I’ve made good money writing on Medium. A few articles took off in a gust of wind. Even I was surprised. It was a real ego booster. Once I came down from that mountain, I kept writing. But as I continued, I began to notice something that wasn’t there when I first started writing on the platform.
It was this constant pressure to write the “right” articles. Articles that people want to click. Articles that break the internet. Articles that are fit for publications. Articles that rake in the moolah. And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, I started feeling that this approach hindered my creativity.
It left my ideas stifled and gasping for breath. I couldn’t express myself the way I wanted because my writing needed to fit in a certain box. Which went against everything I believed in, hoped for, and wanted when I first launched on Medium.
I don’t need tons of money to be happy.
This article seeks to explain why I no longer care about how much I make on Medium so let’s start here. It’s straightforward. It’ll make you gasp. I’ve got everything I need. Simple. And guess what, if you’re reading this, you do too.
Let’s experiment, shall we?
Open your closet right now. Got enough decent outfits to dress well for the next 12 months? Check. Is your pantry stocked up? Check. Do you have a job, savings, or resources to maintain that roof over your head? Check. Are you confident of sustaining yourself in 2021? Check.
Obviously, some people can’t tick those all boxes, but many can do it confidently. You’re one of them. We’re in the same boat. For me, this changes everything. I realize there’s no additional happiness I can derive from fattening my wallet.
Mark Manson writes in his book that “once one is able to provide for basic needs( food, shelter, and so on) the correlation between happiness and worldly success quickly approaches zero.” More money doesn’t equal more happiness.
In one of his recent articles, Ayodeji Awosika — one of the highest-earning writers here — described how he went to the shopping mall and realized he didn’t need anything. When he was short of money, he desired much, but now that he can boast of a fat wallet. He’s good. He’s content. Why? Because he has arrived at his happiness peak.
Certainly, more money can afford you a posh lifestyle, a penthouse overlooking a breathtaking view, fabulous clothing, and elevated social class where many want to shine your shoes. But beyond that? Nothing. Nothing changes on the inside.
Once the emotional high has receded —it doesn’t last long — you revert to who you are. To who you were before the money. That’s why extremely wealthy folks, notably the phenomenal Oprah Winfrey and the ever-jovial Warren Buffett, make tonnes of cash, swim in it, and then give it away in buckets.
Why is the drum of making money on Medium played so much?
Simple. Because for many of us, money is a metric to gauge success. But is it? Should it be? Only you can answer that. My take is that money is the wrong metric. Let me explain.
Sally makes 10k per month. Cash that she uses to elevate her living standards without knowing she’s inching closer to a life of debt. (Because when we’re not content with where we are, we keep wanting more) Or cash that she uses to foot her mother’s chemotherapy bill (nothing wrong with that).
Or cash that she uses to book a return ticket to the golden beaches of Bali, yet she’s deeply sad and unfulfilled. Versus Jimmi, who lives in East Africa, makes 1k, which is more than enough to have a pretty epic lifestyle. He isn’t slaving like a donkey to produce articles at the speed of bullets. Because of this, he’s got plenty of time to lounge and enjoy endless cups of milky tea with his mates.
In both scenarios, they have food, shelter, and clothing. But who do you think is really successful? Who do you think sleeps well at night? Who do you think will keep writing? In light of this, then, success on Medium shouldn’t be based on the figures reflected in the monthly email from Stripe.
It should be reflected on the impact of your words. On how many lives they touch. On how many people they make feel less alone. On how many people resonate with your words and think, “If she overcame that, I can do it too.” Now that’s true success right there.
I don't want to fit my ideas in a box.
To make money on Medium, your pieces need to be curated. You need to submit to publications. This means you need to write a certain way and meet specific requirements. Nothing wrong with that. We’ve got to have rules, right? There’s only one small problem.
You’ve got to bend, mold, and skew your ideas to fit a particular box. Otherwise, they get slammed on their faces. But what does that do to them? They get castrated; hence don’t go anywhere. They lose flavor. Instead of the spicy bloody mary you intended them to be, they become a dilute mess that readers want to spit out.
This doesn’t mean your work is always shiny and polished. Not at all. I’ve got so many articles that were self-published yet fell flat on their faces. But at least the message was out in the shape it was intended. Writing the way you want, letting your creative juices flow whichever way they deem fit is the description of authenticity.
In other words, when you’re unrestrained, you’re real. Original. Free.
Throw the money equation into it — which means writing in a certain way — your work will be published, yes, but you’ll still have to wipe off the bitter taste of dissatisfaction. Which begs the question: If you’re spreading words which don’t have your spirit, why write at all?
I write for one person.
When I wrote my first article, I didn’t give a hoot about claps, followers, or the dollar. I wanted one thing and one thing only, for one person to read my post. That’s it. On a deeper level, I aimed for the self-pride I’d achieve when I finished putting together a string of words to create something beautiful.
Something that one person would see, stop whatever they were doing, and read. If there was any money to be had, that was extra. The pleasure and thrill I’d derive from having my work land in the arms of one reader was far greater. Also, I could finally call myself a writer. Yaay!
Once in a while, I get an email from a reader saying how much he/she loved a post. There’s no greater satisfaction. That’s why I’m unfazed about having thousands of followers (in as much as I’m truly grateful for my 3.5k) because I’ve seen writers with 10k followers whose articles only get a few hundred claps.
(Again, I use claps because it seems to be the measure of an article’s popularity). I scratch my head and wonder, What happened to the other followers? Did they not like the piece? Wait… Did they even read it? So yea, you’re better off writing to one person with whom you can get naked and engage with.
One who actually reads your work (and probably emails to say you touched them) It’s a feeling from heaven! At the end of the day, the significance, value, and impact you bring to others matter most. If you can do that with one reader, you’ve won.
The making-money-on-medium is a bandwagon I’ve no intention of joining.
George Ziogas recently wrote, “Why bragging about your online success isn’t helping me.” I was nodding and smiling ear to ear. Boy, did it hit home! It appears as if we creators and artists are getting sidetracked. We’ve shifted focus from letting our creativity run wild to manipulating our creations to a “money-worthy, viral-looking way.”
In so doing, we’re doing ourselves a great disservice. We’re strangling our creative process. We’re putting roadblocks in our minds. We’re running a marathon chasing the moolah while our talents and uniqueness run down the drain. Be careful not to fall into this trap. Focus guys! Focus!
This energy-sapping trend that capitalizes on going after and humble-bragging your “online success” rather than serving your purpose: Why you write. Unless this is your most lofty goal — in which case you should humble-brag away. Siz, don’t let me stop you.
However, as George writes, there’s a lot to be said about people who constantly reveal their earnings. Note; emphasis on constantly. I don’t care how my money I make on Medium because I don’t want to get sucked into the euphoria. Oh, the endless chase! I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want my purpose for being here to desiccate in the sun of abandonment.
I’ll don’t want money to dictate how much fun I’ll get from writing.
One thing I’m crystal clear about is this: I’ll write till I’m 80 with my saggy breasts touching the knees. (Though I highly doubt I’ll be pitching Medium publications when I’m 80) I’ll write even when my old hands turn into leather. I’ll write when my face is wrinkly, my body frail, and I’m walking on a stick.
This is how deep, intense, and serious, my love for words is. Most importantly, this is precisely why I refuse to let money dictate how much fun I’ll have when doing this.