.
Will I succeed in this month’s goal? That is anyone’s guess. I have no idea how the new Medium policies will affect my stats. None of us do. But I’m just going to keep doing what I do best: writing my face off and making my readers happy.
By the end of the year, I plan to be in the few percent of writers earning more than $100 a month on this platform. Sure, $100 a month doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re self-employed, every little bit helps.