I know, we read every day about people who make a living out of their writing on Medium. And probably some of them are earning a living with Medium exactly because they tell us that they’re earning a living with Medium.
But your earnings don’t seem to skyrocket. Nor to buy you a smartphone.
Well, earning a few thousand on Medium is possible. Someone made it.
They’ll give you advice, and the first one is to post daily, or more frequently. And you know what? It’s true. Their advice is real advice. Look at their work, and you’ll see that they do what they advise.
But there’s one truth that only a few of them will tell you.
What you write about matters.
I’m sure you noticed what works on Medium. And I’m sure you noticed that a large part of the mediumers is writers, experienced or novice or aspiring, whatever.
So, the king of the content is writing about Medium. Positive writing, pay attention. Critics to Medium are not welcome. You need advice, success stories, tips, anything that could someway help someone to succeed on Medium. Or to believe to succeed.
Then comes the inspirational content. Readers want to hear that they can make it. They need to feel the positive energy that flows from your words to their cerebellum. The cortex wants to hear from you that it will be hard, to believe it, and the cerebellum wants to hear that it’s possible.
Imagine inspirational stories about Medium. Bam!
Then comes the pseudo-science. Choose an opinion, possibly topical, then link as many “scientific” studies as possible. There’s plenty of them. Enough to prove your opinion, or its contrary, if you want. This genre has the advantage of a priority lane for being featured by Medium. Featured, not just curated. Curated means little. But featured is gold.
It doesn’t hurt to have a specific political orientation.
And you have to be fine that your identity as a writer will be exactly defined by that kind of production.
Then a couple of other themes and genres come to my mind, but I’m sure you can help yourself with the list.
And as you notice, poetry is not there. Nor is fiction. Nor humor. Nor countless genres and topics.
I know, here the story proceeds with someone objecting that you can’t subvert the laws of the market. It’s obvious that poetry will earn a thousand times less than a good topical story.
Of course. It’s obvious.
And that’s why you’ll rarely hear that you have to decide first.
They can’t tell you that if you want to be a poet or a historical essayist you can’t make it on Medium. That would ruin the narrative, or your need to follow them. Or maybe they think that it’s not needed. It’s just obvious, right?
Before even trying to succeed on Medium, you need to ask yourself a single question: “do I want to daily write content that Medium rewards?”
And remember that this doesn’t guarantee success by itself.
That is going to be a job, and a risky job. If it’s not your job, you’ll suck at it, and if you succeed, you’ll just be a prisoner of a temporary and demanding job that you don’t like.
You have to deal with it.
Dealing with it
If you have a purpose, with your writing, if you know which is the writing that you want in your portfolio, which is the writing that you want to share, you have your line, and that’s already a richness that you shouldn’t spoil.
As well as being an attorney or a surgeon may not be for you, maybe writing what Medium wants is not for you too. Your line is different. Don’t envy what doesn’t belong to your future.
Focus on thriving in your lane.
First, you can still earn something with your writing. Don’t compare your results with the top earners. Be your own metric. Accept that something is better than zero, given that you want to write about bonsai. You can find an audience. But it won’t be a stadium.
Second, you can adapt. I’m not telling you of forcing your writing. I’m talking about learning. You can improve your titles, your images, your fluency, your voice, your ability to make your reading more interesting and well dressed. You can be more productive. You can get better results even staying in your own lane.
Third, if you have a purpose, you have a purpose. Accept it. And accept the compromises. Your writing will need to be supported by a daily job. Or a part-time job. Or clients. Or to heavily promote yourself outside Medium.
A good part of Medium writers has a job, or doesn’t need it. They don’t live on Medium. That’s the reality.
You can also have a job connected with your writing, and let part of your writing promote it, or the contrary. It doesn’t need to be a course on Medium.
Maybe Medium is even not the right place for your writing. Interesting, uh?
Too often we waste energies to play games that are not for us, instead of accepting to invest our energies in what matters most for us, with more modest results, but authentic. Results that, with time, will amount to something that matters to us, in line with our purpose.
Accepting not to succeed doesn’t mean that you’re going to fail. It means that you’re the measure of your success. It means that it will take more time, it will take compromises. It may not even be possible to succeed at the level that you imagine.
You think that you can write what Medium wants, and earn enough to pay your other writing. But it doesn’t work this way. Medium wants all of your writing, it will take all of your time and, most of all, it will shape your creativity.
If you want to write poetry, read more poetry and write poetry. Most of the articles about succeeding on Medium are not for you. Focus on your art and your craft. Find a job, or learn to live on peanuts. Find an audience where it is, also out of Medium.
Trying to imitate those who succeeded on Medium thanks to a lucky combination of profile, topics, daily effort, trends, and platform flaws, won’t help you.
At the end of your life, you’ll ask yourself if you’ll have become the poet or the novelist that you wanted to be, if you gave something to other souls, not if you succeeded in living on the Medium payments.
I know that you think “but I need those payments.” No, you need money, but you don’t need those payments. You need to make a living, someway, and to follow your writing passion and to find an audience for your writing.
You don’t need your writing to fit Medium. You need your writing to thrive, with time, and that’s greatly different. Shortcuts won’t bring you where you want to be.
Medium is an opportunity, unless you let it become a distraction.